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
Katie: Are you just a volunteer, or?
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: 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.
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: read the book of Mormon
JT: I don’t have one
Eric: oh well we can get you one
Eric: would you like one?
Eric: can I have your address?
JT: <JT’s address>
Eric: and what is your full name?
JT: JT Eberhard
Eric: and would you like the missionaries to come by and teach you?
JT: mm, Okay, yeah
JT: Are you still there?
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.