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Joanna Brooks

September 19, 2011

Joanna Brooks

Award winning writer and scholar of religion and spirituality Joanna Brooks grew up in a conservative Mormon home in the orange grove suburbs of Southern California. Prompted by the groundswell of recent interest in her faith, which has only increased with the success of The Book of Mormon on Broadway (not to mention those two guys running for the GOP nomination for President), Joanna founded her advice column for unorthodox seekers of all stripes. Joanna also writes on  Mormonism, faith, and politics for and has been featured in the New York Times and on National Public Radio’s Radio West.

Joanna was recently named one of Politico’s “50 Politicos to Watch,” and we at 12 Questions couldn’t agree more!

1. What is your hometown?

Santa Ana, California

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

Some days, I feel like Mattie Ross in “True Grit”, or Amy Denver in “Beloved”.

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

I’ve always loved Sissy Spacek in “Coal Miners Daughter”.

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

Poetry by Martin Espada and Ruth Forman

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

Ruth Forman, “Prayers Like Shoes”

Hella Winston, “Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels”

Betty Friedan, “The Feminine Mystique”

Suze Orman, “Nine Steps to Financial Freedom”

And some goofy but irresistible memoir about ultra marathoning

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

Saber Rattlers, “Twixt Me and the Peaceful Rest”

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?

Mormons cry a lot, but I don’t watch a lot of movies. The last movie I saw was Harry Potter 8 with my daughter. I don’t remember whether I cried or not.

8. Cat person or dog person?

Recovering cat person, now converted to the dog religion by one wily rez dog named Mosi.

9. What is more important, truth or kindness?

Kindness. Everyone is wrong sometimes.

10. How do you define sin?

This is a tough one. Sin = inflicted chaos?

11. How do you define virtue?

Virtue = courage + humility

12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

Maybe a headstone could say “She thought with her heart. And she really loved her daughters. ” But I’d probably rather just have my ashes scattered in Kolob Canyon, Utah, and let everything I wrote during my life speak for itself.

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

My daughters, when they turn 40. God willing I’ll be around to hear the answers.


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