Thursday, June 5, 2008

Under the Banner of Heaven In the Mall of America

One of our final stops of our mini-vacation in Minneapolis was at the Mall of America. I'm not much of a shopper to begin with and get claustrophobic in crowds so you can imagine this wasn't high on my list of things to do but my mother-in-law and wife were all gung ho for it. I decided to make lemonade out of the lemon called the Mall of America and get some reading done. So we split up with the girls going their own way and me going mine with a promise to meat up in the north food court a few hours later.

I decided getting a thick newspaper or magazine that wouldn't cost me too many pesos was my first priority. I walked around for fifteen or so minutes trying to find a store that might have either and wasn't having any luck. So I found a map showing the stores and finally found a bookstore that seemed promising. The only drawback was it was about far away on the opposite side of the largest mall in America as you could get. So after fifteen more minutes of jostling through the crowd, going down escalators and stairs and crossing vast expanses of tile, I finally found myself in front of Borders. I spent fifteen more minutes looking around the store for a newspaper without having any luck. I settled for a magazine but couldn't find any on the shelf that I felt would entertain me for the two plus hours I still had to kill. In fact nothing looked even remotely interesting. So I searched for books on genealogy, something I had never thought about before but again drew a big fat zero. I looked through my normal sections of books and found lots but didn't want to fork over that many pesos for a couple hours entertainment and then a spot on my to read pile where it would collect dust for a year until I got to it again.

I was at this point getting desperate and was looking at the humor section for a collection of comics when I saw a discount rack. There in the very corner was a book that stuck out at me. It was called "Under the Banner of Heaven" by one of my favorite authors Jon Krakauer. It stuck out because it was recently recommended by Sage as a book that will give a more unbiased look at the Mormon faith and history than those they sold at Nauvoo, Illinois. I grabbed a copy and after paying for it, made the long walk back up all the steps, escalators, along the miles of tiled halls crowded with people to our appointed meeting spot and still had an hour and a half left to kill.

I started the book and it hasn't disappointed so far. I've learned all kinds of stuff that I hadn't been familiar with and been amazed at what Krakauer predicted that has since come true such as Warren Jeffs’s assumption of a particular radical group of FLDS. My only problem was the Table Nazi who kept trying to rearrange the tables to line up into two long tables instead of individual tables with four chairs. I liked the arrangement they were in so you didn't have to sit right next to a group of tattooed and pierced kids fighting over a cane. The Table Nazi would come trotting over as soon as anyone who was sitting in a non-conforming table left and drag it into it's approximate position. Because my table was off into a corner near the railing where I could see down upon the two floors beneath me and up to the one overhead, the Table Nazi ended up boxing me in with his other tables so that when it came time to leave, I had to shove some of his newly placed tables out of line just to get out. His constant shuffling of tables was quite distracting as were the kids arguing over the cane. Still I got through a chunk of the book before the girls showed up tired and ready to leave. When I got home, I added the book to my pile, cheating it ahead of several others that I've been wanting to read so that as soon as I finish the 3 or 4 books that I'm currently reading, it will be next.

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