Saturday, October 08, 2005

An Interesting Article About The Mormon Church And Two Missionaries In Hawaii.

I just wanted to share a few highlights from this article that I think you guys will enjoy. I found it to be pretty entertaining!! These two missionaries remind me of some of the guys that I came across on my mission. I hope that I was never as bad as they are!!

Here are some quotes from the article:

See this," Kyle says. "We leave a pamphlet at each door, then three days later, we come back to see if they have read it."

I ask him how they know where to go and who to talk to.

"The spirit will tell you where to go," Sargent says. "Yeah, or we pray and then pick streets from a map.

"We can read people like a book," he continues. "They give us every excuse under the sun. 'Oh, I'm not religious; Oh, I'm sick; Oh, I'm just on my way out.' We have heard it all."

"Yeah," says Kyle, with a shrug, palms turned upward. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

They open their car trunk, revealing a stunning cache of informational videos, stacks and stacks of "contact cards," The Book of Mormon and other missionary paraphernalia. Then they pray.

"Lord in heaven give us the ability to soften hearts," they pray. "Let us pave the way for many blessings. Bless us with thy spirit to give us what is needed at each door, Jesus. Amen."

"I used to want to be a journalist, but we Mormons be havin' a lot of kids. Heh, heh, so you got to make money. Journalists don't make no money."

We make our way up the stairs to the second floor of the apartments. The Mormons wear their religious books stuffed in the backs on their pants, held securely by their belts. It reminds me of a Maitre'd in a fancy French restaurant.

"This is the best pen in the world," Elder Sargent tells me, clicking and clacking his ballpoint pen. "Best in the world. Try it. Feel that power. Best pen in the world."

We arrive at one door and knock.

"Hello, my name is Elder Kyle and this is Elder Sargent," Kyle says to the occupant. "We're from the Church of Latter Day Saints. Have you heard of us?"

"Yes," the occupant replies.

"Would you care to hear a message that will change you life?" Kyle asks.

"I do not want to be bothered," the occupant says.

"We will leave a flyer and be back in three days."

"I will call the police."

In the spiritual geography of Mormonism, the Garden of Eden is located in Independence, Missouri and the Mormon creation myth postulates that American Indians were "the first Mormons." Thus, the Mormon story is bound up with that of the New World. With the colonization of North America came the culmination of the prophesies of the Book of Mormon.

There they learn one of the 50 languages the MTC teaches. Later they get instruction on how to convert others, disarm skeptics, dress, talk, act and live. They read religious literature and watch promotional films. And they sing the traditional missionary hymn "Called To Serve."

Called to serve Him, Hean'nly King of Glory

Chosen e'er to witness for his name,

Far and Wide we tell the Father's story...

Onward, ever onward...

Called to serve our King

The Church of Latter Day Saints strictly forbids abortions. It's not particularly shocking that Utah has the highest birth rate in the U.S. In fact, its population growth is greater than Bangladesh.

Yet its religious foundation is Semitic and ancient. The Mormon story tries to connect with the Hebrew story and insert itself into antiquity. Mormons call Utah "Zion" and slander non-believers as gentiles. They see in their journey to Utah similarities to the Jewish Diaspora and subsequent return to Israel. Mormons reckon they have a metaphysical bond with the Jews and the even fancy themselves a lost Hebrew tribe.

Mormonism is a culture where obedience and organization is among the highest of virtues. Numbers are meticulously recorded, members are grouped into various geographical classifications and there are strict regulations on personal issues. Serving on a mission is like working at Disneyland: Cut your hair, shine your shoes and so on.

While the Mormons' zeal for converting the natives is considerable and sincere, their enthusiasm wanes when the conversation turns to interracial sex and marriage. For most of the 20th century, African Americans were barred from the priesthood and interracial marriages were considered a sin of the highest order. It was only in 1978 when blacks were allowed to join. Intermarriage is still considered an unforgivable transgression.

How long the Church can maintain this segregation is unknown. When viewed next to the locals' brown skin and pidgin talk, the missionaries seem woefully out of place. Their blond hair and blue eyes stand out in the land of dusky-skinned islanders.

In choosing Mormonism, Hawaiians willfully submit to the coldest kind of imperialism. They lose the only thing that was ever truly theirs: Culture. They lose themselves in a sea of white shirts, skinny ties and bad haircuts.

When a person becomes a Mormon, any individuality is annihilated. You become part of a homogonous unit, where independent thoughts and actions are a sin--on the grounds that they are "worldly"--and the puritanical moralism of the American west gets transplanted to the Pacific.

Later, Elders Kyle and Sargent and I are cruising in their white sedan. We're supposed to visit a young girl who, I am told, was once a Mormon but wants to get back into the swing of things. She is homeless and living with a dozen other young people in a squatters' settlement near Waiehu.

We pass by a golf course and are approached by an adolescent. He is mentally disabled and collecting golf balls. We slow down and he quickly walks up to the car, giving us a shaka and shaking each of our hands slowly. He is smiling widely, drooling and squinting at us as if we are miles away from him.

"I am Elder Kyle and this is Elder Sargent," says Kyle. "We're from the Church of Latter Day Saints..."

I roll my eyes.

"Do you believe in God?" asks Kyle.

Just then, his mother comes to get him, herding the kid back to wherever they came from. "Hi guys," she says. She is a Mormon as well.

For white bread kids from suburban Utah, to be a missionary is pure adventure.

I feel like I am watching an episode of Dragnet, with Elder Sargent as Joe Friday and Kyle as Officer Gannon. They have this synthesized cooperation. They do not bicker or treat each another poorly.

"Leave a card," says Kyle. "We can come back tomorrow."

'Sure thing, buddy," says Sargent. MTW

Well, I found this article to be very interesting, honest and very funny. This magazine is like the Salt Lake City weekly here in Utah and is independent, thus the honesty. I really liked the way they summed up the Mormon Church and it's beliefs. If any of you want to read the entire article, here is the link:

Samuel the Utahnite

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