Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Mormon Pigeonhole

The world is slowly becoming less segregated by ‘race’ (a perceived term, with no genetic basis). Unfortunately, religion has stepped up to take the slack, and religious fundamentalism is rife (and not just in the US!)

If it weren’t for the little detail of a potential World War III, it’d be almost funny. “I am Christian and you are Muslim. We have nothing in common; you worship a false god. Oh, hang on, you worship the same god as me. But you don’t believe in Jesus. Oh, hang on, you do believe in Jesus. But not that he rose from the dead. Well, there you go, I knew there was a good reason to consider you my mortal enemy!”

People of different religions are intolerant of each other through lack of understanding and bloody-mindedness. The latter has a lot to do with a central doctrine of their religion — that it alone is right and should survive over all others. A number of Old World monotheistic religions (those established before the discovery of the Americas) include it; notably Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Mormonism, founded in 1830 in the US, is a Christian sect which, unusually, does have a little religious tolerance built in. (Racial tolerance, not so much! Black priests have only been allowed since 1978.)

“I’m here to be real,” said Rebecca before entering the Big Brother House. She wanted to do her bit to cast off the image of Mormons as weird and separate from mainstream society. But she faced an uphill battle.

Rebecca gets blue in the Ice Room

Positive and fun-loving from the outset, Rebecca was knocked back and sidelined over and over. Early friends became early evictees. By Day 31, when the first Intruders entered the House, she was at her wit’s end. Daniela was a godsend (so to speak!); they formed an immediate bond, and Rebecca opened up to her new girlfriend: “...it's really hard, every day fighting to just be myself...”

Emma had no interest in a united House. She controlled who could join the ‘Popular’ group, and that gave her a feeling of power, as well as the pleasure of making snide comments about the ‘Geeks’. Rebecca saw only a relationship that needed working on; she didn’t realise that once Emma had decided she didn’t want to know her, the door was closed and there was nothing she could do.

“You know what; an epiphany I've had today? I thought I really don't want to be a popular person, because they really are mean to people, they really do overlook people and they really can be very self-obsessed and self-absorbed a lot of the time,” she said to Jamie on Day 35. Very true. And Emma wasn’t solely to blame; the others in her clique allowed her to bring out their meanness.

In the Ice Room, free from Emma’s influence, Rebecca was accepted by the Popular boys and got to let her hair down. At one point, she dared Travis to sit ‘bareback’ on a block of ice, and when he pointed out he might stick to it said “I might have to pee on your bum!”

On Day 50, she was evicted — in a double eviction with Emma(!) But while Emma got 76% of the ‘Merged’ vote, Rebecca got only 4% — 2% less and she’d have been safe.

Rebecca achieved her goal — without compromising on her principals. Australia accepted her. And the standard Mormon pigeonhole is suddenly defunct!

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