Under the Banner of Heaven book club discussion questions is a powerful and hauntingly beautiful film about a family of Mormon pioneers struggling to survive in the American wilderness during the height of the pioneer spirit.
The depiction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints and Mormon fundamentalism in Jon Krakauer’s “ Under the Banner of Heaven” has been a sticking point for church members and Uthans for nearly two decades now. Now, the book has been turned into an FX on Hulu miniseries of the same name. Both tell the story of the real- life murder of Brenda Lafferty, a devout member of the church, and her 15-month-old son Erica.
“ There’s a redemption and stopgap in (Brenda’s) Mormonism. Her Mormonism is depicted so beautifully, so forcefully, and I suppose it’s worth defending,” said Lindsay Hansen Park, a literal and artistic adviser for the series. “ I noway felt growing up in the church like I was any lower than anyone differently, and Brenda sort of feels that,” she said. “ And it’s only when she expresses that and tries to live the effects that she was tutored that she runs into trouble.”
Brenda’s tone- assurance did n’t go over well with her sisters-in- law Ron and Dan Lafferty. The Lafferty sisters turned to Mormon fundamentalism and decided Brenda and her son demanded to be “ removed. ” The book faced fierce review for depicting the religion as one grounded in violence, and now the show is getting analogous reviews.
“ Brenda’s experience of being a kind of liberal, more progressive Latter-day Saint marrying into an extreme family is hard for people to watch,” said Hansen Park. “ Because some people, some Mormons will go their whole life and noway interact with a family like the Laffertys.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Disclosure The show is a fiscal guarantor of KUER.Caroline Ballard What are the pitfalls in doing a “ smoothly fictionalized” interpretation of a true story?
Lindsay Hansen Park I am one of those folks that when I watch a period piece or literal drama, I like to probe what’s true, what’s false. But working now in this part on the show, I realize the difficulties in rephrasing that kind of delicacy. One of our challenges was abridging this veritably broad timeline of Mormon history and this veritably complicated kind of true crime case into seven occurrences. It was challenging for me to be suitable to make those cultural concessions.
CB Critics say the show paints with too broad a encounter when it draws a direct line between violence in the founding of the religion and violence that happed further than a century latterly. Why bring that early history of the church into the show at all?
LHP People that are making that notice don’t understand Mormon fundamentalism. Mormon monotheists are frequently looking back at original textbooks and trying to recreate the Joseph Smith story. We see this over and over again. For the FLDS, for illustration, that is the most notorious bone in Utah, Warren Jeffs’ group. I mean, when he took over from his father, Rulon Jeffs, he recreated the race extremity with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. He talks about being in captivity and being fed, you know, bane and meat, just like Joseph Smith claimed he did when he was in captivity. This is a huge part of the Mormon fundamentalist story. And if you do not understand that, also you are not going to understand how deeply the history plays into the story.
CB Who’s this show for? I suppose you need some familiarity with the church and the culture to kind of get what is going on. But I am not sure numerous church members are going to want to watch it.
LHP I suppose that that was a question that a lot of people had, but I have actually had a different experience. I suppose a lot of people are curious. Mormons are deeply curious about how they are depicted. You know, we’ve a whole narrative about how outlanders are in this struggle with us, and it’s sort of this haul of war. My stopgap is that our Mormon community, this is our chance to show the world who we’re and sort of drop the rope in this haul of war.
It’s kind of disturbing and humiliating to realize that our guard of this kind of show is playing into the exact notice of the show, the exact notice that people have of Mormonism. People do not trust Mormons because we are frequently not the first to address these effects. It’s outlanders that are doing it. I’ve a lot of Mormon monotheists that helped on my exploration on this show, and they’re having these stalwart, hard exchanges in their community, and I hope that can be in the mainstream church.
I really would like our own community to get down from the kind of faith politics of‘does the show prove the church is good or bad or true or false?’This is a Mormon world that the show generators created. So from a Mormon lens, it’s really cool to see the fundamentalist perspective, theex-Mormon perspective, the disbelievers perspective, the faithful perspective, the sisterhood that is expressed, all of these effects interacting. And yet I have now watched the series withnon-Mormons and they are seeing for the first time the complications and what they allowed was just this kind of monolithic, kind of strange, crazy community. And it’s dismembering that for them. I suppose that that is a real gift, and I hope that our community will be suitable to see that.