"Former-Day Saint: A Mormoir" offers a clear and thorough account of the turbulent early history and peculiar beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--"The Mormons"--before detailing in unabashed frankness the very personal history and irreverent disbeliefs of its author, a Utah native and lifelong Church member, as these relate to Mormonism.
Beginning with the foundational myths of this distinctly American faith--the Prophet Joseph Smith's First Vision of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, Smith's visitations by the Angel Moroni, his excavation of the "Golden Plates" and subsequent translation of these into "The Book of Mormon"--the book then follows the fortunes of the first believers in this fledgling religion as they are driven by hostile neighbors from communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. It then bids the Saints bon voyage on the eve of their pioneering trek to the valley of The Great Salt Lake and their successful settlement of the Rocky Mountain territory they dubbed "Deseret."
What led Joseph Smith to take the second of his multiple wives, and to keep on taking others? Why did he identify an undistinguished plot of land in Missouri as the original Garden of Eden? How did the Mormon city of Nauvoo, Illinois become more populous than Chicago? What made the Prophet think he could make a legitimate run for the U.S Presidency in 1844? And why was he being held in jail when martyred by a mob that year at the age of 38?
Why are Mormons so fanatical about genealogy--and what in the world is "Baptism for the Dead?" What goes on in their "sacred, not secret" temples? Why were African-Americans not allowed to hold the males-only priesthood until 1976? Is it true Latter-day Saints can't drink Coca-Cola? And do they really wear magic underwear?
All of these questions and more are answered between the covers of this one- of-a-kind book--just in time for the 2012 Presidential Election.
Not "The Book of Mormon" but "The Book of a Mormon," "Former-Day Saint" also portrays its author's life as it has been and continues to be influenced by the belief system he was raised in...and has now decisively abandoned. In chapters on his outcast artist father and Latter-day Saintly mother, his proselyting mission to Ecuador, his visits to the temple and his renegade days as a "Post-Mormon"--eating, drinking/smoking, and not being married--R.S. Francis attests to the tragicomical difficulties of forging an adult identity outside a paradigm of reactivity. This template and his struggles in moving beyond it will be recognized by and resonate with ex-religionists of every stripe. Are you a Recovering Catholic? Meet a Recovering Mormon.
R.S. Francis (b. 1961, Provo, Utah) received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago in 1999. His poetry, reviews and scholarly essays appear in journals and magazines,and his writing on art in The Chicago Tribune. He lives in Chicago, where he teaches in the Department of Humanities, History and Social Sciences at Columbia College.read more