An Atheist and a Mormon Go Fishing

Are Mormons allowed to laugh? This is a common question I get, along with others like … “So, can you guys dance, watch sports, play sports, drink soda, go to the movies, get in the water, etc.?” Oh, and the classic: “How many moms do you have anyway?” (Just one, in case you’re wondering at all … the best one, in my personal opinion; I’m not biased at all).

file-6I’ll admit, most of the questions we get like these just make us Mormons chuckle, more often than not. Some are kind’a funny while others are almost cute. The majority are sincere, not meant to be rude, I don’t think. Folks honestly don’t know the truth and they’ve often heard the funniest things. (Most of it from Southpark, I think; I’m only joking. There are a lot of sources, many of which are equally inaccurate).

It reminds me of my two-years serving as a missionary in Italy (30 years ago). Many of the people we met thought “Mormoni” were just like the Quakers or the Amish. We got that question a lot and had to clarify for a lot of people that we’re not. (We do drive cars, listen to rock & roll, fly in airplanes, work in politics, and we don’t marry multiple wives. The list goes on and on).

I honestly don’t think most people mean to offend or are intentionally that dense or naive. It is what it is. Some really don’t know, even though it’s becoming harder and harder to not know, work with, have friends who are, and even fall in love with a Mormon these days. If you didn’t grow up with it, though, it might be unfamiliar. And if you rely on Google, you’ll get all kinds of weird ideas. (The opening segment from the movie I wrote about a few days ago, Meet the Mormons, does a good job of sharing some of these misconceptions. If you haven’t yet seen it I encourage you to do so. I’ll share the link again at the bottom of this post).

Personally, I really enjoy answering questions about the Church, especially when they’re respectful, insightful, and thoughtful/sincere. Just today, I had the nicest day I’ve had in a long time with a friend of mine who considers himself an atheist—we went fishing out on the Oregon Coast. While driving there and back we talked about Mormonism (and faith in general), among other things. He seriously asked the best questions I’ve heard in a very long time and I did my best to answer them well. We didn’t catch a lot of fish—a few small ones we ended up throwing back—but it was a perfect Pacific Northwest day: sunny, a bit overcast, a nice breeze rolling in off the ocean, great conversation, some delish fish & chips. It doesn’t get much better than this.

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Our chat reminded me of how much mutual appreciation we all can have when we show appreciation for and interest in each other and take the time to get to know and understand each other better than we do, regardless of our beliefs or background. This friend of mine is a mentor, a thinker, one of the sharpest business minds I’ve ever known. He inspires me in my own business, and life, in many ways. But we also have fundamental differences in the way we view faith, God, progress, life after death, and many other things. And that’s okay. That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, can’t share, can’t have respect for each other. It doesn’t mean we have to be at odds with each other. I couldn’t imagine that. I value his friendship and our relationship too much.

I’ve said this before, but that’s one of the main reason I decided to write this Daily Mormon blog, to remind us of this fact. It’s okay to disagree but we don’t have to be disagreeable. It’s okay to have differences but we don’t have to treat each other any different than we would a friend or loved one. It’s okay to see the world through different colored glasses. But, can’t we still see each other as brothers and sisters and all of us as children of a Heavenly Father who loves each one of us, probably more than we can even imagine, in all our different hues? I believe so.

[This is a pretty good atheist quote. Funny in ways but, sadly, probably pretty true too.]

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Personally, like I said, I think at the very least we can and must show mutual respect. In fact, I know we can. There are too many good examples (in spite of the bad ones). There’s still a lot of good going on out there and many bridges being built. We can each do our part if we open our hearts and love each other for who we aredespite not being perfect cookie cutters of each other. That would be boring anyway after all. Don’t you think the world would be a mundane place if we were all the same? I do. I’m glad that we aren’t. It’s okay. You’re okay. I’m okay too. I think I’ll leave you with that thought for now.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to a YouTube video I stumbled across about a Mormon who fell away as a young man, became an atheist, and was later converted back to Mormonism. It’s a nice story, funny in places and touching at other points, but worth listening to (especially if you’re an atheist and wonder if there’s something more out there). As Mormons, we believe there is. You can too if you really want to. I’m here to help if I ever can.

Click the Video Below to Watch the Story:

Click the Box Below to Watch the Movie, Meet the Mormons:

Have a good night, everybody.

Onward and upward,

Patrick Laing – Portland, Oregon USA

 

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