This blog has encouraged more reality in Mormon missionary stories. And I have attempted to highlight some of the quirkier and humorous aspects of Mormon missions. Along that line I would like to promote a book recently published by Craig Harline, a BYU professor of European history.
His book is titled Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary. It’s the author’s remembrances about an event that occurred nearly 40 years ago. According to the publisher’s promotion:
When Craig Harline set off on his two-year Mormon mission to Belgium [Flemish area] in the 1970s, he had big dreams of doing miracles, converting the masses, and coming home a hero. What he found instead was a lot of rain and cold, one sentence conversations with irritated people, and silly squabbles with fellow missionaries.
I have not read the book, but I plan to. I served a mission in the Franco-Belgian Mission [French area] in the mid-1960s. And my experiences would seem to mirror those of Harline’s. The book has received excellent reviews:
We’ve been blessed in recent years with a lot of fine and increasingly honest scholarship in the church; it’s wonderful to see that same maturity on display in the arena of personal memoir. This is a great book. You won’t see it sold anytime soon in the MTC, I suspect, which is unfortunate–but that just means you can give it to future missionaries in your life yourself.
Thank you Craig Harline for writing this book.