Thursday, June 2, 2011

It's Mishie Time!

Mishies need love, too.

It's summer, that magical time of year filled with cookouts and pool parties and sugared up kids driving their parents insane- and Mormon Missionaries* (hereinafter "mishies").

Look, I know mishie visits can be a bit obnoxious. Here you are, innocently enjoying your day, debating whether or not you can put off mowing the lawn another day (in my case, no), and two earnest young men in distinctive clothing** ring your doorbell, eager to tell you why you're going to Hell.

It's just not a conversation you want to have right now, I get it. What you really want to do is slam the door in their faces or curse at them. Maybe you're more like me and you really want to mess with them, answer the door naked covered in ketchup and invite them to join the ceremony.

Don't do it.

Mishies are just doing what they were raised to do. It is the single most important thing they can do in the Mormon Church, and if they don't do it they will be ostracized by their community, friends and family. Many mishies spend 2 years simultaneously questioning their faith and spreading it.

Mishies are frequently treated poorly by the mission, and here, and here, including not being given enough to eat.

Mishies are treated poorly by the people they attempt to convert, all day, every day for 2 years.

Don't add to the burden. If you came across man lying in the street, visibly having suffered a beating, would you kick him? If not, don't do the same to the mishies. (If so, drown yourself.)

What should you do? If you have the time, and you're not alone in your home, invite them inside to enjoy a nice cold, nonalcoholic, uncaffeinated beverage***. Tell them you were just about to eat lunch/dinner, would they like to join in? Press some leftovers on them. Tell them you would just throw them away, or that your Italian heritage would be forever insulted if they didn't take your food.

If you don't have the time, give them a bottle of water to take with them, maybe some prepackaged snacks (I keep both around in the summer for just this purpose, you can get peanut butter crackers cheap at Walmart), and politely explain that you are busy, but thank you for stopping by.

You don't have to convert to their religion or adopt the mishies, but a kind word and a bottle of water is quick, easy and possibly worth more than you know to a lonely kid facing 2 years of rejection and verbal abuse.

It's summer, be nice to the mishies.

*After many years typing legal documents, I am no longer certain what gets capitalized and what doesn't. As far as I can tell, when typing filings for Court, just go with German capitalization rules: every noun starts with a capital letter.

**You can tell mishies from other proselytizers two ways: 1) mishies are almost always two men, 18 - 20 years old, and 2) they wear black pants, white button down shirts and ties.

***Mormonism's version of kosher forbids both caffeine and alcohol. So Coke or Pepsi would be out, but Sprite's okay.


  1. I don't think I've ever been graced with a visit from the mishies. In some ways, that seems weird, given my relative proximity to Palmyra, New York.

    I'm never rude to missionaries of any stripe. Granted, I don't invite them in or give them anything. I simply tell them I'm not interested in speaking with them and hope they have a good day.

    If I ever do find myself opening my door to mishies, I'll keep your comments on how they're treated in mind.

  2. I liked your post - it showed a lot of compassion to people who many of us disagree with and who can be quite irritating.

    I've been visited by the mishies a couple of times, and they've always been courteous and friendly, never pushy. They also opened by asking if I had any chores around the house that needed doing, and closed by asking if I had any elderly neighbours who might have chores that needed doing.

    I don't often keep food in the house but I can certainly see what I can offer them next time.

  3. I did laugh along when my religion professor (Catholic college) told a story of how he really got the missionaries who came to his house.

    The next fall, I was dropped out of college, working as a telemarketer to help buy my sister's asthma medications. More than once, a person told me to kill myself because I was a telemarketer.

    Mormon kids are in a bad spot. Sure, you could refuse to go on a mission, and spit in the face of your family, friends, community and religion. Most people aren't in a position to do that, any more than I was in a position to quit my job.

    So at the very least, a polite, "Sorry, I've got a religious view I'm happy with" is what you should go with. Extend the same to telemarketers while you're at it.

  4. I get the occasional Mormon, Jehovah's Witnesses and some from local mainstream Christian churches. My standard response is just to say, "Sorry, I'm not interested, I'm an atheist." They quickly move on to the next house. It's not necessary to be impolite, but I'm not going to waste time on them either.

  5. Extend the same to telemarketers while you're at it.

    Speaking of, the people I feel for are the folks who work in call centers and are expected to act as salespeople anyway. I ran into this the one day when I called Time Warner. I was calling to cut back on the services I had through them, explaining to the woman that I needed to cut expenses. We went through the process, then she went on to try and sell me on an upgrade to their faster Internet service. I was polite, but totally amazed that she would try to sell me something when I told her up front I wanted to reduce my bill.

    Then I mentioned it to a friend, who at the time worked phone support for Time Warner. He smiled ruefully and explained to me that she was required to try and sell me something and that failing to try could have resulted in her termination.


  6. Aww! Thank you so much for posting this. We had mishies in college; we let them know that we were quite happy in our religion, thanks, but they were free to stop by for some ice water if they were in the neighborhood. (They actually wound up coming to our impromptu Easter dinner.)

    Personally, I don't mind missionaries of any sort if they're willing to be polite. (I had a decent conversation with a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses once, and wound up explaining the basic concepts behind paganism to them.) And Mormons especially tend to be far from home and dealing with mean people every day, out in the hot Florida (or in college, North Carolina, which is worse) sun. Being friendly is just the nice thing to do.

  7. I'm always nice to the people who knock on my door, knowing it takes a lot of courage to do so (except the MRAs- they get polite hostility). But, be careful, because being nice can backfire.

    There was this guy that liked to come to my college and preach in the one spot that pretty much everyone had to pass by to get to various classes. He drank Mt. Dew all day, I saw this, so I brought him a bottle of water and some sunscreen and told him that he risked dehydration and skin cancer if he didn't take protective measures. He took them both, and said "See, this is what I'm trying to say- women are just naturally nurturing". I felt like taking it out of his hands, but realized that his additional assinine statement still didn't negate his need to not pass out from dehydration and hopefully not get skin cancer, so I just left. But, let it be known- they will twist anything you do so they can have the story that fits their narrative.

  8. (Quasar speaking. Still having trouble with my stupid google account)

    Mormons don't really have a foothold here in Australia, but the Jehovahs Witness's make up for 'em, and for bonus points they normally dress similar. I have seen the "2x young-male" version you reference, but we more often get the "2x old lady" version.

    I've never been mean to them, or telemarketers, and never would (not that I don't think it'd be hilarious, but I just can't do that sort of thing to someone. It always seems cruel, no matter how much it would amuse me), but I do love the "ways to respond" jokes. A particularly good one (which I seriously hope is a true story) involved the house-owner inviting the two old ladies in for some morning tea. After a while, chatting politely, the two women noticed they were getting hungry, so they had another of the cookies they'd been offered. And another. And another. They eventually left, giggling happily at everything, with a bag of cookies under each arm.

    There's a lady who occasionally stands on the corner on my way to work, handing out copies of the watchtower. I've made it a point to always offer a smile and a "Good Morning" to her as I pass. And in some ways, I think that's the best way to fight the "Amoral Atheist" propaganda.

    PS: Amusing but only tangentially related. Background: my immediate family are all godless people, though they're not very open about it amongst others. But when my father invited his work colleagues around (two of whom are real fundies) my mother deliberately waited until everyone had started eating before saying "shouldn't we say grace?" The fundies looked absolutely horrified (they'd started eating too), everyone else was embarrassed, and worst of all they then had to wait for my father to come out of the kitchen before they could say Grace.

    She didn't even say "kidding" or anything at any point. They left convinced she was a "good christian" (one of the aforementioned fundies even commented on it). It was only the next day, when she was telling someone else about the incident, that she burst out laughing.

  9. "He took them both, and said "See, this is what I'm trying to say- women are just naturally nurturing". I felt like taking it out of his hands, but realized that his additional assinine statement still didn't negate his need to not pass out from dehydration and hopefully not get skin cancer, so I just left."

    Sometimes I wish this sort of thing would happen to me more often, because even though I'm normally not quick or brave enough to say anything, occasionally I immediately know what I would say.

    In your position (and were I female), I would have responded by saying in my huskiest, most gravelly voice "Actually, I used to be a guy." And then leaving without giving him a chance to respond (well okay, leaving so that he didn't get a chance to see me stifling a grin).

  10. (Bah! That was still Quasar! And so is this! Goddamn you blogspot!)

  11. This is a great post.

    I had a friend who attempted suicide while on his Mission. Though it's easy assume they're just obnoxious fundies who deserve argumentation and lulz at their expense, the truth is much closer to what you have written here.

    And so cool that you send them off with snacks. ^.^

  12. Quasar;

    log out, then log back in WITHOUT having the "stay logged in" box checked. uncheck it if you need to. that's what worked for me.

    there are two kinds of missionaries - the ones who will accept polite negatives - and the ones who then get their whole freaking congegration to come out and "bless your house" [200 people on your front lawn = cops being called on YOU, damnit] and then writing "letters to the editor" of every newspaper in the city denouncing you and your family - BY NAME - as "Godless Satanists" [ignore the oxymoron inherent - both they and the "editor" did]

    missionaries who are nice to me, get me being nice to them [except the one time i wasn't thinking and answered the door nekkid; i lived in an apt. building where one needed a key to have access to the apartments, so i assumed it was a neighbor, and they ALL knew i was pretty much always naked at home. poor boys ran so fast one fell down the stairs, and then refused to let me help...]

  13. "Godless Satanists" [ignore the oxymoron inherent - both they and the "editor" did]

    Actually, you'd be surprised. Anton made it perfectly clear in The Satanic Bible* that (1) there are no supernatural beings and (2) belief in an actual supernatural being -- including Satan -- was grounds for expulsion from the Church of Satan.*

    So "godless Satanist" isn't as big an oxymoron as you might first think.

    Granted, I suspect the statement by the church people was based on ignorance rather than actual knowledge of the CoS's views. So you still make a good point.


    * Yes, I've actually read it.

    ** LaVey chose to call his religion movement "Satanism" because he believed that its central philosophies (responsible self-indulgence is good, it's appropriate to take care of yourself and not let others take advantage of you) were the antithesis of Christian philosophy. It's an ideological statement rather than a statement of belief in a guy with horns, hoofs, and a pitchfork.

  14. Jarred;

    *I* know this about Satanism [as opposed to "Satan Worship, which is just Christianity turned upside down] and YOU know this - but ignorant fundies don't. they hear the "satan" and make assumptions. they assume - and you can't convince them otherwise, i've TRIED, even showing them "LeVey's" book doesn't do it. there MUST be a god to ANY religion, and since any religion but their own is "wrong" and "evil", ALL other religions "Worship the Devil".


  15. I've known to be VERY rude to evangelists who invade my personal space. About 5 years ago I was on my way out to my car when a tall, white (unlike most everyone on my block except for DH and me), well-dressed man with a toothy Jim Carrey smile greeted me in my driveway and started to introduce himself. His opening words were "Good afternoon, Ma'am, how are you today?" Being in a reasonably good mood, I responded with something like "GreatgeddoudamywayIgottagosomewherekthxbai." He handed me a little card, I took it without looking at it, started the car, gave him just enough time to reach the sidewalk and not get run over, and eventually looked at the card. Turns out he was NOT a missionary (LDS or any other kind). He was the next worst thing: A politician looking for votes! A Democrat. He lost. But I friended him on Facebook a few years later and he got a good laugh over my "mistake." If he's ever foolish enough to run again, I'll probably vote for him.

  16. Oh dear yes: "political missionaries". They don't usually door knock, but every time I see some poor gullible sod sat out on the side of the road with a sign promoting [insert party/person here], I feel a unique sort of pity. They really really believe that if only their party gets in everything will be cake and cookies.

    But lets face it, both parties exist solely for the benefit of the highest bidder. "Here comes the new boss, slightly better than the old boss... oh wait, my mistake."

  17. PS: Awesome! Thanks denelian!

  18. Quasar -

    glad i could help! it was driving me insane, too - i was logging in thru LJ and the the posts weren't posting and !!!!!!!!!!

    so i did research until i found a fix. it's working for about 87% who try it, as of saturday at 2230 eastern.

    now blogger just needs to FIX IT.


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