Mother’s Day Mormon
My brother-in-law is now an ex-mo, but his mother (my mother-in-law) won’t stop pestering him about returning to Mormonism (he’s only been openly out for about 6 months now; he was in the closet for about 6 months before that). He called her yesterday for Mother’s Day and asked her what she wanted. She said, “I want you to re-teach yourself the missionary discussions and read 2 Nephi 9:28.”
So, about my brother-in-law… He had perfect scores on two components of the GRE – logic and math – and high scores on the reading comprehension component. He has a PhD and is currently doing a post doc at a prestigious research university. He’s 31 (same age as I am) and finally realized Mormonism wasn’t doing him any good (on top of the fact it has all sorts of problems and warts). He’s a returned missionary and is widely read on all things Mormonism. Just so you don’t have to go look it up, here’s 2 Nephi 9:28:
“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.”
He’s been pretty patient with his mother up to this point, even though she badgers him about religion almost every time they talk. What do you recommend he does at this point?
(P.S. He’s the one who said, “Maybe she wants me to be a’Mother’s Day Mormon,'” which made me laugh out loud. I knew I had to blog it!)
Parents and religion are what they are – he’d be getting the same lecture as a Catholic, a Jew, a Baptist… He should just smile and change the subject. They aren’t going to change, neither should he.
What Greg said.
Every once in a while I can’t resist the opportunity to speak candidly with my Mom. But it tends to end with “what happened to my dear, sweet Matt? What happened to the boy who taught the scriptures with so much passion and conviction?” I say, “I’m right here, Mom.” But she won’t have it. She won’t be consoled. So, just like Greg, I do my best to have some empathy and then change the subject.
I am really lucky, my mother has bee active off and on my entire life. I just talked to her last week. She honestly doesn’t care either way whether or not I attend church. In fact, I only have 1 sibling out of 4 who seems to have any issue at all with me not attending. The others seem to be smart enough not to bring it up.
BIL sounds very, very patient with his mother. He could point out to her how the family’s converts to mormonism struck out on their own to pursue the truth as they saw it, and that he is following the tradition they set. Of course, she won’t hear it. When you’ve got it all figured out, there is no need to change your assumptions. Right, Mom?
“Of course, she wonâ€™t hear it. When youâ€™ve got it all figured out, there is no need to change your assumptions. Right, Mom?”
Michael, first off, I would recommend against letting that kind of sarcasm creep into your voice. After all, you might have to borrow money from her later.
I’m not sure that ignoring it will cause any improvement.
In my own conversations with my parents about the very same thing, I’ve had to be firm in my beliefs and in doing what I believe is right, but at the same time not attack what they believe. I would simply tell her that I would appreciate it if she would respect my choices and beliefs by not trying to change me, as I don’t try to change what she believes. It goes both ways.
It will probably take time for her to get used to the idea that her son doesn’t believe in her “one absolute truth”. After telling my parents that I’m not going to change, that I’m nolonger Mormon and please stop trying to “fix” me, we haven’t talked about it. I’m waiting for them to get more comfortable with things – until then, perhaps avoiding the subject is useful in the short-term.
All good suggestions… Thank you.
To add an intriguing wrinkle, my mother-in-law obviously knows that I’m out of the religion, as is my wife (her daughter). But she doesn’t ever try this kind of stuff with us. I’m speculating as to why, but this is the consensus we’ve come up with between the three of us: She knows that if she were to try this kind of crap (sincere and loving as it seems to her), I would throw it right back into her face. I’m a little, um, outspoken. (Has anyone noticed that? People tell me that, but I’m “outspoken blind,” like Stephen Colbert is color-blind toward race…)
I haven’t had to do this with her, but I did tell my family that, “You don’t have to agree with my decision, but you will respect me and my decision or you won’t see me any more.” That shut them up about Mormonism pretty quick. Since then there has been virtually no discussion of it and certainly no attempts to try to re-convert me. Maybe the solution is, as Craig describes, being firm and demanding respect?
“I would recommend against letting that kind of sarcasm creep into your voice. ”
Just to clarify, I wouldn’t actually say that to a family member. Or to a friend, for that matter. But I have said it to others, when the time was right, and followed it up with something along the lines of what Profxm said. It has its place, even if I choose not to say it to a family member.
I am afraid that this mother’s behavior is inappropriate. Religion is a matter of conscience.
She might realize that if her son told her: “Mom, I am living the eleventh articles of faith. I am practicing religion according to the dictates of my conscience and would be grateful if you could respect that.”
It’s funny how fundamentalists consider education a threat. I prefer John 8:32:
The notion that knowledge leads you astray attitude emerged during the late enlightenment when research begun to threaten Biblical literalism frequently.
Of course, problems arose initially during the renaissance. By the enlightenment, however, there were fundamentalist movements such as the Pietists who valued scholarship because they were interested in social mobility for believers. Education was the vehicle that would overcome superstition and empower a Christian meritocracy against aristocratic privilege.
When scholarship contradicted a literalist reading of the bible, education became the enemy. Anti-intellectualism became a powerful voice in the Jacksonian America.
In the United States, this populist mindset remains powerful. In western and central Europe, it has pretty much run its course. There are plenty of know nothings but they have been marginalized.