John Krakauer's 2003 best-seller, Under the Banner of Heaven, played upon a common narrative told in sections of American culture—a story that claimed that some religions are inherently violent. In Krakauer's work, of course, the group under consideration was Mormonism, and his narrative was encapsulated in his pithy subtitle, “A Story of Violent Faith.”1 Patrick Mason's new book fundamentally contradicts Krakauer's salacious claim. Mason argues that all religious groups, including the Mormon tradition, contain “multiple and complex sources—scriptures, histories, myths, social networks, authority structures, and cosmologies that can be mobilized in the service of either violence or non-violence” (78). People choose how to use these resources, and there is nothing inevitable about their choices or even what resources they utilize over others. Within this structuring framework, Mason, in four succinct chapters numbering only eighty pages, shows how Mormons have deployed their tradition over time in regard to...
Mormonism and Violence: The Battles of Zion
David J. Howlett is the Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. He is the author of Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space (University of Illinois Press, 2014) and coauthor of Mormonism: The Basics (Routledge, 2017).
David J. Howlett; Mormonism and Violence: The Battles of Zion. Mormon Studies Review 1 January 2022; 9 126–130. doi: https://doi.org/10.5406/21568030.9.1.16
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