Monday, January 31, 2011

Who's At The Door

Today is the last day of the New Cedar Fort Author Blog Hop. To try out for my giveaway of $15 Amazon gift card, do these three things.
1. Become a follower of this blog.
2. Skip over to Dan Harrington's Blog and become a follower.
3. Leave a comment after this post.

Trust me folks, I only have a few contestants, so your chance at winning is huge! Also go to Dan's, Mike's, or Cheri's blog if you want more chances! So, all in all, you have a chance at winning $60 in Amazon bucks. Now, that's a sweet deal.

Today I review Dan Harrington's Who's At The Door: A Memoir of Me and the Missionaries.

Okay, so when you read the title, what's your best guess at the story-line? Guy meets missionaries and gets converted, right? That's what I thought. But don't let the title trick you, this isn't a run of the mill conversion story.

A reporter from Maine, Harrington met the missionaries with the hopes of writing a human interest story on them. But what he got from the experience was more than he bargained for. Throughout his journey with the missionaries Dan learns much about the Mormon faith but also much about lasting friendships.

Harrington tackles faith-based questions with candor and grace. In a world where it is never considered okay to bash someone for their sexual orientation or race, many still believe being mean to someone because of their religion is fine. In fact, in Dan's book, he points out several instances where people took pride in the mean things they did to the missionaries. In stark contrast, Dan befriended them and although he didn't fully agree with some points of Mormon doctrine, he was kind and respectful to the church and its members on all fronts.

I enjoyed his book. The writing flows nicely and is a fast-paced read. Harrington shows the reader that sometimes the most important lessons are learned through the journey and not in the destination.

Here are some questions for Dan Harrington:

Maggie Fechner:Before reading your book, I assumed it was a conversion story. Without spoiling the ending, how does Who's At The Door differ from other memoirs of people who meet the Mormon missionaries?

Dan Harrington: The ending for one. lol
Most books I've read about this subject simply persuade people to think one way or another.
In those books, the missionaries are treated as vehicles to conversion, nothing more. My memoir is a human interest story exploring what it's like to learn about another faith and culture and how endearing some of those experiences and people can be.

MF: How much of your study of the Mormon faith was based on your friendship with the missionaries? Would you ever have studied the church without their companionship?

DH: My initial studies were very much based on my friendship with the missionaries. I never would have found their church so interesting if they didn't come to my door at the same time that I was looking for my next newspaper story.
I think it's indicative of what happens to most people outside the midwest. The LDS Church is not even on our radar, nor would it ever be without the door-to-door missionaries.

MF: A few of the missionaries were very dear to your heart. Describe each of "your" missionaries in three words or less.

DH: This sounds like fun. Let's do it!

Luke—the consummate professional
Childs—suave ladies' man
Neilson—always the optimist
Dowling—tough but humble
Kelsey—duke of donut
Bailey—confident but grateful
P—heart of gold

MF: Now that you've had a long time to think about it, how would you respond to Elder Dowling's quote of Matthew 24:36 that even Jesus Christ wasn't told ALL of what Heavenly Father knows?

DH: I should have had a snappy come-back, right? They always have those on television. lol
That moment in the story—but more importantly in my life—really spoke to me. What I've taken from that conversation is how ingrained secrecy is to the LDS faith. The basic idea is that God doesn't reveal everything He knows, so naturally His church won't reveal everything it knows either.
If you're going to be Mormon, you have to accept that.
I guess my response now would be that I believe God always makes the right choice. I don't feel the same way about people.

Thank you Dan for the interview and good luck with your book and your continual spiritual journey! Since this is my blog and my opportunity to share my beliefs, I would respond to the last Q&A in this way:

As a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have never felt it to be a secretive church. Just as Harrington quotes in his book, there are some "sacred" but not "secret" topics that are not discussed outside of the temple. And also as he quotes in his book, I have learned more doctrine "line upon line" and "precept upon precept" as I became prepared for furthering my knowledge. I also feel that any knowledge I have gained has only been a more in-depth version of the gospel principals I have been taught since primary. There has never been something I have learned that has shocked, surprised or even thrown me for a loop.

Now enough of the super serious stuff. Come on people--go win a prize! I'd love to hear from you.


Proctor Funk said...

Awesome idea! It's fun reading about new authors! Dan's book sounds really good! Adding it to the "to read pile"! Thanks for the opportunity, I need to buy some books for school!!

Dan said...

Thanks for the interview, Maggie! I'm glad you enjoyed the book. = )

Sari said...

Your book review is great--sounds like a good read.

Anonymous said...

I loved that moment in the book when Elder Dowling asked Dan that and came back with the scriptures. It made me chuckle.