I used to speculate about the first three things I would do when I got to be in charge of the church: 1) Throw out the organs—use peppy piano accompaniment to revitalize our dirge-like hymn singing. 2) Excommunicate the Curriculum Correlation Committee —for driving droves of life-long members from church by the endless repetition of “milk before meat” lessons. 3) Burn the synthetic lace tablecloths “decorating” tables in Relief Society rooms.
Obviously, I’m not going to get into a position of authority to enact my recommendations anytime soon. That’s why I was so captivated when my cousin, Thinker, decided to start his own church—The Church of the Laid-back Saints—with beginning and ending times within the same hour and tithing optional.
I have a few more suggestions for Thinker.
- Dress code: Neckties banned. Dresses optional for both genders—why should only women be allowed the privilege of cool, bare legs and thighs in the summertime?
- Refreshments: Juice and muffins, bagels or donuts served after Sacrament Meeting.
- Optional Sunday activities: Children’s activity classes with a broader curriculum than folding arms and sitting quietly. In-depth scripture study groups for adults wanting to dive into deep study. Less studious adults can continue munching donuts and chatting, lead children’s activities, or go home.
- Paid music directors: Developing ward musical talent and appreciation will be much more successful with paid professionals in charge.
Thinker actually proposed replacing the water with wine for the sacrament, but that sounds like heresy to me.
In a recent blog on Mormon Matters, Adam F explores his need to start speaking up in church when he hears statements with which he disagrees. I can certainly relate. I’m never sure what to do when one of the high priests informs us in Gospel Doctrine class that, “They are trying to take ‘In God we trust’ off our money.” Is it better to quietly seethe or to ask him how that will make our shopping trips less spiritual?
Do I just let it go when a Relief Society sister presenting a lesson on clean language boasts that her eight-year-old daughter kicked her grandfather for emitting a cuss word? I always worry about offending the speaker, but I’m glad when a courageous soul raises a hand in opposition to a list of the ways we LDS differ from The World and says the non- Mormons she knows love their children, stay married, and help their neighbors.
Comments on Adam’s blog include readers who cringe at some of the things their kids report learning in church classes. Been there. Twenty years later, I still shudder at our daughters’ impersonation of the YW president’s lecture on dating behavior including French kissing. “She said it was sacred!” they gasped between gagging and giggling. George just shook his head and said, “I really wish she hadn’t said that.”
Fast and testimony meeting presents its own peculiar problems. In our previous ward, Sally Dunning’s post-op recovery always included sharing not only her fervent testimony, but also graphic details of catheter and other post-surgical problems of waste disposal. Surgery wasn’t the only testimony building event Sally experienced. On one unforgetable occasion, she expressed gratitude for her recent divorce beginning with, “Delbert made me do things that made me feel unclean.” Her comment precipitated a family discussion I would have preferred to avoid.
Then there was the time earnest young Marshall Stetson was called to the high council and gave his maiden speech in our ward. A very nervous Marshall explained how surprised he and his friends were at his calling. “Steve Crud told me, ‘I can’t believe they called you, Marsh. You’re such a turd.’” The color drained from Marshall’s face as he realized the word that had passed his lips. His wife’s head disappeared from view as she slunk down in the pew.
Wait a minute—I’m not sorry I heard that expression in church. It was the most memorable sacrament meeting ever. It proved that George and I were successful parents. Our five children sat staring at their knees with lips pressed tightly together throughout the meeting. Only when we arrived home and closed the door tightly behind us did they explode with raucous laughter. What remarkable self-control we’d taught them.
Come to think of it, all the inane things we hear in church from leadership and members keep our meetings from being as dull and predictable as General Conference. Three cheers for inanity!