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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Atheism, Featured, Secularism | 10 comments

5 Insanely Interesting Things I Learned About Mormons from cracked.com

mormon_missionary21Clicking on a link to cracked.com is like opening a bag of chips—one leads to another, and then another, and then another, and before you know it you’ve polished off the whole bag spent hours tracking from 7 Disgusting Parasites You Didn’t Know You Had through to 15 Terrifying Facts About Kittens, by which time it’s two in the morning and you’re all out of chips.  Normally, I would conceal this as a guilty pleasure, but a link I ran across today cries out to be shared.

5 Hardcore Realities of My Time as a Mormon Missionary looks at the world through the eyes of one of those short-haired clean-cut white-shirted apparent aliens who occasionally teleport onto our doorsteps to talk to us about Jesus and stuff.  It’s a great article.  Here is what I learned:

#1. The kids (they’re mostly kids) not only don’t get paid for their two years of missionizing – they pay for the privilege, to the tune of ten to twelve grand.  They are adjured to start saving up their pennies from, like, early childhood, so they can afford to spend eighteen months to two years as the cult equivalent of door-to-door salesmen.  Families are also expected to help out, on top of their mandatory tithe, fast offerings, and other contributions.

#2. The kids are prepared for their servitude at a missionary training centre, a kind of boot camp with overtones of  1984 and Dotheboys Hall, where ten hours a day are spent studying the bible – which boils down to memorizing scripts for converting the heathen (anybody who is not a Mormon).  Anything remotely entertaining, from snowball fights to masturbation, is verboten. So is privacy.

#3. You can forget about trying to trap the kids into a doorstep conversation about, say, the Mountain Meadows massacre.  If it’s not in the script, it’s not on the menu.

#4. The kids’ results are achieved and assessed rather creatively in the Glengarry Glen Ross mode: Always Be Converting.  Fortunately, a lot of the converted don’t stay that way.

#5. Mormon missionaries, contrary to appearances, are actually human.  Who knew?

I Can Prepare post card copy

10 Comments

  1. I saw that yesterday. Made me shudder.

  2. As a recovered Mormon who was literally born in Salt Lake City, I can assure you that this depiction is more or less accurate… That said, if someone put a gun to my head and told me I could either take a religion or a bullet, I’d choose Mormon crazy over Pentecostal crazy all day long. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LACyLTsH4ac

    I mean I wouldn’t term one as fundamentally crazier than the other, (even attempting such comparisons is its self pretty crazy) but I would deem Mormon crazy at least the more dignified of the two… (As long as you don’t look too close at the underwear, anyway.)

    • Thanks for the comment and the link. Yikes. I mean, YIKES. Beyond horrific.

      As for the underwear, I have no intention of looking at it. :) Though it would be singularly unexciting anyway….

      As an aside, I note that instructions to missionaries specified they must bring 10-12 sets of the underwear. And 10-12 white shirts. Which could explain a lot.

      • Nah, that’s just because they don’t go shopping for clothes their entire two year mission so they need enough of both to last the entire time. Often families will have to mail them care packages with new shoes and such if things wear out faster then expected.

        Interestingly they actually suggest mailing your missionary child shoes in two separate packages if your sending them to third world countries with unreliable mail service as it helps deter theft by local postal workers, who would steal a pair of nice shoes but will leave just a left or right shoe alone.

        The magic underwear doesn’t show up until after you marry in a Mormon temple.

        • Very interesting about the shoes. Here’s a link to the list of things the kids have to pack – note that the girls have to bring temple garments AND underthings, while the boys just have to bring temple garments. What’s that about? Also interesting is the list of things they CAN”T take, including laptops, cards and games, any books not on an excruciatingly boring-sounding list, and so forth. http://www.mormonmissionprep.com/preparing-for-a-mission/lds-missionary-clothing-list/

          • “What’s that about?” is a bigger question than one might think. In order to understand “what’s up with the underwear” you must first understand, “what’s up with the temple garb?” Understanding this in turn requires you know, “What’s up with the temples.”

            I will attempt to explain it without writing a book. (Apologies if I fail at brevity.)

            Firstly the there’s a huge distinction in the Mormon religion between churches and temples. Churches are open to anyone; they are places of casual worship where guests and visitors are more than welcome to come to observe their interminably LONG services (3 to 4 hours). Temples on the other hand are like the holy of holy’s in ancient jewish tradition. They are massive cathedral like structures crafted of stone and heavily decorated in gold leaf. They are also closed to the general public. Most temples will have a visitor’s center on the temple grounds separate from the structure of the temple its self and that is as close as most outsiders will ever get to the temple proper.

            Entry into the temples are closely regulated, most members of the church will only go there a handful of times in their lives for very specific Mormon rites. You don’t simply go on a whim. First you must petition your local bishop, he will then contact the temple and verify that you are a member in good standing and arrange your visit. On the day of your visit you are met at the door by essentially a handler who will take you to a locker room to change into your temple garb.

            This is where the temple garb starts to make sense (sort of). You see in order to be permitted to enter you must not bring impurity into the temple with you. So you literally shower and then dress in special garments designed preserve the sanctity of the temple. The temple garbs are special clothes of pure white. No color is permitted in the temple garb. Not even on your socks and undergarments. Your shoes and street clothes stay in a locker and you will be dressed in white slippers and temple garb before you are permitted to cross the threshold into the temple proper. (Your handler attends you in the locker room and makes sure your underwear is in fact regulation).

            Once your ablutions and dressing are complete your handler will conduct you into the temple proper and escort you to the ritual chambers for whatever rite your visit was arranged to perform (most often, a Marriage, Sealing ceremony, or Baptism for the dead.) Once your temple rite is completed you are then escorted back to the locker room to change and leave. They take it super seriously and you’re never permitted to just wander around and gawk.

            This brings us to the disparity between underwear for boys and girls. This stems largely from the disparity in coloration of undergarments between boys and girls. In a Mormon family it’s a pretty safe bet that the boys are all universally wearing tighty whiteys, which will typically pass muster for temple garb (absent too many skid marks).

            Girl underwear on the other hand even in insular religious communities comes in a wide variety of colors and prints that would be unacceptably visible once they get wet. Since missionaries are expected to dedicate at decent amount of their time to temple works, (which may included baptism by total immersion on behalf of the deceased) special consideration must be given to ensure that girls bring appropriately pure white panties.

          • Yep… Totally failed at brevity.

          • Very glad you failed. That’s fascinating. Being a member in good standing, and therefore eligible to visit a temple – that means being up to date on the tithing, right? Any other criteria?

            PS – I now know more than I ever thought I’d know about Mormon undies. :)

          • The classic Mormon undies are the temple garments worn after you are married in the temple. As a constant reminder of your covenant with God. Missionaries would not wear them however as the church will not accept you as a missionary if you have a spouse.

            Surprisingly “good standing” in this case does not depend on being paid up on your tithes. As a practical matter, the church doesn’t have access to your financial records and so are not in a position to know if you are accurately setting aside your 10% for the church. Fundamentally while there is a strong expectation that you will tithe and considerable social pressure to conform to that expectation, it remains essentially a voluntary contribution.

            In this case “good standing” means 1 you have legitimate business in the temple. 2 you have not been dis-fellowshipped from the church. This is the penalty imposed on people who bring shame on the church or commit grievous sins. For example a member of the community who is caught at or confesses to adultery will lose fellowship for some period of time while he seeks repentance.

            Mostly it’s just confirming that you are in fact a true member of the church. The bishop has to know you and your family and believe that your intentions are pure and you’re not going to go and try to surreptitiously record weird Mormon rites for your youtube channel.

            These are pics or the classic Mormon underwear in question.

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