Steve and I have been in three different wards since we got married (more than 8 years ago!!). Our downtown ward was 80% over the age of 70 (no joke; the clerk did the math!); our ward here is populated by a variety of people whose main commonalities seem to be the beliefs that 1) you're *born* into a ward and 2) education is something deeply, deeply suspicious; our Orem ward, on the other hand, was filled with people who were SO FAR RIGHT on the conservative spectrum, that they literally weren't Republicans anymore. They'd have 13 kids and an orchard from which they'd can peaches and they'd sit on the porch with their guns and 13 un-immunized, homeschooled children, waiting for Armageddon to come.
Basically, as a former-NPR reporter married to a writing professor--both of us youngsters with multiple degrees and absolutely no desire to can peaches or have 13 children--we've never fit in *anywhere.* But you might be surprised to learn that our favorite ward wasn't downtown (where, I learned today after chatting with my friend Craig, that a seriously fun drinking game would be "spot the Prius or Obama banner!")(if I drank, of course) and it's not where we live now.
It was the Armageddon ward.
The people there were WACK, no doubt about it. Men were superior, women baked banana bread, no one went to public school, and EVERY church meeting somehow devolved into a rant about the importance of Food Supply and Emergency readiness.
But they were *kind* to us.
They might have looked at us like we were slightly... odd... but they never said anything mean. They got to know us immediately. They always invited us to their Armageddon-preparedness events. They did their best to figure out what we were good at and how we could fit into the ward. They asked me to arrange music and play the piano and they asked Steve to run the Elder's Quorum, and they wouldn't stop gushing about how good we were at it. When we had to move out of the ward for Steve's job, the entire young women's organization showed up to help me deep-clean my house--and they wouldn't let me pay them. Women brought me banana bread and they commiserated with how difficult it was to have a little baby at home. They bought my baby books and treated him like he was practically God's gift to all babies. And when they were nice to us? There was never a sense that "Oh, they're our service project," or "oh, look how odd they are, they must need fellowshipping..." They were just... nice.
We learned one, terribly important, lesson the year we lived there: People will forgive ALL KINDS of crazy if you're kind.
It didn't matter that they thought the US government was going to crumble in a matter of weeks or that they obsessed about canning peaches and shooting deer: they were our favorite.
Crazy doesn't matter when you're kind.
(And it probably won't matter at the END of DAYS, either.)