To be a Mormon among Mormons is to realize the American fantasy of good neighbors. They're the kind of neighbors from whom you borrow a cup of sugar and whom you trust to pick up your children from school when you're stuck in a meeting. They invite you over on summer evenings for lemonade at the table in the backyard next to the hydrangeas. You eat their Jell-O salad at picnics. (Lime Jell-O is so popular among Mormons that the corridor of Mormon communities from Utah to Idaho is often called "the Jell-O Belt.") And, of course, you see them every Sunday at church.
Joseph, 27, lives just west of Salt Lake City in a Mormon ward that spans a couple of streets. His church is just down the road, and the bishop, who presides over the ward, lives around the corner. Most of his neighbors are active within the Church, and when Joseph first moved in, he was, too. After he and his wife began trying to start a family, they became particularly close to their neighbors across the street who were older and had children of their own. The couple included them in all of their entertaining. The neighbors didn't have an ice maker, so, often, one of them would swing by to pillage Joseph's ice and chat. Their friendship was a paradigm of neighbordom, which inspires envy in this writer, whose interactions with her neighbors are limited to whacking the wall with a Swiffer when their music is too loud.