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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 03:17PM

Mormons are cropping up often lately. In books. On TV. (Walking along my street - but missing my house, ha).

Presently, I am reading a thriller-type quick-read novel with some (minor-league) Mormon characters. The author has one character describe her husband as "God-fearing". Kind of made me go hmmmm. (Do Mormons use that term?)

Too, someone in a recent post here stated that the TV game show 'Jeopardy' frequently has Mormon-related clues now. I've noticed it too. Last night one category was titled 'Salt Lake City'. I was kinda surprised when I knew all the answers! ("What did the Salt Lake used to be called?" - answer: "The Great Salt Lake" - easy one - the players didn't get it, ha!). It amused me (I'm juvenile, I know) when no contestants knew the answer to a question about the name of the square (or something like that) and they even showed that usual picture of it. Of course, it's "Temple Square". I've seen on other Jeopardy shows where they don't get "Tabernacle" or the name of the big pipes (is it? or organ? what is that thing) in the Tabernacle. They all always know the MoTab though, I guess as the choir is well travelled.

In my current novel, the husband, a promising aspiring legal student, was found dead, brushed off as suicide, but later clues are leading to murder I'm guessing. The wife is being interviewed by a detective as his case suddenly connects with her husband's. It must be trendy now to use Mormon characters, and JWs, who featured in a book I read recently (also the quick-read thriller-type stuff I never used to touch but now I enjoy the adrenaline rush of the things).

I found that the JW characters' dialogue didn't measure up to reality. As an ex JW, the comments were off, displaying a good try but no cigar effort by the author to include a character with a quirk.

Same thing with the Mormon widow. First, she has a big career and stated that she and her husband, who hadn't sat his exams for law school yet, were "putting off having children" until they were settled into their respective careers. She said that true enough they would likely have fewer children than otherwise. Maybe some Mormons have that approach but it kind of stuck out to me as a bit iffy on reality. (Am I wrong on that?)

Also, she twice referred to her husband as "God-fearing". I was only a Mormon for a few years but knew a lot of missionaries and didn't often miss meetings and other gatherings. I never once heard any of them use that term. To me, it's much more of an EV expression. Maybe it's also used in the wider Christian world - I'm not sure about that.

That was one of the things that to me was off about the JW character in the other book as well - they also used the term "God-fearing" to describe the JW character and I do not recollect ever hearing that within JW circles (and I knew a lot of JWs and never missed a meeting and read all their publications).

Regarding the dead Mormon character and the suicide claim by the investigators, the widow said there was zero possibility that her husband had "destroyed himself" like that. That term "destroyed himself" was repeated three times by her in one conversation. I wondered if the author was trying to emphasize religious devotion or belief in some way with that expression. But maybe on that one I'm reading too much into it.

I understand why writing teachers stress getting insiders to review and edit books for accuracy if an author is writing outside their own zones (as many do, of course). The last thing you want is for a reader to step outside the world you've created in your prose and go hey wait a minute, that's not sounding right.

Or maybe I'm just a weird kind of reader.

But yeah, Mormons are flooding the earth, it seems (or at least my tiny piece of the world). But it's kind of like when an author throws in your random Doukhobors for the sake of variety. Better make sure it works. I have yet to know why it's relevant to the story I'm reading that two characters are Mormon. Maybe I wouldn't notice so much if I hadn't been part of it for three years and now wish it away.

It's like when an author writes that "Pete, a small black man, shuffled into the room". Does the writer also say "Joe was a slouchy white guy with a cigar?" Not so much. So the race/colour thing is irrelevant unless it's an integral part of the story, which it often is not.

Likewise, did this author include any other character's religion in his descriptions in this book? No. So what's the point of it?

So, that's my literary critique for the week. But really, it made me think about the "God-fearing" question. Is that a Mormon thing?

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 04:47PM

I grew up Mormon and "God fearing" was a term that was instilled into my vocabulary from an early age on.

It was discussed in some of my classes and meetings.

When I went to the RLDS for a time with my children late 90's, it was a recurring theme there for Sunday talks.

I've believed it to be a Christian theme all along. It didn't occur to me it was unique to being a Mormon.

As for the author working Mormons into their writings, I haven't noticed that there's an emphasis unless it's written by other LDS writers.

My niece is an author of juvenile literature - and a RM and TR married mother of several children. In her books she has not mentioned once her Mormon background or upbringing, nor included it in describing her fictional characters she writes about.

I don't know just how religious she or her husband actually are other than they're temple married and attend church regularly. She never mentions religion on her Facebook page or religious themes. At all. No mention of LDS conferences, nothing. All her immediate family are TBM, and her in-laws. Not sure why unless her faith is in doubt.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 05:50PM

Not a Mormon author. Jewish, in fact (I'm fairly sure).

Oh yes, "God-fearing" is a Christian term. I think I said above that to me it relates to evangelical Christianity but then I thought maybe it's more widespread - I only attended EV churches post-JW and after my Mormon interlude. So maybe I got the wrong idea that it's only emphasized by EVs. I'm sure it's a scripture but can't recall which one. I'll look it up.

It's interesting which scriptures and ideas each group of religious believers emphasizes. It took me a long time to understand that many believe in a few core principles and then they all branch off into the things they choose to emphasize.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 06:00PM

As our culture becomes more secular, I'm hearing the term less. I associate it with older literature and the various Protestant faiths. For some reason, it strikes me as out-of-sync with Roman Catholicism. Perhaps people conversant with Catholic faith and culture can weigh in on this.

Here's a collection of Scripture verses which work the theme "God fearing:"

https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Fear-Of-God,-Results-Of

My favorite use of the phrase is, "Fear God and dread naught." Good theology, and also the naval inspiration for the HMS Dreadnaught (launched 1906), the first all-heavy-gun battleship of the 20th Century.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: January 07, 2018 01:56AM

I never heard the phrase growing up Catholic. I would go so far as to say it's foreign to how Catholics think. They don't fear God, they love God, and they assume that God loves them.

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Posted by: lurking in ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 06:20PM

I grew up very TBM. Here's my take:

"Putting off having children." Even though more and more of the young Mormon couples are doing that, I think they might be somewhat reticent to admit it and probably wouldn't use a negative expression like that.

"God-fearing." I don't recall hearing that term much among Mormons. In fact, when I was a kid and heard the term for the first time, it sounded weird to me because the idea of "fearing" God seemed foreign (even though the definition of "fear" in this expression may carry a different connotation when it's used among those who do use it.) More likely: "He/she tries to live righteously," or "... tries to live the Gospel."

"Destroy himself." Maybe. Also possible: "I can't believe he'd throw away his eternal salvation ... do something so selfish ...." But if the widow was talking to police investigators, I could see a Mormon possibly using "destroy himself" to express disbelief in a state of extreme grief.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2018 06:26PM by lurking in.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 07:00PM

I have no recollection of labeling myself as 'ghawd fearing' whilst growing up. We were buddies with ghawd, cuz he was our older brother. What was there to fear?

I asked LDS(dot)org for info on "god fearing" in their search function and it was very slim pickings.

And it makes sense that EVs, thinking about Jehovah's dad, would be running scared.

Just an observation...

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 07:02PM

The fear of God teachings was emphasized that it wasn't fear per se, but awe, respect, reverence, honor.

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Posted by: Eric K ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 07:13PM

I too have noticed Mormons or Mormonism appearing randomly in books over the past few years. It is never flattering to Mormons. The SciFi TV series 'The Expanse' on Amazon Prime has Mormons playing a role. There is a spaceship called the Nauvoo with the angel Moroni on it. It is a good series.

It appears authors know a bit about Mormonism and expect their readers to have a similar level of knowledge. The Mormon church is clearly not getting respect. It is being mocked in many cases. There is some joy in reading these references to Mormonism when they unexpectedly show up. The god-fearing part is probably from an author with minimal knowledge of Mormon culture and so called doctrine.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 07:22PM

The one author I've recognized who wove Mormons into his sci-fi fantasies was Robert Heinlein.

He was fascinated with them as subject fodder for his novels.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 08:15PM

RAH did give passing mention to 'mormons' in a couple of his stories, but I submit that

"He was fascinated with them as subject fodder for his novels."

is a severe overstatement.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 09:48PM

Not if you read his biography.

Which apparently you did not.

He wrote about Mormons in more than a couple of his novels. It was more like several if not more.

Each book of his that I've read all mentioned Mormons in them. So did the movies such as Starship Troopers and Strangers in a Strange Land.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2018 11:26PM by Amyjo.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 09:55PM

I have not read RAH's biography. I'm well known for my disdain for 'non-fiction'. I wonder if his biographer read RAH's books?! I know I did.

I'm going to believe my own eyes, which begs two questions, how many of RAH's books have you read and of those, how many had "fascinating mormon subject fodder"?

Edited to respond to your edit:

I've never seen Starship Troopers, the movie. Wikipedia says, among other things:

"Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science-fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier. It originally came from an unrelated script called Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine,[2] but eventually licensed the name Starship Troopers from a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein."

The plot synopsis mentions Rico's parents being killed by a bug attack. That's a significant alteration. In the novel, in the denouement, Rico's dad has become his staff sergeant.

RAH was not 'fascinated as subject fodder' by mormons or mormonism, any more than he was by Catholics or Whigs.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2018 10:38PM by elderolddog.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 11:25PM

Heinlein was fascinated with Mormons.

He studied them. Which is why he incorporated them into his stories. He had a deep intellect, and wove many aspects of religious society into his stories. Mormons were a part of that. "To name just a few topics, Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land has much to say about megachurches, cults, televangelists, the prosperity gospel ... The Fosterites are a triumph of religious satire, combining stereotypes of Mormonism, Scientology, and Pentecostalism, with a hint of Aimee Semple ..."

The novels of his I read that included Mormons in passages were Stranger in a Strange Land; Puppet Masters; Starship Troopers; Cat Who Could Walk Through Walls; To Sail Beyond the Sunset. Mormons are mentioned in Double Star. Those are just the ones I'm familiar with.

http://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2013/01/15/a_triumph_of_science_fiction_prophecy.html



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2018 11:33PM by Amyjo.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 11:27PM

An entire group of Mormons are slaughtered in Starship Troopers, the movie.

Which is also in the novel.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 11:42PM

Apparently there are three movies. But only one novel. There was no Port Joe Smith episode in the novel. All the described fighting in the novel involved Rico; the account given by Wikipedia regarding Port Joe Smith did not involve Rico.

There is an argument that no one 'fascinated' by mormons or mormonism would have named it Port Joe Smith. Many of us here have no problem with "Joe Smith", but we're not fascinated by mormons and mormonism.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: January 07, 2018 12:02AM

That's your opinion.

You don't speak for Heinlein.

His books speak for himself.

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 08:49PM

My take....

Mormons fear God very much. They fear God so much they do constant deeds to impress him and pray to credit and praise him all the time. A lot of Christians do this too, but the Mormons take it up a notch with the good deed and busywork mindset.

Mormons seem to know that "fearing" conflicts in a way with "love" when describing a God. They probably think it nicer to describe God in terms of love than fearing- to make sure they don't irritate Him. After all, who knows what might tip the scale when God is out bowling with tornadoes.

If someone truly loves you and you love them, you don't fear them. If you do, that's a creepy kind of love or power they have over you.

I think Mormons tend to envision God as a nice grandpa and not something to fear (although they obviously do).

I don't think Mormons typically would use that term but someone writing about them would.


I've noticed Mormon characters showing up here and there in books too. You can tell they tried to do research but don't always quite capture the nuances.

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Posted by: Babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 10:19PM

Their politics could be related. The basis for conservatism is fear of the unknown. A staunch Mormon could literally be God fearing. A phrase like that has overtones of an anachronistic kind of stubborn closed mindedness.

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Posted by: Lethbridge Reprobate ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 09:56PM

I think they are more bishop or stake president interview fearing.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 10:03PM

Good point. It was a given that you couldn't hide your deeds from ghawd, but he never seemed to get upset or complain.

But heaven help you if the bish or SP saw or heard about something naughty you did.

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Posted by: Lethbridge Reprobate ( )
Date: January 06, 2018 11:21PM

After I got back from the Idaho Gulag (Ricks) I didn't give a fuck what the bishop thought.

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Posted by: smirkorama ( )
Date: January 07, 2018 08:29AM

maybe, maybe not, mostly they are MORmONS because that is what it takes to stay in the MORmON religion.

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Posted by: Elder What's-his-face ( )
Date: January 08, 2018 09:49AM

I mostly heard "God Fearing" on TV used by non-Mormon characters.

But to the Mormons I lived with and grew up around, they were all scared to death that the devil was behind every tree, and you'd be punished by God if you fell into his trap.

It isn't surprising that they feel this way. The Book of Mormon and the D&C are full of threats, the temple they attended was full of threats, the temple my grandparents went through included vows of retribution for the Smith killings, and their parents were fully aware of the sword of Brigham hanging by a thread over the entire church. So naturally, Fear gets handed down from generation to generation by wild-eyed moms and belt wielding dads.

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Posted by: corallus ( )
Date: January 08, 2018 11:32AM

Amen to what you said.

It may not be a term that gets used much, but fear is at the core of how the church maintains control. It's mostly fear of loss and it generally starts with:

"If you don't do X"

and ends with any of the following...

"you'll lose your family"
"you'll be stuck in a place where your progress will stop."
"you'll lose your financial security"

and on and on and on ad nauseum.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: January 08, 2018 11:47AM

My take is that Mormons are Mormon fearing. They imbibe in everyday behavior that their God would be appalled at. Bishops sleeping with the RS pres. MLM schemes. Not really paying a full tithe. Lying to get out of callings or church cleaning. Lying in worthiness interviews. Getting married in the temple knowing you are pregnant or at least "did it" the week before. And after all of this still going to the temple. Still bearing testimony on F&T Sunday. Still acting all holier-than-thou at every turn. Still judging.

These type Mormons have to know "God I Watching Us" as Bette sang. The angels, the Holy Ghost, Jesus and the hosts of heaven can see every little thing the Mormons do, and yet what Mormons fear is what other Mormons think of them. Mormons are "Mormon-Fearing." Their facade is their real god. Sort of like Tele-Evangelists.

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: January 08, 2018 12:01PM

Ditto. In my experience, mormons fear the judgment of other mormons far more than they fear the judgment of Elohim.

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Posted by: readwrite ( )
Date: January 08, 2018 04:06PM

Yes. Mormonism is a [so called] 'religion' based ALMOST ENTIRELY on FEAR.

"The god-fearing part is probably from an author with minimal knowledge of Mormon culture and so called doctrine."

Without LDS instilled fear (of God/ morality/ choice/ tscc/ leaders, self, etc.), people might relax a bit, and REDISCOVER free-agency and the LOVE OF (God) LIFE and the freedom of CHOICE.

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