"Mormons love to laugh at themselves; they just hate it when anyone else does." - (I'm pretty sure Pat Bagley wrote this, but I've been unable to find the spot where I thought it was written, so perhaps not. You can just attribute it to me if you want.)
Last week I talked a little bit about people mocking or bashing on my faith. After publishing, I realized that I should have mentioned that sometimes I find it really funny when people make fun of Mormons. Contrary to what some might assume, the "Book of Mormon" Broadway play is not one of those times, mainly because for some strange reason I don't find it amusing to joke about raping babies. I know, I know, I'm so weird. But this, for instance, I find hilarious, whether I should or not (warning: teensy bit of NSFW language).
Door to Door Atheists Bother Mormons
Making fun of Mormon culture, though hardly original, is one of my favorite pastimes. I think most Mormons enjoy making fun of their own culture, as movies like "The Singles Ward" can attest. (Though when I finally saw that movie, it was a great relief that I didn't feel "Wow, this is so familiar" nearly so much as "Wow, Provo Mormons are freaks." Utah Mormons think Provo Mormons are weird, American Mormons think Utah Mormons are weird, and other Americans just think Mormons are weird. Everyone's a hypocrite.) Just criticizing it outright with no attempt at humor, half-hoping that it will change and half-hoping that it won't change so that I can continue criticizing it, is one of my favorite pastimes too. I feel like being autistic makes me uniquely qualified to comment on the absurdities of culture (American culture, Mormon culture, dating culture, American Mormon dating culture, etc.). I don't know if it actually does, but I feel like it does, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
In this particular case which I'm about to bring up, though, I'm not criticizing; just musing. I love institute activities and, as part of the LDSSA service committee, help to set them up. But I don't really understand why the dances, at least around here, only have like four water breaks (aka slow songs) in three hours. I would've thought they'd be trying to make us fall in love and get married. Granted, maybe they just figured out (and of course this is a general problem not specific to their venue) that dances aren't the best way to go about that anyway. I hardly ever dance with strangers because it's not a good way to meet people. Three minutes is hardly long enough to get to know someone beyond a mind-numbingly superficial level, particularly when you have to say everything twice to be heard over the music.
At the last dance, I must have been out of the room when they played the "Cha-Cha Slide". That must have been it, because I know there's a secret directive somewhere that the "Cha-Cha Slide" has to be played at least once at every Mormon dance ever, at least in the U.S. and Canada.
From: The Office of the First Presidency
To: Strengthening Church Members Committee
Re: Cha-Cha Slide
Having reviewed the song in question, we agree that your concern about the swear word contained therein is a valid one. Nonetheless, we feel that, while regrettable, this is outweighed by the song's unmatched potential for reinforcing attitudes of conformity and obedience. Please ensure that it is played at least once at every church-sponsored dance ever, at least in the United States and Canada.
Also, Elder [Redacted] wishes to add, in an unofficial capacity, that "this funky beat makes me feel sixty-four again".
I wish I could change some of the words and see if anybody noticed. "Right foot let's stomp! Left foot let's stomp! Freeze! Everybody punch your neighbor in the face!" And then we would all learn a valuable lesson about which voices we choose to follow.
Actually, most of the songs are the same each time. They should let me choose the music one of these times. People might not like it but at least their horizons would be broadened. My first step would be to replace songs with their "Weird Al" Yankovic parodies whenever possible (e.g. "I Want It That Way" = "eBay" and "Party in the USA" = "Party in the CIA"). Then I would throw in a bunch of eclectic stuff, including but not limited to early 1960s sci-fi novelty tunes like this one.
Ran Dells - The Martian Hop
Now on to a more serious note. I saw this in my news feed (which, in case you hadn't figured it out yet, is where my social life takes place): "I'm pretty sure if we could get churches to start paying taxes, religion would disappear in the next couple of generations." Twenty-three people liked it.
I was far less concerned about the implicit threat than the fact that twenty-four people are so ignorant and foolish. Regardless of one's personal feelings on religion, this statement is absurd for at least two reasons. First of all, the last time I checked, religion was not confined to within the United States. In fact, the last time I checked, the United States had an extremely small percentage of the world's population. Admittedly, things might have changed since then. (That was sarcasm.) Second, people have willingly died for their beliefs for thousands of years. Christians directly after Christ's time were routinely stoned, crucified, and fed to lions, and in some parts of the world today they are still beheaded and blown up. People of other faiths have been persecuted too but I'm not as familiar with that history. Yet if their churches have to pay taxes, suddenly they'll give up? That makes no freaking sense.
The phrase "separation of church and state" is found nowhere in the Constitution, but comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson. And in the context of that letter, he was clearly referring to a protection of the church from the state, not vice-versa. Yet today people only cite this phrase when attempting to explain to religious people that the mandates of the state trump their personal convictions, and ignore it altogether when asserting that churches should be taxed. Of course, the state does need to be protected from the church too, but we've already taken care of that with a nifty little thing called the Bill of Rights, which explicitly goes both ways (but, incidentally, says nothing about freedom of religion being limited to privately held beliefs).
An unexpected perk of Windows 10:
With that being the case, actually, I should post the Talk Like a Pirate Day song. I hesitate because I've already shared one song and a total of two YouTube videos in this post, and most people probably don't have the time or inclination to watch all three, but if I don't post it now I'll have to wait an entire year. So consider it a bonus. You're welcome.
Tom Smith - Talk Like a Pirate Day
This post has gone on too long for me to also share some writing samples from my classes, but if you're really good, maybe I'll do that next week.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.