Friday, February 27, 2015

Mormon Mentions: Jodi Picoult

If you're not sure what a Mormon is, let alone a Mormon Mention, allow me to explain:  My name is Susan and I'm a Mormon (you've seen the commercials, right?).  As a member of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon or LDS Church), I'm naturally concerned with how my religion is portrayed in the media.  Because this blog is about books, every time I see a reference to Mormonism in a book written by someone who is not a member of my church, I highlight it here.  Then, I offer my opinion—my insider's view—of what the author is saying.  It's my chance to correct misconceptions, expound on principles of the Gospel, and even to laugh at my (sometimes) crazy Mormon culture. 

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In Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf is trying to find her mother, who disappeared ten years ago.  While reading a book about how to become a P.I., she sees this:

"The book had other suggestions, too: searching prison databases, trademark applications, even the genealogy records of the[sic] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  When I tried those, I didn't get any results." (Page 23)

I talked a bit about genealogy in yesterday's post, but I'm happy to revisit the topic.  The LDS Church is well-known for its interest in families—both in strengthening present bonds and linking current generations with their ancestors.  Why?  Because we believe that family bonds endure not just through mortal life, but throughout all eternity.  Families are Forever is a statement familiar to all members of the church (you're pretty much guaranteed to find it stamped, painted or cross-stitched somewhere in an LDS home).  

Because of this interest, the LDS Church has amassed a huge amount of family history resources.  Many of the records are digitized and available to the public for free on FamilySearch.org.  Thanks to the enormous amount of hours volunteers (including Yours Truly) spend transcribing such documents, more are being added all the time.  With a couple clicks of your mouse, you can access records of all kinds—birth, death, marriage, census, passenger lists from immigrant ships, etc.  You'll be amazed at how much information you can find (even if Jenna Metcalf wasn't)! 

While Googling a disgraced psychic, Jenna comes across this (fictional) news story:

"In January 2004, Jones told Yolanda Rawls of Orem, Utah, that her missing five-year-old daughter, Velvet, had been brainwashed and was being raised by a Mormon family, touching off a wave of protests in Salt Lake City.  Six months later Yolanda's boyfriend confessed to the girl's murder and led police to a shallow grave near the local dump." (Page 35) 

I'm sure everyone's heard the rumor that the LDS Church is a cult.  It's not, although considering some of the practices of Mormon spin-off groups, I can understand the misconception.  I belong to a regular, old church, I promise.  Don't believe me?  Find a Mormon chapel near your home and attend a meeting or two (or three or five or ten ...).  You can see for yourself.     

Orem is kind of a wonky place, though—just ask Suey over at It's All About Books.  Kidding, Suey!  I love the Provo/Orem area.  The six years I spent living there were some of the most memorable in my life.    

8 comments:

  1. Love this! Orem is my hometown and I love it. But, yes, it has its quirks :)

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    1. I really do love Orem (except the traffic on State St. -- yikes!).

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  2. Sometimes as a Mormon when people ask if it's a cult I feel like letting my eyes glaze over and saying in an eerily calm voice, "yes, join us," but I'm not sure that would be helping the situation. ;)

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    1. LOL -- Yes, you should absolutely do that, helpful or not!

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  3. LOL! Having worked at the city (library) for the past six years now I REALLY know how wonky it is! :)

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    1. All the crazies flock to the library!

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  4. Also laughable is the idea that any child being raised by Mormons would spark protests in SLC. She must not realize how many Mormons are in Utah. (Well, maybe someone would protest in SLC)

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    1. Right? Mormons are a dime a dozen in Utah. Some psychic!

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