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Friday, June 15, 2012

On the Topic of Your Freaky Mormon Neighbors

By Calibas (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I've been completely avoiding, since the inception of this blog, the topic of Mormonism.  I haven't wanted to open the box of my packed away Mormon experience.  It seemed prudent to, at least, wait a number of years before looking back on it in a public forum.

However, as I was writing the Sacred Heart post, I realized something.  I spend a great deal of time and effort in the vein of fostering understanding, or at the least, tolerance, among religious groups...but haven't offered a wit to my Mormon ancestors, friends, and family members.

This is, in part, due to the fact that I love them, and hold very dear my family heritage, which sentiments fall  in sharp contrast to the fact that I have had my name removed from the records of the L.D.S. (Mormon) church.  It is also due to the fact that there are emotions involved, and, like attachment parenting, it is our story, our business, I suppose.

I imagine, though, that eighteen years under the bridge is enough time to look back with some clarity.

I am not at all interested in arguing the validity of the L.D.S. faith.  I made well researched decisions about that, which is why I left it.  I will, however, say only this: When someone tells me that he/she holds Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I accept it, at face value, and leave the question of that person's eternal welfare to God.

What I am cautiously interested in talking about, is your Mormon neighbors.  People are fond of talking about their Mormon neighbors, so I might as well join in.

Here are popular topics that I will chime in on:

1.  Your Mormon Neighbors Wear Funny Underwear.

It's true.  (Of some of them, anyway.) How weird is that?

It's about as weird as the katchera of a Sikh,  the tallit of the Jew, or the habit of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican religious.

LDS name tagsA Mormon makes sacred covenants in the temple.  Some of those covenants are promises that would bless the lives of the members of any faith tradition. Once they are made, an undergarment is worn daily that reminds the individual of those covenants.  I would venture to say that more than one person on this Earth might think twice about sin, if he or she had to commit it while wearing....or while removing...a garment that brings to remembrance promises made to, and before, God.  And, in this era of immodesty, many folks could use an knee length undergarment to inform their clothing choices.

Besides, having cotton under your bra is darned comfortable.  So, get over it.

2.  Your Mormon Neighbors Participate in Weird Ceremonies.

Some Mormons attend the temple.  The things that happen in the temple are held "close to the vest" by Mormons.  Some would say they are secret; Mormons would call them sacred.  However one wishes to characterize it, it is not much different from Orthodox allowing only clergy through the Royal Doors of the iconostasis, or, Catholics, and others, only allowing certain people to partake of communion.  It is, to borrow exquisite terminology from Frederica Mathewes-Greene, akin to "reserving marital relations until after the wedding".  Religious groups are entitled to decide what they hold sacred, and, based on deeply held beliefs, how to keep it that way.

As to the content of the temple ceremony, I made a promise once, and, out of respect for my Mormon ancestors, friends, and family, I keep it.  But I don't mind saying that most...seriously...most, of what I hear about "what goes on in the temple" is relatively inaccurate...or at least skewed in its presentation.  I happen to think that the content of the L.D.S. temple ceremonies is largely warmed-over Masonry trapped in nineteenth century presentation...but if truth be known, it is not all that weird.  I don't believe that it holds any Christian validity...but it is, still, not all that weird.  You wouldn't be bowled over.  The interiors of the temples are beautiful though.  You might be bowled over by that.

So..let it go.  It's not worth the gossip.  Honestly folks.

3.  Mormons Don't Know What They Believe.
Mormon Pioneer handcart statue
By Peculiar Light at en.wikipedia. Later version(s)
were uploaded by Gh5046  at en.wikipedia. 

Excuse me?

As to what the church teaches at this point in time...Mormons are pretty darned well catechized.  There are three hours of church for Mormons on Sunday, and at least two of them are education.  They are also pretty thorough about the education of prospective members.

Please don't tell them that they don't know either what they believe, or what their church teaches.  They do.

Regarding the matter of whether Mormon teachings, positions, and tradition have changed over time...that is a separate issue.  If you are going to talk to them about that...then please call it that.  Don't be insulting, and, ...enough with the elitist gossip already.

4.  Those Guys on the Bicycles...

My husband was one of those guys.  He benefited greatly from it.  He is no longer a Mormon, but the fruits of his Mormon upbringing are many.  I have a decent, caring, morally steadfast husband.  I owe a good measure of that to his Mormon childhood and youth.

I have done my share of volunteering in youth programs and conventions in mainline Christian settings.  You're probably not going to like it, but I'm going to tell you something.  As a group,...(not necessarily on an individual by individual basis on either side)...., I have seen no youth like Mormon youth.  There is something to be said for being immersed in a close knit culture that promotes purity and righteousness. Truth be told, from a purely cultural standpoint, I'd be much less concerned about the prospect of my daughter's search for a good husband, if we were still moving in Mormon circles.  That doesn't mean I agree with Mormon doctrine, or that I for one millisecond would wish for my daughter to marry outside of our well considered, dearly held, and carefully chosen faith.   It just means that I think we ought to lay off the guys on the bicycles, and not be quite so haughty about our own youth culture.

So then...

I haven't really decided whether I'm going to leave comments open on this one. Mormonism, like Christian headcovering and Catholic devotion to such things as the Sacred Heart of Jesus, can leave people frothing at the mouth...and I am rather fond of peace.

Nevertheless, regardless of the outcome of the combox decision:

...Like it or not, that is what this old broad has to say about that.

Blessings, dear ones,

An addendum:
In response to a sincere comment, here is an added point...

5.  They Perform Ordinances for Dead People

Seriously, they do.

Mormons believe that there are necessary sacraments, such as baptism and temple ordinances, that can only be performed here on Earth.  They believe that these ordinances are pretty important.  So important, in fact, that they make sure that everyone in their families has a chance to accept them.  For this reason, they spend a great deal of time and effort researching their family trees and going to the temple on behalf of family members, and others, who have died, in order to receive those sacraments in the stead of those deceased persons.  They do so with the belief that those deceased persons have the option of accepting or rejecting those ordinances (sacraments) which have been performed for them by proxy.  That's what all that genealogy stuff is about.

One might suggest that this is unbiblical or inconsistent with historic Christianity. Although I did quite a bit of temple work in my Mormon years, I would agree.  But, is it really that different, on the scale of "weirdness", from Catholics/Orthodox/Anglicans offering prayers for the dead, or godparents sponsoring and answering for an infant in baptism?  You may not agree with it, or any of those practices, for that matter...but it is difficult to deny that those actions are rooted in love.


If that one made you frown, you might enjoy upping the crankiness factor with this one:
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  1. Amen!

    Live in peace and tolerance of each others beliefs - you Michelle and I both know it can be done, we do it!

  2. Thank you for your comments. My FIL is a practicing Mormon and this is what others say about him. He doesn't talk about his faith much but tries to live it to some extent. He is devoted to his family and is a good father and grandfather.

    I see you didn't discuss the geneology stuff though...

    1. You're right! Thanks. It does merit discussion. An addendum has been added.

  3. I was worried at the beginning but think you were balanced and just in your comments. Thank you for sharing at NOBH.


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