Our home teacher, Brother Bleever, called for the first time in six months to make an appointment for a visit this week. I don’t fault our home teachers for their sporadic visits. Both have demanding jobs and large families. I know their limited spare time can be better spent with families needing assistance or at least with families more likely to attend meetings. But these home teachers have been fun and we’ve enjoyed their visits. Unfortunately, Brother Bleever’s fun-loving partner, Brother Lightheart, has been re-assigned and Brother Bleever’s new partner is his 16-year-old son, Earnest.
Earnest is the kind of Mormon boy who marks the days on his calendar until he can turn in his mission papers. He sat in our living room, not with the suffering face of a kid roped into going home teaching with dad, but with the resolute face of a missionary-in-training. Brother Bleever set it up for Earnest by asking why we didn’t attend church. I tried to pass it off with a flippant remark about having other things to do on Sundays. “Like what?” Earnest demanded. “I like staying home. I also attend the Zen Center quite often and sometimes the Unitarian Church.” They stared at me. “I’m ecumenical,” I said, trying to lighten the mood.
“Why do you attend other churches? What are you looking for?” Brother Bleever asked. “I’ve pretty well mined the teachings of Mormonism,” I said. “I find new thoughts in other places.” George chimed in, “I’ve always been taught that the Mormon Church accepts all truth.” That let us in for an Earnest lecture and testimony on the LDS Church as the source of all truth. Then Earnest waved his Ensign preparatory to reading the lesson. “Do you take the Ensign?” he asked. “No.” “Why not?” “Since I wouldn’t read it, I like to save the trees.” “Heavenly Father gave us the trees for a purpose.”
Had Earnest been an adult, I might have given him explicit reasons why I’m no longer into Mormon theology, but I am not willing to undermine even an obnoxious young person’s testimony. The lesson finally ended. We shut the door on our departing guests and looked at each other. What do we do if they want to come back next month?
When we moved into this ward two years ago, I thought we could be “social” Mormons—attending social events, helping with service projects, visiting teaching—and be accepted as friends and neighbors. But Mormons make substantial sacrifices of time and money for their faith. Naturally, they can’t accept the notion that people who don’t make the same sacrifices can lead good and happy lives. I’m afraid that for us, attending three hours of tedious meetings each Sunday is too great a price to pay for acceptance in our neighborhood.