When Religious Naivety and Ignorance [Hurts]

Christianity Converts and Conversion Empathy

I’ve said some naively ignorant things in my time. But, then again, I’m nearing my mid twenties, so I’m sure I’ve still yet to see the rest of the iceberg. Nonetheless, regrets are worth analyzing for the lessons they teach to help avoid the same mistakes in the future, so that hopefully, when I look back, I find that, contrary to what I often tell myself, I haven’t said quite the number of naively ignorant things that I’ve thought.

Here is one of mine:

“I should wear my Spiderman outfit and you should wear your white jumper (pants) to work — we can look stupid together.”

I jokingly said this nearly three years ago while I was in a particularly jovial mood after having been out with my best friend all day. Yet it was met by silence. Worse, it was met with a sort of bewildered insincere smile, which – as anyone who knows my best friend will tell you – is as close as he’ll come before he turns his back and walks way while shaking his head in disgust or coming back with some sarcastic one up-manship retort.

Undeterred I tried again – cleverish-ly (or so I thought) suggesting he wear his fanny pack to top it off. Again, silence appeared to be the name of his game along with that Mona Lisa smile. “You don’t think its a beyond brilliant idea?” That thin smile curved neither up nor down. Slowly, I had ignorantly dug a hole as I anxiously waited for him to take my hand and jump aboard my ship of providing a source of amusement with me at work. “Well do you have a better idea?”

To my great disappointment he settled on something along the lines of, “Perhaps another day.” Then he quickly and solemnly added, “And a different outfit.” Somehow I had naively missed the 180-degree turning of the tide. While I was lining up deck chairs for the firework show, my grand finale ended with, “You mean costume!?”

While I hadn’t recognized that I had taken the wind out of his sail with my first bout of ignorance — there was no mistaking it now. Tears glistened in his eyes. His ship had been sunk.

You see, I didn’t know what temple garments were at the time. In fact, I knew so little about Mormonism that whenever he used the acronym “LDS” it took me a second or two to recall what it stood for.

While this may seem like some small, benign incident, it had a galvanizing impact on me. Little did I know – it was the beginning of the end; the beginning of a headlong dive into Mormonism, and the end of more than two decades of considering myself a Christian.

Stay tuned for more in my series of “How Studying Mormonism Led Me out of Christianity!”
~ SoACTing

13 thoughts on “When Religious Naivety and Ignorance [Hurts]

  1. Chanson,

    Technically I’ve neve been a Mormon…

    To add a little more info (hopefully I can keep it short):

    This incident was the impetus that made me want to look into Mormonism to understand why what I said was so hurtful. It didn’t take me long to become obsessed with it. Its history, its theology, its customs, its cultural aspects, etc.; sociologically, psychologically, anthropologically – for whatever reason, I just found it so amazing and intriguing.

    At the time I considered myself a Christian and my best friend was a TBM. When I shared with him everything I was learning he accused me of reading anti-mormon material or down right said I was lying. Dumb struck, shocked, and bewildered are the first few things that come to mind towards his reaction. Our relationship went downhill from there. Regrettably, I didn’t turn into anti-Mormonism :/

    Fast forward to today:

    A year and a half ago I decided to ask myself questions about why I believed what I believed; I also questioned whether I had any reason to think that my beliefs were the “most true” or “most correct”. My current conclusion is, quite emphatically, no. I am now dabbling in agnostic, atheist, humanistic, etc. territory but can’t quite say for sure where I fall.

    To add some more confusion, I am now in a relationship with the aforementioned best friend (and its a mixed orientation relationship in which he is the straight one). Out of the blue one day he came to me with questions about the Church. One thing led to another and he no longer believes the Church is true, but, due to familial reasons, the cost of leaving is exceedingly high and would be absolutely devastating!

    As I’m sure you’re aware, its easy to find Mormonism compared to Christianity all over the net, but it always seems centered on their theologies. One of the running themes I’m looking forward to blogging on is comparing their problems that Christians are so quick to use to condemn Mormonism while refusing to acknowledge how their own arguments works against their own beliefs.

    Examples:

    Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor Polygamy vs. Old Testament Polygamy
    Lack of archaeological evidence for BOM vs. Lack of archaeological evidence for the
    Exodus
    BOM anachronisms vs. Bible anachronisms
    JS’s failed prophecies vs. Biblical failed prophecies
    JS’s changing first vision accounts vs. Differing versions of Jesus Christs’ resurrection

    This probably would have been better suited for my own blog, nonetheless, I hope it clears up any misconceptions 🙂

    ~ SoACTing

  2. Corrections:

    “Technically I’ve NEVER been a Mormon.”
    “Regrettably, I DID turn into anti-Mormonism”

  3. I’m really sorry to have to say this, but his reaction to your gaffe is the main reason why I am not a Mormon. It’s all contextual and if you don’t know the context, how are you supposed to gauge his reaction. Mormons (in my opinion) take things far too seriously and are quick to injury. I am really interested to hear how it all played out for you, though. I like it when outsiders get a chance to hold up the mirror of reflection and I cannot wait for your next post.

    Speaking of context, did you know that the word ‘fanny’ means vagina/vulva in the UK? That made your second question to him extremely funny to me.

    Speaking of Joseph Smith context, did you know that ‘Fanny’ also refers to the young housemaid that also became Joe’s first plural wife?

  4. leftofcentre:

    Do you think Mormons take things too seriously and are quick to be injured more so than Christians?? My initial gut reaction would be, Yes! But I was just slightly less shocked when I brought up the biblical flood with my parents and proposed the idea of it being allegorical or metaphorical as opposed to being literal. I wouldn’t necessarily say they were offended, but they were extremely quick to correct me that it was indeed literal!

    As far as Fannie Alger goes: Yes, I am aware that she is generally said to be Joseph Smith’s first plural wife. I know on the Mormon church’s familysearch.org website used to have one set of records that had Fannie listed as a wife and another set that did not. If I remember correctly I don’t recall there ever being an actual day given for the marriage. I personally think that it was an affair (based off of Cowdery’s accusation) and then later on it was deemed a polygamous marriage.

    ~ SoACTing

    P. S. After I plugged the UK definition in for “fanny”, it gave me a good laugh too! Lol.

  5. I get what you mean that X’tians can sometimes get a bit tetchy when you question how literal a Biblical event is, especially since it defies all evidence to the contrary. Noah’s ark and the world-wide flood is one of those tales that absolutely cannot be true. Noah could not have gathered two of every animal and put them on a boat until the water subsided. We cannot be descendants of a family containing the only ‘righteous’ people in the world…

    I think what I meant about injured was that whenever I question things about Mormonism (and believe me, I don’t think they’ve got a monopoly on crackpot doctrine), there is a hurt (rather than patronising) look in my mother’s eye that says, “You see, we will continue to be persecuted; it’s been prophesied and we’re just marching headlong to the day when Mormon missionaries will be killed in the street and left there for THREE days until Jesus comes!” There are so many prophetic references (in sacrament meeting, in general conference and in church history and sunday school classes) to being martyrs, both in the past and in the future. It shuts down the conversation to be a martyr since persecution for one’s beliefs – a prerequisite for sainthood- is a foregone conclusion. Mormonism is a religion analogous to the passive-aggressive parent who does not want to risk their own position as the authority figure and cops out of the conversation.

  6. leftofcentre:

    I get what you’re saying now! Love that last paragraph!!

    Outta curiosity, do you still believe in a God/god(s) at all??

    ~ SoACTing

  7. SoACTing,

    I don’t believe in god(s)…sometimes I wish I still did. I miss the community of people gathered together regularly who are united in purpose. Last week I attended a Hindu temple ceremony (just to see what the largest Hindu temple in Europe looked like). It was amazing and inclusive and we were welcomed in to all of the shrines and rooms. Their worship of gods and the ‘god in everything’ rather than one god seems, somehow, to dissipate the tension of having to focus energy on getting it all right for the one god. It was a series of gentle and moving ceremonies, and one of the best parts was that it had a restaurant attached to it, where most of the people ate afterwards. It was a true communion and you could feel a bond there that was very special.
    I sometimes think that the idea of multiple universes gives the best possibility for a ‘god figure’, but I fear I would need quite conclusive evidence and my math brain isn’t set up to understand enough. I would probably need chanson to write it down and draw it out for me!

  8. Leftofcentre:

    What does belief in god have to do with being part of a community? Unless you once believed in people then it’s easy to see how faith and belief could fail. If you ever truly believed in god and felt his love and companionship then lost that, I would understand a desire to somehow replace it. But people adapt and you can’t swing a stick without bumping into another community that you can join or visit. Try to replace a relationship with God and you soon find it impossible.

    SoACTing
    I’m interested to hear more, I don’t want to shift the flow of your story with questions but I have some.

  9. leftofcentre:

    I have some more questions that I’m keeping in mind, but I’m sure they will come up in other posts.

    Helaman (and anyone else who may have more questions or are just interested):

    I should have my blog and email account set up by the end of this weekend. My little brother was eager to start enjoying his summer vacation and he’s been at my house the last five days. He’s nearing the age where I expect that spending time with his friends will trump hanging out with his big sister, so I savor every moment 🙂 Unfortunately, its prevented me from sitting down at a desktop computer to do a few last finishing touches which I’m excited to finish and get out into OuterBlogness!

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