Monday, June 25, 2012

Practical clothing

I wish to submit that whoever it was that came up with the idea that female people should always dress in one-piece swimsuits* was never involved in toilet-training a girl.

That is all.

* It has long amused me that every time requirements for church activities involving swimming say that all of the girls and women must wear one-piece swimsuits, any of them could, technically, fulfill said requirement by wearing a monokini.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scary sex!

A discussion on the wonderful Keepapitchinin blog has brought to mind what, to my mind, is one of the most troubling aspects of Mormon culture: the degree to which sex, and particularly the fear of sex, consumes us.

Consider the following:

  • Full-time missionaries aren’t allowed into the homes of single women* (which means that, say, a 70-year-old woman can’t serve lunch to the missionaries in her own home unless she goes through the trouble of getting a chaperone).
  • Mixed-gender couples who are married but not to each other, as well as mixed-gender couples where one is married and the other is single, aren’t allowed to ride in the same car to and from church events or meetings. (And this one’s even enshrined into church policy in the Handbook!)
  • A home teacher isn’t supposed to go into the home of a single sister he home teaches until the other home teacher is there, leading to the absurdity of guys waiting in their cars in the cold or stifling heat instead of going inside and being able to fellowship with the saints (and, in fact, the particular saint they’re assigned to fellowship as a priesthood responsibility).
  • There is a strong social pressure on romantically involved couples to get engaged quickly, and to have a very short engagement, rather than taking time to get to know each other a bit better.
  • Relatedly, there is pretty strong pressure brought onto young Mormons to get married pretty young (for the men, very soon after their return from a full-time mission), even to the point of being taught in general conferences.
  • There is a strong social stigma attached to the sight of perfectly sexually innocent patches of skin, such as bare shoulders on women. (Or even prepubescent girls!)
  • …And so on.

Basically, many (maybe most, but even i'm not that cynical most days) faithful Mormons seem to believe that nonmarital sex is something that human beings have no ability to resist, and therefore we have to build fences around the law—really, really horrible fences, in some cases.

I don't really get it, myself, but it's there—and i find it remarkably unhealthy. Not sure what to do about it, though. Thoughts?

* This rule wasn’t enforced in my mission when i was a full-time missionary twenty or so years ago, or at least all or most of us full-time missionaries in that mission weren’t aware of the rule. I’ve met others who served around the same time who report that it was an incredibly firm rule for them, though, and it’s been a pretty intensely-taught rule for the full-time missionaries in every mission i’ve lived in since then, too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What does it mean to be baptized?

As seen recently on Facebook, as posted there by a reader of this blog (and reposted here, anonymized, with permission):

The situation: a parent talking to her child just before he turns four years old, saying that then he’ll be halfway to his eighth birthday.

Parent: What happens when you are eight?
Child: I get baptized.
Parent: What does it mean to be baptized?
Child: I drown.

I’m thinking that maybe they’re going to do a bit more teaching on that subject—but if they don’t, i totally want to be at the baptism to see his reaction.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Reducing the impact on…something

So when the new church handbooks* came out a while back, there was a bit about how multiple members of individual families shouldn’t generally be given “significant” callings, so as to reduce the impact of those callings on families.

In my observations of the past few weeks, i’m thinking that the real reason for this policy suggestion is so that a ward doesn’t have to, all at once, come up with replacements for (to pick three callings utterly at random) the executive secretary, young women president, and beehive class president.

* Now titled Handbook, to contrast with the previous Church Handbook of Instructions, which replaced the earlier General Handbook of Instructions. I actually heard someone say at the time that the change of title to Handbook is evidence that the church is led by actual prophets. You know, there may well be evidences that this church is led by prophets, but i’m going to go out on a limb here and say that i’m pretty sure that that ain’t one of them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On going to the temple

So i got tripped up by an interesting bit of Mormon terminology yesterday afternoon. Consider this:

    I’m going to the temple means that you’re going to perform ordinances of one kind or another (with a default of an endowment session, i think) inside a temple.

    I’m going to the temple means that you’re going to the grounds of a temple, perhaps as part of a sightseeing event when you’re on holiday.

This isn’t the first time that this particular ambiguity has caught me. I’m not sure what to do about it (my personally preferred solution, replacing to with through in the ordinance-performing reading, isn’t likely to ever be widely adopted, i don’t think), but one would think we’d be a bit more precise about one of the distinguishing practices of our religion, you know?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Let’s argue about this

Question: When did Mormons redefine the word contentious to mean “involving even the vaguest hint of disagreement”? I’d like to know.