As a white person, can I say “cray”?

Have you ever been in a discussion at church in which the discussion was so far afield that you found yourself thinking “We have completely lost it.  We are talking total nonsense”?

Recently I was called to be the ward trek coordinator. [1]  Our stake has never done a pioneer trek before, so I’m not the only complete novice.  I just have to go to the meetings, not the trek itself.  To me, that’s an ideal assignment.  In one of our early meetings, the committee mentioned that other stakes had gone down a rabbit hole we would not be going down:  holding fake funerals for our lost children and burying baby dolls in the desert.  Thank goodness we aren’t total psychos, we all thought, congratulating ourselves on our non-psycho status.  Imagine that shiz hitting the newspapers:  Costumed Mormon Teens Bury Dolls in Desert in Weird Religious Ritual.  Crisis averted!

But then the topic of costuming came up, specifically whether the girls would be required to wear bloomers under their ankle-length dresses.  (Jeans are apparently verboten for both sexes). The answer came back that wearing bloomers was required for girls, as a safety matter, but also for modesty sake.

Our committee was a bit incredulous that this was required and also that it was somehow linked to modesty, particularly given that the girls will be wearing ankle-length dresses.  It was pointed out that the girls wear skirts to church every Sunday without wearing bloomers.  Most of the committee seemed surprised we were sitting in a room at the church on a Sunday evening discussing the young women’s underwear.  The committee chair suddenly went on an unexpected modesty rant about how the girls could fall over, presumably in a strong wind, exposing their unbloomered nether regions to the priests and teachers.  If a really strong wind occurred, the girls could be tumbling around like jacks, all over the place, their thighs exposed for all to see and possibly worse!  So the girls have to wear bloomers that are essentially pants (scrubs or pajama bottoms are recommended) under a long skirt and a long apron while the boys are just wearing more or less the same type of pants sans skirts and aprons.

Religion + people + weird ideas = cray

One ward pointed out that the girls already plan to wear bike shorts underneath anyway, but this was also deemed immodest because the so-called bike shorts would probably not go all the way to their knees and would probably end up being booty shorts.  To bolster an already weak argument, the modesty ranter pointed out that it was important for the kids to experience hardship as the pioneers did, hiking in a circle around a cell phone tower within a hundred yards of the freeway with port-a-potties at the ready as did their forebears.

At this point, the discussion had gone on long enough and been sufficiently crazy for me to declare that this would be an excellent lesson to the girls in how unfair dress guidelines have been for women for the last several thousand years.  One sister hopefully asked if the leaders would be exempt from this requirement, and was told that as a show of example and solidarity, they too would need to wear the bloomers (presumably over their garments and under the ankle length skirt and apron).  If I were a betting woman, which let’s face it, I probably am, I would bet that at least half the leaders intended to ignore this stake-level mandate.

A friend shared a similar crazy exchange he observed in a ward council meeting:

The ward council was having some discussion about men accompanying the sister missionaries on visits to homes of single men. They didn’t want the sisters going along because that seemed pliggy. [2]  They didn’t want one man showing up with two sisters because that looked pliggy on the doorstep and seemed double-datey once inside. They didn’t want two men accompanying the sisters because that seemed double-datey on the doorstep and inches away from all-out orgy once inside. So they determined that the optimal plan would be for THREE MEN TO ACCOMPANY TWO SISTER MISSIONARIES TO VISIT ANOTHER SINGLE MAN. And they talked about this as a serious, non-crazy, viable thing to do. Until I raised my hand and said “You guys have completely lost your minds.”

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I have also noted the craziness of the guidelines around missionaries not entering a home where there is no 18 year old male resident present.  Another friend shared a story of how the elders brought in a third adult male with them because she was a divorced mother, and therefore a potential seductress from whom they needed protection.  I suggest that if we care about appearances, as these crazy conversations seem to think we do, we quit showing up with a posse of brethren at people’s houses.  If we are that worried about it, maybe some garlic and a crucifix would be a more subtle alternative?

Others have pointed out that the horror of two opposite sex people being alone is so feared that they have let a woman walk in an icy sleet storm, driving closely behind her to be sure she is OK, rather than offering her a ride home.  Because slowly driving next to a woman who is walking doesn’t look at all weird or creepy.  We can only assume that this is what the Savior would do, at least if he didn’t want to be falsely accused [3] because we all know that all women are harlots and false accusers.

Whenever I’ve suggested that these guidelines go too far, invariably someone will bring up the one time when some missionary had sex with an investigator or a member.  Clearly Dick Cheney is setting our policies:  if there is even a 1% chance it could happen, we must treat it as a certainty that it will happen every single time.  It’s probably happening right now, as I type this.

The modesty rant reminded me of a conversation with my sister-in-law who said that her stake was concerned that the girls’ legs would be exposed if they were swimming at a girls camp (you know, those camps we have for girls only), so all girls were required to wear knee length shorts and tee shirts over their swimsuits.  She was gobsmacked that this was not only raised as a serious suggestion, but that it was actually adopted as a real guideline, which prompted this research and post I did at BCC.

It would be great to imagine that as Mormons we’d be capable of keeping people’s crazier fears in check.  So far, the jury is out, but it seems that the craziest person in the room gets the most say in how things are done.

What “we so cray” moments have you had in Mormondom?

Discuss.

[1] I was really disappointed this wasn’t a Star Trek theme.  Now THAT would be a cool youth activity.  Ditch the handcarts and throw a Gorn in there!

[2] This little pliggy went to market.  Or to the Cedar City WalMart.

[3] Obviously, Jesus was no stranger to being falsely accused, but unlike Mormons, he didn’t go to weird lengths to avoid it.