By Brian Kershisnik
I am a Mormon. Warning: The following text contains some religious content as well as invitations to learn more about my church. You will not be bombarded with proselytizing materials or doctrinal messages from my website, but this essay will just be here and possibly updated periodically. Please feel free to read it, but obviously you are under no obligation. So here goes.
Some of you may have seen the short video on YouTube or lds.org about my being a Mormon. If not, I recommend you see it both for a peek at my notions of the cosmos as well as a look at my studio in Kanosh, Utah. Whatever your assessment of my cosmos, it is a pretty great studio to be sure. Better than I deserve, no doubt, but I am glad to have it and use it. Ethan Vincent was working on a documentary (his own self-motivated and unfunded project, so of course understandably unfinished) when he was commissioned to do several video portraits for the Mormon Church, and this dovetailed nicely with his project that was already underway with me. The result was satisfying, largely because of the skills and trustworthy intrusions of Ethan Vincent, and I was very pleased to participate.
My intention here is to invite you to know more about the Mormon Church, or as it is officially known, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons” is understandably easier to say) should you be in the least bit curious.
I was raised all over the world and have known and loved many, many people of vastly different religious and secular convictions. I believe truly in the virtue and holy participation of many of these people in the complex and extremely difficult work of redemption for this world. My conviction is that my church has a vital and central role to play in the unfolding history of the redemption of this earth and believe it would be silly for people to not engage in it who otherwise would if they had some, or better, information.
There is much good that is accomplished by individuals, and I prize greatly my individual effort to be and do good, to improve my humanity and the condition of those immediately around me. There are also very important things that are accomplished by the collective effort of groups and organizations. Group actions and hierarchies often push us into actions and interactions that we might otherwise have avoided, but nevertheless do us and those around us good — often affecting a circle much wider than our own small one. Both individual and group efforts have their profound advantages and disadvantages and I am convinced that both are needed notwithstanding the failings of each. My conviction of the truth and importance of my church is firmly linked to rich positive revelatory experience, but also does not ignore the mistakes and awkwardnesses that are infused in any organization involving human beings. My assurance of God’s interest in my participation in this church does not incline me to require of that experience perfection of action and result, or unmitigated bliss, but of course there needs to be enough satisfaction and bliss, and thank God there is usually more and to spare.
Most people reading this will be at least vaguely aware of the young Mormon men and women going about in pairs looking for people to teach. Of course these missionaries are very interested in talking to you and of course they want you to join the Mormon Church. Be patient and tolerant. They have devoted a few years of their life to this effort and are anxious to engage. They can also be a good resource for what Mormonism is about. Interestingly, they are not so much receptacles of vast amounts of information, but they know enough to get you started on your own understanding of the subject — an understanding that will hopefully lead to revelation of your own. Everybody can guess what the missionaries, or even I, want you to do. The point is always to find God and get a sense of what He wants you to do. I recommend and invite you to take a few minutes to widen your understanding enough to include talking to some of these missionaries or visiting mormon.org for information that may prove very useful or at least interesting. I am happy to field any questions you might have or refer you to resources I find useful. I will not, without your permission, put anyone else in contact with you.
The world is full of truth and beauty (if indeed those two things can or should be distinguished). It comes at us from every angle. It is often unexpected and hard to categorize. The sources can be sublime or inconvenient and even at times a bit unruly. I believe the work and message of the Mormon Church to be vital, significant and true. I am pleased to be a part of it.