Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So.... I'm a Mormon

Wow. This is new (sort of).  I promise to go back to blogging about silly fandom things, but I'm going to be serious for a minute.

I debated for a while whether or not to post this here.  Mostly because the internet circles I run in aren't very kind to religious folks and I'm a little shy about posting things pertaining to my religion on places outside of Facebook (where I block certain things from being viewed publicly).  But I was impressed by this video and I wanted to comment on it.  Besides, if I can outline why I don't like Torchwood, I can certainly write about my personal beliefs on my own blog.

Now, this post is NOT going to be about trying to convert people or "proving" my religion is better than anyone else's because I just don't roll that way.  I try to respect others' beliefs as long as they are respectful of mine (now, if you start making ignorant comments, that's a different story).  If people are genuinely curious and have honest and thoughtful questions, I'm willing to answer them the best I know how.  And if you are interesting in joining the Church - hooray for you.  If not, that's cool too.  BUT - I do not tolerate cheap shots or efforts to engage in "Bible-bashing" or what-have-you.  So just don't do it.

(And before anyone asks - no, just because two Mormons are running for president doesn't mean I'm going to vote for them.  Actually, I haven't even decided who I'm voting for and I figure that it's too early to even decide that.  But voting for someone just because they're associated with a particular group is kind of dumb).

(Wow, I'm breaking two of my cardinal rules with this post - don't discuss religion and don't discuss politics. I'm really taking my life in my own hands with this one).

Anyway - enjoy this video from CNN -

I'm actually very impressed with the tone of the content.  They got the historical facts and the beliefs correct (which suggests to me that they actually asked someone who is a member of the Church and not just relying on outsiders to tell the story).  The only thing I would care to correct them on is the idea that the Church is aiming to convert the proverbial "people of color" in order to appear more diverse or to "fix" whatever image is supposed to be broken.  Honestly, outside of just being respectful of others or trying to follow God's commandments, the Church really doesn't give a flying leap what the rest of the country thinks about them.  We do make an effort to correct misconceptions that are causing problems, but on the whole, we really can't control how people choose to see us.

Here's an example - I served an LDS mission in Florida a few years ago and, admittedly, a lot of the people we taught and who joined the Church were African-American and Hispanic, so that is true that the so-called "minorities" are becoming members.  However, when I was a missionary, the focus was not on "Oh, we need to convert more of these people so we can appear more inclusive and diverse."  It was more about "Wow, you mean you're NOT going to run us out of the neighborhood?  You're actually going to listen to us before you shoot us down?"  It just turned out that those were the people who would let us share our message and many of them decided to join the Church. When you're a missionary, you live for the moments when people don't threaten to call the cops or scream F-word-laced diatribes at you (I actually had both of those happen to me).

Anyway, I was glad to see this video (and there's another one where a news anchor is interviewing a professor of religious studies that's also very good) because I get a little nervous whenever there's a member of the LDS Church making headlines (whether as a politician or a bestselling author or some other kind of celebrity) because that almost makes it okay for people to bash the Church and I really hate that.  It's just not fun to see something you hold sacred and special being mocked and if you try to defend yourself, you get branded as a bigot or racist or whatever the "in vogue" insult is these days.  At the same time, yes there are Latter-day Saints - or, at least people who claim to be - who do things that I don't agree with, whether on a personal level or over a religious topic (and I've had essay ideas about some of these issues which I will save for another time).  But I defy anyone to select any racial, religious, ethnic, political or even fandom group and tell me with a straight face that every single one of those people are perfect.  And there will be people within the group that don't want to be associated with each other (please, please, PLEASE for the love of all that is good and decent do not lump me in the same category with Stephenie Meyer.  I'm partial to Shannon Hale, personally.  And if you have no idea who Shannon Hale is, you are missing out).

So, I guess my main point in posting this is to ask that people use their heads when they "hear things" about the LDS Church.  The best source of information is mormon.org, the Church's official website for people curious about our beliefs.  And I'm also betting most of you have friends, neighbors or co-workers who are LDS, so that would be a good place to go as well.  Just don't be ignorant and make stupid comments.

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