Monday, August 25, 2008
Losing My Religion
A duo of young Mormons visited me the other day. Dark suited and softly spoken they stood outside my front door.. I stood just inside the front door wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. It was 11am. I invited them inside. They didn't hesitate. In they came, taking off their backpacks and perching on the edge of the couch. Then they quietly and softly tried to make a Mormon out of me.
I went to put on pants.
Once my pants and I returned, Doug's first question (I don't think Doug was his name but I was very hungover and wasn't paying attention to anything, hence the no-pant door answer) was whether I believe in a supreme being. I said I didn't.
Religious belief is irrational. That doesn't make it wrong. Love is irrational. Laughter too. Life without love or laughter would be a hollow, hollow thing.
Any man's religion is his affair and his alone, but if he tries to foist it upon me then it becomes my affair. He has become a door to door salesman and I am entitled to study the goods. The goods that arrived with Doug and Bigpoppypimpleboy were wierd and shonky.
Apparently in the Mormon Visitors Centre in Utah, a glass box like a vast aquarium holds a life sized model of the church's founder, Joseph Smith. A recording tells of how in 1830 Smith was praying on a mountainside (an aside: why is it always a mountainside or a cave or a barren wasteland these guys are praying in? What the fuck is wrong with a street, or a tastefully decorated living room? Really? Aside over.) when bloody hell and touch my pants, an angel appeared to him. At this point I'm certain bright lights came into play and there was probably singing from angels that looked a little slutty, but in fact weren't.
The recording in Utah explains how the slutty (but not) angels gave Smith some gold plates with church rules written on them. Smith memorized what they said. This was lucky, because by the time he came back from the mountain the golden plates had vanished. Nevertheless, what was on those magic, vanishing golden plates became the basis for the Mormon faith.
I asked Doung and Bigpoppypimpleboy if it was true that Smith might have lost the plates. 'They were taken back,' said Doug. Sure they were Doug.
I asked if they accepted the theory of evolution. They said 'Yes.' I asked if that meant they believed they were descended from apes. 'No,' they both said. They believed, they said, in Adam and Eve.
'Really?' I asked.
They nodded. 'I guess we kind of believe in evolution and Adam And Eve,' explained Doug.
I had no more to say.
Doug and Bigpoppypimpleboy were gentle, courteous, serious, law abiding people. People mock them. People threaten them, abuse them. People like me challenge their ridiculous beliefs, although most of those people would hopefully be wearing pants. Through all this they go quietly and if things get serious they walk away and pray for those without the pants.
A society of people like Doug and Bigpoppypimpleboy would be a society without crime or violence. But it would be hateful. Hateful.
Doug, Bigpoppypimpleboy and I parted amiably. In the beautiful Auckland drizzle I watched as they knocked on the neighbors door.
I removed my pants.