The Open Pulpit: Blessing or Curse?

There is one indisputable fact about Mormonism, something that not even those pesky Signature Books-types can call into question, something so true that no FAIR-defense can deny:

Mormons say CRAZY things from the pulpit.

Everyone knows this. Missionaries sweat about bringing investigators to Sacrament meeting ("I do hope the talks aren’t CRAZY"). Fast and Testimony meeting is worse ("will Brother CRAZY get up?") My ward, in an effort to get people to bring their friends to church, has set a date where specially selected non-CRAZY people will talk.

I’m sure everyone has their favourite bizarre sacrament meeting moment. Mine is of a brother in England who demonstrated that "evolution can’t be true as humans and monkeys have one crucial difference: humans have sex face to face."

Cue sinking into the pew agony.

For a missionary church, so bothered about PR, it’s a wonder we have an open pulpit policy where anything goes. Some of us intellectual snobs crave a well-honed homily from a multi-degreed priest. To allow Sister DeWalt to drawl on about wringing the necks of chickens with a prayer in her heart is a crime. IT’S A CRIME!

But here’s the truth: I have long thought that the Mormon open pulpit is both our curse and our blessing. Once in a while, something so heart-felt, so uncontrived graces the pulpit, that it is worth a decade of craziness. In the household of God, all are equal. Even the weird ones who say CRAZY stuff. There’s a wonderful practicality to all this too: I have absolutely no fear of public speaking, something I ascribe in large part to having given my first talk when I was 9. I talked about Elijah and the priests of Baal. I don’t think it was crazy.

In the end, madness I can forgive. Just don’t bore me.

Comments

  1. I always love sacrament meeting for all the crazy stuff I have heard. Keep bringing it on.

  2. Yeah, I’m a fan of the craziness (in moderation of course). It keeps us on our feet.

  3. Aaron Brown says:

    I don’t know if this is a breach of Bloggernacle etiquette, but I can’t resist directing you to my first Bloggernacle anecdote, originally told here: http://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php?p=450#comment-15563.

    For those two lazy to link, I reproduce in full:

    –Most Awkward Sacrament Meeting Ever–

    A few months ago, an older Korean lady in my ward took the stand to bear her testimony. She was a regular fixture at our testimony meetings. She always got up and talked about some pointless, trivial recent experience in her life that contained enough sordid details to keep half the ward uncomfortable. What’s more, she had a thick accent that was difficult to understand. If you made a conscious effort to try to decipher her ramblings, there was usually no payoff, so most members decided that it wasn’t worth the effort.

    On this particular Sunday, things started off no different that usual. I was ignoring the podium, talking to my wife or doodling on the hymnal. But after a few minutes, I couldn’t help but notice the ever-increasing volume and strident tone of the sister’s testimony. So I couldn’t help but pay attention.

    I think I had a premonition right before it happened. Then it did: She said the “N-word.” Once. Then twice. Then three times. Then again. And again. And again. I think I lost count at about 17. I’m the Ward Mission Leader, and I attend a very ethnically diverse ward – on any given Sunday there may be an African-American member or investigator in attendance. I quickly scanned the chapel, hoping and praying there were none. Everyone had mortified looks on their faces, but there were no Blacks in Church that day. Thank God (literally).

    But it gets worse. It wasn’t just that she was using the “N-word.” It was the context in which she was using it. She was relating a story about a recent ride on a public bus, in which she had an altercation with another passenger (presumably Black himself) and they got into an argument about whether it was O.K. to use the “N-word.” She maintained that it was. He thought otherwise. So in short, not only did we have to hear the N-word over and over again at the pulpit, but in the context of a sermon about “why it’s O.K.” to do so, even presumably when talking to African-Americans.

    Why didn’t the Bishop immediately get up and put a stop to it? He was probably thinking and hoping that she’d stop of her own accord. (Better to let it pass and not make a scene.) But she didn’t. She kept going and going. Finally, the Bishop approached the stand and asked her to finish her testimony immediately. She had this cheesy grin on her face that seemed to say “I have no idea what you’re saying to me cause I’m from another planet.” She kept speaking. The Bishop asked her again. She finally closed and sat down.

    Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. At least it was over. Two other members of the ward had meanwhile placed themselves on the stand to bear their testimonies. As one of them got up to speak, our well-meaning Bishop leaned over to the other – a dark-skinned, ethnic woman in the ward – and said, “Sister So-and-So, I am so sorry about what just happened.” It was as if to say “On behalf of all us non-African American members, I want to apologize to you and all other African-American members for what just happened.” But there was one little problem:

    The Sister was not Black… She was Hawaiian.

    Aaron B

  4. The open podium rarely breeds anything but boredom in our ward.

  5. Aaron,

    That is horrific. Stories like that make me want to tear down the open podium and replace it with good old priestcraft.

    Kim,

    Not when you talk, of course.

  6. I love the crazy democracy of the pulpit as well, although I will admit to hurrying my non-member parents out of the chapel after the blessing of our first son. My worst experience involved a drunk man kneeling on the stand with his arms outstretched praying vocally … the visiting high councilor managed to pull the fat out of the fire in a gracious and compassionate manner, but not before some extremely awkward moments.

  7. river stone says:

    I found it very humorous that on the first day of our ward’s ‘bring a friend to church’ month, we had two sisters get up and use most of the time. One used the podium to launch her fervent political beliefs and the other bore a twenty + minute testimony about The work and the Glory. The only consolation of the meeting was that there weren’t any visiting ‘friends’. As a member I can laugh it off, but I think a visitor would be very unimpressed.

  8. Without a doubt, Ronan. Actually, there are a handful of decent speakers in our ward. We just don’t cycle through them enough.

  9. Bob Caswell says:

    Ronan, you read my mind! I was going to post about this very same issue because of the last testimony meeting. Who would of thought that one of the negative repercussions of Katrina would be members in my ward getting up and explaining that “things would have been much better had they had their food storage.” Then there was the man who repeated more than three times “there will be a flood or earthquake here. That’s why we have temples.” Katrina, somehow, was just enough of an event for God to subsequently give a bunch of random people revelations.

  10. nothing makes me feel more at home than open dysfunction…….

  11. For the record, this post does not reflect any persons, living or dead, in my ward. Actually, my ward is pretty normal.

    There seems to be some joking agreement on this thread that crazy talks are a charming addition to Mormon culture. But to be serious for a moment: should we not be disturbed that we have missionaries and members embarrassed to bring their friends to church?

    It seems that Latter-day Saints are in desperate need of some talk-etiquette. Here are some suggestions:

    1. Keep talks short (less time for craziness)
    2. Some people are just too crazy (don’t let them talk, or heavily circumscribe the topic)
    3. Instruct the Saints to preach ONLY from the scriptures and from GC talks

    Funny thing is, I think I may have given the odd crazy talk in my time. I remember once telling the congregation not to eat chocolate because it caused little African kids to be cocoa-slaves. Crazy.

  12. I want to come to you guys’ ward. We never have fun crazy stuff, just annoying stuff.

  13. Does anyone remember an off-the-wall talk by member of the 70 George P. Lee at General Conference? He was quoting some scripture from the Book of Mormon and interpreting it something like: us Native Americans are going to rise up and kick your white butt.

    I’ve done some researching on the conference issues of the Ensign that are online. I could swear that some of the talks in the Ensign are _not_ what I remember hearing. Maybe my memory is fading.

    But, if the speaker at General Conference, starts to ad-lib, and departs from their prepared speech (that which is shown to them on the teleprompter), what actually then gets printed in the Ensign? What they _said_ or what they _wrote_ ?

    Maybe I’ll get some conference tapes, CD’s or DVD’s and try to comopare the ones I was thinking of.

  14. Speaking Up says:

    “3. Instruct the Saints to preach ONLY from the scriptures and from GC talks”

    Actually I don’t call that a talk; I call it plagarism and summarizing. I can read GC talks myself and I’ve read and do read the scriptures all the time. That’s a good recipe for complete boredom. Unfortunately it seems most heed the advice of #3.

    Of course I gave a talk on love using C.S. Lewis book The 4 Loves, scripture, and my take on “finding yourself”. I had several people come up to me crying asking for a copy of the talk. But, I haven’t been asked to speak again in my ward and that was over 5 years ago. I can only assume that at least in my ward, if you go outside GC talks and scripture you won’t be asked to talk again. Oh well, less work for me. :)

  15. Steve Evans says:

    I also disagree with Ronan’s #3, because it closes off a lot of potential sources that are valuable.

  16. We had an investigator to church one Sunday on my mission. Sacrament meeting went well, but it was Sunday School that got us in trouble.

    The instructor, for some reason, decided to bring up the act of being translated, even though it was out of place for the lesson. However, she called it being “twinkled.” I was hoping and praying that the investigator was out to lunch (he was most of the time), but he had to ask what being twinkled meant.

    -Bob

  17. This is probably too light-hearted for sacrament meeting, but if I ever get to talk at Stake Conference, I want to tell this story:

    I was sitting next to Sister B in Gospel Doctrine. I had not been a member of the church very long. The seats were close enough together that while we weren’t physically touching, her dress was touching my suit coat.

    On her lap she had someone else’s baby. I heard the sound of “moisture” against plastic and realized the baby’s diaper had leaked. This was back in the days before disposables were popular.

    I looked down to see if the plastic pants were going to hold in the “moisture.” “Poor Sister B” I thought, as I saw the moisture leak out onto her dress. (It was NOT blue like in the commercials.)

    Sister B’s dress was polyester, and the moisture rolled right off her dress and onto my wool suit coat where it was immediately absorbed.

    I looked up at Sister B, a former catholic, and with a wry smile she difused the situation and elicited a chuckle from me by saying “Now you’ve been baptized.

    Looking back, I’m glad that that baptism was not….

    by immersion.

  18. Steve, I’d let you use whatever sources you felt like. But if I were a Bishop, I’m afraid I’d have to be a talk-Nazi in order to avoid references by crazy people to “TK Smoothies” etc.

    If you don’t know what a TK Smoothie is, it is better you stay in the dark.

  19. I have frequently taken comfort in the fact that many investigators have, by virtue of seriously listening to a story about gold plates being delivered by angels, demonstrated their relatively high tolerance for weirdness.

  20. The only question is how deft the investigators are at discerning between things that are crazy, but true, and things that are just crazy.

  21. “should we not be disturbed that we have missionaries and members embarrassed to bring their friends to church?”

    It’s true, I’m terrified to bring my non-member boyfriend to church. The one instance I did was wonderful and I went up to the speakers and personally thanked them for giving such wonderful talks (that didn’t embarrass me). But, he’s negative in regards to the church. My best friend, who’s more open minded, would find it hilarious… (again, light cleaveth to light, crazy cleaveth to crazy)

  22. One F&T meeting on my mission in Puerto Rico was dominated by a group of youths and their leaders, who had recently returned from a temple trip to Orlando. Several of the kids stood up and talked very sincerely and sweetly about the experience. Then one of the leaders, a member of the church for a couple of decades and thus one of the vets in the ward, ruined it all by standing up, quickly saying some obligatory nice words about the temple, and then, through violent, tearful sobs, bearing her testimony of their subsequent trip to Disneyworld.

  23. Steve Evans says:

    That clicking sound you hear is a million keyboards googling “tk smoothie”…

  24. GreenEggz (comment#13):

    General Conference talks are certainly edited after the fact. My late brother-in-law, who was a TV production wiz and who worked Conference for many years, told my wife and I that he occasionally filmed General Authorities giving their talks again to correct something in the videotaped version. I understand this is also done in the Ensign (official) written version.

    You may want to check the websites of Dialogue or Sunstone to find out about the George P. Lee talk you remember.

    BTW, along these lines, remember when Pres. Hunter fell backward from the pulpit? (May have been in Priesthood meeting, I don’t remember). My brother-in-law had to go up the chain of command trying to get a decision as to whether or not his fall should be edited out of the video tape. No one would make a decision. Finally, he ended up speaking with Pres. Hinckley about it, who said, “Aw, just leave it in.”

    After that incident, a security man was assigned to stay behind certain speakers to assist them should they loose their balance. As a joke my brother-in-law and his co-workers gave the security man, the “GA Catcher” a catcher’s mit. He was not amused.

  25. “But, if the speaker at General Conference, starts to ad-lib, and departs from their prepared speech (that which is shown to them on the teleprompter), what actually then gets printed in the Ensign? What they _said_ or what they _wrote_ ?”

    Conference talks are sent to the printers well before conference, so sometimes what is said does not match the printed text.

    Some craziness I have witnessed:

    On my mission: We took an investigator to Church and somehow forgot that it was fast and testimony meeting. A former bishop got up to bear his testimony. This gentleman had had a stroke and the effects had caused some of his mental faculties to regress, and he usually repeated everything he said twice. His testimony went something like this:

    I love the Lord, I love the Lord.
    I love the church, I love the church.
    I love the Temple, I love the Temple.
    In the Temple you can see the spirits of you dead ancestors, in the Temple you can see their Spirits.
    You can talk to Spirits in the Temple, you can talk to them.
    Everyone should go to the Temple to converse with their loved ones, Everyone should talk to Spirits in the Temple.

    This went on for about 15 minutes.

    Recently in my ward: A woman notorious for saying CRAZY things from the pulpit got up to bear her testimony and said: “Mothers, don’t ever say you don’t want your children to grow up…..because I have a son that didn’t, and he is a lazy, good for nothing, loser!”. She then proceeded to list all of her son’s faults for 15 minutes, then closed in the name of Jesus Christ and sat down.

  26. D. Fletcher says:

    I LOVE the crazy talks — I live for them. It’s usually in Fast and Testimony meeting…

    One time, in Manhattan First, a couple were visiting who bore their testimonies. She was about 19, and he was about 53. She testified first, saying how much she loved this man who could be her grandfather — they had married when she was 15. Then he got up, and said what a wonderful girl she was, and though he’d been tempted, he hadn’t taken her virtue. I’M NOT KIDDING… he said “I didn’t take her virtue.” Presumably, it had already been taken. LOL

    The most memorable meeting I ever attended, in terms of CRAZY but HUMOROUS talks over the pulpit.

  27. Given what people say from the pulpit, it makes me wonder what they dump on the poor bishops in private. When I hear weird things at F&T meeting, I generally try to stare at the floor, or rest the top of my head against on the pew in front of me. Sucking in your lips and biting helps too.

    Bishops and stake presidents have to be among the most patient and long suffering people there are.

  28. Millennialstar.org is down. Blessing or Curse?

  29. GreenEggz said “it makes me wonder what they dump on the poor bishops in private.”–This is the number one reason I’m glad that I will never be a bishop!

  30. It kinda depends on the ward and if there are lots of crazies or not. My current ward lacks crazies so I am prone to fall asleep during FTM. My last ward in Chicago had lots of crazies. Man the bishop must have had a heart attack about every month. I really hated the confessions of personal sins…….

  31. John Mansfield says:

    There’s a bit of bait and switch going on here. The idea seems to be that people are saying CRAZY stuff in sacrament meeting all the time, so much so that that’s the reason we don’t bring our friends to church. (Ah, that’s why I don’t invite them! I’m not simply lazy after all.) Not just crazy stuff, but CRAZY, all-capitalized stuff, all the time.

    Then to illustrate this idea, we repeat the CRAZIEST thing we ever experienced in a sacrament meeting. I suspect that if we limited ourselves to the third most CRAZY thing we heard in the last five years, the stories would be mostly limited to the “slightly odd and somewhat annoying, but fortunately brief” variety. That wouldn’t be nearly so fun, though, nor provide me much cover for not bringing people to church.

  32. No, John, you’re ABSOLUTELY wrong. CRAZINESS is everywhere, ALL THE TIME.

  33. Space Chick says:

    Apparently I’ve been lucky–the one time my husband’s parents attended church with me, it was F&T. I was dreading it. But for once, everyone who spoke was actually coherent and even spiritual. His father enjoyed it so much that he said afterward that he felt like getting up and giving thanks as well. So it’s not always boring OR crazy.

    Things that have usually helped reduce the pain:
    1. The bishopric re-reading the guidance from the 1st Presidency about what a testimony should consist of, and bearing a testimony that adheres to said guidance before opening the stand for the rest of the ward’s testimonies.

    2. Bishopric members specifically spelling out what is or is not an acceptable source or reference when making an assignment to talk, instead of just passing on a topic, duration and date.

    You can’t always avert the craziness, but these sure helped a lot, especially in a YSA ward. Sometimes people just don’t realize what the standard is, especially when so many previous talks or testimonies have set a bad example. Of course, this requires a little more effort on the bishopric’s part.

  34. All CRAZINESS aside, my wife is a non-member and has attended church with me for about 7 years. She looks forward to F&T and says it is her favorite of all the meetings because the thoughts expressed are more genuine. Secretly I harbour the suspicion that she is one of THEM!

    But truth be told, if I had to choose between CRAZY F&T and Dry Council Sunday or the Semi-Annual Analogy Jamboree (aka General Conference) and would pick the CRAZINESS every time.

  35. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    Ronan (comment #11)- When I was bish, the bishopric issued a letter spelling out guidelines for Sacrament Meeting talks. The letter (including the topic and time limit) was given to the speaker when they were asked to speak. With regularity, people went FAR over time and changed subjects. One single sister went on and on about how she HATED Utah Mormons. Three months later she married one. If I didn’t think that the speaker would die of embarrassment, I’d ask them to sit down when they started in with “I was asked to speak about the third Article of Faith, but I’ve decided that I’d rather talk about the Kabala.”

    If you can’t back up a doctrinal point in your talk with the scriptures or teachings of the GA’s, reconsider presenting it.

    We have one snowbird sister who is exhibiting dementia. But her husband lets her get up during F&T and rant and rave.

    GreenEggz- Yes, the bishop gets some doozies once the office door is closed. I’d share some, but that’s all sub rosa.

  36. My favorite crazy sacrament speaker was an older woman who got up to give her prepared talk and said that she had been prompted to recite scripture instead. She said she could remember better with her eyes closed, so she closed her eyes and recited verses from the OT for about 15 minutes, then closed and sat down. The next week was F & T meeting, and this same sister got up and gave what was obviously the talk she had prepared but didn’t give from the week before.

  37. Ronan said (post #11): “Actually, my ward is pretty normal.” Thanks for the vote of confidence, but does that mean that our ward has a normal number of CRAZIES, or most of the folks are normal?
    I suspect the latter, mostly because when I find myself cringing in F&T it’s not because something CRAZY is being said, but because no one is actually bearing testimony.

  38. Bob Caswell says:

    “I suspect that if we limited ourselves to the third most CRAZY thing we heard in the last five years, the stories would be mostly limited to the “slightly odd and somewhat annoying, but fortunately brief” variety.”

    John Mansfield,

    That WAS the example I gave… From two weeks ago, no less! I could have gone into CRAZY from the last five years, like the time a woman got up and explained that she secretly had children with Gorbachev, but I decided to stick with “Katrina victims would have been better off with food storage” and “There will be an earthquake or flood here.”

  39. Brock,
    Testimonies with no testimony. We are on the same page there, brother. I look forward to you setting the example next month.

  40. There’s crazy and there’s mentally ill. We have a member who is apparently a paranoid schizophrenic who spent at least 10 minutes at FTM how she was really Jesus and how she had plans to kill everyone through their computers on 1/1/00 but that she would spare us because we were all her children. It’s hard to know what the Bishopric should do when someone is really agitated because stopping them could turn violent, but this is really not what I wanted my kids to hear that day (much less an investigator or new member).

  41. Of course I have a CRAZY story to share but I shall actually attempt to address Ronan’s question.

    I lean towards the open pilpit being more of a curse than a blessing. It is just too nerve-racking to bring a friend to church not knowing what will come from the pulpit. (I personally get very uncomfortable when I bring a friend and the topic is about sharing the gospel and techniques to get people to come to church, and its like oh my gosh, is that what my friend thinks I am doing, because well, yes that is what I am doing, but I don’t want them to think I am doing that!).

    I do the love the egalitarian nature of the open pulpit, so if I had to suggest an alternative way of doing things, I would propose a semi-open pulpit. There would be a reading from the scriptures (this is a great touch and I don’t know why we eschew it), then a talk from the bishop (who in my plan is paid and does this full-time), a talk from a rotating group of good speakers who go through some kind of training and have a calling as a rotational speaker, followed by your run-of-the-mill regular speaker. And of course testimony meeting would remain the same, so the crazies would eventually have their time to shine. A good mix all around!

    The problem with the open pulpit is not just craziness but boredom, and as Kierkegaard says, boredom is edging towards death, a kind of evil. Church needs a shot in the arm.

  42. I have no problem bringing my friends to Church on F&T Sunday. I think my friends are pretty reasonable people and would be able to differentiate between craziness and what we really believe.

    I was in Georgia, this past July 4th weekend, and attended with my Catholic friend. Neither of us knew what to expect, as we had never attended this particular ward, but we both left feeling the Spirit.

    We did share a little chuckle when one brother thanked God for Georgia.

    Oh, and Steve, I googled “TK smoothies” to no avail. ::pout::

  43. Crystal,
    It is better that you remain in ignorance.

  44. Steve Evans says:

    Crystal, Ronan’s right. To some it is given to know the secret of the TK smoothy, to others it is given to believe on their words.

  45. Damn secretive Mormons.

  46. a random John says:

    In the ward that we just moved out of there was brother who would get up in every Fast Meeting and repeat his life history sprinkled with some thoughts on what he thought of various churches and how he loved “the Mormons” because there were so many little kids around. Creepy. In the past he has said even worse things, but he’s kept that to a minimum recently.

    Anyhow in EQ one week the lesson was on testimonies and everyone made a point of saying what is and isn’t appropriate to say in a testimony and Elder Eyring’s Oct 1996 talk that touched on subject was read. The take home point was clear: keep it short, keep it focused on your testimony of Jesus and not on yourself.

    The next week brother “recite my life history” gets up and does the same thing as always. About 12 minutes into it I lean forward and tell Elisabeth (from M*) and her husband Travis (who is on the HC and thus missed EQ) that this brother must not have been paying much attention in EQ last week because the entire lesson was obviously directed at him. Towards the end of the “testimony” this brother mentions that all the Elders in the ward are out of line because they think that testimony meeting should be focused on certain things, but this brother thinks you should be able to say whatever you want for however long you want because that is what is great about the meeting and the men of the ward need to repent!

    In any case I agree, there is minor craziness at least once a month and major craziness several times a year. We just moved into a Utah ward two weeks ago and there were several offensive things said in the F&T meeting this month.

  47. ARJ- you forgot to mention this person talked about how much he used to love smoking “reefers”. His word.

    As for the subject at hand, I would prefer the open pulpit in smaller groups – such as relief society, sunday school, and the like. It’s just too daunting a proposition to walk all the way up to the podium and face a huge room full of people to speak about very personal experiences and beliefs. At least for me, anyway.

  48. Repent you faithless prissies! I’m with D — I love the open pulpit! The open pulpit is one of the greatest manifestations of democracy and free speech we have in the Church. Just explain to your nonmember friends that we believe that the Church is the laity, the people, not the clergy and that F&T is just a nice piece of programmed anarchy designed to keep it that way. Having everyone speak in Sacrament Meeting and having an open pulpit in F&T helps save the Church from the kind of creeping elitism displayed by advocating that only “able” speakers have the pulpit.

  49. John Mansfield: “Then to illustrate this idea, we repeat the CRAZIEST thing we ever experienced in a sacrament meeting. I suspect that if we limited ourselves to the third most CRAZY thing we heard in the last five years, the stories would be mostly limited to the “slightly odd and somewhat annoying, but fortunately brief” variety.”

    Oh, that that were true. I can think of at least a dozen F/T meetings off the top of my head that were well beyond odd and annoying in the branch where I went to law school. Like the time a lady we’d never seen before testified in detail that she knew Jesus was black because He and Mary had both appeared to her that very morning. Or the time an older lady snagged her wig on her chair as she went to get up and bore her testimony while both bald and oblivious to why everyone in the congregation was smiling. Or the fist fight two long-time members had in the back of the chapel during the meeting after one testified how it was important that no one sleep with anyone else’s wife while staring directly at the other the whole time. Or the half-dozen or so drunk testimonies (oddly, none of those went too far off the deep end, though–everyone of them doctrinally correct). Or the time Sister Gladys Knight visited the branch and gave an “impromptu” testimony that included her pianist and an impressive repetoire of church songs, and lasted 45 minutes.

    I’m now in a nice, predictable, suburban ward and sometimes I kind of miss that unpredictability. Other times, though, not so much.

  50. Seth Rogers says:

    You know, sometimes I think we don’t give our investigators enough credit. I think a lot of them are tough enough to sit through some of the drivel from the pulpit and take it in stride, as long as you explain what’s going on.

  51. I’ve had investogator friends at church who know crazy stuff when they hear it. I remember at the first Fast and Testimony meeting some of my friends came to, A young girl bore testimony of how praying helped her kill a dear when she went hunting with her dad and Ted Nugent. It was hilarious. One of those tihngs were you have to hide your head because you don’t want the speaker to see you laughing at them.
    Typically, when someone is a poor speaker, and I am with an ivestigator and I feel they aren’t liking what is being said, I use the old stand by “One of the great things about our church is that if you don’t like the speaker, wait 15 minutes and there’ll be a different one.” This works generally, with the exception of when a member of the High Council has come to the Ward. Then you just switch 15 minutes to next week.

  52. Annie Edwards says:

    Why not encourage investigators to bear *their* testimony in F&T? Not of the church, but of something they’ve grown to feel or to believe or experience in the course of their life as a spiritual being?

    Fast & Testimony is my favorite also, for the same reason that it seems a *little* less scripted, and anyone at all can get up. I like being in a church with people whose perspectives offend me, I just hate stifling top-down order. I’ll take more offensiveness over more order any day.

  53. Hey all, long-time reader, first-time poster…

    Thanks for making me laugh! I have tuned out my ward’s sac. mtg. talks to the point that I’m in a trance and the only words that can snap me out of it are “free food,” “fulness of the priesthood,” and “Amen.” I kid you not. Only then do my ears perk up. Well, with that said, I guess I concede that I too have contributed to the craziness on occaision. I once told the ward in a talk that I don’t appreciate “rampant OT eisegesis which plagues so many of our talks and lessons.” Fortunately, only my wife understood what I said and she appluaded it.

    Thank you thank you for the laughs. There are some wacked stories out there…

  54. David J.,

    My experience in the church is that most members don’t want to get anywhere near the OT, whether it be to give an eisegesis or exegesis or otherwise. I think, actually, I’d be quite pleased if someone actually spent some time dwelling in the ambiguities of the OT, even if I thought they were wrong, because at least we’d be discussing it.

  55. Our open mic on the first Sunday of each month can be hazardous. I’ve heard many times in many places the Branch/Ward leaders say that our testimony sharing should be just that, a testimony sharing- not debating the usage of the N-word, travel log, etc.
    What if all ward leaders every where showed some backbone and got up to tell the speaker that they are off-topic and please sit down unless they have something testimony-related to say?

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