"The Mormons," Mark Hedengren, Red Finch Books, 2010, 157 pages, $49.95
"The Mormons," an in-depth photographic look at church members who live on five different continents, provides an intimate look at Mormons and opens the eyes of those seeking to understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members.
The cover, a simple photograph of a man vacuuming a church building, takes on a deeper meaning when placed in a Mormon context, highlighting the devotion of Latter-day Saints.
The book is organized in three sections: Proclaiming the Gospel, Perfecting the Saints and Redeeming the Dead. Each section has relevant photographs and first-person interviews.
Each photograph in the book is in black and white. As a result, the photos give the Mormon culture a sense of dignity and sophistication. Particularly striking is a photo of general conference attendees that realistically depicts the spirit of general conference.
"The Mormons" takes its readers to places that some may not be familiar with. Most touching is the author's depiction of the church in Ghana. The photographs are of women repairing clothing for orphans, of missionaries teaching, of a baptismal prayer and of women attending the temple. It is a testament to the works the church performs worldwide.
The interviews in the book complement the photographs remarkably well and give the reader a deeper understanding of what is happening in the photo. The interviews include a primary teacher in New York, several converts to the church, a youth leader in Mexico and a Sunday School teacher in Asia. The interviews give the reader a cultural perspective that is needed to understand the members in each area.
"The Mormons" pays tribute to devoted individuals who sacrifice much to be members of the LDS Church and elegantly speaks to the faith of its subjects.
Shelby Scoffield is a graduate student at California State University, Stanislaus.