Monday, June 6, 2011
Notes I was reading from:
There are three statements I see repeatedly from people leaving comments on these "...And I'm a Mormon" videos, that I'd like to expound upon:
- What's the point?
- Your career success is your accomplishment, your religion has nothing to do with it.
- Is this a stealth campaign for Mitt Romney?
The point of these ads is straightforward, there's no hidden motive, there's a lot of unreasonable prejudice against us, and prejudice is always defeated when you get to know the people you've been prejudiced against, and see that they're just regular folks, not all that different from yourself.
I joined the Mormon Church when I was 19-years-old, and here's a rude little introduction I got to what I was in store for.
Around that time a friend stopped by, someone I was attracted to, who was actively dating guys within our circle of friends, but the two of us never got together. She had a couple of her friends with her. While we were making introductions, she blurts out, "He's a Mormon", and I saw their reaction to me change.
I called her aside and told her, "You bring girls over to meet a guy, then you torpedo any chance I had with them...thanks a lot".
A lot of people seem to have the idea that the way Mormons live, and the way Mormons think, is somehow significantly different.
Growing up, about the only thing I "knew", and I put "knew" in quotations, about Mormons, was that they were a restrictive religion, that has a lot of rules imposed on them.
I decided to Join when someone explained what Mormonism was really all about. Miracles in modern times, and the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, because by 1830 old Christianity was broken beyond repair and a new start was needed. In my searches I found that all the other churches have is the Bible, and their differing understandings of it, I was excited to find the one church that had something more than that.
I didn't have missionaries hounding me, in fact my first several requests for them to visit me went nowhere.
As a convert, I know the differences between life as a Mormon, and life as a non-Mormon. Is it really that restrictive? Let's see...what do I do without, that I would otherwise have...what do a not go out and do for fun, that I would otherwise do?
We'll start out with the, quote, "restriction", that Mormons are the most famous for. Before I joined I picked up a taste for beer, and there have been some brief times since joining the church when I have gone back to drinking it. I couldn't tell you the difference between a pilsner and a lager, and I don't really care.
Wine, I don't really get the point of. The same goes for any sipping beverage, hot or cold. Give me something I can gulp so I can get the food down. Bars are not comfortable places for me, even if I hadn't found the church I don't see that I'd be spending much time there. Shots or mixed drinks, I have no use for them, whatsoever.
The prevailing view among Mormons is that it is morally wrong to drink, period. My perspective differs, slightly. In my view, there's no basis in the New Testament for the Old Testament concept of becoming "unclean" through sin continuing into the new covenant.
Jesus said (Matt. 15:11,16-20; Mark 7:14-23)... It's not what goes into the mouth that defiles us, it's the words that come out of it.
When I look at all the damage alcohol does in this society, I think that avoiding it altogether is the wisest counsel. Moderation is a concept subject to interpretation, and not getting a taste for alcohol in the first place you're not going to have a problem of use escalating to excess.
Recent wedding reception... the bride was someone I knew, raised in the church...disrespectful of her family members. I can relate to enjoying a beer, but I don't get those who think that not having alcohol at a social gathering somehow diminishes their enjoyment.
The sabbath day, the fourth of the ten commandments, is something that we take seriously. It is against our religion to work, shop, play sports, or go out to a paid meal in a restaurant on our Sabbath. (Since we're not fundamentalists, we don't insist that the Sabbath must be on Saturday). If you invote me to a Barbecue on Sunday, I'll politely decline, so let's have it on Saturday.
Oh, and the so-called "magic underwear". Instead of putting a symbol on a chain around my neck, I have three symbols sewn on my undershirt, and one over my knee. Why anyone would find any kind of prurient curiosity in this, I don't know. When I began wearing them, I was told that they would be a shield and a protection as long as I am worthy. This does not say that they're going to save me from internal injuries in an auto crash, or from having my flesh burned in a fire. I see them much like like a "wwjd" bracelet, a constant reminder of my faith and the need to strive for a higher standard of conduct because of it.
That's it. We do the same jobs (except for being a bartender), play the same sports, enjoy the same hobbies as everybody else. Some difference.
The things that my faith takes away from me are pretty minimal, now let's look at everything it gives me.
Most important is all the divine truth it has brought to my awareness, enabling me to form a deeply personally fulfilling world view that is both magical and reasonable. I'll post a link for my blog entry, "Why I believe, not your typical Mormon testimony". (Link)
It's given me a community. Mormonism is not just you go for a Sunday sermon and a weekday night Bible study, it's a very well put together social and practical support system. Through a coordinated effort, my Utah neighborhood averted flooding in 1983, and this Winter's snowpack poses a very real threat of those conditions reoccurring this year. My wife is recovering from a major surgery. Soon my employer plans to send me out of state for a project. The ladies at church have been eager to offer their help.
This church offers me many ways to help those in need.
Mormonism is what you make of it, and I have made something positive of it.
I am a success because of my religion.
At 19, I was a mess, completely unprepared by the California public school system to function as a self-sustaining and productive adult member of society. If you had the determination, they had the advanced classes, otherwise, there were no plans or programs in place to inspire the unmotivated, they just push you through, until they push you out the door. Need I say anything about what happened after graduation, when I enrolled in the local community college?
Some friends at church suggested full-time missionary service as a means to get my head on straight and my life in order. After being a member for just a year and a half, I got my call from the church to serve in England.
When I returned, I re-enrolled, and this time was productive.
This has run on long enough, so on the matter of Mitt Romney I'll be brief. The church does not endorse political candidates, and although Romney highly regarded in the Mormon community, there are a lot of us who don't want him, or the other Mormon planning to run, Jon Huntsman, Jr., in the Oval Office. My objections to Romney are detailed in a previous blog entry, (Link), and as the campaign progresses, I'll be adding remarks about Huntsman if I see him making any significant gains.