Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Life Mormon Missionary

Craig Harline. William B. Eerdmans, $22 (281p) ISBN 978-0-8028-7150-3
You see them on bikes and on foot, their white shirts, badges, and backpacks identifying them as Mormon missionaries. A young man’s mission can be a time of discovery and faith-building or a jarring, frightening experience. But no missionary returns home unchanged. Harline (Conversions), professor of European history at Brigham Young University, recounts his experience as a young missionary in Belgium in this delightful memoir. After intensive training at the Mormons’ Missionary Training Center, he and thousands of his fellows are cast out into the world with minimal language skills and, he notes, little in the way of training for what the real world holds in store. As he dodges Belgians and fellow missionaries, weather and traffic, readers will laugh out loud at Harline’s misadventures. But this tale is, at heart, a reflection, 40 years later, on how life doesn’t always follow the rules set out by statisticians and spiritual advisers, and how growing up away from home can be profoundly unsettling. A thoughtful, wonderful read. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
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