(Wherein Her Grace indulges in a plethora of parentheses.)
I love escapist fiction. It's what I write, it's what I read.
I tend to avoid subjects that are too close to my real life. I get enough of that in my contemporary living. Any wonder I want to escape?
Yet today I found myself reading a blog post about my faith (granted, it was written by a respectable fellow escapist fiction author). I tend to avoid most un-official stuff about my faith online, as eventually it leads to crazy sauce in the comments. (And yet, here I am writing the very post I tend not to read.)
I love my faith. I indulge in my faith in little things throughout my day, then I go in big time on Sundays. Needless to say, I am thoroughly sated. To then spend my free time also reading other people's opinions on my faith is overkill and I tend to burn out. Bad thing.
So yeah, as I read this rather good post (and only the one), I saw a banner ad (so NOT the author's fault) with a model in a T-shirt that said, "I can't. I'm Mormon."
Dude! Really? This is NOT the best way to promote one's faith. Nobody really wants to belong to a faith that's restrictive and prohibitive (unless you get a kick out of that sort of thing).
Besides, this is completely NOT how the Latter-Day Saint faith works. We're all about the Moral Agency.
Moral Agency is the freedom to make our own choices. All choices come with consequences, which is why Moral Agency is such a powerful thing. All of our teachings are about the choices we have in this life. We encourage the world to choose the choices that will lead to good consequences, not only for ourselves, but for those around us. (You know, the whole 'Love the Lord,' 'Love thy neighbor', 'Love one another' thing.) We also warn that poor choices lead to bad consequences and misery.
We don't want our fellow men to be miserable.
So when I see a T-shirt like this, I must get all huffy and step outside my usual scribatory practices and Say Something. (It's the feminist in me.)
To say, "I can't" is subscribing yourself to woe. "I can't" implies you do not have a choice. "I can't" has a sort of wistfulness about it, a powerlessness. "I can't" suggests that, if you could, you absolutely would, but it's only your big bad nasty religion that's holding you down.
Do you really want to send this kind of message about a faith you claim to believe in?
Wise Mormons know that it's not "I can't", but "I won't."
"I won't" supports the practice of Moral Agency. "I won't" means a decision has been made, and the maker has the stuff and balls to stick with their decision. Sure, they can change their mind if they want. But if they have made a decision and wish to stick with it, I support them in that right.
Next time you find yourself saying "I can't," consider changing it to "I won't."
Fr'ex, "I can't go out there. There are wolves!" vs. "I won't go out there. There are wolves."
Which phrase sounds like it was uttered by a cowardly yellow chicken, and which one sounds like it was uttered by a wise woman who is not going to get eaten by wolves?
Now, there are a few things in my faith that are not recommended as wise choices--alcohol and promiscuity, to name two. These come up all the time in the "You Mormons can't do that" conversations.
Well, actually, we could do those things, but we choose not to. We choose freedom from the negative consequences of those actions.
What a lot of Gentiles may not realise is that my faith actively encourages good decisions, such as eat a healthy diet (so that you may "run and not be weary, walk and not faint"), gain an education, indulge in service towards your fellow beings, be a force for good in the world, that sort of thing.
So don't get hung up on all the stuff Mormons "can't" do, because there's an awful lot of stuff we can do.
Her Grace will read biographies, but only if the person has been dead at least a hundred years.