“So You’re Going on a Mission!” Cleanliness is next to… August 2, 2016Posted by Ubi Dubium in Books, Humor, Responses.
Tags: christianity, cleaning, Evangelists, housekeeping, missionaries, Mormons, religion, stupidity
Continuing on with the 1968 guide for prospective Mormon missionaries:
Chapter 6, Housekeeping Care
So these kids have been sent out to a faraway place where they are isolated from everything familiar, they are expected to spend grueling days on foot, out “spreading the word” for ten hours a day, six days a week, and they are expected to study constantly and shop and cook for themselves. I can’t imagine that they are anything but exhausted from this routine. So on top of this, they are expected to keep their quarters spotless and keep to a daily cleaning routine, because adding unrealistic expectations for cleanliness is just what these stressed-out kids need.
So let’s have a few quotes!
“Some elders leave for their missions without knowing how to … sweep, mop and wax a floor…” (pg 54)
Yes, I guess waxing floors was a thing in 1968. (I don’t think I’ve ever waxed a floor!) But I don’t see that it would ever have been a good idea to make frustrated and exhausted teenagers wax floors.
They have a helpful numbered list of the reasons for their focus on cleaning, including,
“1. You cannot expect the Spirit of the Lord to dwell in dirty surroundings.” (pg 55)
So the all-powerful god, who will never desert you (unless you aren’t believing hard enough, see part 1), is going to desert you if your bed isn’t made. How reassuring.
“2. If you are content to keep house in a careless, sloppy manner, this same attitude is bound to be reflected in you whole missionary outlook and effort. Supervising elders, whose job it is to inspect the living quarters of missionaries, report that they can look at an apartment and just about tell what kind of total job its missionary occupants are doing. (pg 55)
These kids are being judged not just on how well they preach, or how much of their free time is spent studying their holy books, or how presentable they are on the job, but they are even having their rooms formally inspected. And no matter how well they are doing at their “proselyting”, if they can’t at least fake being a neat freak for two solid years they will be found wanting by their supervisors.
“5. You never need to fear that a district leader will catch you in a mess and put you to shame by starting to clean up your quarters himself.”
“6. One of your real assets is your landlady whose respect you must earn. If you are strictly “top drawer” she spreads the good word at the grocery store; if you are careless and lazy, that is the image she will spread.”
Now I have this image of the landlady dropping in to the grocery store to catch up on the latest gossip. Oh, and she’s totally going to badmouth her missionary tenant, who is polite, helpful, well-groomed, and pays the rent on time, but is a totally bad person because he sometimes leaves towels on the floor. Shame, shame, shame!
There is actually some useful advice in this chapter, apart from the constant judginess. There’s advice on how to cope if assigned to an area with fleas or other pests. There’s also some practical tips about washing dishes and tidying up messes as soon as you make them, and a recommendation for Clorox for cleaning bathrooms. Because a missionary wouldn’t want to face the ultimate humiliation:
“Your goal should be to keep your living quarters clean enough that your mission president’s wife could drop in unexpectedly without embarrassing you.” (pg 57)
Oh dear, let me clutch my pearls, the mission president’s wife might find dust in my room! And once again, as in the chapter on homesickness, our author recommends housecleaning as a remedy for feeling depressed.
The last paragraph of this chapter is just so amazing that I need to quote it in full here:
“Living with Non-Members
Missionaries are usually urged to hunt for living quarters with non-members for three reasons. First, members already know our Church is true, and a missionary might just as well live with someone he can possibly convert. Second, in accepting their calls missionaries have dedicated themselves to preaching the gospel. It is too easy to become lax and take advantage of periodicals and TV and warm hospitality when one lives with or near members. Third, members, thinking all missionaries are perfect, might become disenchanted if missionaries living in their home caused them to think differently.” (pg 57)
So they want missionaries living with non-Mormons so they can make a good impression on them. And they don’t want them staying with Mormons, because they might make a bad impression on them.
But what’s evident here is that they don’t want these kids finding any source of support and comfort during their two years. The Mormon hierarchy wants these kids to be overworked, over-tired, uncomfortable, and worried about every little detail of everything. Your home isn’t a place to relax and retreat from the cares of the day, it’s a place where you are supposed to antagonize your landlady with preaching (the same landlady whose respect you are supposed to earn), and you must keep it antiseptically clean, even if that’s not what you are used to or comfortable with. Now smile and pretend to be happy!