#88: The beginning of the record of my fascination.
Why do I love Mormon culture so much?
Once upon a time, I tried to start a blog about my fascination with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Unfortunately, time never allowed for me to update it as regularly as I would have liked. I’ve decided to migrate those posts here, to Default Wisdom.
One of my ex-Mormon friends once said to me, “You know more about Mormons than any non-member I’ve ever met. It’s a once in a lifetime fascination. At least in my life.”
It’s true. I have a deep and unrelenting affection for Mormons, always have. Since I was 12. Donny and Marie, all those movies that play like Hallmark movies but are totally illegible to anyone outside the Church, EFY albums. I noticed things like the Ricks College tee in Napoleon Dynamite, I long for the stereotypical stuff you don’t even really see in the wild: funeral potatoes, green Jell-O…
An early ringtone of mine, back when we had flip phones:
I even tried to convert my sophomore year of high school. Nobody let me. And I mean nobody. The interventions started when I stopped drinking coffee.
My mom let me go to church once, thinking it’d knock some sense into me. But then the missionaries swung by, and that was a whole conversation.
It’s like some kids get obsessed with Japan and video games as their “I’m a misfit” outlet, but for me, it was always religion. My friend Charlotte once said something like, “You seem so obsessed with Christians. But you’re not making fun of them. And it doesn’t seem like you really want to be one. You’re just obsessed with them.”
In my defense, our country post-9/11 was kind of asking for it. I was a Jewish kid in a Jewish oasis in an otherwise Red State and all I heard growing up was Bill Maher this and Michael Moore that. They thought they were critiquing these people, but to me the whole project just sounded fun. Like Supersize Me made me want to go and get a Big Mac, this made me think, “You mean, for a tithe I could have a built in group of friends, interests, and a coherent identity? Sign me up!”
Evangelical megachurches, which we heard so much about in my childhood, left something to be desired though. Trust me, I tried. It wasn’t that they weren’t insular enough, it was just that you never really know what you’re getting. Rednecks, goody two-shoes, meth heads, it’s a roll of the dice. It gave you a dogma, but it didn’t give you culture.
Watching whatever Christian cable network we had growing up, I wanted that, but I wanted more than that. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was really something else. It was a cogent, closed system, palpable even as an outsider.
And it also seemed like an easy way to make friends. Growing up those were in short supply. Probably because I was like the kid who meowed, except I didn’t meow, I loved Mormons. They were a peculiar people, and I was a peculiar person.
“There’s always BBYO,” a family member offered, once, I think after word had gotten around the family. Well, I never joined BBYO because I never felt quite Jewish enough.
Mormons, on the other hand...
People convert all the time.