Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Mormons, Man, they MUST be taking the piss!

I mean, they’ve just got to be. Sit in the cool, hazy shade of a decades-old mango tree between the shimmering hot hours of 11 and 3 in any Samoan village on any day of the week (except Sunday), and look out into the sweltering white heat to see what you can see. The air is so stifling that even the bloody chickens that squawk-out the hour all night long and who contribute a solid, uninterrupted, sleep-depriving racket from 7am until 10 seem to have gone to ground and are following your lead underneath some bush or coconut tree. With the exception of the gentle swish from the swaying coconut fronds, the world is silent and still; not a soul is out there … not a single sign of human life.

That is unless you count the members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints as human, in which case there they’ll be, wandering along beside the sizzling, bitumen road in the full heat of the blazing sun, their black, woolen trousers intensifying the blistering heat, their starched, white, long-sleeved shirts plastered to their backs and chests with sweat and their black ties at full-mast, turning wet from the top down as they soak-up the rivulets which run down cleanly shaven necks.

Only a harsh practical joker could conceive of this most ridiculous concept; to force their own to put on the most inappropriate clothes and move through the world in the hottest part of a hot day in a hot, hot country, with nary but a holy book to hold above their heads as a means of shading their eyes from the sun’s fury. Even the latter is funny, as those tricksters in the LDS Church hierarchy, I presume in an attempt to see just how far they could push their prank before someone would call them on it, have decreed that the compulsory, standard-issue holy book be of such minute dimensions as to provide not a sliver of shade.

These senior-ranking, nutty funsters, holed-up in Utah and sitting around in their uncomfortable ceremonial underwear don’t stop at these hilarious attempts to give their young brethren sunstroke, either. Not content with taking the piss out of their only-recently-embraced, darker-skinned communities of the Pacific, they’ll also have a stab at their own kids, by sending them “on mission” to these new, fertile hunting grounds of the Pacific. Now even I admit that it’s pretty funny to send a skinny, white, blond, crackling-voiced, acne-ridden teenager from the outer-suburbs of Utah to a village in Samoa to convert to Mormonism people who speak a completely different language, by knocking on doors of houses that don’t have any. I mean, this is the stuff of those stupid practical joke TV shows, isn’t it? Surely there must be a TV camera hidden somewhere up in the rafters of the thatched roof, capturing every confused facial expression of these young kids as they stand awkwardly outside the traditional, wall-less house, sweating profusely in the midday inferno, reading out passages of a tiny book in a language that the people dozing inside cannot even understand? MasterCard my ass! That stuff is priceless!

The senior-ranking Mormons are even trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the rest of us. Did you know that until relatively recently, black people were forbidden from joining the hierarchy of the LDS Church? Fortunately that’s all changed now, and the Mormons have been churning through the Christianity-rich Pacific Islands ever since, swelling their numbers and making piles and piles of steaming, hot, tax-free cash in the process. The practical joke part of it is that a new, sacred “tablet” allowing black people to join the Church was found at about the same time as the financial data about modern Christian expansion in the Pacific became available, and now, thanks to a new, instructional tablet from God (allegedly discovered down the back of someone’s couch), there’s a brand new, community-funded LDS Church going up every couple of kilometers in Samoa. What’s funny about that? Only that every Tax or Inland Revenue Department in the world seems to have swallowed this stuff hook, line and sinker!

But for me, the best indicator that the Mormons are having an almighty lend of the rest of us lies in their promotion of the saintly, virtuous young Mormon. They and their youth-oriented literature bang-on-and-on about chastity before marriage and being faithful to both God and their wives (although if being faithful to one wife seems a little too difficult, they can always marry another), and yet, in the villages of the Pacific, when it comes to converting potential new members, the Mormons seem to have gone with the age-old adage of advertising agencies the world over; “sex sells” … or at least it certainly helps the salesman to get his foot in the door.

I am sure it is not by coincidence that most of my female friends in Samoa have looked dozily-out from the shade of the mango tree on a hot afternoon and seen a buff, young Samoan Hercules, his six-pack visible through his soaking, see-through white shirt, and thought, ”Mmmmmmm, that’s nice”, before proceeding to call him over for a chat about the Mormons. I am also sure that it is not by coincidence that I have later seen my female friends, after a night of sweaty, close-up dancing in a sweltering Samoan nightclub, wander out along the sea wall, hand-in-hand with that very same Mormon missionary. Virtuous chastity indeed!

And the practical jokes aren’t just for the Pacific, either. Just as white Mormons send their kids “on mission” to idyllic tropical locales to flounder around in the heat, trying to recruit new converts without a scrap of common language, so too, do some lucky Pacific Islanders get to become missionaries also. Just the other day, on a freezing, blustery afternoon in Melbourne, I watched a couple of young Mormons in the same black trousers, white shirts and black ties, standing at a tram stop reading passages of their book and trying to give out their riveting written material. While one of the guys looked local, seemingly from one of Melbourne’s wealthier suburbs, the other guy was a buff, young Polynesian lad who was shivering in the bitter cold (again, that old fish-out-of-water gag - you just can’t beat it!).

The Australian kid was standing on a chair and proselytising, while the other guy, through chattering teeth, was “working the room”; roving amongst the assembled passengers, handing out magazines and whispering words of salvation … or so I thought, because while the written material that he was shoving into the faces of unsuspecting commuters, like all the others I have ever seen, almost certainly contained lengthy diatribes on the need for young people to stay “pure”, his next action was quite unexpected indeed.

I watched him approach a very well-dressed, good looking young lady in a short skirt and stylish, knee-high boots, to whom he said something. In reply, she looked up from her book and shook her head, to which, with a flash of sparkling teeth, he gave a loud laugh, dumped the collection of magazines and brochures he was holding on the ground at his feet and sat down beside her (very closely) for a chat. Before long, they were both laughing at each other’s jokes and getting along very well indeed, and although Donkey is not the most intuitive guy when it comes to cross-gender signals, there was enough cross-legged toe-pointing, twirling of ringlets of hair and showings of the inside of wrists to send the message loud and clear that they were not talking about eternal life.

So they may have pulled the wool over the eyes of their own, and the tax fraud investigators all over the world, but the Mormons aren’t fooling me with their claims of purity and chastity; young people are the same the world over; when beautiful people are pointing at you and saying “Mmmmmm”, it doesn’t matter how many copies of The Book of Mormon you read to stop the urge. Sending this young kid to Australia might have been a clever little prank designed by the powers-that-be in the LDS Church to humiliate him, but for this young missionary and his new, tram-riding friend, the next few hours were shaping-up to look as though the joke might definitely be on the mugs who coughed-up the cash to send him here to spread “the word”.

This really has nothing to do with the story, but I laughed to find the "Mormon hunks calendar". Told you they were having a lend. Pic: http://www.jewishjournal.com