Monday, May 16, 2005

The Mormon Dancers are here!

Spent a wonderful evening tonight watching a group of Mormon Dancers from the US on tour, stopping by Taichung for an evening. Tickets were had courtesy of a close friend, for which I am eternally grateful. Taichung has so little culture that even the smallest dollop goes a long way.

One nice thing about the evening, which I shall shortly present in pics below, was seeing a side of Mormonism one ordinarily doesn't see. The Mormon facade of scripted smiles and hearty handshakes is so offputting for outsiders that one begins, automatically to associate Mormonism with those clueless JoSmithBot missionaries one sees wandering about Taiwan, so naive about both the island and the books they promote that all one can do is wipe their noses, pack them a brown bag lunch, and send them on their way hoping that they don't get killed crossing the road (note to Mormon central: I've written a commentary on Mark. Please, next time, send me some missionaries who actually know something about the Bible). So "creativity" is not usually a word that pops up in my brain when someone mentions the word "Mormon."

Nonetheless, the dancers we witnessed tonight were definitely a creative joy to behold, and so was the kindness of everyone we interacted with, from the people who guided us to the right seat to the local Taichung Mormon leadership. The program's music varied from Beethoven to Norah Jones, plus several intense pieces I couldn't identify. Even better than my own enjoyment was watching my kids sitting in rapt fascination, especially for the two dances that were humorous and energetic.

The evening started off at the hideous Noble Steak House, steak for the masses. My son had some of the chicken feet as an appetizer. My wife and kids love chicken feet.

I'd just like to say as a former Peace Corps volunteer in Africa and traveller all over Asia, that there is no food more revolting than chicken feet. I'd rather eat termites any day of the week....

Chung Shan Auditorium, named after Sun Yat Sen, was the venue. The place was packed.

I had expected a light turnout, but every Mormon in central Taiwan had heard the summons. There were also some other groups in attendence as well.

The reception area was also packed, with corn-fed Mormon boys and girls towering over us locals.

The kids were very excited.

We did have one moment of real comedy when the representative of one of the local charity organizations attempted to say the word "Jesus" while on stage making announcements, and came out with the Chinese equivalent of Jist Kresus, which he quickly "corrected" to Susje after apologizing for his nervousness. The Mormon in charge of the show, in a state of terminal agitation, leaned over and supplied the proper pronounciation. My wife and I, Infidels both, were in stitches.

I couldn't resist getting a picture of this brain-dead T-Shirt.

Yes, sweetheart, I HAVE read Fukuyama's Basic Genetics.

I'll let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves.

All this beautiful expression of the human spirit could not be sustained, however. As if to put a cork on any potential human autonomy that might break out, the dancers ended by singing a hymn to You-Know-Who. It was strikingly reminiscent of those Soviet-era ballet visits to the US, where the dancers had to constantly affirm their loyalty to the Soviet system. It's sad when everyone has to stay on-script at all times.

I was struck by watching the Mormon missionary population hard at work guiding everyone in and out. The missionaries who go door to door or stop people on the street have an almost zero success rate -- most conversions are through developing social relationships with the target. Why do they go door to door? Simple. To give young Mormons, while they are still young, the visceral, constant experience of rejection, so that they learn to identify, down in their gut, with the Mormon myth that Mormons are a rejected, persecuted minority in a hostile world, instead of learning to see themselves as the powerful, wealthy, and influential cult that they actually are. The real purpose of Mormon missionary work is to missionize its missionaries.

Thanks, everyone, for a joyous and insightful evening.


rmdazwdv said...

Bumper Stickers:

God said it.
I believe it.
That settles it.

Born right the first time.

Visualize a post-christian era.

Mickey said...

That disgusting chicken foot!

But the pics of the dancers are wonderful...thanks!

Anonymous said...

One thing, sir. You seem to dislike the Mormon belief system, yet you praise their cultural "show." And more than that, you even pay money and go to see the show.

That is hypocrisy, sir. If you really understood how Mormonism uses culture to recruit poeple, you would have not gone to that propaganda show.

You are part of the problem, too. You say one thing, but do another. Sheesh!

Michael Turton said...

Actually, I got in for free. Didn't pay a cent.

Anonymous said...

"The real purpose of Mormon missionary work is to missionize its missionaries."

As a former Mormon missionary who spent 2 years on Taiwan from '79-81 I can heartily attest truer words have never been spoken.

I enjoy your blog, Mr. Turton. Thanks for the wonderful insights into the country I never had the time, education or life experience to gain myself when I was 19.