Angry White Men

Amerika ist kaum wiederzuerkennen. Erst der Sieg Barack Obamas, dann der steile Aufstieg der Tea Party und nun das Attentat auf Gabrielle Giffords. Woher dieser vehemente Widerstand gegen die Regierung?

Eine Q History-Kollage mit Michael Kimmel über
die historischen Wurzeln der Tea Party

Historische Wurzeln Tea Party Weiterlesen

Polygamy and Mormonism

Ein Q History-Interview mit Richard Kitchen zur Geschichte der Mormonen.

Turn of the century photograph of Joseph F. Smith, his wives, and his children.Aside from the Münster Anabaptists there were other groups, who had taken polygamy into their belief system. One of those groups were the Mormons. This religion was founded in the beginning of the 19th century in the northeast of the USA. It calls itself „The Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-day Saints“. Their first prophet was Joseph Smith, who according to them received the book Mormon from an angel. Mormons regard this book as a holy scripture.

Not long after Mormons were persecuted because of parts of their belief system, like polygamy. They were forced to move west and finally settled in Salt Lake Valley in what was to become the state of Utah. Today still round about two thirds of the population of Utah call themselves Mormons. We spoke with the historian Richard D. Kitchen, who himself is a Mormon, about polygamy.

Who are you as a Mormon and as a scholar?

Richard Kitchen: „Personally, as a Mormon … my family has been members for a long time. So I was always raised in the faith. But as a scholar I have always looked at how different groups interacted with each other. The area of emphasis that I do my research on has dealt with mormons in the 19th century and their interaction with American Indians. So it’s been fairly separate from my own personal faith or beliefs.“

Why do you think many people think of polygamy when they hear the word mormon?

Richard Kitchen: „Good question! It’s a topic that society is very interested in. Sex, scandal. The newspapers … you never hear about the normal or what’s just every day. Even though it’s been more than a hundred years since the Mormons themselves have practiced Polygamy, but again it’s something that is catching and something you remember.“

Where does Mormon polygamy start in the 19th century?

Richard Kitchen: „Various scholars point to various years but it depends on your definition of start. If one person in a culture does something it’s an anomaly. If the culture does that that’s when you can say this is part of the culture. In the 1840s there are rumors that perhaps some of the Mormons are doing Polygamy. And this is actually one of the causes that led to the death of Joseph Smith.“

How did Polygamy get into Mormonism?

Richard Kitchen: „They basically point back to various times in the Old Testament. So … you look back at the ancient prophets, and say: ok Abraham obviously had two wives. The thinking I guess is … or the belief was that god has allowed this at various times, doesn’t allow it etc., and that this was one of those times that this was allowed. But certainly I believe that there are factors that allowed it to expand.“

How did Mormon Polygamy look like?

Richard Kitchen: „Historically only about 5% of Mormon males ever did any Polygamy. And most of those who did so had 2 wives. The one criteria that dealt with economics is that in order to be married to more than one spouse you had to be able to support that spouse. The very few people that had more than 2 wives almost all of those are what we would call economically the upper class. In order to participate in Polygamy the first wife had to approve and give agreement that you could do this and then she had to approve of the second wife. Many polygamist women actually wrote tracts defending the practice of Polygamy and … in a fact saying that it gave them more freedom. There are many cases where Polygamy didn’t work out. Unlike say in the Catholic church divorce was allowed.“

So when did Mormon Polygamy end?

Richard Kitchen: „From 1850 to 1890 at this 40year time span that is when it was practiced but increasing the tensions with the government. By 1890 the leadership of the church said that they had received a revelation from god that said, ok we no longer need to practice this because it is becoming such a block to the actual religion. Technically I guess the concept is still there but not in a physical earthly sense. Say you married a wife and you married her for eternity. Well eternity is a long time. And say she died and you married somebody else. In society that’s monogamy, right? But if you look at it as you’re married for eternity, then what?“

Fotos: copyright by Philipp Spreckels, Turn of the century photograph of Joseph F. Smith, his wives, and his children.

Interview with Bernhard Hennen – The Dark Eye

While the first part of this interview was mainly concerned with Bernhard Hennen’s Elfen Saga, the second part will focus on his works for the pen and paper role-paying game The Dark Eye.

The Dark Eye (German: Das Schwarze Auge (DSA)) is the most successful role-playing game on the German market and mostly known for its extremely detailed and extensively described game world. The role-playing game has been published in Dutch (Het Oog des Meesters), French (L’Œil noir), Italian, (Uno sguardo nel buio) and English (The Dark Eye).

Aside from pen & paper, computer games based on The Dark Eye have been published on the English market: Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny and its sequels Star Trail and Shadows over Riva. Current games situated in the world of Aventuria are RadonLab’s Drakensang: The Dark Eye and its prequel Drakensang: The River of Time plus the add-on to the prequel Drakensang: The Secret of Phileasson. Another game outside the Drakensang series which is currently under production is Silver Style Entertainment’s The Dark Eye: Demonicon.

EPENSCHMIEDE: You seem to care a lot about the elves. Even 20 years ago your Phileasson Saga focused on the history of this fantasy race within the universe of The Dark Eye. What is it about them that brings you back every time?

Bernhard Hennen: It is the combination of elves and barbarians that still appears to me. A setting in which the uttermost cultural counterparts clash. This conflict produces the most wonderful dialogues and astonishing events all by itself. I also like the tragic aspect that is attached to so many elf stories in our mythology. For example, those heroic figures that came down to us from Norse mythology be it Sigurd, Beowulf, or Hrolfr Kraki. In this aspect the normally contradicting characters fit together pretty well.

EPENSCHMIEDE: Even though your The Dark Eye novels are being republished under new names you haven’t written anything for the world of Aventuria since the online game Zorn der Eiselfen (English: Rage of the Iceelves). Are you going to write anything for the 25th anniversary of the role-playing game?

Bernhard Hennen: I’ll probably write a short story for the upcoming Myranor-Anthology, which is set on a exotic continent in the west of Aventuria. In addition to that, there will be a revised version of the Jahr des Greifen Saga (English: The Year of the Griffin).

EPENSCHMIEDE: To fans of The Dark Eye you are mostly known as the author of the Phileasson Saga. Even though the first edition is over 20 years old: can you remember how it all started?

Bernhard Hennen: The idea for the Saga came to me through the Dragonlance adventures that had come out in America. I was thrilled by the concept of a large story arc and thought this could be something one should do in Aventuria as well. Nothing that had been published had by far the scope or the historical impact on the universe as the Dragonlance Cycle had. Although I managed to convince Ulrich Kiesow (one of the founders of The Dark Eye) of the concept I had the feeling that he wasn’t comfortable with it the whole way.

EPENSCHMIEDE: That would verify rumors that not every author of The Dark Eye was a fan of your extensive description of the elven history.

Bernhard Hennen: No surprise there. I was a new author coming out of nowhere who right away laid hands on the entire history of the undying race; a history which in many aspects was to be set into stone. Of course I didn’t make friends with everybody by doing that. The story not only led through half of Aventuria but also added the Inseln im Nebel (Misty Islands) to the world; a very complex and detailed half-dimension.
Eventually this was also Ulrich Kiesow a little too much. When the saga was published it contained a little chapter which I hadn’t seen before. In it the connection between the Inseln im Nebel and Aventuria was cut, the Beni Geraut Schie a tribe of desert elves was removed from the world and other important protagonists were ‚disabled.‘
Nonetheless many of my characters survived and have left their mark on the history of The Dark Eye like Pardona or Pyrdacor.

EPENSCHMIEDE: Those who know your Phileasson Saga get acquainted with your Elfen novels very quickly: the clash of Vikings (Fjordlanders / Thorwalians) and Elves, ice-sailboats (Elfenwinter / Gen Norden), the Valley of Towers (Elfenritter / Auf der Spur des Wolfes), and so on. Why all these parallels?

Bernhard Hennen: I wrote the Phileasson Saga with a lot of passion. It contains themes which I was fascinated by since my youth. Moreover some of my travels influenced the saga; the tower tombs for example are loosely based on the towers, which can be found near the ancient Palmyra which I visited a long time ago. Traveling experiences, some very recent, are a never-ending resource. And because some places have made such an impact on my imagination adaptations of them appear in different works of mine.
The cosmos of the Elfen novels is a world which I created. Here I possess the freedom to write whatever I want, a privilege that I couldn’t exercise at the beginning of my career when I wrote for the world of The Dark Eye.

EPENSCHMIEDE: Bernhard thank you very much for the interview. I wish you good luck and a lot of inspiration for future projects.

The Phileasson Saga – links to Drakensang: The River of Time

Phileasson-Saga und Am Fluss der Zeit - Eilif 'Donnerfaust' SigridsdottirBernd Beyreuther, the Creative Director of Drakensang: The River of Time at Radon Labs has currently stated in an interview that there will be some content-related crossovers between the revised pen & paper adventure The Phileasson-Saga and the computer game.

With the cat out of the bag we are allowed to reveal a little bit more about the links between both projects.

In early spring 2009 it became clear that the announced prequel to The Dark Eye: Drakensang would take place just a few months after the end of The Phileasson-Saga. Shortly after establishing contact the editorship of the pen & paper adventure and Radon Labs met in Berlin.
In the beginning just they just meant to get to know each other’s projects (it was our goal to rule out contradictions between both stories) but the meeting proved to be more productive and creative than originally planned. Loose ends were tied together and answers were found to unresolved questions.

We don’t want to spoil you too much, but we’ll say this: not only the crew of Asleif ‘Foggwulf’ Phileasson (the main NPC of the Saga) but also that of his Thorwalian antagonist will get a lot more character-depth and become truer to its pirate-roots …


The Dark Eye: Drakensang

A single player PC RPG situated in the medieval fantasy world of Aventuria, which is based on the German pen & paper role-playing game The Dark Eye. The story centers around the trading city Ferdok on the Great River which is shaken by a mysterious series of murders.

Drakensang: The River of Time

The prequel to The Dark Eye: Drakensang goes back 23 years when imperator Hal was still ruling a strong Middenrealm. Together with recurring characters from the first game like Forgrimm and Ardo, the player discovers a dangerous plot against the empire.
The release of Drakensang: The River of Time has been scheduled for early 2010.

The Phileasson-Saga

Originally written by famous German fantasy-author Bernhard Hennen, the adventure will be re-released in December 2009 in an extended and revised version which has loose ties with Drakensang: The River of Time.
You can find the developers diary and behind the scenes material on the upcoming third version of the Phileasson-Saga on

The Dark Eye

The most successful pen & paper role-playing game on the German market. The stories, like in Drakensang, take place on the legendary medieval continent Aventuria.