Monday, May 28, 2012

Mormon Mentions: Francine Prose

If you're not sure what a Mormon Mention is, allow me to explain:  Every time I see The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also commonly known as the LDS Church or the Mormon Church) mentioned in a book authored by a writer who is not LDS, I post the passage here on my blog.  Why?  Because it's my blog and I can do what I want, of course!  Not really.  I actually do it because, as a lifelong member of the Church, I'm naturally concerned about how my faith is portrayed in books, movies and other forms of media.  Posting about it here gives me a chance to correct false information, offer my opinion, or just laugh about my crazy Mormon culture.  Plus, I just enjoy doing it.  If it's not your thing, feel free to skip this post.  If it is, read on.

I found this passage in My New American Life by Francine Prose:

"Water?'  The woman smiled, setting menus before them.  They nodded. "Beer?  Thai beer?"  Nod nod.  More smiles.  Lula watched her walk toward the kitchen door, where another Asian woman and two blond men in white shirts and ties waited tensely as if to debrief her after a top-secret mission.


"Mormons," Lula said.


"That's what I was thinking," said Alvo.


Lula said, "How did they get in?  Even under heaviest Communism you saw Mormons in Tirana."


Alvo said,  "Someone paid.  Someone always pays" (Page 126—italics were added by me).

I don't pretend to know anything about the history of the LDS Church in the Balkans, but I'm still pretty sure Church officials didn't bribe anyone in Albania to let Mormon missionaries into the country.  How did they come to be there, then?  I did find this explanation from Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  In February of 1992, he gave an address at Brigham Young University in which he said this:


Last April my Church duties took me to Albania. Elder Hans B. Ringger and I were some of the first Western visitors to that newly opened country. We conferred with government officials about the reception our church’s missionaries would receive in Albania, which had banned all churches in 1967. They told us the government regretted its actions against religion, and that it now welcomed churches back to Albania. One explained, “We need the help of churches to rebuild the moral base of our country, which was destroyed by communism.” During the past months I have heard this same reaction during discussions with government and other leaders in Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.
In contrast, consider what we hear about religion from some prominent persons in the United States. Some question the legitimacy of religious-based values in public policy debates. Some question the appropriateness of churches or religious leaders taking any public position on political issues.

(See the full address here)

Interesting, no?

4 comments:

  1. Albania is where Nick Hartman served his mission. I am sure he would be interested in this (:

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  2. I guess we just have to go with what Boyd K. Packer said many years ago..."As long as they spell our name right"...and then let it go. It is frustrating to think there is an author out there who is spreading the rumor that the church pays governments to let the missionaries in. What a preposterous claim!

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  3. Thanks for setting the record straight! Good for you!

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  4. I love when you do Mormon mentions. This one was interesting.

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