I was recently asked by a Brazilian reporter from Istoe Independente, a weekly magazine, to share my thoughts on the media focus on Mormons in light of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign and related flashes of high-profile Latter-day Saints in news venues. After thanking Brazilian reporters for their collective history of positive and accurate reporting, I submitted this response (Read the full article, "A forÇa dos mÓrmons").
As a convert and lay member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I've always wanted to write a "Dear World" letter to speak personally, and in one fell swoop, to anyone — and particularly to the "spiritual but not religious," the unknowing public, the press and pastors in other denominations everywhere who might be sincerely interested in the faith of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), know little of us, or who are submerged in or perhaps even promulgating mis-information about our faith in action, our beliefs and our love for the Savior. I've crafted that letter mentally more than once.
What many are calling the "Mormon moment" — whether cast in the wake of the Romney campaign or brought forward by Latter-day Saint popular fiction writers, music stars, athletes or entrepreneurs — is an opportunity to share who we are with the world on a personal level, an opportunity to send out a "Dear World."
While it is a "moment" — a time of heightened exposure and interest — it is even more than that. It actually represents a "moment-um" of faith-building and sharing rather than a "moment frozen and isolated in time, a momentum through which the gospel can reach every clime."
I have to say I've cringed and occasionally sat for seconds in stunned silence as I've read and heard idle tales about Mormons, or about our alleged beliefs in some venues — some salient, some salacious, some stunningly ignorant, some subtle subterfuges — and rejoiced in the "Mormon moments" when it's been said right, portrayed thoughtfully.
Like others, I've prayed; I've responded. I've hoped for truth to be represented. It's hard when you can't immediately backspace over an ignorant media take or flagrant fallacies about your very own genuine faith and intimate walk with Jesus Christ — and the pristine beauty of the gospel message. But we know that the Lord compensates, that civil dialogue yields great dividends and that he opens doors for his message to be shared.
This is one of those doors.
Circumstances are not often as they appear. Curiosity is on the rise; interest in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has skyrocketed, not coincidentally. God works in mysterious ways. We glory in that for the Lord's sake, for the truth's sake, not for our egos' sake. And we appreciate all of the wonderful journalists who've invested in knowing us authentically and portraying our faith and lives accurately. There is much that is professionally, carefully created and published as well.
As for us, we hope you'll come to see us at our heart. We worship the Savior. We love God the Father. We claim the best news possible: The Savior's church — his teachings, power and authority — have been restored in our day. That means an active plan of happiness is in place for each of us. Not everyone will accept it, but at least we hope you'll get the message right.
We hope the world will come to know in this moment and always that we believe and live by scripture — the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon. (My Bible is still open to savored verses in Proverbs from last night's "spiritual Aha moment" ... and my Book of Mormon lies next to it on my bed as its scriptural companion. Both are marked in technicolor. I see, as do faithful fellow Mormons, both as the Savior's words to me, to you and to each generation.)
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