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Wednesday, May 11, 2005 

Say It Again, Sam

A couple of weeks ago I related a story on my personal blog that occurred in my parents' ward.

A man, who bore a grudge against my father because he took a hard line when it came to the Boy Scouts of America, bore an interesting testimony. He said that he'd received revelation that there was an evil man among us and named my dad (his first and last name) right there, over the pulpit.

My mom walked out, angry and unsure what to do (she now wishes she'd just laughed at it), but my dad thought it was humorous. The bishop stepped up, ended the testimony, and later forbade that man from bearing his testimony in our ward any more.

Then the meeting turned into sharing your testimony of why my father was NOT actually an evil man.

Even though there are occasionally these types of testimony-meetings-gone-awry, they are the exception and not the rule. What does qualify as "the rule" are a lot of people with good intentions who speak for 10 minutes and testify for 15 seconds of that OR people who use phrases that are so trite that they’ve lost all meaning or effect.

I know that much of testifying is for the testifier, and not those in the audience. What I don't understand is how can people can use the same phrase used again and again and again which can no longer retain it’s intended meaning? Some common phrases are just plain offensive and others come off as insincere. Here are a few that I take issue with:
  • "If it wasn't for the church, I'd be a..." I know you can end this with a number of things (whore, alcoholic, flaming homosexual) because I've heard it in 95% of all youth testimony meetings I've ever attended. It does also crop up on the first Sunday of the month, though.
  • "If I've ever offended anyone here, I didn't mean to and I ask for your forgiveness." I should probably mention that the man above, who called my dad evil, used to utter this phrase each and every fast Sunday. I always disliked this because it is insincere and will not actually result in anyone forgiving anyone else.
  • "I want to tell [insert name] that I love them..." A testimony meeting is a time to speak of what you believe, not time to tell people that you love them. You can do that any old day. The same goes for turning your "testimony" into an "thank-a-mony" or any other permutation.
  • Any singing at all during a testimony. There is a time and a place for singing... and this isn't it. I honestly believe that anyone who sings while delivering a testimony is just after glory for themselves.
I'm sure I'm missing some more here... feel free to chime in.

The thing is, there is a part of me that always hated Testimony Meeting. Maybe it's the part of me that makes all of the meetings I run as short as possible. Maybe it's the part of me that doesn't allow my students to lead me off task while I'm trying to teach them about non-linear functions. Maybe it's the part of me that just hates to have my time eaten away by something that doesn't apply to me.

Whatever it is, I think that testimony meetings should be reformed. I don't think they do what they are meant to, for the most part, and that the church as a whole could benefit from an overhaul of 23% of the Sundays in each year.

There was a woman in my last ward (with a strong testimony) who refused to share her own because all her life she had heard these same lines over and over. Another: "with every fiber...".

Do you remember the song during testimony meeting at the youth conference at UNR?

Interesting points. You do begin to wonder about sincerity, etc each fast Sunday...and you wonder about peoples sanity. But that's a different story altogether.

I must say that I feel robbed that I have never been to a testimony meeting where someone has started singing.

I think the worst is when you know as soon as you get home you and your siblings are all going to chuckle over the testimony that is being given and so you begin to chuckle right then only you know how inappropriate this behavior is so you try to hold it in. Next thing you know your brother or sister is trying to hold it in too. Then you are doing the fake cough thing because this is just even more hilarious that you are not allowed to laugh at something so very funny and then finally you just have to make a quick exit for fresh air.

Maybe I’ll start going back to church for Testimony Meeting

I always wondered about that "every fiber of my being" clause. Who knew that beings were fibrous? If that is the case, could disaggregate further? If you really know something, it could be "with every thread or every fiber of my being/each strand of my fibrous being." In that case, you could at least eschew these pesky cliches.

I'm so glad Rebecca didn't go far.

I hear "testimony" phrases every now and then on TV or in a movie. It makes me laugh then, too.

But if everybody just got up there and bore their testimony, what they knew, it would be boring, wouldn't it?

It would just be the same thing over and over.

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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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