Sunday, March 15, 2009

Joseph Smith Enters The Twilight Zone


Walt Disney’s "The Absent-Minded Professor" left quite an impression on ten-year-old me. Fred MacMurray’s invention of a rubbery anti-gravity substance that could power a car and be ironed onto the soles of shoes inspired me to want to become a scientist and inventor myself. When I grew up, the first thing I was going to do was get my own lab and invent Flubber. (Hasn’t happened yet -I’ll let you know.)

My love for all things Disney continued into my twenties, along with a fascination with the early history of the LDS church, particularly the Nauvoo period. One historian of that period whose books I read was Samuel W. Taylor, the grandson of third church president John Taylor. By happy coincidence, I learned one day that this very Samuel Taylor was the author of the stories upon which the flubber movies were based. The real Son of Flubber was a member of my church!

In 1992 this same Samuel Taylor wrote a short fantasy in which Joseph Smith shows up and accompanies Taylor to Sacrament meeting incognito. Surprisingly, rather than feel at home in the church he had founded, The Prophet expresses bewilderment at how differently we do things than in his day. He recognizes very little that goes on, and is baffled by the changes. It was as if he had entered into "another dimension... a land between shadow and substance". As if he’d "just crossed over into..... the Twilight Zone"!

CLICK HERE to read that story... submitted for your approval.


Taylor’s fanciful tale got me thinking about some other changes in the modern church, many of which are rooted more in whim and tradition than divine revelation. For a people who claim every dogma we practice comes directly from heaven, we sure keep to a lot of customs that God never expressed an opinion on one way or the other. Some of them are benign; others...not so much. Just off the top of my head, here’s a short list of unwritten traditions we hold onto as religiously as if they were formal tenets:


1. All deacons must wear a white shirt and tie in order to pass the sacrament.

In my former ward there were always the requisite number of deacons present, but often somebody would show up without a tie, or, heaven forbid, wearing a pastel, striped, or checkered shirt. Out he went, replaced by an older priest or teacher with matching habiliments. If there weren’t enough white shirts among the Aaronic priesthood, an Elder might be asked to fill in. As a Melchizedek priesthood holder in my forties, I was recruited many times to help pass the sacrament when there were plenty of deacons around who could have done it, but their shirts didn’t match.


2. We don’t applaud in the chapel for fear it will “break the spirit”.

I’d really like to know who thought this one up. I can find no warning in scripture to imply that the sound of unexpected applause in church will send the Holy Ghost running from the building.

The more likely reason for this tradition is that the early church drew many of it’s members from staid New England congregations such as the Methodists whose manner of worship was more pious and "proper" than that of the raucous Baptists further south. Add to that the large influx of reserved Swedish converts with the genetic proclivities of the residents of Lake Wobegon, and you have a congregation more comfortable sitting on their hands than embarrassing themselves by clapping for joy.


3. The only musical instruments allowed in church are the piano or organ, and occasionally a violin.

Never mind that the bible directs us to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord", listing such instruments as horns, trumpets, tambourines, flutes, lutes, zithers, and gongs as appropriate for worship. The real reason for this rule, which was promulgated in the 1960's, is to keep out guitars and drums, instruments associated with the dreaded hippies. I don’t know who came up with this rule, but ten bucks says it was an old guy.


4. We don’t shout out “Amen!” or “Hallelujah!” in church.

I don’t know why not. We should. Our church may have additional scripture, but we don’t feel as much joy in our weekly meetings as I've felt in those of other faiths. While those at some other churches stand blissfully basking in the spirit with their faces skyward and their arms outstretched, we teach our children to keep their eyes squeezed shut, scrunch their heads down, and fold their arms so tightly across their chests that the Holy Ghost would have to pry them open to get inside their hearts.

Wouldn’t it cause a wonderful stir if somebody stood up in sacrament meeting and shouted hallelujah like they used to do in old Nauvoo? Maybe you can be the first.

Don’t look at me. You do it.

50 comments:

Yuukanna said...

You are awesome! I attempted a list of "Mormon myths" based on culture rather than doctrine, but I think you topped mine.

Commentary:
#1 - I wore white pants, a silk black shirt and a white ties one Sunday as a Deacon because my white shirts were in the laundry... I didn't pass sacrament.

#2 - I once saw John Bytheway speak at a youth encampment... Everyone began to applause afterward and he sternly told everyone "Don't!"... I kinda lost some respect for him right away.

#3 - My friend Mike is a musician and songwriter. One Sunday he brought in a guitar to for Sacrament meeting. Some were surprised a little, but I imagine it was a refreshing change... but when he hefted his amp and set it down on the ledge, a few people caught their breath.

#4 - My wife used to come to church with me occasionally in high school (she was not and still is not a member), being the lightning bolt of a woman that she is; she craved to stand up and shout "Praise the lord!" in the middle of Sacrament meeting... I kinda wish she had.

#2&4 - Last time we visited a sacrament meeting, my wife began to clap after the opening hymn. She jumped a bit when she realized what she was doing, sat on her hands, blushed furiously and tried to contain her laughter throughout the opening prayer.

I think fewer high priests would sleep through meetings if they were given a chance to be awake!
When I hear hymns now I get very sleepy, I think it comes from a subconscious memory of of having to sit still without interaction for so long.
Sometimes I consider going back to church, ignoring the doctrine that I either disagree with or do not have a testimony of, promote the parts that I do, and also try to promote a spunkier, more interactive, less fearful atmosphere.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yuukanna, YOU are awesome! That was a hilarious list of experiences. Thanks a lot for sharing!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I heard from "Baird" who had trouble figuring out out how to post here, so he emailed me a question that's been on his mind. He asks, "How come we can fart in church, but we can't shout Hallelujah?"

Good question. I'd be willing to give a dollar to the first person in my ward who farts and then shouts hallelujah.

Connie said...

Yuukanna, I liked your list as much as I liked Rock's. I would have liked to see you pass the sacrament in a black shirt in my ward. It would have made strong men weep and women faint. :-D

Allrie said...

I am choir director in my TX ward, and not only did we have guitars in our Christmas program, but the bishop was one of the guitarists! [We sang Silent Night with guitar.] We also sang in 4 languages concurrently and it turned out beautifully. My son-in-law who is a band director played trumpet in Sacrament Meeting one time, after all, there is the trumpet stop on the organ. So he played the trumpet part! If one knows what they are doing the music can be very uplifting.

The reason so much of the music sounds like a dirge is because we don't usually have real organists playing, but pianists who manage on the organ. So use the piano! And pick up the pace! I attended another church with my non-member mother one time and they had essentially a small brass band--and the music was reverent AND joyous. [for Christmas]

I also have a son who wore a white shirt and tie to Sacrament meeting every Sunday for years, while our bishop's boys wore plaid shirts. So when we moved my son's Sr year, he wore his purple shirt the first Sunday. There was no dearth of Aaronic Priesthood in the ward, so he continued to wear colored shirts--with ties, he always looked nice--and I was taken aside and asked if we needed help in getting him a white shirt for Sundays. He was told he could not bless unless he wore a white shirt. He shrugged his shoulders and replied, "I've blessed every Sunday for the past year and a half. I don't mind if somebody else gets a chance." He's both an RM and still active in church today--some of those other boys are not. I'm not complaining about his choices. Although he now says it was stupid, but it was right not to force him!

David S. said...

My personal experiences have shown that these traditions have caused more offense to people than done any good.

And what's hypocritical is how people go on about not applauding or shouting "Amen" during a meeting when they're talking so loud you can't hear the pre/postlude music.

Didn't Elder Oaks talk about that last point at April Conference?

Isaac said...

I recently bought new "church shoes" specifically for the purpose of making my feet not hurt at church. Even though no one is able to actually define what a dress shoe looks like, most don't believe that my new shoes are in that category. Anyway, just another stupid non-doctrinal tradition that many hold more sacred than actual sacred doctrines or ordinances.

Great post.

Dave P. said...

Isaac, I'm reminded of a few times my family visited a couple of wards in Hawaii while traveling between the mainland US and the Marshall Islands (where we lived). More than once we ended up attending any Sacrament meeting we stumbled upon in our casual/tourist clothes. But the great things about the Hawaiian members are 1. They're used to seeing this happen and 2. They welcomed us with open arms every time.

D&C 46:1-6 tells us that we should never cast anyone out of our meetings, and I doubt that a lot of people who don't know much about the church know exactly what they should wear when visiting for the first few times.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alan
Great Blog. I believe I was in the Anaheim Ward with you. We worked on the stage crew with Brother Rauch and the Stafford brothers.

Jillian said...

Just to let you know, my husband has been able to play hymns on his saxophone in our sacrament meetings here in Indiana a few times now, but of course the sax really isn't a brass, it's a woodwind! We have also had flutes, harps, and guitar.

Rock Waterman said...

Good for your ward, Jillian, for flaunting tradition. It probably works out there in Indiana because the traditions prevalent here in the mountain west don't have such a hold on you good folks.

We had a guy in our ward in Sacramento who played his guitar in church, but it was probably allowed only because it was his young wife's funeral and he was singing a tribute to her.

Even then, many members felt a bit uncomfortable, including me (I'm quite a bit different now than I was five years ago). We weren't sure it was within church standards to play a (GASP!) guitar in the Lord's house.

As you may have surmised, these days I don't take much stock in those traditions in the church that aren't based on direct revelation, and the nonsense about what instruments are valid in church is one of the silliest of the little controversies that pop up now and then.

So hurray for Indiana! You have much to teach us Mormons here in the mountain west.

Now, let me know if your husband has ever dared play anything other than official church hymns.

Dave P. said...

I wonder if I'm the only one who cycles back through all the old posts looking for new comments. But in regards to official church hymns, I'm actually pretty shocked that some of them are even in the hymnbook.

After all the reading on Lewrockwell.com has done to change my opinion on government, I no longer sing, nor even feel the spirit from hymns like "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "My Country 'tis of Thee," "God Bless America," and even the national anthem.

I may not get the chance to do this for a while, but I promised myself not to stand the next time the national anthem is sung in sacrament meeting.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I don't have much of a problem with the other songs you cite, Dave, but I agree with you on Battle Hymn. It's a real hard thing to stick to principle and avoid that song because I've loved singing it all my life, especially the MoTab arrangement.

However, there's no denying that it is not a hymn to God or even a patriotic tribute to country; it is a hymn to the state and to the power of brute force. Everything about it is antithetical to God's word. Talk about taking the name of the Lord in vain -that song does it in spades.

I don't mind standing and singing the National Anthem, because the relief of Francis Scott Key at finding that the flag was still there was not because the flag was flying over some other sovereignty as it too often is today. If I recall correctly, he was relieved to see that it still flew on an American ship. Or was it at a nearby fort, or a nearby piece of land? I forget. At any rate, I don't have a problem with it. Yet.

On the other hand, America didn't completely have clean hands when it came to the war of 1812, as the motivation of many was to "liberate" Canadians who didn't care to be liberated from the mother country, and to bring Canada into our sphere by force. So I think I understand your reluctance to join in on that particular song.

I like "God Bless America" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee", and don't see a problem with them. I see them as tributes to the land and its people, not as encouraging allegiance to state power. Am I missing something here? How about elaborating on your reasons for rejecting those two numbers?

I don't pledge allegiance to the state symbol anymore, but I do stand out of respect for the others who know not what they do. I think refusing to stand would be misinterpreted by others. I know that in my pre-enlightened days I would not have interpreted such an act as the patriotic act that it is, but rather the opposite.

So it's a good idea to go slow and not be too much in the other guy's face. They'll come around with the proper education. If you have a problem with the National Anthem, you might want to go ahead and stand, but just not sing. God will recognize and honor your stand, and you avoid sending the wrong message to others. After all, you can't reach your brethren if the message they take away is that you're anti-American.

BTW, I hear from people quite regularly who have just discovered Pure Mormonism and have been going back and reading the previous posts, so your comments aren't just floating off into the ether and not being read.

Dave P. said...

My current primary reason for not participating in any of those "patriotic" songs is because the definition of "patriotism" in Utah right now is equated with "Doing anything the state and federal government says."

The other reason is how these songs have basically hijacked sports events. Is it really necessary to play the anthem prior to a game and "God Bless America" during the 7th Inning Stretch of a Baseball game when the home team's fight song and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" maintain the spirit of the sports while keeping the state out of it?

While I don't have anything against Francis Scott Key's words personally (he was on a ship and looking over at a fort, by the way), it's how the intent those words that became our national anthem (which is based on a British drinking song) have been so twisted into becoming a hymn to the state. The country's Founding Fathers dissented against an oppressive government to allow Americans to exercise their natural rights as children of God. Therefore, when I am in a chapel consecrated to the worship of God, I will put my worship of Him before anything else, including the state. And if that means being called "anti-American" for not standing during the national anthem, so be it.

While typing this I recalled a time I was asked to pray in sacrament meeting during our ward's Independence Day celebration. I recall repeating the words of Joseph Smith's prophecy of the Constitution and prayed for the spirit to touch the congregation in recognizing those who would seek to destroy that inspired document. The spirit was strong, but I did get some weird looks afterwards.

TruthSeeker said...

Hey Dave P,
In answering your earlier post, about coming back to this blog often to search for new comments;

Rock's blog is so well written, that I find myself coming back to re-read his wonderful blog entries. His writing and the content are "addictive"! I find that I learn something new every time I return.

Also, I too find myself coming back looking for new comments. I have also truly learned about the character of Rock and how he honors those who comment- even when they have been downright ugly. This says something to me about Rock and how he honors the gift that we all have been given, of free agency.

I am not so sure that I could be so thick skinned. Rock clearly honors everyone's right to disagree with him- through free speech. Everyone is on their perfect path. Which is to say that we are not all "perfect", but on each of our life's paths- we most certainly learn and gain what is "true" for us, at very different times and paces. I know this to be true for myself. I have changed the way I look at everything, in the past 4 years.

God gave us this plan and as hard as it is at times, I honor my fellow brother's and sister's right to speak their mind as freely as I get to!

Good for you for that prayer on the 4th of July!

P.S. I hear you about singing certain of the above mentioned songs in church. I certainly pray for God to protect this Nation- from itself as much as outside influences. I could say a lot more on this subject...but for now brevity!

Steve Graham said...

Now, let me know if your husband has ever "dared play anything other than official church hymns."

20-some years ago I lived in Tucson and was a part of the ward choir. I liked that choir and we sang many a good song, and not all of them were hymns. We had planned on singing one by Carol Lynn Pearson and the 2nd counselor in the stake presidency intervened, saying something to the effect that it was not good enough. I have rarely been so incensed at Church leaders as I was at him. I also disagreed with his estimate of the song.

Steve

Anonymous said...

i hate church.

Guy Noir, Private Eye said...

apparently:
some Bps see the boredom in ppls faces EVERY WEEK, and are FED UP with the stiff-necked 'Rules' (NO brown bread, White Shirts, NO PANTS FOR WOMEN, etc) and are doing end-runs around them.
Good For Them! as the closest leaders to the rank-and-file, they should see the insanity of 'The Rules' that are little more that higher leaders thinking they have the Pulse on what the members Will Accept, what they Won't...

Ppl must stay awake 24/7 in the COB thinking of ways to DRIVE MEMBERS AWAY!

finally, my sig on another BB:
"Keep the stupidity rolling brothers cause it wakes people out of their stupor and starts to set them free."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That is good news indeed, Guy.

James said...

I'm the choir director in my ward and though we often do a lot of stuff out of the green hymnal, we also do a lot of stuff out of what I like to call The Red Book, which is actually a Methodist hymnal my wife got on her mission. I don't think our Bishopric is terribly savvy about music because I've been pulling these stunts with choir numbers for over a year and nobody has ever said a word about it (we even had a french horn accompany a non-hymn Christmas carol), other than "wow brother Russell, that was really great! I've never heard that hymn before" (yeah, because it's not in our little green book!).

Once for a weekend ward activity we had the choir teach an African Spiritual (with clapping and shouting and the works) to the whole ward. It was a lot of fun.

Dave P. said...

James, that reminds me of a story I once heard about a new branch out in Africa who held their meetings twice. The first was the boringly quiet, stuffy, "reverent" way that we have to endure every week. The second would take place after with them doing it the "African way" with music, dancing, and joy. So I ask this to everyone: Which one would you rather have gone to?

James said...

What an heartwarming story, Dave P. I'm totally dumbfounded by the extremely "whitebread" nature of our meeting practices. It is nice to see some pandering to culture such as in the German version of the LDS hymnal where they have some more "German" (i.e. Lutheran) hymns, but by and large the injunctions against certain instruments and song styles represent an extreme ignorance about what other cultures consider worshipful music.

Whatever happened to making a joyful noise? The angels didn't quietly sing Hallelujah at 60 bpm at the Savior's birth...they shouted it! It was awesome in the truest sense of the word. And yet, when was the last time that any worship music has been awesome?

I remember on my mission we were instructed to never hug anyone, not even members of the same sex. I was in a Spanish-speaking ward at the time and I asked the area authority who had come to announce the new rule: "I'm in a Spanish ward, and as you probably know most Latino cultures really like to hug. I don't want to offend any members or potential investigators by refusing the abrazo."

And what did he tell me? He said: "that's their culture, but you belong to the culture of Christ, and that's not we do." At the time I just accepted it but the more I think about that the more I realize how wrong it is. If there even is a "culture of Christ" it isn't some doddering, buttoned down "don't touch me" culture where you never stray from the presets on the organ and you never raise your voice and you never have. Any. Fun. Ever.

If anything, the culture of Christ looks more like a Mardis Gras party (minus the debauchery) than a Relief Society dinner.

Dave P. said...

My dad served his mission in Central America and one of his favorite things to do is completely stress the difference between an Easter celebration down there (pick any country, especially Guatemala) and compare it with the near-literal funeral feel of an LDS Easter service.

whitehusky said...

What about praying to the Lord, anybody? When was the last time someone got up in sacrament meeting and prayed to the Lord himself? I did it once, but I haven't been asked to give the prayer since.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Good for you, WhiteHusky! Shawn McRaney has pointed out that we Mormons claim a relationship with Jesus Christ, but how can that be since we NEVER talk to him!

I'd like to see some priest give the Sacrament prayer with his hands outstretched like they did in the early days and see what happens. I'd give a dollar to see that.

Lynn said...

Wow, this is an outstanding blog, and one of the reasons I am leaving the Church. The traditions and the Corporatism have taken away the Spirit! When you look at the front of the chapel on any given Sunday morning, it looks more like a business meeting, than a worship service. And where is the joy of worship when the hymns sound like a funeral? I have found a non-denominational Christian church, with a live band and an emphasis on Praise, and quite frankly, it will be a welcome change. Where in the scriptures does it say we are to sit quietly, sing funeral dirges, not lift hands in prayer and supplication, or praise and worship? Quite the opposite, the Bible is full of joyous expressions, singing in jubilation, and even dancing for joy.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Just to add my own experience to those already posted, this is what happens in my ward:

1. both the 1st and 2nd counselors in the bishopric have worn goatees to church.

2. The entire RS presidency works outside the home.

3. When I wear pants to church I get compliments, not criticism.

All these things are encouraging, but I would still love to hear a good hallelujah! in sacrament meeting!

31505c60-55b2-11e0-8d46-000bcdca4d7a said...

I'm currently more or less inactive-- less recently, as my family attends Sacrament most Sundays (although they're nonmembers) while I am at work. I'm the mom, BTW.

The BP and SP came to visit me one day, and asked if I would be able to attend sacrament soon. My work schedule is such that I can occasionally squeeze it in, but generally would not have time to change clothes afterward to be work appropriate. I work in a huge home improvement store, so my work clothes are jeans, tees, and grubby sneakers.

They floored me by telling me to just come in my work clothes. I explained that my work clothes were totally NOT appropriate for an LDS woman to wear to church, and they both laughed and told me they'd rather have me attend in that than not come at all.

Completely amazing, but really, more true to the Church, I think. It was really refreshing. I remember wearing a split skirt (AKA flowy gaucho pants that looked like a skirt) to church when I was 21, and getting glares from the RS ladies, and a lecture about young RS members wearing PANTS to church, how shameful.

whitehusky said...

Alan, I think other Christians understand the spirit of worshiping the Lord than many Mormons. They praise and worship the Lord. Encounter one of the scripturally illiterate Mormons out there (of which there are many) and you'll hear them say we can't give praise or glory to Jesus, because it's all reserved for Heavenly Father.

Do these people read the scriptures at all? If they do, they don't understand them.

"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever.
Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord?
Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men?" (Alma 26:16)

John Peterson said...

I've attended a meeting where someone shouted Hallelujah. To be completely honest, it seemed a bit distracting, but I suppose as long as it only happens once or twice per meeting, it's not a bad thing. Anything can be taken too far. Early Mormons were no strangers to religious fervor. After all theirs was the age of the Shakers and the Quakers. The Hallelujah shout certainly wakes up the corpses :)

Dave P. said...

It would definitely be distracting if you weren't used to it happening, though I'm all in favor of hearing it more often because the speakers aren't doing a good job in keeping people awake.

What's really bad is when a speaker still manages to put me to sleep when I'm entirely focused on something else.

doyle_megan said...

Well, it seems to me that even fire from heaven couldn't wake up some of the snoozers in church. They'll turn a bleary, uninterested eye to anything. Once I talked about how close the Millennium was and that we might be among those who get translated in a blink of an eye. Believe me, I had to revise my estimate of how many of the members of the ward might not be coming when I saw how little they cared about something that should incite passion in a spiritual corpse.

Russ S said...

I get down-right irritated when we start to sing in sacrament meeting at the standard, slow monotonous tempo and I glance at the "suggested tempo" at the top of the page of the song book and realize that it would sure be fun if it were played at anything close to what the composer had intended!
I have attended the services of other denominations in the past, in my search for a better experience, and I must say a lively song, a loud "Amen!" and Hallelujahs sure make me feel the spirit more than our services. Listening to "gospel music" on the radio also makes me happier than the trademark Mormon style. I guess it goes with the "conference-tempo speaking method" used by those who aren't really speaking from personal experience or feelings.
I am a raised-in-the-church, married-in-the-temple member, but I can also think. I remember one instance where I dared mention in a talk that my wife and I had a personal vision/revelation and getting a visit latter that night at home by three men in black suits, not from our ward and no introductions or name tags, coming to my door and asking "if we had any questions about the church" and never did explain what they meant after I assured them I was raised LDS and had a testimony of Jesus Christ (My wife and I still refer to them as the Dannites!)
The lack of "thinking outside of the box towards our progression" is another dissapointing aspect. To think that we were left these teachings and records just so that we could progress after we're dead seems absurd. I'm of the opinion that the true way out of this condemnation (I believe we are still under condemnation) is truly loving one another and working miracles like we were promised. Probably should get into this discussion in another post...
I believe in the message of the gospel, but the Church's interpretation is holding us back from what we should be. Russ

Rock Waterman said...

If you testify of the reality of personal revelation in a church that preaches personal revelation, I guess you can expect a visit from the Mormon Mafia now.

Probably because it happens so rarely these days it makes you suspect. Thanks for sharing, Russ.

Tyler said...

I know this blog was written in 2009, but still. I have a pertinent experience :P.

I was waiting for a temple recommend interview, the 2nd counselor in the stake presidency came out and picked up his next sap and there was one fella sitting there without his tie. The counselor turned to him and said if you don't have tie on I won't give you your interview.

My jaw dropped. I immediately took my tie off and told the man that was the most absurd thing I had heard. I vehemently complained to the stake president in my interview (who was a friend of the family from my childhood). He mostly shrugged his shoulders and didn't say much.

Consequently, I dont' wear ties to church anymore. Actually, many times I wear jeans and button up shirts. Our "clothing" standards are probably one of the most irritating parts of our church in my opinion.

Could we possible have a focus on something that is more "worldly", vain and judgmental?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Tyler,
You, Sir, are a man after my own heart. I myself abandoned formal neckwear in church some time ago, too.

I am pro business and pro free enterprise. However, the uniform of business does not belong in a house of worship. For an "authority" figure to insist on it tells me he has no business pretending to represent the Lord.

Craig Richards said...

Boy, do I feel like a sap. I started going back to LDS Church back in 2010 but after a few weeks my non-LDS wife told me she would have none of it. So told me that we need to decide to go to church together that we can agree on. Of course, I rather go to the LDS faith but since that wasn't going to happen, we start to attend the BA Christian church, rock band and all. Casual wear was the norm and nobody there wore ties. Yet I still went with a white shirt and tie every time and acted like if I was in LDS Chapel, even though the crowd was enjoying the music by clapping and singing. Many had they arms lifted up in the air and praising the Lord.

I always felt you should look your best in Church even if it is casual dress at another Church. It looks like it is me that I should loosen up more. Summer coming and the some of the women there seems to loosen up more than I wouldn't think that would be appropriate for worship. Oh well, who am I to judge others on how they dress.

Once again, another great article from Alan and enjoy reading the comments.

brb said...

My daughter has been sent home from church for wearing a dress that went to her knees, but did not COVER her knees. We adopted her from the Marshall islands and for whatever reason, she is as easy going as they come and even when she is clearly not in the wrong she just apologizes for whatever and moves on. I am the one who gets frustrated with short sighted leaders thinking it's a good idea to send someone away from church for not looking precisely perfect.

brb said...

I love my TB M husband and my parents were converts who basically destroyed their family's by how they joined the church. So I stay, despite my frustration, so that I don't destroy my family as my parent's did. So I console myself by believing that I can be a Jesus follower no matter what church I attend and try to bring light, life and healing to the walking wounded at church. Sometimes I want to scream, sometimes I have to walk out because I am shaking, every Sunday I pray for Christ to shield me. It is so tiring and I just want to be free.

Dale B said...

Back when I was a kid, before they made white shirts a commandment, one of the general authorities (N. Eldon Tanner?) used to tell a story about a family during the depression who was too poor to dress 'properly' so they didn't come to church. As their home teacher, he told them that it was more important to come to church than to have a suit, so he said that if they would come to church he would wear overalls like they did. He kept his word and they came to church. I think that he had the right idea. Today, in our church, Christ wouldn't be authorized to pass the sacrament or be in the bishopric unless he shaved and got a white shirt.

I remember going on vacation in Yosemite and seeing the priesthood dressed in flannel shirts pass the sacrament. Of course, I'm a reprobate, so probably these experiences are part of the reason for my spiritual demise, but it seemed to me that the sacrament is the important thing. The more we require a uniform dress, the closer we come to emulating Catholics.

The custom of showing a bit of lace at the throat and the sleeve at court has given us the modern suit and tie. I don't recall the revelation that made it binding on the Church today, but it probably has something to do with the divine right of kings.

Now I never dress in a white shirt and never get asked to pass the sacrament. Oh well, that's the price I pay for rebellion.

We also used to sing songs other than LDS hymns for choir, but my understanding is that Elder Packer is the one who made a stink about it. Because what Elder Packer says is pretty much law. I'm sure the prohibition about crosses came about in much the same way. Some GA had a pet peeve and used his position to make everyone conform.

We'd probably all do better if there were term limits for apostles. Give them two years, let them pay their own way, and then let somebody else have a turn. Maybe then they wouldn't feel so high and mighty.

Dale B said...

Back when I was a kid, before they made white shirts a commandment, one of the general authorities (N. Eldon Tanner?) used to tell a story about a family during the depression who was too poor to dress 'properly' so they didn't come to church. As their home teacher, he told them that it was more important to come to church than to have a suit, so he said that if they would come to church he would wear overalls like they did. He kept his word and they came to church. I think that he had the right idea. Today, in our church, Christ wouldn't be authorized to pass the sacrament or be in the bishopric unless he shaved and got a white shirt.

I remember going on vacation in Yosemite and seeing the priesthood dressed in flannel shirts pass the sacrament. Of course, I'm a reprobate, so probably these experiences are part of the reason for my spiritual demise, but it seemed to me that the sacrament is the important thing. The more we require a uniform dress, the closer we come to emulating Catholics.

The custom of showing a bit of lace at the throat and the sleeve at court has given us the modern suit and tie. I don't recall the revelation that made it binding on the Church today, but it probably has something to do with the divine right of kings.

Now I never dress in a white shirt and never get asked to pass the sacrament. Oh well, that's the price I pay for rebellion.

We also used to sing songs other than LDS hymns for choir, but my understanding is that Elder Packer is the one who made a stink about it. Because what Elder Packer says is pretty much law. I'm sure the prohibition about crosses came about in much the same way. Some GA had a pet peeve and used his position to make everyone conform.

We'd probably all do better if there were term limits for apostles. Give them two years, let them pay their own way, and then let somebody else have a turn. Maybe then they wouldn't feel so high and mighty.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I like your ideas, Dale!

My own personal rebellion consists of NEVER wearing a tie at church. Anywhere else is fine, but I find the attire of Babylon to be inappropriate in a house of worship.

If I still attended the temple, I'd forgo the silly white tie there, too. Wonder how much of a fit that would produce?

Diane Henry said...

I was visiting my parents who are not religious at all. Forgot my church clothes, but decided to attend the nearest ward anyway. Figured they would assume I was not a member. My clothes were clean. I did not look weird, except that I was not in church attire. No one even said hello. They just stared.

Kevin said...

When I interviewed my sister's father-in-law for his life story he described an era long gone in Mormon Sunday services. Back in the 30s in the Salt Lake ward his family attended when it was time to separate for Sunday School classes everyone marched out by age group to a rousing Sousa march!

Anonymous said...

When I was a deacon, I. A small coastal branch, I used to pass sacrament in white slacks with the cuffs tucked and rolled tight, a coral colored short sleeve button up shirt and a skinny white tie. Obviously this was in the 80's, and our branch was a bit laid back compared to most. Heck, the Branch President insisted on being called by his first name, even during meetings. It was kinda awesome ;-)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That sounds like it would have been a branch I'd enjoy attending. I like how it was in the early LDS Church, when the Saints called each other Brother or Sister First Name, instead of the more formalized and distant Brother Lastname.

Today most members wouldn't think of addressing the President of the Church as "Brother Tom," But "Brother Joseph" was the way Joseph Smith was commonly referred to, not "President Smith."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

It seems much more friendly and egalitarian to me. We have become too formal and deferential. It smacks of corporate culture.

Jake said...

I realize it's 2014. No need to comment about my coming home way too late. I realize curfew was ... several years ago.

@ Mr. Waterman:

You said the following in the comments above (it was actually in Dec 2009):

"(I'm quite a bit different now than I was five years ago)."

It's now been 10 years. So what sparked the change all those years ago? What ignited the passion to dig deeper?

Thanks for the wonderful reads. Been home for several weeks now.

Anonymous said...

I think our biggest Myth is that our sins are washed away when we are baptized...pure fiction. Our sins are cleansed by the blood of Christ and we are made clean by fire and the holy ghost

Lincoln Stone said...

This is truly frustrating. I play the trumpet and my brother is going to college playing trombone. A year ago we spent several months practicing a gorgeous hymn that always brought the spirit, no matter where we played it. We talked to our ward music director about performing, only to be told that brass instruments are not permitted in Sacrament meeting, because they're "disruptive and loud, driving the spirit away". Kind of offensive and stereotypical, don't ya think. Oh well, i guess I'll go learn to play the harp, cause that's apparently conducive to the spirit.