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Mormon missionaries and bicycle helmets

We were forced to wear them in my mission notwithstanding some severe mockery from the native Italians (apparently they equate wearing a bicycle helmet with being a little light in the loafers...pair that with two clean-cut guys who spend ALL of their time together and you can imagine the rumors).

Anyway, here's a game from www.bomtoons.com that will bring back those sweaty-headed memories (for RMs) and darkly foreshadow things to come for those yet-to-depart-on-missions (YTDOMs).

http://www.bomtoons.com/biker.html

Is the slight chance that a missionary will split his head open worth such a negative image in certain cultures?

Recently, there was an elder

Recently, there was an elder serving with my brother (in Anaheim, CA) who had a bike accident, slipped into a coma for over a month, and then passed away. I know that this is the exception more than the rule and I totally see where you are coming from (I hate to wear helmets - they can look really stupid ) but you never know what will happen. My personal rule is that it's better to be safe than sorry.

Missionary Appearance

I served a generation ago in the South of France and bicycle helmets weren't even contemplated then. But the gay perception of two clean cut guys living together was very prevalent and often bothered me. It really upset me in one town when gays would hit on us more than girls would. Kimball was church pres at the time and one of his slogans was "avoid even the appearance of evil" to which my retort was then why send us out always as same sex couples?

What I really can't believe is we haven't ditched the dorky missionary bike riding uniform. Riding a bike in nice slacks and a polo shirt would be so much more fashionable than the dorky dress shirt and tie. In Bordeaux, one of my comps and I wore white polo shirts with very thin ties; that was about as far as we would bend the rules.

That said, I’d do my mission over again in a heart beat.

Agreed.

That's a good point. If someone is going to be turned off by missionaries wearing suits and helmets as they ride bikes, what's gonna happen when you ask them to donate 10% for tithing? Or start living the word of wisdom? Which isn't to say I didn't feel like a dong when riding a bicycle in a 3-piece suit.

FYI:

http://www.wemadeoutinatreeandthisoldguysatandwatchedus.com

Think before obeying.

"what's gonna happen when you ask them to donate 10% for tithing?"

I guess we'll never know. They thought we were so weird that they never allowed us to teach them.

"Which isn't to say I didn't feel like a dong when riding a bicycle in a 3-piece suit."

Your feeling of "dong"ness is exactly the point. When representing the gospel, your image should not dissuade others to hear your message; it should persuade them to think highly of you, which should give some respect to your message.

Is there something universally good about an American three-piece suit that transcends all cultures? No. We wear a suit, because those are the clothes our American culture judges to be "formal", which gives respectability to our message.

However, just because it is formal in America does not mean it would be formal in every single culture. Some cultures obviously have a very different meaning of formality. For instance, in Scotland, the men wear a dress when they get married. Why? Because that is what their culture deems to be "formal" or respectable.

So, if we are thinking about obeying principles instead of pharisitic codes, then we would wear a dress in their culture if we wanted to give the impression of being "formal" or respectable. Thus, wearing a dress instead of a suit would lend respectability to the message that we desire to share.

The fact that you can't see this distinction is disturbing.

I just noticed...

I just realized that I posted the phrase "Up with...kilts in scotland" in my last post. Somehow that image isn't very pleasant...

The Disturber responds...

The difference between practice and theory is much bigger in practice than it is in theory. The aforementioned examples notwithstanding, I can't think of many countries where the church is in that aren't westernized enough that they disrespect a suit (that includes Scotland, where the kilts are saved for weddings, not the office). In the spirit of my last comment, I would venture to say that most of the disrespect comes from the kind of people who would reject missionaries for any number reasons if not for what they wear.

But speaking of "obeying principles instead of pharisitic codes" I think the church is one step ahead of you. I remember seeing a picture in the New Era a couple of years ago that showed a picture of Tongan missionaries proselyting in traditional dress, which consisted of this sarong-type thing (a dress), which I assume is the norm down there.

Absolute Truth

On some issues there is no grey area...there is only black and white. When the prophet has spoken the thinking has been done.

On the issue of Missionary attire it's obvious that in the pre-mortal life we were foreordained to wear three-piece suits in this dispensation. Elders who can't part their hair were pre-slated for special suffering because of their wickedness in the pre-mortal existence...they were part of the lower 1/8th of the 2/3rds who were worthy to come into the 2nd estate. Wearing three-piece suits on a mission is the ONLY path to eternal salvation. Any variation from this fundamental principle of Mormonism is an obvious sign of apostasy and loss of testimony.

In fact, just to be safe, I haven't taken off my three-piece suit since I got home from my mission 4 years ago. And let me tell you...I had the opportunity to work VERY closely with the mission president in a position of HIGH responsibility so, I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track here.

Ethnocentric to the max!

News flash: Everybody wears suits everywhere.

What is all this talk about American suits anyway? Suits are English.

The point

The point of the thread (I thought) is that wearing bicycle helmets isn't a common thing...besides, the english never intended suit pants to be worn with short-sleeved white shirts and ties.

amen, sister

I agree with Steve-o: missionary attire sucked big time. I served my mission in Europe as well, and nearly every person thought we were a member of a cult. Why? Because we looked so freaking weird (it wasn't just my nose, it was the attire, too.) You know when you see images of the Mormon Fundamentalists dressed up in their 'other-era' garb and you go, 'what a bunch of weirdos' well that's exactly how the people in Europe saw us, 'what a bunch of weirdos, and they're gay!'

I agree with Steve: we should dress in the best vestments of the particular culture that we are in. Doesn't this make sense? I think the white color business man dress makes perfect sense in the heart of Utah, but what happens when you wear that in the Zulu Nation? Yup, weirdos.

I don't mean to rant here, but I took a ton of flack for something that had nothing to do with the gospel, and I think it closed a lot more doors than it ever opened. So I'm all for taking a new vote on the whole missionary wardrobe.

If you're with me, you can go to www.newmissionarywardrobesforldsmissionsnotinnorthernamerica.org

My name says it all.

"of years ago that showed a picture of Tongan missionaries proselyting in traditional dress, which consisted of this sarong-type thing (a dress). "

Thanks for proving my point.

The fact that you can't see

The fact that you can't see this distinction is disturbing.

You know, nothing rubs me the wrong way quite like statements like this.

"Is there something

"Is there something universally good about an American three-piece suit that transcends all cultures? No. We wear a suit, because those are the clothes our American culture judges to be "formal", which gives respectability to our message."

i'm glad somebody else realizes that there is a problem when the church bases the notion of formal/reverent/spiritual attire on the dress of the american businessman.

Well said.

Truly, a link is worth 1,000 words.

Dude...that site

Holy cow! That was an awesome site. I say down with the concept that a white shirt is an outward expression of inner purity and up with blue shirts in Utah, square-toed shoes in Italy, kilts in Scotland, loin-cloths in the Zulu nations, flower skirt-things in polynesia, switchblades in New York, and eventually Yamukas in Jerusalem!

to learn more visit www.yamukasinjerusalem.com

?

You know, nothing rubs me the wrong way quite like not questioning presumptuous ethnocentrism.

On the deception of perceived cultural spiritual superiority

"i'm glad somebody else realizes that there is a problem when the church bases the notion of formal/reverent/spiritual attire on the dress of the american businessman."

or basing spirituality on hymns strictly from colonial america, or on the "correctness" of capitalism, or on Puritanical/Augustinian notions of the body, or the emphasis on the individual, or on the idea that we should be constantly setting goals, or on the behavioral norms of a "traditional" woman or man, or on the "correct" form of government, which should be a democratic-republic. (most of you probably don't see anything wrong with all of this).

The fact is: we can't escape the American cultural influences we place onto the gospel. We only realize they are there when we encounter opposing cultural norms.

To wit, the problem arises when we attribute our cultural "correctness" with God's will and acceptance and disseminate our cultural norms as the only "true" way. In fact, it is such a problem that wearing ridiculous white shirts in a foreign country, which has completely different formal clothing norms, now becomes an issue of moral obedience similar to paying tithing.

Anytime.

You're welcome.

Yes. And...

I don't really have anything to add to the conversation, other than to say that anyone who wants to discuss this subject seriously and in depth should first visit this web-site:

www.areallyreallygoodwebsiteaboutmissionaryattire.com.br

(It's in Portuguese, but the pictures are well worth the visit.)