At the end of a long day, a Sunday, in particular, I find myself drawn into the odd world of fictional fundamentalist Mormons.
"No true church would leave you unconsoled," says husband-of-three Bill, trying to comfort his wife, Barb, recently excommunicated after being "outed" as a polygamist by her sister.
"I don't believe Heavenly Father works that way," she said a few weeks ago to her daughter, Sarah, grieving after the loss of a pregnancy, worrying that God had punished her for the sin of premarital sex.
Bill's brother, Joey, shocked by the murder of his intended wife, tells his mother he doesn't believe Heavenly Father is watching over him; he feels abandoned. His mother tells him he is shutting God out; God is not the one who has left the relationship.
All around this swirl typical soap opera plots and atypical, too. I mean, really, how typical can a man with three wives be? There are casinos and police investigations and murders and beautiful identical twins. Really, I would have been satisfied with the understandable tensions of three women sharing one man in what amounts to a suburban fishbowl. Can there really be some form of grace in their relationships with one another? Or is this just a way for The Man to keep women down? After an evening spent in the kitchen with my former sister-in-law, who cooked the food for which I shopped, I appreciate the cooperative nature of shared labor in the household, but I'm glad we gather around the table with our various children for the pleasure of being together and without the overhanging shadow of sharing a husband!
Mostly it's the unfamiliar use of very familiar religious words and images that fascinate me. At the end of the season, Bill claims the authority from God to begin his own church, rejecting both the orthodox Latter Day Saints and the fundamentalist splinter group in which he was raised. He serves bread and water to his family in the combined back yards of their three adjoining suburban homes.
Oh, I do believe, you are what you perceive.
What comes is better than what came before.
"I Found a Reason" plays as they share Communion.
Surrounded by wives and children who look (in my opinion) appropriately dubious, he starts a new church. He is the only one who understands what he means to do. He is possessed by the idea, the kiss of Heavenly Father that the old prophet described, the authority that no one else will give you. And even in that I find something true.
How can we start something new, in our churches or in our lives, without believing in whatever it is that ferociously?