Friday, April 21, 2006

Give Me That Old-Time Religion

Perhaps it is because I was raised in a mishmosh of secularism that I find religion so fascinating. In our household we incorporated both Christian and Jewish traditions: decorating the tree and ham at Easter; kvetching and pastrami sandwiches. That was about the extent of religion in our house.

I guess there aren't many Mormons where I'm from, as I don't know a thing about Mormonism. But I've just returned from Utah, where there are quite a lot of Mormons. I thought I might share a bit of my new-found knowledge, as Mormons are in the news right now, what with this article about a band of polygamists and their tax troubles and the new HBO series, Big Love.

To start with, Utah is a very strange place geologically. It is situated on part of the Colorado Plateau, which spans Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. The orientation films we saw in both Bryce and Zion referred to "unseen forces" as creating the Plateau, so if the National Park Service is satisfied with this non-explanation, I certainly don't feel any pressure to provide you with a real geological explanation. Perhaps the Mama, who majored in rocks and things as an undergrad would care to chime in about these unseen forces. Anyway, the Forces, along with wind and water, created some awesome looking rock formations called hoodoos, and very tall mountains and huge rocks that very sporty people not like myself climb and mountain bike etc, but we just hiked and paid horses to shlep us through picturesque canyons.

I was remarking to my travel companion, Teacher, that perhaps we would catch a glimpse of someone's Mormon underwear. Teacher totally did not believe me that such a thing existed, but it's true. In some sort of traumatized former Mormon chat site, these are referred to as "garmies," and when donned properly, are worn under the bra and underwear. Comfy. Anyway, the undies are supposed to protect the wearer from evil. And they are sacred, which I guess rules out leaving them in a pile on the bathroom floor to be covered with cat hair until laundry day. We caught nary a glimpse of Mormon panties, to our disappointment.

But we did do a little reading about the history of the Mormons. The founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, was living in New York when he says the angel Moroni appeared and led him to some golden tablets buried in the woods near his house. Moroni then gave him "stone spectacles" which allowed Smith to decipher the tablet writings, which became the Book of Mormon. See, it's not just the Scientologists that have the corner on hallucinogens.

Speaking of, congrats to TomKat (is there is a more annoying nickname? Oh yeah--Brangelina) on the birth of Suri--on the same day and the same hospital that Brooke Shields had her second. Hopefully Katie won't suffer from post partum depression. If she does, Tom will probably lock her in the house, stuffing her with vitamins and strapping her to the elliptical machine. I guess he could eat a healthy serving of crow instead, but something tells me that's just not his style.


Anonymous said...

Mama here. Very mysterious these unseen forces. I guess if rare rain that flows down the side of the column leading to chemical and physical undercutting that weathers the rock is unseen...then yes, unseen forces. I usually can see the rain, but then, I'm not Mormon. My Geography book says that hoodoos are named for the resemblence of the earth pillar to embodied evil spirits. I'm not sure what Mr. Smith would think of that in his country.

Professional Critic said...

Good question. Why can Mormons see angel writing with stone spectacles, but not see the rain? Anyone?