I was just about to leave the house today when the doorbell rang. It was two young men doing mission work for the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints. I'd seen them around the neighborhood earlier in the week, and to be honest, I was relieved that they hadn't come to our place yet. The last time a pair were in the neighborhood they just told us about a PBS program that was going to be on and went on their way. Today, they were a little more persistant.
Let me just say that I respect that these two young men have a calling to do this sort of thing, but I'm also uncomfortable having someone try to evangelize me. I remember when I was living at my parents house, once, a woman and her 8-year old daughter came to the door. She asked me if I knew whether I was going to heaven. I told her no, because I don't think anybody knows that. That's for God to know. She wasn't pleased and I finally had to shut the door on her to get out of the conversation. I felt bad shutting the door on her little girl as well, but I was in such an uncomfortable position that I didn't have any other way to end the conversation.
Today, the pair of Mormon missionaries told me that they believe that Jesus visited the Americas. They even showed me a full color portrait of Jesus with some lovely native Americans. Squanto might even have been one of them. They quoted some bible verses (which, for all I know were completely made up) and asked me if I'd like to know more--all after I told them I was Catholic.* The entire conversation made me extraordinarily uncomfortable. I understand the position these young men are in and that this mission work is what enables them to marry in their church, I respect their decision to believe that Christ skipped over all of Europe and decided to visit Utah instead before he was crucified, I even admire that they believe in it enough to want to convince me. But I'm not interested in being converted. I wasn't sure where the conversation was going, and I was running late, so when they asked "Would you like to set up a time that we could come back and tell you more about this?" I answered by simply saying that I didn't think so, because "I'm too devout in my Catholicism."
I could almost feel the angels cough a collective "bullshit" as I sensed the lightning about to strike me down.**
The truth is that I'm a horrible Catholic. I've gotten worse over the last few years. There are things about the religion that I love, but there are so many things about the religion that make me boil with anger that I often wonder if I should remain. I mean, come on, we now have an ex-Nazi for a pope. And Joey Ratz ain't the looker that John Paul was, let me tell you.
So claiming my devotion to a religion that I waver on was a surprise, even for me. It certainly wasn't the out I was expecting to use when I started to talk with them. This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. As Little Man gets bigger and bigger, I wonder what we should do about faith and about religion. I'm not ready to leave it, yet. It's too much a part of my family culture, but I also have trouble supporting the church in much of what it's done. I hate its stance towards women and I think it needs to stay out of people's bedrooms--that's just for starters. But I think the church gets things right, too. I like that there's no biblical literalism, I like that it believes there are other paths to God. (although, I do understand that the church prefers that you use their own, private gilded path)
This is a hard issue for me. It's one that J and I struggle with and debate about fairly regularly. It's something that I think is really important, but I'm not ready to make any decisions yet. I'll write more about it later, but until then- what do you think?? Any moments of doubt or conversion that helped to show you the way?? Because the two guys at my door today apparently didn't work.
*My mom told me once that a good way to get rid of certain types of evangelists is to tell them you're Catholic-- apparently, there are some things worth than being a heathen.
**In case you aren't aware, Catholics are good at guilt.