The fine line between inspiration and madness: John Draper’s “A Danger to God Himself”
Mormons believe in a god that talks to people — a god that opens the heavens every now and then and picks a prophet to talk to. So, when a wise-cracking young missionary starts having visions, who’s to say whether or not they’re really from the Almighty…?
John Draper’s A Danger to God Himself is a lively story of a missionary whose new, green companion is just so strange, and, well, magical, that he turns the whole ward upside-down. Some want to help and befriend the visionary missionary, others want to use him — but no one’s life is quite the same after meeting him. And whatever it is that’s possessing him, it’s clear that it’s not doing him any favors.
John Draper has constructed a cast of fascinating characters who each have interesting story-arcs in their own right — including a congregation of Pentecostals, a black bishop who had converted to Mormonism while the priesthood ban was in force, and the racist former bishop he replaced. In order to allow the characters to give their own perspectives, Draper wrote the story as a first-person retrospective in which the main character claims to have later interviewed all of the principals about their experiences — so the reader gets to find out what they were all thinking at the time without wondering who’s narrating.
A Danger to God Himself is funny and tragic in turns, and is an unusual twist on the Mormon missionary narrative.