Columns Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

How to be Mormon, in just 73 easy steps!

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

 

A guest post by Mette Harrison

  1. Never use the word “Mormon” in describing anything Mormon. Doing so is a win for Satan.
  2. Drink no coffee, tea or alcohol.
  3. Eat meat sparingly. (Actually, scratch that. It’s in the Word of Wisdom, but no one pays attention to it anyway, so bring on the burgers. You’re going to need to keep your strength up for keeping all the other rules.)
  4. Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits in their season. And yes, Funeral Potatoes totally count as a vegetable.
  5. Go to church every Sunday, even when you’re on vacation. God gives you extra credit for this.
  6. Accept any callings offered by the bishop. (But see also #40.)
  7. Attend the temple once a month at the very least. Always keep a valid temple recommend.
  8. Do your monthly visiting teaching/home teaching. Er, ministering.
  9. Send out a homemade holiday gift and card/letter to neighbors.
  10. Never use a curse word. If you need a library of faux swear options, watch Napoleon Dynamite multiple times and absorb its vocabulary.
  11. Do family history work (genealogy) for your ancestors
  12. Show up for moving other people in and out of your ward. Lift with your legs! And keep plenty of Ibuprofen on hand.
  13. Sign up to bring meals to the sick or otherwise needy. These must be home-cooked. No KFC allowed!
  14. Feed the missionaries—hefty portions. You don’t want emaciated elders or sisters around.
  15. Volunteer to clean the church/temple when the signup sheet goes around. Remember to wear clothes you can get dirty in. You’re keeping the church clean, not yourself.
  16. Attend ward activities like the Christmas party, the summer swim party, back-to-school parties, etc.
  17. Hold a weekly Family Home Evening with your children. No crying allowed, from either parents or children!
  18. Teach your children to do chores happily. (Good luck with this.)
  19. Be grateful, even for your trials. Trials are really blessings in disguise. Also, they make great fodder for tearful testimonies in the future.
  20. Keep a year’s supply of food in your basement, even if you never eat any of it. The family with the most wheat wins.
  21. Do regular disaster planning with your kids, from fire drills to flood plans. You can never be too prepared for the end of days.
  22. Know how to make important knots with rope. No one knows why this matters, but it does.
  23. Learn how to build a fire without a match.
  24. Know the stories of your pioneer ancestors, if you have them, to tell your children on Pioneer Day. (Don’t worry about the gruesome details—kids will love them!)
  25. Invite non-members to attend church meetings and activities. Repeatedly.
  26. Read the weekly Sunday school and auxiliary lesson each week, so you can participate in lessons. But don’t monopolize the teacher, even if you’re the only one who prepared.
  27. Figure out how to use beans in fudge making and wheat in chili-making.
  28. Help with local fundraising activities for the youth, like allowing them to put a flag in your yard even if they break your sprinkler system.
  29. God expects you to be happy.
  30. Play “wholesome” games as a family. (Yes, Monopoly counts. The prophet Ezra Taft Benson taught that capitalism is holy, so it’s best to start ’em young.)
  31. Donate to Sub for Santa or other Christmas charities as a ward/stake.
  32. But don’t tell the children that Santa isn’t real.
  33. Sing in the ward choir, even if you don’t sing well, because you can make a “joyful sound.”
  34. Do NOT NOT NOT have sex before marriage—no making out, either. In fact, just try not to think about sex at all.
  35. Root for BYU against the University of Utah—“bleed blue.”
  36. Get your daughters to babysit for poor ward members for free.
  37. Go on weekly dates with your spouse.
  38. Don’t steal from the ward’s library or lost and found. (Return your crayons and chalk, dammit!)
  39. Repent whenever you accidentally use a swear word, as I just did in violation of Rule #38.
  40. Friends don’t let friends get called into the nursery.
  41. Only toddlers get cheerios in Sacrament Meeting. (No Capn’ Crunch or you’ll make the other toddlers jealous.)
  42. Submit Primary children’s drawings as art for the ward bulletin, even if you can’t tell what it is.
  43. Eat “better than sex” chocolate cake.
  44. Drink sparkle punch.
  45. Participate in Eagle Scout projects no matter how stupid you think they are.
  46. Have a favorite church hymn—preferably the same as one of the prophet’s.
  47. Watch out for Gadianton Robbers. Also, MLM schemes.
  48. Know how to cook a marshmallow properly to make S’mores. They’re practically a Mormon invention.
  49. Be able to make seven different kinds of Jell-o salad, at least one with carrots.
  50. Save seats in a theater/amusement park where it’s not allowed, but do it politely.
  51. Make sure you know how to make funeral potatoes. (Hint: with cornflakes!)
  52. Drink root beer or milk if you are ever forced to be in a bar.
  53. Turn regularly to sugar, in huge quantities, as your only vice.
  54. Keep all church buildings at refrigerator temperatures year-round because men are in full suits and ties.
  55. Drive to church no matter how close you live.
  56. Go on a mission the moment you hit the requisite birthday.
  57. Don’t go to the grocery store on the Sabbath. If you absolutely must, though, do it in another town so no one from your ward sees you.

Women:

  1. Do feminine crafts like knitting, crocheting, and quilting.
  2. Learn how to bake bread, cook meals cheaply, and can foods. Bonus points if you grew the foods in your own garden.
  3. Wear makeup, because even an old barn looks good with a little paint on it.
  4. Do not nurse at church except in the mother’s lounge in the women’s bathroom, which will also be where children’s dirty diapers are changed and disposed of. But modesty!
  5. Attend monthly Relief Society meetings.
  6. Decorate your house with Relief Society kitsch.
  7. No porn shoulders.
  8. Don’t slam your purse or talk in a shrill tone.
  9. Be able to sew pioneer bonnets, dresses, aprons, etc. in bulk at a day’s notice.
  10. Don’t chew gum in church (according to my mother—it’s not ladylike).
  11. You can have up to one ear piercing per God’s instructions. Getting double-pierced ears is beyond the pale, so don’t push it.

Men:

  1. Sacrament must be administered and passed by young men in white shirts, only using their right hands. The patterns may vary from ward to ward, but are secret and only for men to know.
  2. Do not shed tears in any scenario ever, except during testimony meeting, when it is 100% acceptable for you to cry.
  3. Don’t abuse your children or your wife—except with dad jokes, which you may pile on freely.
  4. Do play church ball hard enough to get injured or injure someone else. Unless someone winds up in the hospital, the Spirit hasn’t spoken strongly enough.
  5. Facial hair was fine for Jesus but not for you. The clean-cut look is definitely the Mormon Latter-day Saint look. Oh, and man buns are flat out.

Other posts by Mette Harrison:

The new Mormon Primary manuals were not designed with actual children in mind

The best Mormon Family Home Evening ever

This Mother’s Day, give Mormon women the gift of Heavenly Mother


 

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

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