I know they find me puzzling...a Mormon who agrees with most of their basic message, and who thanks them for their time.
The two women are always impeccably dressed, their cheerfulness and sincerity are truly admirable in the late afternoon heat of a Phoenix dog-day. Their visits follow a pattern. After a little chat, one will offer to share a scripture. It is intended to present something new and tantalizing. However, while it may seem foreign to mainstream Christians, it is not unfamiliar to LDS doctrine. This surprises them. A lot. The topic today was that the Lord promised to extend the life of this earth forever. "Yes," I say, "we are really looking forward to when the earth is restored to it's paradisciacal glory." (Articles of Faith, #10 Joseph Smith, Jr.)
Predictably at this point, they lose their cool slightly and both of them trip over each other trying to ask me a question they presume will stump me...letting me know that at one time one of them lived in Payson where there seemed to be a lot of "us".
The one in the background steps forward and fires away: "How do you feel about all the negative publicity your church has been getting lately?" She is openly smug behind her broad smile and arched eyebrows. "What negative publicity?" This is going to be good. I continue, "In fact, we are enjoying greater respect and influence from the media than at any previous time in history." During their stunned silence, I give a brief over-view of the world-wide humanitarian effort and the universiality of our support to it and our fellow men.
Oh, the 'fundamentalists' - now they're on track again. "They're not and we don't call them that, either." Now the first sister pipes up, "So you believe they are apostates?" I do not ignore the key word 'believe'. I explain that they have been for over a 100 years. I wonder why they don't notice my modern rhinestone-studded jeans and tailored blouse as they are speaking to me about a whack-o cult who prefers calico, braids and 13 year old brides.
I say goodbye because they are backing away and making a friendly exit. As I close the door, I wanted to hear what they were going to say to each other. I wished I was my oldest daughter, who is a brilliant missionary and disarmingly young and beautiful and articulate. They would have had something to talk about had she been the one at the door instead of me.
I wonder what motivates them to beat the sticky pavement like they do, making repeated return visits to someone like me who will not yield. It makes me wish I had something profound to say, so what faith I had to offer would be the new and tantalizing thing.
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