A collection of essays centered on the author’s experiences of encountering religious fanaticism among the Taliban in Afghanistan and Mormons in Utah.
In November 2001, journalist and NPR radio producer Carrier (Journalism/Utah Valley Univ.; Running After Antelope, 2001) traveled to Afghanistan to report on the Taliban and the diverse factions and ethnicities vying for power in the midst of the American invasion. From Carrier’s perspective, growing up with the Mormon community of Utah prepared him for encountering instances of religious fanaticism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He compares his personal experiences with the Mormon community and some of the more notorious incidents related to Mormonism (i.e., the Elizabeth Smart case) with his experiences in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, rather than placing the blame on religion, the author states that he only takes issue with the belief that God has a chosen people to whom he gave land, since this removes land and liberty from another. The comparison between Mormons in Utah and Muslims in Afghanistan is blurred when the chronological sequence of essays discusses the breakup of his marriage, his investigation of sex trafficking in Cambodia alongside a woman with whom he formed a volatile personal relationship and his struggles with taking a teaching position at a public university in Utah. Carrier draws examples from his personal life to make the argument that when dealing with fanaticism, in any form, acting out of fear will only worsen the problem.
Mostly engrossing stories of travel interspersed with historical vignettes and the author’s private struggles to argue for a move away from persecution of believers.