|a reasonable facsimile of my cousin's tithing for the month of January|
My eleven-year-old cousin Hannah is standing up to LDS authority in an unusual way for someone her age, especially considering the sheep that surround her and call themselves her parents and siblings. Hannah has decided that she does not wish to pay tithing to the LDS church anymore. I find Hannah's rationale supporting her decision to forego tithing to be profoundly comical.
Hannah says that she is required to acknowledge any and all gifts she receives with thank-you notes. She said she's been paying tithing to the LDS church since she was three, and that she's never once received a thank-you note either from God or from the LDS church. Her mother said that the twice-yearly receipts submitted by the church count as thank-you notes. Hannah then said that she'll consolidate all her own acknowledgements into twice-yearly receipts if such constitute adequate thank-you notes. Her parents, of course, said that she would do no such thing.
Hannah's father then pointed out that tithing was not so much a gift as a tax. Hannah debated this point on the grounds that a tax is mandatory, as in one will ultimately find himself or herself in the slammer for not paying it. Hannah's father said that a person will absolutely find himself or herself in a spiritual slammer if he or she fails to pay tithing. Hannah responded that she was willing to take her chances on that ever happening, and that furthermore, the slip which is to accompany all tithing contributions displays the heading "Tithing and Other Offerings"; offerings is synonymous with gifts, not taxes. When was the last time anyone's tax return noted the amount due to the state or federal government as an offering?
Hannah then went out and spent her entire month's allowance on candy and gum so that her parents could not force her to donate ten per cent of it to the church. Her father then took ten per cent of the candy and gum she bought and shoved it into three of of those Mormon tithing envelopes and gave them to the bishop. Uncle Lee, Hannah's dad (the uncle who looks like Oswald), said that it is not the way tithing should be paid, but that if something terrible were to happen to Hannah before she earned enough money to catch up on her tithing, perhaps forcing her to fork over ten per cent of the candy would save Hannah from the fires of Hell. (Mormons take Hell very literally, and sometimes refer to tithing as "fire insurance.") It is heart-warming to me to know that Uncle Lee worships such a merciful God.
God alone knows what their bishop will do with four Jolly Ranchers, one package of Pop Rocks, one extra large envelope of Fun Dip, and one package of Chiclets Tiny Size gum, and one package Hubba Bubba gum that comes in a container sort of like chewing tobacco. Technically, I think all tithing is supposed to be forwarded to Salt Lake City. I can just see Thomas S. Monson, the Grand Pooh Bah of All Things Mormon, ripping open the Pop Rocks and Fun Dip and pouring them into his mouth, sending himself into his final diabetic coma. At least he would die a happy man.
Hannah's mother said that in the future she will deduct ten per cent of Hannah's allowance before it is given to her and will make the payment to the church. Hannah said that forcing people to do the right thing was Lucifer's way, not Jesus' way. I would assume Hannah was probably slapped for saying that, though that detail didn't make it onto the story as it was told to my dad by my Aunt Cristelle, the Wiccan, who takes perverse delight in any deviation from Mormon Orthodoxy that she perceives in the ranks.
My brother says that Hannah's actions are evidence that what is wrong with me is genetic and comes from my dad's side of the family. My mom seconds Matthew's conclusion. My dad says that he needs to make sure he and my mom put have away enough money for Hannah's education, because the chances of her remaining in her parents' good graces for long enough either to get married or to finish college are hovering around zero.
It's rare that I am proud to claim one of my relatives on my father's side, but tonight I'm toasting Hannah with my half-bottle of Guinness. Here's to independent and forward thinking and to turning one's nose up at the purple Kool-Aid. Great job, kid!