Monday, October 21, 2013

Mormon Mentions: Jennifer DuBois

If you're not sure what a Mormon is, let alone a Mormon Mention, allow me to explain:  My name is Susan and I'm a Mormon (you've seen the commercials, right?).  As a member of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon or LDS Church), I'm naturally concerned with how my religion is portrayed in the media.  Because this blog is about books, every time I see a reference to Mormonism in a book written by someone who is not a member of my church, I highlight it here.  Then, I offer my opinion—my insider's view—of what the author is saying.  It's my chance to correct misconceptions, expound on principles of the Gospel, and even to laugh at my (sometimes) crazy Mormon culture. 

Here we go:

In Cartwheel, a murder mystery by Jennifer DuBois, we meet Sebastien LeCompte.  The boy with the oh-so-pretentious name lives next to the accused murderer in the crumbling mansion his parents left behind when they were killed in a plane crash.  The wealthy young man is an eccentric and agoraphobic, not someone who ventures very far from home.  Naturally, then, he's confused when he hears a knock on his front door:

"Nobody ever came to his door anymore; even the Mormon missionaries were sick of him, having learned long ago that he'd do absolutely anything to detain them (he told himself that this was due to high-minded social experimentation, and not grave and crushing loneliness)" (70).*

Probably the most noticeable representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are its missionaries.  Currently, there are around 80,000 men and women serving missions all over the world.  Young missionaries (men are allowed to serve at 18, women at 19) are generally assigned to proselyte, meaning they spend their time (2 years for boys, 18 months for girls) teaching people about Jesus Christ and His plan for all of us.  Older, married couples can also serve, although their mission assignments are more varied.  Some are called to staff Church historical sites, work with genealogical records/research, do clerical jobs for mission offices, teach religion classes to college students, etc..

Although many missionaries are sent to exotic locales, a mission is not a vacation—it's a full-time responsibility that is not just voluntary, but also paid for by the missionary and his/her family.  During their missions, junior missionaries are asked not to watch television, listen to popular music, play on the Internet or contact friends/family except via letters, emails and bi-annual phone calls (on Christmas and Mother's Day).  Despite the many sacrifices they are asked to make, most missionaries find these years of dedicated service to the Lord to be among the most fulfilling of their lives.

Want a peek at what missionaries do all day?  This is a great video from Mormon Newsroom about missionaries serving in in the U.K.:




Mormon missionaries are known for their enthusiasm and tenacity.  They believe so strongly in the message they're giving that they want to share it with everyone.  In reality, they probably would not have "given up" on Sebastien, especially since the things they teach—faith in God, helping other people, eternal families, etc.—are, in fact, the very things that can combat depression and loneliness.

If you want to know more about missionaries and what they do, please visit:  http://mormon.org/missionaries

3 comments:

  1. I love this post idea. It always makes me smile to myself whenever I see something Mormon-y pop up in a book when I'm not expecting it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this series, too, and mostly agree with you--missionaries are a stubborn lot, and come back again and again whether you want them to or not. :)

    Missionaries will occasionally decide that their proselyting time is better spent with those who are actually searching, so someone who just seems to be taking up their time without any real intent to learn can sometimes be taken off the regular visiting list so that the missionaries can spend that time with someone who does want to learn.

    That said, a new set of missionaries would come along every few months, and THEY would likely give the agoraphobic prospect another chance. It takes a LOT to get blacklisted in a way that means no missionaries come by EVER. Someone who is lonely is unlikely to earn anything close to that distinction--more likely, the missionaries would visit MORE.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for being on the tour.

    ReplyDelete

Comments make me feel special, so go crazy! Just keep it clean and civil. Feel free to speak your mind (I always do), but be aware that I will delete any offensive comments.

P.S.: Don't panic if your comment doesn't show up right away. I have to approve each one before it posts to prevent spam. It's annoying, but it works!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin