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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Mormons at my Door

Last night the door bell rang about 6:00 in the evening. My front door is a country style door, with glass panes, no curtain on it. Standing there were two young men in black trousers, white shirts with ties. Immediately I knew, there are Mormons at my door. Jehovah's witnesses come also, but Mormons wear a sort of uniform that lets you know who they are.

Caveat emptor, my father was born Morman in Salt Lake City to two "Jack-Mormons" (non-practicing) His entire side of the family are Mormons, but I didn't grow up anywhere near them, in fact I only remember meeting one second cousin and an aunt on that side. That same cousin about 20 years ago sent me a book of Mormon and a family geneology that goes back about 400 years. I've studied the basics, but have never had any desire to go further other than to get a feel for their beliefs, more an academic curiosity than anything else.

Last night when they came, I didn't quite know what I was going to say, but I knew I had no desire to do anything but be polite and send them on their way. Four years ago, at the age of 49, after YEARS of never committing to any faith, I was baptized Catholic. Am I a "good Catholic"? If that means attending church, the answer is I haven't attended regularly for two years. How do I see that? I see that as an issue between myself and my creator, no one else.

Anyways, here's the conversation as it went:

Me: Hello, can I help you?

Young Man: Hi, my name is Jeffrey, how are you this evening?

Me: I'm fine thank you. May I ask , are you Mormons?

Young Man: Yes we are (smile) do you have a moment to spend with us?

Me: Yes I have a moment, but let me tell you up front, I'm a Catholic. My father's entire family on his side are Mormons, my father was never practicing, nor were his parents while he was growing up. I don't know his side of the family, but I've heard they're good people and I respect their choice of faith.

Young Man: Oh, your father's entire family was Mormon but you chose to be a Catholic? Have you read the Book of Mormon? I have, I read it many times and I have prayed, and I know it is the truth. Would you give us some time to share our faith with you?

Me: That would be fine, I don't have that much time right now, but I'd like to share my faith with you too for the time we talk, would that be OK?

Young Man: Well, we're doing missionary work you know, and it's our job to share our faith with others.

Me: Yes I know, but if I give you my time out of respect for your beliefs that you hold dear, don't you think you should do the same for me?

Young Man: Well, I know my faith is the true faith.

Me: I am more than happy you feel that way and have found what fulfills you, but I've found that same thing in another faith.

Young Man: So are you saying you don't want us to share with you?

Me: No, what I'm asking is that since I'm openly telling you I respect your choice, I would like you to do the same for me.

Young Man: you know anyone else that you could lead us to who might want to have us share our faith?

Me: Well, the people I would send you to would either have their own faith or no faith, agnostics or atheists. Would you let them share their faiths with you? Because I don't believe in a one-sided conversation and monopoly on "truth" by any faith. I think that faith is a very personal choice.

Young Man: So you don't know anyone else?

Me: If all you want to do is talk and not listen, to try to convert, then I'm sorry, no I do not. I would tell you good luck, but what I'd really like to say is that you need to show respect for others just like you expect them to respect you. Have a nice evening gentlemen, be careful, there are no sidewalks in this neighborhood so walk carefully.

Note, I am not picking on Mormons in particular at all, they have every right under the sun to do their prostelyzing just like anyone else. BUT, just like anyone else who chooses to do this sort of thing, and I do mean anyone from ANY faith, if you encounter someone who has a faith of their own, RESPECT IT. Who knows, you might LEARN something about other faiths that you never knew if you allow people to be who they are and show them the very thing you are seeking yourself, an ear and a friendly smile. We are all children of God, so treat your family kindly.

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