chat with a missionary
I caught this story today about Mormon missionaries being called to serve their missions fielding questions via online chats at the MTC. My first thought was, “Wow! That makes Oklahoma seem pretty exotic.” Then I wondered just how easy it is to chat with a missionary. Turns out, the website is fairly accessible, but the service sucks…(see below). Has anyone else taken advantage of this new feature on www.mormon.org? And if you could corner a Mormon missionary, what is the one question you would want to ask them?
I tried out the service this morning. Apparently they are only online after about 8:00 am Mountain time, as I couldn’t get a representative of the Lord before then (I’m on Eastern time). At the top of the chat screen it says, “You are speaking live with Nathan, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Information provided in this session is to provide assistance only and is not an official statement of the Church.”
Prof: Hi Nathan.
Nathan: Hi Prof, how are you doing?
Prof: Pretty good.
Prof: How about you?
Nathan: I’m great thanks!
Prof: I have a question for you.
Nathan: What do you hope to gain from your chat here today?
Prof: I’m wondering about the LDS Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
Prof: Why does the LDS Church oppose same-sex marriage?
(No response for about 5 minutes.)
Prof: Um, am I allowed to ask that?
(Several minutes later…)
Nathan: Yes, you are.
Nathan: This article has the answer.
Nathan: If you click on the link it will open the webpage so you can read it.
(about five minutes pass…)
Prof: Did you send the link?
Prof: I don’t see it…
(1 1/2 hours pass while I wait for an answer and do other things, like feed and change my 2 week old son)
(I finally close the window figuring Nathan is chasing “Golden Contact” tail elsewhere on the inter-tubes…)
If I were anyone else, I’d be turned off by the lack of attention. God’s representative Nathan gets an F for customer service. Also, just so you’re aware, you can’t copy and paste the text from the conversation. I’m guessing this is to prevent people from getting a missionary to say something stupid and then spreading it around the internet. Finally, they use BYU’s servers for this: rc1.mtc.byu.edu. I thought that was kind of interesting…
I bet they’re told not to engage anyone who asks about gay marriage/prop 8.
Uhm, because the Church has such helpful articles on the subject?
Missionary chats have essentially become the ex/anti-Mormon communities equivalent of bear-baiting. Beat up a 19 year old brainwashed fanatic for fun and entertainment!
Given the general tone and motivation of probably the vast majority of Prop 8 questions on the missionary chat service, I honestly agree with their policy of not responding. Half the people who broach this subject are merely looking to vent their rage on somebody. So I don’t blame the service for getting jaded on the subject and deciding not to respond at all.
Not saying that Prof’s comments would have been an example of this (probably not). But I’m sure the majority of the chats they have that bring up Prop 8 are usually initiated by agitators who are more interested in venting than actually having a conversation.
(By the way, I’m lucky to actually post here. If I get in a comment early in the conversation, my browser will actually load the page and allow me to comment. Once a few more comments have been submitted here, I probably won’t have access to the blog post anymore. So if I don’t respond to you, that’s why.)
Seth, you’re probably right. Granted I hadn’t taken a confrontational tone in my conversation (which you note), but I’m sure they thought it was going to go down that road.
Hmmm… I wonder what other topics they will avoid on the chats… Polygamy? Race? Gender stratification?
I wonder if that is part of their training… “If someone brings up these topics, simply ignore them.” I’m not sure how I feel about that. Is it the right thing to ignore people who ask you questions? I guess from the faithful Mormon perspective it very well might be.
Oh, and Seth, what’s going on with the website? Is it an issue with your browser or the blog? Do you know?
Lucky. I can still comment…
We don’t know what’s going on. I’ve talked to Hellmut about it and he can’t find anything wrong. Maybe I’ve got a virus on my end or something…
As to ignoring questions, it depends on the motivation behind them.
For instance, a girl in my law school class asked me privately after we’d been sorta talking religion a bit about the “underwear thing” (she was obviously embarrassed to ask about it). I’m happy to be helpful in such instances and I’ll probably give you more info than you even asked for.
But if some guy came up to me sneering and said “so what’s with the funny underwear?” I’d probably tell him to go to hell and ignore him thereafter.