Steve Chapman

Mormons regard themselves as Christians, and I don't disagree. But theirs is a drastically different type of Christianity. Becoming a Mormon is not like becoming a Methodist.

If I had joined, my life might have been very different. Or maybe not. The church is proud of being one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, a credit to its tireless missionary efforts. Only later did I find out that a lot of people who convert eventually fall away.

Once I made my choice, I noticed that all my new Mormon friends were suddenly scarce. But I was glad for the experience. It gave me a view of another way of life that most people don't get. It left me feeling I had a rudimentary understanding of Latter-day Saints.

I also got one joke out of it. It seems the pope is meeting with his cardinals in the Vatican when he's called out to take a phone call. He returns to announce, "I have good news and bad news. The good news is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has come again to establish his kingdom on earth." The bad news? "He was calling from Salt Lake City."

And that girl? We parted on amicable but sorrowful terms, and I haven't seen her since. Twenty years later, she had a layover at O'Hare and phoned to say hello. We spent a pleasant 15 minutes catching up and promising to get together with our spouses and kids sometime.

A couple of days later, my doorbell rang. Two earnest young missionaries were standing on my doorstep.

That's one thing you should know about Mormons. They're persistent.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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