This recap was written 2 weeks after the actual date. Serious noting didn’t start until my 2nd visit with the Mormons. I sent a text to the number the “Book of Mormon’s” playbill to receive a free book. One week later, two Elders visited my house.
My initial encounter with Elder Larman and Elder Cheung is exactly how Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park and Book of Mormon musical, describe them. They really look like they’re on the verge of dancing/singing. They are so friendly and polite. I invited them in and they asked if they should take off their shoes. I almost broke out laughing, not because I’m trying to mock them, but because it was so shockingly polite; that uncomfortable laugh.
I respectfully declined their request. They say down with their shoes on and we opened up in prayer; another thing they asked before proceeding with. After, from what I remember, they gave an introduction about who they are and what they do. They’re Mormon missionaries serving in San Francisco, but are from somewhere else and serve almost 24/7. They wear those slacks and ties you normally see, and they share a cell phone. So, whenever I call Elder Larman, I’m calling Elder Cheung as well.
They asked what I knew about the Mormon religion and they seemed surprised that I had decent knowledge about the reason and resurrection of Jesus, the Angel Moronai speaking to big J. Smith, and Smith translating a third part of God’s testimony, now known as the Book of Mormon, from gold plates with special seeing stones…..even though no one ever saw it. They asked what I thought about Jesus Christ. I replied, “I want to view him as a historical figure, and discover more about him, in some context other than a Bible.” Apparently, that’s what the BOM is, according to them in answering my statement.
For the most part, it was very much an introductory sit down and to get information, I’d have to seek out God and their teachings. I showed an interest to keep our conversation going. There’s only one thing that sticks out from this encounter. I asked Elder Larman why he finds Mormonism to be the right religion, as opposed to the others. He grew up in a Christian family, in Texas, and he was at an age of trying to find “answers.” A great meaning to life so-to-speak. He got on his knees and prayed to God to help him discover the truth. It was here, where he felt God tell him, “You’ve always known the truth.”
Flashback: Elder Larman remembered a time where he was briefed about Joseph Smith and the BOM and this moment, is what he correlated with the truth. He felt the “Holy Ghost” tell him that Mormonism was the way to go. Through Larman’s story and him discussing his faith, something struck me. Seeing him describe his life and religion on such an emotional level got me ALMOST sharing his emotions. I felt, “Holy shit! What if he’s right? This is a powerful feeling!” But, after this split second, this moment reminded me of a ceremony I attended at a Christian church when I was younger. At this time, I stopped calling myself religious, so I must have been 17+. The pastor was speaking about the blood of Christ and how being born again is an amazing experience. What I felt here, was the same feeling I had with the Elders.
But it was the emotions that were striking me, not their belief. It’s such a fallacy; appeal to emotions. I’ll touch more on this later. But, what I can say is, if I was someone who was seeking a sense of belonging or answers, I’d probably buy into Mormonism and let me emotions take over and throw out rationality. My emotions and brain would be convincing me that I’m feeling Jesus. This was really the tip of the iceberg. I discovered more of this emotional appeal when I visited them at their chapel.
BUT…….I finally received my free books!
It has taken me a while to transcribe my thoughts and feelings about these endeavors. Everything I am writing (now and in the future of this “series”) probably won’t be conveyed as well as I hope. I’m sure I will forget minuscule, yet important details. This series, if I bother to keep it going, will include something I hate doing; taking myself serious.
Before getting to the main point of all this, like everything else, it’s probably important to start in the beginning. My girlfriend and I went to see the musical, “Book of Mormon” and the show’s playbill had advertisement saying “the book is always better.” It offered some number to text, and receive a free copy of the actual book and being a sucker for free shit, I caved in.
A few days later, I get a call from Mormon missionaries asking if we could get together. I knew it! There’s a catch! I can’t even get a free book without a lecture. It’s like those time share scams. But, I agreed and they came over. And this is where my journaling started. Being fascinated by religion, I started meeting any religious affiliate I could to not just educate myself, but understand how people believe this stuff. “Jesus, let’s grab a beer” includes my journal entries about my conversations, while including my two cents.
To explain what I believe in takes too long and may sound too vague. I guess you could say I’m an Agnostic deist if we had to use labels. I do feel like there’s something spiritual out there and if there’s a higher being or creator, he doesn’t give a shit. “You’re a bad game of sims.”-Bo Burnham
Any religious belief, be it Christianity or Mormonism, the burden of proof is on their end and I have yet to be convinced that what they believe is credible. I don’t dismiss Evolution and I lean more toward science than faith, and why I lean that way is a different discussion and not the point of why I’m doing this.
Whether or not a person believes religion is the heart of evil or the central foundation of a person’s life, I find religion fascinating and want to learn more. I don’t know, maybe it’s my love of fantasy or science fiction as a result of what excites me about religion, as cooky as they are. It’s why I haven’t converted to anything; I want to learn about beliefs on the whole spectrum, but it’s impossible if I have a presupposition about Jesus; then discussion turns to debate. Basically, I can’t be a Christian trying to learn about Mormonism because it wouldn’t be a learning experience; it would be a “No, my fairytale has more truth than yours. You’re wrong!”
I’m not looking for a heated debate nor am I trying to call someone stupid, I just want to talk. The discussion aspect has a tendency to turn to mockery, while religion uses hell and outdated metaphors to oppress gay people. I don’t want anything like that. I did this for myself and I just recorded my own thoughts and reflections.
After spending my last year in college reading Richard Dawkin’s book, or following the late Christopher Hitchens, the debate excited me. I was fascinated with Lawrence Krauss’s discussion on “nothingness” and I watched a lot of Atheist Experience out of Texas. I also laughed every time Pat Robinson and Ray Comfort opened their mouths. I started leaning toward the atheist perspective, but it became a bias and I would just look for anything that would discredit religious beliefs. If I really want to learn about this, and if I’m as “open” about it, I should hear it from other people that aren’t on the internet.
So, my journals encompass my experiences as what they are; learning experiences. I don’t profess to know anything and quite frankly, I understand jack shit about the majority of these topics. These are not meant to really be viewed as anything more than journal entries and if someone decides to read it, awesome. But, come on Jesus, let’s grab a beer.