‘I wanted more!’ – The Friday Gospels by Jenn Ashworth

tfgjaI’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t know much about the Mormon religion apart from the odd stories that crop up on certain news websites or the ones that surrounded Mitt Romney during the US elections. Putting those thoughts to one sides, I approached this book with as open a mind as I could muster. And it proved very interesting.

This book really delves into the Mormon society and the role of the family within it. Each member has very defined roles, reinforced by their peers which Ashworth captures with her distinct prose. Gossip and judgement is rife as people’s actions and behaviour are criticised, especially by the women.

Ashworth tells the story by giving members of the Leeke family a voice: Pauline is the matriarch, home-bound due to injury; Martin is her long-suffering husband; Julian is the eldest son but doesn’t follow the Mormon path; Gary is the star son and Jeannie is their daughter and youngest child.

The story is based around Gary’s return to Lancashire from his two-year mission in Utah where he has been expected to spread the word of his lord. Anticipation and anxiety are rife on both sides, but other events are playing out under the excitement of the reunion. Julian, who has been so distant from his own family, unlocks his door when the time comes. Jeannie is subjected to horror but fights her way back. Martin is desperate to break away from his family, finding it all too much. But everyone has to pull together in the end when Jeannie is in trouble.

Set in a single day, nothing goes as planned.

Ashworth’s prose is as strong as ever with descriptions and dialogue. The sections set in Utah really show what life is like for missionaries and what they’re up against. I felt the ending was too neatly wrapped up too quickly following the build-up throughout the story. I wanted more!

Any Cop?: A good read, and one that uncovers a little-known society.

Claire Snook

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2 comments

  1. This book is an interesting commentary on Mormon families and lifestyles. It takes place in Chorley, Lancashire where a large Mormon community exists. There is also a large Preston Temple Complex there, where only worthy Mormons are allowed to enter the Temple to perform special ordinances.

    The book does highlight the pressures found in many Mormon families, but the main reason for the stressful and dysfunctional lifestyles of many Mormon individuals and families in Chorley and in all the Mormon communities at large, lies within their highly secretive Temple ceremonies.

    All members of the Mormon church are told they must attend these Temple ceremonies if they wish to achieve their Eternal Exaltation in Heaven. This is where faithful Mormons get dressed in long white Temple robes, kneel and swear secret Oaths before Altars. They fully believe they will become Gods and Goddesses in Eternity and indeed rule with God in Heaven.

    All Mormons must live their lives in complete obedience and compliance with very strict Mormon Laws and Commandments, including the wearing of special Mormon Undergarments that must be worn 24 hours every day and night.

    This is just a part of a very restrictive Mormon doctrine that members of the church are taught in their classes and in their families. On top of all this they must pay 10% of all their gross annual income into the Mormon church before they are allowed entrance into their Temples to receive these Eternal blessings.

    Members are told they must always obey and never question any church statements or decisions in any way whatsoever, as it is considered a sin against God to do so, by their strict church leaders.

    The church’s beliefs help to encourage arrogance and intolerance among their members through the bigotry and victimisation of black people in the recent past, and through its continued and relentless victimisation of loving gay partners and individuals, by denying them equal rights and banishment from church membership. This pervasive and worrying church culture also encourages Mormon families to be deeply suspicious and resentful of any family member who has had the courage to come out and say they may be gay. Many young Mormon men have committed suicide because of this.

    All of these relentless pressures and demands by the church leaders on their members, causes great emotional and psychological problems for many individuals and families within the highly secretive Mormon culture.

    There are many good and decent members of the Mormon church who are under this constant pressure to become perfect by their church leaders, and it is a tragedy that many of them feel cut off and isolated at times from normal every day life and from the rest of the communities around them.

    The book gives a fascinating glimpse into aspects of Mormon life, but the deep doctrinal and underlying causes of this dysfunction suffered by many members of the Mormon church are not addressed, in what is an otherwise highly interesting and alluring diversion of Mormon family life, that simmers within their homes and church.

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