Monday, March 21, 2005

Theology at Mother's Knee

A friend recently asked me if Mormons are Christians. Because she knows I'm an ex-Mormon, she (and others) sometimes asks me doctrinal or practical questions about the church. She's Jewish. I'm not sure if that matters for this story, but I think it might.

I explained that yes, Mormons consider themselves Christian, but some Christians disagree. Then she asked me about the death and resurrection of Jesus (this being Easter season, after all). I said that Mormons believe Jesus died to atone for our sins, but that Mormons don't buy the concept of Original Sin. That's one reason other Christians think Mormonism is not a fully Christian faith. Then I did my best to explain Original Sin to my friend. After we hung up I started wondering if I'd been right. It's been a long, long time since I was a Mormon and I've forgotten a lot.

This weekend when I called Mother I took the opportunity to ask her: "Do Mormons believe in Original Sin?"


"You know, the sin of Adam and Eve, passed on to all humans since that time, that the crucifixion of Jesus washed clean?"

"Well, YES! I'm pretty sure we do!"

Mom's religious beliefs have always been unemcumbered by a lot of troubling details. I don't remember ever seeing her read scriptures, although Mormons are encouraged to do so regularly. Now that she can't see, she can't read them anyway. My sister gave her a set of recordings of the Book of Mormon (which she hasn't, as far as I know, broken out of their package once in the two-plus years since she got them). She sometimes takes naps during church services (but don't tell her I told you). M0ther's parents were Mormon; their parents were Mormon. We go way, way back. It's partly a matter of simple faith with Mom. Faith and strong tradition.

I checked a few cherished religious sources. Turns out, Mom's wrong. It bothers me a little that I know more about Mormon doctrine than my Mother, to be honest.

Oh. And if you have questions about the Magic Underwear, and now that you know I'm an ex-Mormon you probably will, go here. You'll never think about Marriott hotels in quite the same way.

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