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The Book Of Mormon Girl
The Book Of Mormon Girl

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AIR DATE: September 19, 2012

Joanna Brooks characterizes herself as a blogger who explores her faith out loud, telling hard truths about growing up as an independent thinker in the Mormon faith.  In an election year when Mitt Romney’s candidacy has brought the country to its ‘Mormon moment,’ Brooks has achieved political influence of her own, landing on Politico’s  "50 to Watch" list. Her memoir “The Book of Mormon Girl” traces her evolution from Marie Osmond wannabe to Brigham Young feminist.

 

Excerpts from the Interview

On Body and Soul

I opened the book with a scene of my parents sitting us down at the family table and my father teaching us about the way life works according to Mormon teachings. He used a very familiar lesson style that many Mormons will immediately recognize. He took his hand and he held a cotton gardening glove and wiggled his fingers and he said “This hand is your spirit - it always lived. And when you came to earth…” And he put his hand inside the glove and said:  “You were born, and you took on this body and you’re here to learn things and gain experience. And some day your body is going to die. Your spirit is going to live on and take all that knowledge with it.” And what a beautiful way to teach a very small child that life is a learning experience and you’re here to gain knowledge and experience and perspective. That’s one of the most indelible lessons of my Mormon childhood.

On Mormon ‘Perfection’

One of the reasons I wrote this book is I wanted to encourage Mormon people to talk candidly about  the real life struggles we face with our own faith. Mormons have responded to misunderstanding and even ridicule by non-Mormons by trying to project an image of perfection.  You think back if you’re old enough to remember the Osmonds, you remember the shining happy perfect family, and you see it in Mitt Romney in his shining happy perfect family, with his five strapping sons, that perfection is one of the ways we’ve armored ourselves from having been misunderstood and stereotyped as everything from vicious to deviant. But now that we are emerging as a better understood part of American society, it’s OK for us to talk out loud about the things that are hard in our faith, not out of a spirit of criticism or tuning the faith down, but as an honest sharing of spiritual struggle.

On How To Spot Mormons

We still play the game. When my family goes to Disneyland we can always spot the other Mormons at Disneyland. There’s a big posse, a bunch of kids – and not all Mormons look like this but it helps. A bunch of kids, modest clothing because adult Mormons wear sacred undergarments – even on a hot day there’s going to be sleeves, there’s not going to be short shorts. No coke, no coffee, no cigarettes. Blond, there’s some blondness happening among cultural and ethnic Mormons. Not always, but it helps.

On Coming of Age

I received a copy of "Marie Osmond’s Guide to Beauty, Health and Style" when I was coming of age at a pivotal point. And here she was the icon of Mormon womanhood for me. I was a little dark-haired ambitious Mormon girl and she was this dark-haired ambitious Mormon girl, with her own television studio and he own show. And she published this guide with beauty tips, and exercise routines, and diet regimens and wardrobe charts. And that was going to be my manual to Mormon womanhood. But life doesn’t always fit on the grid. It turned out I was an asthmatic 7th grader with a bad permanent. Like so many other 12 and 13 year olds who know what it’s like to idolize a pop celebrity, and to try and  follow all these unwritten rules of how to be a grown woman, and find yourself falling desperately short. That was my story too.

 

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    COMMENTS:
    Scott quotes Paul's comments in I Corinthians correctly, but the real reason Paul makes the comments in the first place was to convince the people of the time that there is a ressurrection. The whole 15th chapter (including verse 29) is his attempt to explain in "plain english" there is hope for a ressurrection. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" I Corinthians 15:22. He uses the ordinance of "baptism for the dead", which was at the time both widely understood and commonly practiced by those who were intended to receive his epistle, to state that why would anyone do such a common ordinance, if the dead rise not at all. In the city of Corinth, during Paul's day, few beleived in the resurrection (no one had previously been ressurrected until Christ became the first fruits of the ressurrection). Today it is just the opposite, many beleive and understand that the ressurrection is real, but few believe or have even heard of the oridinance of "baptism for the dead". A beautiful ordinance that allows the entire earth to fulfill the requirement of baptism, without denying anyone all that the Father has.
    Bill Sep 19, 2012 05:49:15 AM
    with all due respect to Mormon Girl, why doesn't Dave ask her about posthumous baptism. This boils my blood.
    BarbaraSep 17, 2012 10:20:07 AM
    The Mormon belief in baptisms for the dead comes from Corinthians 15:29: "Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?" Almost all religions have beliefs that are strange to outsiders. Whether or not these beliefs are "true" comes down to faith. Joanna represents a growing number of Mormons who reject many of the truth claims of the church, yet find a greater sense of purpose through church involvement.
    ScottSep 17, 2012 20:46:21 PM
    What about it, exactly, boils your blood? My guess is it boils your blood because you don't fully understand it. I say this not because I know anything about you, obviously, but because the practice is widely misunderstood. Did you know that Mormons are performing an ordinance that we believe the person is free to either accept or reject? We do not consider them a posthumous member of the church. It is no different than how normal baptism functions except for the fact that the person is dead, and therefore, cannot be baptized on their own behalf. We perform the ordinance *in case* they decide in the afterlife that they would like to be baptized. I really do not understand how someone could honestly object to deceased people being given the same choice about which church to belong to that living people are given.
    Jeremy JensenSep 18, 2012 21:18:43 PM
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