In my work in progress, Magdalene (#3 in the Dunham series), the non-Mormon heroine, Cassie, wants to ambush the (widowed) Mormon bishop hero, Mitch, at church. They’ve been dating (excruciatingly chastely) for 5 months and she is thoroughly bewildered as to why he hasn’t invited her to attend (not to mention more than a little peeved that she hasn’t been able to seduce him). Not that she wants to go to church, mind, much less join; she just had the idea that we were all about acquiring converts—which is a completely reasonable and wholly correct assumption.
Since Mitch lives in the heart of the steel belt and she lives in Manhattan, she has quite a bit of trouble figuring out which ward he oversees, where to go, and what time to be there. Thus, she turns to Mitch’s best friend, who left the church halfway through his mission and is a professed and semi-practicing pagan. He gives her the procedural rundown and says,
“The more you understand about our culture, the better you’ll understand Mitch.”
“Well, yeah. Mine, too. You don’t stop being a Jew just because you convert to Christianity.”
“With us, it might as well be.”
I live in a place that’s rich with Mormon history, so, like any native, I take it for granted. I don’t feel any sense of heritage when I go to Utah (which state I avoid like the plague). It’s in Nauvoo, Illinois, where I feel this connection to my heritage; every time I go, I find my cynicism and willingness to snipe seeping out of my soul, leaving a refreshing softness and wistful smiles. And, well, I got married in Nauvoo. That might have something to do with it.
So I took some pictures when we were there in August for my cousin’s wedding. Enjoy.
*There’s a saying about a portion of folks who identify as ex-Mormon or recovering Mormon (yes, there is a 12-step group for it): You can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.
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