We’re on an LDS migration route, and it’s kind of awesome

Our house seems to be on an LDS migration route, and it’s kind of awesome.

Someone apparently gave our name to them as a joke, and now the missionaries just keep coming. These poor gals knock on our door with the papal flag decal, enter past the window on which hangs two kitschy Greek orthodox suncatchers of Mary and Jesus (with sparkly beard!), and take a seat at our table, the Rublev Trinity to their left, a torn poster of Mother Teresa to their right, a Daniel Mitsui print of the resurrection behind them, and of course, front and center, a crucifix hanging from a thumbtack.

Then we invite them for dinner and say grace in Hebrew.

I’ve gotta hand it to these mormons, their poker face is top notch. They are all about finding common ground, at least at first; and so are we. They believe very strongly in the importance of family, and so do we. I gather there is intense pressure for LDS moms (much like moms in some Catholic communities) to present a happy, smiley, calm-and-blessed face to the world at all times — well, it’s nice to be able to sit with someone who just plain thinks it’s neat to have a bunch of kids. It feels good to talk about God and not feel awkward. It doesn’t happen often around here.

We always make it very clear (if our uberCath decor didn’t make the point) that we’re not interested in converting, and that the Church is and always will be our home. But we are still interested in talking to them, for a few reasons.

First, they look discouraged. They are young, and New England is pretty tough territory. We don’t really want to talk to anyone about anything, much less to strangers about Jesus. It’s an act of charity to let them say their bit, because that’s what they’re spending eighteen months trying to do. We don’t pretend they’re persuading us, but we do give them a chance — including a chance to answer questions about what they believe.

And that’s the second reason we invite them in and have a chat. I hope that, after we establish that common ground, I can plant a little seed in their mind that there is something more than what they’ve grown up with.

They generally come in pairs, one more confident than the other. So I ask questions of the less confident one. This time, for instance, I asked whether there was any shred of archeological or DNA or historical evidence that Jesus had, as they claimed, visited to the American continent. They both acknowledged that it was a good question, and then somehow we changed topics.

They also mentioned that women’s relief society was the oldest organization of women in the world and I says to myself, I says, BUT SAINT CLARE . . . But I let it go.

One thing I couldn’t let go of: the idea that Joseph Smith was the only one who could read the golden plates with special glasses. Beyond the comical idea of crystal goggles and an angel named “Moroni” (I suspect both spectacles and the name “Moroni” sounded more exotic to American ears in 1823), I just couldn’t get past the idea that God would do something so important, but be so freaking proprietary about it.

Here is this thing, the Book of Mormon, that appears literally out of the blue and abruptly changes wide, wide swaths of our understanding of what the universe is like, who God is, what life is for, what happens after death and before birth, and so on — and it all gets funnelled through this one guy (aged 14!). And everything hinges on him telling the truth and getting it right.

It seems like the opposite of what God would do if He really wanted people to believe, understand, and, well, meet Him.

We thought back over the Gospels and couldn’t think of another time that God acted like that. There has been a lot of “Go out and tell everyone what you know!” and “Go forth and spread the word!” and “Don’t keep this to yourself! It’s for everyone!” There was a lot of “Nope, you have to let those other guys in, too!” and even a certain amount of, “Oh, sorry, you don’t speak Greek or Aramaic? Well, this must be your lucky day!”  A few times, Jesus told his disciples not to say anything yet, but to wait until after the Resurrection.

But there was nothing about “Here is a secret, and you need special decoder glasses to see it, and there won’t be any evidence, and you just have to believe that this one guy who said this one thing is telling the truth.” That . . . is not how you act when you want people to know the truth. That’s how you act when you’re trying to convince someone that you know something important, so you can make them do what you want.

I asked the younger missionary: “Doesn’t that worry you, at all?”

She paused. They talked a bit about good fruits. So I took a chance and told them about Father Maciel.

Now there was an example of someone who knew how to use secrecy, how to manipulate people with faith. I told them how he set up and designed and organized an entire religious order entirely for the purpose of hiding and perpetuating sexual predation. Every aspect of the lives of seminarians and consecrated women, and the students in LC schools, was organized to make them doubt themselves, trust authority blindly, and never tell anyone what was really going on. The goal was never illumination; the goal was obfustication, so that dark deeds could flourish unchallenged.

This, I said, is what happens when you decide you’re just going to trust this one guy who claims to speak for God, and you have to believe him just as you’d believe God. This is what you get.

There have been good fruits from the Legion of Christ. They do good work. And they’ve also been responsible for countless, countless ruined lives. Children defiled, souls lost. Because they said they were missionaries for Christ, but it was all about putting your faith in that one guy, that one guy who isn’t God.

It’s a complicated thing. Catholics have their own “family issues” to work out, as we struggle with ideas of papal infallibility, the authority of bishops, private revelation, and so on. We do need faith, and not just reason. We do need to put ourselves in the hands of people we trust. But you will never hear a good Catholic say, “Don’t ask that question about our Faith.” You will never hear a true Catholic say, “Don’t read that book about another faith.” You will never hear a Father of the Church say, “God isn’t interested in revealing the truth to someone like you.” And you will never hear God say, “You people stink. I’m leaving for several centuries, so good luck without me.”

Instead, you see Christ, a light in the darkness, illuminating the past, the present, and the future; and after Him, there is no more need for prophets (with or without special goggles).

Anyway, they wanted me to read The Book of Mormon. I said that I would try to read at least some of it if they would read Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth, which is my standby for Catholic apologetics. It’s short, and small enough to keep in my purse. I don’t know if they are actually allowed to read it (maybe they will save it for after their 18 months of mission work are up).

You can’t convert anyone by arguing, or by crushing them with logic. But you can encourage people to ask themselves questions, and to show that you, for one, have asked those questions and have happily arrived at an answer that brings peace and joy at least some of the time.

These young LDS women had the guts and the strength to spend their time bringing what they thought was the truth to a very hostile territory. I hope I honored them by offering them my ears, my books, a few hamburgers and chips (I remembered not to give them Coke!*), and some questions. I came away from our conversation with a deep gratitude for my faith, and for its long history of intellectual rigor, and for Christ Himself.

If you are LDS and would like a copy of Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth, send me an email with your address and I will do my best to get one sent to you.


*EDIT: Some of my friends have let me know it’s a myth that Mormons can’t drink caffeine. Sorry! It was an honest mistake. I am ready to hear I’ve made other errors describing what I understand about LDS theology, as well. Please feel free to make corrections in the comments.

Image:by Versageek via Flickr (Creative Commons)
About the image: The original photo showed a young female LDS missionary. I found the photo on a photo sharing site which had apparently incorrectly tagged it as free for commercial use under Creative Commons. Several of the woman’s friends have contacted me, asking me to take the photo down, which I have done. It sometimes take some time for the image to be updated when it’s attached to shared posts on social media.

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65 thoughts on “We’re on an LDS migration route, and it’s kind of awesome”

  1. Hi there! I served as a missionary (LDS) in the Dominican Republic from 2011-2013. As you may know, the DR has the highest concentration of Roman Catholics in the Western Hemisphere. I can honestly say that talking to the truly faithful, practicing Catholics there were a breath of fresh air for me. I’d imagine my experience was very similar to that of these sisters who recently visited you. Likewise, their perspective and thoughts were probably quite similar to yours.
    Being from NW Wyoming (the Eastern edge of the Mormon Belt) I had Catholic friends but knew little to nothing of their theology. The more I learned about it and had the opportunity to get to know true Catholics, the more I admired their faith and practice. I would love to read the two publications that you shared with the missionaries who visited you. Please email me:

  2. Really? You used someone’s photo without their permission? What gives? This is my friend’s daughter, I sure would not be happy if someone did that to me. Hopefully you will be a decent human and remove it.

    1. Natalie, if she was evangelizing in public at the time then IMO privacy rules would not apply. In any case, Jesus said to preach the good news of the kingdom everywhere. That would make it the most important work going on right now. If she’s doing that, shouldn’t she be proud of it?

    2. As I explained in my post, Natalie, I used a picture which was incorrectly labelled as free for commercial use. I got several complaints and changed the photo immediately, and added an explanation. In fact, I changed a full 24 hours before you wrote your comment, so I am not sure you even looked at the post, or you would have seen the replacement image. Your call for decency is noted.

  3. Simcha,

    I love your blog, but your new logo seems to show a pregnant lady with giant breasts. “Mama loves coffee” was catchy and different.


    1. Jerry, it’s one of many figurines dubbed “Venus” by archaeologists because of their surmised use as fertility icons. This one is the best known, the Venus of Willendorf. It’s … iconic. 🙂
      The article says that many think the term fertility icon is an example of the scientists’ preconceptions and that they may have been only self-portraits. I can’t agree.
      Now: What is it doing heading up a Catholic blog? I have no idea!

    2. I think you have me confused with Jenny Uebbing. Venus of Armchair has been my logo for ten years or more.

      1. I wouldn’t have figured “coffee” for the drink you’d put in your blog title anyway… Wasn’t it swilling vodka that some guy chided you for back in the day when you first posted the pic of the flour-covered toddler on the counter?

  4. There’s so much to unpack here. I’m responding to your post in parts:

    1) If I were a missionary, I’d feel very encouraged by your religious decor, your Hebrew prayers. The finest, most successful, joyful converts I know were people deeply devoted to God and their religious traditions prior to conversion to the faith. It was because of their devotion, introspection, faith, and prayer life that they found a home in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, not in spite of it.

    2) Yes, New England is hard. I live here, too.

    3) Saint Clare is lovely, but every time my Catholic friend talks about the difficulty connecting as women in her faith, I want to yell, GO TO RELIEF SOCIETY. NO YOU DON’T HAVE TO CONVERT, BUT BE THERE, WITH WOMEN, WHO LOVE JESUS AND LOVE YOU AND WILL BE THERE FOR YOU (AND YES, THEY’LL BE ALL PROSELYT-Y, BUT YOU CAN STILL BE FRIENDS IF YOU DON’T JOIN THE CHURCH). When it comes to weekly, monthly, daily support for and from other women, Relief Society is the bomb. I love it, and know how much poorer I’d be without it. I have learned more about unconditional friendship there than anywhere else.

    4. You’re right. God’s not proprietary. He WANTS everyone to have everything in the Gospel. (Spoiler: That’s why we’ve got 70,000+ missionaries working to preach the Gospel to every creature).
    But surely you remember that one time when God gave Moses all those lovely commandments and he came down from the mountain, and everyone was melting down gold into a calf to worship and getting all non-covenant keeping on him? And so Moses did a facepalm, and had to go back up to get the Ten Commandments, because apparently the Children of Israel weren’t ready for the good stuff?

    It happens. Again, and again, and again, people as a whole get so stupid and off course (and murder-y towards the people who actually are, you know, listening to God) that they lose what God wants to give them. God has to Restore things, again and again and again. It is a pattern of patience, forgiveness, redemption that I know you understand and love like I do.

    He restored the Gospel through Noah.
    He restored it through Abraham.
    He restored it through Moses.
    He restored it (and gave us infinitely, eternally everything) through Jesus Christ.
    He restored it for the last time, through Joseph Smith.

    He extends his arm, again, and again, in love to people who fall and falter and forget. Yes, there was care and quiet and rules in the 1830 Restoration–people were hellbent on taking the rumored stack of gold plates (God wouldn’t let them), and killing Joseph (eventually they succeeded).

    Between the apostasy and Joseph Smith, God did not say

    “You people stink. I’m leaving for several centuries, so good luck without me.”

    He did speak. To lots of people. And lots of people listened. They fulfilled His will in so many ways, working to create a time and a place where there was enough freedom, openness, and understanding that the Gospel could be restored in its fullness. God restored it as soon as He could–A Century or two earlier, and Joseph could have been burned as a witch. As it was, he was met with calumny and ultimate martyrdom anyway.

    This was not God being proprietary; it was people being too loud, violent, intolerant, stubborn, and set upon false traditions to hear Him.

    Think of the people martyred for their faith, sometimes martyred by the selfsame church that later canonized them. It is not outside the bounds of Mormonism to belief that those Saints were Saints, that they heard God and performed miracles through Him.

    Saints did perform miracles through faith then, and they do now. But now, besides each person’s own communion with God, we (you, me everyone) have offered to us the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, His Priesthood that was held by Peter, James and John, Abraham, Noah, and Moses. That by which the world was formed, the Red Sea Parted, and God’s people gathered, and regathered, and regathered and redeemed.

    The Really Good Stuff that was lost over and over. And now we have it back, this time with the promise that it will stay on earth until the Second Coming.

    It’s a lot of fun. Even if you think we’re all absurd, thank you for your kindness, and willingness to listen.

    Our next General Conference is the first weekend of October. It’s almost as good as reading the Book of Mormon as far as getting a solid understanding of what we’re about. Check it out. https://www.lds.org/general-conference?lang=eng

    1. No, just….no. The Gospel wasn’t restored because it wasn’t lost-ever. Jesus didn’t gather His people into a Church, promise that the gates of hell would never defeat Her, then issue a re-do via Joseph Smith.

      And don’t get me started on those wonderful women in RS who raise wonderful children to be be so cliquish and superior; the same women who’s husbands coach youth sports and with impunity shun non-members to advance and promote their kid at all cost.

      Mormons can believe whatever nonsense they want to believe, but they really need to leave Jesus – the REAL Jesus, not the brother of Satan – out of it.

      1. The good news: I commented to clear up misunderstanding of my faith, not to debate doctrine with strangers online.

        The better news: Catholics have been telling me I don’t believe in the”real Jesus” since I was 9 years old, but it does not fall to Lynn, my Catholic school teachers, or the council of Nicea to judge whether I believe in, love, and try, albeit imperfectly, to follow Jesus Christ. That job falls to my Heavenly Father, by way of my Savior Jesus Christ.

        The best (Gospel) news: despite the human frailty, hurt, grievances among our 15 million or your 1.2 billion, there is Grace sufficient for us to be reconciled to one another and to God. I’m a 7 year fan of Simcha Fisher, in part because about 90% of what she has to say about faith and life and Christ is doctrinal to my faith. The “those Mormons” othering is hilarious, because we’re way more alike than you know. We are Sisters in Christ, and if we’re not, we could be and should be. There is so much good to be done together.

        1. We are sisters of the flesh because we don’t not believe the same things- your god and your Jesus are not the God and Jesus of Christianity. That doesn’t mean we can’t get things done. But don’t expect to list things your faith embraces as some sort of unalterable truth without being challenged.

          1. Here’s the fun part about being a Mormon:

            So many people, even people you’ve never met, know more about your own personal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs than you do.

          2. And if you, as a Mormon, suggest that you might think differently than the way they say people like you think…you are wrong. And probably lying. To hide the devil horns and the sister wives.

          3. Hi Samantha,

            It is kind of you to invite women of other faiths into your community. We U.S. Catholics definitely need to do better in creating supportive parish communities.

            I disagree with you that Joseph Smith simply “restored” lost Gospel truths, and that your missionaries’ main purpose is promoting Christ’s Gospel.

            Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon add to and deviate from the Catholic Gospels and New Testament. Most notably in the concept of who/what God is and man’s potential in the afterlife.

            This is not something most Mormons seem willing to discuss, and the secrecy is what makes people skeptical and suspicious. Many ex-Mormans have spoken of the increasing layers of revelation & doctrine revealed at each subsequent level within the Morman church. There seems to be an idea that only those already immersed in Mormon life can truly handle & understand the deeper doctrines. This is in contrast to Catholic teaching.

            One example is that Mormons believe men, after death, can become God-like, with creative powers of their own. This is completely contrary to Christian belief that everything is created only through God and His Son, Jesus. Any creating we do after death would be through Jesus, not on our own merit or power.

            Mormons also believe God has an actual physical body, and that at some far away time he was once a mortal man who transcended to Godhood, just as earthly men may one day transcend to Godhood. This is absolutely a repudiation of the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.

            This quote from LDS.org says it all:
            “As man now is, God once was:
            “As God now is, man may be.”


            So when Christians tell you we do not believe in the same God, it is true. We have such vastly different concepts of Him that I cannot in honesty say your god is my God. I am sorry it upsets you when people say that to you.

            Mormons are not just “restoring” the Gospel, they have a profoundly different view of God & Jesus, based solely on Joseph Smith’s teachings. He utterly changes the Christian-Judeo concept of the universe. Why would God wait so long to reveal all that? Why not tell Abraham, I was once man, and you too can become a God just like me? Or at least Jesus could have taught this if the world wasn’t yet prepared.

    2. This is such a lovely comment…thank you for it, and for the gracious follow-ups.

      My parish choir has a pianist who is LDS. She plays for us at Mass, then rushes over to her church for ward meetings. I’m grateful that church authorities on both sides were okay with this arrangement, because along with being a good pianist, she is a wonderful woman of faith.

      Sometimes, in fact, she’s a better Catholic than some of us Catholics. One might well say the same of you, based on your comments. (I trust you will understand that I mean that as a non-proselytizing compliment.)

      I don’t mean to imply that the differences aren’t real and profound, or that they don’t matter. Doctrine is important…vitally important. Being a part of the Church that Jesus founded, and doing one’s best to live the life of a committed disciple within that Church, is important…vitally important. If we didn’t believe that, my wife and I wouldn’t be devoting time and energy and prayer to directing our parish’s RCIA program (the process for non-Catholics who wish to join the Church, or are at least considering it).

      Prior to and above all that, though, are the greatest of the commandments:

      “’Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.’” (Matthew 22:36-40)

      Anyone who is serious about following those two commandments is my brother and my sister on this journey, whatever else may separate us and our faith communities from each other.

      1. Kevin, it’s good to be devoted to something of the spirit these days, when so few people are. In fact, twice you mention “vital” efforts on your part.
        Since the overall topic is God, we can say that’s a literal application; a life-saving thing.
        You said that doctrine is vital, and it is. Think of Noah’s day, when the distinction was clearer: you agreed with Noah’s doctrine or you drowned. Most of the churches of Christendom have a belief in “the end”, whatever that is. [Hollywood thinks it involves big special effects. :-)] Jesus talked about it many times, especially at Mt 24&25, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Catholics tend to look further along into the future for it than evangelicals but no matter. The prophecies exist.
        Jesus compared the end times to “the days of Noah”, so a question can be asked. How many arks did Noah build?
        How many doctrines will be found correct in the last days? Is there an ark to enter? Will God have a way of warning us?
        Speaking of the ark, Jesus said the ones who died made only one mistake. [Mt 24:38,39] Do you see what it was?

      2. Thanks so much, Kevin!

        I have an enormous amount of love and respect for Catholics; half my family is Catholic and I went to Catholic School. I am often in the position of defending Catholicism to Protestant friends, and occasionally in the position of defending it within my church. (There are some LDS who have a tendency to interpret certain unflattering verses in the Book of Mormon to be referring to Catholicism. It’s not doctrinal or canonical and I refute it passionately. You’re mostly good people, just as we’re mostly good people. Insisting otherwise just isn’t kind.)

        “A better Catholic than us Catholics”–the same could be said for some Mormons. In fact, someone I love became inactive in our faith, and I was happy and relieved when he joined yours. Obviously, I’d be happiest to see him reignited in our faith, but I am positive that living as an observant Catholic is doing much more for him than living as a nonobservant Mormon. Conversely, my husband served an LDS mission to the Catholics of northern Italy, and saw that happen in reverse–lapsed Catholics becoming observant Mormons. I think the simple fact of actively studying the scriptures, praying, and working within a faith community is hugely beneficial in both cases. While we’d both prefer people in a different end of the court, just the fact that they’re in the game now is forward momentum. I’m certain God will sort us out and set us straight and minister in Grace to all of us for where we’ve been wrong.

        I feel the same way you do about belonging to the One True Church. My deeply beloved (very observant Catholic) Sister in Law and I joke about it, actually–if only we could agree on whether an apostasy/ restoration had happened, we could inherit one another’s children in the case of untimely death. She, understandably, wants her children to be raised in the Catholic Faith as much as I want my children to be raised in the LDS faith. Apart from that, we are the most culturally, socially, and in all other ways alike and well-matched to be one another’s backups. We’ve got 11 between the two of us, and we both want more. 🙂

        As to Matt 22:36-40 and your comment: “Anyone who is serious about following those two commandments is my brother and my sister on this journey, whatever else may separate us and our faith communities from each other.”

        Yes, and yes! I believe this too, with all my heart.

  5. Simcha, I follow your writing, enjoy it, and learn much from it. In your posting about the LDS missionaries, your comments about the “good works” and “good fruits” of the Legion of Christ are very understated. Maciel’s life was sinful and there are no excuses that can or should be made for it. Many serious mistakes were made in the Legion and elsewhere that allowed it to continue.
    However, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have seen the great value of the Legion, which is why Pope Benedict began and Pope Francis continued the apostolic visitation and reform of the Legion.
    And in response to the anecdotal comment by the lady who had children attend a Legion of Christ high school, the children who are no longer active in the Catholic Church, we have sons who attended a Jesuit high school, with the same result. We pray daily for their return to the Catholic Church, as we now will for those children of hers, as I’m sure she does.

  6. There are two really good works written by ex-mormons giving their reasons why they left.
    My favorite is “letter to my wife”:

    The next is “letter to a CES director”

    They cover issues like plagiarism of then current books in the Book of Mormon, historical issues with the BoM, Smith getting caught fake translating the kinderhook plates and the Book of Abraham, Smith’s questionable moral character, and changing doctrines among LDS prophets.
    You won’t find a more concise list of objections than these sources. I’d highly recommend it for LDS and non LDS alike. They are well researched and documented. I would read the letter to my wife and then skim the CES letter for the parts not covered in the first work. I think they may be over 100 pages, but they go fast with how they are formatted. You might be able to do it in an hour.

    Although, as a Catholic, it’s a little disheartening to see that many ex-Mormons become completely non-religious, so I hope if any LDS is out there thinking of leaving, I hope you don’t throw out all of Christianity.

  7. The more Mormons I know, the more I realize that they are not Mormon because of Mormon theology. They are there for the strong social network and the family-friendly support. I believe the average Mormon practices a willing suspension of disbelief and avoids introspection with regards to their religion’s teaching. It’s been said that the Catholic Church is a hospital, not a country club. Mormonism is the country club.

  8. Reading through the comments made me remember this odd friendship my brother once had with the youngest Osmond kid, Jimmy. My brother did some business with him decades ago, and was invited to his wedding–only the invitation was partial because some of it was off limits to a non Mormon. My brother says they were served grape juice in little paper cups. At one point, Osmond, challenging my brother about his Catholic faith, asked, “if your Pope asked you to jump from a 40 story building, (tall cliff?) would you do it?” My brother laughed and said something like “hell no.” Osmond proudly declared that if their prophet asked him to, he would.

    I forgot to mention that story to my little girl Charlotte, when she asked me what the comment “don’t drink the Kool-Aid” means.

    And really, I am monumentally flummoxed that so many people could blindly trust some jack-of-all-trades who finally landed the role of “prophet”–wasn’t the guy a water diviner before that? I do get him mixed up with the JW’s prophet. The 19th century was such an odd period of time in U.S. history–full of interesting characters dabbling in all kinds of strange spiritual woo woo. Nowadays it’s hard enough believing in “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”–Even though it was Jesus himself who said it, (“and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”…) Can you imagine how hard it would be to sustain a faith resting on some random Tom, Dick or Harry whose claim to fame was dozens of wives, and whose closest brush with martyrdom was probably when his oldest wife heard that he wanted to marry a 13-year-old relative? Remember when it came out in the news that one of the most revered ancient documents that only “the prophet” could read was just a run -of-the-mill Egyptian death certificate? It was an embarrassing hoax, and not even a clever one. Special glasses, really? REALLY? Even the jack Mormons think it’s pretty absurd, and laugh about it over beers. They just don’t want to be shunned by their families.

  9. By the way, I just remembered there is an excellent theological review of the flaws in LDS by ex-Mormon, Thomas Smith. It’s a one hour lecture that all Catholics should listen to if they have Mormons trying to proselytize them, and frankly I would challenge all Mormons to refute him. It’s right on youtube for free:

  10. “You will never hear a true Catholic say: Don’t read that book about another faith.”
    . . . I would never say it, but didn’t we have an index of forbidden books (until the second Vaticanum?). I wouldn’t be certain that the index didn’t include books about other faiths.
    . . . Otherwise, a well written piece with a good and encouraging message.

    1. The Index of Forbidden Books was not concerned with the works of other faiths. Its focus was on heretical (or dubious) works from within the Christian faith. The Koran was not on the list, nor was the Bhagavad Gita, nor the Daodejing, or Hesiod’s Theogony was not on it. The Book of Mormon was never on it. (Fun Fact: I just checked the Wikipedia article on the Index, and it appears that I’ve only read 3 books on it – Milton’s Paradise Lost, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and Voltaire’s Candide.)

      But as Peter points out, the Index was abolished in 1963, well before I had read any of those.

  11. First off- thank you for your kindness to the missionaries. It is a mercy to give them a chance to teach, a chance to rest, a chance to share. Fellowship, love, common ground. Thank you.

    Second, more likely you know some Mormon who noticed how much you love God and they thought you may love the good news of the Restoration too, not a joke but a sincere invitation from a loving point.

    And, just for kicks, possible archaeological evidence. Of course, it’s solidly dismissed by scholarly authorities, but they tend to dismiss a lot of religious evidences, so grains of salt. https://www.funforlesstours.com/articles/descending-god/

    1. Also, David, Daniel, and Samuel were all really young and naive and pulled of some pretty awesome stuff with God. Sounds pretty consistent, restoring truth through a young boy.

  12. Popular understanding of the caffeine/soda/hot drinks issue is definitely underinformed and too broad, but I’m not sure it’s accurate to call it a “myth”.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley (who headed the church from 1995-2008) certainly pushed the idea of abstinence from caffeine, though other authorities have taken different tacks, even during Hinckley’s time. Any number of official and unofficial and folk explanations have been given over the years as to what is allowed and why, and what is disallowed and why. Further confusion results when lines get blurred between what is merely suggested and what is mandatory, and between what individuals and small groups believe God is calling them specifically to do and what the church teaches that everyone is required to do. (We Catholics can certainly relate to that.)

    Ultimately, though, what matters most is what church authorities are saying right now; so perhaps it’s fair to say that the “Mormons can’t have caffeine” is at least an outdated idea. LDS teaching can be more of a moving target than one might expect; this has a lot to do with the weight given to the “living prophet” (i.e. the current church leader) over other authorities. For instance, in a widely-cited address, President Ezra Taft Benson offered these as two of his “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet”:

    “Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the Standard Works.” (Yes, that includes the Book of Mormon and the Bible.)

    “Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.” (He elaborates: “Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.”)

    Of course, he’s a dead prophet now himself, so take that for what it’s worth.

    That last sentence is written a bit in jest…but there might also be an opening here for fruitful discussion with your missionary visitors. Is God, is Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow? Is Truth, is the Word, universal and constant? If so, then how does one grapple with the zigs and zags, twists and turns of Mormon teaching and history and practice…and of Catholic teaching and history and practice? Is there more continuity in one than the other; and where there is not, can that be justified? Can a church leader have a valid revelation from God that is right for his time, but not right for another time?

    At a more fundamental level, how should a believer in the God of the Old Testament (of any sort) come to understand and accept the great leap from the Old Covenant to the New? (I seem to remember being told that the odd Pharisee or scribe may have had spot of trouble with this back in the day.)

    At any rate, to get back to the question of what you should be serving your guests, I think this piece (from the people who wrote the “Mormonism For Dummies” book) is a pretty good and reasonably current quick overview of where things stand on the food-and-drink front:


  13. Being a stubborn New Englander myself, I have to say the my heart was softened when talks of finding a local church for our children to attend were answered with a knock at the door. My husband said we could find any church except he “Mormon” church, and here we are well over two years later, baptized and sealed to our children for all time and eternity. We didn’t choose the LDS church. Jesus chose HIS church for us.

    Continuing the James 1:5 is verse 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. Kneel down and pray. Ask. You’ll find the answers you are looking for if you put your pretenses and prejudices aside and ask in faith. Heavenly Father loves all of His children and sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to save each and every soul who have ever walked this earth. We are all literal children of a Heavenly being which means we have the opportunity to become like our Savior- pure, charitable, forgiving, generous (the list goes on).

    If you claim to be Christian, when any missionary from any Christian faith knocks on your door, please treat them with the respect that you’d show if it was Jesus himself knocking on your door. They are on His errand and trying their best to spread the good news.


    1. Mormons are polytheists. You guys don’t believe in the one true God. You’re telling lies by omission about your religion to make it seem similar to Christianity when in reality it is very, very different from Christianity.

  14. Read PIERCED BY A SWORD, an inspiring novel about Roman Catholics by Catholic Bud MacFarlane. Very interesting stuff about Mormons there. By the way, you can get it from him free, and it’s a great read – a real page turner.

    1. Unfortunately Bud MacFarlane falls into a similar category as Maciel and the LC. He set up an organization with a hefty salary for himself and moved his family to rural NH to wait for the Y2k apocalypse. When it didn’t happen he fell off the planet and into obscurity and his family split up.

      1. Yes, I think there were reports of a nasty divorce, with Bud using homeschooling as an example of how his wife should not have custody of the kids. It was ugly.

  15. What about the flood? Who else did God tell besides Noah? Honest question here. Didn’t God expect the people to believe Noah and trust what he said God had told him? I’m sure Noah seemed like a crazy lunatic to many people.

    1. Good comment. And it gets worse!!! There is evidence in Genesis that there was no rainfall, as we know it, in Noah’s day. Gen 2:5,6.
      ‘Who’s at the door, honey?’
      ‘A crazy guy, talking about impossibilities.’
      ‘Set the dog on him!’
      One answer would be that, since Yahweh commissioned Noah and his family to preach the end and prepare for it, he gave them some sign of recognition among the people. Reading the account of the violence of those days, it seems that he provided miraculous physical protection for his ca. 100 years of preaching and ark building; that alone would have been impressive.
      ‘Who’s at the door, honey?’
      ‘Same guy.’
      ‘What? After 50 years? He should have been shot in a drive-by at least, by now!’
      As far as belief being followed by positive action, Jesus was not so sanguine. At Mt 24:37 ff. he describes what happened back then and says the end this time will be “As it was in Noah’s day.” [NJB] Everyone then who committed one mistake was condemned to death. Do you see that mistake, in the account? And consider: Jesus and his teaching are known quantities today, as Noah was not.

  16. I am so sorry this was your experience. The thing that seems to effect a lot of people negatively is the experiences they have with members. I am LDS and will tell you that while the gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect, and his teachings are without flaw, his people are not. If you take religion out of the mix entirely you will probably agree that no one is perfect. I know plenty of rude and ignorant members of the church that treat people the way you described and it is unfortunate that they are then becoming the poster for what the Church of Jesus Christ is all about. I will tell you that without a shadow of a doubt Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love ALL of us. You got it, everyone on the face of that planet that has been, is now, and will be. Regardless of culture, religion, race, whatever differences there may be. We are all God’s children and we all will have ample and equal opportunity to return to his grace. I hope you will not let this sour encounter leave a bitter taste with you toward LDS people. Much love!

  17. “And everything hinges on him telling the truth and getting it right.”

    That is the critical detail for me too, and may I say that also applies to Islam. Everything came to one person, Mohammed, and everything depends on his sanity or truth telling.

    1. Mormon here. Small, but essential, point of clarification. It’s not if he got it right, exactly. It actually DOES all hinge on the Book of Mormon. If the Book of Mormon is truly of God, then Joseph Smith restored the Gospel, as us Mormons claim. If not, it’s a hoax. We can each read and know through the Spirit for ourselves.

      We actually teach quite often that God doesn’t use just one witness, but multiple repeat witnesses, to establish His Word. It’s part of our doctrine and core scriptures.

      1. ” We can each read and know through the Spirit for ourselves. ”

        But we can’t, Joseph Smith gave the plates back to the angel. Since all we have is Joseph Smith’s translation, really all we have is Joseph Smith.

  18. “James 1:5 – If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” What about that verse says don’t ask questions? Because as you know that was the verse that Joseph Smith read when his journey started. We are always encouraged to question, ask of the Lord, study, etc….

  19. You have a few things wrong there about what we believe but what I will point out one only. We do drink coke! Lol sooo many silly myths people believe about us. We are allowed caffeine, some choose not to but caffeine is not something we are not allowed to have.

  20. I was also most interested in your comment about the Legionairies, as I too have had some experiences with them that troubled me– though I have also known individuals within the order whom I admired and trusted. That said, what you were sharing rang true for me: I am the parent of four children who went to an LC high school (the eldest went for only the last two of his four years.) My fifth and youngest child went elsewhere. Guess which one is still a practicing Catholic?

  21. I’m in the south…..don’t get Mormons. I get the protestants. They come with the smiley face too. What is really interesting is watching that smile disappear when they start realizing they are talking with a Catholic who knows the Faith. After they invite me to their ‘church’ I just start asking questions. Is that the church Jesus founded? Hey did Jesus leave any instructions about what books should be in the Bible? What did He tells us to do when we have disagreements? By what authority do you get to tell me what that Bible verse means anyway?

    Of course by this time they realized they knocked on the wrong door. lol But I have had fruitful discussions with this approach.

  22. Mormons believe that the altar of Adam, i.e. the location of Eden, is in the county of Jackson, in the state of Missouri.–or somewhere in western Missouri.

    Mormons don’t believe in a creator God, in a God that creates things from absolutely nothing. The god(s) Mormons believe in make things from pre-existing matter. The idea of a heaven with a God that creates from absolutely nothing is so much more appealing to me than the lesser heaven that Mormons must believe in, as they believe in (a) lesser god(s), that thinking about Mormonism makes me happier to be a practicing Catholic.

  23. Mormons can be some oily bastards. I heard in India they really play up their polytheism to trick the Hindus. In monotheistic countries they’re all about the Father.

  24. I have a new friend who I finally figured out is Mormon. She’s so unMormony that I actually said, “you lived in UTAH? Did the Mormons try to recruit you?” She is so funny, and eccentric and hippyish, that I just didn’t think it was possible that she could be attracted to such a straigh laced existence, but one evening she told me the hair raising story of her childhood. Her Mom was a famous Hollywood groupie. Her “catholic” Dad has had six wives. She used to make booze runs for her Mom when her Mom was in rehab detoxing. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. She left me speechless (and laughing incredulously) about the crazy stuff she went through. I could see why she was looking for something that was the total opposite of what she lived. If all Mormons were like her, I’d hope that more people would convert to it! But like you, I just can’t believe they blind themselves to the weird stuff that has been exposed in the age of information. God bless them. Many really do try to be wholesome. But just like what happens with some of the traddy Catholics, or bible belt fundamentalists, the obsession of Puritanism can come with a very nasty underbelly. I’ve heard that in Utah, and the southern states there is a much higher consumption of both mainstream and gay porn.

  25. Long ago, when my firstborn was a napping toddler, I put a small sign near the doorbell that said “PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB. NAP IN PROGRESS.” We had a small house, and that doorbell was LOUD. Anyhoo, two LDS missionaries–women–pounded on the door, apparently thinking that was less disturbing. I was polite, but pointed to our large icon of Christ the Teacher and said, “We’re good, thanks, I’m kind of busy,” and as I was closing the door I heard one of them yell, “Well, if you don’t want to go to HEAVEN, FINE!”

    They must have had a rough day. Did I mention we lived right behind the Catholic church?

    1. Are you sure they weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses? 🤣
      I’m Mormon and I believe almost everyone will go to heaven.

      1. Popular belief is that good guys go to Heaven, bad guys go to Hell. [Simplified, for discussion.]
        A fair guess is that you haven’t been to either; I know I haven’t. So a question we might ask is, ‘What about the only place we do know, the earth? What’s that for?’
        What do you think?

      2. I thought they were Mormon because their nametags said “Sister _____” and I know Mormons call each other “Sister” and “Brother”. I didn’t see any copies of The Watchtower in their hands either. I was very new to the whole door-to-door thing, because it never happened in my hometown, it wasn’t until we moved to Indiana that we started to get Mormons door to door. I saw quite a few of the male missionaries around town, as well, so I guess I presumed they were Mormon.

        I will say that our current landlords are Mormon and a nicer couple you’ll never meet; they have never tried to talk to us about Joseph Smith either, but they highly approve of us not working on the yard on Sundays.

        I had a childhood friend who was a Jehovah’s Witness, and she was very kind and never tried to win me over 🙂 I remember being aghast as a child when I learned she never got birthday presents. But she gave me a birthday present one year. I thought that was very sweet of her, considering she’d never gotten one herself!

        1. Karen, male LDS missionaries wear a “uniform”, seen in the lead picture in the OP. If they carry anything, it’s the Book of Mormon. They will have a KJV in the backpack, but won’t be familiar with it. Their nametags will say “Elder Smith”, an odd title for 20-year-olds. 🙂
          Unlike mainstream religions, including RCC but like us Witnesses, they do make “cold calls”, although much of their work is in response to formal inquiries like Ms Fisher’s [or whoever made it].
          The females missionaries are new to the Church. IMO they dress too casually; perhaps to soften the image of the men. Our idea is that, since we’re doing the most important work in the world right now, [Mt 28:19,20; 24:14] we should dress in a businesslike manner. This not meant to derogate their clothing choices; they’re noted for their modest dress.
          We try to approach people on common ground, so we might begin with a topic like food prices or government problems. We hope that leads to a progressive Bible study, not “conversion”, because that’s a heart matter between the householder and Jehovah [James 4:8; Isa 55:6,7.]
          Like CCC 86, but unlike RCC practice, we take God’s written word as primary. Learn it, and you learn Him, we feel. We’re not alone in this: Mark 7:7,8.
          I hopes this helps your understanding of ‘weird
          religions’. 🙂

  26. Former Mormon here. Still trying to find my place in Christianity–I feel Catholic but I have not entered the church. This is so good, SO good.

    1. E, I have laid out a case for Catholicism on my Facebook page. I invite you to look it over, if you would like. I have used visual aids at that site, to help understand. I think you will find it interesting, if you’ll just take a look. If you have any questions, feel free to message me on my FB page. You can find it at this web address: https://www.facebook.com/fred.bledsoe.77 . I am a very traditionalist Catholic. Our mass employs the ancient Latin language in the liturgy. Our parish has all the traditional ‘trappings’ of Catholicism, i.e. beautiful statues and art, incense, candles, Latin prayers, a high altar, women generally wearing head coverings, etc. These things were all commonplace to Catholicism until the late 60’s, but can be found abundantly in traditional parishes. In fact Latin mass parishes are gaining popularity in the Church, and are some of the few which are growing most in size. If you are ‘feeling Catholic’, this might be just what you seek. Dominus vobiscum!

  27. This is so wonderful! I’ve given out copies of the Catechism to Mormons I’ve spoken with, which is a bit heavy, I know! One told me he was finding it really interesting, but he got transferred to another area so we never got to talk about it much. I will have to check out Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth.

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