Torn By God by Zoe Murdock  

Monday, May 04, 2009

I came across a review of Torn By God over at Letters from a broad and thought the book would be interesting. I was not raised a Mormon, but I was raised in a strict religious family and much like Beth, the main character in the story, I didn't know anything outside of that life.

Beth's father becomes convinced that in order to reach heaven with his family he must return to the roots of Mormonism, which includes the practice of polygamy. She watches her parents struggle with the tenants of their faith and their relationship with each other as her mother rejects that belief. Although her father never completely follows through with it, it's enough to tear the family apart, throwing her mother into a deep depression.

Beth and her brother, through the eyes of children, don't understand what's going on. Zoe brings the story out through conversations Beth overhears and her parent's journals.

In the end each family member comes to their own understanding of how to deal with religion in their life, but there isn't a neat answer.

I can relate to Beth because she grew up insulated, accepting her life as normal. And she was a normal child, even if most people outside of her faith would find her beliefs strange. I think all religions are strange to outsiders although most people don't notice it from the inside.

For example, glossolia, or speaking in tongues, is seen by most people as a pretty crazy practice, but growing up it was a normal part of life for me. I only find it odd now because I'm outside of the church.

And just like Beth, I found it difficult to reconcile certain beliefs and actions of the church. For me it was the conflicting ideas in the Bible, the greed of the tele-evangelists, and learning about the world outside the church. For others it's been the pedophilia or other sexual scandals within the church that have been the final straw.

But it's not the sensational that really drives people to doubt their religion. It's the every day small questions.

For a better understanding of Zoe and how the book relates to her life there is an excellent interview at A Motley Vision.

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7 comments: to “ Torn By God by Zoe Murdock

  • Zoe
    Monday, May 4, 2009 at 12:29:00 PM CDT  

    Thanks so much for the review, extraordinary girl. I appreciate and value your thoughts. Zoe

  • John Evo
    Monday, May 4, 2009 at 5:59:00 PM CDT  

    Thinking back on it, the biggest thing to me was that NO ONE I had ever met (not even some really good people), truly lived "the life of Christ". You know, the whole "come follow me", "cast aside all of your worldly possessions", "tend to the poor of body and spirit". Think of the hundreds of people you have met on the internet and ask yourself "which one of these approached me in a "christ-like" voice?" Not one, right?

    Once you see the dichotomy between the teachings and the practices, then you have to ask yourself what kind of a god would ask humans to behave in a way they are clearly innately incapable of behaving, even if they thought it was the best way to live?

  • Mamacita Chilena
    Monday, May 4, 2009 at 6:07:00 PM CDT  

    Sounds like a pretty fascinating book. I'll have to check it out next time I'm in the States. My own upbringing wasn't nearly as strict, since my parents weren't religious but since i went to school with an entire community of people who were I'm guessing I'll probably feel some kind of connection to the main character as well!

  • Anonymous
    Monday, May 4, 2009 at 7:49:00 PM CDT  

    I think I'll have to read this book. Like you, I suspect I will see a lot of myself in it.

  • Ordinary Girl
    Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 1:23:00 PM CDT  

    Zoe: Thanks for the book!

    Evo: I think until someone sees the dichotomy they don't understand it's there. And once you see it, it's difficult to not see it everywhere.

    Mamacita: I think you'd enjoy it. And just for the record, I cried at one point. Yeah, I'm sappy like that.

    Chappy: I think you'd like it. I want to read Quiverfull soon, even though I'm sure it'll make me angry. This book didn't make me angry. I think Zoe handled the story with a lot of grace.

  • Anonymous
    Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 3:16:00 PM CDT  

    If you want to read a really interesting book about faith or losing your faith try God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer (Hardcover)
    by Bart D. Ehrman (Author)

  • Ordinary Girl
    Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 3:22:00 PM CDT  

    Thanks, Anonymous.

    I wrote a review of Misquoting Jesus by Ehrman here, but I haven't read God's Problem, although I've heard a lot of good things about it.


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