Growing up in a fairly liberal Orange County town I was exposed to differing cultures and religions. Hindu, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, Church of Religious Science, and Alternative Spiritualities. I remember a girl who was Hindu who wore different types of clothes than the other girls. The inner dialog:
She is Hindu.
She wears the clothes of her religion.
I’ve learned something about Hinduism.
I remember a girl I had a crush on whose birthday was soon. I offered her a gift. She said she couldn’t accept it because she was Jehovah’s Witness. I added that to my memory:
Jehovah’s Witness’ do not celebrate Birthdays.
It is against the Jehovah’s Witness teachings.
I’ve learned something about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
A boy in my class and told us about Hanukkah and how for eight nights they celebrated. Memories added.
Jewish people don’t celebrate Christmas.
Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah.
I’ve learned something about Judaism.
I was taking yoga classes here in town. The teacher was a Sikh. She explained the reason why she wore a turban was because she was a Sikh.
My Yoga teacher is a Sikh.
Sikhs wear turbans.
I’ve learned something about Sikhism.
I had been baptized LDS Mormon for almost a year. I had my ears pierced for over 20 years. One day the Elders quorum President came to me and said:
As you are progressing toward becoming and Elder in our church you should take out your earrings. None of the other Elders or High Priests have their ears pierced. I don’t think you will have a problem with that because I see, you wear the White Shirt.
And then he quoted President Hinckley on women being restricted in their ear jewelry. Did he just assume I would follow leaders’ instructions because I wear The White Shirt? After 11 years of missionary discussions and about a year into the church I realized:
Mormon men dress in White Shirts.
It is a part of their Religion.
I am now a Mormon Man.
I’ve learned something about Mormonism.
The first Priesthood session I went to I was the only one in the seats of the Church who had on jeans, casual shirt, and sandals. When I was a member of other churches the functions that were outside of the traditional Sunday service was casual dress. How could this slip my field of radar? I missed this one what else am I missing. One thought went through my head . . . .
“I wonder what I’ll need to change next . . . . my skin color?”
And then I found out that yes that is next. There are hopes that one day the Lamanite people would have the curse of dark skin lifted from them and they would become lighter and lighter and lighter.
And it all started with a the comment about my White Shirt. I guarantee you that if I converted to Sikhism I would have been given the Turban talk a lot sooner than a year after my conversion.
So. I pose a question to all the lifelong Mormon members out there. What else is there to conform to? I don’t want to be taken by surprise any more than I have to be. I ask of the web community to mount up and put the issues on the table for all the converts out there like myself.