Last week’s column on the new standardized interview questions for prospective Mormon missionaries garnered some snarling feedback.
A woman sent me an email stating that the church should have excommunicated me rather than allow me to serve a mission. A man, asserting to be “a midlevel church leader,” said he had never read anything more anti-Mormon in his life. (Clearly, this person hasn’t read any real anti-Mormon slop.)
Finally, another reader, who said he was about to serve a mission, dared me to come up with interview questions that would better prepare someone to serve the Lord.
I accept that challenge. Here goes:
1. Have you ever killed or seriously injured someone, particularly a close associate, roommate, business partner, cellmate or anyone with whom prolonged compulsory association caused you feelings of homicidal wrath?
2. Are you flexible enough to understand that mission rules can at times be in direct conflict with common sense or, more importantly, promptings of the Holy Spirit? Describe, if you will, your understanding of the instinct to survive.
3. Do you know how to cook, or at least understand the concept of proper nutrition in preparing food that would not immediately be yakked up by a starving wolf?
4. Are you aware of any mental conditions — including self-righteousness, prudishness, racial bias, chauvinism, desire to have dominion over others, or the fawning worship of those in authority — which may prevent you from effectively serving your fellow human beings?
5. Have you engaged in any physical behavior that contributed to the birth of an actual child, including a child for which you owe regular financial support or which may have been abandoned by you on the doorstep of a charity?
6. Are you capable of carrying on a conversation beyond one consisting solely of sullen monosyllables?
7. Are there foods which cause you intestinal distress or foods you would otherwise be adverse to eating solely because you’re picky, including raw fish, radish mush, cow tongue, goat offal, fricasseed rat lips or soup made from a boiled cat head?
8. Do you understand that your purpose as a servant of the Lord is to teach the gospel approved by the church, not some apocrypha an enfeebled relative told you about early Nephite atomic bombs?
9. Have you generally forsworn any and all behavior, current or past, that would embarrass your parents to the point of them having you unsealed from the family?
10. Now that the missionary gender mix has changed, are you prepared to spread the gospel while at the same time resisting the desire to ask another missionary to marry you “when we get home?”
11. Do you understand the importance of being honest in all your dealings, even if it means admitting to your companion that you believe he or she has the personality of a squid?
12. Do you strive to avoid pornography in all its forms. Have you seen “The Book of Mormon” musical and did you at all laugh during it? Have you watched “Game of Thrones” and did you gasp? Have you read The Salt Lake Tribune and did you ever pump your fist in agreement?
13. Can you honestly say that you are ready to serve a mission even though at the age of 18 or 19 it’s been scientifically proven that your brain is not yet fully developed?
14. As a servant of Jesus Christ, your appearance is important. Are you capable of personal hygiene beyond just zit squeezing and running a comb through your hair?
15. How competent do you feel in dodging rocks, dogs, insults, inappropriate suggestions, the subject of President Donald Trump and U.S. foreign policy?
16. Do you honestly — all B.S. aside — love other people?