Secret Ceremonies

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Overview

Secret Ceremonies is the story of the awakening of Deborah Laake, who came of age in the early seventies in a manner that would have appeared out-of-step but certainly not tumultuous to an outsider. At a time when her generation was protesting a war and transforming national headlines into a saga of campus violence, she was instead a typical Mormon girl who experienced her college years at peaceful Brigham Young University as the fulfillment of all her dreams. She received good grades there, was attractive and ...
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Overview

Secret Ceremonies is the story of the awakening of Deborah Laake, who came of age in the early seventies in a manner that would have appeared out-of-step but certainly not tumultuous to an outsider. At a time when her generation was protesting a war and transforming national headlines into a saga of campus violence, she was instead a typical Mormon girl who experienced her college years at peaceful Brigham Young University as the fulfillment of all her dreams. She received good grades there, was attractive and popular and devout - but most of all she found The One, the man who declared that his claim to her was a matter of divine revelation. The role of dutiful wife and mother was the one she believed she was made for, and thus she was married in the sacred chambers of a Mormon temple while still in her teens, participating in angel-inspired ceremonies of special handshakes and voodoo of which much of the world is still unaware. From there her life - a picture-perfect one according to the Mormon standards by which she was raised - became an out-of-kilter dream from which she feared she'd never rouse. Her husband was a man whom she had never loved, whom she nonetheless believed God had chosen for her, but with whom she couldn't force herself to remain. Divorced by age twenty, she had failed at marriage, the only task that mattered, and gradually she realized that she was being punished. Barred from the Mormon temple by church authorities, even threatened with excommunication, she found her depression deepening. Trying to live up to the church's expectations of her, she married again, unaware that the result would be a spiral of mental illness that would propel her into a hospital ward of unabashed psychotics, the likes of whom she'd never imagined. There, among the truly unconventional, she somehow recognized a modern world beckoning to her from beyond the closed patriarchal society that had always sheltered her yet kept her from true maturity. Always lyrical an
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Laake, raised as a strict Mormon, was taught from childhood that Mormon men were ``priesthood holders'' anointed with the authority to act for God on earth, and that her entrance into heaven could be assured only if she married a Mormon man who would be her master. As a 19-year-old sophomore at Brigham Young University, she became a Mormon wife. Laake's heartfelt record of this disastrous first marriage and the years of struggle that followed is at once autobiography and an expose of the repressive patriarchalism of the Mormon church. After her divorce, for example, Laake found that although her ex-husband retained his religious privileges, she was banned from the temple and condemned by Mormon elders. Torn between her loyalty to herself and to her church's teachings, she plunged into a second Mormon marriage; it, too, failed, and led to a mental breakdown. Laake, now executive managing editor of the New Times magazine chain, writes that she has emerged from her experiences as an independent woman, no longer in thrall to religious dogma. This is a haunting and candid memoir. (Apr.)
Booknews
Silly account of life in the LDS Church and with a couple of rigid Mormon men. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From Barnes & Noble
A lyrical, sometimes funny, compassionate, and brutally honest inside look at modern Mormon society that describes the mysterious rituals and rigorous traditions of this fastest growing of world religions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440217800
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/5/1994
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.74 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 6 )
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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2001

    Put it straight

    It is sad to see that someone would take other's people's cherished beliefs and twist them to make an interesting plot for their own profit. Error #1 of numerous-Mormon leaders tell young women to run away from any man who tells them God says their supposed to marry them. Error #2-Mormon temple marriages do not involve any kind of 'voodoo' or 'secret-handshakes'. Temples are considered very sacred to the Latter Day Saints and any person that would knowingly defile it has little repect for the belief. Error #3-Any man who 'rules' over his wife is an unworthy priesthood holder and will be treated as such by Latter Day Saint church leaders. Error #4-Women have been described by the Latter Day Saints church as 'the highest calling' and are given much respect. Even now the church makes a special effort to make sure that women are given the proper respect and are not treated in such a manner. The errors could be listed on and on. If you wish to read an interesting fiction story involving plots of deception and distrust, read this book but know that it is all fiction and the Mormon church is used only in the spelling of the name and it's buildings. If you wish to truly learn about the Mormon church go to a book that at least get it's facts straight, if not the church itself.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2000

    The unadulterated, brutal truth...

    This is a masterful achievement of the human spirit. It is a feat of intellectual courage, a tour-de-force that shows how ideas indeed have consequences. To those interested in the larger historical view, it reinforces the notion that when Joseph Smith secretly introduced polygamy to a small inner circle -- while denying his practice to the American public, the government and even the church at large -- he planted the seeds of a duplicitous form of bigotry against women the effects of which, regretably, still linger. The book's wrenching depictions of a woman's futile struggle to reconcile her brand of faith with her inexorably human reality should be an eye-opener. However, be forewarned: if you still hold on to pie-in-the-sky Mormonism you might find this book deeply disturbing.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2003

    The Truth at last

    At last a candid book about the rigid structure of the LDS church. So refreshing to hear about a male centered religion from a woman's point of view.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2001

    Distorted view of LDS Life

    This account of one woman's perceptions distorts the realities of the LDS church. From the begining of the organization of this church, LDS women have been encouraged to gain education, participate in the community, involve themselves in self improvement, and enjoy being women. This author's version of the LDS woman is demeaning. Not particularly well written, or factual.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2000

    talk about brainwashing

    I came across Mormonism some twenty years ago. The two young missionaries tried to convinced about Jared and his brother came to America just after the destruction of the 'Tower of Babel'. I thought the story of Nephi and his family was wonderful, but when I came to the story of Jared's brother, I felt like a sucker. These two weel-meaning young guys told to pray to our the Heavenly Father and assured me that all my doubts will vanished. So, I asked them if my Heavenly Father did not agree with their Heavenly Father, what would happen? After two visits, they stopped coming. I was lucky in a way I guess, because I was already an adult when I came across Mormonism. Miss Laake was not, she grew up with it. I had read some writings of Al-Ghazali, I think he said,'Most of our beliefs are really indoctrination.' And he was warning the Muslims of his days and the future. I am not of the Islamic faith, but his statement can be applied also to most if not all Faiths. I wish Miss Laake a peaceful life.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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