Some of my friends have wondered why I’ve opened my “comments” section to the disparaging remarks of believing Mormons, but I believe in openness and letting everyone have their say. It doesn’t hurt my feelings when people disagree with me, even when they’re smug or belligerent; and the responses are fairly predictable.
Take, for instance, this response to my “conference weekend” post from ditchu, a proclaimed Mormon believer:
Runtu, You have sparked a question in me…
Is LDS Conference meant to entertain us or is it to be something else?
One would think that the lack of entertainment value you have noted in your experience of conference would lead to a better understanding of the purpose. Twice a year we are given counsel to do that which is true right and noble, to abstain from evil and wickedness. We are shown ways to avoid common pitfalls and encouragement to continue in righteous living.
Your apparent boredom is a natural reaction to this guidance.
If it were for entertainment we would have comedians like Bill Cosby give talks, and video clips of sporting events, in vaudevillian style the profit would take a pie in the face… All for a few moments of fleeting laughs and giggles.
No, the serious reverence and respect that the members of the LDS Church have towards these semi-annual occurrences do not allow for such folly to entertain your latent mind, thus leading to your boredom and I suppose your dislike of such times.
So, it took you this long to ignore it, well whoopee-dee-doo… If all you attempted with this post is to show your disrespect and displeasure, you have achieved that goal. However, I must ask: What is it to me that you no longer care for the guidance and counsel of the leaders of a church you have abandoned. It should come as a given that you want to hear these things no more. The only logic I can ascertain from your post is that you are going through some sort of therapy, and if so I apologize if I have disrupted it. I hope you have at least had a cathartic experience in writing this one.
My best guess is that ditchu was trying to do a few things at once: chastise me for being shallow and criticizing church leadership, sneer at me for what he perceives as my need for therapy, and of course try to guilt me into repentance. But I take from this response something different. Ditchu makes me wonder if LDS church members actually expect anything of benefit to come from their church membership.
A few years back, Henry Eyring mentioned that his father had a knack for making “bad” meetings good by imagining how he would have done the meeting or lesson differently. Eyring then told us what we’ve heard many times before: what we get out of our meetings is entirely up to us. If a meeting is boring or uninspiring, it’s the fault of the listener, not the speakers. I believe this is the point ditchu was trying to make: I didn’t get anything out of the meetings because I had faulty expectations and didn’t expend the effort to find the “true, right, and noble” in them.
This attitude is consistent with what I’ve said elsewhere, that we were constantly made to feel inadequate because programs weren’t working or lessons and talks weren’t at all inspiring or beneficial; it’s never the church’s fault; it’s ours. The programs are inspired, and lessons and talks are what we need to hear.
What is also interesting is the strange undertone that we aren’t supposed to want anything from our religion. I’ve seen it all my life. The LDS church teaches investigators that the church can help them with their problems (see, for example, the new “Truth Restored” ad campaign), but when push comes to shove, if members are unhappy, they’re told that they are supposed to be giving to the church, not expecting something from it. Like Henry Eyring’s father, they are supposed to make the meetings and lessons good; why expect the church to make the effort? It’s all about you. And if you can’t make it work, you aren’t trying hard enough.
I can’t think of any other organization that acts this way. Imagine going to a grocery store and buying a peach. You take a bite, and you discover that the peach is mealy and tasteless, so you head back to the store and ask for a refund or a better peach. The store manager chuckles and says, “Silly customer, it’s not our job to provide a decent peach; you just have to have the right attitude. The peach is only as good as you want it to be, and if you don’t like it, you’re not trying hard enough.”
Church members give and give, but it almost seems selfish to ask anything in return from the church. After all, they’ve given you the possibility of exaltation. How could you possibly ask for anything else back? You owed so much to God that no matter what you do, you’ll always be “unprofitable.”
I did that for more years than I can count. And I’d still be doing it if the church actually were what it claims to be. My brother-in-law recently told me that he can’t stand the meetings: he describes them as “brutal” and “excruciating.” But he endures because he believes the church to be true. But once you figure out that it isn’t really true, why make excuses for the tedium?
Pointing out the pointlessness of General Conference isn’t cathartic or therapeutic (our smug friend’s view notwithstanding). It just is.