I am just taking a break, in case anyone is worried. Last night I was at Deseret Book in Provo, and I realized I hadn’t been inside a Deseret Book in a long time. I seem to recall that they used to sell non-LDS-related books at DB, but apparently no more. But I digress.
It really struck me last night that there is an entire subculture with its own economy that revolves around Mormonism. The sheer number of books, CDs, DVDs, posters, statues, journals, plaques, and even candy all tied to some degree to Mormonism is kind of overwhelming. On the one hand, I felt a bit of revulsion at the idea of making money from one’s faith, but then I suspect that’s how Mormonism started in the first place, so it’s certainly following in the original spirit of Joseph Smith’s little enterprise.
But what really hit me was how detached I seemed from what was once a familiar part of my life. At the front of the store were pristine new copies of the first two volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers (the second volume costs $100), and on the right side were the bound sermons and stories of many a General Authority, including Boyd Packer’s “Mine Errand from the Lord.”
Once upon a time, these books might have tempted me. Back when I was commuting to Salt Lake every day, I read from the teachings of the modern prophets at least an hour a day, and now I felt no interest, nothing tugging at me to revisit their collective wisdom. I wasn’t even interested in the Joseph Smith papers, which earlier in my apostasy might have at least moved me to open the book. Nope, I couldn’t even do that.
I seemed a visitor in that place, someone just passing through, and I thought of that old missionary scripture, wherein we were told that those who by faith are baptized are “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). I once was of the household of God, it seems, but no longer.
Standing in that bookstore waiting for my wife to pay for her new journal, I felt powerful sadness, but also I felt reassurance that, in making myself a stranger to that past life, I was coming home.
I felt much better when I walked out into the falling snow, hand in hand with my wife. She and I may not both be of the household of God, but we are not strangers.