Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Review of Mormon History, But So Much More

Mansfield gives an excellent review of Mormon history from the beginning in the early 1800's in the “burnt-over district” near Palmyra, NY, the scene of repeated religious revivals, through the westward movement first to Jackson County, Missouri and finally to Salt Lake City Utah. He gives a detailed account of Joseph Smith's meeting with the Angel Maroni and later with John the Baptist, as well as Peter, James and John.

Although retelling the history is important to get an idea of who the Mormons were, the most important contribution Mansfield makes in this book is telling who the Mormons are today. Mansfield, according to the introduction, has taken time to meet the Mormons and learn first hand what they think about their religion and their beliefs. He starts each chapter with a vignette based, he says, on real life stories. These glimpses of Mormons defending their faith, telling what they believe, and struggling with life's problems are the best part of the book. We can see the real people behind the popular ideas of strange underwear, unusual beliefs, and prophetic visions.

What emerges from this book is a picture of the Latter-day Saints as:
  • People who strive for success, believing that life is a series of tests that must be passed. Their credo is progressing, achieving and moving forward.
  • People who believe that family is important above almost everything else. How many other religions require families to meet once a week to discuss problems and successes.
  • Education is extremely important to Mormons. It begins at an early age and most Latter-day Saints are very well educated, many doing graduate work.
  • Patriotism is inbred in the Mormons. They believe in the free-market system, and more important view, the Constitution as of Divine origin.

When I started this book, I knew a few Latter-day Saints and thought well of them, but I didn't understand their religion at all. I have to admit that I still find their beliefs a bit unusual, but everyone in our country is free to believe what they want from Pentecostals, to Catholics, to Mormons, Jews and all Protestant congregatons.

I highly recommend this book. It's very readable and will give you a much better idea of who these successful people are. At the end of the book Mansfield deals with several problems the Mormons face by becoming more prominent. One is the concern that Mormons are bound by the revelations of Saints in positions of power. I don't think this is a serious concern. I remember the Kennedy election. People painted horror stories of the country becoming subject to the Pope. That didn't happen. I very much doubt that Mormon revelations will guide anyone in charge of the country either in the military or the government to perform acts that are not in the best interests of the nation. Church and State are separate and should remain that way.

I reviewed this book for Worthy Publishing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

How Can a Writer Get in Involved in Current Events?

My husband recently asked me, what can I do to get involved in the election? This is a more difficult question than it might seem. We live in a very rural area. Most voters are from the same party and already decided. Going somewhere to answer phones, or prepare mailers isn't an option – at least more than once, so what does that leave? The Internet.

Here are a few suggestions, the same ones I gave him:
  • Write a blog. Getting access to the blogger community is very easy. Blogger from Google is simple to use and to get started. Wordpress is likewise ease to get involved with. I'm sure there are other options, but those two are readily available. Once you've set up your blog you have a platform from which you can expound your ideas. You may worry that no one will come, but I've found that over time people find you.
  • Review books. A wide range of books on almost any topic is available. Once you've read the book, you can give others your thoughts. You can do this on your own blog, but Amazon and Barnes and Noble, to name just two, are eager for reviewer input. Sometimes this even leads to an interesting exchange with readers.
  • Comment on other people's blogs. This is an easy way to get your opinions out and to start a conversation. I don't guarantee that everyone authoring a blog post will respond, but if you come to my blog Nancy Famolari's Place, I promise to respond.
  • Comment on book reviews on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. This is another way to get your views out. Besides the reviewer will be interested to hear what you think, not to mention the author.
I'm sure there are other things you can do on the Internet. All the social medial opportunities come to mind: facebook, twitter, and pinterest. It's the greatest opportunity in this century to get your voice heard. It's not hard to get started, and it can be very rewarding. Let me know if you start a blog or do a review, and I promise to visit.