A Letter to a Jurk

This a parody of Voltaire’s A Letter From a Turk which can be found in his book of Micromegas.

 

When I was in the City of Salt, on the banks of the buoyant sea, the homeland of the Latter Day Saints, I was eager to acquire knowledge. I had known the language of the land, more or less knew the customs of the people, and kept my eyes open for everything. I was rooming with my dear friend Megan, one of the most sensible of persons I knew; there was never a callous word between us concerning the God and those who spoke to him. We lived our lives side by side, laughing and singing as siblings in the light of midnight streetlamps.

One day we went together to the Mormon Temple, and saw there several groups of Laurels and Priests. Some of them were the obedient–that is to say, the observant of all the church’s hints–and the others were the faithful, who led a life of both the church and the modern planet. As you must know, they spoke a very learned language, the language of the simple, void of the profane and the provocative. They had known it from the Book of Mormon, surely the most recent of all the books of God, other than the Pearl of Great Price, which said little of the current.

I passed a Mormon Laurel fixing her skirt, “Oh, you craving addict!” she cried. “You have made my skirt lift just that inch and now my soul is tainted by your glance! I will never meet the gate of the Celestial, which I have climbed toward each moment of my beating heart.” To console her, I mentioned the beauty of her long hair, and promised it had distracted my eye from her hint of thigh.

Not ten steps later I sneezed and broke the word of a Priest on his knees in prayer. “How dare you! I was but one more gift of gratitude to begin asking for my blessings!”

“I am sorry that I broke your reverence, let me bless you and give you just a dollar to console you for your loss.” I said, and walked on in the Temple Square.

Having handled my mistakes, I walked on and came to pass a group of missionaries; I was then swarmed with enthusiasm. Many of them handed me little cards to tell me of my salvation, and other cards to tell me of the doom of my brothers. I accepted the cards and used them as bookmarks.

I came upon some more missionaries, some singing and tapping to the beat of their choir’s echo, others praying that their mother may be blessed. Some wore skirts and others suits, all wore half their name as a badge. It must be made clear, these were but the kindest souls I had ever encountered.

My friend Megan dragged me over to meet the president of the grounds, the kindest missionary of them all. He was called President Joe, and he smiled like everyone called him President. He wore a suit that had seen many years, but never a tailor, and held a woman on one arm. He was robust and full, while his woman was small and sweet, her voice a mouse’s could overpower. They stood in the corner of the square near the grand Jesus the Christ. They stood in the awful cold in the silent square, waiting for their dancing missionaries to send them a lost soul. I watched as Megan had a long conversation with them.

She said, “Do you think, President, that after passing the test of hot drinks, I can enter the domain of the Jesus?”

“That depends.” Replied the President. “How do you spend your time?”

“I try to be a good citizen. I’m a good friend, a good fiancé, a good worker. I occasionally lend money to my friends without charging interest. I give money to the poor. I encourage my neighbors to live peaceably.”

“Do you ever stand in the cold alone to show God your faith?”

“Never, Brother President.”

“That’s unfortunate.” Said the President, “It’s a pity, but you’ll never make it past the Spirit waiting room.”

“What do you mean?” She replied, “That’s okay I’m quite alright with that. What does it matter if I have to wait with the sinners for their damnation or with the saints to their crowning, they both require the same comfort as they wonder what more they could have done. What does it matter to me who I hold in heaven if I have done my best to be kind and useful in my pilgrimage on earth? I will be made welcome at my final destination. Isn’t it enough to behave decently and then be happy in the land of Christ? What heaven do you intend to reach, Brother President, with your old fingers and your stomach void of the hot drink?”

“The fourth,” answered the President.

“I think that is very curious of you,” said Megan. “To claim to be ranked so much higher than me. You must be terribly ambitious. You condemn people who want to have peace in this life, unchained from the fear of slipping up, so why do you want to be freed in the next one? And in any case, why do you claim you’ll be better treated than me? Let me tell you I give the same amount of money to the poor in a week that you spend on all the badges in this square. It’s all very well for you to stand here in the cold with a woman resting on your arm. How does it help your country? I have far more respect for the man who spends one day recycling the beer cans in his neighborhood than I do for all the missionaries in the state singing and dancing, or wearing badges to show off what magnificent souls they have.”

Having said such, she calmed down, told the President what a good man he was and convinced him to give up the cold and the title and come and live a decent life. They unclipped his wife and told her to raise her voice, and got her to laugh properly. And for one whole fortnight, they lived very sensibly and admitted that they were one hundred times happier than they had been before. But no one had called him brother or president, and his wife had opinions, and he did not like the confusion of having two names. He left Megan and went back to his cold square; and his wife clipped back onto his arm as he watched his missionaries dance.

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