An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Book Group Banter

This week our Utah neighborhood book group met to discuss Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 book, Kon-Tiki. George and two other husbands showed up at what is usually an all-female group. The male/female divide over the book was intriguing. The men loved the book—finding heroism in 20th century men setting off on a balsa raft to prove their theory that the Polynesian islands had been settled by South American rather than Asian travelers.

Two women besides me loved the adventure. The rest found the voyage risky and pointless. They castigated men who would leave their wives for months at a time to seek adventure. One of the guys pointed out that Heyerdahl had been married three times—apparently his wives shared the opinion of my neighbors.

Molly, the devout Mormon who picked the book, had trouble controlling the discussion. Either too young or too sheltered to have heard of the limited geography theory of Book of Mormon locale, she brought a 1961 book with quotes from long dead prophets about Pacific Islanders being the children of Lehi.

The Kon-Tiki  voyage was widely cited by Mormons in the ‘50s and ‘60s as evidence proving the story of Hagoth–the Nephite adventurer who led an excursion to settle islands in the Pacific in 55 B.C. Apparently Mormons in 2011who have endured the DNA crisis are less likely to look for physical evidence to confirm their religious beliefs. Jeff, a member of our bishopric, said he always wondered how Hagoth made it back to tell the Nephites about the success of his trip since ocean currents wouldn’t facilitate a return trip.

Our book discussions are more free-wheeling since we changed from being the Relief Society book group. The book selected for next month (which I probably won’t read) is Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist Wife. That choice sparked a discussion of polygamous groups and their teachings of officially-shelved doctrines such as the Adam/God theory.

The Primary presidency, apparently angling for a release after three years of service, insisted they’ve been teaching that in Primary. I think they’ll have to do better than joke if they really want a change of callings this year. They could include some Adam/God references in the upcoming Primary program this fall and never again have to worry about fulfilling leadership or teaching positions in our ward.

 

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