Sunday, December 16, 2007

Jon Krakaur as a source on Mormonism? Seriously?

In her recent editorial on Romney and rant on Mormonism, Mitt’s No J.F.K. - New York Times, Maureen Dowd used Jon Krakauer as a source on us. Wow.

Calling Krakauer to get his opinion on the speech would be something like calling Dick Baer (just google his name, you'll get the picture. I didn't have time to find an objective source) to get his opinion on General Conference. But not quite as bad because in his quotes, Krakauer comes across as well-reasoned and rational.


JM Bell said...

Have you read his book on the RLDS? Or, are you on a bandwagon of like minded non-readers?

Mike Jones said...

Haven't read the book. Have no plans to read the book.

Just read the reviews. My impression from the reviews, and I could be wrong on this, is that it's about the LDS and not the RLDS. Or did he write one about the RLDS too?

Have you read it?

JM Bell said...

Read it twice. It's mostly about the RLDS, though he does cover a bit of the early history of the Church. I have no idea where anyone gets the idea that it's an anti-LDS book. It's really not.

And, really, I don't mean to be a jerk, but, how can you so vehemently pass judgment about a book (or a movie, or a person) without having read it?

He did a lot of research and, as with every religion EVER, some of it's darker parts came through.

Brigham Young;s racism, the polygamy, Mountain Meadows, etc. You may not like these things, but, as they were true, it doesn't do any good to feed the paranoid facade of the LDS people by getting pissed and rude when someone mentions some of the dark parts of our history.

Tom Grover said...


I have read Under the Banner of Heaven. It's sloppy and salacious, but entertaining.

I agree with the post. Krakauer is not an expert.

Mike Jones said...

I agree that it's sort of dumb to pass judgment on a book without reading it. Which is why I didn't mention the book in my original post.

I don't think it's being overly
paranoid to point out that Krakuaer is biased against the LDS church. The wikipedia article on him makes that point without even being flagged.

My opinion of Mr. Krakuaer is based primarily on his statements in the media (which are, as I noted in my post, refreshingly rational and reasonable even though I don't agree with him) and have been prejudiced, fairly or not, by Anatoli Boukreev's comments on Krakuaer and Krakuaer's version of the 1996 Everest tragedy.

If you haven't read Into Thin Air and are into that kind of thing, it's a great read.

I read your blog. Nice work with the toys for tots campaign. I wish more people were involved in the community and in politics as you are.

dawnawanna said...

That's funny, I don't read Krakaur's stuff because of his writings on the Everest Tragedy. So I have no idea what he's else he's even written. I usually ignore his comments because I disliked his Into Thin Air book so much. Have we talked about that before?

Interesting assumption that just because some of us don't like Krakaur biases that we might want to turn a blind eye to LDS history.

Obi wan liberali said...

Krakauer did alot of research on fundamentalist Mormonism and it's roots in 19th Century Mormonism. His telling of the Lafferty situation was stirring as well.

It is true that the LDS Church through Richard Turley took exception to many of his points, and Krakauer to his credit put Turley's points in his next edition and responded to them.

Admittedly, someone can certainly accuse me of bias regarding the LDS Church, but so would any spokesperson for the Corporation of the President.

Bradley Ross said...

Life's too short to read everything. That's why Jeff's complaint won't fly. Jeff doesn't read every issue of National Review, but I'm sure he has opinions about the contents.

I am a slow reader, so I have to be even more selective about what I read. Because I know that there are lots of problems with Krakauer's book, I am a lot less likely to read it. How do I know there are problems? The same way I know the amount of ice at the North Pole is decreasing: other people that I trust studied it an told me. I'm basing my opinion on Krakauer's book on stuff I've read like this post and its comments.

Particularly useful was this comment from David Landrith, a man not given to mindless apologetics:

A guy in my office kept bugging me about reading Under the Banner of Heaven. Basically, he thought that smart people couldn’t read Krakauer and believe in Mormonism. Finally, I read it, compiling more than 40 pages of detailed notes on it’s problems in the process.

When these notes proved too much to go over with him, I condensed my notes to this 5 page book review, entitled, “Through a Glass Darkly: Krakauer’s Dim View of Mormonism in Under the Banner of Heaven.” It was good enough at any rate to convince him that Krakauer’s book was poorly researched....

I agree that the book is readable, but it's not in the same category as No Man Knows my History, which (for all its flaws) is very good history and an unequivocal landmark in LDS history. UBH is more on a level with a James Bond novel: fun but forgettable.

Mike Jones said...

After our little discussion here, I think what I was trying to say was this:

In the editorial, I am surprised that Krakauer was introduced as simply "popular writer on Mormonism". This introduction misses his anti-Mormon bias.

It would be like quoting Melvin J. Ballard (for example) and introducing him as "popular religious thinker". This introduces him but missis his pro-Mormon bias.

In a strong editorial, I think you should make your point forcefully but also give the whole picture.