I have always had an interest in genealogy. For many years I've enjoyed the thrill of looking up the lives that my ancestors led; hunting down the clues that give me hints as to what they did, where they lived and the choices they made.
As most people who are involved with geneaology know, one of the largest collections of geneaological material that is available in the world is in the hands of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, colloquially known as the Mormons.
The reason for this is the fact that they have a belief known as vicarious baptism, where one can be "baptised" even after one's death. In order to facilitate more vicarious baptisms, the Latter-Day Saints have gathered extensive geneaological material from all over the world.
Of course, as an amateur geneaologist, I found the chance to use this collection to be irresistable. So, about fifteen years ago, I found a center in Manhattan where they kept some of their records. When I got there, I was asked to sign in to use the facilities. Aware of the concept of vicarious baptism, I was hesitant to give my name, and, in the end, made up a name and wrote it down.
I made some queries, didn't find any immediate information that would interest me, and left.
However, since then, there have been two issues that have bothered me about that episode.
The first is the fact that I gave them a false name. I suppose one could view the requested information as the "price" to use the facility. By giving them a false name, it seems to me, that I "stole" the use of the facility.
The second issue relates to the notion of vicarious baptism. It's not so much the concept itself that bothered me; it's the fact that I was bothered by the fact that I might be unknowingly "baptised." After all, I don't hold of the concept of vicarious baptism, so why should it bother me if they "baptise" me after I'm gone? It doesn't harm or benefit me at all. God's not going to punish me because the Latter-Day Saints have performed their rituals over my name. And yet, on the other hand, there is this... visceral feeling of revulsion that I get when I think that someone else may do this thing to me, even though it will not affect me at all.
I'm not sure which issue bothers me more; the fact that I "stole" from the LDS or the fact that if I had given them my name, they might baptize me (and may yet do so under a false name anyway).