So, I just finished reading The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks last night. I'd seen it mentioned by a few Mormon bloggers, most recently by Sarah, so I checked my library and saw it was on the New Books shelf. I had to return a book for Andrew so I picked it up that afternoon, and read it within a day of finishing Rachel Held Evans' A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I enjoyed learning about the typical Mormon childhood - or, at least, the cultural one for many of those growing up in the western United States. I laughed at some of her memories. The bits about church camps, and Marie Osmond's make-up and fashion tips were especially good. Here are other things that took my attention.
"No, no, we Mormons were taught that our works must carry us there,
that our works would make us perfect enough for God to finally recognize
us as worthy of His love." (pg. 63) This contrasts to my own faith
where we stress the grace and mercy of God, and His reaching down to us
while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).
One chapter is "mormons vs. born-agains" because where Joanna Brooks
lived, there were apparently enough of both groups to have some
conflict between them. Maybe both groups were competing for the same
souls. (The born agains were the bad guys in case you were wondering.)
I know my own personal experience with Mormons growing up was meeting
exactly one when we were pages for the NC House in Raleigh for four days when we were sixteen. Stephanie and I ate lunch together and I
remember she had a houseful of siblings all with S names. We got along
well. Likely we gravitated to each other because we were not exactly
like the other teens serving as pages that week. I can't recall. I just
remember her name and what she looked like, and that we talked over
lunch. I'm not in a place where many Mormons live - we do have an LDS
church or two around so I guess they exist. I've only ever seen the
missionaries riding bikes or shopping the dairy section at Walmart.
Anyway, she writes about those California born agains -- "Had they
disciplined their minds for the possibility that God would ask them to
take a second wife into the family in order to get to heaven?" (pg. 80)
Uh, that would be a big fat NO. Again, we don't believe God requires
us to do a whole lot to get into heaven. We believe Jesus did it for
us. That's why HE is the Savior. Not us. And we don't believe in
heavenly marriages most especially not polygamous ones. I have enough
trouble with Islamic heaven which doesn't sound like heaven to me AT ALL
what with men having access to 70-some perpetual virgins according to
some interpretations. (I personally love the feminist interpretations
that those houris are really raisins! Haha...)
I didn't realize how important marriage is to Mormon beliefs. While
I'm married, I can't help but feel sad for the many who are not. Are
they doomed to lesser heavens simply because - like the apostle Paul or
Jesus - they never married?
Brooks didn't mention the need for children, but I'm guessing my
choice of not having children isn't a popular one in Mormon circles.
(Truthfully, it's not exactly popular in evangelical circles either, but
we aren't doomed for a lesser heaven for it that I'm aware of.) Sorry,
but the thought of "eternal pregnancy in the company of plural pregnant
wives" in order to populate "the highest realms of heaven" with "spirit
children" is not my idea of heaven. (pg. 97) I really did understand
more why gay marriage is such a threat to many Mormons. You can't
procreate naturally with two men or two women.
Something I wondered: can Mormon women remarry if they are widowed?
I see where Mormon men who lost a first wife can be sealed to a second
wife for eternity as well. (pg. 87) She didn't mention women. Is
heavenly polyandry OK in this case? This reminds me of the conversation Jesus had with the Sadducees about marriage at the resurrection.
Never realized Mormons had to confess to a bishop when they did certain sins.
Mormon preoccupation with the dead is interesting if not a bit creepy
with all those files. I do think it's cool that they are interested in
where they came from, and trying to save their ancestors by doing things
for them now. Dedicated people. For me, it's more interesting on the
level that I sometimes wonder about those people who make up me. Really
have you ever stopped to think how many thousands of people contributed
to who you are today?
I am glad I married within my faith. I'm glad it works for
Joanna Brooks and her husband, but it would be difficult for me, I
think, to have a husband who is allergic to Jesus since Jesus is so
central to my faith. She said she doesn't even celebrate Christmas much
I could never align myself with a church or any organization that
keeps files on dissenters with the threat of excommunication and so
forth. I like my freedom too much, and suppose I'm not real big on
accountability. God keeping a book about my life is one thing. A group
of church leaders is quite another. I find God often is much more
merciful than we humans are to one another.
Brooks talked about Mormon defensiveness. Probably because of
posts like this. I really don't mean it in an evil born-again way. I
was just pointing out things that took my attention as one outside the
faith. Overall it was nice reading about growing up Mormon and how her
path has differed from her more orthodox family and friends.
One last thing...I had to smile at the couple of recipes shared in
the book as they are two I'm very familiar with. I like seeing what we
have in common. Most Mormons I've met - which is online usually - seem
like really, really wonderful people if not a bit cliquish. But I
understand better why they are this way, and I'm thankful for the ones
who let me butt in with my comments on their blogs and take the time to
answer my questions. To you: thanks much!