To Mormons, With Love. Chrisy M.D. Ross
© 2011 Chrisy Ross
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher, American Fork Arts Council Press, 31 N. Church Street, American Fork, UT, 84003. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not represent the position of the American Fork Arts Council Press.
Cover art: Darrell Driver
Cover design: Delphine Keim-Campbell
Chapter illustrations: Darrell Driver
Map: Taylor Hinton
Family and author photos: Justin Hackworth
Page layout: Mark Calkins
Layout advisor: Delphine Keim-Campbell
Published in eBook format by American Fork Arts Council Press
Converted by http://www.eBookIt.com
For Georgeanna E Fisher and Mary Jane Hautem, my grandmothers.
I still feel you.
Many people believed this project had a place in space, many people have encouraged and supported my writing over the years; have generally believed in me. But one man’s calm and confident answer when I asked, “Do you think this is publishable?” is literally the sole reason I saw this book through to completion. Caleb Warnock said yes and guided me every step of the way. Buckets of gratitude to you, Caleb.
To early readers who provided critiques and candid feedback, your fingerprints are on these pages. Thank you, Kailee Savage, Robin Roberts, Melissa Richardson, Matt Evans, Christopher Stallings, Marnie Stallings, Kristin Stockham, Mrs. H., Steph Lineback, and all of my fellow students who attend Wednesday night writing class.
Special thanks go to friends who have provided miscellaneous assistance and all around good juju. Thank you, Taylor Hinton, Carene Battaglia, Christy Casimiro, Jill Williamson, and Veronica Deschambault.
And two friends, who I’m confident my husband joins me in thanking because they fill my leaky wells, Amy DesRosier and Todd Mitchell.
Darrell Driver created the beautiful cover art specifically for the book. I simply love it. Gracias, Darrell. Then Delphine Keim-Campbell defied time constraints and produced a stunning cover design. I can’t thank you enough, Del—for the cover, layout design, discovering my use of the word “saddle” when I meant “sidle”, and for being my friend.
Without Mark and Kathy Calkins, this book would not exist... for many reasons. From providing the opportunity for our family to move to Utah, to your gracious help getting the book in a publishable format, Chris and I extend our deepest gratitude.
I feel indebted to the city of American Fork, and the American Fork Arts Council, led by Lori England, for supporting the arts in full. The commitment to local writers through the creation of classes, conferences, and a press has benefited amateur and professional writers from across the state and beyond. Everyone involved deserves a standing ovation. I’m humbled by the dedication of those who give their time, financial resources, and talent. I stand in a line of many who say thank you.
Our three sons have stretched in many ways to support the writing and publishing of this book. Parke, Duke and Redmond, I couldn’t be more proud to be your mother. Thank you for taking on a little more and exercising patience. You’re all three an example to me. My love for you is truly boundless.
Chris, my husband, has read every word I’ve ever written and rewritten. Multiple times. He doesn’t love everything I write, but he loves me. Thank you for helping me cultivate the moments to work and for maintaining a healthy perspective when I’ve lost mine. Our boys are your sons. Lucky me.
Hi. My name is Chris. I live in Mayberry, Utah County, Utah, and I’m not a member of the Mormon Church. I’m happy living here. They say admission is the first step.
My husband and I have lived in our small Mormon community since November 2002. We have three sons, a dog, a bird, and a fish. After a job-related move brought us to Utah, we purchased a home in an area that was less religiously diverse than we had anticipated. Everyone was Mormon. Everyone.
I thought I knew more than the average non-Mormon about the Faith, but I was wrong. I didn’t know what a “ward” was, “member” made me think of Costco, and “LDS” sounded like the drug I was afraid to try in college. I assumed all Mormon mothers stayed home with their well mannered, attractive children and pondered what healthy meal they would serve for dinner. I quickly learned the only consistently true words in that last sentence are “attractive children.” I’m still looking for the neighborhood ugly child.
Since our arrival in Utah County, I’ve learned that there is no secret handshake (or is there?), there is not a CIA-type file on our family at the church, members do not receive points on a literal scoreboard for attempts to convert us, and there is diversity within Mormonism. It’s true that Mormons don’t drink alcohol, coffee or tea (cough), and they never use foul language (double cough).
We gradually assimilated into the community, but only after working through subtle culture shock, which included irritation at all things new and different. I counted steeples, rolled my eyes at Costco’s food storage items, and shamelessly stared at the arms and thighs of strangers, searching for garment lines. All of them—steeples, giant cans of peaches, and garments—were reminders of the pervasive religion of which I was not a part. Paranoia that I was only a missionary opportunity made me suspicious of every person’s attempt at friendship.
The culture shock, paranoia, and loneliness I experienced morphed into an understanding and appreciation of the Utah County culture, my community and home. The stories, experiences and perspective in this book are mine only and are based on cultural, not doctrinal, observations. My humble research has revealed that the Church does not support, endorse or encourage intolerance of others’ beliefs, shunning, or naughty behavior in general.
What You Need To Know
1.I am not LDS.
2.My intention is not to debate, dissuade, persuade or change any person’s faith or belief. Who needs a poke in the eye?
3.I have read the Book of Mormon (twice-ish) and sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.
4.I strive not to be a basher. Of anything.
5.I love living where I do and am thankful for my Mormon peeps. Although culturally not for everyone (including some LDS families), life in a small, Utah County town has been—dare I say—a blessing.
We’re frequently asked, “How did you end up here?” and “What’s it really like living here for you guys?” Read along and I’ll tell you.
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