Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Can It Truly Be That I Converted a Mormon?

by mev

I was pretty sure I knew more about other religions that the average American. My belief was based on the knowledge that came from (a) growing up Unitarian (the junior high curriculum was called The Church Across the Street and has evolved to the Neighboring Faiths curriculum that my seventh grader is in), (b) teaching RE for years, and (c) a general nosiness, uh, interest in other people's lives.

The Mormons were mostly a mystery, though, until I met Philomytha. As I got to know her, I realized I might have an opportunity to get some inside answers to questions I'd been holding onto ever since reading a couple of Washington Post articles some years earlier.

When I felt comfortable, I boldly asked about her underwear (yes, Mormons wear special undergarments to help remind them of their covenant) and why Mormons baptize dead people (so they have the choice of accepting Mormon teachings and going to the good Mormon afterlife). Note: these are my simplified interpretations of much longer answers.

With that stuff out of the way, I wanted to learn more so I had several meetings with the local Mormon missionaries. I am not sure whether they really understood that I simply wanted more info in order to better understand my new friend, Philomytha. At the end of the four meetings, I thanked the guys and told them what I'd told them all along--Unitarian Universalism works for me and I have no intention of converting.

And that's where my first Aha! insight came along. Despite my belief that I knew a lot about other religions, I'd been operating under an assumption that is simply not true! It is this: We all believe that a person's religion ought to work for him or her; that is, that it ought to be a good fit. And if it isn't, then you search for a religion that is a good fit for you.

As Philomytha and AdventureGirl (another Mormon friend) talked about their church, expressing their concerns and, yes, complaints, I offered what I thought was a simple and true statement, "It sounds like your church doesn't work for you." But my friends were surprised that I thought their religion ought to work for them.

Wow. It was mind-boggling to me that it was mind-boggling to them.

So, now here we are: AdventureGirl and her family have moved overseas (her husband is military) and are taking a year off Mormonism to follow their spiritual paths, and Philomytha and her kids are spending a sabbatical year jumping into my UU congregation.


Philomytha said...

Yeah, that was quite a disconnect!!! If your church isn't working for you, you should find a new church.


That isn't a viable option when you belong to the "one True church". If it's not working for you it's because you're not praying enough, keeping the commandments well enough, reading your scriptures enough, having family prayer and family home evening, or you're just not humble enough. If you fix what you are doing wrong, then the church will work for you.

I've gotten past that part of it now, finally, though I will always be Mormon. It's my tribe. :)

Urban Koda said...

If your church isn't working for you, you should find a new church.

I like that. I think I was told a similar thing a year or two back. After recounting a rather disconcerting situation I'd found myself in during Sunday services, a good friend suggested that it might be time to consider that I was in a dysfunctional relationship with the LDS Church. Like many things in life, I think when you're in it, it's hard to see things objectively.

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