My Top Ten Non-Mormon Lives

John NilssonMormon 11 Comments

Not long ago I was watching a Tyler Perry movie and found myself applauding an action of one of the characters. This was an action which would draw condemnation from Mormons. From the viewer’s omniscient position, it was the right thing to do. This was a world in which Mormonism for all intents and purposes didn’t exist. It got me thinking about other worlds where Mormonism didn’t enter into the equation, and about what kind of lives I would gladly imagine myself living in them…

10. Glasgow, Scotland: A Catholic of Irish descent, I work for the Celtic Football Club (in PR), sing IRA songs like “The Foggy Dew” and “Say Hello to the Provos” at football matches with my mates, and play darts in the pub on Friday nights, drinking dark heady pints of Guinness.

9. 19th century England: An Anglican vicar in a country parish, I learn to mediate community disputes and try to do some good in terms of education, culture, and salvation.

8. India: A cultural Hindu and Bollywood actor of some renown, I live it up with the ladies and give wealth back by investing in micro-credit enterprises.

7. Sydney, Australia: A member of Parliament, I shout down my opponents in Aussie slang during prime minister’s question time (seated next to Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil of course) and spend free time in the outback learning about aboriginal culture and hiking around Alice Springs with the kookaburra.

6. Meiji era-Japan: As a loyal samurai, I restore my neglected lord, the emperor, to the throne, converse with the geisha, and marvel at the Western products which flow to our shores. In my old age, I take up gardening and meditation.

5. Galilee, 1920s: Along with other healthy suntanned young Jews from Tel Aviv, I put my shoulder to the wheel and take up kibbutz life in a largely Arab region, raising my children communally, planting trees in Eretz Yisrael, and sharing our produce with our Christian and Muslim neighbors.

4. Sicily: I court my wife among the dusty olive trees while performing guard duty for a local don. We marry and I eventually become the don’s consiglieri, ending my days sipping wine on a sun-drenched veranda and reading letters from my grandchildren in America.

3. Nairobi, Kenya: A hard-working civil servant, I assist my country in freeing itself from colonial domination in as peaceful a manner as possible. In negotiations with other Commonwealth countries, I seek the advantage for my country, trying to preserve its natural resources for future generations and to grow the local economy.

2. Stockholm, Sweden: An executive with Volvo, IKEA, Saab, or any other Swedish corporation, anything so I could live in the land of my paternal ancestors, one of the happiest countries on earth (according to UN studies conducted by blue-hatted Swedes), eat lingonberries weekly, listen to ABBA, and have people spell and pronounce my last name correctly the rest of my days. Oh yeah, and six weeks paid vacation a year and night-swimming in the buff on the summer solstice.

1. Salt Lake City, Utah: As mayor Ralph Becker, I am repairing the damage done to SLC’s internal dynamics by the fractious former incumbent, initiating improvements to environmental policies, and learning to appreciate the Mormons on my staff. I hike and bike daily after work and enjoy the hospitality of one of the most livable cities in the Western United States.

Now, will one or more of you please do my temple work for me and mine if I get sucked into one of these worlds?

Comments 11

  1. LOL!

    Apropos the lingonberries: I recently ordered some fruit trees for planting and the nursery website had lingonberry plants available for $2.99 per plant. The grower says they should grow well despite me being in a warmer climate. I planted them two weeks ago. We’ll see how they do.

    He also said they tend to spread and turn into something of a ground cover. Who knows, I could have the biggest spread of lingonberries in the South!

  2. Post


    How do lingonberries do in high altitudes, like the Rocky Mountains, say? I’m getting hungry already.

  3. Lingonberries, like blackberries, and their cousins the blueberry and cranberry, do better in cooler, moist climates with soil that leans acidic. In the lower 48, that means the Northwest and Northeast, generally.

  4. I’m afraid without the influence of the Gospel, my alternate lives would be the opposite of Eric’s summary. Thank God for the Gospel.

  5. My grower’s website (, click in “cranberries” to get to the lingonberries, off-sale now at $7.99 per plant) says good for zones 3-7 which viewed in terms of the rockies means basically anywhere north of Albuquerque. If you’re in a hot-summer area they recommend giving the plant shade part of the day.

    Though planting time has passed in my Southern neck-of-the-woods, the mid-to-northern Rockies are probably just coming up on prime planting time.

    Growing lingonberries:

    Good Luck!

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    Bored in Vernal,

    Haven’t you seen Seinfeld, where Kramer expounds on the conversational arts of the geisha? 🙂


    I was hoping we’d find some common ground here!

  7. A nice little panorama. I find it to be well thought-out and informative. You seem to have really done some homework on this; I know that my own ignorance was highlighted just by reading through the article.

    Actually, I applaud this kind of thing for the simple fact that life is mutable, and circumstances are as varied as the individual. President Hinckley often advised we take time to meditate, and a little exercise like this one could make a great focal point for meditation. What *might* we be, if we’d been planted in different circumstances at birth?

    I think we might find some liberating–and probably rather frightening–answers if we really took the time to look.

    Bored in Vernal: I’m of the opinion that Mr. Nilsson was referring to the art of actual conversation–you know, just plain talking, not even about sex–when he said “converse with the Geisha.” The culture of Japan (though this seems to be changing rapidly) tends to keep sex behind closed doors, out of the realm of polite and honourable conversation. I doubt an actual samurai would think along the lines you seem to be thinking.

    I’d submit my own list of alternate lives, but honestly, they’d probably all be silly, wish-fulfilment scenarios set in a science fiction milieu, or set hopelessly in a Utopia we don’t yet have. Of course, I’m sure that’d be different if I took the time to think about it. 😉

  8. Pingback: Through the Ears of a “Gentile” at Mormon Matters

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