Addressing Flicka's questions here.
My mother used to hate her Mormon boss because she felt that Mormons didn't like women who worked. Can you shed some light on this?
The Mormon autocracy teaches members that a woman's place is in the home. It is okay for single or childless women to work, as long as they are working toward the goal of marriage and/or children.
What would be a good average? I've heard lots of Taiwanese say the first time they ever had contact with another foreigner was when Mormon missionaries came to their door.
People were gracious for the most part, and often invited into their homes. Imagine trying to sell an American religion to Taiwanese people and you'll understand why conversion rates are so low. The best salesman we had in the mission brought 13 people into the church. Many of them leave after the missionary who converted them leaves the area.
Can't you elaborate just a tiny bit of what goes on?
Okay, the temple ceremony is done the first time for oneself. Afterward it is done by living proxy for those souls who have died without benefit of the temple ceremony.
The first part is called "washing and annointing," and it involves wearing a "sheild" which is really just a large white sheet with the sides open. A temple worker blesses each part of your body (including "the loins," which made me a bit nervous, because they touch each part of your body with holy oil as they pronounce a blessing over it--as it turns out, they only touch your waistline when they bless your loins). It lasts for about 30 minutes.
The second part of the ceremony is called the endowment. They have men and women in the same room, fully clothed in white, but sitting in segregated seats, men on one side, women on the other. You watch a movie about Adam, God, Satan, and some of the early apostles, standing and sitting from time to time as you make convenants with God. You end up clothed in a baker-style hat, a robe, a sash, and a green apron, which represents the loincloths Adam and Eve wore after being cast out of the garden of Eden. You then stand up and go through a "veil ceremony," which represents a persons passage into heaven. The endowment lasts for about 90 minutes. A lot of people fall asleep in the middle of it. When you finish, you're in a gorgeous room called "The Celestial Room," which represents heaven. You talk quietly with your spouse and other relatives, pray to yourself, and ponder your life. Very soothing, actually. Then, you go change into your street clothes and go to a nearby ice cream shop so that you can get a little fatter and think about how righteous you are. Starting to see why I couldn't buy into this after a few years of going to temple ceremonies?
Were there any negative repercussions from your family?
Initially, yes. Most of my relatives who are still active now recognize that I've gone in the direction that was right for me.
Some very smart people stay in the Mormon church. I think the reasons have much more to do with emotional comfort levels and lifestyle than with intellectual issues.