Friday, September 22, 2006

Spotlight on Mormonism

Today I'm gathering up my posts on Mormonism!!!

The Mishies and Me: Cultural Mormon nostalgia
Those of you who live in Utah are constantly reminded of Mormonism, so a subtle distinction like whether a given person believes it's real or not seems like a big deal to you. But here in France, Mormonism is so freakishly rare that it makes sense that all of us "cultural Mormons" should stick together.

Cultural Mormon: Who are these apostates coming down, coming down?
This may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the apostates are even more offended by the sex talk than the Mormons. This is because I'm promoting the negative stereotype that people who leave the church are mostly depraved perverts.

So for the sake of my apostate friends, I feel compelled to tell you all that I do not necessarily represent the typical apostate. Many apostates are just as somber out of the church as they ever were in it. And I personally know plenty of apostates who are not at all sex maniacs nor hard-core partiers. Too bad for them, really, but to each his own.

Authentic faith-promoting anecdote for my LDS friends
I'm copying it here because it made me laugh, and hopefully I won't accidentally strenghten anyone's testimony with it... ;-)

Standing up for Your (Former) Beliefs
If the kids take up a religion once they're grown, whether we like it or not there's not a whole lot we can do about it. Sure we could threaten to disown them, but that's not really realistic. We have only two kids. We can't go around disowning them willy-nilly over trivialities like what religions they choose for themselves. If we did, we'd pretty quickly find ourselves with no kids at all, and then who would we annoy during our golden years? Think about that.

Cults vs. cult-like behavior
Now I'm not ignorant of the dangers of blind, unquestioning, overzealous obedience to authority. I'm just not convinced that the danger is something unique to organizations that fit a particular list of list of cult criteria.

The Mishies and Me II: The Revenge
For my husband's sake, I kept a very close eye on the mishies to make sure they weren't surreptitiously teaching Leo to sing "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission". I almost think it would have been kind of funny if they had taught him to sing that, but only because I have a really perverse sense of humor. Of course I wouldn't be laughing so hard anymore seventeen years later when LDS Inc. sends my little Leo to Bolivia or something, so I guess it's just as well that the mishies didn't try to indoctrinate him.

The Mishies and Me: The Rest of the Story
Inevitably, they asked me why I stopped believing. I gave them some variant on my usual response, which is the following: "Look, I don't want to debate you on this. I've looked at the questions of god existing and the Book of Mormon being true and all that, and for me the evidence just isn't there. But I assume you've already heard all of the same arguments, so it's pointless for me to repeat them to you. I understand that these are hard questions, so it doesn't bother me if other people come up with a different solution than mine."

More musings on mishies
But really, I try to avoid taking the attitude of "Aren't you the cutest little thing? When you grow up, you'll see it's all a fairy tale." Because that does nothing but insult them.

They're adults, off on their own (sort of), and have chosen to go through this difficult-yet-wacky rite of passage. And I have no particular reason to think that any of the ones I talk to will ever leave the church.

What? I'm not an apostate???
So for (1), even though I talk publicly about the LDS church in my blog and novel, it's not so much "opposition" as it is random snide comments and amusing anecdotes. For (2), if people ask me questions about what Mormons believe I'll answer them, and if any of my responses are inaccurate, at least no "bishop or higher authority" has told me to cut it out. For (3) I'm guessing that neither "Outer Blogness" nor Exmo-Social count as "apostate sects" because they sure as hell haven't encouraged me to practice polygamy...

What would have happened?
In my opinion, a few people watching the interview would have said "Hmm, that's pretty weird," and that would have been the end of it. I don't think that such an interview would have made a single negative blip for the LDS church on the news scene. Because none of it is news. Everyone knows that different religions believe different things, and the doctrines of Mormonism aren't a secret.

A nice compliment...
Okay, so I'm not so keen on the "evil" part, but I like the characterization of exmormons as the type of people who respond with lots of questions when taught bizarre things.

Jewish kids at Christmas...
It's a complicated situation, but I think everyone can understand some of the emotions involved for the kids -- the mixed feelings of wanting to be true to your traditions and people while on some level feeling like it might be nice to join in what's going on in the outside world instead of having to be different all the time.

my excommunication
I remember thinking this was pretty cool but wondering why my patriarichal blessing said nothing about this calling if it was important enough for an angel to intervene. But, y'know, those patriarichal blessings are really hit-or-miss sometimes....

In theory, the book might still have been originally written for Americans since Americans also occasionally go on trips to Paris. But the clincher was the page of ideas on how to beautifully set off one's photos of little boys peeing against a tree.

Perhaps you think I'm joking. If only I were joking. Sadly, I am not joking.

A handy guide to different types of Mormons
inactive Mormon: Someone who is listed as a member on the LDS church records but is MIA as far as the LDS church is concerned. Theoretically this applies mostly to people who might be "reactivated", however in practice it could be anything. Including dead.


Freckle Face Girl said...

I don't mind missionaries either, although I think in the 7+ years I've lived in Miami, they have only showed up at my door twice. We usually only get Jehovah’s witnesses that don’t speak English. My husband and I always honk & wave when we see missionaries on their bikes though.

The Sinister Porpoise said...

Geeze, don't check her blog for two days and you miss three posts.

Strangely enough my blog turns 1 year old this week as well.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Freckle Face Girl!!!

Yeah, it's kind of amusing to chat with them, but if you're far enough away from the corridor, you don't get the same kind of love bombing... ;-)

Hey Sinister Porpoise!!!

What a fun coincidence!!!

I had cut back to posting only once every two or three days, but I'm posting every day this week since it's just review. :D

Rebecca said...

Someone how I got to your "Girlhood Dreams" post (through a link in a comment of one of the posts here) -- SO FUNNY!!! I was laughing hysterically.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Rebecca!!!

That thing about trying to have a vision in ordder to become prophet isn't made up, BTW... ;-)

Rebecca said...

That's why it's so great! I love that when you couldn't get a vision you thought, "Hey, I'll make one up, write a book, and get people to join my religion!" You really were destined to either become an atheist or a fanatic religious leader. I would have LOVED to see what sort of religion you came up with.

C. L. Hanson said...

But... isn't that what everybody does when they don't get a vision on the first try? ;-)

voynix said...

I need to say that I´ve read interesting things here. I hope to have time for returning. Usually I prefer to hear, but I´m interested about your concept of freedom, liberté I mean. Maybe I have a different cultural origins, and sorry for my english.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Voynix!!!

I hope you do come back!!!

I like to exchange ideas with people from different cultural backgrounds to see different perspectives. :D