We hear a lot about the "nones" these days: Americans who claim no connection to any particular faith. We'll hear a lot more too, as recent studies document this ever-expanding slice of the American demographic pie. We hear less, however, about the nones as individuals. But like any pastor, I’ve known more than a few in my time. At 20 percent of society, they are literally everybody's friends and neighbors.
When people who don’t know a lot about American Christianity hear that I am Mennonite, they sometimes ask if it’s the same as being Mormon. No, I say, and add a stock reply: other than starting with the same letter of the alphabet and being inscrutable to outsiders, the groups are quite different.
After reading Joanna Brooks’s memoir The Book of Mormon Girl, I will no longer answer with such alacrity.
To understand what I am going to tell you, you need to know that my parents were scientists and that my mother’s mind had a decidedly unpoetic bent. Nonetheless, they read me poems from the time I was very young because they paid attention to what gladdened my spirit.