It's time to come out of the beehive closet. See this guy?
That's my great-grandpa (a few more greats, actually.) It's true, I'm a Mormon.
I've been watching The Mormons, the PBS documentary on my religion. I've liked the doc and enjoyed seeing an ancestor I admire being discussed and featured. The documentary has been an interesting journey; it's always interesting being a Mormon.
People are always telling you what you believe if you are LDS. It's not the church or church leadership, but people who don't know the first thing about your religion. People find out you're Mormon and they often decide to tell you what you believe.
Take the lady at the convenience store in Tampa, Florida.
She asked for my ID as I tried to pay for my gas on the way to Busch Gardens.
"Utah, huh?" She sniffed. Wait for it, the six million dollar question, "How many wives does your husband have."
"One," I responded, "Just me."
"But how many does your dad have?"
"One," I smiled, "Just my mom. Actually, Mormons don't practice polygamy anymore."
"Yes, they do, " She said.
"No, we don't," I responded.
"Yes, you DO," She insisted.
"No, we don't, and we haven't for more than a hundred years."
"Yes, you do." She said.
I explained that you get kicked out if you decide you're going to take another wife. She still didn't believe me. We had to agree to disagree (I'm still right.)
I was traveling for business a few months ago and someone asked me where I was from. "Utah," I said.
"Wow, Utah huh? What's it like living with those Mormons?"
"It's great, I am one," I answered.
That took her aback. I guess she was expecting someone in a pinafore and a severe bun; someone who looked like an extra from Little House on the Prairie, not a hot mama in wide leg pants and killer heels.
Most people who find out you're Mormon are very polite. They might ask a couple standard questions, like is it true you don't drink alcohol or coffee? (yes.)
If you're back east you're more likely to get the polygamy question.
If you're in the south, you're more likely to get doctrinal challenges issued to you in the grocery store. That's right, people tell you that you aren't a Christian at the Publix, even though the official name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yup, right there in our name, "Christ". But thanks, random church lady from Mississippi, for telling me that I'm not Christian. Is there anything else I should know about what I believe?
For the most part, we Mormons don't mind being asked those kinds of questions. We aren't offended. I remember a friend who I had known for a few years asking me some deep questions that he feared would challenge my faith. I assured him that if my faith could be shaken because he asked a question, well then, I didn't have much faith at all.
It's the crazy things people hear and pass along that are the most amusing and most infuriating. ~J was just in New York. A guy she'd known for YEARS asked her if it was true that Mormon men were allowed to beat their wives once a month. She said, quite forcefully, "What do you think?" In telling me the story I said, "Yes, it's true, but only in months with no "r," which makes for a long summer. It's almost May--watch out!"
That kind of stuff is hilarious, but would be even funnier if people didn't actually believe it. The best question Mormons get, in my opinion, is whether we have HORNS. You read that right.
There are still people out there in the world, in the United States no less, who think that Mormons have HORNS GROWING OUT OF THEIR HEADS. I mean, honestly folks, we don't let them grow out, we file them down quarterly.
(That's a JOKE, random guy from New Haven I talked to five years ago.)
I look at that picture of Brigham Young and can see the uncanny resemblance my grandmother bears to him. There's not a little bit of his fire running through my family's veins. I'm proud that I'm culturally and spiritually Mormon.
But please, enough about the horns.