Saturday, January 1, 2011

Review: In Search of the Great White God by Anthony T. Cluff

I was born a Mormon. I don't know why I was. I just was. All that I remember is hearing someone say: "Hey, it's a boy. He's a Mormon. Quick, circumcise him." From that moment on I was marked mentally, physically and genetically as a Mormon.

The Mormon church says that because I was born a Mormon I had been a valiant soul in a pre-existing life, that I am a member of God's elect here on earth and that I had a front row seat at Big Bang. But with my birth as a Mormon came a heavy responsibility, which was to find the "truth" of all things, especially the "truth" about the teachings of the Mormon church. I, thus, began at birth a life long search that would bring me ultimately to an understanding of my place in the universe.

At the heart of it all was the need to know the truth about the existence of a Great White God who Mormons believe to be none other than Jesus Christ himself. That would always bring me back to that most sacred of all Mormon scriptures, The Book of Mormon. And, it would also bring me back to the most revered of all persons in Mormonism, the prophet Joseph Smith. He was responsible for bringing The Book of Mormon to light. That event was critical in Mormon history because for the first time there was hard, physical, hands-on evidence that a new kid was in town, and he'd come-a-packin'. 

It was important that I get this right. My skepticisms about Mormonism meant that I would never make it in the next life to the highest, or "Celestial," kingdom where God resides. I could only hope that I could land in the "Terrestial," or middle kingdom. I definitely wanted to avoid the "Telestial," or lowest kingdom of heaven. That is reserved for people who engage in potty talk and have problems with their personal hygiene. I was sure that is where the bully boys from my high school are waiting for me to show up so they can use me as a punching bag and make me their slave boy. 

I had been born into a religion that was far different from anything that had been seen before. Mormons believe it to be the restoration of the Gospel in all its fullness and glory. To them, it is the "old-time religion," and it's here to stay. I was unwilling or unable, however, to rely on the promptings of the "spirit" to determine the "truth" about my religion of birth. So, I decided to undertake a thorough empirical examination of what I had been taught as a child. This included the many accounts about ancient American inhabitants, competing theories about The Book of Mormon's origin, and a page-by-mind-numbing-page review of The Book of Mormon itself with a big bottle of No-Doz in hand. In the end I came up with was what I was sure would be a new and path-breaking theory of how The Book of Mormon came to be. 

But, a chance-finding of a mural from the walls of an ancient city in Mexico threatened to undermine all that I had come to believe. So, in one last desperate attempt to get at the "truth," I decided to make a personal pilgrimage to ancient Mayan ruins hidden deep in the jungles of Mexico. There I encountered a Mexican guide named after a great warrior in The Book of Mormon, a bus full of American tourists who insisted on singing the song about 100 bottles of beer on the wall every time we went out on a tour of Mexican ruins, a group of French archaeologists who were more interested in sipping fine wines than in digging for artifacts and a mysterious stranger dressed as the legendary Mayan God, Quetzalcoatl. And, it was there, atop the tallest of all the Mayan pyramids in the jungles of Northern Yucatan--the Great Pyramid of Coba--that I found what I had been looking for.

Received from the publisher for review.

My favorite quote from the book was:

The "truth" is an elusive thing. At least it is for me. No sooner do I think that I have discovered it when I find that I have not. When I think that I have found it, I discover that I did not. When I think I need look no further, I realize that I must. I am one of those persons for whom the "truth" never stands still, is never stable, and is never the same now and forevermore. It is a changeable thing, always evolving, ever unfolding.

This one gets four stars. I know virtually nothing about the Mormons, despite there being a Mormon church in my town, except what I've seen on Big Love, so this immediately intrigued me. I'm normally not exactly a fan of any religious books but this was pleasantly surprising. It was extremely well written in a clear, intelligent style that was quite readable. This fascinating look into one man's journey for his own truth will resonate with you no matter your religion or lack thereof. It is definitely recommended.

★★★★ = Really Liked It


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