Why does it sometimes take a non-member to remind us of why we stay LDS?The following was my answer to that question:
Because a non-member can admire "pure Mormonism" from afar without having to work in the trenches amid the tension between the ideal and the real.
He can be an observer. We are the farmers - working in the mud and the muck and the manure trying to grow something beautiful and sweet. We need the observers, but we need the farmers just as much, if not more. Without the farmers, the observers would have nothing to observe.
I also loved the focus on "pure Mormonism" in the article. Yes, it gets messy in the trenches, when "The Church" (the collective "We actually are", at the most fundamental level) doesn't match the ideal for which we long - but the underlying grandeur and mind-blowing expansiveness of the core, pure theology shines through our pitiful attempts to understand and live it when the light hits the diamonds just right, so to speak. Even after all these years, I stil get blinded by the light when I step back a bit and let it shine.
To change analogies, it's even more brilliant when the full orchestral sound washes around me and penetrates my soul (body and spirit combined) - when I experience those moments of communal harmony that make my heart-strings hum and vibrate in tune with it all.
I wish so badly that the entire Church was like that - even if only somewhat regularly. I wish each ward and branch and stake had those moments on a regular basis - when Zion emerges and flows inward and outward - when the concept and the principle of the City of Enoch (another grand allegory and symbol, imo) comes into focus a bit more clearly and I actually can understand what it might be like to be caught up into heaven with people I love and who love me. I know it's not like that fully, even in my own ward that really is wonderful in so many ways - and I understand why others get disheartened when they rarely or never experience it week after soul-numbing week - but I've seen it and I can see it and I know it's possible - and the theological foundation of "pure Mormonism" is why I have seen it and can see it and know it's possible.