Sunday, March 29, 2009

Speculating About Controversial Doctrines

Every ward has one: the guy who loves to dig into the most obscure corners of church history, not really to edify himself or even to find something that either proves the church true or false, but just to find irritatingly difficult nuggets of information, trivia which he can then use to impress/provoke/make others uncomfortable. Even he doesn't really know what it means, he just knows that he likes the power implied in perhaps being the one guy who knows the Secret Stuff.

He'll lean over to you during a Gospel Doctrine lesson on something he finds unimportant, say, the Atonement, and whisper, "This is boring. You know what's cool? There's a copy of a first edition volume of the Journal of Discourses transcribed by a witness in French where Elder Erastus Q. Zebulon taught that in order to be saved, Adam had to go to Kolob and sacrifice fifty of his wives, and so will we. Dude, what's up with that?"

Attempting to refute such spurious piffle will only result in rolled eyes on the the part of your enlightened friend, who will then accuse you of drinking the Public Relations Department's Kool Aid.

Sometimes a ward will have more than one such fellow, and Elders Quorum lessons on service or priesthood leadership in the home will spontaneously erupt into heated debates about the identity of the One Mighty and Strong, or just how many undercover missionaries the church has in China, or, if you're really lucky, deeply learned diatribes about how Eve is really Heavenly Mother.

These trends are especially pronounced if your ward is in Utah, or near a college. If your ward happens to be near a college in Utah, look out. You may go an entire year of sacrament meetings without ever hearing about hope or forgiveness, but could hear endless locutions about how someone found a code in the Doctrine and Covenants that proves that the Book of Mormon was actually written by two-headed lizards from Mars.

During such an inspiring meeting, were an ironic soul to vocally query about the silliness of the old question, "How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?", the loquacious brethren in your ward might cheerfully dismiss it: "Irrelevant navel gazing! Good thing there aren't any myopic rubes like that around here!"

[Editor's note: all the irreverent "ideas" used as examples in this piece are fake, heretical, or dumb. Or all three.]


karen said...

I know just the guy in our ward. His testimony on the Gospel According to Bob must be based on how many people he can offend and/or frustrate during Sunday School. What I can't figure out is how he finds the time to "research" such obscure facts. People like that make me squirm in my seat.

Anonymous said...

Our ward has a sister that feels no need to read the scriptures or teachings of the prophets if she has a question. She just prays about it. If you refute her false doctrine with a quote from the current president of the church, she just replies that she prayed about it and received an answer. She said in Sunday School class that she receives inspiration more readily than the proesthood leaders. Oh, she's also the Relief Society President.

Boy's Mama said...


Anonymous said...

I haven't found this particularly true (living in Utah near a large college).
In fact I moved here from Missouri and was inspired by the strong spirit in every meeting. I was worried having heard about those "Utah mormons", but have found the objectionable comments about such saints to have little validity.
Sure there are some "hypocritical"and strange stuff going on here and there, but I found it no different in Missouri.

Anyway, this is just my experience and so thus I think you're words about Utah wards is offensive and wrong.