Suddenly, Utah Makes Sense

You remember The Silence of the Lambs? In order to catch a serial killer, Jodie Foster has to get into the mind of a serial killer. Inspired by the core principles of that philosophy, I watched all six hours of the PBS documentary, The Mormons. As you can imagine, the program is a comprehensive look at every aspect of the religion, from its history to its controversies to its powerful place in the world today. It is by no means an apologia because it asks tough questions, but it also shows sides of the religion that can strike a compassionate chord even in skeptics.

I learned a lot. For example, I didn't know that the Mormons were a fiercely persecuted people. That's how they ended up in Utah. And if I had previously thought about it more deeply, why the hell else would anyone end up in Utah? I also learned of how big of a sacrifice missionaries make when they are shipped away for their missions. Cut off from visiting their families for a couple years and always in the presence of their Book of Mormon-thumpin' partners and spreading The Word despite dismally low conversion rates, it is perhaps a situation as grueling as being in the military. There's even killing involved. For example, there is knocking on my door; I open it; I see Mormon missionaries; they tell me they want to talk to me about the Book of Mormon; I start laughing hysterically and exclaim, "You kill me!"

I love the above picture. Leave it to the Mormons to make the missionary effort look like a crack deal. Sweet irony.


  1. i've lived in utah for six years now. it was an eye opener for me, in many ways. some parts of the faith, i find disagreeable, some.. interesting. i decided to learn as much as i could, since i'd be living here... and it was worth my efforts. most of my friends are mormon, most are in theater.. all are decent, fun, and allow me the freedom to question, and on occasion, we tease back and forth. one couple jokingly refers to me as 'second wife'... and all are known as my 'p.m.s'; my personal mormon's.

    any religious group that is willing to sacrifice their personal time and belief, be they catholic, mormon, methodist... i give them respect. i don't have to buy into their faith, but, i am polite to them when they show up. i'll offer a cold drink, say no, and shut the door. they do, however, earn a polite word, because i could never give that much belief to any faith... and anyone who does, well... i'm amazed by it, to be honest.

  2. Honestly, Mormon theology is just as puportedly outlandish as Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism. Furthermore, as much as the Scientologists scare me, I don't know that it's any harder to believe that alien beings have attached themselves to our bodies than it is to believe that some guy came back from the dead a good long time after he had kicked it on a cross.

    The only alternative to generously accepting all religions is to be an atheist. But atheism is not a viewpoint that's devoid of elaborate belief systems. In fact, it incorporates beliefs just as complicated as the most complicated religions. And if you think that religion is absurd, the surface absurdity of atheism is just as extreme if you really mull over it.

    In other words, it's all good. Or bad. It doesn't matter.

  3. personally, i plan on being buried with a book from every faith... then, i'll say, "so, god, which one was it you actually gave the go ahead to?"

    when that one it pointed at, i'll say, "sonofabitch, that's the one i converted to as i died"

    cover your bases is my motto.