An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

I Love Converts

I love converts to Mormonism. Unlike hereditary members, converts do not enclose themselves within a tight circle to shield their testimonies from non-Mormon beliefs and practices. Converts have been exposed to other religious views and chose Mormonism as the most spiritually satisfying for themselves.

Two of my favorite neighbors hail from outside Utah. Indira, a firm believer who loves the family values of her chosen religion, remains an outsider in our ward. She owns and operates a yoga studio and finds the physical and spiritual benefits of yoga practice complement her Mormon beliefs. Yoga is not popular in Mormon circles, although it fits well with Mormon concern for health. Since yoga stems from Hinduism and some poses include forming the hands in prayer position and bowing the head, is their fear that it violates the commandment not to worship false gods?

Joe, an immigrant from Singapore, is a high priest in our ward who practices the healing meditation of Qi Gong in order to relieve chronic back pain suffered in a work-related accident last year. I’m glad Joe feels comfortable incorporating beneficial aspects of his culture into his current religion. Both appear to enrich his life.

Our oldest son once dated a convert from Catholicism. Michelle, who was working on a Ph.D. in religious studies, had no problem with the warts of Mormonism. Having no expectations that her new faith and its leaders would be perfect in every way, she handled learning that some aspects of official Church history differ from verifiable facts. Michelle taught me how to distinguish actual growth of Church membership from official statistics. Compare the numbers of stakes and wards from one year to the next. Stakes and ward are not created unless bodies show up to occupy them.

Converts are great. They know good people exist beyond the boundaries of Mormonism. Their circles include rather than exclude.

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Comments on: "I Love Converts" (2)

  1. Dorothy J.D. Guinn said:

    Well said 🙂 I have often felt awkward as an intuitive /energy healer around ‘mainstream Mormons’. I am glad your friend could take advantage of what works for him.

    It cracks me up that we utilize ‘laying on of hands’ and ‘consecrated oil’ but are terrified by the variations that show up in other cultures. We’ve become frightened by it enough that we have eliminated much of our own uses of what my kids have come to jokingly call the ‘hokey sciences.’ I remember my mom telling me about a time when it was appropriate to use consecrated oil for things not attached to a priesthood blessing.

    The rules to discontinue using it in this fashion came about just before my little brother’s severe case of chicken pox. As a single mom with limited resources, she agonized over his care–the pox were all over his little body, he was feverish and hadn’t slept in days. He was pushing dangerously close to dehydration. In desperate momma-heart prayer she received the answer to apply the oil to his whole body. She balked, remembering the new instruction to stop doing that. She received the same answer and within a few minutes had carefully put the oil on his tender skin. As she finished with the last little toe he sighed and collapsed into a deep, painless sleep. His fever broke and he began to heal from that moment.

    Because none of these things are spoken of anymore, I am so incredibly grateful that she told me. I, in turn have told my children. I have also taught them about raising their arm to the square and in the name of Jesus Christ being able to cast out whatever may feel creepy, scary or whatever. We have lived in some strange places and have needed that power on occasion. That isn’t taught anymore, either.

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