Stephen White - Alan Gregory discussion

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Alan Gregory Books > Higher Authority (1994)

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message 1: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (last edited Apr 04, 2010 10:05AM) (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Higher Authority by Stephen White
Higher Authority by Stephen White, book 3 in the Alan Gregory series.


message 2: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 119 comments I think it is all that Mormonism that is keeping me from finishing Higher Authority. I went to school one year in Pocatello, Idaho and got my first close-up experience with Mormons. Many of them were fine on an individual basis, just like everybody else, except maybe not so much. But en masse, I tended not to like them quite as much.

Nothing personal against any Mormons. They are just not like the people around Chicago, I guess.


message 3: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
I think as long as you're not living in a highly LDS population - the people are okay and you should be able to read Higher Authority without being afraid :-) I know here in Boulder the LDS (Mormon) members are a lot more open-minded (well you kinda have to be - if you live in Boulder :-) I don't know if I'd find Higher Authority as interesting if I didn't have the Mormon background - but there is a scene in that book that takes place in Southwestern Colorado involving a Hot Tub that I will never forget.


message 4: by Benna (new)

Benna Hindle  (havetoread) | 17 comments Higher Authority is one of my favorite White books, because even thought it's fiction, I think he did an excellent job of weaving the foundation of the religion into the book's plot; either he was familiar with the LDS, or did a lot of research before writing the book. Wrote it in a way that made me want to learn more about a religion I'd never given much thought to - learning something new is one of the things I love about reading. This is maybe a little off topic, but do any of you watch the series Big Love? Nothing to do with reading, but based on an interpretation of LDS.


message 5: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (last edited Nov 04, 2009 04:28PM) (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
:-) It's okay if we get a little off-topic. We're not too strict around here. I think I only watched one episode of Big Love so I can't give much input.

It's important to note that Big Love deals more with a fundamentalist LDS group than with the mainstream LDS church like Stephen White took on in Higher Authority.

Nevada Barr also has a book with a Mormon Fundamentalist group - Hard Truth. Fundamentalists groups have broken away from the LDS church because they believe that polygamy was a fundamental part of the LDS doctrines and should still be practiced even after the church stopped the practice in the early 1900's.

I'm going to go ahead and add Higher Authority to the title of this discussion since it's also being discussed here :-)
Higher Authority by Stephen White Hard Truth (Anna Pigeon Mysteries (Paperback)) by Nevada Barr


message 6: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 119 comments Benna wrote: "Higher Authority is one of my favorite White books,

I am having trouble finishing Higher Authority because of the Mormonism. After going to school in SE Idaho one year, I learned not to be crazy about these people.

The same would probably be true if I'd also lived in any area predominantly Catholic or any other religion ... probably including my own.

A number of years later I was passing through Nauvoo, IL, on vacation and found that my feelings had not lessened. Although at my high school reunion a couple of years ago I ran into several people who live in Utah and they said they kind of get used to it. Just when they think everythings okay, their kids aren't allowed to play with some of their neighbors because they are gentiles and some Mormons want nothing to do with anyone who isn't one of them.

P.S. I also knew a number of very nice people who just happened to be Mormon.


message 7: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
I'd love to get an active LDS member's view on Higher Authority. I try to keep an open-mind :-) I bet if I look on the reviews for Higher Authority I'll get some opinions :-)


message 8: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Here's a colorful review on Amazon (Amazon reviews tend to me a lot meaner in my opinion and often by anonymous names) This review was written by A. Customer :-)
http://www.amazon.com/review/R1H4QX8P...


message 9: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Here's another - this person is also named A Customer :-)
http://www.amazon.com/review/R2J6BH8T...


message 10: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
In Higher Authority, Lauren (who is Alan Gregory's fiance at the time but later becomes his wife) is actually the main character in the story, but not quite to the extent that Sam Purdy was the main character in The Siege.


message 11: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
In that first review link I posted, the reviewer wrote in part:
"I was vastly disapointed in this work, and makes me wonder if he knows anymore about M.S. than he does about Mormons."

My personal opinion is that Stephen White really did his research on LDS History & Beliefs. I think In Higher Authority, as well as other books mentioning Mormonism, he is "right on" of course some of the plot was extreme - it's fiction :-) I was born in Utah. On both sides of my family, LDS roots go back to the days of Joseph Smith. Until 2006, I was a very active member of the LDS church. I am still technically a member although I do not practice the religion.

I can certainly see why active members of the LDS church would not like Higher Authority, but for me it was actually rather fun to see such a great author taking on this subject :-) I know there are strong opinions on this (similar to Dan Brown's books) - I offer this as my opinion.

As far as MS - Hello! Stephen White himself has MS - I think he knows a thing or two about it.


message 12: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
In Higher Authority Stephen White kills off Utah Senator Orin Hatch, I find this a little ironic since today Orin Hatch is still a senior senator and a very vocal conservative Republican voice - I don't think he's ever going to die.


message 13: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Jan wrote: "some Mormons want nothing to do with anyone who isn't one of them.

P.S. I also knew a number of very nice people who just happened to be Mormon. "


Well, some of them want nothing to do with anyone who isn't interested in joining the church :-)

I think LDS people are like any other group - there's going to be some individuals that take things to the extreme. There are a lot of good LDS members - I have good friends who are very active in the LDS church and have really helped our family out regardless of my religious views. Also here in Boulder, The Boulder Ward has been very helpful and just a good group of people never expecting me to suddenly want to go to church but willing to help us move, babysit etc. I think there's a very big difference between living in Utah or another highly Mormon population as opposed to living in what Latter Day Saints call "the mission field". This is just my opinion based on living in Utah and living in other places.

FYI the official name of "The Church" is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. LDS leadership has requested this official name be used whenever possible, but honestly I'm not going to type that out every time so I will probably just write LDS most of the time. The term "Mormon" came from the sect's "The Book of Mormon". Mormon is believed to be the name of a prophet living on the American continent who compiled teachings/writings of the early American inhabitants into one volume which he called "The Book of Mormon". LDS belief is that Joseph Smith was not the author of "The Book of Mormon", but rather the translator.

Jan, and others - I'd be happy to answer any specific questions if I can. For a good non-LDS source which is fair and balanced, I recommend reading Mormon America: The Power and the Promise by Ostling. I first read this around 2000 when I was an LDS missionary - an investigator let me borrow a copy. (an investigator is someone the missionaries are teaching - someone interested in the church and considering joining - I never liked the term - I think now they are trying to use the term "Potential Convert" - everyone who is not LDS is a potential convert :-) There was a new edition of Mormon America for the 2008 presidential election when Mitt Romney was running for president.

Anyway Mormonism is very complex; it is often confusing and misunderstood. I'll help answer any specific questions if I can, and I'll try to do so as fair and balanced as possible. I, of course do have some strong opinions so I'll try to point out when something is just my opinion :-)

Mormon America The Power and the Promise by Richard Ostling


message 14: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 119 comments Dustin

One of the problems I had in Idaho with the some of the people there was how narrow minded they were. And because there was such a large group of them. Really quite concentrated in SE Idaho. Probably not as much as in Utah, however. But narrowmindedness was also what I saw in those two reviews you pulled up.

Kind of on the order of "It's my way or the Highway". (Lawrence Tierney in Reservoir Dogs)


message 15: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (last edited Nov 05, 2009 06:57PM) (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
I know what you're talking about and I don't disagree. From what I hear Idaho is basically an extension of Utah culture. Other places too like parts of Arizona - anywhere where there is a high concentration of LDS population - you'll find the same type of attitudes. LDS members see the world filtered through a different lens which they call "the gospel". (Opinion)

I think the whole Proposition 8 ordeal in California shows just how tolerant the LDS church is of differences - they felt they needed to stand up for something they believe in. I'm not saying the LDS church is singularly responsible for the passing of Proposition 8, but they did all in their power to help it pass. Proposition 8 did take away a right that had already been given. (Fact)

If any LDS members read this - they'll probably be very upset with me (I caused some trouble with a similar post in the Dan Brown group) but honestly it's no secret. (Fact) I'll post you the direct link from the LDS church site - they're not trying to hide that they encouraged church members in California to "do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment".

Sorry about all the Fact/ Opinion designators. I feel I have to differentiate so I don't get myself in trouble when an LDS member stumbles upon these posts. For future posts - if the sentence says "I think" or "I believe" that means it's my opinion, to which I feel I am entitled :-) The Church basically teaches that it's okay to have opinions but you shouldn't share them unless they promote the church - I don't agree with that of course :-)


message 16: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (last edited Nov 05, 2009 06:51PM) (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
SALT LAKE CITY 30 June 2008 The following letter was sent from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Church leaders in California to be read to all congregations on 29 June 2008:

Preserving Traditional Marriage and Strengthening Families

In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2 008, Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.

The Church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.

A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local Church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.

We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.

Source:
http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/e...


message 17: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
I guess I need to re-read "Higher Authority" sometime :-)


message 18: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
I'm reactivating this thread because I'm going to be re-reading Higher Authority in the near future. I have both the book and audiobook on CD from the library right now. There's a hold on the CD and so I've got to get Higher Authority read in March :-) Jan and Christine have already expressed interest in reading this - anyone else who's interested is more than welcome to join us!


message 19: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
I'm gonna be starting Higher Authority soon and I'm planning on finishing it within one week from when I start so anybody who's wanting to read along, Get Ready, Get Set, Almost....:-)


message 20: by Christine (new)

Christine | 207 comments I will start too!


message 21: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
The more the merrier! :-) I really enjoyed reading Higher Authority the first time & I think it'll be a fast re-read. I'm just finishing up another book today.


message 22: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
"I left Great Salt Lake a good deal confused as to what state of things existed there - and sometimes even questioning in my own mind whether a state of things existed there at all or not."
-Mark Twain, Roughing It (as quoted in Higher Authority)


message 23: by Christine (new)

Christine | 207 comments I need something that moves a bit quicker. I am reading Emma with my daughter and The Name of the Rose with one of my book groups and they are not what I would call easy reads!


message 24: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
"It is almost impossible to write fiction about the Mormons, for the reason that Mormon institutions and Mormon society are so peculiar that they call for constant explanation."
-Wallace Stegner,Mormon Country (as quoted in Higher Authority)


message 25: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Stephen White does a great job :-) imho This is a thriller!

Praise for Higher Authority:

"Sinister and scary."
-The New York Times Book Review

"A powerful piece of storytelling ...tense ...chilling."
-John Dunning

"As intricate as it is mesmerizing."
-The Denver Post

"A dazzler."
-The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Stephen White scores again ... a captivating read."
-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


message 26: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 119 comments I will try to get back to it. Although it has not moved fast for me previously.


message 27: by Christine (new)

Christine | 207 comments If you want to read some extreme books about the Mormons, read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (non-fiction) and The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.


message 28: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 119 comments I do have the Krakauer book on my shelf.


message 29: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
More praise ....

"A white-knuckle plot ... right down to the last page."
-Rocky Mountain News

"Stephen White keeps on getting better."
-The Denver Post

"Absorbing ... intriguing ... chilling ... a most engaging thriller."
-The San Diego Union-Tribune


message 30: by Christine (new)

Christine | 207 comments Krakauer paints a not very nice picture of the fundamentalist Mormons, the groups that still believe in plural marriage and live on compounds


message 31: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (last edited Mar 19, 2010 03:32PM) (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
A NOTE TO THE READER:

Higher Authority is a work of fiction. The Characters and events described are entirely the product of the author's imagination.

Much of the story takes place in a uniquely American and uniquely western world, that created by the Mormon followers of Joseph Smith in a land Brigham Young called Deseret. We call it Utah.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, popularly known as the Mormon Church, is depicted in this story as an essential cultural and religious backdrop to fictional events and fictional characters. All locales described in the book are used fictitiously. No actual event or incident is intentionally portrayed; any resemblance is coincidental.

Although certain prominent Mormons, some alive and some deceased, are quoted in the book to provide contemporary context for the story, any resemblance between a character and an actual person, living or dead is entirely coincidental, with the exception of Senator Orrin Hatch, who appears briefly as a character. In no way does the book attempt to portray Senator Hatch's actual contact.

(from the beginning of Higher Authority)


message 32: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Christine wrote: "Krakauer paints a not very nice picture of the fundamentalist Mormons, the groups that still believe in plural marriage and live on compounds"

That's not the part of Mormonism that Higher Authority deals with though. There's lots of books written about the polygamists especially in recent years with the whole Warren Jeffs thing and the Texas incident. Higher Authority was written way before all of that in 1994. Higher Authority is kinda like the Mormon version of The Da Vinci Code :-) I love this book!


message 33: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
I don't know of any other author that has taken on the mainstream LDS church like Stephen White has in Higher Authority. As many people know I was raised LDS, Born & raised in Utah, I moved to Boulder in 2006, My wife has a disability, etc. Ever since I discovered Stephen White, I've been able to relate on many levels to the characters in the Alan Gregory series, but with Higher Authority, this is truer than ever!


message 34: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Somehow I missed this one! Thanks for mentioning it. I've added it to my to-read shelf - it looks really good!


message 35: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Christine,
I'm imagining that after you start reading Higher Authority you'll jump in a car or plane to Utah and try to "rescue" your daughter :-) Are you ready for this? You can ask your daughter about things you read and I bet she'll validate a lot of the things in Higher Authority.


message 36: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
I'll be reading the book as well as listening to an abridged audiobook on CD for Higher Authority. I don't usually like abridged but it's all that was available from libraries I have access to, so we'll see how it goes :-)


message 37: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
"Those who would take prophets out of politics would take God out of government."
- President Ezra Taft Bensen, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (as quoted in Higher Authority)

Bensen was the President (and Prophet) of the LDS Church when Higher Authority was written. He is of course now deceased. Ezra Taft Bensen was a former United States Secretary of Agriculture. At the time he was Secretary of Agriculture, he was also actively serving as an Apostle in the LDS church.


message 38: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
"Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward church authorities, general or local. Evil speaking of the Lord's anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true."
-Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (as quoted in Higher Authority)

Elder Oaks is a former justice for the Utah Supreme Court and he is currently an Apostle (a member of the second highest ranking body in the LDS church - The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The highest ranking group is The First Presidency consisting of the President and his two councilors.) Men called to be apostles and prophets serve for the remainder of their lives.


message 39: by Christine (new)

Christine | 207 comments I am asked quite often if I am Mormon because my daughter chose to go to school in Utah. The state has so many misconceptions. If you are an outdoor enthusiast like my daughter, there is no better place than Salt Lake City. She lives within 30 minutes of 100 chair lifts for skiing in the winter. In the other seasons of the year, there is hiking, biking, camping and the one that makes me nervous, bouldering, a form of rock climbing. She is a geology major and in the perfect place to study rocks, etc.


message 40: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Christine wrote: "If you are an outdoor enthusiast like my daughter, there is no better place than Salt Lake City. She lives within 30 minutes of 100 chair lifts for skiing in the winter. In the other seasons of the year, there is hiking, biking, camping and the one that makes me nervous, bouldering, a form of rock climbing."

She should come to CU-Boulder! j/k


message 41: by Christine (new)

Christine | 207 comments It may be on her list for graduate school.


message 42: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
:-) Boulder is Awesome! She'd have lots of fun here!


message 43: by Janice (new)

Janice Another great book to read is "Red Water" by Judith Freeman, who is a former Mormon. This is a novel written about three women who are married to the same man, and also tells about the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857, (the time frame for the book) and the conflicts between the Mormons who were settling in Utah and the Native Americans who lived there. Freeman is a very talented writer, this book was one I read several years ago and couldn't put down.

(Dustin, your quote above from Elder Dallin is quite incredible, to be so above reproach or scrutiny, while in such a powerful position...)

All that aside, I picked up Higher Authority from my library yesterday; I read it a few years back, and thought it one of the best in this series, so I want to read it again for this group read.


message 44: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 119 comments I do have a book about the Mountain Meadows Massacre called American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857 by Sally Denton but I haven't really gotten into it yet. I'm still on The Prologue. Not a novel.


message 45: by Christine (new)

Christine | 207 comments My daughter has plans to write a paper for her archeology class on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I will pass these two books on to her.


message 46: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Janice wrote: "All that aside, I picked up Higher Authority from my library yesterday; I read it a few years back, and thought it one of the best in this series, so I want to read it again for this group read."

:-) So glad you're joining us!


message 47: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Thanks again for the books mentioned, I'll have to check them out. I mostly read fiction but sometimes non-fiction can be just as fascinating - the fact that these things really happened.

I went and visited the site of The Mountain Meadows Massacre back in 1999 I think - I was enrolled in a Southern Utah History class through the LDS Institute of Religion. I haven't read any of the books about it, but I grew up in Southern Utah. For a long time, the Massacre wasn't really talked about then Jaunita Brooks published her book. Gordon B. Hinckley became the president of the church in 1995, he had a monument erected with the names of the people killed and I think there was finally an apology from the LDS church with relatives of the victims invited to a special memorial.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre by Juanita Brooks


message 48: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
I'm gonna check out Red Water. It's a novel, so I might be able to get through it :-)
Red Water by Judith Freeman


message 49: by Christine (new)

Christine | 207 comments My daugher thinks you all are awesome for passing along those titles regarding the Mountain Meadows Massacre. She sends her thanks!


message 50: by Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl, Colorful Colorado (new)

Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl (dustpancrazy) | 786 comments Mod
Your daughter is right! Every member of the Stephen White - Gregory group is Awesome! :-)


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