Living in the Heart of Mormondom: Noses in Scripture

With darkness passing outside the rattling train, I had little to do but contrast the differences between Washington D.C.’s public transit system (the Metro) and TRAX, Salt Lake City’s light rail. It didn’t take long for my wife—a lifetime resident of Utah and Idaho—to notice we were the racial minority in the area. But that wasn’t what struck me.

For years, I’ve ridden TRAX to and from work along with hundreds of other cattle in business suits. And with the executives sit others, obviously less fortunate or even homeless. With them, there are people with groceries and kids and ladies talking into their phones and sometimes a person with a seeing-eye-dog. Occasionally, there’s that guy who mumbles vulgarities to himself as spittle dances off his crusty lips. These things TRAX and the Metro have in common.

But what I didn’t find on the Metro was anybody reading religious scriptures or spiritual books of any kind. No Bible, no Koran, no Torah, no Blue Like Jazz, no Book of Mormon. Not even The Secret.

Despite the serious differences of theology, Christians could stand to learn a lesson from the commuting Mormons of Salt Lake City. On any given day, I can count at least seven people reading the Book of Mormon and a few more reading other LDS books. Sometimes even a couple Mormon-printed King James Bibles can be found. The percentage of religious readers spikes after LDS conferences, Pioneer Day, and the first couple of weeks of January; but even in the slow times, people are reading their religious books. Sometimes, there is even a Christian book or someone reading a translation of the Bible other than the King James.

As I sat there on the Metro, I wondered if Christians in other parts of America are seizing opportunities to get into the Word as much as the Mormons in Salt Lake get into the Book of Mormon. Either D.C. Christians are not reading on the Metro, or there weren’t many Christians on the Metro that week. Then I had to ask myself, “Are Christians even reading their Scriptures any more?”


  1. I get it.

    But part of me feels that, amongst people such as the ones you describe, it would be more appropriate to not have our nose stuck in a book. It seems that you would miss the opportunity to help the lady with her groceries, or have a nonsensical conversation with the guy the spits when he talks.

    Just my thoughts...

  2. Rob, so true. And yet these things are not happening much either. I think in some ways because there's a wall that people put on on public transit. I've had conversations with people on the train, but most put up an invisible "do not talk to me or even look in my direction, and what ever you do, DO NOT make eye contact" wall around them.

    It's tough when you try to help the lady with her groceries when she looks at you like you're the nonsensical homeless guy who spits.

    Oh crap... I'm that guy!

  3. Bryan, great post. Quite convicting, and a good contrast between cultures.

    "Are Christians even reading their scriptures anymore?" ...ouch.

    If we're not seizing the quiet, isolated moments on public transit, when are we carving out time to read?

    I know I don't have a clear answer.
    Thanks for your insight.