Very good essay, Nathan! Obviously the goal of the Mormon missionary it to win converts, of which I was one many years ago. I had married a "Jack" Mormon at age 21, and as a student of religion and religious philosophy, Mormonism intrigued me. We lived in Eastern state and, oddly enough, not far from a Mormon meeting house. He decided he wanted to reconnect with his Mormon roots (after a tour of duty in the Vietnam war) and the missionaries were thrilled to have a potential new convert -- one married to a Mormon -- to teach the "true gospel." I joined the church there in the "Mission Field" and eventually, we moved to Utah, his home state, where I learned that converts held "celebrity status" among the life-long Mormons. It was as if my conversion validated their faith. I was literally treated like royalty. It was a rather strange experience.
After 10 years in Utah, I began to see much of Mormon theology in a very different light -- tinted somewhat by my upbringing in a mainline Protestant denomination (The Disciples of Christ Christian Church -- which Sidney Rigdon belonged to prior to meeting up with Joseph Smith and converting). It was an interesting journey -- one that I detailed in my 2001 best-selling book, A Stranger In Zion (out of print now except for a few copies I've saved).
It was a strange journey yet one that put me on a sound footing for finding my ultimate spiritual path. Like Jeddu Krishnamurti, I came to find that truth truly is a pathless land, often one that requires many detours.