Thursday, October 30, 2014

Real Talk: 6 Thoughts on Anti-Mormon Literature

I often feel the need (and desire) to start my blog posts with a story, anecdote, or some form of pleasantries.  Writing 101 dictates that you suck your audience in with something exciting before you delve into your thesis and more important topics. Today, I'm writing about something too important to waste time with a tale from my youth or a prolonged analogy. Ain't nobody got time for rhetorical devices! I've had a lot of encounters with individuals on my mission who struggle in their faith because they've stumbled upon anti-Mormon literature. It's time that this issue is addressed from my pulpit.

I just posted this to suck you in.  Since I don't have the time for a story or anything.  Awwww, it's a bear waving at you!

Setting aside my obvious faith in the Latter-day Saint religion, there are a lot of facts to observe about why anti-Mormon information is flat out uncalled for, disrespectful, and preposterous. This has lead to my Six Thoughts on Anti-Mormon Literature (Literature. If you can even call it that):

6. There is a disproportional amount of hatorade for Mormons compared to other religions.
In a quick study I just conducted, I googled the terms "Mormons", "Catholics", "Lutherans", "Baptists", and "Islam" to see what each search would generate.  I only looked at the first page of results and gathered one solid conclusion; people love to hate on Mormons. On the first page of hits, there was already anti-Mormon sentiment.  At the bottom, related searches were things such as "why are Mormons weird," "Mormons exposed," and "Mormons polygamy".  Every other religion, including Islam, which tends to be at the center of a lot of hot button issues, didn't have a single negative website or related search surface on the first page of gathered information.

5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a transparent organization. Mormons don't share all of the details of their sacred temple services, but they always strive to inform people of their beliefs.  Ask anyone who has completed a temple service about what they did, and they will share as much information as they can without casting their pearls before swine and sharing something sacred. Beyond the specifics of temple worship, there is a lot of information that Mormons are eager to share. There is a website,, that has information, personnel ready to live chat anyone with questions, and easy to understand doctrines plainly presented for all to see.  There is a wealth of reliable, truthful information that can be found. Like I said in a previous post, don't ask Miley Cyrus for help with your Biology homework.  Don't read some bogus page called Mormon Haterz 4 Lyfe to learn about my faith. Above and beyond the written word the church produces, the church has an army of over 88,000 men and women who have one purpose: to talk to others about Mormonism.  This army will even seek you out with a few taps on your front door. For a church that is "mysterious" there are sure a lot of members that are willing to talk to others about their faith.

4. Good grief, we just want to bring you salvation. Missionaries don't get paid.  Bishops don't get paid. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir doesn't get paid.  I'm telling you, no one gets rich for being a Mormon, and there is absolutely no tangible incentive for being instrumental in someone's baptism. We really just believe we have something special to share and we want to share it with the world. Why is that a problem?

3. Remember that one time the Catholics lead THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE? We all have moments from our history that aren't trophy worthy. Polygamy and the failure to give colored peoples the priesthood previous to the Civil Rights Era are two dead horses that people continue to beat. How can the Mormons even be considered human beings if they once practiced polygamy? Eventually, we left the Catholics alone for sending adolescents to kill off the Muslims, so maybe it's time we stop basing an entire religion's beliefs on a brief period of their history. My dad only has one wife, so do all of my friends' dads. Kind of like how my Catholic friends don't send their babies with swords to Afghanistan anymore. But maybe in a few hundreds years people will let it go.

2. Remember that one time the Catholics lead THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE (Part II)? I know, you're still hung up on polygamy and the blacks and the priesthood.  Because seriously, how can the Mormons think they're the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and have still made mistakes. There isn't an official statement about why either of those events transpired. A lot of people have conjectures, but no one of authority has ever spoken on either issue.  This much is true though, Heavenly Father often gives revelation in a stop, go, stop pattern because he can see all of eternity in one panoramic photo (He updated to IOS 7 and has that capability). Polygamy was practiced throughout the Old Testament as prescribed by the Lord. There were times in the Old Testament that he also forbade it. We don't always know the rational, but if we have strong enough faith, we can know that all things happen for a reason. I don't know why I'm the descendant of an early Mormon polygamist family, or why Alex Boye can have the priesthood, but countless men from his ancestry couldn't. I do know that Heavenly Father calls prophets on the Earth and that the Book of Mormon is true and is valid evidence that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.  You can only reach this knowledge through prayer, study, and experience.  You can't read a website and be swayed in either direction, because that only speaks to your intellect, not your soul.

1. Mormonism is a Threat. If you're running for governor and your competitor is doing better than you, you bash him even harder than you were before.  If you and another girl are interested in the same guy, you hate her. If you're Tanya Harding and you're threatened by the talents of Nancy Kerrigan, you get some men to brutalize her leg. It's how things happen often. Satan knows that the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring people happiness, joy, and strength, so naturally he wants it abolished.  If you don't think that Satan can persuade people to do his bidding, then we can have a conversation about a man named Adolph Hitler over some Smashburger a little later. Anyway. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church, IS the church Christ established while he was on Earth.  It was lost when he was crucified and revived through Joseph Smith. People can sense truth, and to some that is a fearful thing. Why not use a few red herrings to lead people away from the truth? LOOK! TEMPLE GARMENTS! OR AS I CALL IT, MAGIC UNDERWEAR, RUN AWAY FROM THE TRUTH. I'm telling you, one of the biggest testimony builders of the validity of Mormon doctrine for me is the fact that so many people try so hard to tear it down. There are probably more tubes of Burt's Bee's Lip Balm that are sold a year than members of the church. We aren't a threat because of our size, we're a threat because we're right.

People who have strong opinions will always share them, but that doesn't mean they're true. I once penned a blog post about Taylor Swift and her lack of talent.  I hate her music; it's no secret, but that doesn't mean that my single opinion is correct. As always, I know that my words will not sway you in either direction. If you're set on reading anti-Mormon literature, then you will continue to do so. I know that the only way you'll ever find truth, peace, and understanding is through study and prayer.  Pick up your Bible, get a Book of Mormon, study them together and pray and you will get an answer.  Answers come through feelings.  If you feel something positive, it's of God.  If you feel something negative, it's of Satan.  It's a simple litmus test.  How do you feel when you read 78 Reasons Mormons Are Actually Man Eating Dragons? How do you feel when you read The Book of Mormon?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jesus Wasn't a Perfectionist

I wear my perfectionism like a white ink tattoo on the inside of my wrist.  If you're looking for it, it is definitely visible. The slightly inflamed lettering flashes into view in certain circumstances, but for the most part the inconspicuous location and natural camouflage don't draw attention to the defining art work. It peaks out more abundantly in some situations. Such occasions as when I scrub the kitchen sink with a toothbrush or when I am scrap booking. But then it retreats and stays hidden from the general public on the safe inside of my right wrist where it won't make a mockery of the girl it has always been attached to. There are days that is seems as if I've outlined the tattoo in glitter eyeliner because my perfectionism is so forthright and painfully obvious. In those moments I often reflect on why I have such a strong desire to cling to an unattainable standard of performance.

I have spent the majority of my life allowing perfectionism to cripple my talents and abilities because I am afraid to do anything in the eyesight of others that could be rated as anything less than five stars. I stopped playing volleyball in high school because I deemed myself not athletic enough. I refused to play the piano at church because I would miss a note here or there and knew that my imperfect performance would simultaneously draw too much negative attention to myself and detract from the spirit of the Sabbath. I didn't audition for music groups in college because clearly my lack of perfect pitch made me unfit for musical performance, though my years of high school experience spoke far greater of my musical capabilities. I never entered any writing scholarship competitions in college because I figured it was a waste of the judge's time to even read my losing piece of work. I even spent two years talking myself out of serving a mission because I knew my talents and capabilities would never classify me as the stereotypical sister missionary. Time and time again I decided that others would judge me before I gave them the opportunity to. 

I often justify my behavior by believing that Jesus was perfect, therefore I should strive for that as well. In fact I was told regularly as a child through Sunday School songs, teacher's words, my parents expectations, and Christian culture at large that I should strive to be like my perfect brother Jesus.  WWJD was more than the embroidery on a fad bracelet that covered my tattoo; it was, and continues to be, the driving force behind many of my actions. 

Here's the thing though, Jesus wasn't a perfectionist.

per·fec·tion·ist: a person who refuses to accept any standard less than perfection.

He was definitely perfect.

per·fect: having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

But never was he a perfectionist.  

Jesus spent his entire life surrounded by some of Heavenly Father's most imperfect children, yet he loved them all.  Further, he came to Earth with the single goal of bringing to fruition His father's goal, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" through his selfless sacrifice (Moses 1:39). We were commanded to be perfect, but we were never commanded to be perfectionists.  Being perfect includes helping our fellow men, loving God above ourselves, and not killing people.  Being perfect doesn't require that we pin every hair perfectly in place on our heads or that we spend over 20 hours on a 10th grade literature project that only required an hour or 2 of labor (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience...). 

Being perfect requires relying on Heavenly Father and Christ; there is simply no way to do it alone.  That is where perfectionist ideology completely dies.  A perfectionist will do all that is required of her without the assistance of anyone or anything. We are told, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ;...that ye become holy, without spot." (Moroni 10:32-33).

Through the flawless and redeeming act of Christ's suffering in Gethsemane and crucifixion on the cross, we may all be made perfect in him.  His grace will be sufficient to make us clean, whole, and perfect. No amount of intelligence, skill, practice, or exertion can compensate for the grace of God through Christ's atonement. I will never be a perfect pianist, singer, sister, missionary, culinary artist, friend, or athlete, but neither will anyone else. I can become a perfect daughter of God though, and that is all my father has ever expected of me.