It rankles me. It itches at my offended bone. It makes me wrinkle my nose in disdain.
I'm not sure exactly what it is but I think that part of it is because:
1) Every lesson at church eventually turns into 'and you can use this as a way to convert non-Mormons.'
2) I secretly HATE the term Mormon.
3) There seems to be very little discussion on helping current members of the church who are struggling or who aren't even coming.
4) There is more to my faith than just converting the world.
So on Sunday's when inevitably someone says those fateful words, ("And when you are being kind to those around you... especially the non-Mormons... you'll see more people coming to church.") I think about living in South Dakota.
I think about how our small, tiny little congregation was in such a different position than here. We were, by far, the minority in religions and yet we lived in a large Christian community. At church we talked about how our actions influenced the way people thought of us. We pursued the theme of 'Happiness in Oneness' and focused on making our congregation and community stronger. We had faith that our examples would bring people closer to understanding us and finding the truth we possessed.
That isn't to say that missionary work wasn't emphasized, it was just done so in a very different way. I'm not sure I ever heard the term 'non-Mormons' while I lived in SD, because it was as derogatory there as it would be to say 'Those Mormons.'
We were all part of a greater purpose, all part of bringing the gospel of Christ to those around us.
Here it seems as if everyone wants to make everyone else Mormon, instead of bringing them to the truth of Christ.
Does that make sense?
Yesterday, at church, my teacher talked about how we are a people, separate and distinguishable from others. I really struggled with this idea. Culturally, I would agree. Genetically I have to disagree. To be Jewish doesn't mean, necessarily, that you practice Judaism. It means that there are certain genetic traits that make you part of that 'people.' Being Mormon doesn't mean the same thing and I think that viewing ourselves as a separate people is a dangerous place to be. It allows us to circle the wagons and look upon the outside world with barely veiled contempt. Yet when we accept that our most distinguishing feature is the way that we embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, we instinctively want to share that with others.
When we focus on making our congregations stronger it stands to reason that we would become better people and would then draw in those around us with our kindness and generosity.
Viewing the world as Mormon v Non-Mormon (Us v. Them) only creates animosity when there could be love. It creates division where there could be unity. Embracing the differences around us does not mean that we have to condone immoral behavior. It means you keep your mouth shut and see the person beneath that behavior.
So, yesterday at church I felt like saying all of that, but no one knows me there. I've been there for two months and yesterday I was introduced as a new move-in (again). So I quietly listened as they talked about conversion rates and wondered to myself when they were going to discuss less-actives.
Cannwin spends her time searching for her inner Shakespeare in the hopes that one day she will be able to dethrone the king and take her place as the greatest writer of all time. She just moved with her husband and four children from South Dakota to the sunny SouthWest. You can explore more of her world at The Great and Random Ramblings of Cannwin and The Literary Soundtrack.