More Evidence of Those Horrible Spiritual Immune Systems


Remember when i wrote about how your average hardcore Mormon has a shitty spiritual immune system? Well, here's proof: a letter to Ask Mormon Girl from a poor guy whose family FREAKED OUT when he drank a cup of coffee:

Recently, while traveling with my brother I was waiting for a very early morning flight. I stopped to get breakfast and without thinking bought coffee. My brother was deeply offended. Several days later, my parents called requesting that I do not drink coffee in front of them because of its offensive nature.

Seriously: can you imagine someone being that upset by a simple cup of coffee? It beggars belief, which is why people try to insist that Mormons aren't really that fragile. Thank the FSM that some aren't. But unfortunately, too many others are.

The Q&A was also posted at Mormon Matters, where it provoked a variety of responses. While most commenters agreed that the parents had over-reacted and were out of line, several defended the parents' mindset and tried to justify it, pointing out, for instance, that when you're a visitor, you might refrain from activities that make your hosts uncomfortable.

OK, sure: we all moderate our behavior in others' homes. But the guy ordered a cup of coffee in a freakin' airport, and his family took offense. He didn't snort cocaine of his parents' dining table; he ordered a cup of coffee in a freakin' airport.

And one guy talked about how he tells his friends, when they apologize in their own homes for drinking, that there's no need to apologize.

I liked what a subsequent commenter had to say in response: "the fact that this friend would feel that he OUGHT to apologize to a guest for doing just as he pleases in his own home, tells you a lot about how judgmental and disapproving Mormons are often perceived as--and in fact really are."

Mormons really have a lot of work to do to make themselves less offensive to the rest of the world. And developing stronger spiritual immune systems would really, really help.


I see this as evidence that LDS culture, especially in the Mormon belt of Utah, Idaho and Arizona, is an example of what anthropologists call a shame-based culture. "Avoid the very appearance of [heterodoxy]" goes the Mormon saying.

This is why it is fine for Mormons to stretch reality with creative accounting on their taxes and enter into pyramid schemes and do any number of other really dubious things as long as those things do not upset the public order. On the other hand, have a cup of coffee in a public place in front of your ultraorthodox brother? The entire family bears the mark of shame.

I once got my very orthodox brother to admit that he was ashamed of having a gay brother. His fear was that he would be stigmatized in his own social setting because of my status. It was a revealing moment.

That all makes a lot of sense, MHH, though that's not how I experienced Mormonism--it was very much about guilt for me.

btw, I'm sorry to hear about the anecdote with your brother. That's pretty awful.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on September 2, 2010 3:08 PM.

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