Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 71

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE Catholic. It was the Lutherans who taught me how to worship and instilled in me an appreciation for ritual. After about five years of being Lutheran, I felt called to Rome, and my family became Catholic in 2007. PLM: What led you as a Roman Catholic to become interested in Mormon metaphysics? With this question in mind, please specify for our readers the basic tenets of Mormon metaphysics. SHW: I think my background of growing up in an Evangelical church that was out of step with the common secular American culture, then becoming a mainline with an emphasis on ecumenical dialogue and church unity, and finally joining a high church dedicated to a full, aesthetic display of the faith has given me a unique vantage point to engage Mormonism. Mormons are very Evangelical, which corresponds to my youth, very interested in issues of church unity and in doing things to improve society, which corresponds to my Disciples period, and very dedicated to art and rituals in their Temples, which corresponds to my Roman Catholicism. I knew a fair bit about Mormonism because I taught it as part of various courses during my undergraduate teaching years, but it really wasn’t until I became Catholic that Mormonism became more real to me. Mormonism is so rich, so theologically ambitious, so full of stories and history and ritual, that it is hard, I think, for Protestants to take it all in, but from a Catholic perspective, it looks . . . well, it looks pretty Catholic. By metaphysics I mean a set of principles about the nature of ultimate reality and how that ultimate reality shapes everyday notions, concepts, and ideas. Mormons believe that ultimate reality, in the sense of the divine, supernatural, or spiritual world, is not absolutely different from our natural world. More specifically, Mormons teach that the spiritual is another form of the material. There is a continuum between the two. I find that fa scinating, and I am persuaded that Mormon metaphysics is right and has a lot to teach the rest of the Christian world. PLM: Please share with the readers a very brief synopsis of the book. Please position it in contradistinction to the conversation involving Evangelical leaders like Richard Mouw and Mormon leaders like Robert Millet. SHW: My book is about what other Christians can learn from the Saints. I focus on the Mormon view of matter, but I also look at the Mormon conception of history and authority, as well as the Mormon understanding of Jesus. I have met enough Mormons and studied enough Mormon theology to know beyond a doubt that Mormons are Christians. Most Mormons I know are better Christians than most non-Mormon Christians I know. Many books about the Mormons get hung up on the question of whether Mormons are Christian. That’s just not a question for me, which allows me to go into much 70