Mormonism is a complicated thing. Whether you’re in it or whether you’ve extracted yourself from it, there are bits of Mormon belief and culture that you can’t stand, and other bits that you can’t shake. Sometimes it’s the same bits. And its always a little different from one person to the next.
In his recent book A Day at the Temple, Johnny Townsend explored a wide range of Mormon experiences and emotions. Reading this book, I couldn’t help but compare it to the CoJCoL-dS’s own “I’m a Mormon” campaign — in which they showcased superficial diversity on people who all radiated the same smile and the same feelings about Mormonism. But real Mormons’ feelings about Mormonism are so much more complex, and Johnny’s story collection really captured this diversity.
Sadness at lost connections with family, anger at the church’s negative impacts, a lingering aversion to coffee, a lingering attachment to the temple — they’re all here. A number of stories in this collection explore interesting facets of Mormonism’s gender problem such as the idea that men need the priesthood (being spiritually weaker than women) and the question of whether the penis alone is what determines whether an otherwise worthy member can hold the priesthood.
There are so many ideas ideas and emotions in this book, I can hardly list them all. Some of my favorites tackled our Mormon memories with humor, as in the title piece about visiting the temple. I also really enjoyed the sweet piece in which a couple of longtime exmos made a connection with a couple of missionaries who’ve only just begun. (You have to read the story to get what I mean by that. 😉 )
A Day at the Temple is an enjoyable collection of short stories that I highly recommend if you’re contemplating your own connection with Mormonism or if you’re wondering what Mormonism is like for those who live (or have lived) it.