I just finished Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, an important read and yet, not easy to plough through as there are a series of characters, stories and sub-stories to keep up with and he switches back and forth frequently.
In a discussion group, many found it depressing and as Newsweek puts it, ‘the creepiest book anyone has written in a long time,’ meant as praise, and yet, there were times, I just didn’t want to read another page.
The book is essentially about American ‘religious’ fundamentalism, a story of ‘violent faith.’ Krakauer writes about the Mormon Lafferty brothers who insist they received a commandment from God to kill an innocent woman and her baby girl.
He has rigorously researched the history of the murder, the Mormon faith, and the dangers and pitfalls, where such a strong faith and belief system can in fact lead to something as dangerous and irreversable as murder.
He writes, “Mormonism was a faith in which religious truth and ecclesiastical authority were supposed to be derived from a never-ending string of divine revelations.
Personal revelation for everyone?
He also writes: “There is a dark side to religious devotion that is too often ignored or denied. Many Americans think of Islamic fundamentalism, which is to be expected in the wake of 9/11. But men have been committing heinous acts in the name of God ever since mankind began believing in deities and extremists exist within all religions.”
And on faith-based violence…..’it was present long before Osama bin Laden, adn it will be with us long after his demise.’
Lastly, another great reference worth noting here: “Faith is the very antithesis of reason, injudiciousness a crucial component of spiritual devotion. And when religious fanaticism supplants ratiocination, all bets are suddenly off. Anything can happen. Absolutely anything. Common sense is no match for the voice of God….” as the many actions he writes about in his book.