During my mission in Guatemala, I heard the following joke several times:
What is the truest church? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What is the second truest church? La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días.
While this may be horribly culturally imperialist I’ve come to believe it. Only in reverse.
Ever since my mission I have preferred to take my escrituras to church, and I usually sing the first verse of the hymns in Spanish. In the beginning this was certainly influenced by the sheer coolness of being an RM. But it is also partly because the scriptures are easier to understand in Spanish, especially when someone else reads them in English and I can follow along in Spanish. And I must admit that I like to translate when called upon to read. But I realized today that, especially recently, there may be another reason, namely that I have more faith in Spanish. I know that sounds weird, and it might not be true, but I think it is.
I recently remembered a study I had read earlier indicating that bilingual people may have “different personalities” when using different languages. This got me thinking, maybe the reason that I believe more in La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días is simply that my brain thinks differently in Spanish.
The natural question is “Why might this be?” For me it’s most likely linked to my missionary service. The vast majority of my Spanish experience was in a church setting, and more specifically in a teaching, preaching, and testifying setting. Perhaps if I knew how to say descent with modification in Spanish I wouldn’t have a difference in belief. But of course I don’t know how to say that, nor do I know how to conjecture that the product of two faithful irreducible characters of a solvable group is never irreducible. I do know how to say restauración, arrepentimiento, and “Yo sé que Jesucristo vive y es nuestro salvador.” Is it any wonder then that I think differently in different languages? I also remember being much less afraid of strangers while on my mission, and for a short time thereafter if I spoke to them in Spanish. It had become my language of boldness.
I am constantly amazed at how the mind works, and I wonder what else might effect “personality.” Certainly being in different company will but, for example, do sedentary people act differently when active? Or city people behave differently when in nature? I guess I’ll have to pay attention.