Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Things that set off my Modar...

Ever since I started studying Mormonism some fourteen years ago, I have developed what I refer to as "Modar".  By that, I mean that a lot of times, I can spot an active church member at about twenty paces.  It's not actually that hard to do, either.  Once you know what to look for, you can pick up the clues fairly easily.  It's sort of become a game.

Last night, I was reading about a family with a daughter who has leukemia.  I don't know this family at all, but they are in my Facebook circles and live in the area where I am right now.  They've been rallying the community for support as they get treatment for the cancer. In the interest of preserving this family's privacy, I'm not going to name them or link to their page.  I am only mentioning them because after just a few minutes, I picked up on the subtle signs and symptoms of Mormonism.

Now, before anyone gets upset and accuses me of being snarky, sarcastic, and condescending about a family going through tough times, I want to say that I truly wish this family all the best as their daughter gets treatment.  It must have been devastating for them to get this diagnosis.  They seem like a lovely family and their daughter appears to be handling the treatment like a champ.  Every picture I've seen of their girl shows her smiling and upbeat.  I am not posting this to be rude; I'm posting it because I think developing "Modar" is an interesting phenomenon... kind of like being unable to unring a bell.  Even if I wanted to ignore the clues, I don't think I could.

1.  Family pictures.  There are usually a lot of them and they often feature everyone wearing the same colors and looking very united.  Often, there are multiple generations in the family photos, but sometimes it's just one nuclear family unit.  Bonus points if there are a lot of kids close to each other in age and it looks like the parents are young, yet have been together awhile.

2.  Quotes.  A lot of Mormons like to quote their leaders.  This particular family didn't do a lot of this, but I did find one by Thomas S. Monson, who is the current prophet of the LDS church.  Generally, the first time you find one of these, it's a dead giveaway.  Most quotes are by people who have important sounding names and there is always a middle initial.  For example: Gordon B. Hinckley, Boyd K. Packer, or Bruce R. McConkie.  Often, the quotes come from men, but sometimes you'll see one from a high ranking woman, like Julie B. Beck.

3.  Clothes.  Mormons usually dress modestly and conservatively.  Women don't show a lot of skin.  Dresses often come with a shrug or a little jacket to cover the shoulders.  Skirts come past the knee.  If you look closely, you might see the outline of temple garments peeking out.  Also, if you see a man wearing a black suit with a white shirt and conservative looking tie, that's another major sign, especially if the suit is accompanied by a neat haircut and no facial hair.

4.  Lots of squeaky clean humor and corny jokes.  No swear words stronger than "crap", "flip", "frick", "fetch", "oh my heck", or "darn".

5.  Home decor.  Bonus points if you see pictures inside of their house and they have decals on the wall spelling out profound sayings and/or pictures of a very caucasian looking Jesus or the Salt Lake City temple.  No signs of alcohol, coffee, or tea.

6. Geography.  Many Mormons hail from the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, or the Southwestern United States.  The family that set off my Modar last night comes from Arizona.

7.  Travel.  Lots of posts about other countries, especially involving adoptions or religion.  Many Mormons, especially males, serve missions around the world.  Many Mormons also adopt children from other countries.

8.  Meetings.  Comments about General Conference, which convenes twice yearly in the fall and spring.  Most active Mormons will, at the very least, be watching it via satellite all weekend. There may be comments about other church activities.

9.  University affiliations.  Friends and family who have attended Brigham Young University or either of its satellites or Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Virginia.  My mom is a Buena Vista native and went to Southern Seminary Junior College, which was not LDS at all.  It's been odd seeing her hometown "Mormonized".

10.  Baptism and wedding photos.  Pictures of family members dressed in white jumpsuits, especially if there's an eight year old child in the photo who appears to be soaking wet.  Pictures of family members in front of a temple with a modestly dressed bride and groom.  Temples are fairly easy to spot.  They tend to be very distinctive buildings with no cross on them.  Instead, there is an Angel of Moroni.

11.  Affiliations with multi-level marketing businesses.  A lot of Mormons are involved with MLMs, especially the women.

12.  Social media galore.  Mormons are very much into Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. And they are also into genealogy, especially Ancestry.com.

My Modar works when I'm watching TV, too.  For example, a few years ago, we lived in North Carolina and was I watching the local news.  A family was profiled because their daughter was bitten by a shark during a vacation on the Outer Banks.  North Carolina is not really a big Mormon state, yet I could tell this family was LDS.  The first giveaway was the way the mother was dressed.  She was wearing a bright yellow dress that covered her knees and had a matching flyaway cardigan covering her shoulders.

The second sign was the fact that the daughter, all of six years old and bleeding profusely, wanted to pray for the shark that bit her.  People thought it was so cute that the little girl wanted to pray and had forgiven the shark.  To me, it was a red flag that she was LDS.

The third was the fact that they were originally from out west and were in North Carolina because the father was a doctor.  It took very little time before I confirmed that they were LDS.  The mother had a blog that was interesting reading until she abandoned it.  That's another big Modar thing... blogs and scrapbooks.  Mormons are heavily into both activities, especially the women.  In this case, the mom had really great decorating style and would post pictures that were clearly Pinterest worthy.

Had I not been exposed to the LDS church through my husband and his ex kids, I probably never would have guessed this was a Mormon family.  But once you start to study the church, you develop that sense and after awhile, you can't help but see the signs.

Many religious people offer signs of what their beliefs are.  I also have a pretty keenly developed Catholic radar.  In fact, I tend to attract them.   I have many Catholic friends and, in fact, if Bill were still a churchgoer, he would probably be Catholic (and actually was for a time in his life before he was Mormon).

Anyway, my Modar has become pretty sharp.  I hope someday I will get to the point at which I no longer pick up on this kind of stuff anymore.  I'd prefer not to be interested.

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