LDS Mormon Fruits Know Them





By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

By Tom Clark

My thoughts keep coming back to whether the Mormons I've known or now know, are living a better quality of life than the rest of us because of their religious beliefs and practices.

I've been thinking of the Mormons I know and somehow I don't find them to be happier than the non-Mormons I know. Not less happy necessarily, but not happier. I don't see them living in greater abundance or having bigger or better toys. I don't see them laughing or having more fun than my non-Mormon friends and family. I don't see them being more ethical, more compassionate, more charitable or more industrious than the non-Mormons around me. I don't see them as being less than, but I also don't see them being more than.

So I'm thinking, in typical Carrie Bradshaw fashion:

"If we're supposed to know them by their fruits, then what do the fruits of Mormonism tell us?" Is a peach by any other name still a peach?

Personally, I see all of the same problems with Mormons that I see with everyone else I know that isn't mormon. I have had a bishop who was excommunicated for adultery and another whose fraudulent business practices went unpunished. I have an active Mormon brother with three marriages and a sister with two. I have a very active Mormon mother with 80% hearing loss and a father with cataracts. I have an LDS uncle who died of lung cancer and two others who died after long battles with Alzheimers.

I have a Mormon brother who is overweight and another with Asperger's syndrome - his son has Down Syndrome. And my younger sister has just been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

I have an ultra-True Believing Mormon foster sister, a mother of fourteen, who has suffered migraines for years and strains to bring a smile to her face no matter how happy the occasion. I know an active Mormon man in Salt Lake who is a wealthy businessman, married and the father of more than a dozen children who is a closeted homosexual and lives out his desires clandestinely. He's not the only one I've known personally in that situation.

I taught a young missionary in the MTC who took his life shortly after arriving in the mission field. I taught an older-than-usual sister missionary in the MTC who was over six feet tall, not comely in any way and had never had a boyfriend in her life. I had another young missionary who for all of his hard work and dedication, simply wasn't capable of learning even the most rudimentary language skills and had to be reassigned stateside. Another missionary had just watched his teenage brother die of stomach cancer before entering the MTC and spent much of his time there crying uncontrollably.

I played the organ for the funeral of a young Mormon Tongan boy in Hollywood who was shot to death by his friends while riding around in a car late one night. I played the organ for another funeral at the Hollywood Ward - this one for a young man who had died of AIDS and whose Mormon family had so completely disowned him that they wouldn't even show up for his funeral.

I have seen the same illnesses befall Mormons that befall non-Mormons. I have seen all of the same heartache and sadness in the lives of Mormons that I've seen in the lives of non-Mormons. And I've seen Mormons standing in line for welfare alongside non-Mormons.

So what does it all mean then? Is there any real advantage to being Mormon if in virtually every way imaginable, night falls on all of us with the same kind of darkness and morning awakens us with the same ray of light? Are all Mormons capable of running without being weary for their adherence to the word of wisdom and are they all saved from the ravages of financial ruin for their honest tithe?

Does living the gospel of Mormonism exempt one from the shackles of depression and mental illness?

If we are to know a people by their fruits, then what are we to think of a people whose lives in every way imaginable, mirror those of every other person on earth? For a people who claim to be peculiar, I see nothing at all peculiarly privelaged in the way they live, laugh, love, breathe and die.

My paternal grandmother was one of the kindest, most talented, generous and compassionate people I've ever known. She was born and raised amongst Mormons in Southern Idaho and yet not a day in her life did she desire to be a part of them. She was a Methodist and a member of the Eastern Star until the day she died alongside my grandfather in a car accident - broadsided by a member of one of the Mormon bishoprics of a local ward who ran a stop sign.

So yes, if it's by your fruits that you wish to be known, then so be it. I've tasted your apples and they taste just like everybody else's apples. I've split in half your apricots and they have the same hard stone in the middle of them that everybody else's apricots do. Your trees go dormant in the winter, leaf out in spring amidst delicate white and pink blossoms and then bear fruit for the picking in fall before repeating the cycle all over again.

Just like everyone else's.

Your fruits speak to me, not of a separateness from those you share the planet with, but a sameness. The northwinds will find you running along with all of the rest of us for shelter, emerging later to revel in the same sun that shines on us all.

If it's by your fruits you wish to be known, then so be it. But a peach by any other name is still a peach, whether you drown it in sugar and cream or eat it just as it is.

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