An Alternate History, Mormon Style

I’m a fantasy writer. I think about strange things from time to time. That’s a given, right? Well, the other day as I was walking into work, I started wondering how in the world the LDS church’s close affiliation with Boy Scouts came about. (I’ve since sufficiently answered that question. Thanks, Google.) In a nutshell, the church was looking for a way to better engage its young men at the same time that scouting became popular. Makes sense.

But what if that wasn’t what had happened? What if the church had latched onto a different way to engage its young men?

What do people turn to today for that purpose, I wondered. There are Lego clubs and robotics clubs, but those clearly wouldn’t work in this case. There’s band and drama in schools, but that wasn’t too interesting.

Martial arts, however . . .

How awesome would that have been? If the church hadn’t turned to scouting, but instead had turned to Kung Fu? Think about it. Instead of all these kids walking around learning how to tie shoe laces and help little old ladies across the street, they’d be meditating and prepping for self defense. We’ve already got the whole temple thing going, right?

Imagine a world where every duo in a tie and backpack and name tag didn’t bring with them an idea of the happy smiley chipper missionaries pop culture likes to portray, but rather the same sort of awe and respect Shaolin monks get. Where missionaries weren’t looked at as walking ATM machines on harsh city streets, but rather as Forces to Be Reckoned With. It reminds me of my mission, where I heard a story of a couple of Elders getting mugged by skinheads. The mission president took out the two Elders and sent in two Tongan football players in their place.

Surprisingly, the skinheads didn’t seem to want to make any attacks on the missionaries after that.

Maybe this “what if” scenario might rub some members the wrong way. I’ve never been a scout, and I’m well known for not being into scouting (for reasons I’ll just leave alone for now.) It’s not really a serious proposal. Just a fascinating thought experiment. Imagine if in all the missionary efforts of the church, they came across martial arts before they encountered scouting. Brigham Young sent three missionaries to China in 1852. That’s historical fact. They only stayed 56 days, but it’s not too hard to picture a different scenario, where they met the right people or saw the right things, and perhaps a Utah/Chinese connection was established.

Who knows where it could have ended up? An entire Mormon martial art developed in the mountains of Utah?

But like I said. I’m a fantasy writer. I live for this kind of stuff.

And that’s my deep thought for you today.

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