Friday, March 28, 2008


Today two young men with nametags which said "elder" on them appeared at my door--a bit of a juxtaposition.

I've lived at this house for two years, and they've never come 'round before. I've been kind of waiting for them to show up, because I realized sometime in the past two years that the story I grew up with--the one with Abraham nearly killing his son, and Noah presiding over a planet wide flood, and Jonah getting swallowed by a humpback, then vomited back up, and millions of Jews walking across the middle of a sea, and ... I guess finally Jesus being born to a virgin and growing up as a carpenter and getting a little wild and powerful in his later years, and ... coming back from the dead, and ...

You know (or maybe you don't?) --the whole Christian story thing.

Anway, I realized that *that* story must certainly be at *least* as strange to the untrained ear as the story the Mormons tell, whatever it may be--something about a New York farm boy named Joe, and a couple of tribes of sort of prishistoric native Americans, who were apparently actually immigrants themselves--from the Middle East, of all places.

So I thought to myself "Self, next time some of those youthful elders show up, you should invite them in and get them to tell you the damned story. It sounds potentially fascinating. And it would be ever so much easier, and more interesting, to get it from them than to read it somewhere.

So today I had about 40 minutes free, so I invited them in (I'm imagining my delightful mother shivering in horror upon reading this. (Relax mom--I'm only kidding--I know you aren't shivering in horror)). Their names were Brandon and Beau--yep--spelled like that. Brandon is from (of all places) Utah, and Beau from Pheonix. They were very ... earnest. That's nothing to fault them for--I was a lot more earnest once than I currently am.

I learned a few interesting things I didn't know. For instance, apparently the mormon church in general promotes the use of the King James version of the Bible. I found that surprising--it's so very ... quaint, and ... I guess I had an image of the Mormon Church as being a bit more ... savvy than that. But there it is.

And they don't get to *choose* where they do their two year mission. They send in an application of sorts and the prophet--that's the head guy, and his board of 12 guys (Were they called "apostles"? I can't remember) pray over each and every application, and then choose where each shall go. Which has got to be a hell of a time consuming job, since apparently there are some 53,000 Mormon missionaries around the world. But there it is. But anyway, these two blokes got stuck with *very* secular Seattle. Kinda sucks to be them, from my POV, when they could have gotten some rather exotic location and been learning a foreign language and such for two years. But they seemed at peace with it. Good for them!

They asked my permission to pray at the beginning and end of our conversation, and I acquiesed, although I kept my eyes open (call me a cynic =).

Overall, I was really disappointed with the visit. I really like Beau and Brandon, and they were pretty good at what they do. They said at their church, which is about 45 blocks south and west of here, they get about 300 converts a year. Not too bad, I guess, for Seattle--not too bad at all, although I guess Mark Driscoll is kind of showing them up a little. But they were a lot nicer than Mark Driscoll, and I have the impression that maybe their church--I mean at least the Seattle local iterations of it, are a lot nicer than Mars Hill, which isn't hard to do.

They kept pressing me to pray and ask God if this story was true, since if it is, it's *super* important. And I kept telling them I don't pray, and they were curious about that, so I explained how we me and the Man got a divorce cause I was just always pissed off at him, and it really didn't seem to be going anywhere, so I thought the best thing was for us to go our separate ways. They seemed to understand that.

They also did a little bit of ... further ... sales, in wanting to schedule a time to come back and teach me more, and/or wanting to give me a tour of their church building. But I told them to just drop back in some time.

I got to learn a little about how the process works for them--it sounds like a generally great experience.

But overall, I was disappointed. I wanted to hear some details about the story about the Lamaanites and the Nephlites (did I get those names right?)--the two prehistoric native american groups who came over from Jerusalem in 600 BC, and to whom Jesus came and spoke not long after his resurrection circa A.D. 33. Something about how one of them genocided the other, and the genociders constitute the ancestors of the native Americans of today.

But they weren't very forthcoming on the details. I was actually very disappointed. I pressed them at least three times during the 45 minutes we talked for stories about these two groups and how it all went down, and they just weren't forthcoming. They encouraged me to read the book of Mormon, and I said (and meant) that I don't really have time.

So much for my big plan to get the 20 minutes interesting personalized version of the story from the next Mormon missionaries who came to my door. If they come back, I'm going to make it a condition of inviting them in--make them promise to tell me at least 3 good stories, with realisitic characters and vivid details, and at least a little suspense. If they won't agree to it, I'll just shoo them on. Because I disagree with Beau and Brandon--I guess I see the world differently than they do, and to me it's not important whether the story is "true" in some factual sense. To me, it's more important whether it's *true* in a ... human sense, by which I mean to say, "Is it interesting? Does it break your heart, or make you want to sing, or scream, or go eat some ice cream, or *something*?" And today, while they were *very* earnest, *their* iteration of the Mormon story was in this latter sense resoundingly *untrue*.

So that was my Mormon adventure for the day. I'm kinda glad they stopped by =)


Megs said...

I really think the kind of everybody-has-a-different-perspective-and -personal-reality-and-that's-ok idea that you're espousing is consistent with Jesus' i am way, i am truth, i am life...

love life with you bens!

Benjamin Ady said...

so you're leaving out the definite articles?

Anonymous said...

Ask them to tell you the story of Alma the younger. He did not believe in God, even though his father was the head of the church. Alma went about trying to discredit God and the church and promoted some pretty evil stuff. Then, he had a conversion. He spent the rest of his life serving God. He converted an entire community who prior to their conversion were murders, etc. This community burried their weapons in the ground never to be used again. The scriptures say of Alma that he was favored of the Lord. Even though at one time he was opposed to God.

Have them tell you about Enos. He prayed to be forgiven of his sins. He said he prayed all the day long and "wrestled" with God (not literally but figuratively). At the end of this experience, he recieved a peaceful witness that God was mindful of him and that his sins were forgiven.

Have them tell you about Captain Moroni and his battles and the title of liberty.

Have them tell you about the Brother of Jared and his faith in Christ. Even though Jared and his people were tossed about on the sea, God caused that the winds never did cease to blow towards the promised land. And so it is with your spiritual journey. He does not cease to care and to blow those winds of change in your life towards Him and your heavenly home. The experience of your life my toss you about but He does not cease to strenghten you and care about you. You may have divorced him, but he still loves you. Don't believe me? Just ask Him (pray).

Anonymous said...

This is a link to a good article you might like. It reminded me of your questions about why God permits suffering, wars, etc.

Dudely Dude said...

Here's one you might enjoy viewing:

The Veritas Forum: Belief in an Age of Skepticism?