Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Stranger Comes to Town- Book Review of Who's At the Door?

Who’s At The Door? is a classic “Stranger Comes to Town” master plot. In this case the “Stranger” is the full time missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dan is the hero of his own story and as is always the case, the “Stranger” enters the scene and provides a disruption, which is the basis of this page-turning memoir.

To start out, I have a couple of confessions to make. 1- I have never read a memoir before, 2- Because I am such a slow reader, I really don’t read all that often. When I say I’m slow, I mean I’m REALLY slow so for me reading is a huge commitment of time. With those two confessions made, I must tell you that I read Who’s At the Door? in one afternoon. I stretched out on the couch with the fire roaring in front of me and I lost myself in the story. Since I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, I intended to read a chapter or two to get a feel for it, but just as in good fiction, each chapter had a hook that compelled me to keep reading.

As a private person myself, I find it fascinating how Dan is able to open up and share so much of his personal thoughts and feelings with the reader. There are moments of deep thought and doctrinal searching but also many moments of fun and humor as he describes the process of getting to know and become friends with various sets of missionaries. When the missionaries first show up at his door, Dan describes the excitement he feels for having the chance to teach these hay-seed Elders a thing or two about the world. He plans to awe them with the modern contraptions like…the microwave oven and microwave popcorn. He’s sure they’ve never seen anything so wonderful in their lives. Dan quickly learns that he has some misconceptions about the Elders and the entire LDS church.

Who’s At The Door? challenges members of other faiths to evaluate their misconceptions of the Mormon Church. It also challenges members of the church to look at the culture and doctrines of the church through fresh eyes, viewing it as an investigator or returning member might. If we do this we may find ways to connect with people in a meaningful way and advance our own goals in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When a “Stranger” comes into our life, do we treat them with mistrust and fear, or are we open to learn from their unique perspectives and life history? Dan’s book is not a conversion story or even a recommendation that people investigate or join the LDS church. It is simply one man’s experience as he broadens his horizons to understand a people and a faith he previously did not know. He sought knowledge directly from the people and scriptures of the LDS faith, which is a good example to all of us. He accepted the “Strangers” into his home and grew from the experience.

After finishing the book, I had many questions so I inquired of Dan and he graciously agreed to do an interview. I posted the interview on my blog before Christmas. Check out my interview here.

In case you couldn’t tell, I recommend this book. The writing style is easy and the story is compelling. Great combination. Buy it here


Michael Knudsen said...

I'm really looking forward to reading Dan's book.