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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Mormon Mentions: Tom Perrotta

If you aren't familiar with "Mormon Mentions," a special feature here at BBB, let me explain: My name is Susan. I'm a book blogger. And I'm a Mormon. (You've all seen/heard these ads, right? I love them.) As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon Church), I'm naturally concerned about how my religion is portrayed in the media. Since this is a book blog, I like to highlight passages about my church that I find in the books I read. I also like to give my opinion (surprised, aren't you?) about those passages - correcting misconceptions, explaining confusing/controversial doctrine, and laughing at the sometimes crazy Mormon culture of which I am apart. It's fun for me, but if it's not your kind of thing, feel free to skip these posts.

Okay, here we go.

Considering that Tom Perrotta's new novel, The Leftovers, talks a lot about faith and religion, I wasn't surprised to find a couple of references to the church in it. Right at the beginning of the book, are these:

"People disappeared, millions of them at the same time, all over the world. This wasn't some ancient rumor - a dead man coming back to life during the Roman Empire - or a dusty homegrown legend, Joseph Smith unearthing golden tablets in upstate New York, conversing with an angel. This was real" (2).

"Interestingly, some of the loudest voices making this argument belonged to Christians themselves, who couldn't help noticing that many of the people who'd disappeared on October 14 - Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims and Jews and atheists and animists and homosexuals and Eskimos and Mormons and Zoroastrians, whatever the heck they were - hadn't accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. It was a random harvest, and the one thing the Rapture couldn't be was random" (3).

Both of these selections are narrated by 46-year-old Laurie Garvey, an agnostic who's trying to make sense of the Rapture-like event that has recently snatched up millions of people from off the face of the Earth. Naturally, she's skeptical of all religion, including one that embraces the idea of an uneducated American farm boy as a prophet of God. As unlikely as it may sound, members of the LDS Church really do believe that, as a young man, Joseph Smith did, in fact, see an angel, as well as Jesus Christ and God the Father. We believe the angel gave Smith golden plates containing ancient scripture, which he then translated and published as The Book of Mormon. It sounds crazy, I know, but so does feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes. I believe it, nonetheless. (To read Joseph Smith's story, in his own words, click here.)

The second passage is interesting because Mormons don't get "saved" or "born again" in the traditional sense. We're taught from birth that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. It's something that's acknowledged and accepted right from the start. Getting baptized is a way to make our commitment to Him public, but even LDS children who are under 8 (the age at which kids born into the LDS Church are baptized) know who Jesus is and what He's done for them. It's just part of being Mormon. For a much more eloquent explanation, click here.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, defines Zoroastrianism as "an Iranian religion, founded c600 b.c. by Zoroaster, the principal beliefs of which are in the existence of a supreme deity, Ahura Mazda, and in a cosmic struggle between a spirit of good, Spenta Mainyu, and a spirit of evil, Angra Mainyu." Who knew?

1 comment:

  1. Zoroastrians are fascinating. Many biblical scholars believe that the wise men who visited baby Jesus were probably Zoroastrians. Along with Judaism, they were one of the few ancient religions that was monotheistic.


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