19 September 2013

Polygamy, I wish I could quit you.

I've been pretty quiet in Coffee Talks. I'll pipe up now and then, but I do feel like the stupidest person in the room. I'm not an academic, despite my love for research and Big Thoughts, and being in a room of high level, very interesting academics makes my artistic brain feel very, very small. And when I do talk, I usually end up getting flustered. I'm a writer, not a public speaker for a very good reason.

But know what will get me talking? Ask me about something to do with early Mormonism, polygamy, or best yet, early Mormon polygamy!

A lovely new fellow asked me about whether the messiahs I'm researching for The Voice in Your Head think about succession (leadership after they're gone), and I said that I'm too early in my research to talk about any of those, but I could talk about Joseph Smith and Mormonism. And whoo-boy, did I ever. We went 15 minutes overtime, which is a lot considering Coffee Talk is supposed to be 45-60 minutes. Will I ever be asked a direct question again? Time will tell, but I imagine it won't be any time soon!

The conversation went all over the place, as it does, but oh the joy I felt talking about Mormonism and polygamy. I really, really love both so much.

But, one of the highlights for me was when one of the fellows (an Anglican priest) asked the two fellows from Algeria and Palestine about polygamy in their home countries. A lot I already knew--the rules in the Qur'an, how it wasn't common, mostly amongst the very rich and very "faithful"--but, I did learn something new about modern polygamy, which I found fascinating.

Apparently, after the bombing of Gaza in 2008 when many men were killed, Hamas not only announced that married men should step up and marry all these new widows, but also they would give the families money to do so. What angered this fellow so much was that it was incredibly rare in this area to see polygamous families, it was almost non-existant in this culture (unlike, he said, in Saudi Arabia and Yemen) and that it was a very expensive to get married in Palestine, so many people simply don't do it because they can't afford to. That Hamas was willing to give money to support polygamy, but not to support monogamous marriages infuriated him. I can understand why.

Exciting new information on modern-day polygamy makes me very, very happy.

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