Under the Banner of Heaven Book Summary - Under the Banner of Heaven Book explained in key points
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Under the Banner of Heaven summary

Jon Krakauer

A Story of Violent Faith

3.4 (106 ratings)
16 mins

What is Under the Banner of Heaven about?

Under the Banner of Heaven (2003) traces the roots of contemporary Mormon fundamentalism through the lens of a horrendous double murder. The devotion of the Lafferty brothers is a gateway into core tenets that include divine revelation, polygamy, blood atonement, and the way Mormons act in their unique role as God’s chosen.

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    Under the Banner of Heaven
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    The divine revelation

    This was no ordinary assembly. It was a gathering of Saints – the most fervent Saints. On this day, April 5, 1984, they’d come together to validate the revelations they’d each received from God. But even these fearless crusaders were shocked by what God had revealed to Ron Lafferty. 

    The nine members of Onias’s School of Prophets were split. Watson and Dan Lafferty sided with their brother Ron, who’d received the divine revelation. The rest copped out.

    The removal revelation, as it’s now known, left no room for doubt: God had instructed Ron Lafferty to kill his brother’s wife, baby, and two close friends. These people stood in the way of God’s work.

    Ron’s friends, to his surprise, were horrified. Bernard Brady was so stunned he registered his concerns in an affidavit – just in case.

    Dan Lafferty thought about it, asked questions, and then validated the revelation. As the weeks progressed, his support turned to genuine conviction. Soon Dan started to have revelations of his own. He began to see his role in Ron’s plan.

    While Ron was the mouth of God, Dan was God’s arm. It was Dan who had been chosen to swing the Sword of the Most High. Family men as they were, they informed their youngest brother, Allen, that his wife and child had to go.

    Allen was incensed. He would defend Brenda and little Erica with his life, he told his brothers. Brenda, a brilliant, outspoken woman who’d given up a promising career in journalism to marry Allen, was 24. Allen never mentioned the revelation to his wife.

    In their deliberations, Ron and Dan openly discussed the lurid details of their plan in their mother’s dining room. Claudine, a submissive wife who’d been repeatedly abused by Ron and Dan’s father, didn’t bat an eyelid. Her husband had died from diabetes because he didn’t like conventional medicine.

    Having been rebuffed by their intimate circle of friends, Ron and Dan left the School of Prophets. Their old friends had now become children of the Devil.

    Joseph Smith’s 1832 revelation about The One Mighty and Strong who would put God’s house in order before His coming, was about to happen. God had chosen Ron and Dan.

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    About the Author

    Jon Krakauer’s extensive journalism work has been read by millions on Outside, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. The Pulitzer-nominated author’s passion for mountaineering hasn’t stopped him from releasing best sellers that include Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, and Where Men Win Glory.

    Who should read Under the Banner of Heaven?

    • People curious about Mormon culture
    • Anyone trying to understand American fundamentalism
    • People interested in American history

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