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3/24/11

BYU and the Mormon Mastercard

**MAKE SURE TO READ THE COMMENTS AT THE BOTTOM!!  This conversation is an interesting one...**

I have been to the Idaho campus of BYU twice now, thanks to my new job.

The first time was for a guest lecture my boss was doing at one of the Social Worker classes.  This last time was for an intern fair, looking for the next crop of students looking for work experience (and us looking for some cheap labor).

Both times were so eye-opening, a blog had to be done.

And it has taken me a while to craft it into the shape I want it.  Is it epic?  Probably not.  But I like it.

Visit one, I was generally impressed.  All the students were well-dressed, orderly, and a lot of them were in study groups.  Nothing like when I went to college, where there was eye-candy galore, and studying was reserved for midterm and finals weeks only. 

Study hard, people.

It was only when I entered the classroom that the religious vibe kicked in.

Class started as normal, with one girl standing up to read a poem she had crafted about child abuse.  It was very moving, and the classroom (including myself) clapped.

Then all of a sudden… silence.

Heads were bowed.

The poem reader began saying a prayer.

…wha-what?

Keep in mind I went to public schools all my life.  I have never seen prayer in a classroom setting.  Minds were blown.

She prayed for my boss and I, and the hopes that we lead an upright life worthy of His blessing…

For the love of Me...
You really don't need to pray every 5 minutes...
…hokay…

The rest of the visit went like a normal college classroom, but that instance stuck in my head.  Weeks later, on my second trip to BYU, I wondered if I would experience the same thing.

Yes.  And moreso.

First off, before the intern fair, was a luncheon for the visiting agencies.  Kind of a mixer setting, sans-alcohol.  And coffee.  And any type of caffeine.  Before we ate, a prayer was said to bless the food and the staff/guests.  Drinks were lemonade and water.  Not even tea.  I guess, Mormon or not, if you’re at BYU your options are limited.

I wish I would have thought of this beforehand.  I would have stopped by a Starbucks and got a GIGANTIC latte, just for shock value.  Would I have been told to throw it away?  Or asked to leave?  If there is a visit #3, I’ll try this test and let you know.

After the luncheon, there was a training seminar on how to be better instructors/mentors for interns.  Another prayer was said, blessing the lecture, the staff and the guests (again). 

“Wow” I thought.  “Twice in less than an hour.  I feel super-blessed.”

After the lecture concluded, we prepped our tables for the fair to begin.  Students began to enter, but nobody was coming to the tables.  They were all congregating in the center area, looking at the lectern.

Why?  Well duh, we haven’t prayed yet.

Aww crap.  You guys AGAIN?

Everyone in the room was properly blessed, so we could finally begin the fair.  Things went nicely, and I found a few rockstars in the group that would work well for my company.  A few of them were the “high and mighty” types, but they really didn’t have a lot of good qualities to begin with.  Their smugness just helped seal their own grave faster.

I collected resumes, and kind of chuckled as to what these kids thought should go on a resume.   Almost all listed their mission as past experience.  A lot of them listed their availability status (single/engaged/married), which I will go into in a bit.  Some were well put-together, but most of them looked, well, like students have done them.

Times when I wandered were interesting:

-         -  I went to use the restroom at one point, and a group of 5 guys were in a group, telling dirty jokes about blacks and gays.  Since everyone at BYU (that I saw, at least) was white, and you can’t be gay & mormon, I guess it’s ok to tell these kinds of jokes?  Pfff…

-        - They didn’t have any refreshments for us during the fair, so I went to look for a soda machine for my partner and I.  When I finally found one, there was no soda to choose from.  Water, juice, milk, and other caffeine free drinks were available.  That’s it.  I was fine with water, but couldn’t buy it anyway.  The machine only took the dreaded “Mormon Mastercard”, the student cards that some universities use.  When I went to Cal State, they had the card as an option, but you could still use cash or any major credit card.  Not here.  Not Visa, not American Express.
Gas to get to BYU: $8.64
Breakfast on the go: $5.35
Gum to Prevent Death-Breath: $1.26
Being prayed for and overly scrutinized for 4 hours: Priceless
There are some things normal money can buy.  
If you’re at BYU, there’s Mormon Mastercard…

By the end of the trip, most of the faculty knew I wasn’t “a brother.”  Some of them were cool with it, including the professor I met a few weeks before.  Others gave smug looks, like I didn’t belong there.  Next time… coffee.  Maybe a fake piercing or two?  A Mike Tyson tattoo on my face?  We’ll see…

Speaking to my friends about the trip, the students, resumes, etc., they pointed out that BYU is well-known for girls going there simply to find a man.  That said, I would say about 90% of the girls I saw had rings on their left finger, either engagement or wedding-type.   During on-site interviews after the fair, I noticed it even more.  All the girls talked about their fiancée or husband during the interview, what he is going to school for, etc.

So my question to these girls would be this:  Why are you paying for a degree, when your ultimate goal is to get married, become a housewife, and have a boatload of babies?  Are you ever going to use that degree?  Or is it just viewed as a necessity when finding an ideal mate?

Suffice it to say, my views of the BYU campus, not only with my personal experiences but recent headlines in the news, is pretty amusing.  I worry about these students (amplified because of the naive little BYU intern currently in my office) when they get out into the real world and see that everyone isn’t like them.  Or worse, if they move to Vegas, Manhattan, San Diego or other majorly non-mormon spots in this country, where they’re not the majority anymore.  Are they being prepared for this? 

We better say a prayer, just in case…

*sigh*
Really?  Dude...

Edit:  This HAD to be shared at Dude Write...
Please Share it! :)

52 witty retorts:

Erika said...

Woah, that just sounds surreal to me. UK's pretty chillaxed on religion. I don't think I've ever been exposed to such religion-overload.

Asty said...

BYU? Nothing like SDSU. Party school to end all party schools :b

Zakk said...

One of my highschool teachers went to BYU and he was married and living off campus during his college years, they would regularly have "decency checks" lol!

THE SNEE said...

I was born in SLC and lived there again about 5 years ago. The stories we have accumulated from that time are........PRICELESS!

Frosty said...

Damn, that's a hell of a story. Interesting, and I think my friend actually just broke up with his GF over her potentially going to BYU actually

Astronomy Pirate said...

That school sounds like a nut house. I visited a friend at Lynchburg University, which is located in the same town as Liberty University. You could pretty much tell going around town who belonged where. That and the entire town shut down at night. And everyone in every restaurant and store peppered in 'Bless you' like I had the flu. At least I wasn't made to pray, and was happy to get to my hedonistic DC.

Alphabeta said...

Dear Lord, please help my brother Lost.In.Idaho to see the error of his ways and see the light of your unerring holiness.

I shouldn't be so facetious (and blasphemous). : I

I like the irony that the ad at the bottom before I clicked in to comment was for Christian prayer. ; ]

Choirchick22 said...

Since I'm at a mostly Mormon school, I can vouch for a lot of this. Any girl that you meet at my school will be married/engaged by the time they leave the school. And They seriously do pray about everything. One of my Mormon friends took a world religion class so he was reading other religious texts and a girl gave him a horrified look and said "That's not good! You should just read the Book of Mormon, it has all you need to know."

Rich said...

Religion? University? How can those mix together?

ScottD said...

your first pick is dead on. You learn absolutely nothing in college. All you do is party. You have all the basic skills needed by the time you get there and anything you learn there (if you are not a retard) you could learn on your own. The only real reason to go is to get your corporate slavery certificate to show you will be a good slave to a future owner.(well the other reason is if you are in a research field and you need lab access for free)
college graduate by the way!

mac-and-me said...

lol

Tony Van Helsing said...

I was baptised Methodist and went to church every Sunday for nine years. Didn't work, I'm now an atheist.

allison said...

I know a girl who went to BYU. Yes, she met her husband there. Yes, she was married before she was 22... maybe even 21? Her degree, FYI, was in "Family Management." So at least BYU knows what's up and offers degrees they can actually use. I can't imagine studying glorified home ec for 4 years...

That being said, I also knew girls at my hugely-populated, non-religious state college who were just trying to snag a husband. One "radical" sorority (what an oxymoron) even had shirts made that said "I'm not here to find my husband, I'm here to find my bridesmaids" - as if that makes it better.

PvtCarlin said...

I had a boss who was mormon. She was also a 28 year old virgin; you do the math.

squatlo said...

You could probably use a good blessing about as much as I could. Love the Mastercard you doctored up...

Gucci Mama said...

I'm not a Mormon, but I went to a private Christian school all my life; so going to a public university and NOT praying every three seconds over every damn little thing was the shock to me!

To each his own, surely, but I think it's pretty easy to get carried away with that stuff.

That said, I wouldn't trade my private school education for anything, and my children especially will benefit from private education considering the joke public education has become, especially here in California.

I hope to find a happy medium though, between what I had (over the top religious) and public school. Wish me luck.

PS - If you bring a giant latte next time, I will require photographs of everyone's reaction!

kitkat said...

lol i didnt know idaho had such a religious community. lol @ the pics..you're so hilarious! ever considered dabbling in comedy?

D4 said...

I would honestly freak out in that environment. Just stay back and be quiet. Not to be rude or anything just.. scared..

Autumnforest said...

Wow! I go nutso visiting family in the hills of WV where the evangelical types are, but a Mormon-y university would be like something out of twilight zone. I might have needed to listen to Ozzy with the windows rolled down while driving away just to counter the general ookiness. You are soooo brave. I go into haunted places to look for ghosts, but you take on the really scary shit. You have my respect!

The Reckmonster said...

Please, clue me in - what in sam hell makes caffeine "EVILLLLLL?!" I guess I'm not surprised about the lack of alcohol, but caffeine?! WTF?! I'll just remain a bad Catholic. At least we serve REAL wine every mass.

THUNDERCAT832 said...

I would have been hella uncomfortable there. I'm not a total demon, just all the praying would have made me feel...kinda guilty.

Rancher Mom said...

Ahh yes, thank you for the Mormon flashback. I will say that I miss those days for their sheer entertainment value.

If you show up with a big cup of Starbucks next time, be prepared for a lecture & they might pray for you too. Which may sound annoying, but is actually quite amusing.

And I know several LDS women who have degrees and are currently housewives/SAHM's. But at least they're educated in something, so that's a good thing.

Leila said...

haha i love the ending note of your whole post...

It's interesting that this college was a lot more overzealous (rather than strict) with religious practices than the Catholic school I went to in the Philippines when I was in elementary. Back in that school, we were called "stupid" or "blasphemous" for liking Tolkien's LOTR more than the bible or other stuff like that. In fact, I remember when I was in 2nd grade they introduced us into the basics of cosmology and astronomy. At the end of each lesson, our teacher would then add a disclaimer, "But remember guys, God is still supreme. Just use what you learn for the real world but keep God's word closer to the heart." In a more metaphysical standpoint, I would've agreed, but I'm pretty sure our school teachers were more bigoted than a Medieval priest.

Even so, we did not pray nearly as often (only in the beginning of the day at 6 am, lunch time, and at the end of the day at 6pm). Neither did we subtly incorporate misogynist primitivism (girls went to school to do well, not to rely on men).

I don't think the fervent Mormons of BYU are any worse off than students who go to college partying all the time and etc. How is that any closer to reality? The monotonous and regimented framework of society is nowhere near accurately portrayed in our education system. Not to mention, most adolescents enter the world as grown ups but not as "adults," in the sense that they have not fully grasped, or even care to bother, the concept of individualism. In my view, both ends of the spectrum (mormons and hedonistic lifestyles) are stuck in their own lilliputian bubbles.

galivice said...

Wow, I won't lie, very religious people scare me, and that place sounds really off-putting, bordering on creepy...

Also, no tea or coffee...? How do they survive when it's exam time?

James said...

Wow, that would actually be kinda scary lol.

becca said...

great post

Tweeks Coffee said...

great post. looking forward to reading your next one

G said...

being three months away from marrying an archdeacons daughter I'm surprised at how low key the whole religion thing is over in the UK...mind you her father has a real dark sense of humour. I asked him if he was worried about the growth in atheism...he said "son if i had a pound for every atheist that asked me to pray with them at then end of their lives...I could build a cathedral"

Malkavian said...

im not much into religion, i believe its a cancer in society, and this just proves it.

Lost.in.Idaho said...

Ok, this is gonna be a long response post:

@G: No surprise there. I know a lot of so-called atheists that have this idea of repenting on their death-bed, just to hedge their bets.

@Leila: Thank you for being so involved in blog comments. I learn so much from your insights. Yes, a balance is ideal, but we are in a society of extremes. People usually gravitate to extreme religious modesty, or extreme uncaring. The days of "Casual Christianity" is over, where you were a mostly good person, go to church on Sundays, and take the sermons with a grain of salt.

@Reck: Caffeine is bad in LDS eyes. Google the code of honor from BYU. No coffee or tea is allowed for students, or you face expulsion. Can't grow a beard either. Or swear. Shit, I'm out...

@Gucci: I love you. Thank you for bringing up the religious upbring point-of-view. It's not the religion that bothers me. I have a belief system. What irks me about BYU's campus is they assume everyone is like them. If you're not, you're broken in some way. Some try to 'fix' you, some try to discard you altogether. Either way, you're alienated.

@Alpha: Thank you. I probably need a lot of prayers said on my behalf. However, don't try to douse me in holy water. I may burn.

@All who are "afraid" of religion: There is no need to be. Afraid of people who are in your face about it? Maybe. But a background on me, I've dabbled and bounced. My mom was a 'trendy' church goer, so I was Christian, Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, I think a Scientologist at some point, and in adulthood a Freemason and a Christian again. I know religion. I know its tenets and stories. I analyzed the bible, page for page, in a college class (like Choirchick's story). Because of this, I fear no missionary. I can argue them point for point, and show the insights as well as the absurdities of the "Word of God," which is infallible, but created and written by man, and reworded dozens (if not hundreds) of times by kings, publishers, popes and the like. Have you ever played the telephone game? I view a lot of organized religion in that aspect.

*breathes* OK! Done with this subject for now! Time to think of something silly for Friday...

Aaron M. Gipson said...

Damn man, that was pretty much like walking through one of the original Puritan colonies with a modern twist. I've heard stories about BYU to that effect, but never anything so lucid.

Religion is creepy...sorry if I offend anyone by saying that, but it just is. These kids are wound up so tight, who knows what kind of effed up perversions and quirks are going to arise later in life. College is your time to "get it all out of your system" as far as personal wildness. Not with these guys though...

A Beer for the Shower said...

I remember a Mormon girl in high school who prayed over EVERYTHING, because she wanted to make sure she was following God's will. I once witnessed her praying over what she should eat for lunch. Apparently God 'guided' her to a sandwich.

Why have free will? We should all be puppets, right?

(And no, I'm not an atheist in the slightest)

Stevesonaplane said...

very interesing indeed. BYU is pretty nutter.

Leila said...

Oh please don't thank me. I have you to thank, for being so funny and so intelligent. You're also my inspiration to keep on going to music (if you remember ;P). You make living in Idaho a paradoxically enjoyable nightmare (haha).

Well I don't necessarily believe in religion (but faith is a different matter). I follow CG Jung when he said, "I don't believe in God. I KNOW God." And he meant as in he knew there was an inexplicable divine in the universe, not necessarily the phallic tyrant Christians like to portray.

Kenzie said...

geeez I'd go crazy there! I love your posting style btw very funny and interesting :D

Lost.in.Idaho said...

...and now I want to play "Phallic Tyrant" in the bedroom. Thanks L! See what you did??

hed said...

I always assumed Utah was the "worst" state because they are so backwards, but some people say Idaho because it's full of "tweekers and racists".

You got to combine the two? Scary!

hed

Yesterday's Echo Scrapbooks said...

Hed,
ID actually has a higher per capita Mormon population than Utah. :)

On My Soapbox said...

I don't think I could handle being around brainwashed, archaic hypocrites like that. "Smug" is right - are there any other religions that require "missions" to cram their beliefs down other peoples throats (like any other religion is inferior)? They don't respect me, so I don't respect them - or their magic underwear or their belief that heaven is in.... well, I forgot where they think it is. They think it's in Minnesota or Missouri or somewhere....

Sandra said...

I can't even wrap my mind around it. I get a little freaked out when people congregate in small, tight circles.

Con Queso said...

It's kinda sad, I heard of mothers approving of this kind of activity: FIND A MAN IN COLLEGE! it's kinda sad but I really hope it's not as prominent as it seems.

George Valentine said...

neither option is especially appealing...where's the happy median?!

Josie said...

Ummm I keep trying to follow you, but I guess for now I'll just have to stalk you once in a while.

I've been raised mormon. Baptized and everything. Some of the stuff makes sense to me, but I just can't live that way. I live by USU and I'm pretty sure there have been books published just to make fun of BYU. And the authors were even mormon.

BYU! BYU! Where the girls are girls and the boys are too!

Erick said...

People, please get your doctrine right. Us Mormons don't drink tea and coffee, that's the official line. Not drinking any caffeine is a stupid cultural thing that has been adopted even in some Church owned institutions. So therefore, you can drink Coke, Mountain Dew, Rockstar,Red Bull and whatever the hell you want.

But who want's to drink any of that anyway, that shit messes your body up.

Joseph Cereola said...

I had to give up caffeine; I hope I don't turn into a Mormon.

WilyGuy said...

Ah, life's "bike messengers" are a somewhat easier target than most. I poke a little fun at them in my post called coveting (http://itsmynd.com/2011/12/coveting.html) but your insider's view was fantastic.

WG

Rusty said...

I went to Melbourne with a bunch of uni mates, and one of their brothers (twin for those playing at home) drove and we jump in the car with him. He took us wherever we wanted to go. The pub, the beach, wherever, but he would drive away and we wouldn't see him again until we ran out of cash and told him to pick us up.


"Where's your brother going?"


"Bible study. He's a Mormon."


"WTF? Are you a Mormon?"


"Nah I got kicked out for smoking weed, but he's quite happy to drive us around. That way he gets to have fun by association."


http://swinginglikearustygate.blogspot.com

Chiz Chat said...

I had a few classes with a Mormon girl in college. She spoke in soft whispers to the point where nothing she said was audible. I had to read one of her papers for class though and it was about her disagreement with her religion regarding homosexuality which was pretty cool I suppose. Perhaps both lifestyles could coexist at some point in time? I don't know. Granted, I'm sure she would be excommunicated from the church (or whatever they have) should she ever reveal her opinions to anyone.

The Six-Fingered Monkey said...

That place sounds TOTALLY fucked up. I wanna run naked through the hallways while smoking a joint. Okay, maybe I wouldn't be running... that would be tricky while smoking a joint. Great post.

Michael said...

When I lived in Vegas, there were certain times of the year when Mormon girls by the thousands would descend upon the city of Sin. These girls were well known for being frisky and free. One evening I went home with 2 from a dance clud, and I'm the furthest thing from a playboy.


i guess they would come to town to blow off some steam from living such strict lives at home. *shrug*


Michael A. Walker
Defying Procrastination

Michael said...

When I lived in Vegas, there were certain times of the year when Mormon girls by the thousands would descend upon the city of Sin. These girls were well known for being frisky and free. One evening I went home with 2 from a dance clud, and I'm the furthest thing from a playboy.


i guess they would come to town to blow off some steam from living such strict lives at home. *shrug*


Michael A. Walker
Defying Procrastination

Michael Walker said...

When I lived in Vegas, there were certain times of the year when Mormon girls by the thousands would descend upon the city of Sin. These girls were well known for being frisky and free. One evening I went home with 2 from a dance clud, and I'm the furthest thing from a playboy.


i guess they would come to town to blow off some steam from living such strict lives at home. *shrug*


Michael A. Walker
Defying Procrastination

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