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.