Note: If you are looking for thoughtful commentary and theological significance, this is not the blog post for you. In fact, I suggest you run away quickly. If you are easily offended, run away even faster. This is a satirical take on my experience.
I really love being a Mormon for many reasons. My faith brings me spiritual peace, joy, meaning and assurance--and that is no joke. I am a proud Mormon--I love my faith and live it as best I can.
However, there is something else really cool about being a Mormon this time of year. Let me explain.
Mormons don't drink alcohol, coffee, tea and we don't smoke. We are chaste until marriage after which strict fidelity is the expectation. We don't do porn, are supposed to be careful about the media we consume, and do a 24 hour fast once a month, giving the money to the poor.
Being a Mormon, especially as a kid, means constantly saying, "I don't do that," or, "No thanks." I have mostly encountered respect and consideration from people I know, but this constant stream of abstemiousness can be met with everything from pitying looks to outright mockery and peer pressure. And, sometimes one just gets a bit tired of always seeming to be the elderly Victorian aunt of the group.
The point is this: you have to really want to be a Mormon. There is a fair amount of lifestyle discipline that goes with the job. The rewards are substantial and I wouldn't change it, but the pay-offs are intrinsic. There aren't many external reasons for people to say, "Wow! You can't drink? Cool! I really want to be a Mormon too!" I think teenagers and young adults feel this most keenly.
Being a Mormon, one just gets used to being sort of a square fuddy-duddy, a nice and wholesome, but slightly nerdy sort--a dish of store-brand vanilla ice cream.
Except during Lent!
This is one of the few times there are external rewards to being a Mormon (besides the fact that we live roughly 5 times longer than the general population). See, Mormons celebrate Easter and Christmas, but we don't do the ancillary holidays leading up to it (at least as a whole. I have learned that some individuals do this and more power to them). I'm not sure exactly why, although, I suspect we don't do Lent because we pretty much do Lent all year.
So, at this time of year while all my students and friends are giving up chocolate and meat and sugar and everything that makes life worth living, I am eating meat and chocolate and drinking Dr. Pepper.
All of a sudden, without my changing anything, I'm the party boy and wild child! I'm the one plowing ahead with my decadent habits. Tomorrow, I'll sit down at lunch with my leftover KFC while they eat their rice cakes, millet, and plain lettuce.
During Lent, it's the Mormon kids who are giving pitying-but-supportive looks to their peers instead of the other way around. Kind of a strange role-reversal.
For Mormons, wild folks that we are, Lent is practically Fat Tuesday every day. So, Mormons, enjoy being wild--enjoy those Jell-o salads and funeral potatoes. Enjoy that hot chocolate and herbal tea. This is a great time of year to be a Mormon!
To the rest of you, my Catholic and Protestant friends: I'm here for you. I understand being abstemious. I really do.
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