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Saturday, February 05, 2005 

How Many Mothers Do You Have? One, Stupid…How Many Do You Have?

How many times have I heard this question? More than I would care to count… Here’s why, I grew up all over: St. Louis, Sweden, Cape Girardeau, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Texas. I lived in Idaho and Utah for school, and I ended up in Utah quite accidentally and certainly unintentionally. But at least I don’t get asked this question a lot anymore…

I am not a Utah-hater…or even a Utah-dis-liker, or a Utah-looker-down-upon-er. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that for those of us who did not grow up here, there might sometimes be a stereotype or generalization about “Utah Mormons”, and that maybe I once fell into those ignorant ranks of “Mission Fielders.” Raise your hand if you were not aware of this stereotype? Raise your hand if you never had a roommate who was slightly disdainful of your Utah provenance? We can discuss that sub-topic later, I just want to make sure we are all on the same page…

I don’t have any baggage about being a Mormon. (Being a Mormon who lives in Utah? Maybe there is some baggage for me there, but let’s save that juicy topic for another week…)

I was usually one of few Mormons at school. There was always at least one other family who lived in our town who were Mormons, so between siblings and a couple others, people were generally accustomed to having Mormons around, in the general sense, although we were often confused with the Amish, Mennonites, and Jehovah’s Witnesses which led to other embarrassingly stupid questions/statements like: “How come you can wear makeup?” “I thought you couldn’t drive cars…” “Can you use electricity?”

I was asked questions about my beliefs ON A DAILY BASIS. I was asked constantly, “How many mothers do you have?” My dance teacher asked why we couldn’t dance on Sunday. She also asked us if Mormons were “allowed” to dance (“in like Footloose”? I thought…). Every teacher in high school asked me about early morning seminary. And of course, friends asked questions of “why can’t you…” all the time.

But I never came away from any opportunity to tell someone a little bit about Mormonism without the feeling that they liked me a little better or respected me a little more. I didn’t have to preach a sermon, just answer the question.

Did it hurt my feelings that NOT ONE BOY in high school EVER asked me out because they knew I was a Mormon and wasn’t sure what that would mean to take me on a date? Sure it did, sometimes, but not all the time. Thank goodness I was shy.

Did people always understand me, or why I did what I did? Probably not…

Did people make assumptions about me and my religion? Oh, I’m sure of it!

Did they incorrectly “judge” me? You bet!

Did it bother me then? Maybe a little…

Does it bother me now? Not at all.

Can I read minds? No. “Thank goodness” for all you pervs.

Can I imagine what people must think of me for being a Mormon? Yes.

By virtue of simply being a Mormon, some people think that I am intolerant, old fashioned, brain washed, non-progressive, denying my self a good time, missing out, fundamentalist, in a cult, tricked, deceived, delusional, fanciful, out of touch, unfashionable, suppressed, oppressed, wasting my time, ignorant, sheltered, blind, a Republican, etc…

Do those people have reason to assume such things? Probably, based on people they have known, books they have read, movies they have seen, talks they have heard, articles they have read…

Are these assumptions correct because people think them and even might have “proof”?

Absolutely not.

What are the best ways to refute these erroneous accusations? Rebecca, Kaycee, Sarah Marinara, JP, Cameron, & Carrie Ann… no matter what stage of humanity/Mormonism they are at…

You native UTAHNS have “checked” any baggage I might feel about Utah Mormons because I KNOW and LOVE and RESPECT you. How could I not after getting to know you?

So should I worry about the people who don’t know me/Mormonism yet?

I’ll just take it one question at a time….yes, you in the back row…what’s your question….

Carrie Ann… so interesting.

You have lived everywhere. Did you notice people having more questions about your religion when you lived abroad? Or less? Or didn’t really notice at all? Is there one place you lived that represented more misunderstandings then others?

I am trying to think of my own abroad experience and I don’t think it really came into play… although this may have been a result of being 11 and 12 years old and the only things on my brain were florescent neon clothing and Ah-Ha, not my friends beliefs.

Posted by Rebecca

Utah Mormon and proud! ;)  

Posted by Aimee Roo

I remember having the same experience... being questioned about things, having the answers and feeling good about things afterwards.  

Posted by Kaycee

Oh, I totally just remembered a funny one, and this happened in Utah. We were at the Hotel Utah (now the JSM Building) and the waiter for some reason asked my grandpa about having horns. I guess he had overheard us talking about the church, and you know, Mormons have horns, so he had to ask!

Anyway, my grandpa, being the funny man he was, said yes. He then put his hands on his head and said "they're right here", the waiter actually looked too! ;) 

Posted by Aimee Roo

CA...I LOVE reading everything you write. I am always so impressed by you. Kaycee's little blurb/intro about you is so true...open minded and fair. ALWAYS.

I also love how simple and true you are to your faith and your beliefs. You are just the coolest thing since sliced bread. And I should know... ;) 

Posted by JP

Carrie Ann - I meant to tell you that I LOVE your title.

Aimee - Your storey is great. Funny that it happened in a building owned by the Church that is directly across the street from the SLC Temple... I think that is the best part!


Posted by Rebecca

Rebecca, I was little when I lived abroad, and so I personally do not think I had a lot of "missionary opportunities." But I will be honest and say that while it is still a novelty to look down my street and marvel that there are AO MANY MORMONS!!!! I really miss being "unique" and I miss being asked about the church.

But I love my culturally diverse neighborhood, I think I would be hard pressed to find such a great mix of world cultures in such a small area anywhere else, honestly. It's not very diverse religiously, though. St. Louis was the best place for that. 

Posted by Carrie Ann


Posted by Cameron

I grew up in Utah, but did not have a "typical" Mormon upbringing although my immediate family (parents and sibs) are solid active Mormons. I have often been asked if I am Catholic, or told that there is no way that I grew up in Utah. Upon visiting a good Mormon friend in GB, her mother told me that she was nervous about me coming due to the fact I was from Utah, but that her daughter had assured her that I was not a typical Utah Mormon, she agreed. Sadly, I am quite proud that I am a "good Mormon", live in Utah and am often thought to be from elsewhere.

P.S. What did you give up for lent? (9th of February - 26th of March 2005).
Chocolate for me...
(info from http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/lent.htm)
Q: What are appropriate activities for days during Lent?
A: Giving up something we enjoy for Lent, doing of physical or spiritual acts of mercy for others, prayer, fasting, abstinence, going to confession, and other acts expressing repentance in general
Q: Why is giving up something for Lent such a salutary custom?
A: By denying ourselves something we enjoy, we discipline our wills so that we are not slaves to our pleasures. Just as indulging the pleasure of eating leads to physical flabbiness and, if this is great enough, an inability to perform in physically demanding situations, indulging in pleasure in general leads to spiritual flabbiness and, if this is great enough, an inability to perform in spiritual demanding situations, we when the demands of morality require us to sacrifice something pleasurable (such as sex before marriage or not within the confines of marriage) or endure hardship (such as being scorned or persecuted for the faith). By disciplining the will to refuse pleasures when they are not sinful, a habit is developed which allows the will to refuse pleasures when they are sinful. There are few better ways to keep one's priorities straight than by periodically denying ourselves things of lesser priority to show us that they are not necessary and focus our attention on what is necessary.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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