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Raped By a Beauty Queen

I thought that story the other missionaries told me was an urban legend, but it was true. A former cheerleader and beauty queen kidnapped a Mormon missionary, chained him to a bed, and raped him repeatedly back in 1977. You can’t blame me for thinking it was just a fantasy. I imagine many Mormon missionaries would love to have sex with a beauty queen and yet remain blameless. “I swear I had no choice!”

Disclaimer: I am in no way making light of the serious issue of women raping men which can be devastating, no matter how seriously hot it seems.

(via Dancing With Crazy)

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Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I just received an email from a former missionary with whom I served in the New York Rochester Mission. They’re planning a mission reunion for the summer of 2009 in Huntsville, Utah. We haven’t had a reunion in years, but this presents me with a quandary: should I attend a mission reunion?

On the one hand, it would be interesting to catch up with old friends, and I could also use it as an excuse to visit family in the area. On the other hand, I can only imagine the potential for uncomfortable situations.

Elder Blake, would you offer a prayer on our refreshments?

me: Well, you see, it’s like this.…

Should I go and hope it never comes up? :roll: Would it even be worth the risk of spoiling the event for everyone? I guess I have a long time to think about it.

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Deviant Mormon Sexuality

Meridian recently ran an article on modesty in the fashion industry by J. Scott Askew, owner of KneeShorts Clothing Company. Two aspects of the article interest me. The first concerns the following passage.

Later that same week, a couple of teenage girls were at the gym. One was dressed in loose-fitting sweat pants and a baggy t-shirt — quite modest compared to the popular “spandex and skin” look. But printed on her t-shirt were a woman’s silhouette and the brand name “Hustler.” I was shocked that a young girl would wear that shirt. What was she thinking?

Does she know that Hustler magazine graphically displays deviant sexual behavior? Does she know that its founder Larry Flynt is the most notorious pornographer in U.S. history? Did it occur to her that she was a walking billboard for sleaze and aggressive sexual behavior? Did she realize her shirt invites assumptions about her sexual attitudes? Do her parents know she owns that shirt?

Does she know that Larry Flynt defended every American’s free speech before the Supreme Court? Let’s be fair in acknowledging the good as well as the bad. But I digress.

The young woman in question probably knows some of all that Askew mentions, and that—I would venture to guess—is exactly why she chose to wear that shirt. She probably wanted to send some of the sexual messages that the author received. Whether that level of sexuality is healthy for a woman of her undisclosed age is another question.

Askew’s writing is riddled with pejorative words which lack commonly accepted definitions. One person’s pornography is not another’s. A woman showing her calves in public is pornographic in Muslim Saudi Arabia, but not in Mormon Utah where that is perfectly acceptable. So “deviant”, “pornography”, and “sleaze” betray only the author’s attitudes, not an absolute standard from which the author can safely cast stones at the attitudes of others. The author might defend his attitudes as derived from God’s own, but as a recent Jesus and Mo comic noted, a person can’t say that their own ideas are the same as God’s without proclaiming that they infallibly know the mind of God. I can’t take that idea seriously.

I grant that Askew is writing to a Mormon audience and might expect that their attitudes are generally aligned with his own. However, the reason that he wrote this article is precisely because his own attitudes aren’t largely represented in his target audience. He wrote the article to convince this audience to stop purchasing what he considers immodest clothing. He wouldn’t need to persuade his Mormon audience if they all shared his views on modesty. (If I were a smart ass, I would point out that his sexuality is actually the one that deviates from the norm—but I’m not, so I won’t.)

This brings me to the next interesting aspect of the article.

LDS consumers also can use their economic power to support the fledgling modest apparel industry. Modest clothing companies, mostly based in Utah, have sprung up over the past ten years in response to immodest trends. These companies have as core principles modesty both in product and marketing.

Askew uses most of the article to subtly guilt his readers into patronizing clothing companies like his own and to accuse the fashion industry of being a threat to the health of our youth. The author clearly has a vested interest in people choosing to buy clothing that he sells. Meridian Magazine runs advertising, but journalistic integrity requires that advertising is clearly separated from editorial content. I give kudos to Meridian for disclosing in the sidebar that the author is the owner of a related company. I disagree with their decision to run an article at all that amounts to an advertisement for the author’s company in the guise of religion.

This isn’t the only example of the entanglement of business and Mormonism. For a long time, I’ve wondered at the entanglement of the LDS church and a profit-making company like Deseret Book. It is reasonable for a church to be able to publish its own views when other publishing houses are unwilling to do so, and yet taking advantage of a customer’s religious views to make profit may lead to abuses such as those demonstrated in Askew’s article.

In the end, which is better: to take advantage of customer’s appetite for erotic materials to sell clothing, or to take advantage of their guilt and sense of religious duty to sell knee shorts?

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Missionary Self Abuse

I happened upon this video of a Mormon mission president preaching to the missionaries in his charge about the problem of masturbation among the missionaries. The female missionaries were escorted from the room because masturbation isn’t a big problem for women and because it would be inappropriate to talk about S-E-X in mixed company. It shows just how seriously masturbation is taken, and how afraid of it grown men are.

The mission president goes so far as to blame the low baptism rate in his mission on masturbation among the missionaries. I wish I was more shocked by this video, but the views expressed therein are typical. Those two years of my life were such a pressure cooker. The expectations to work 12 hours a day, win converts, and do it while completely suppressing my youthful sexuality were suffocating and dangerous. I learned a lot on my mission, but I wouldn’t call them the best two years of my life.

Update: Thanks to Kullervo for pointing out the rest of the videos in this series. For those who aren’t familiar with the kind of fundamentalism that Mormon missions tend to breed, these videos are very instructive and sickening, Parts 1 and 6 especially.

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4
  5. Part 5
  6. Part 6

Walking backwards to avoid seeing a picture! I would laugh if it didn’t make me sad to see how afraid he is of seeing some skin. Little does he realize that his fear is his real problem, not his desire to see nudity.

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Lecture on Faith IX

I can finally tell a mission story that you’re not going to believe.

Late in the autumn of 1995, I met with my mission president for our monthly interview. I noticed that there was another missionary in the room as I entered. These interviews are private, as a rule, so this struck me as odd. My mission president asked me to take a seat.

“Elder Blake, I have a special assignment for you.”

Excellent, I thought. He’s probably going to finally make me a district leader.

“This assignment does not come directly from the Lord, but by way of the government of the United States.”

He must have noticed the perplexity on my face because he continued, “I realize that this is highly unorthodox, but I assure you that this is the Lord’s work. Have you ever heard the prophecy that the U.S. Constitution will hang by a thread and that the Elders of Zion will save it from destruction?”

“I seem to remember my seminary teacher mentioning it.”

“Today may be your chance to be part of fulfilling that prophecy. First, before I tell you the details of your assignment, I need to know that are a loyal citizen of the great nation that God set up in order to bring forth the Gospel. Are you willing to do whatever your priesthood leaders require of you to protect your country?”

This reminded me of being asked to accept the temple obligations before knowing exactly what they were. As I did in the temple, I took a leap of faith and said, “Yes.”

“Good. The NSA has done an extensive background check on you, and aside from that youthful brush with vandalism and your friendship with a wannabe Communist in high school, they found no reason to doubt your loyalty. Your boyish good looks and position as a missionary in Upstate New York provide excellent cover. You’re one of the last people anyone would suspect of being an agent for the NSA. Plus your passing knowledge of French may come in handy.”

I doubted that two guys walking around in trench coats all day was great cover for a spies, but to say that I was surprised would be to understate the facts. I was stunned that this assignment involved the NSA—an agency I was only vaguely aware of—and that they were able to unearth my seemingly obscure high school friendships. Frankly, it was pretty creepy.

“Your assignment requires that you be granted Secret clearance. What I’m about to tell you is considered a national secret and you are obligated to keep it confidential. Any breach of secrecy could lead to serious damage to the United States. You will not divulge the nature of your assignment to anyone except me and your new companion. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.” The “sir” seemed somehow appropriate. What kind of spy novel have I stumbled into? I wondered. President Packham had retired from the Air Force before he was employed by the Church and later became mission president, but I had no clue that he was involved with a national intelligence agency. I suppose that was by design. This was all too surreal.

“Elder Blake, I would like you too meet Elder Leonard. He is a prototype agent. He volunteered to go under the knife for God and Country. He received special, intensive training and the NSA neurosurgeons altered his brain to make him a walking lie detector. Elder Leonard, ‘red rameumptom’. Do you think that Elder Blake is loyal to his country?”

A strange, dead-eyed look came over Elder Leonard, and he droned “There is a 95% median probability, plus or minus 5%, that Elder Blake is loyal to the United States of America and will fulfill his assignment faithfully. This is an acceptable level of uncertainty for this assignment.”

“Thank you, Elder, ‘green alien porn’.” Personality reëmerged behind Elder Leonard’s eyes.

“You see, Elder Blake, the NSA has created the perfect rational mind. With the use of a hypnotically implanted keyword, Leonard’s mind switches modes. Aside from low-level autonomic tasks such as breathing and hormone control, his rational mind takes complete control of his mind and body. His thinking is in every way rational, avoiding all irrational modes of thought.

“In this perfectly rational state, he recalls all evidence that has been presented to him and perfectly calculates the probability of a truth proposition given what he knows and based solely on logical inference. All subconscious urges and emotions are sequestered from control of his thoughts and actions. When in this state, he feels no emotion, no desire, no bias. In fact, if left in this state, he would forget to eat, drink, or visit the restroom.

“That’s where you come in. Your job is to make sure he stays alive. He can’t stay in this state all the time, so you will use the keywords to manage when he enters and leaves rational mode. You are also to protect his cover as a missionary for the Church. Are you with me so far?”

“I think so.” This was only getting more surreal.

“The scientists at the NSA must have been Trekkies with at least a passing familiarity of the Book of Mormon and a warped sense of humor. Commit these keywords to memory. To induce rational mode, use the phrase ‘red rameumptom’.” There was that dead-eyed stare again. “To terminate rational mode, use the phrase ‘green alien porn’.” Back to normal.

“Got it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Your new companion can fill you in on the details of your assignment.”

[This is getting a bit long, so I'll continue my story another time.]

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