I just finished reading Joanna Brooks’ excellent collection of essays The Book of Mormon Girl. Like Brooks I grew up Mormon but unlike Brooks I’ve stayed an active member throughout my life. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t felt some of the frustrations she describes with the LDS church. It’s an imperfect institution filled with all-too-human individuals, but I am grateful that my spiritual roots are there. And I am inspired and amused by the aspiring saints who gather within the unadorned walls of my LDS meetinghouse.
Brooks is a wonderful writer but she occasionally suffers from the problem I think many of us Mormon-raised writers suffer from—it’s hard not to be incredibly EARNEST when we write.
Get around a group of Mormons letting their hair down and you won’t find a more jovial group of people. We’re surprisingly funny and comfortable poking fun at ourselves (think Napoleon Dynamite.) But when we write about our Mormonness for strangers we often have a hard time escaping the arms-folded, quiet seriousness of our Primary lessons on reverence—even if we are writing in ways that would seem irreverent to more orthodox church members.
I’ve read that part of Mitt Romney’s problem connecting with voters is that he doesn’t seem like a guy you’d want to sit down and have a beer, root or otherwise, with. I get that. We’re sober around strangers, but send us to a family reunion at a Salt Lake City park and pass the A&W. We’ll be square dancing on the tables before you know it.