This book took me an embarassingly long time to finish because I started it and then shelved it for months. I'm definitely going to have to re-read the last few chapters to make sense of it, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Programmer and free/libre software enthusiast.
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For the win by Cory Doctorow
In the near future, expert online game players around the world unite to stop the abuse of workers in the …
So what of this horse, then, that actually held opinions, and was sceptical about things? Unusual behaviour for a horse, wasn't it? An unusual horse perhaps?
No. Although it was certainly a handsome and well-built example of its species, it was none the less a perfectly ordinary horse, such as convergent evolution has produced in many of the places that life is to be found. They have always understood a great deal more than they let on. It is difficult to be sat on all day, every day, by some other creature, without forming an opinion about them.
On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to sit all day, every day, on top of another creature and not have the slightest thought about them whatsoever.
— Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (Page 4)
I love the way Douglas Adams has of putting things into perspective.
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
There is a long tradition of Great Detectives and Dirk Gently does not belong to it. But his search for …
A fascinating read
Having spent a third of my life in the (mainstream) Mormon church, this book was a fascinating, yet uncomfortable read. It's astonishing what a person can be made do do if they are convinced that it's God's will.
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
Jon Krakauer's literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. In UNDER THE BANNER OF …
“It’s amazing how gullible people are,” DeLoy continues. “But you have to remember what a huge comfort the religion is. It provides all the answers. It makes life simple. Nothing makes you feel better than doing what the prophet commands you to do. If you have some controversial issue that you’re dealing with—let’s say you owe a lot of money to somebody, and you don’t have the means to pay them—you go in and talk to the prophet, and he might tell you, ”You don’t have to pay the money back. The Lord says it’s Okay.“ And if you just do what the prophet says, all the responsibility for your actions is now totally in his hands. You can refuse to pay the guy, or even kill somebody, or whatever, and feel completely good about it. And that’s a real big part of what holds this religion together: it’s not having to make those critical decisions that many of us have to make, and be responsible for your decisions.”
— Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (99%)
Content warning spoiler
Knapp pulled over and got out of the car to talk to the officer while the others sat with their guns at the ready, prepared to open fire if it looked like the cop had figured out who they were and why they were wanted by the law. But the officer never realized they were fugitives. Instead of attempting to arrest the men, he simply told Knapp that the Impala’s taillights were out and that the car was leaking gas. Knapp, betraying nothing, politely assured the officer that they’d get everything fixed right away. The cop told him just to drive the car back across the Utah line and out of his jurisdiction because he didn’t want it blowing up in Nevada, and then drove off into the night.
— Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (85%)
Content warning violence/"blood atonement"
The Reformation was spearheaded by the God-besotted Jedidiah Grant, Brigham’s immensely popular second counselor, whom the Saints affectionately called “Jeddy, Brigham’s Sledge Hammer.” Grant explained to the Lord’s chosen that they had the “right to kill a sinner to save him, when he commits those crimes that can only be atoned for by shedding his blood.” In September 1856 he sermonized that there were sinners even then in their midst who needed “to have their blood shed, for water will not do, their sins are of too deep a dye.”
— Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (62%)
The doctrine of "blood atonement" is one of the things that the mainstream LDS church has tried really hard to whitewash from its history.
In Dr. Groesbeck’s learned opinion, this revelation was a delusional artifact, as were all Ron’s revelations, spawned by depression and his deeply entrenched narcissism, with no basis whatsoever in reality. Which is, of course, what nonbelievers typically say about people who have religious visions and revelations: that they’re crazy. The devout individuals on the receiving end of such visions, however, generally beg to differ, and Ron is one of them. Ron knows that the commandments he’d received were no mere figment of his imagination. The Lord spoke to him. And he wasn’t about to believe the words of some faithless, pencil-neck shrink over the voice of the Almighty. That, after all, would really be crazy.
— Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (50%)
This hits a little closer to home than I'd generally care to admit.
Joseph acted fast to resolve this dilemma [contradictory personal revelation] by announcing in 1830 — the same year the Mormon Church was incorporated—that God had belatedly given him another revelation: “No one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jr.” But the genie was already out of the bottle. Joseph had taught and encouraged his Saints to receive personal revelations, and the concept proved to be immensely popular. People liked talking to God directly, one-on-one, without intermediaries. It was one of the most appealing aspects of Joseph’s new church.
— Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (26%)
I know this was definitely a draw for me.
The tone of this book is interesting. The author makes no attempt to conceal his disdain for Mormonism. Admittedly, there is much worthy of criticism.
If I'd read this book as a believer, I'd have been quick to write this guy off as an anti-Mormon apostate, and probably wouldn't have finished reading.
As his sixth wife, Debbie became a stepmother to Blackmore’s thirty-one kids, most of whom were older than she was. And because he happened to be the father of Debbie’s own stepmother, Mem, she unwittingly became a stepmother to her stepmother, and thus a stepgrandmother to herself.
— Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (12%)
Content warning criticism of Mormonism, mention of murder
He still insists that he is innocent of any crime but, paradoxically, does not deny that he killed Brenda and Erica. When asked to explain how both these apparently contradictory statements can be true, he says, “I was doing God’s will, which is not a crime.”
— Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (3%)
The scary thing is that this can in fact be justified by the Book of Mormon. (see 1 Nephi 4:7-18) #NotACult