A Mormon fast and testimony meeting is a fascinating study of chaos theory in action. Like lightning or snowflakes, you’ll never see the same thing twice. If you hear a Latter-day Saint testify of a core gospel principle within the first five minutes of their meeting, and that’s what you came for, feel free to stop taking notes then and there: you’ll not hear it come up again.
The astute observer will note that Mormon testimony meetings follow no discernible pattern; they’re a meandering illustration of fractal-like complexity. Odds-makers refrain from betting on the topics of upcoming testimonies not because it’s irreverent, but because such calculations defy all known mathematical algorithms.
One speaker might relate an emotional experience on a church history tour. Choking up, they might then admonish their fellow congregants to avail themselves of such spiritual opportunities. Those tallying their notes on these rituals may well find themselves at a loss for how to categorize what they’d just heard. What, exactly, was this a testimony of? Their church, or the church history tour?
Like a Superbowl beer commercial, the substantive product ostensibly being endorsed—the gospel of Jesus Christ—is only promoted tangentially in the midst of other entertainment, via indirect references in “testimonies” of such disparate items as ward choirs, family reunions, road shows, stake dances, and boldly telling people at work that we don’t drink Coke.
By far the richest ground for digging into the essence of Mormon testimony-bearing is Girls’ Camp. Insinuate yourself into the tribe well enough to blend in at one of these rural ceremonies and you’ll be treated to a smorgasbord of passionate venting about anything and everything from A-Z (except for the Atonement and the Restoration). For example, at a recent Girls’ Camp retreat for the Shady Valley Gated Community Stake, 17-year-old Laurel president Kelsey Ann Lavarnon whipped her peers into a Crucible-like frenzy of spirituality when she poured out her heart about what she said the Spirit had burned into the very fabric of her innermost soul.
“I just really love all you guys so much,” she sputtered between hitching sobs, wiping her nose on her sleeve. “I’ve had so much fun this week and I know it’s what God wants. I know that Girls’ Camp is true.”