Parenting habits of Mormons and Catholics


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day SaintsHere are some things we thought were true about members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, which of course we knew not one such person, growing up in a Catholic enclave in New York City where spotting the occasional Lutheran was a weekend sport, and there was rumour of a Jewish temple somewhere in Brooklyn, and one time the brother of a friend had seen a Hindu man on the street, or so he said, but he was not the kind of guy you could totally trust when he said that, and he may well have seen a rodeo rider, or a Mohammedan, as my grandfather used to say.

We thought, first of all, that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints were called Mermens, as my grandfather said, so we thought that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints were an aquatic people, for reasons that were murky, considering their long affiliation with Utah, which we didn't think had an ocean, although perhaps it used to when my grandfather was young, which is when your man Abraham Lincoln was president, as he said.

Also we heard the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints as Ladder-Day Saints, which was puzzling, but not even my grandfather knew what that was all about; it had something to do with Jacob's Ladder, he said, which we assumed was a town in Utah. Also we thought members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Ladder-Day Saints married someone new every third or fourth day, which would lead to a lot of wet towels left on the bathroom floor, wouldn't it, boy? as my grandfather said.

But marrying more than once was not wholly unknown in our Catholic world; Mrs Cooney, over at Saint Rita's Parish, had married Mr Cooney after the death of her first husband in the war, so she was both a widow and an adult, said my grandfather, who told me that as a female adult she was what you would call an adultress. My grandfather was a font of such wisdom.

Also he said that the Mermens had learned about football from the Catholics, who invented it at Notre Dame, and the Mermens were doing pretty well by the game, what with all the kids they have what with all those marriages, said my grandfather, the story is their first kid has to be a bishop or scout leader or something, and the second through fifth kids are trained for football, something like our system, in which a Catholic family produces a priest or a nun, a cop, a teacher, and a solider or a sailor, after which the rest of the kids can be whatever they want, even Lutherans, in some cases.

Also we thought the Mermens were pretty brave, all things considered, to send their kids two by two, dressed so handsomely in their white shirts and ties, why Catholic kids never dress as well as the Mermens is a mystery and a disappointment to me, said my grandfather, those brave Mermen kids go right into the belly of Catholic New York on their bicycles, and even their bicycles are dignified unlike those foolish Sting Rays you kids ride, said my grandfather.

And those poor Mermen kids must get laughed at or worse all day long, knocking on doors of people who will mostly say vulgar things to them, but they never get rude as far as I can tell, which you have to admire, you wonder if Catholic kids in the same position would use the foul and vituperative language I have heard you and your brothers use, which I will not tell your mother about if you will be a good boy and go get your grandfather one of those cigars your grandmother has for unknown reasons forbidden in the house.

She can be a stern woman, your grandmother, bless her heart, but you cannot hold it against her, because her great-uncle married a Lutheran, you know, and they are a stern and demanding people, given to nailing their opinions on church doors, ruining perfectly good wood. You wouldn't see the Mermens hammering their opinions on a beautiful door, no, you wouldn't. Fine people, the Mermens. A tall people, with good teeth, and ladders. 

Brian DoyleBrian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland. 


Topic tags: Brian Doyle, Mormons, Church of the Latter-Day Saints



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Existing comments

Beautiful and hilarious! Having grown up in a religious 'enclave' myself I cherish this warm, generous picture of the intergenerational passing down of ignorance. Thanks for an excellent start to the working day.

Barry G | 18 January 2012  

What a delightful piece. Chuckled over my museli. God chuckling too.

jorie ryan | 18 January 2012  

The oldest son got the estate ("And what are his qualifications? One / He's the Earl of Fitzdottery's eldest son"), the next got a commission in the army, and the third went to the church. And they coloured the world map red with that arrangement.

Frank | 18 January 2012  

You've said it all Brian, thank God for grandfathers

JennyMartin | 18 January 2012  

Yes, and we'd best not allow one to be written about what we really do know about the Vatican and its officer class, eh? Frank, you are confusing the Oirish with the English there. The eldest took to London or Birmingham and worked on 'the concrete', all the girls went to be nuns, the other 18 males in the brood took a variety of low skill jobs or joined the English army as troopers, rising to the rank of lance coporal sometimes before coming home to join the IRA. Many were deported and became Liberal Party politicians, having risen well beyond their humble status. The failed ones formed the ALP.

Andy Fitzharry | 18 January 2012  

If only your grandfather had known the insiders' nickname: "the Church of Cheese and Rice of Rattle-day Snakes"! What fun he'd have had with that! Thanks, Brian, for this charming and delightful piece. Gave me a smile this morning.

Mormon Socialist | 18 January 2012  

What a font of knowledge your grandfather was! So many hitherto unknown religious facts - a bit like Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip!! Thanks for spreading your grandpappy's enlightenment. I'm still grinning.

glen avard | 18 January 2012  

Quite amusing!!!

Mary | 20 January 2012  

As a bi-sexual jewish ex hindu i find this article strangly titilating

The tropical Island of Pen | 31 January 2012  

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