Wednesday, May 02, 2007

You Tell Me

It's time to come out of the beehive closet. See this guy?

Brigham Young?

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.


Cassie said...

Wow! That is absolutely hilarious. It's amazing to me how narrow minded some people can be even when faced with a true to life LDS person who can actually give the truth.

Jennifer B. said...

Try soaking your horns in cuticle remover before you get them filed next time. You won't believe the difference.

Mrs. Dub said...

i'm not sure why some guy's "friend who knows a Mormon" gets to be the authority on a religion some of us actually practice. but this guy's friend must be really, really popular because he knows a lot of people in a lot of states.

i wish i was that cool.

Noelle F. said...

I've heard that before about the horns. Weird. Just odd.

I have an "I'm a Mormon and it's so funny when strangers find out I am" story.

I used to work in a bookstore--many moons ago. I had a customer come in asking me where our Cult section was. (We were a discount bookstore, so that didn't exist in our tiny establishment.) As I started to chat with her about what cults she was looking for, she said, "You know, like the Mormons."

Well, silly me, I just processed that she said Mormom. So, I jump back with, "Oh wait! Are you Mormon, TOO?!"

The look on her face was PRICELESS. She said, with all the disgust she could muster, "Nooooooo."

THEN, the light bulb turned on over her head. :) It was hilarious! Come to find out, after she ate some humble pie (I was really nice to her, too) that her daughter was dating someone who was LDS and she wanted to "find out all she could about it."

I wish there was a way I could have followed up with her, but I told her, with every ounce of respect I have within me, to look for specific authors. (I named several for her to look for), and I also gave her to look at as well.

Emily said...

Someone told me we have to have sex in front of the prophet in the temple. I feel dirty just writing that.

Azúcar said...

There are 12 million of us, HOW does the prophet have time for that? Is he like Santa Claus?

Queen Scarlett said...

You guys are killing me...temple sex, santa claus...

Funny thing is...while all these people are busily preoccupied with us... we know more about our own religion than many know about theirs. Funny huh?

Very much like in life... there are those preoccupied with people they're afraid of, jealous of...etc...and those people that are the targets...don't even notice they exist.

That is AWESOME you're related. Spunkiness is genetic... lucky.

I'm a strange circus act... as soon as everyone finds out I'm's like - LOOK She's Asian and she's mormon... look at the girl with the arm out of her head.

metamorphose said...

I had no idea you were directly related to the Brig. That's pretty stinkin' cool.

Is Steve Young at your family reunions? Sorry, just had to ask.

It is interesting how people like to tell us what we believe. I'm trying to think of something crazy someone's told me, but I can't recall anything right now. (Other than the not being a Christian thing.)

Tori :) said...

My parents live in Texas- where I grew up- and they are having revivals against Mormons right now because of Mitt Romney. They're are teaching people what we believe via 'The Godmakers' and other great anti-films. To me that just says: We must be doing something right.

Tori :) said...

They're= Southern Baptist types, not my parents. :)

sarah k. said...

I only have one horn, and I'm proud of it. I talked to cjane's mom today about the show and she said it made us all look crazy. And my mom, who is totally inactive, was offended by it. Was it so bad?

La Yen said...

Many years ago we were having a friend take Missionary lessons in our house. (He was a SoBap). He pulled out these materials and a book his pastor had given him and started reading all of these things to me about what we were, and I LOST it at him. I basically said "Look: I don't care what your thought process is, it is disrespectful to come into anyone's home and attack their family. And that is what you are doing right now. I will be happy to share my testimony with you, and teach you all I can about what i know to be true, but put the Godmakers back in the case."
He did not join the church. He instead knocked up his girlfriend.

All in all a wise choice, I think.

Chanel said...

Im just brainwashed, so I can't add a whole lot to this. But I will say I am totally envious of your horns. I guess converts don't get them?
Sex in the temple, thats hot.

Emily said...

Shoot, can I take my comment back?

compulsive writer said...

He's actually my great great step-grandpa. I come from what has been labeled by some as one of the most heart-breaking episodes in the annals of Mormon polygamy.

But I don't have any horns, either.

Bek said...

Now you have to tell CW...

I don't get the horns thing or the wives thing, I get "oh, you are the ones that hate gay's". That kind of bugs me....

I didn't watch the documentary...

Erinello said...

I'm not sure how I found your blog, but I enjoy it. :)

I'm not Mormon, but I saw the documentary (I have some close friends who are Mormon.) I didn't think it made you guys look crazy. Maybe just a little sexist (not that that's true). But I loved the part with that girl who only has a few years to live... I was in tears.

My church always used to say that Mormons aren't Christians because apparently there are differences in what we all believe about the Trinity. People said you believe that they are each separate, distinct beings. Is this what you believe? (I'm trying to ask and not tell.) Honestly, this is what I kind of believe as well, so maybe I'm not really a Christian either. :)

compulsive writer said...

bek--it's not my story to tell. But if you want a good read that will provide you with an interesting perspective from early Mormon women, may I suggest The Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier. Zina #2 is my great great grandmother.

Azúcar said...

Hi erinello!
Yes, we believe that each member of the trinity is their own being. Our interpretation is that they are one in purpose, but yes, separate beings.

I think it's funny that any Christian sect can call another not Christian simply because of doctrinal differences. It seems to me that if you believe in Christ, His divinity and atonement, that would make you Christian. The whole thing has always been a little funny since it's not like there's a single body that all of us can appeal to, there's no California Cheese Board of Christianity that settles who is right for all of us. Talk about a 'Cool Table.'

In fact, that's one of the main criticisms I've heard about the documentary: that it doesn't stress that the central tenet of our religion IS Christ.

To answer your next question, we've just started a harem and hope to abduct our first victims sometime in the Fall.

(that's a JOKE, lady I talked to in New York.)

Emily said...

It's so interesting how people choose to get their information i.e. from those who know nothing or who know a substantial lot, but choose to skew and present it all out of context. I also thought it was interesting that the group who produced and distributed that anti-DVD recently said that they wanted to show us the proper way to salvation--graciously showing us the error of our ways and saving us from our incorrect doctrines. What I want to know is why they didn't bother making DVDs for the Jehova's Witnesses and the Muslims and the Jews, to show them the right brand of salvation, too.

kristenlibrarian said...

I watched that PBS special too. I stayed up until 1am on a school night just because it was so very interesting! I envy the solid family connections - current and past relations - that was discussed in the program.

April said...

I wanted to watch that PBS special, too. Instead I watched some sitcom that I don't even remember now. Hmm.

Everyone is judgmental; it's not just Christians. I've had a Muslim tell me I'm going to hell. In Texas, a woman I'd met 3 minutes earlier suddenly screamed at me "God's not dead! He's NOT!" Even though I had only been politely listening to her life story. I've had atheists insist that I was brainwashed and had no idea what I believed in.

Everyone thinks they are more right than anyone else. I'm tired.

Azúcar said...

Thanks for the perspective, April. It's nice to know that we're all surrounded by busybodies and crazies. Good times.

Deb said...

I have been told that I wear green underwear because I am Mormon. Interesting, huh? It sure doesn't look green to me.

Thanks for the funny post.

the coolest tia said...

I liked this post. It made me think about this guy I met last year that was an RM and a former bishop. He was excommunicated however because of his sexual preference. He told me that he was held down by the members of his ward and they administered electro shock therapy to his member to try to change him. Now THAT'S a good one.

And one my friend's dad can never remember my last name so he calls me the one with the funny underwear. I don't even wear garments.

b. said...

Azucar, I loved this post. My seester left the church after marrying someone who was groomed to combat mormonism. I'm all about hearing each other out, as long as the goal isn't to rip the other to shreds. Just after she let go of her membership she sent me a 20 page letter telling me what I believed....most of it laced with "Godmaker" and the like propaganda. While the urge is to fight fire with fire, we've found that we offer more when we remember to be kind and loving despite our differences. When we follow His example, how can they deny we are Christian?

Julie said...

"...there's no California Cheese Board of Christianity..." Oh my HICK!!!! (Yes, that's an "i," not an "e." One must pronounce it right if one is a Utah Mormon.)

Can I use that phrase? You just made me snort my Sunday mid-afternoon snack. What an awesome post, Azucar. You are too, too funny. (And I can totally see the family resemblance between you and Brigham.)

My uncle is a polygamist--in real life. He was a devout Mormon with a wife and 8 children until he was assigned to home teach someone who was on the brink of leaving to practice polygamy. The two men switched roles: my uncle decided to leave the church and come to southern Utah and the other man repented of his ways. So sad. Pliggy Uncle left his wife and children high and dry, convinced that they would soon follow him. They didn't. My aunt has had to support herself and their children with absolutely no help from him. It makes me sad and angry, but I can't change the situation.

Can you use toenail polish on the horns? I'm thinking a shocking pink would be a nice contrast with my braided blond hair and long flowered dress.

Lyle said...

I am constantly amazed at the ignornace some people have...especially about the Mormons. Dyed in the wool, true blue through and throuogh!

love.boxes said...

You made me smile. :)