Do Mormons Tell Catholics (or Anyone Else) “We’re Right and You’re Wrong”? A Response to a Snide Comment About BYU Quarterback Tanner Mangum’s Last-Second Hail Mary
By Ken K. Gourdin
At Patheos.com, BYU Professor Dan Peterson commented on something BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum tweeted before departing on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mangum wrote, ““I love it when I hear people say I’m throwing away my career by serving a mission. It’ll make it that much sweeter when I prove them wrong.”
To the professor’s observation that “[h]e may already have accomplished that,” I responded, “One play does not a career make (or a career break, for that matter). Still, it’s not a bad start; not a bad start at all.” Another poster, Dale Wight, then chimed in regarding the apparent irony that someone who (according to him) spent two years in Chile telling Catholics they’re wrong resorted to a “Hail Mary” (a long, usually-last-second, desperation pass in football that is attempted to win the game (hence, the prayer allusion)). I responded to Mr. Wight thus:
Really? That’s what missionaries (are supposed to) tell prospective converts? Wow. Who knew? I even served a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I was in the dark about that for the entire two years, because I never once told anyone of any other religious persuasion (or even those of no particular religious persuasion at all), “I’m right, you’re wrong, and here’s why.” That’s a gross oversimplification, if not an outright mischaracterization, of what I did tell them.
Now, having said that, are there many members of the Church of Jesus Christ, including some missionaries, who are too provincial in their possession of truth? Yes. I had some advice for such people awhile back, a link to which I have posted below. As I said in that linked essay, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ because I believe it is the best way to get the most bounteous harvest of good fruit in my life; I am not a member so I can have an excuse to look down my nose at someone else’s sixtyfold or thirtyfold. My response to someone who says his religious tradition bears good fruit in his life is, “Great! More power to you (and to God)!”
My stance as set forth in the foregoing paragraph notwithstanding, if someone wants to know how (from my perspective) he can increase his harvest; why I think being a Latter-day Saint is the best thing going, religion-wise; and “a reason for the hope that is in me,” I hope I would be prepared to offer some good answers, but even then, “I’m right, you’re wrong, and here’s why” would not be among them.
Here’s a link to the essay to which I alluded earlier:
Another poster accused me of having thin skin, of having a chip on my shoulder, and of failing to grasp Mr. Wight’s obvious humor, to which I responded:
You’re right to the extent that this is a difficult medium to detect such humor. If, indeed, obvious humor was intended and I failed to detect it, I plead guilty. That said, I think the onus is on the messenger who intends humor to make such intent plain rather than on the audience to try to divine it.
While your invitation that I should “get over it” is very kind, I’m unsure just precisely what it is I need to get over. My skin is plenty thick, I have no chip on my shoulder (whether precariously balanced or not), and I’m certainly not ready to explode. Absent any indication I should do otherwise, I simply took the plain meaning of Mr. Wight’s words at their face value and responded accordingly. He’s welcome to clarify if he wishes. With all due respect, I doubt he needs you to speak for him.
In a related vein, in response to a Salt Lake Tribune article about the aftermath of the season-ending injury to Taysom Hill, whom Mangum replaced in the game, another poster (“Reasonable Ute”) said that Hill, BYU, and their fans should simply “get over it,” I responded:
I know you expect me to believe without question [that you’re reasonable] because you put it in your screen name, but there are aspects of this post that I don’t find very “reasonable” … and I say that as a “U” alum who’s had plenty of his dreams “crushed by reality.” What would you say to me if it’d been Travis Wilson who’d been hurt in the Utes’ game against Michigan and I had posted the foregoing? (I’m sure many of your less-“reasonable” counterparts in “U”-fan-land would decry my insensitivity.) While you’re right that, whatever the stakes, in the end, football is simply a game, I would argue that the stakes were considerably higher for Hill than for the typical 5’6″, 130-lb. pimply-faced freshman who gets cut from his high school team, and I think most “reasonable” people (even “U” fans who might not otherwise be “reasonable”) would agree with me. Will Mr. Hill eventually reach the point of accepting his fate? Will his BYU coaches, teammates, and fans? Yes. But that’s a process rather than an event, and I certainly wouldn’t come here singing the Eagles’ tune “Get Over It” to “U” fans if it’d been Wilson who’d been injured instead of Hill.