All of my books with St. Martin’s, WIVES AND SISTERS, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, and the one I just finished, SAINTS AND SINNERS, are set in the Mormon culture. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS is already generating buzz and controversy because it opens with a scene in the LDS Temple. This, of course, is taboo. I am sure more than one Mormon is waiting for my house to fall down. But this is real. This is the CULTURE. You need to see it to understand it.
I have received lots of emails from Mormons asking why I could and can “not leave the Church” alone. That’s a common phrasing they use. “If you leave the Church, leave it alone.”
Of course, it’s okay if the Church does not leave ME alone. At least in their eyes. They can harass me to high heaven. And they do.
But that’s not the only reason I write about the Mormon culture. I write about it, because IT’S my culture. My father is a descendant of Mormon pioneers. My mother is a convert. I spent every Sunday for all of my childhood sitting in those hard pews. When I began to have doubts about its truth, especially the claims of being THE ONLY TRUE THING, I decided I better research it.
I think if I’m going to say I believe something is NOT true, I need to have proof to back it up. So I did, and the research just confirmed what my logic told me.
But I still live in Utah, and I still deal with Mormons every single day, and most of my family is deeply enmeshed in the Mormon culture and it comes up EVERY SINGLE DAY.
This is what I know.
There are good Mormons, and there are bad Mormons. There are Mormons who believe devoutly with all their hearts, and there are those who don’t really think it’s the “one true thing,” but hey, everyone else is doing it, and it’s what they’ve always known. It’s comforting. And there are those who do it for social reasons, because one can be ostracized if you aren’t believing. My friend Carlene was baptized as a child, because her mother didn’t want her to be left out. As children, we were discouraged from playing with or hanging out with non-Mormons–unless we were inviting them to Church.
I think this is not as big an issue today as it was back then.
Things have changed. And perhaps that is why so many Mormons are in an uproar over the linking of the mainstream LDS Church to the clan of Weenie Rat Face, pervert, pedophile, and evil dictator.
True Believing Mormons today are devout, faithful, and law-abiding. They do NOT practice or condone polygamy. They look with disgust upon those who do. They abhor the practice of marrying off young girls. I can understand why they do not WANT their name associated with Warren Jeffs and the FLDS clan.
My stance in the past few days is NOT one of Mormons are bad. It’s one of reality. Many, many faithful Mormons DO NOT REALIZE how strongly polygamy is enmeshed with their religion. They do not realize that WITHOUT PARTICIPATING IN POLYGAMY, the Doctrine & Covenants and Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith and others after him have said THEY WILL NOT BE ADMITTED into the Celestial Kingdom.
It’s a simple fact. But they don’t know about it.
Not only that, but they don’t KNOW that there has NEVER been a prophecy saying there will be no more polygamy. Oh no. Polygamy is still there. It has just been suspended, if you will, so that they can live the laws of the land.
Mormon polygamy was officially stopped by a manifesto. A manifesto is NOT a prophecy, and Wilford Woodruff was well aware of this.
As were those after him. And as are those presiding in leadership today.
Until there is an official “prophecy” banning it, it can be reinstated at ANY TIME.
Under the leadership of Gordon B. Hinckley, this will never happen. But Hinckley is quite ill.
I do not, honestly, believe that polygamy will be reinstated in my lifetime, at least by the mainstream Church. But it could be.
This, to me, is fascinating, as is the fact that there are more than 100 “sects” of believers in the Book of Mormon. The SLC church is just the biggest and most wealthy.
With the incredible history of Mormonism comes a wealth of intrigue and suspense, and MATERIAL. There is ALWAYS something to write about. I’ve spent my life here. I’ve lived in and among it, and it’s in my blood.
Good, bad, pretty, ugly, it’s all there. And I cover it all. Please don’t tell me there aren’t good Mormons in my books. There are. Do I spotlight abuses? Yes. Please don’t tell me there aren’t abuses. There are.
Don’t send me emails asking me why I don’t write about Catholics. I realize they have their own set of issues. But I did not grow up Catholic, and I am not surrounded by Catholics.
Don’t suggest I write about the Scientologists. Tom Cruise gives me hives.
I live here in Utah. I write about Utah Culture. All of it. I am well aware that “all of it” is not faith-promoting. That is not my concern.
Reality is rarely white, fluffy, happy and one non-stop party. Life is hard. People are weak. Human beings make mistakes. And human beings learn, too. And grow. And become real.
The Mormon world view is often narrow and the teachings are sexist and in the past, racist. I take issue with that, and I reserve my right to address it.
I also reserve my right to spotlight good Mormons, like my mom. I don’t always agree with what she does, and vice versa, but she is a good person. She does the best she can to live her religion in a tough world.
We’ve had some tough times, my mom and I, because my religious views do not align with hers. And she has always been taught that this affects MY eternal salvation. She wants the best for me. I don’t agree with her take on it. I don’t see her “best” as the reality and the right thing.
I remember once, when my father was admonishing me to return to the Mormon faith, he likened the religion to a Cadillac. “There are lots of cars out there,” he said, “but I want the best for my kids. I want you to have a Cadillac.”
One man’s Cadillac is another man’s Pinto.