Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Too sacred to jest... unless we do it ourselves

Yesterday on my Facebook I shared something that was deemed offensive by a Mormon relative. In fact I shared this Here is description of the tumblr, "I'm in a relationship with a former Mormon. Absolutely love his family, but Mormonism bewilders me." It goes through and shows gifs of the user's feelings when visiting the SO's family who happen to be Mormon and the user never was.

That's when it all went down. I was told that I should have only sent this to my fiancee in a private message and that it's offensive when I knew that my family would have seen it. The problem I have with this is they have no problem poking fun at other religions, but everything in their religion is untouchable to outsiders.

My father and mother went off on how the Book of Mormon Musical was offensive. They said it was not right that a gay man can play a Mormon missionary. That is the only argument they have as to why they won't condone it. They refuse to listen to any of the songs and really look at what it is about even after I explained that the musical teaches no false doctrine. They only get their information on the musical from what the leaders of the Mormon faith have to say.

I've never understood how, according to them, poking fun at their religion and culture is offensive. They always bring up how the Muslims need to lighten up when someone uses Mohamed in a cartoon or show, but you can't use Jesus. They're not as extreme as the Muslims to threaten death, but they condemn anything that makes any jest at their religion or culture, except when they poke fun at themselves.

When I was still going to the Mormon church I was more offended by movies like Singles Ward, The RM, and Baptists at Our BBQ. They take some of the most extreme views of the Mormon culture and make it into something that seems normal and acceptable. The sexism that is rampant in Singles Ward is awful. The message in The RM that you are only worth something if you can find a wife is deplorable, but nothing is wrong with those movies.

In all honesty nothing is so sacred that it cannot be made into a jest. That is all it is a joke. Nothing in the tumblr was demeaning. I have witnessed almost every single one of these feelings while visiting my family, but I laugh it off and I move on. Yes, we can all be a little crazy, and if we can't let others and ourselves make fun of that then what do we have left to laugh at?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Waiting at the doctor's office.

Today while waiting at the doctor's office in the middle of Mormon, Utah; a Missionary-To-Be came in to get his physical before he could send in his papers to find out where he is being sent on his mission. I could tell he was nervous, because who wouldn't be? I looked at him fidget with his papers and thoughts kept streaming through my head.

What was going through my head back then? Were my thoughts the same as his or were they completely different? Is he going out of obligation like me or is he going because he truly feels it's the right thing to do? Do I feel sorry for his situation or do I admire his bravery? (Because going on a mission was probably the hardest thing I have ever done.) Will the mission change his views on the church to make him leave or will it make him a stronger member? There are so many young kids leaving home for 18-24 months. Many things can make impressions on their minds. What ones will he choose to listen to and accept?

If he is going out of obligation how can I reach out and help? And that is when it hit me. There really is not much I can do. Yes I can talk to him. I can reassure him he doesn't need to go, but it wouldn't have stopped me. I would have still gone on my mission. I would have lied to that stranger as I lied to myself. Fear of family and societal pressures will normally outweigh the thought of being free. It took me years to leave. My family still struggles with it, but it gets better as the months go on. What if his family is not as understanding? What if he is like many of my friends who still can't leave the faith because they don't want to lose the ties they have with their families? It's a Catch 22 situation. I know several people who's family would completely shut them out of their lives if they left.

To this young man, I say be strong. My will is with you and so is the will of several others. If by some chance you read this and you are that young man or another in a similar situation stay strong. Give in only as much as you have to. Bending the rules is ok. The guilt you feel will not always be there. The guilt will only control you as much as you let it. Remember that this is but a task in life and grow from it, learn from it, take as much of the good about it with you as you can. And above all look back at your leaders with a strong heart and proclaim you are doing your best. They don't need to know all the details because in reality they are just as scared as you are. A lot of times that brings out a bully (which was what my mission president was). Just remember he is more worried about himself and taking it out on you and others. To those Missionaries-to-be that can reach out to someone, do it; and to those who can't reach out you can do this. You can be strong.