Last night, the Mormons came to visit us. As I mentioned in a previous entry, Dave had invited them, after talking to them at a bus stop… Which freaked me out slightly (when I found out) but nobody in this house is normal, so I just went with it.
The Mormons arrived early and looked VERY young. Clean-cut, polite, friendly boys, in ties (of course), who smiled with the serene faces of people who KNEW they had the answer. Brandon mostly hid upstairs, getting ready for Cadets but stopping intermittently, to sit with his head in his hands, going “What the hell are my parents doing NOW?”. By the time Bran left, the Mormons had settled in and he was glad to get away.
The Mormon approach to evangelism seems to be made up of three things – spreading the gospel (according to Joseph Smith), a bit of gentle hypnotism and some hard sales techniques:
The gospel part of it was… I don’t want to be too rude but frankly I thought it was funny. Please look into it for yourselves. I love the idea that after The Ascension, Jesus didn’t just go to Heaven – He flew to America and taught Americans all the same stuff he had taught before, including a reprise of the Sermon on the Mount.
The “sales” part of the visit was very off-putting. The Mormons kept trying to dictate to US what was going to happen. They asked us if we would be prepared to be baptised into their Church, if we believed their scriptures. The obvious answer to that is “yes”. But then they somehow ignored the IF and started arranging for us to be visited three times a week, to be prepared for baptism on the 24th of July. WTF? We put paid to that notion, saying they could leave their literature and a telephone number, but nothing else should be planned yet. The last time I experienced somebody trying to “close a deal” in that way was years ago, when an American neighbour was brow-beating me into buying cleaning goods, from Amway International. It didn’t work then.
The scariest part of their visit came in the middle. It was the part where they seemed to be trying some hypnosis techniques on us. We had to read part of their scriptures with them and then close our eyes and listen to the next part. We were told in advance that as we sat there, eyes closed, we would feel the Holy Spirit filling us and making us feel wonderful. I think that’s called “the power of suggestion”. Then one of them described a scene and asked us to imagine we were there and what it felt like (which seemed like another classic hypnotic technique, to me).
He told the story of Joseph Smith, being visited by God and Jesus. A pillar of light descending, two “Personages” appearing, brightness and glory all around ending with “… hear Him!” and then a loooong silence. All this time I had been sitting there, eyes closed, thinking “They’re trying to hypnotise us!” – so (and when I told David this, after the event, he said it was proof that I was utterly insane) I filled my mind with the most silly, funny, unlikely “message” the Holy Spirit could give me.
“DO YOU WANT SOME SAUSAGES?” I imagined the fake “Holy Spirit” asking. “DO YOU WANT SOME SAUSAGES? DO YOU WANT SOME SAUSAGES? DOYOUWANTSOMESAUSAGES? DOYOUWANTSOMESAUSAGES?”. By this brilliant method, I made myself immune to hypnotic suggestion, blocked out any artificially induced “revelations” and also made myself laugh a bit (inside). Dave actually did do what they asked but didn’t “feel” anything much. As he said later; the Catholic Church had been trying to brain-wash him all through school and that hadn’t worked either.
Finally they left, giving us a pile of literature and a quick prayer on the way out. They were nice enough but being Mormon isn’t for us, which I think they knew. When Brandon got home from Cadets (however) we did pretend to be newly converted Mormons, for at least five minutes. You should have seen the look on his face – it made the whole evening worth it.