I am neither a practitioner nor a detractor of religion. Please don’t ding me because I mentioned God for the second time in as many blog entries. This entry is not about God or religion, although both figure prominently in this week’s presentation. Like all of my entries, it’s about life—but guess what? A significant majority of individuals among the human population believe in something akin to God so it does tend to surface, especially around the holidays.
Religion ruins everything in my opinion, which is not to say there is no God, or that the Christian Bible is invalid. It’s merely the case that religion was invented by man as a way of approaching God. When you boil it all down to its essence, religion is a set of beliefs that require a code of conduct; essentially a collection of rules and rules are, of course, ultimately necessary.
What I can’t abide is when people demand that you live according to rules that suit them and which we have not all agreed to.
Example #1: Maybe you don’t like to drink because you think drinking is bad. Step off. It’s legal and I like alcohol.
Example #2: Maybe you don’t think people should own guns because you think guns are dangerous unless they are wielded by soldiers or law enforcement agents. Get stuffed. It’s Texas and not only do we own guns, a significant minority among us carry a gun on our person while walking around in the general public—so be polite when you come to visit.
Example #3: Maybe you think that drugs are bad. So do I. My son is doing time for a meth-induced crime spree. Bad stuff—but he’s doing time for the stuff he did, not for the meth he consumed. So why would anybody lump that kind of thing into the same class as someone toking up in the privacy of his or her own home, and why would anybody care? I don’t and neither should you.
The point: religion tends to be another example of having a behavioral code that casts a judgment on those who do not abide by it. That doesn’t mean religion has no value, and in my opinion the world would be a poorer place without it because the behavioral code was created with positive intention. For religious practitioners, religion is uplifting, gives them a purpose greater than themselves, and I hope it inspires them to leave the world better than they found it. To me that last one is what a belief in God is all about. However, I do that in ways that don’t involve subscribing to the dogma of a religion.
My wife on the other hand uses religion as a platform for her exploratory spiritual journey she calls life. She has belonged to several Protestant denominations, was a member of an alleged cult called The Way, has practiced Buddhism, and recently flirted with becoming Catholic. Now if you are standing on my piece of carpet, you might be asking yourself, “What’s next?” Excellent question.
This part of the story begins as it typically does. I had just returned home from an outing with the guys and having crossed the threshold of my front door began looking for people who live with me. I finally made my way to the den where I found Heidi, Cindy, and grandma watching TV.
“What are you watching?” I asked.
“Sister Wives.” replied Heidi.
“Reality TV again?” I inquired blinking in disbelief.
“Yes. This one is about a Mormon family who practices polygamy. There are four wives and 13 children and they just moved from Utah to Las Vegas.”
“Las Vegas? They moved to Las Vegas?”
“Yes. Sit down and be quiet.”
Now my wife, who approves everyone one of these blog entries has decided that it’s time to make something crystal clear. Her sister Cindy who lives with us is here primarily to assist with their elderly grandmother who suffers from dementia. She is in no way my wife, and conversely, the Sister Wives on the TV show at hand are not biological sisters. I don’t know why that clarification is necessary—but there it is. I thought the fact that it’s a show about Mormons and the fact that I’m not a Mormon was explicit enough, but OK; whatever.
Sighing, I poured myself a round and sat down on a barstool in front of the fireplace. Tonight’s drama: guys’ night out for Kody, who doesn’t drink because he’s Mormon, and Girls’ night out on the town for his four wives, who also don’t drink or gamble because they are also Mormon. A conversation with myself spontaneously erupted in my mind.
“Clever. I see where this is going.”
“He’s going to field questions from his three best friends whom he met just last week about what it’s like to openly live with four women. And the girls will be running around Sin City trying to avoid the omnipresent vice. Yes of course. It’s about the curiosity surrounding polygamy. Genius!”
In the next episode (yes we watched two of them) they are invited to Boston by a college professor of religion to address her class on their lifestyle. This episode contained the only bright spot. Predictably, at one point a bitter feminist poses a question to one of the wives: “How would your husband feel about you having four brother husbands?”
The wife sitting next to her leaned into the microphone and politely replied “Ma’am, who in their right mind wants to live like that? No thank you. I have six children and I value what little privacy I have. I don’t need three more husbands mucking things up.” Classic.
You see what’s coming don’t you?
A week later I found a pamphlet at the end of the bar on, you guessed it, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Of course I am way too dense to put two and two together, let alone come up with four.
Fast forward yet another week. I was in my office writing and I suddenly realized there were several people talking in the living room, and I didn’t recognize all the voices. I decided to take a break, refill my scotch glass, and investigate. I passed the living room on my way to the kitchen and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a blonde woman I didn’t recognize sporting a pony tail.
I filled my glass and walked into the living room to find my wife having a conversation with two 20 year-old girls sitting on the couch.
“Hi.” I quipped. The two strangers both looked at me and returned my greeting.
Heidi introduced me. “This is my husband Guy. Guy this is Sister Bruce and this is Sister Fitzgerald. They are missionaries of the Mormon church and we’ve been getting to know each other.”
Cold beads of sweat began to ooze out of my forehead. “Oh; you have. How uhm nice.” I stammered. Flummoxed, I spit out “Nice to meet you girls.” and then turned to walk back to my office.
The next evening Heidi was thumbing through what looked like a Bible and some other literature as she sat at the bar with Cindy and Grandma. “Here; let me read to you guys about the book of Mormon.” I stifled the groan.
I listened patiently as she talked about plates containing sacred scriptures and some guy whose actual name was Mormon and claimed to be a prophet who foretold the coming of Joseph Smith and Jesus appearing to the Native Americans, and a bunch of other crap I can’t remember.
When she finished I mockingly asked “Are you contemplating becoming a Sister Wife?” “Maybe.” she replied coyly.
OK; this is going to go down in one of three ways. 1) She’ll forget about becoming Mormon when it loses its novelty the same way she forgot about converting to Catholicism. 2) She’ll convert and leave me for a practicing Mormon to be his fourth wife. 3) She’ll convert and invite a Sister Wife into our home as a permanent resident.
I’m personally pulling for option #3, but only if Megan Fox is available.