The time for evasions had passed. I was between a rock and a hard place. Last year, at the California State Fair, against the recommendations of my friends, I signed up at the Mormon's booth for a free survey of my family's genealogy. "It's just a come-on," my friends insisted, "ignore these guys, and let's look at the dust mop demonstration instead." But no! I had to go ahead and sign up.
When the Mormons dropped off the survey, it was clear there was almost nothing in it that I didn't already know, with the exception of an address that might lead me to a branch of my mother's family that vanished somewhere in Nebraska or Kansas (what used to be called the Great American Desert) back in the 19th Century. But then the missionaries started calling. They tried several times. They even came the day I tried to evict Erlynda. Just as the police left, the Mormons arrived. I don't remember what what I said then - probably something along the lines of "not now, I have some domestic violence to attend to."
But they knew where I lived. They knew where I hid. They even knew my mother's maiden name. So it was time to talk to them. Because I finally had a question for them too.
They arrived Wednesday night. They had a clever visual aid, 20 or so paper cups in a pyramid, showing Jesus on top, virtues and ideals like charity, kindness, etc. below, and a base made up of 13 cups representing the Apostles, and how the LDS has attempted to replace the 13 dead Judean Apostles with 13 living Utahan Apostles, in order to restore the original heirarchy. I was alarmed because it looked like all the abstract virtues and ideals rested on a foundation of 13 fallible people, but then they explained that what they really should have done was dangle the cups on strings from Jesus, in order to show that everything radiated from Jesus, rather than rested on frail people (there is only so much you can do with paper cups, after all).
But then I said I had a practical question. What does the LDS think of a secular skeptic like myself dating a Mormon? What about marriages of mixed faiths, and what about the faith of the children? I waited for that famous rigidity that I've heard ascribed to Mormons, but surprisingly didn't encounter it. They talked about the need for the family to sort out within itself what to do about mixed faiths, and that there were plenty of such marriages in the LDS. The most important thing is mutual respect. They handed me a book of Mormon and we arranged another meeting (but I won't even look at it until I finish a WWII memoir I'm reading). "Remember," they said, "the most thing about the LDS - we aren't Catholics!"