Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is He a Mormon?

I remember when I was in fifth grade, when we lived in Orem, Utah, a new girl moved into our class. She was Catholic. I just realized her name was Mary, but never connected her Catholicism with her name until this very second. I remember asking her, "Why don't you want to be a Mormon?" For some reason she didn't have a very clear response. I was kind of feeling like, "Don't you realize everyone here is Mormon? Why don't you be Mormon, too?"

I also remember one day after coming home from somewhere, we had been listening to Paul Simon in the car. We were a serious listening-to-music family. I think we were all pretty passionate about some of that music. Paul Simon was a favorite. I had been looking at the cassette cover of the Hearts and Bones tape. A question suddenly sprung into my head and I asked my dad, "Dad, is Paul Simon Mormon?" My poor dad sort of stopped for a minute and said, "No. . . I don't think so." "Why not? How do you know?" I was just sure such a kindred spirit MUST share my religious views. Dad stammered out something about how he'd been married three or four times or something, maybe the first thing he could think of that doesn't sound so typically LDS. I still wasn't convinced. How does a parent teach a child that not everyone believes what they (and everyone they know) do/does?

Well, now I understand. The world has done a great deal of shrinking and showing it's bad side since I was a kid, and I don't think my kids will be asking me if Christina Aguillera is a Mormon (although her roots are extremely surprising/depressing). Actually, I hope they won't be asking anything about her. I wouldn't really mind all that much if they never hear of her, to be perfectly honest. And really, I'm such a prude (stupid, stupid word) that I wouldn't mind if they never watch any movies or listen to any music ever, really, with the way things are looking these days. Just kidding, I'm not that big of a freak, but I sure am thankful for Screen It. com and try to be aware of what kind of people are behind the songs we listen to, in case my kids start to idolize them. (Like Greg turns off anything by Madonna, which is soooo sad to me when "La Isla Bonita" comes on. Or lots of her other songs that I like.)

Okay, so I don't really have a direction with this post. But I'll just end by saying that I'm grateful for prominent members of our church who set a good example. I like this video about famous Mormons. I love that there are few if any to be ashamed of. One of the comments under this video in the past said something about, "who cares that some normal, well known people are Mormon! There are far more (insert religion)s who are famous." Then giving a list of the very kinds of people who I want to keep my kids from having too much exposure to (obviously not because they are of that religion, but because they very openly live in discord with the teaching of the religion they proclaim so proudly to be theirs).

So even though I grew up naive, like most kids, not understanding why anyone wouldn't share my religion, I am so super grateful that it is not a religion that encourages its members to stay put. Instead it encourages us to learn and grow and be certain for ourselves that we aren't just following the crowd, or sticking with the things we grew up with. I find it funny when some of Greg's "friends" on youtube talk about the Mormon sheep, doing whatever we are told. Being brainwashed etc. A Mormon sheep is one who does not follow councel. We are councelled not to follow "because they say so." We seek knowledge for ourselves and then are required to act upon that knowledge. I like that method. (But I also think it's funny when Mr. Benson, whatever his first name was, criticized the church and talked about "Pray, pay, and obey!" and I was all, "Well, that does sort of sum it up, doesn't it?" Baaaa)
I probably shouldn't have used specific names, because there are a jillion I could have chosen from, but, well, I did.

15 comments:

Kazzy said...

Ironically, being a convert I LOVED the feeling of unity and solidarity in the church. It was very attractive to me. I loved feeling like one of the "sheep" because previously I had felt so on my own. So, Mr. Benson, don't shoot down sheepness until you have experienced the community it brings. I still think for myself, of course. But I enjoy the fact that so many others have a similar path.

Heather of the EO said...

One morning at church, we walked in to the sanctuary and my dad whispered, "look at all the sheep." The church was really full that day. We giggled. He meant nothing negative. We religious types are a bit sheep-like and I think, like Kazzy said, it's not entirely negative, if you continue to think for yourself.

But you already knew that, so I don't know why I'm going on and on. Just agreeing I guess. :)

Maybe you know already, but you have an award over on the EO. :)

Heidi Ashworth said...

It is amazing what we assume when we are young. When my daughter was in kindergarten she was surprised by how many kids in her class drank water. "Are all the kids in my class Mormon, Mom?" After asking a few questions, I came to the conclusion that 1) she knew drinking water was healthy and 2) Mormons are very into healthy eating and drinking so 3) people who aren't Mormons AREN'T into those things. Kids think in such absolutes and will automatically assume things such as "if mom calls me a good girl for getting a good grade on my homework, that must mean I am a bad girl if I don't". Which is why we only call the dog a good girl. Interesting video! Love the accent!

Melissa said...

I grew up in Utah, too, and marveled at kids who were not Mormon. And I'd rather be a sheep in a safe herd than a sheep in a herd that is running rapidly toward a cliff (i.e. all of society that is married to the media). We're all sheep. We've just chosen to be with The Good Shepherd.

Lara said...

I remember asking a girl on the playground (also in Orem) when she was going to get baptized, since her birthday was around mine and my baptism was coming up. She was from a non-member family and had no clue what I was talking about. I think it was my first experience realizing that not everyone shared my religion.

However, nowadays, even though I live in Utah, there are quite a few kids that aren't members around, and my daughter has already had a few little missionary moments.

Carlynn said...

Wow Lisa, You have one great memory. I wish I could remember things like that when I was that age. I don't remember a girl named Mary moving in to the school or even thinking anyone was anything other than Mormon. In fact I don't ever remember thinking about what someone’s religion was....must be because growing up in Orem was a very sheltered way to grow up.

Later when I was in Jr. High school I became friends with a girl who was Lutheran. I did not know this at the time but figured it out when other girls started to be mean to her just because of her different religion. I didn't care. She was nice and I liked her Lutheran and all. I remember being jealous of her though because she didn't have to dress up to attend her church meetings. :) She got to wear a t-shirt and boxers!

Well I am way off topic so I will quit rambling now.

Becky said...

I don't really have anything specific to say. Just liked this post, is all!

Melanie J said...

To piggy back on Heidi's water comment, my mom told me when I was little that wearing high heels was bad for your back and I assumed that we had a lot of women in our ward in violation of the Word of Widom.

I think this is a great comment and well-said.

Alison Wonderland said...

It is funny how kids think in absolutes but I'm not sure how removed from that we really are as adults. I was loving a quote from our SS lesson today from joseph Smith encouraging the members to seek out truth and embrace it wherever they might find it.
I"m pretty sure that I've found truth in some places that would cause a lot of other members to raise thier eyebrows more than a little but hey, I'm just following the prophet. Baaa!

Sue Q said...

Well, you know how I feel about sheep...but the difficult thing to teach our kids is that our gospel is based on free agency, not blind obedience. The world wants them to think differently, of course, and my girls are constantly barraged with comments like, "Why won't your church LET you do [this] or [that]?" It's a constant battle, and one that I hope my girls are prepared for each and every day.

Jen said...

Great post. I totally agree, although since I grew up in the mission field I always assumed everyone wasn't Mormon. We were the odd ones, and in elementary school my friends would ask me why I WAS a mormon.

Oh, and you better mosey on over to my blog and defend your title, because Sue Q. is out for blood!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I don't remember being like that so much when I was little (growing up in the midwest and south and all), but I DO feel like that more as an adult. I see and meet people and feel just a tiny bit sad because I wish there were some way to help them understand all the blessings of believing like I do. Many of them are WONDERFUL people and probably better than me in some ways, but still, it's always a *teeny* bit sad to me.

Kaylynn said...

The only thing I don't like about the sheep analogy is that sheep are dumb animals, and I don't want to be dumb, but I do hope that I know my shepherd, and that my shepherd knows me.

Kimberly said...

What a thought-provoking post, Lisa! I grew up in rather opposite circumstances, being the only one in my elementary school who was LDS, etc...my kids will have a similar experience and I wonder how it will color their perceptions of the world.

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