Friday, January 18, 2008

Notes From the Weekend

Church is always an adventure, isn't it? Our Sacrament meeting theme was "Temples." There are so few RM's in our area that we actually have TWO High Councilmen speak on High Council Sunday (which reminds me of the only other joke I know, KimBlue; I'll have to pass in on sometime).

(Aside: I've just noticed a ridiculous number of capitalized words in the preceding paragraph, some of which I'm not sure about. If you have any corrections, I welcome them!)

Anyway, the first talk, from a new councilman was exceptional. Though I hated when he said, "This is the fourth time I've had this calling. I guess I haven't gotten it right yet." I hated it because first of all, that joke is old and tired: almost as bad as when the Bishop says of every advancing kid, "They've reached that ripe old age of _________." But I digress. This guy had not been called four times because he didn't have it figured it out. Quite the opposite. He was one of the best High Council speakers I've heard in ages.

The ward choir was good, and then the second speaker.

The. Second. Speaker.

I know you have to be careful about criticizing your leaders. I know. I learned that lesson the hard way once. (Not a bad story--maybe later.) But I think you also have a reasonable expectation to go to Sacrament Meeting and feel uplifted. I should have known we were off on the wrong foot when he prefaced his remarks by saying that he felt impressed by the Spirit to speak off the cuff. Even under the best of circumstances, he would not have been eloquent. That is okay, I don't really expect speakers in Sacrament meeting to be eloquent, but this was well. . . .

* He talked about a lot of temple symbolism, but not in a spiritual way. He talked about signs and symbols on the building itself and what they mean and he was all over the place. I kept waiting for him to whip out the Abraham papyri and wax poetic.
*He talked about temple dedications, quite specifically, sharing a few things that made me feel quite uncomfortable in the chapel.
*He came down really hard about choosing NOT to go the temple, particularly not to be married in the temple.
*He berated other churches for their lack of understanding of our beliefs and their criticisms of our practices.

Now, this ward, probably has more single sisters, sisters in part-member families, and sisters with less-active husbands than any ward I've ever lived in. So the worst is when he said, "No doubt many of you sitting here today feel," and he paused for a long time, "I'm looking for just the right word here," another long pause and then the moment that made me cringe more than any other, "chagrin . . . over not having a family sealed in the temple."

Plantboy had kind of a blank look, I felt the blood leave my face. I leaned over and hissed, "that is NOT the right word."

Chagrin (n): mortification, vexation, disappointment, embarrassment, sorrow, annoyance.

NOT the right word. At all.

Especially synonyms 1 and 4. Why should any sister in the congregation feel mortified if her husband walked out? Or if she never married? Or if she brings her kids on her own week in and week out because her husband's faith has faltered? Or if she felt inspired to chose a good marriage to a decent, supportive, non-member man over a life time of loneliness?

He then took a few minutes to share some really good doctrine on being faithful and no blessings being denied, but the tenor of the meeting had so changed by that point that is was really too little, too late. He then gave a personal example of a single sister in our ward and went through a complicated what-if/story about what would happen to her in the next life. I leaned over to Plantboy again and said, "This is making really uncomfortable." I was secretly hoping my baby would start bawling his head off so I could have a reasonable excuse to leave.

Now I sound like a real snob. I promise, I'm not. I can even concede that he probably was doing his best and felt like he'd really reached a lot of people. But for me, it was the most awkward 17 minutes I've had at church in a long time.

One of those "embarrassed" non-temple married sisters later gave one of the most wonderful RS lessons I've had in a long time as she testified powerfully about the nature of our Father in Heaven and understanding our relationship to him.

Saturday I went to Goodwill on my own and was able to really dig. I found a 3 dollar corduroy skirt from the Gap, that I really love. I also paid $4 for a gray Merino wool sweater from Banana Republic. And yes, I know that BR clothes are made in the same sweat-shop in Malaychinphilippico as clothes from Old Navy and the Gap. But this sweater spoke to me. And for $4 it didn't matter if I just bought a gray sweater around Christmas time.

Two funny things and a link, and then I'll be done. Promise.

My mom and dad went to buy a humidifier at Sears. Mom waited in the section where they were, while my dad went to find a sales associate so they could ask some questions about the model they were looking at. While standing there, a friendly Asian man walked up to my mom and smiled at her. He pointed at the humidifier and said, in very broken English, "We buy one from War-mart. Rast four day. We take back to War-mart and rady says, 'we have 20 return this week.'" He then shook his head, "Very cheap. Made in China."

My mom just smiled, though she wanted to laugh. She also admitted that what she really wanted to say is, "You look like you were made in China." My mother doesn't have much cultural sensitivity, but at least she did refrain from saying THAT.

Check out this video. If you have ever had an airline lose your luggage (as I did at Christmas), or if you really just love British humor, you'll think this is hilarious.

And click on this link. This guy has some ideas about the tax system that I really like and back up a lot of things that irk me: noticeably that tax-cuts during war time are just asinine and that an extra 4% tax on the super-rich doesn't really affect them, but cutting it undermines the government's ability to run its programs. And not just the Social Security programs the Reds are always railing against. Student loans/grants, public education, scientific innovation: the types of things that are programs that invest in people over the long run and have a proven track record of improving our society. Anyway, very interesting.


FoxyJ said...

On another blog they were having a discussion about preparing good talks and someone pointed out that planning your talk out and being sensitive to others is a great idea. I totally agree. Why don't they just have ward members speak with the high councilman? We have very few RMs so that's what we do. I'v only seen the travelling RM thing in Utah.

I had a stressful time dropping Little Dude off in nursery because this other dad was hanging out talking to one of the leaders. The dad is loud and obnoxious and was blathering on about some sports thing to the nursery leader (also male) who really didn't want to talk about it. It was making me want to just leave, but Little Dude needed me to hang around. Yuck.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

My husband finds that too many men assume that all other men are intersested in sports. I think you commented here while the post was rough. Sorry for the confusion; I published on accident while I was still editing.

Desmama said...

I usually detest stereotyping, particularly when it comes to Church members ("those Utah members are just ________) but here I am, gonna say it right now: high councilors are some of the worst offenders when it comes to blathering, idiotic statements. A few years ago, a high councilor in our stake said that there might be less depression among the Saints if there were more repentance. I wasn't there at the time, but you can bet I heard about it. And you can also bet the stake president got an earful at the dinner table that night. Poor guy. I mean, I know there are good high councilors out there who give interesting, thought-provoking, inspiring talks. They just seem to be very few in number.

Doreen said...

Ah yes, the things you hear at church. Comments about the people who aren't members of the church, but are "really good people". DUH. Or testimony meeting, where the woman got up and bore her testimony about how inspired George W.'s re-election was in 2004. Or another person getting up and bearing their testimony about how we should all support the war, since George W. was called by God to be our president. Blah blah blah... Another pet peeve of mine have been the email forwards lately, telling me who I should vote for, and why certain other candidates are just plain evil. Blah blah blah... I think I'm capable of doing my own research, thank you very much. Never mind the fact I can't vote cause I'm not a citizen. :p

Desmama said...

Yeah, I remember an old bishop telling us that he just knew that Heavenly Father wanted George Bush to be our president. I was so mad I was shaking. said...

From the perspective of a part-member woman - who frequently gets this kind of info from people (from the pulpit, in lessons, personal comments etc.) - I have to say don't worry too much. The fact is a person in a situation like mine is likely to have pretty thick skin if they are still active; most of the time it's like water off a ducks back. I feel like as long as I am doing what I am supposed to be doing I get pretty clear guidance on the direction I should be taking. Temple marriage really is the best way to go but it doesn't always work out nicely... you just do the best with what you have and know that Heavenly Father (who is merciful and loving) will work it all out in the end.

That video was funny :)

emandtrevfam said...

DesMama, good grief...I can understand why you'd be so mad about the comment the bishop made about Bush for Pres. All I can think of to say at the moment is "Ugh" or "Seriously!" Not very original, but I'm probably not alone in those thoughts. :)

STM, you're a better woman than me. I'm sure I would've developed a cough or something--anything to take a breather!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I think all of our active sisters there on Sunday are like that; otr, you are right, thay have to be. I still think it doesn't excuse a speaker who is meant to be representing the Stake President.

Still, I have to admit, I've made comments in RS before that made me want to shoot myself for how off base they ended up being. People aren't perfect and we need to learn to overlook one another's faults.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Oh, and on the Bush-a-mony. It is akin to the roommate--amony (did anybody else have bishops who planned a TWO HOUR sacrament meeting the Sunday college let out for the summer?), the travel-amony, the America-amony and the Utah-amony. I was in Australia when Princess Diana died . . . the Diana-amony is alive and well too.

Doreen said...

Ah yes, the America-amonies are always fun to listen to when you're not American. :p I'm surprised I learned how to climb out of my tree, let alone figure out what democracy is all about. Long live communism. LOL :p

Yankee Girl said...

We had a whole month on Patriatism topics a couple of months ago and were subjected to weekly testimonies about how it is right that we are at war in Iraq right now--made my head want to spin. This last Sunday the bishop's family spoke on not procrastinating and every single one of them got up an said that they just prepared their talk this morning so it probably won't be very good---ugh.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

My mission pres once said that even if it is the case, you never say you prepared your talk that morning. He said people only say that for one of two reasons 1) Humor: but it isn't funny because it is the oldest joke in the book. 2) Vanity: they want to show what a good talk they can give, practically off the cuff and make sure that you know it too. He also taught that probably the only way you would ever be really prompted by the Spirit to abandon your remarks is if you were very well prepared (study, prayer, written out) for the talk you'd been assigned, and if there was a specific purpose for departing. He was right; I've only seen this "speaking by the Spirit" thing work to awesome affect one time. Elder Eyring, just a few months after being called as an apostle at USU. He changed his remarks because he was so touched by the sheer number of people who were unable to get in to see him at the concert hall. He wanted to simplify what he said so that those inside could share the message with those outside. I was able to do just that, even to the remembering of very specific phrases, with some friends later.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

I think there's a third reason for admitting they prepared that morning: They want to make it clear that if the talk is lousy, it's because of underpreparation not mental deficiency. I still think the information is better kept to themselves. Anything good they might say in the talk is hamstrung from the beginning by that confession.

As for Bush-imonies and teaching correct principles in insensitive ways, the longer I live the more I learn the truth of the statement "The Church is true even if the members aren't." Of course, I include myself in that indictment. :)

Girly Momma said...

i can totally relate to that uncomfy feeling you get when someone is a little off at the pulpit. probably about everyone in my ward felt that way a few weeks ago when a sweet sister bore her testimony. it was, well, very interesting. jake actually took jada and left because he couldn't stand it. we haven't had that yet in this ward, so it kept things exciting!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Oooo . . . GM, I want to know who it was. But I will refrain from asking.