Idle Hands are the Devil’s Playthings

Boredom strikes me often, especially in the wee hours of the morning when I find myself awake and unable to get back to bed. Yesterday morning, I wandered over to Mormon.org – a site which prides itself on its live chat feature, allowing bored young atheists like myself the opportunity to speak with an LDS missionary in real time.

(We “don’t have to track missionaries down on the street or wait for them to knock on your door to ask them a question any more” – a problem that I assume very few of us have ever actually considered a problem.)

Upon entering the chat, I told my assigned missionary – Joshua – that I was once religious, but had lost my faith. I asked him for suggestions.

Joshua: your faith can be built again but it will require you to act

Joshua: you need to pray to God

Joshua: as if He were right next to you

Joshua: we pray with our hearts and not memorized prayers

Joshua: He knows your true desires and concerns

Joshua: will you pray to God to know of the true direction you should go?

Katie: Well, frankly, I’m not going to do that until I have a reason to believe I’m not just talking to myself.

Katie: I’m a Psychology student; I KNOW I can give myself comfort through reciting my life story and using the empty-chair technique.

Katie: I could just as easily become a Catholic or a Hindu or a Muslim by giving myself to a ritual.

At this point, Joshua asked me if I’d ever heard of the Priesthood. I told him I didn’t think I had. What follows reads a lot like a cult testimonial delivered by someone who has no idea he’s in a cult.

Joshua: the Priesthood is the power and authority of God to do His will.

Joshua: No one outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has that

Katie: But I bet they believe they do

Joshua: people outside the church believe they have a higher power but only God does, the Priesthood is like a key that allows us to do God’s work, but only the Prophet has the keys to watch over the whole Church

Katie: Who’s the Prophet?

Joshua: President Thomas S Monson

Katie: What does he do, exactly?

Joshua: He serves and teaches people, members and non members all over the world

Joshua: He receives revelation to help us in these latter days

And the kicker:

Katie: I’m sure this comes across as bitchy, but why do you believe that?

Katie: I’m trying to understand WHY this makes sense.

Joshua: I have listened and put his words to the test and have experienced the joy that comes from doing what is right

Joshua: If you try to only look at God’s ways logically you will never find the answers you are looking for

Joshua: sometimes we need to just go by what we feel

Joshua: our feelings are sometimes more right often

This is where I made my fatal mistake: after explaining that I only want to find correct answers, regardless of whether or not I’m “looking for” them, I was offered a free Book of Mormon on the condition that I’d let the local missionaries stop by. After forking over my address, I tried to find out more about Joshua – but he was having none of it.

Katie: Do you do these chats often?

Katie: Or go door-to-door?

Joshua: well we will get your contact details sent off right away

Joshua: sometimes yes

Joshua: both

Katie: Are you just a volunteer, or?

Joshua: yes

Joshua: I have to go now

Joshua: we’ll have the missionaries visit you as soon as possible

Joshua: thank you

Joshua: all the best

Katie:

Katie: So, you get my info, and then it’s over?

Katie: Seriously – address, and then done?

I had to shake off the sense of rejection – I’d just acquired the power to send Mormon missionaries out at will. There was work to be done. Like any power worth having, this one just had to be abused.

Eric: What brings you to Mormon.org?

JT: I’m struggling with my faith.

If you know JT Eberhard, you might already see where I was going with this.

JT: I’m not a Mormon, but from what I’ve read, it makes a lot of sense to me.

Eric: okay

JT: I’ve always been in sort of low-commitment churches and have never really felt like I’m doing God’s work.

JT: Do you have any suggestions?

Eric: yeah

Eric: read the book of Mormon

JT: I don’t have one

Eric: oh well we can get you one

Eric: would you like one?

JT: Absolutely

Eric: okay

Eric: can I have your address?

JT: <JT’s address>

Eric: and what is your full name?

JT: JT Eberhard

Eric: okay

Eric: and would you like the missionaries to come by and teach you?

JT: mm, Okay, yeah

JT: Are you still there?

Eric: yes

JT: I’m sort of nervous about talking with the missionaries…

Eric: don’t be

Eric: they are nice people

Eric: and they are just trying to help you

JT: Okay – thanks for everything!

Okay, so you probably shouldn’t do this to your friends. It’s not very nice. Don’t send the Mormons to your ex, your conniving fundamentalist mother, or your principal/dean.

However, I think there’s something to be learned from Joshua – he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. This is a guy who spends his free time representing a religion for which his only defense is “sometimes we need to just go by what we feel.

So, if you feel so inclined, invite the Mormons over. Adopt a missionary. Learn more about the LDS Church and the reasons people like Joshua and Eric are drawn to it. Listen, consider, and respond. Break the bubble.

Ramen!

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Idle Hands are the Devil's Playthings -- Topsy.com

  • Katie Hartman

    I have no idea what you're talking about, Morrison, but I'm fascinated by it.

  • Slayer of Christian

    By the power vested in me by the owner of the blog I hereby pronounce that any posts by Christian Trolls (Grady, Morrison and a local Kansas City attorney referred to by Morrison should she/he appear on this blog) that are crazy, illogical and out of place will be mercilessly deleted.

    Any communication about any debate that the Christian trolls are proposing should be addressed to the owners of the blog at the e-mail address provided before.

    P.S. If a "Lawyer" wants to debate, I don't see a reason for the him/herself not to contact the owners of the blog directly, Morrison. You are speaking for someone who will participate? Have you been authorized? Some sort of proof would be nice if you are speaking on behalf of someone else. Unless, you yourself are going to participate, Morrison? If not, please, refer the "Lawyer" (with capital "l") to contact the owners of the blog at their e-mail address; lawyers (with small "l") can do the same too.

    Amen!

  • Adam

    @ Morrison: I asked you to e-mail these messages. We delete your comments because you say nothing to add to the conversation. If you honestly want to debate us, you can e-mail us back and forth to work out the details. Posting comments on here that have nothing to do with the article will get your comment deleted… over and over again. You know our e-mail. You can save messages just like we can. There is an even in Lawrence we are putting together in May and are trying to set up a debate there. If you are interested in having it out in front of a large crowd of college aged believers and non-believers (impressionable youth) then e-mail us and I will see if I can get myself or JT to be part of the event. We have lives too, you know, and all have to find a date, place, and time that will work for everyone. AtheismResource@gmail.com… hope you can remember it this time.

  • Taylot

    I’m curious to see what Morrison is talking about too. I haven’t followed this blog so I don’t know of any censorship activity, but a debate sounds interesting. On what topic he means I don’t know either. Skepticism?

  • Adam

    As a mormon-turned-atheist, I can shed a bit of light on this. Young Mormon men are required to go on a 2-year proselytizing mission when they turn 19. These are not necessarily people who are strongly indoctrinated or overly committed. They are goofy teenage boys who face ENORMOUS social and emotional pressure from family and friends to do this. It gets to the point that if you haven’t gone on a mission, no good Mormon girl will date or marry you(which is the only way to achieve the highest level of heaven).

    The guy you’re talking to is a trainee at the church’s Missionary Training Center (MTC), and has been there for less than 3 weeks if he’s headed to a place that speaks his native language, or less than 3 months if he’s learning a new language. His training has almost no doctrinal content- it is basically a constant repetition of a handful of the most basic points, and intense language training if he’s going foreign.

    When I was at the MTC back in 2001 there was no internet chat, but we did the equivalent time (a few hours a week) in the church call center, fielding calls from the number displayed on the church’s tv ads. We had no training on telephone marketing, or preaching, or anything- we just had to follow a basic script and get the info, because we were completely clueless. I’m sure this Mormon Chat is basically the same set up.