Mormon women will relate to the desperation Brooks so eloquently describes: “For years, I cried every time I set foot in a Mormon ward house. Crying out of fear and anger and loneliness and misunderstanding. Crying that the Church had punished women like me, people like me, leaving us exiled among our own.” (Kindle location 1687). Beginning in her teens, through her young adult years at BYU and beyond into graduate school, she questions the value of her gender. These questions increasingly appear to cause her despair and angst. Then, she describes her complete dismay and disagreement with the LDS position on Proposition 8, California’s successful ballot measure which overturned the legislated and judicially upheld law allowing same-sex marriage. In contravention of LDS policy, she openly advocates voting “No,” on Proposition 8.
Yet Brooks barely alludes to the real problems with Mormonism: the suppression and misrepresentation by Church leaders of historical facts. Members who have questioned this white-washed version of Mormonism’s historical and theological foundation have been criticized. Leaders have openly denounced intelligent inquiry into these issues. Members of the LDS hierarchy have pronounced as heretical the discussion, let alone exhibition, of true feminine power and have unabashedly exhibited the above-described patent bigotry against same sex-marriage. Why so much backlash against an advocacy of true history and basic human rights? Why all the insular Mormon secrets and narrow-minded thinking?
The author conveniently skips over the real, underlying problem with the LDS Religion: that it was built and continues to be presented as something that historical documents reveal it never was: gospel teachings from an ancient history written by American prophets on golden plates. Brooks ends her book with a plea for a pluralistic Zion, one that mirrors her marriage to her Jewish husband and their admirable effort to bring both religious (and perhaps cultural) traditions together for the sake of their young children. Hers is a worthy goal. However, it cannot be obtained by sweeping real doctrinal and historical issues under the carpet as Brooks has done. These need to be exposed and examined for what they are, addressed openly and then, dealt with. This is something that, absent a demand from Mormons within the Church, will never be done. Yet this very thing is what is necessary.
Brooks doesn’t want to be a victim, decries any civil action for redress based upon a false representation of the source of the religion (yet, by her very admission of the possibility, inadvertently acknowledges a real problem): “Do we sue to get our tithes and offerings back, all the dollars we faithfully mailed to Salt Lake City, to build temples we would never see?” (Kindle location 2261). Here she seems to have some sort of insider’s knowledge that the LDS Church is cutting back on its temple building.
The author seems to forget a teaching that is true in most all religions: repentance. The secular counterpart to confess, redress, forgive and “go and sin no more,” is restitution. A proper civil action filed against those who have committed fraud in the inducement is nothing more than Mormons seeking redress for the sin committed against them by their leaders. It is restitution! Certainly Hebraic theology would endorse such an attempt. There is nothing wrong or sinful in bringing a lawsuit against an entity that has misrepresented its origins, and by doing so, obtained billions of dollars in tithes under false pretenses. This is redress, an important step in the repentance of the LDS hierarchy. Some would argue (even if only from a psychological perspective) that it is impossible to move on, to achieve that pluralistic utopia to which Brooks aspires, without such a step.