Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Weird Books: Mormonism, the Islam of America

I'm thinking of starting a quasi-regular feature on my blog about some really weird books that Jeremy and I own. I've been doing some pre-packing in the den lately and I've come across a few gems that are just too strange not to share. So without further ado, I bring you the first Weird Book: Mormonism, the Islam of America, by Bruce Kinney (1912).

This one has a little story behind it. In 2003, Jeremy bought this book online without knowing very much about it. The description says this:

"It is generally acknowledged that Mormonism is similar to Mohammedanism in its endorsement of the practice of polygamy, and its idea of heaven. Many other points of similarity between these systems have been noted by students...As all ancient religions have a modern equivalent, Mormonism can justly be claimed to be the modern form of Mohammedanism, and not incorrectly termed the Islam of America."

Based on that description, we both expected a casual study of Mormons and Muslims and the religious quirks that bind them together. There are a lot of similarities between the two religions, after all, even if most of them don't extend much deeper than the surface.

So you can imagine our surprise when we got the book, cracked it open to read it, and realized that we were very wrong about its tone and subject matter. (In retrospect, I realize that the year in which it was written should have tipped us off, seeing as nobody liked Mormons back in 1912.)

Instead of embracing the similarities of two quirky, often misunderstood religions, the book unfolds something like this: There are two groups of people the author hates. One group is Muslims, which he assumes the reader hates, too. The other group is Mormons. Kinney spends the whole book drawing lots of comparisons between the two so that by the end of it the reader will hate Mormons as much as he hates Muslims.

I wish I were exaggerating, but I'm not. The title Islam of America, which I assumed was meant to be inclusive and charming, is actually meant as a slur on Mormonism. I don't know who should be more offended, the Mormons or the Muslims.

Needless to say, neither of us finished reading the book. It's been sitting on our bookshelf all these years, completely ignored. Until now. You're welcome.


Liz Johnson said...

That is hilarious. I sorta want my own copy... for posterity or something. :)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I may not have any books that weird, but I do have "The Magic Powder," a very exciting book about the history of cement. And it's an autographed copy to my mom--she must have worked at a cement company or something.

Another good one--"Lodging for a Night". Published in the 40s it lists "good places to spend the night" around the country. Back then the choices were hotels ($$$$) or motor courts ($). In Tucson you could stay at the Deseret Motor Hotel at 1303 N. Stone for $4. Or the Thunderbird Motor Court at 2637 N. Oracle for $4, but this one featured "Monterey furniture, Navaho & Mexican decoration."

Susanne said...

Interesting book you have there! Kind of cute since you were a Mormon living among the Muslims. :-)

Loved Suzanne's additions especially the autographed book about the history of cement. Ha!!!!!!

Hareega said...

LOL crazy book, I wish people were more sane now

Cherylann said...

obviously you have not researched either religion


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