My DVR is already set to record Mormon memoirist Joanna Brooks on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Thursday. Well, actually, my DVR is always set to record that show; it's one of my favorites. I've blogged before about how Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have raised the bar in fair journalistic coverage of Mormonism, even while making us all laugh.
I'm proud that Joanna will be representing my faith on The Daily Show. I started crowing about her memoir on this blog back in February; you can read that interview with her here. Since that time, the book she self-published (no NY publisher would give it the time of day) took off, speaking to Mormons' need for candid, loving portraits of our religion and to outsiders' curiosity in this endless "Mormon Moment."
Suddenly those same NY agents and publishers who had rejected the book the first time around became a lot more interested. Go figure. Today, Joanna's book is being re-released by The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, with two new chapters and a blitzkrieg marketing campaign. Peggy Fletcher Stack did a great write-up of the re-release in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune.
I hope you'll buy the book if you haven't already. Joanna speaks with a frankness that is devoid of propaganda but also demonstrates an abiding love for the religion she tried to leave but that kept calling her home again. In an endorsement I called her "a contemporary Mormon pioneer" and the book "a compelling memoir of being found and lost and found again."
For many people, Joanna has become a symbol of a progressive Mormonism that stands for marriage equality and is compatible with feminist goals. This kind of Mormonism is not trying to hide the warts in its own history, but it doesn't dwell on such peccadilloes either, preferring instead to emphasize what is "of good report" -- and finding no shortage of things that are admirable and lovely.
If I sound enthusiastic, it's because I am. In fact, a couple of months back when I blogged about Mormonism and same-sex marriage, a reader commented:
Dear Jana Riess,
Please go off and marry Joanna Brooks and stop representing LDS members. Both of you have such a loud voice while representing the smallest of minorities in our church. Your comments and articles do absolutely nothing for the work of the Lord. Thankyou
I was tickled by this and thought, "Marry Joanna . . . What a great idea!" So I proposed by email, she accepted, and you are all invited (along with our bemused husbands).
I will be proud of my "sister wife" on Thursday when Joanna takes to the airwaves. You go, girl.