So-called “cold contacting” is difficult in any field; people are simply uncomfortable approaching or being approached by perfect strangers. When a level of recognition is added to this concept, the difficulty factor is often multiplied. Dan Harrington’s work goes a long, long way to help people on both sides of this challenge understand it quite a bit better.
Most people around the world have come to understand that a pair of well-groomed young men in white shirts and ties are representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a.k.a. the Mormons. The author certainly had, and until he was able to sell his editor on a piece about these young men serving in Augusta, Maine, he avoided them at every opportunity. Once he had their permission to write about them and their work, however, he found that his assumptions were a long way from the facts.
Overall, Harrington spent just over a year with the elders of Augusta, and came to know many of the local church members during that period. He spent a lot of time studying the doctrines and attending services, mainly because he found these young men to be so different from his initial expectations.
Although short, this is a very personal and insightful book. One gets the feeling that the author wants nothing more than for others to be less judgmental toward people of a different faith (regardless of that faith), and he is willing to bare his soul to the world to achieve it. He does not sugarcoat anything: the tenets of the LDS faith, his personal issues, the personalities of the elders, and the behavior of various individuals he meets along his journey. It is a very well-written and honest display of religious curiosity and learning.
Rated: None. Perfectly clean read.