Under the Banner of Heaven

krakauerRemember when I predicted that book club would BLOW UP in 2010?  I was right. January's book club meeting was by far the most successful one to date because (among other reasons): 1) it had the highest number of attendees; and 2) Christa, our hostess, made THE most delicious truffle mac and cheese.  Plus, we welcomed three new members!

Our selection this month, Under the Banner of Heaven, was a markedly different type of book than any of the other books our club has previously read (we REALLY need a name - "our club" just isn't cutting it).  A short synopsis of the book from GoodReads:

In 1984, Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered the wife and infant daughter of their younger brother Allen. The crimes were noteworthy not merely for their brutality but for the brothers' claim that they were acting on direct orders from God. In Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer tells the story of the killers and their crime but also explores the shadowy world of Mormon fundamentalism from which the two emerged.

The subject matter of UTBOH was absolutely fascinating and lent itself to easy discussion - when you hand a book addressing polygamy and the supression of women to a room full of ladies, it's expected that there will be strong opinions.  We particularly hated on the overarching theme of the inferiority of the female gender in Mormonism.  When I read that women are prohibited from holding positions of power in the Mormon religion, I said aloud "That's pretty messed up.  What kind of religion doesn't let women hold high ranking positions?"  Then I remembered that I'm Catholic.  And that most every other religion disallows women leaders as well.  WTF?

We agreed that the book was a very well written and easy non-fiction read.   The entire group felt as though we learned a TON including: 1) Mormonsim is one the fastest growing religions in the world; and 2) fundamentalist Mormans are a drain on the U.S. welfare system (who knew?).  Because polygamy is illegal in the U.S., fundamentalist Mormans can legally marry only one wife (they fake marry the others).  The fake marriages produce a crazy amount of children who are able to claim welfare benefits.  The fundamentalist Mormons receive billions of dollars in public benefits each year.

After all this serious discussion (which impressively lasted longer than usual), we moved onto lighter topics and dessert (like all book clubs).  We wrapped things up with cheesecake, whoopie pies (Meg!) and mocha fudge pie.  As you can tell, our book club is as much about the food as it is the books.

It's KB's turn to host in February and she can be a bit of a domestic overachiever, so I'm expecting big things (no pressure KB).  I'm not sure if she can top Christa's "book club favors", though - extra copies of her wedding CD.  Oh, and I might have dished out some HCG business cards, too :)