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Tuesday, May 10, 2005 

If It Makes You Happy, Why The Hell Are You So Sad?

I LOVE Starve and Tell Your Story Day. Testimony meeting is usually one of two things, highly uplifting and spiritual or a comedy of errors. More often than not, I've seen it be the latter. But I love going to church on that fated Sabbath of each month. Sometimes I walk out wanting to be a better person, sometimes I walk out with a hilarious story to tell. It's a toss up sometimes as to which is better.

One of my favorite games to play is called, "From The Pulpit" I can't tell you the countless times I have sat around with my fellow Mormons and shared the tales of the shocking things we have heard people say over the pulpit in sacrament meeting. It is in the spirit of this game that I will share with you some of my top favorites and ask that you feel free to do the same in the comments.

Once while attending a family ward I watched a woman make her daughters boyfriend (who just happened to NOT be a member of the church) stand up and then told the congregation that he had been fornicating with her daughter, but she was confident he would join the church one day. Yeah... after that kind of public humilitation, I can't think that him joining the church would be the easiest of choices.

In the ward I grew up in, there was a sister who bore her testimony EVERY fast Sunday without fail. Usually it was fine, and sometimes even inspireing, but my senior year of high school she quoted Sheryl Crow's song "If It Makes You Happy" WORD FOR WORD... FROM THE PULPIT!

But hands down my favorite story was told to me by my old buddy Lyle. When he was serving his mission in Florida a woman stood at the pulpit and bore her testimony of how grateful she was that all of her children had been concieved through the hole in her one peice garment.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, the reason bringing non-members to the first sunday of the month takes more moxie than any other. Feel free to share some of your favorite From The Pulpit stories... I'm sure there are MANY that are better (worse?) than mine.

One woman got up and claimed she had a "twin in the temple". No one could figure out what in the world she was talking about.

On another Fast Sunday, some babies where blessed first and then a man went to the mic and started reading some of Brigham Young's rather bizarro quotes from the Journal of Discourses and was promply led off the stage and out of the building by the Bishopric. One of the mothers of a baby that had just been blessed was crying and inconsolable, thinking that somehow her baby's blessing was now cursed because of what the man had said. o.O

While on my mission in Guatemala, my first day in my new area was fast Sunday, so I had no clue who any of the members were or what they were like. During the meeting this kind looking old man hobbels up and starts off talking about how the church can help us in our lives. "It can give us blessings, especially if we keep the law of chastity.... (here his voices gradually starts to raise until he is yelling about as loud as he can) take my daughter for example. I know that she is a lying little whore you doesn't keep the law of chastity for anything at all (while pointing to her in the congregation). She lies all the time and I know that liars will go to hell. She doesn't keep the law of chastity and I know that whores shall be thrust down into hell. But I pray that she will repent someday. Amen."

Nest a Man in his late twenties goes up. "I know that coming to church is good because this is where I get to see Wendy. (While pointing to a girl in the back who has been stalked by this guy, not in a dangerous way, for a couple of years.) She's always so beautiful and I know that one day we will be married in the temple. (he was not a member, nor did he have any desires to speak with the missionaries.) I will keep coming to church until that happens. Amen."

While I have no clue what happened that week, that ward actually wasn't all that wierd.

Thanks, I needed the laugh.

We lived in a ward where a Haitian woman would get up every week and read from some old priesthood manual, half in very accented English, half in French, I think, but it all sounded like jibberish. She would go on like this for at least 20 minutes until the bishop led her away.

In my home ward, one time a man got up and said, "I don't know if you can thank somebody for the pain they have caused you, but if I can, I would like to say thank you to my wife. Thank you, Ruth, for the pain."

Not surprisingly, that couple divorced not long after that testimony.

One of my favorites was the lady in a branch I was visiting who got up and tearfully told the story of her lost engagement/wedding rings, about the fruitless searches, the prayers, the posting of reward notices, all to no avail.

Then one night she and her husband were driving and slammed into a deer or a cow or moose. It totalled the car, but the impact jarred the rings loose from the spot under the seat where they'd been hiding those many moons. It may have wrecked the car and killed the poor beast, but it was an answer to prayer.

And then she gave the reward money to the branch president!

In the ward where I grew up, we had a couple who gave monthly updates on their efforts to conceive following a vasectomy reversal. Thankfully not too graphic, and I did learn that the vas deferens is about the same size as a piece of spaghetti. Useful information, I'm sure. I also learned from my parents' reactions to this that nobody really wants to know this information about anyone else. Definitely useful information.

Another man in that ward got up and loudly called the entire congregation to repentance after his wife was injured in an accident and apparently did not receive the care or attention that was wanted or needed from ward members. Sad.

In a more recent ward, we had a mentally ill brother who excitedly shared with us the news that he had been authorized by a member of the Salt Lake First Ward to perform temple work for John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Elton John. I was particularly pleased to hear that we can now perform ordinances for living individuals. (!!!)

You people are killing me!

Sarah, please email me the name of the Sheryl Crow wanna-be.

Don't you think that bishop's must quitely pray and pray and pray when they see certain people head for the pulpit?

Recently a man pointed to a great ward member while standing at the pulpit and tried to convinced the ward that he was evil. The bishop led him away.

At the close of a wonderful youth conference weekend, one young man of about fourteen enthusiastically stood up to share his testimony. He talked about how much he had enjoyed Youth Conference, etc., but especially how much he had enjoyed meeting the girls at the Youth Conference.

He went on and on about this, expressing his great surprise regarding how beautiful mormon girls were. He said that his surprise sprang from his previous assumption that "all mormon girls were homely."

Seeing the icy daggers reflected back at him from the eyes of the female congregation, he quickly added that he didn't think that anymore- and that was the point. Then he quickly muttered the other truth statements that typically make up a testimony and retreated (and I mean RETREATED!) from the stand.

His father, one of the young men's leaders, sat there in the audience with his head in his hands.

I think he never heard the end of that one until he graduated from high school.

How could he help it if he had read a large dose of Mark Twain as a younger boy and believed him about how mormon women looked, only to have that belief shattered through one Youth Conference?

But it was a pretty strange thing to say in testimony meeting.

LOL! These stories are good! I'm cryin' so hard from laughter one might think I was sad.

My most recent experience is not that bizarre. Basically, the brother talked about how this Church was the only true Church on the earth (I think we members could use a good conference talk or Sunday School lesson just about this phrase. Especially using it on Fast Sunday. It's soooooo over-used. Moerover, it has an arrogant ring about it. A total turnoff to investigators.) But the kicker was when he started going off about how the prophet prays in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple, and how he is the only one allowed up there, blah, blah blah. He talked about how he (the brother sharing his testimony) had a "special" relationship with the Savior. Huh?
I watched the Bishop for the rest of his testimony. His eyes were closed. I'm SURE he was praying hard.

Please, GOD, don't ever ask me to be a Bishop. I wouldn't want it for my worst enemy. O.K. Maybe my worst enemy.

The testimonies that really "bug" me are the ones where the person goes up every month and cries about everything they talk about. Everything. The good things of life. The bad things. I remember asking myself the "why is everybody crying?" question when I was a kid. There are still some Sundays when I ask myself that same question.

Of course, I should probably add that the "homely mormon girl" testifier was me...

(running away in shame...)

Excellent blog mate!

Jordan, that is a great story. I will look at you a little differently now. Not in a bad way. A funny way.

The only thing I can say in the slightest comparison is when a guy was talking about his new wife and he said they had..."well, I'll call it cuddle..." and afterward, what they talked about. I can't remember his subject, just the cuddle part.

One of the hardest things I do now that I've been blogging for awhile is not laugh out loud when somebody says something funny in church. When they think it's serious, I mean. I think, "what would Jordan think of this?" or somebody.

Jordan, that is a great story. I will look at you a little differently now. Not in a bad way. A funny way.

The only thing I can say in the slightest comparison is when a guy was talking about his new wife and he said they had..."well, I'll call it cuddle..." and afterward, what they talked about. I can't remember his subject, just the cuddle part.

One of the hardest things I do now that I've been blogging for awhile is not laugh out loud when somebody says something funny in church. When they think it's serious, I mean. I think, "what would Jordan think of this?" or somebody.

I have no clue how that happened.

I was standing in the foyer of a relative's ward once and heard a heartfelt testimony about a dog being lost. The dog was rediscovered after extended fasting and sincere prayer. The person telling the testimony completely dissolved into tears during the course of the testimony.

God loves you and He loves your pets too. Don't you forget it.

I have mentioned it somewhere before, but here is another:

Probably the grossest analogy I ever heard of during fast and testimony meeting was when spiritual trials were compared with a very graphic description of child birth.

The climax comes when we are yanked from the womb (our comfort zone) by the "forceps of the Spirit," kicking and screaming and bloody.

There was some shocked silence in the meeting that day. Or maybe it was just post-partum.

Oh, that reminds me of a story my friend told me. She heard it from somebody who heard it from a relative who lived somewhere. (I think I shared this somewhere else in blogosphere, so forgive if you've read it before)

A woman got up at testimony meeting and thanked the ward profusely for all their help during her husband's recovery from scrotum surgery. She described how hard it was to walk after scrotum surgery and "you wouldn't believe all the things you can't do when you've had your scrotum operated on."

After she sat down, her husband got up and said, "I have just one word for my wife. The word is sternum."
All the adults in the chapel lost it at the point.

I personally chuckle every once in awhile at that story.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Oh, and the spiritual ob/gyn- that wasn't me.

Danithew-

The flip side to that is that if you're bad, he'll get you my pretty and your little dog too.

There was a woman in our ward that got up and told everyone that the lord had come to her and told her to start walking and not to stop until the second coming came. She listened to his words and stood up and started walking. She walked for hours in circles around her front room. She walked even though her phone rang, even though family came to visit and she didn’t stop. She didn’t stop until guys came and took her away in a straight jacket. And if they hadn’t the second coming would have already come.

My first year at BYU there was a big storm that lasted about 20 seconds, I swear. In that time it lifted up some of the largest trees on campus and laid them on their side showing roots that seemed 12 feet in length. Everything was very chaotic, a bit unreal. I walked home to my parents house (not too far away from campus). When I got there neighbors (okay Cameron) were in our yard sawing apart trees that were covering our house. We couldn’t even enter. Our house was the only one on the block that seemed effected by the storm. The next Sunday was fast Sunday. A women in our Ward got up during testimony meeting and explained that the lord had mad it clear that Clinton shouldn’t be President by only harming the homes of those who had voted for him in the most recent storm.

What scares me is that these are the only two stories that come to mind right now, but my list is actually very long. I know it is horrible, but we could spend hours at Sunday dinner with the my family laughing about all the different stories we have heard at our pulpit. Maybe there needs to be more lessons on what Testimony Meeting really is, although I am kind of against that considering how much I enjoy all the good dinner conversation.

Perhaps I should not take morbid pleasure in the descent of these meetings into exhibitionism.

Of course, the point of testimony meetings is that they not be too tightly controlled, but as the meetings increasingly mirror wider cultural trends such as confessional talk-show style discourse, can we at least make a stronger effort to enforce the ending time of the meetings? Every month there seems to be someone who selfishly and arrogantly decides that his message is so vital that it merits holding everyone else hostage, sometimes, as was the case in one memorable instance, to respond to a previous speaker (incidentally, the tension had been long since elegantly diffused by the bishop).

These people often approach the stand oblivious that the meeting is already over time. In this case, responding to a previous testimony where the speaker had proclaimed his homosexuality and ventured his opinion that the church's approach to this topic was wrong, another speaker felt it necessary to reopen the topic with a long ramble about a relative who had lived a dissolute life for many years but after much prayer and fasting had been cured of his homosexuality.

This was the same meeting where a new convert mentioned her first encounter with the Jews for Jesus, volunteering that she was glad that the Jews were finally "coming to their senses."

Another memorable occasion was the brother who was glad that he had been paying his tithing because his bankruptcy had just come through. This would also put a stay on his child support payments, although not discharge them altogether.

I am laughing so hard I cannot come up with a good story...there HAS to be something!!

I was in a ward and a guy stood up and told everyone that Joseph Smith was not a prophet. and that he was leaving the church. we just wanted to help out the rest of the ward but letting them know that they were wasting their time being a member and having faith in the book of Mormon.

In my family ward a woman stood up and told how the holy ghost told her to get a divorce from her husband. She went in to details of how horrible their marriage was...you could see the bishop turning white and getting sick.

Same ward this woman told a VERY graphic story of child birth and just how it happens...i think every one was sick after hearing all the nasty gory details of the "blessed placenta" as she put it.

I'm laughing so hard it almost makes me want to go back to church for this kind of entertainment!

Well - Da-duh-da-duh! I was supposed to take a nap but the time is passed and I just have to say that this blog posed some interest to me.

Testimony meetings are something that I can easily be distracted at, but there's many great things going on in my head and also many many things that people.

As a missionary, bringing investigators to Fast Sunday was always preceded by a lecture of how the church really was true no matter what they heard from the pulpit that day.

All time fave: a fellow missionary got up and said, "Brothers and sisters, today I would like to share with you the feelings of my heart.....'When ever I hear...the song of a bird...'" ala Luther Vandross.

This was hilarious! Is it wrong to want to go to church for the entertainment value?

Sandy

First of all, my friends and I play that game after church and to hear everyone talking about it is so funny.

Second, I'd like to relate my story. There is a boy in my singles ward who is bipolar and he gets up every Fast Sunday and literally BANGS HIS SCRIPTURES on the pulpit! He once told our congregration that he prays for 4 hours a day and that, if we had the conviction, we should too. Not that I'm not all about praying or anything, but seriously, who has that kind of time?!? ...But this did come from the boy who was taken from the chapel by ambulence because he was asking people for money so that he could buy a ring that would keep the demons away that were threatening to kill him. He also threatened to kill several people if he didn't get the money. Needless to say, he's back on his meds.

Since I am in Veronica's singles ward, I will amend some of her statements. He didn't say "if you have the conviction," bhis words were, "if you have the guts? Do you have the guts? The guts to pray for 3 hours a day? BEcause I do." He also was heard stating that if someone asked him "What's up?" he would repsond with "Doctrine and Covnenants." After many, many months of confusion, we were told that he was spinning this from an old Bugs Bunny "What's up Doc" line, and adding the "trine and Covenants" part to it.
Also, relating to this boy, after he threatened to kill people he spent the next week in the hospital. Our bishop felt it behooved him to tell everyone that he was bipolar and that when he came back we should be welcoming. THis spawned a WHOLE SLEW OF PEOPLE going up to discuss how they were mentally ill--depression, bipolar, etc. etc. and that they were normal and no one should judge them, but, the kicker was, NO ONE WAS JUDGING ANYONE! So, after we heard all about the many different kinds of mental illnesses from all these people, we were then filled in on all the meds they were on. Now, working in a pharmacy, as I do, I was able to tell who was only slightly nuts and who was majorly nuts. Which was fun. So, it became sharing our personal health problem stories. Since I work in the medical field, I find mental illness the same as physical illness, in that NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW! So, the next time I feel the urge, I'm going to go up and say, "I have a really wicked yeast infection, but I'm on medication for it, so PLEASE DON'T JUDGE ME!" Because it's essentially the same thing.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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