Some Final Thoughts
I must say that, quite surprisingly, at least to me, I never really felt discriminated against when I lived among a Mormon community of True Believers. Religion was so pervasive that it was more or less taken for granted in the little town where I grew up; like air, it was everywhere, and my theory is that people just accepted it as part of their environment, and they never consciously thought about it, because they’d never known anything else, making their situation somewhat similar to the adage that fish don’t know they’re living in water. We went about our daily business-going to classes, working, dating, and experimenting with alcohol and cigarettes (this was before the era of dangerous drugs, widespread sexual activity of all kinds among the young, HIV/AIDS, and the myriad other social problems besetting society today); generally, we just got on with life. There were probably those who assumed that I was a member of the Church, even though I was rarely inside the building and never attended worship services; my behavior was not particularly noteworthy, however, because plenty of people in town who were bona fide members never went to church either!
I hope I’ve conveyed to you some sense of what it was like growing up in a small town dominated by the Church. Even though I never really bought into the belief system that saturated my whole world as a child and teenager, I never found it particularly oppressive but rather merely weird-more like wishful thinking, a fairy tale not just for children but also for adults, who seemed to have adopted the premise that if enough people believe strongly enough in such a system, allegedly handed down via Received Wisdom from God Himself, then it had to be true! To me, this seemed akin to people congregating to vote on the weather-that is, an exercise in futility. In my naiveté, it appeared to me that “Mother Nature is gonna do what she’s gonna do, whether we like it or not,” and by extension, reality is what it is, regardless of whether we like it or not, and all the time, energy and effort expended in trying to alter it through religious exercise is totally wasted. But that’s just me. (I recognize, though, that in the “fullness of time,” we may actually learn how to control the weather, at least to some extent, but even if we do, it will be through science rather than by belief. However, I steadfastly maintain that we will never be able to conjure up an afterlife by fiat or sheer force of will!) In recent years, I have hypothesized that there must be an unacknowledged competition among various religious groups to come up with ever more fantastical beliefs, based on the premise: “My beliefs are even more strange and inconceivable than yours, which requires stronger faith; thus what I believe in is more true than what you believe in, and therefore mine is The One True Religion. QED, end of debate!” In short, it’s a denominational pissing contest! Still, as Dennis Miller says, “Of course, that’s just my opinion; I could be wrong,” to which I will add, sotto voce, “But I’m not!”
In any event, that’s the story of “Mormon Heaven,” and I hope readers have found it interesting, enlightening, or at least diverting.