Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Missionaries

Interesting day yesterday. Before we came to the Mormon pioneer town of Snowflake, AZ, where we are right now, I'd have to say that I was morally opposed to missionary work, even affronted by the concept of it. Still feel quite strongly about it.

But there's a big difference between being morally opposed to a form of activity and hating people who uphold such activity as one of their highest spiritual values. I guess that's part of the reason we had to come here. This was such a black and white issue for me before, a divisive sticking point I could be quite vehement about.

But we have met the nicest, most welcoming open people here. We comment on it all the time. There are plenty of closed off people, like anywhere else. But there are such a large number of open-faced young men here it makes one pause. We came from a community, Santa Cruz, CA, that prides itself on its openness, spiritual "awareness" and progressive values but we almost never saw young men who retained such an open air of innocence as we see here. Think: Donny Osmond before he grew up and got dissed by popular culture so much he got an edge on him. I hate to stereotype it but it's true-- a significant part of this culture is just so... wholesome.

And part of what young men and some young women in Mormon culture do is go on a mission. Two years, away from their families with chaperones, in impoverished countries spreading the word about Jesus Christ and the Church of Latter Day Saints.

I don't know what to think about it. Earlier in the day, however, we received an email from someone who responded to our email newsletter about looking for a new place to do our spiritual counseling and healing work by saying that she had moved on to a "Master" healer/guru from India and that we should check him out and get some "shakti" and bhakti" from him.

Huh?

We went to our favorite local Mormon run restaurant here in town to console ourselves with some iced tea and cokes and one of the owners, who we have befriended, sat down and shared an anecdote from her son who was writing her while on his first mission. He was describing the colorful ways he and his missionary partner have been told to "get lost" by the local Catholic population. She laughed as she described it so we told her about the email we got and she vehemently took our side on the issue.

That was interesting. There's sharing that goes on in Mormon missionary work but I get the impression that their missionaries are taught to respectfully withdraw if a person clearly isn't interested.

Then Paul got inspired and decided to share a joke he had heard on Prairie Home Companion: "Have you heard about the Unitarian who married a Jehovah's Witness? Now he goes door to door for no particular reason."

Our Mormon friend loved it, laughed outloud.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. There are so many ways to be "evangelical" in this society. It helps to hold it with a lighter attitude.

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