51 pages 1 hour read

Jon Krakauer

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2003

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Chapters 5-7Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1

Chapter 5 Summary: “The Second Great Awakening”

In this chapter, Krakauer asserts that to understand the religious extremism of Ron and Dan Lafferty, one must understand the history of the Mormon faith. Joseph Smith, born in 1805, was the son of a tenant farmer. Smith’s mother was keenly interested in mysticism, and the religious experimentation of this era was quickly spreading. Smith was smart and self-taught; he spent his time learning about black magic and attempting to make money quickly through a search for buried treasure. In many cases, the treasure he found came from Native American burial grounds. Smith’s digging was illegal, but he persisted. Using a seer stone given to him by a girl on a neighboring farm, Smith hired himself to travelers to find treasure mystically. In the March 1826 trial People of the State of New York v. Joseph Smith, Smith was found guilty of “being a disorderly person and an imposter” (59).

At the age of 17, Smith claimed to have been visited by an angel named Moroni who revealed to him the whereabouts of an ancient text written on gold plates. Smith found the plates but was instructed not to remove the plates or reveal them to anyone.