David Voas's Reviews > Could I Vote for a Mormon for President? An Election-Year Guide to Mitt Romney's Religion

Could I Vote for a Mormon for President? An Election-Year Gui... by Ryan T. Cragun
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it was amazing

I have a small collection of 'Mormonism Made Simple' books (OK, I admit it, 'Mormonism for Dummies' is one of them), and this book is by far the best. It's intelligent, informative, balanced, and very entertaining. The Romney candidacy makes it topical, but I hope that when the election is behind us the publishers will put out a revised edition: 'Could I be friends with a Mormon?', maybe.

Why is this book so much the best of its kind? Primarily because the authors have a rare combination of authority and distance. Books on religion are typically written by people who are either apologists or unsympathetic critics. Cragun and Phillips know the LDS Church inside out, while looking outside in. They write from a standpoint of tough love, which is exactly the right perspective.

Another reason it's great is that they bring some scholarly insight to the table without being dull or intimidating. For example, they describe the missionary program for young Mormons as an example of what sociologists call a "total institution." I had never thought about it in those terms, but they make a good case; I came away with a much better understanding of something I thought I understood already.

The last chapter of the book is entitled 'Would a Mormon president take orders from Salt Lake City?' They answer 'no', and I agree. People fear that the faithful of any description will be doctrinaire and inflexible, but the irony of applying those concerns to Romney is that he seems - and I don't mean to be insulting - completely unprincipled. Far from worrying about him seeking guidance from the Prophet, we should probably be worried about whether he has any ideas that aren't adjusted for electoral advantage.

If you don't know a lot about Mormonism - or possibly even if you do - this book is required reading. I'd love to see Cragun and Phillips expand it with descriptions of everyday Mormon life and culture, because there's an entire subpopulation out there trying to follow the commandments of 'Leave it to Beaver' and 'The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.' The authors have only scratched the surface of how simultaneously weird and wonderful it is, and I can't wait for the full guided tour.
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