I told a live version of this story at the Moth Storyslam in Louisville, Kentucky.
I summoned Mormons. God help me, I didn’t mean to, but I did. All I wanted was a Book of Mormon, and apparently the Mormons don’t believe in FedEx, so it came via Missionary Express.
See, a couple of months ago, I was listening to a podcast interview of a man who is a former Mormon and writes science fiction. He uttered the two sentences that sent me down this holy rabbit hole.
“The Book of Mormon is Bible fan fic. It’s Joseph Smith’s work of science fiction and fantasy.”
As a fan of science fiction and fantasy, I had to know more.
I should explain that I am a recovering Catholic. My experience with Mormons had been pretty limited. I went to a dance with a friend in high school at her Mormon church, and all I remember is that if the couples danced too close? The girl had to then dance with a broom. As a good Catholic girl (at the time), I knew enough to leave room for the Holy Spirit. But I did get threatened with the broom.
Now, I will also cop to the fact that I had a lot of misconceptions about Mormons and their kooky cult religion. And yes, I’ve engaged in plenty of Mormon-mocking. The polygamy! Ha! The underwear! Ha!
But I needed to know more. So I invited the Elders who delivered my Book of Mormon to come over.
The first night they came, I peppered them with two hours of questions.
So, the Book of Mormon came from a guy with his face in a hat full of rocks?
How did the Nephites get to North America?
Special boat and a faith-powered compass.
And, why are there a limited number of seats in Heaven?
Uh, that’s actually Jehovah’s witnesses, not Mormons.
Does God really live on his own special planet?
Classified. You’re not a Mormon so you can’t know that.
They’ve come to chat a couple of times now. My friends tease me about adopting some Mormons. I joke about Mormon Book Club.
Here’s what I see in these guys: they’re kids. They are 20 year old kids who’ve left home for two years. And they’re someone’s children. I have sons and you know that changes how you see other people.
I am not here to defend the religion. But out of these talks, I have realized something about myself.
I am envious. I have always been envious of people who see their path in life so clearly. Who not only see it, but act on it.
These kids are door-to-door salesmen for a product that makes outrageous claims. Possibly the least outrageous is eternal salvation.
And it makes outrageous demands on its followers. A two year job away from friends and family to sell your strange religion in foreign lands. All while you’re at it, no caffeine.
The only two-year commitment I’ve ever made is that perm I got in the eighth grade.
These kids bear the wrath of an angry public. They’ve been spit on, screamed at. Guns pulled on them.
I will never become a Mormon, but I will probably continue to be amazed by their steadfast commitment and surety in their chosen path.
I’m not buying what you’re selling, kid, but I like your moxie.