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2

The Weirdest Two Years: 1 missionary memoir plus 1 mind-blowing New Age freakout equals 2.

By Scott Renshaw
Posted // June 10,2009 -

Over the years, plenty of Utahs-pawned literature has been the product of disillusionment with the LDS Church. There have been memoirs and fictional tales, some mournful and some bitter, an entire subgenre of recovering Mormons working out their issues. You may have seen some of them before, and you may think there’s nothing new under the post-Mo sun. But I will say this about the new novel 2: It is almost certain you have never read anything as bat-shit crazy.

Evan Twede (see Q&A below)—writing under the nom de plume Evan Lord—presents what at first seems like a standard-issue missionary journal by Elder Ewan Ladd. Elder Ladd turns 19 years old in 1977 and, soon thereafter, launches himself on his way toward a mission in West Germany, despite being something of a rebel. He makes waves at the Missionary Training Center; he experiences some culture shock; he shares anecdotes about his friendships (or lack thereof) with various companions; he begins to have his doubts about why he’s doing what he’s doing, despite raging success in the baptisms department. So far, so typical.

But Elder Ladd has one particularly noteworthy experience: an afternoon spent with a mysterious “giant” named Cadeau. And over the course of that afternoon—parceled out in flashback snippets over the course of the novel—Cadeau reveals many great, mind-boggling truths to the elder. At times, these revelations play out like a compendium of challenges to Mormon and other Christian doctrine—addressing improbable similarities between Book of Mormon passages and certain ancient texts, challenging the idea of just how heavenly the Mormon conception of heaven would actually be, etc. At other times, Cadeau—and later, his like-minded comrades—wants to blow the dude’s mind with a tale of human origins involving alien colonization and the human potential for godhood. As a prophet of enlightenment, he’s like The Matrix’s Morpheus crossed with Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard.

And as flat-out bizarre as the combination of these disparate elements may be, there’s no denying that it also results in something compulsively page-turning. As Elder Ladd approaches the end of his mission and begins a furtive relationship with his mission president’s daughter, 2 leaps into an even more intensive brand of New Age-philosophizing that makes sure to include sex in the equation for understanding the ultimate creative force through orgasmic transcendence. People literally walk on water or inhale an otherworldly snuff that allows glimpses of the infinite. Maybe. Or maybe it’s all a dream. Or maybe it’s all what happens when you wake up from the dream. Whoooooaa.

The strangest thing is, the core ideas are actually kind of compelling when you strip away the psychedelia. What is the value of obedience as a spiritual discipline? And what should we expect the Paradise of a loving, creative God to look like? As a piece of writing, 2 may need to engage in the didacticism typical of Conversations With God-type explorations, and you may find yourself laughing out loud at its more out-there conceits. But you’re gonna remember it. 2 makes for two weird tastes that taste even weirder together.

2
By Evan Lord
Two Lords Press
2009
$22.22
OENEE.com

____________________________________________________________________________

Evan Twede ... er, Lord ... er, Ladd
In the 1980s, Evan Twede, aka Evan Lord, contributed editorial cartoons for City Weekly’s precursor Private Eye. Since then, he has run a Salt Lake City advertising agency and served as a political strategist primarily for Republican candidates.

City Weekly: How much autobiography is in your book?

Evan Twede: I built in as many layers of separation as possible to protect the privacy of those I interacted with 30 years ago. The pressures of mission life spin each of us in every conceivable direction. We all did things we laugh and cringe about now. I drew heavily from experience and took liberties with the facts.

CW: What readings or experiences most influenced the philosophical/religious system described by Cadeau?

ET: There are things covered in 2 that I’ve never encountered in other readings, though I believe many of us are saying the same things in different ways. My goal … was to present the type of religious experience glorified in scripture, broken down into pedestrian terms. Nothing I’ve ever encountered in scripture has sounded anything like a supreme being—which led me to ask, “Who was doing all the talking to those people?” I was curious to know what God would say to us, if indeed God existed and gave a rat.

CW: At times, the combination of the straightforward missionary memoir and the spiritual ideas seems like an odd mix. Did you ever consider exploring these ideas through another type of story?

ET: On one level, it’s an honest portrayal of what it was like [as a missionary] out there for me. 2 is also a classic quest adventure peopled with all of the usual personalities and a few new ones. … 2 is the missionary discussions for a “de-ligion” that regards all people as equals with valid points of view. It is my thinking alone, and I’m not seeking converts. I had something to say, and I said it my way.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // November 24,2009 at 17:45

Seriously the most thought provoking book I've read in a very VERY long time.

I think that the questioning in this book is not restricted to the Mormon Religion only. I would think you can replace Mormonism with any Christian religion and be able to identify.

Very well written! Thank you for this book :)

Beth

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 15,2009 at 20:02

Haven't finished it yet, but amazing how much I've read so far seems to have almost come right out of my own head, lol. Spot on, there, Mr. Ladd/Twede. Served in the Duesseldord mission, it was like a time machine, put me directly back in the frame of mind, the whole bit. Even the more out there ideas I've read so far are still things I think make more sense than what I was brought up with. Definately a book I haven't been able to stop talking to people about, lol.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 11,2009 at 16:53

(cont.) The book was given to me by a friend this last Sunday. My friend, had received 2 copies of the book for attending the "2" unveiling event a few weeks ago. I gotta say..despite my reluctancy to read anything even slightly "religious" these days, this book surprisingly proves to be just the opposite. I just can't put it down. I relate to a lot of the content as I was also raised in the culture and served my own 2 years for the church. This is the first book I've opened up in years. And like I say, at about 3/4 the way through it, I cannot put it down! This Evan Lord guy is really onto something, and feel free to quote me on that. Go out and get yourself 2 copies of this book. Excellent writing. Cheers.

Jake McConnough

Salt Lake City, UT

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 11,2009 at 15:50

Thank you so much for writing this book. It has changed my life in such great ways in such a short time. It has opened my mind and made me so much more loving and accepting of myself and everyone around me. Thanks again, Evan Lord. This is truly a magical book.

 

Posted // February 8,2012 at 21:40 - I expect nothing less than perfection from Evan. His other book was masterful, he is hilarious, deep, and very true to his belief system. I'm sure people who know him well would thank him for writing such a great book. I started it , and can't put it down. That's my review!!!! Congrats Evan!

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 11,2009 at 12:53

This book has blown my mind! I love that I can relate to it, being that I was raised in a strict Mormon household until I was 15. I asked myself the same questions the character, Elder Ladd, asks throughout the book. I freed myself from the confines of a structured belief system, I now experience love and spirituality on a level higher than I ever imagined. I love reading about how others have found the answers to their questions too! Evan Twede, or Evan Lords, should I say, has a profound way of revealing brilliant philosophies, and raising questions from the oh so sacred Mormon texts. I love it! Highly recommended! Read it with an open mind and you'll most surely get something wonderful out of 2!!!!

 

 
 
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