Catholics, Mormons, and Stephen Crane

My Organized Response to an LDS Missionary

Introduction and Background

July 2001

Introduction & Background

7.

I'm Right and They're Wrong

1.

Serene Futility

8.

Under Duress

2.

Damning Hypocrisy

9.

Money in the Bank

3.

Institutional Corruption

10.

The Carrot and the Stick

4.

God's Voice

11.

Heaven Must Be Laughing

5.

"All Religions are Corrupt"

12.

God the Bouncer

6.

Sealed with Chains

13.

Unlock the Temple Doors

INTRODUCTION:

LDS men spend two full years of missionary duty. It is a critical time in their lives where they hone their skills at praising their religion and encouraging others to join, while methodically suppressing their own theological inquiry. During those two years, they commit to memory dozens of supplied opening lines and full lists of canned responses provided to them for various replies. I have encountered dozens of such grown-up missionaries, and generally relish their opening salvo: "So, would you like to know anything about my religion".

I read Fawn Brodie: Did You?While I mention that I lived in Utah, I omit the fact that I have already read dozens of LDS books (both for and against) and both the training handbook provided to missionaries (I bought mine used at Deseret Industries) and the charismatic response book "What to say when an LDS missionary knocks on your door". Some days I enjoy the verbal sparring and the mental stimulation. Other times, I'm just plain tired. In my last such encounter (March 2001), the eight or so years of previous sessions seemed finally complete, and ready to be published as a personal position paper.

Brent, my LDS missionary du jour, was pretty weak at it. He relied too much on canned openings and was too obvious when projecting statements onto me "You feel that ....", "You're religion believes..." .  He did follow up our three hour conversation with an e-mail to which I extensively responded in this paper. I am not sure if the conscious use of this chatty, dialog style will make this paper more universal in appeal or serve to weaken it. It may already be doomed to a future rewrite in a more formal third person voice. Since he helped me finish organizing my response, I promised him that when I finished this position paper I would forward it to him with my thanks. So here it is.


A brief history of my religious training:

I was raised in a Roman Catholic home and attended public school. I sat for weekly evening Catechism with the nuns and laity from first grade through eighth. I received confession and first holy communion, learned the prayers and the rosary, and was confirmed a Catholic by my bishop at fourteen. At seventeen years old, I began attending the United Methodist church in Michigan, and quickly comprehended the differences in the beliefs between followers of the Pope and of John Wesley. I converted formally around that time. Both my marriage and child's baptism were done as a United Methodist.  I attended United Methodist church regularly during my time living in Detroit, Denver, Grand Rapids, and Utah. However, upon moving to Florida, we found the local congregations uncomfortably charismatic, with excessive references to Satan, prayer healing, missionaries and miracles. We now live uncomfortably south of the Mason-Dixon line. We have been sampling less flamboyant local churches, more theologically centrist like the northern protestant churches we now miss. We have worshipped with Lutherans and Unitarian-Universalists, but have not yet connected in the land of the Baptists and Scientologists. I am very set in my theology (obviously, as expressed in this paper) and seek a congregation to match my beliefs, rather than the other way around.

 
Copyright, 2001, All rights reserved

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Originally Written: April 2001
First Upload: July 2001
Last Update: November 4, 2001