Monday, December 28, 2015

Mormon Mentions: Louise Penny

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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A word of warning:  This Mormon Mention may be a bit spoiler-y, so beware.

In The Cruelest Month, the third installment of Louise Penny's popular Armand Gamache series, the great chief inspector is trying to solve the case of a woman who died seemingly of fright.  While discussing lab reports, he says:

"'Ma Huang.  An old Chinese herb.  Also known as Mormon's tea.  And ephedra" (282).

- I'd never heard of Mormon's Tea (also called Brigham's Tea in reference to Brigham Young) and apparently, there's a lot of conflicting information about it.  As far as I can glean from some quick Internet research, Mormon's Tea is made from a shrub common in the American Southwest that is related to the Chinese herb to which Gamache refers.  Its stems are chopped up, then boiled and steeped into a concoction which is said to help with common ailments like colds, coughs, joint pain, constipation, etc.  It's also supposed to cure sexually-transmitted diseases.  The brew can also be drunk as an alternative to regular tea.  According to this article (from which I got most of my information), however, no mention of Mormon's Tea can be found in pioneer diaries until after the death of Brigham Young in 1877.  So, who knows? 

If you know anything about Mormons, you probably know that we live by a health code called The Word of Wisdom, which was revealed to Church members in 1833.  The edict cautions against the use of "strong drink" as well as "hot drinks."  Early Church leaders interpreted the latter to mean coffee and tea.  Modern leaders continue to urge us to avoid any substance that is addictive in nature, thus active LDS people generally abstain from drinking coffee and caffeinated tea.  We're also told to avoid alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, and anything else that can be harmful to the body.  Anyone whose life has been touched by addiction should be able to see the wisdom in such advice, no?

Because of the damage addiction can have on individuals, families, and society in general, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers a fantastic, free recovery program that has helped many, many people overcome addictions to not only alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, but also pornography, gambling, infidelity, overeating, etc.

1 comment:

  1. I have yet to read a Louise Penny book and she is a Quebec author. That's where I'm from. I'm not a Mormon, but I've never heard of Mormon's Tea. I learned some interesting facts reading this post. :-)

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