Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ken Jennings

You know Ken, the guy who amassed over two million bucks on Jeopardy. Very impressive, and my hat is off to him. But all the while this was happening I had this niggling worry in the back of my mind. Why? Because he's a Mormon and they'll likely be raking 20% of the gross off the top. Yeah, I know it's his money to do with as he wishes, but I'm not a big fan of Mormonism and I don't like to see them enriched.

Many years ago, when I lived in California, some friends and I were sitting around and the subject of door-to-door proselytizers came up. We each vowed that the next one that darkened our door would be allowed in and we'd listen to everything he, she, or they had to say. Did I mention we were stoned at the time?
Sure enough, within days of this dubious pact a couple of young men in three piece suits riding ten speed bikes came to my little hippie pad.
"Come in, gentlemen, come in," I said expansively. They must have thought they had a live one.
I listened to their spiel and told them they could come back and show me their all-important and explanatory film strip a few days hence. I suppose nowadays they have videos or DVDs.
So a few days go by and they show up with one of those ancient film strip machines. I was given the lowdown on why God chose them to take over the world. Nothing about Joe Smith burrowing under the old oak tree with a bridge auger and planting his little box of revelations, nothing about the Mountain Meadow Massacre, just some gobbledegook about ancient prophecies and the will of God.
Finally they popped the question: Did I want to go to a service at their church.
Not content with my answer, they started with the salesmanship techniques. Why not? I don't own a tie. You don't need one. What kind of guy do you think I am that I would go to church without a tie? We'll get you one. Neither a borrower or lender be. We'll buy you one. I don't want your charity. Back and forth until they finally got the idea that I wasn't going to join the sect.
Their biggest selling point, polygamy, was no longer in force. I wonder if a lot of men joined originally just to have their own harems.
Over the years I've known a few Mormons and liked them as individuals. I just don't like the tenets of their church. Indeed, I think of it as more of a cult than a church, but I suppose that argument can be made for any number of churches.
Somewhere in this junk-infested room I call an office are a series of books by (if my senility is in remission) Robert Irvine about Moroni Traveler, a fallen-away Mormon/private eye who operates in Salt Lake City. He shows very clearly the stranglehold the Mormon hierarchy has on the state and the followers of the LDS sect. I found it eye opening, and recommend it not only for what it teaches one about this group but because Irvine is a fine writer.

I might also mention that my wife's nephew married a Mormon girl and converted. No problem with that. What sent my antenna vibrating was the way they got their first two kids.
They had been trying hard to have children, without success. One weekend they drove to Utah and came back with a boy. A few years later they did the same thing, only they came back with a girl.
Anyone who has tried to adopt children knows of the long, expensive and somewhat degrading process they have to go through to get a child. Apparently the red tape is much less if you're a Mormon. This couple had no criminal history, but neither had a steady job nor good work history, they didn't own their home, they moved a lot, and they had no savings. Try to adopt through any state agency with those strikes against you. Apparently, being a Mormon was qualification enough to adopt two babies in Utah. Scary.
And to add a punch line, they had a natural baby a few years later.


Bill said...

Jennings said several times that he would be giving a percentage of his winnings to his church. I don't know if he meant his before-tax winnings or his after-tax winnings.

And I agree with you on the Moroni Traveler books. I wonder whatever happened to Bob Irvine?

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

That 20% of the gross is like the "suggested donation" signs you see at a museum or charity event. You don't have to give it, but people may look askance if you don't.

I think Irvine passed away, but I'm not sure.

Frank Denton said...

That's funny. I was thinkintg about Robert Irvine just this week and wondering why I didn't see his books anymore. They were certainly interesting. He pointed out the sects, splits in the Mormon church; some of them pretty radical. And his characters were very interesting.