Laura Simpson Ryan and family pay a visit followed by my annual chat with Mormon missionaries.

It’s been a number of years since we saw UP alum Laura Simpson Ryan and her husband Dale. And we’d never met their son David. So we were thrilled that they could stop by today, meet Jonah, and we could all catch up. They’re living in Woodburn where Dale is teaching middle school ESL and Laura is working on her Masters on the way to a teaching career. David is an active and inquisitive toddler. It’s going to be fun to watch Jonah get there.

Maybe an hour or so after Dale, Laura, and David departed, two elders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, or Mormons) stopped by. As has always been the case for me, I found these two young men extraordinarily pleasant and polite. We happily discussed the differences between the LDS Church and the Catholic Church (with which I am much more familiar).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If the point of religion is to help its members become better people, the Mormons are doing something right. From genealogy to community involvement to family assistance, the LDS do an admirable job. Frankly, many of the other Christian denominations would do well to adopt some of the LDS practices.

Unfortunately—and I’ve said this before too—I’ll never be able to join a church like the LDS that is so lacking in intellectual rigor that scripture must be interpreted literally. Actually so many parts of the Bible are contradictory I’ve never been quite able to figure out how fundamentalists accomplish the feat of literal biblical interpretation. The Bible’s first book, Genesis, opens with two distinct creation stories, so it would seem to me that literalists are confused from the outset. Still, there are plenty of them out there, so they must have found some way to tap dance around it.

As a consequence, however, tonight’s meeting didn’t delve too much into theology. There’s no point in blowing someone’s belief system out of the water—something I might be able do with fundamentalists—unless you can replace it with something better, and that’s not going to happen in a one to two hour meeting. Besides, I don’t know what level of sin it might be to take away hope, but doing such a thing won’t get you any Heaven points, that’s for sure. I was more than happy to chat with the fellows, compare and contrast the two churches, and say “well met” at the end of it. I’ll probably do it again next year.