[[ Book ]] ☠ Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith ⇱ PDF eBook or Kindle ePUB free

I read this book for the book club at my local library Afterwards, I felt indignant, confused, intrigued, and disgusted about all forms of faith So, I sincerely hoped that a Saint or two would show up at the book club meeting, to nullify my extremely negative view of the church Alas, no LDS believers showed, so I am left to my own conclusions about the book and faith in general Here are some of my conclusions and questions after reading this sprawling, fascinating account of the history of polygamy and violence within the Church of Later Day Saints There is a certain appeal to having no choices Sometimes religion is comforting because obedience to a provided list of rules removes personal responsibility Strict adherence to a religion removes personal doubt When you believe so fully in a church, you are no longer forced to question your own actions after all, if you carefully follow the directions of your spiritual leaders, you will gain your own paradise, regardless of what your personal conscious says about right or wrong This leads me into my next point I will never be a Mormon, for many reasons First, in the Mormon faith, if you realize the highest echelon of Mormonism, you will get your own planet to run after you die If you re a man, that is If you re a woman, you can join your man on his planet if he invites you No, no, no Please I deserve my own planet Wives and children are property, at least in the fundamentalists sects of Mormonism I am a person, an event, not chattel Second, remind me to never join a religion that condones killing See blood atonement, as typified in the Mountain Meadows Massacre Third, I don t want to be a believer in a faith that tells me I have to earn love least of all, God s We are all holy, I think We all have goodness and grace within us, no matter how many veils of earthly existence have descended Finally, I will never follow a religion that doesn t encourage me to question everything Information and education are my life blood I must be able to use my brain to get closer to God Otherwise, why the heck would s he give it to me So, now that we have the comments specific to the Mormon faith out of the way, let s move on to the questions about faith in general I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is going through a personal crisis It will boil your blood and make you think Whatcould you want Here are my questions 1 Why does listening to the divine in each of us produce such different results It can lead to peace and pacifism, or killing Who is speaking God, or ego 2 Is all fundementalism mired in violence, or do certain faiths promote it 3 Does God always speak in King James English It seems so, according to the Book of Mormon 4 Would all religions seem this crazy if we were only 200 years out, and had intimate, dirty details of each guru s life 5 Is there anything inherently wrong with polygamy Do we have a gene for monogomy I don t care, as long as no one gets hurt And marrying 13 year olds, sometimes when they re your own daughter, is inherently hurtful 6 Is faith the opposite of reason Is education the cure for religion 7 Is religion a distraction from the humdrum of our everyday lives Opposite of Buddhism Ok, y all, sorry about the long review But seriously, read the book It s excellently chilling, and will keep you up late at night writing your comments furiously on post it notes At least, that s what it did to me. [[ Book ]] ↳ Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith ↴ A Multilayered, Bone Chilling Narrative Of Messianic Delusion, Savage Violence, Polygamy, And Unyielding Faith This Is Vintage Krakauer, An Utterly Compelling Work Of Nonfiction That Illuminates An Otherwise Confounding Realm Of Human BehaviorJon Krakauer S Literary Reputation Rests On Insightful Chronicles Of Lives Conducted At The Outer Limits In Under The Banner Of Heaven A Story Of Violent Faith, He Shifts His Focus From Extremes Of Physical Adventure To Extremes Of Religious Belief Within Our Own Borders At The Core Of His Book Is An Appalling Double Murder Committed By Two Mormon Fundamentalist Brothers, Ron And Dan Lafferty, Who Insist They Received A Revelation From God Commanding Them To Kill Their Blameless Victims Beginning With A Meticulously Researched Account Of This Divinely Inspired Crime, Krakauer Constructs A Multilayered, Bone Chilling Narrative Of Messianic Delusion, Savage Violence, Polygamy, And Unyielding Faith Along The Way, He Uncovers A Shadowy Offshoot Of America S Fastest Growing Religion, And Raises Provocative Questions About The Nature Of Religious BeliefKrakauer Takes Readers Inside Isolated Communities In The American West, Canada, And Mexico, Where Some Forty Thousand Mormon Fundamentalists Believe The Mainstream Mormon Church Went Unforgivably Astray When It Renounced Polygamy Defying Both Civil Authorities And The Mormon Establishment In Salt Lake City, The Leaders Of These Outlaw Sects Are Zealots Who Answer Only To God Marrying Prodigiously And With Virtual Impunity The Leader Of The Largest Fundamentalist Church Took Seventy Five Plural Wives, Several Of Whom Were Wed To Him When They Were Fourteen Or Fifteen And He Was In His Eighties , Fundamentalist Prophets Exercise Absolute Control Over The Lives Of Their Followers, And Preach That Any Day Now The World Will Be Swept Clean In A Hurricane Of Fire, Sparing Only Their Most Obedient AdherentsWeaving The Story Of The Lafferty Brothers And Their Fanatical Brethren With A Clear Eyed Look At Mormonism S Violent Past, Krakauer Examines The Underbelly Of The Most Successful Homegrown Faith In The United States, And Finds A Distinctly American Brand Of Religious Extremism The Result Is Vintage Krakauer, An Utterly Compelling Work Of Nonfiction That Illuminates An Otherwise Confounding Realm Of Human Behavior This is a hard book for me to review given that I have quite a few Mormon friends and that although my own philosophy leanstowards existentialism than anything else, I feel its differents strokes for different folks I am led inescapably by this book to view Mormonism as a cult that has changed and adapted as was expedient given the various political currents ebbing and waning.I ve seen, here in the West Indies, how a cult can gain both the practice and the legitimacy of an established religion within a few generations There are two routes to this The first is the government is willing to recognise it and allow it tax exempt status in which case it becomes part of the establishment The second is that it becomes an issue of political correctness and people and the media must appear to pay the cult at least the lip service of respect whether or not it deserves it I m talking about Rastafarianism of course And I ve read it here in this book as a cult developed into what would become the FLDS still a cult and the mainstream Mormons.In the first generation, the founder either seeks influence and power as with Mormonism, or is deified, Haile Selassie in Rastafarianism In the second generation the founding truths and myths and the legends surrounding the founders or the deified one have coalesced into a body of oral and written literature that will form the holy books This will become the work of sacred reference that will be consulted when laws are changed or introduced and which will be used when moral laws are decided As an aside in all cults and religions it seems to be that men will use the holy books to justify their treatment of women There are no established religions that have been created by women, the development and administration of religion is a man s game In the third generation, the grandchildren are in the same situation as the children of people belonging to religions thousands of years old they do not remember a time, nor do their parents when they and their families were not believers and theirs is a history and established pattern of worship and traditions to draw upon.When the religion is still a cult, the goverment and courts will not allow the teachings of that cult to be a defence for crimes committed There is much of this, including a truly unholy massacre in this book But once the cult has the weight of an established religion, then the religion becomes a legitimate defence to crime, the crime has been committed Under the Banner of Heaven.As with all Karakauer books, its very well written in quite a journalistic style and is well worth a read even if you totally disagree with my interpretation of it.read originally Dec 1, 2008 4.0 to 4.5 stars For non fiction, this book had me absolutely riveted from the very beginning This true crime narative has three main themes, all of which I think Krakauer accomplishes extremely well First, this is a true crime story of the brutal double murder of Brenda Lafferty and her 15 month old baby girl at the hands Ron and Dan Lafferty the older brothers of Brenda s husband Second, is a survey of the origin and early history of Mormonism and the basic doctrines of the Mormon faith Third, the book details the deep divide and animosity between the Mormon church and the various fundamentalist Mormon sects, including the one to which the murderers belonged These three story lines are not broken down into sections but are interwoven throughout the book However, for simplicity I will address each separately THE MURDERSOn July 24, 1984, Brenda and Eric Lafferty, wife and daughter of Allen Lafferty, were brutally murdered by Allen s older brothers Ronald and Dan Lafferty The book begins with an account of the murders and several of the newspaper articles that covered it and then layers in the story of Ron and Dan and the events leading up to the killing throughout the rest of the book One quote from the book that still haunts me occurs in the first few pages when Dan describes the murder of his 15 months old niece He describes how he found his fifteen month old niece, Erica, standing in her crib, smiling up at him I spoke to her for a minute, Lafferty recalls I told her, I m not sure what this is all about, but apparently it s God s will that you leave this world perhaps we can talk about it later And then he ended her life with a ten inch boning knife. For me, as a father of two little girls, this is one of the most disturbing passages I have ever read THE HISTORY OF MORMONISM The second component of the book is a fairly detailed overview of the founding and early history of the Mormon church I am not joking when I say that before I began reading this book, almost everything I knew about the Mormon faith came from watching South Park I thought the early history of the church was fascinating, especially the descriptions of the tension and actual armed conflicts between LDS supporters and 1 Missouri residents and militia in 1838 aka the Missouri Mormon War , 2 the Illinois Militia in 1844 aka Illinois Mormon War and 3 the U.S Government in 1857 58 aka the Utah War For those not familiar with these conflicts or this period of American History, I think you will find it very interesting FUNDAMENTALIST MORMONISMThe most compelling aspect of the book for me was the description of various fundamentalist Mormon sects, including their basic beliefs and the amount of influence and control they maintain over their followers Krakauer goes on to describe the deep animosity that the fundamentalists have for the mainstream Mormon church and vice versa While there are many points of contention between the two, the major theological difference is over polygamy which the fundamentalists believe is a sacred duty required by God He states in the Prologue of the bookMormon authorities treat the fundamentalists as they would a crazy uncle they try to keep the polygs hidden in the attic, safely out of sight, but the fundamentalists always seem to be sneaking out in public at inopportune moment to create unsavory scenes, embarrassing the entire LDS clan. Krakauer also describes how the fundamentalist Mormons view the U.S Government as Satan and believe that stealing from the government either in the form of educational grants for cities which they control or in the form of welfare for their numerous wives and children is their sacred duty He says,Fundamentalists call defrauding the government bleeding the beast and regard it as a virtuous actFor example, the largest fundamentalist sect is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the United Effort Plan UEP At the time the book was written, the UEP was run by Rulon T Jeffs aka Uncle Rulon out of the town of Colorado City, AZ on the border between Arizona and Utah Colorado City has a population of about 5000 all of which belong to the UEP and the town gets between 4Millon and 6Million a year in public education funding and other grants The power base of the town stems from Uncle Rulon who had approximately 75 wives many as young as 13 14 and over 65 children BTW, no member of the town is able to watch TV, read a newspaper or have any interaction with the outside world FINAL THOUGHTSI thought this was a compelling read Krakauer does a great job of layering in a ton of interesting background while keeping the narrative of the events leading up the brutal murders moving forward I was impressed with how well Krakauer avoided letting the narrative get bogged down although that could just be my fascination with the subject matter HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. You know, I probably shouldn t have read this directly after finishing In Cold Blood I m not saying the combination brought out the homicidal psychotic in me, but I did have to pay for stabbing the hell out of a turkey in the Albertson s meat section the other day Is there a stranger sect out there than the Mormons I mean, golden plates lost tribes Nephites battling Lamanites Orrin Hatch Well, yes, I guess one look at Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah s couch suggests that Scientology has a lot to answer for, as well For that matter, I ve never understood how a burning bush speaks to someone Why a burning bush Why not, say, a burning acacia tree But if mainstream Mormonism is a little on the far out side, then fundamentalist Mormonism sort of like regular Mormonism withfanaticism,racism,welfare cheating,taking of wives, andchild rape is like the spastic uncle that mainstream Mormonism keeps in the wine cellar Thumping What thumping I didn t hear anything Did you hear anything, honey I didn t hear anything Krakauer does a fine job of interweaving Mormon history, profiles of fundamentalist breakaway Mormon sects, and the hideous, gruesome story of the two God soaked fundamentalist brothers who slashed the throats of a young woman and her infant daughter He attempts to be as fair minded as possible about all these subjects while never neglecting to call a spade a spade Personally, I would have used the word nutjob and charlatan a lotoften, and not just in connection with the fundamentalists, but Krakauer makes a point of not passing judgment on the validity of firmly held religious beliefs I guess a book called Is the Entire State of Utah Out of Its Mindwouldn t sell In sum, though, Under the Banner of Heaven is as gripping and hard to put down as Krakauer s other fine books, and offers a valuable insight into a strange, deeply American phenomenon Recommended One small but not unimportant note Krakauer includes a final Author s Remarks section at the end of the book These remarks chiefly concern Krakauer s own attitudes toward religion and Mormonism, as well as his intent in writing the book It s unfortunate that he added this postscript, not because it s unwarranted but because a it s largely superfluous, and b it rather ruins the picture perfect way the rest of the book ends Jon, you had it in the bag, man all you had to do was dribble out the clock Everything in that postscript should be said in interviews. The Spirit of AmericaHarold Bloom has called Mormonism the American Religion Not only was it created in America, Mormonism also articulates the American Dream in both its history and its doctrine the ultimate deification of its members united in a theocratic independence of civil authority Mormonism, although a relatively small sect, represents the mainstream of American evangelical, perhaps national, consciousness What Under the Banner of Heaven demonstrates, if nothing else, is just how strange and syncretistic that consciousness is Mormon faith is something quite distinct from that of Pauline Christianity, for example In the latter, faith refers to intellectual assent to certain unchanging doctrines In Mormonism, faith means obedience to the authority of the church hierarchy, which may decide to change fundamental doctrines from time to time In Christianity there is a tradition of opposing ecclesiastical authority with dogmatic tradition Mormonism opposes doctrine through hierarchical authority.Widespread doctrinal debate is not possible, therefore, within Mormonism Mormon sectarian divisions are much like the personal loyalties of hyper orthodox Jewish sects which are directed toward individual religious leaders, and only incidentally to the dogmatic stance of these leaders Loyalty is not to the position but to the individual, literally the definition of a cult of personality.As Bloom has noted, there is a decided gnostic strain in Mormonism The world, notably but not solely other human beings outside the church are, when not actually evil, a threat to the Mormon faithful This attitude is expressed in extreme form by the so called Fundamentalist Mormon Church which doesn t recognise the legitimacy of civil government at all and openly conducts a strategy of draining the beast by exploiting local, state, and federal government to obtain welfare benefits for members But even moderate Mormons appear to tolerate democratic institutions as a necessary and temporary evil In this, Mormonism echoes the sentiments of the first Puritan, Baptist, and Methodist settlers who traditionally accepted democratic government only so long as it conformed with their doctrinal interpretations One nation under God is meant literally.Mormonism bases its legitimacy on the idea of continuing divine revelation Where Christianity declares revelation closed with the death of the Apostles, Mormons accept not only the writings of Joseph Smith to be divinely inspired, but also the possibility of direct revelation to any male member of the church Inspiration is a part of being Mormon.Spiritual insight is a virtue skill capacity for all those who are bona fide members of the Mormon priesthood, which includes all Mormon men This patriarchal egalitarianism appears almost Roman in its presumption that the boundaries of the state end where the household begins The state has no right to intrude upon family matters, even if these involve questions of statutory rape, child abuse or paedophilia The paterfamilias is sovereign in his sphere.This recognition of continuing revelation and its literal interpretation at the level of the household has caused problems since the earliest days of Mormon development Joseph Smith s revelations about polygamy, for example, were countered by revelations to his sons and his wife that suggested Smith was being self serving, not to say lascivious In a highly authoritarian structure like the Mormon Church, there is only one path for those who revelations are either not recognised or condemned as heretical separation Consequently Mormonism is evenfragmentary than Christianity Not only are there a variety of formal sects, there are also an untold number of independents who conduct their unique cults at effectively within their own households One s family gods in Shintoism naturally come to mind Within the American legal system, such independents may claim religious affiliation and constitutional protection when convenient and reject hierarchical supervision when not.Factually, all religions have their extremist adherents Although Mormonism arguably has structural and cultural characteristics as well as a history which are amenable to violent interpretation by its members, this is not what I think is most interesting about either the Church or Under the Banner of Heaven Rather, it is Mormonism as an interpretation of being American that issignificant andinformative.The official interpretation of the American Dream involves several mythical principles Devotion to democratic government operating independently of religious affiliation an openness to opportunity for talent and effort regardless of social status and political involvement based on principles of equality and an absence of coercion are some of the most basic of these principles But this dream has never been approached in reality nor has it it even considered as desirable by whatever one chooses to define as the establishment of American culture and politics The mainstream of this culture is represented rather well by Mormonism Not only does the Church accurately capture a perennial and persistent part of the American character, it also embodies the functional American ideal.This ideal incorporates several apparent contradictions Political authoritarianism is combined with a traditional rejection of the mechanism of civil government necessary to carry out that authoritarianism The result is a government that is tolerated as long as it affects only those who have not achieved the status of authority This class has included the native population as well as a succession of immigrant groups, most recently aspiring immigrants from Islamic countries and Central America.Similarly American politics is highly factional without being ideological Whatever political doctrines prevail at the moment may be replaced seamlessly by there opposite when required especially at the call of a charismatic leader The potential elector therefore chooses his tribe, and adopts an attitude of loyalty to that tribe regardless of its policies This provides a great degree of moral as well as intellectual flexibility which Americans perceive as freedom.American freedom, like Mormon faith, also has a peculiar meaning It is the freedom to conform If conformance is not forthcoming, the alternative is to leave Freedom, as a practical matter, does not include the freedom to disagree, debate, or dispute while remaining a part of the polity This is not a new development in Mormonism but it is amodern expression of the original European settlers Recall that the Baptists emigrated to the Rhode Island Plantations because they had been banned from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.The ideal of truth in America has always been a matter of politics This is a natural implication of the right of every American to their own divine revelation or biblical interpretation if they prefer that term To put it crudely but accurately Being right is a personal right Expertise, intellectual skill, superior knowledge have no priority over the intuition, the hunch, and the prejudiced opinion This congeries of peculiar ideals lead to another which is peculiar in a different way idealised violence Violence in America is not a consequence of frontier lawlessness or pioneering necessity it is an essential part of the dream The combination of faith as obedience, authoritarian rejection of authority, freedom as withheld commitment, self serving claims of conscience, and truth as relative to doctrine create an implicit appeal to force as the ultimate virtue This ideal goes some way in explaining not just the statistics of violent crime in America, but also its resistance to any reforms, like gun control, likely to improve them.My suggestion, therefore, is that Under the Banner of Heaven is not as probative about the nature of the Mormon Church as it is about American culture, particularly political culture In this light, the book is farinformative than as a typical salacious expos of cultic error or abuse As is also the title itself. This book makes a lot of big promises, but it suffers from several serious flaws 1 Lack of focus.2 Too long.3 Preposterous claim.4 BoringThis is a true crime novel maybe set against the history of the Mormon Church but not really trying to tie in a couple of murders committed by a couple of sickos all too common into an historical and political climate of post terrorist, millennial religious revival unsuccessfully.For true crime, it s shockingly dull, and the crime is committed by the middle of the book, but you already know it s going to happen because it s committed in the prologue, too The characters aren t interesting, their motivations are the ordinary motivations of religious sickos, and the detail is presented tediously.The Mormon Church is presented as entirely to blame for the murderers thoughts and the victims, and for Elizabeth Smart s abduction and captivity It s crammed full of historical detail that might be interesting but it s presented in such a snide, disrespectful tone that it s just a rip on the Church At one point the author grudgingly admits that Mormonism is no stranger or objectively odd than any other religion once you get right down to it but he nonetheless mocks it and its adherents He continually harps on its sexism, as if every other religion in the Western World were a paragon of equality and political fairness Odder still is the fact that his murderers and enablers aren t even Mormon They invented a religion based on Mormonism, but it s taken to such an extreme that the Mormon Church has disassociated itself with them and is cited frequently by the author as denying that what these guys practice is the same religion.I made it to page 175 where the murders happened, and then the book jumped to another overly detailed of the history of Joseph Smith and friends and I was only halfway through the book I guess the rest of it is how the Mormons got to Utah and the court case, but considering everyone knew who committed the murder they d told maybe ten people they were going to do it and they confessed immediately and you knew this already from the book there was no suspense about that The psychological profile of a religious killer is known already I can t imagine what you would need to keep writing about.There are also too many footnotes, on diverse and vaguely interesting tidbits, some of them half a page long It adds to the lack of focus It s just a scrambled book about a tragedy Everything seems to be coming up polygamy of late, down to the HBO series, Big Love So perhaps this was shocking and provocative and informative a few years ago, but the fundamentalist polygamist sects are very much in the public consciousness now and this book doesn t give any new information What I found most interesting were the similarities to some of the characters in that television show to some of the fundamentalist profiles in the book None of them were similar to the point of being inspired by, I don t think, but things like the Romanian immigrant becoming a plural wife reminded me of Ana, and the daughters of prophets all over the place reminded me of Nikki, and the Mormon wives of Mormon men who adopt polygamy reminded me of Barb Of course, this is in circumstance only Bill Paxton s family makes me wish I had a sister wife sometimes I d certainly get a lotdone. Hmmmwhere do I start First of all, I didn t finish reading this book It was intriguing in the beginning to learn about the Fundamentalist Mormons and the interestingly odd things they believe and practice It was also interesting to contemplate the power of faith Faith in something or someone, regardless of what or whom they are, can make people do unbelievable things This is true.I can see how Krakauer would have been frustrated when access to historical documents and interviews with prominent LDS leaders weren t granted to him In order to tell all sides of a story, you must be able to research all sides I think in the past 5 10 years, the LDS church has beenforthcoming and open with their history and archives, thanks largely to the prophet Gordon B Hinckley So perhaps if Krakauer were to have written this book now, he would not encounter these same road blocks Some people may feel that if some aspects of the churches history were to be exposed to the general membership of the church, it would cause members to lose faith This may be true of some But I believe that those who truly have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel, the prophet Joseph Smith, and especially of the Lord Jesus Christ these people would not sway from their beliefs Being a devout member of the LDS Mormon faith, I was a bit disturbed to see how the defining line between the FLDS and LDS churches was often blurred and crossed These religions are completely separate in all but their initial history Polygamy is not currently being practiced by any member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints that is in good standing If a member were practicing polygamy, they would be excommunicated That said, I also did not appreciate the tone with which Krakauer referred to Joseph Smith I have great respect and admiration for this leader of my church He was a good man who did the things that God and Jesus Christ asked him to do I m sure it wasn t always easy, but he did it anyway There are things in the history of the Mormon church that have and still occasionally do disturb me For instance polygamy, the priesthood being withheld from black men, the Mountain Meadows massacre, etc But I also know that I do not understand everything and will be able to gain a complete understanding when I leave this earth Most of all, I know that I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ I know that Jesus Christ did restore His church here upon the earth through Joseph Smith I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God I also know that if I have Faith, that intense faith that is required for people to do extraordinary and even seemingly ordinary things, I will one day stand before my Lord Jesus Christ, sure in the knowledge of my place as a daughter of God. I really enjoyed Into Thin Air, but now I wonder if it is poorly done as this book was As a Mormon I was amazed at Krakauer s complete naivete that he s trying to pass off as expertise and a well researched book I d be scared of Mormonism too if I read this and didn t know better The logic leaps he makes are simply massive For a story about the Lafferty s, this is a nicely told yarn For understanding its extrapolation into a story about Mormonism it is foolishness at its finest. Intriguing and Incisively Iconoclastic Ron Dan Lafferty, convicted of vicious 1984 murders of their brother s wife infant daughter shown below A razor edged examination of fanaticism in religion, focused primarily on the Mormon Church and its fundamentalist offshoot sects that continue to adhere to the norms the federal government forced the Church to abandon over a century ago polygamy and the marriage of pubescent females Jon Krakauer concentrates on the true story of the 1984 murders of a woman and her infant daughter, immersing the reader in a timeline that shows the violence of some of today s Mormon offshoot fundamentalists can be traced back, at least in part, to the Church s origins after its leaders were banished by Eastern U.S post Victorian society for polygamy and early marriages Krakauer s poetic fire seems aimed at 1 the flimsy nature of the societal line between a man this seems primarily limited to men being deemed a lunatic and seen as a religious prophet, when he says, God told me to do this I must sow my seed we must travel West I must impregnate your lovely daughter and,2 how shortly after Joseph Smith s death, the Church leaders ubiquitous practice of prefacing nearly every decision or action with God spoke to me, may have precipitated today s fundamentalists justifying criminal conduct by saying God told him to ignore the laws so that he could marry and rape your daughter, and further, may have ultimately contributed to a fringe fanatic, whose black heart overflowed with resentment and revenge, perpetrating homicidal retribution by reading his demoniac thoughts as God s statement of a divine will A bit overlong, yet overall worthy of a read if you are fascinated by religious sects.