Probably one of the greatest resources for understand LDS scripture and doctrine. It can be a slog (it kind of reads like a encyclopedia) and it can cProbably one of the greatest resources for understand LDS scripture and doctrine. It can be a slog (it kind of reads like a encyclopedia) and it can challenge many orthodox assumptions but it is well worth the effort. ...more
While I greatly respect Mormon historian giant Leonard Arrington, his Brigham Young biography "American Moses" left me a little unsatisfied. This, howWhile I greatly respect Mormon historian giant Leonard Arrington, his Brigham Young biography "American Moses" left me a little unsatisfied. This, however, is how Mormon biographies should be written. Interesting, understanding, honest, and gritty without being sensational. ...more
This was very dry and a bit like reading an encyclopedia. While its candor and honesty was impressive for a 1970's LDS history book published by DeserThis was very dry and a bit like reading an encyclopedia. While its candor and honesty was impressive for a 1970's LDS history book published by Deseret Book, it still had an apologetic tone. I don't think I would recommend this book for someone that wants to get an overview of Mormonism. Instead I'd recommend Matt Bowman's new book, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith. It's about half as long and much more interesting. ...more
This was a very interesting overview of the academic freedom battles that occurred at BYU during the 90's. Although it was a bit one sided (which theThis was a very interesting overview of the academic freedom battles that occurred at BYU during the 90's. Although it was a bit one sided (which the author attributes to BYU administration's privacy policies), that arguments that the authors present were expressed clearly. This book made me a bit sad that a university that I attend and love would be so antagonistic to free inquiry. While many would say that BYU has more academic freedom when it comes to tolerance for religious views, I would have to say that its hard to call it freedom when the religious tolerance only extends to a narrow interpretation of a single religion. That being said, as an engineering student, I have had little to no confrontation with this issue in the classroom. I would recommend this book to anyone that attended BYU who would like to have a look at it from a new perspective....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. About a month ago I finished Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman, a candid biography of Joseph Smith from a believeI thoroughly enjoyed this book. About a month ago I finished Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman, a candid biography of Joseph Smith from a believer's perspective. While I loved his book, I wanted to get a perspective from a non believer, so I read this book.
It is important to understand that it is impossible to write an unbiased biography of Joseph Smith. That being said, I think that Brodie was fairly even handed. From reading the book it is quite obvious that she does not believe him to be what he says he is, however she is still able to see a lot of beauty, intelligence, and humanity in Joseph Smith. The Joseph Smith that she paints is a brilliant, loving, jolly, and self deceiving leader who is subject to character flaws like everyone else. While some claim that her biography is anti-Mormon, from reading her book I find her book to be historically accurate and even handed. Just because she does not believe he was a prophet does not mean that her work can be marginalized. While she does not gloss over the negative aspects of Joseph Smith's history, she also does not gloss over the positive aspects either.
One complaint that I have about this book, and the reason why I am giving it 4 stars instead of 5, is that she loses a little bit of historical integrity when she speculates on the thoughts and motivations behind Joseph's actions. Often her psychological speculations are not presented as speculations, but as fact. Furthermore, her psychological speculations are colored by her view of the man. The assumptions about Joseph's thoughts, intentions, and motivations often help fit Joseph into what she believes he is. That being said, many of her speculations are interesting and they help embellish the story to make it interesting. However, I would highly recommend that one reads Rough Stone Rolling along with this so that one can better recognize what is speculation and what is historical.
The biggest strength of this book is how Brodie is able to present Joseph's life in an almost novel form. Her writing style is beautiful and exciting. While Rough Stone Rolling is more beefy and historical, No Man Knows My History is a faster and more fun to read.
From reading her book, along with Bushman's I have gained a greater love for Joseph Smith. I love the complexity of his character that is often glossed over in Sunday School. Something valuable is lost when just focusing on the aspects of Joseph Smith that fit a black and white world view. Cherry picking the good or bad creates a one dimensional character that is very difficult to relate to. From learning about his flaws along with his strengths he becomes a character that I can more easily connect with. These books helped me discover his humanity. While I can't say that I agree with everything he has said or done, I can say that I am proud to be a part of the movement that he started.
I would highly recommend this book, along with Rough Stone Rolling, to anyone remotely interested in Joseph Smith. ...more
This was a disturbing book, however I could not put it down and I think it is one that people of all religions should read. The Mormon history involveThis was a disturbing book, however I could not put it down and I think it is one that people of all religions should read. The Mormon history involved in the book is not the best and it is obvious that the author is cherry picking, interpreting, and presenting sensational matters in certain ways to drive home his point. However, it seems like the main point of the book is to express the dangers of fundamentalism, of which the author makes a pretty convincing case.
After learning about the Lafferty brothers I can't help but feel a shiver down my spine every time that the story of Nephi cutting of the head of Laban is told in Sunday School. I feel like there should always be the disclaimer "If you believe that God is telling you to kill someone and even if the reason God gives you makes sense, run, don't walk, to the nearest mental health specialist no matter how sure you are that it is from God." The well documented story of the Lafferty brothers (who were not clinically insane) killing their sister-in-law and niece shows the dangers of dogmatically assuming that your inspiration is from God.
That being said, I really thought that the claim that the LDS faith is a "violent faith" was not well supported, misleading, and sensationalist. Cherry picking the most sensational parts of 180 years of Mormon history does not outweigh the peaceful lived religion of 99.9% of the adherents....more
Great story about a Mormon man from southern Utah trying to figure out God and religion. Plenty of interesting characters and a solid plot. Best novelGreat story about a Mormon man from southern Utah trying to figure out God and religion. Plenty of interesting characters and a solid plot. Best novel I have read in some time. I completely recommend it....more