“actively and passively driven from faith, by people of faith.”

sadgirl

An excellent writing by John Pavlotvitz. There are so many valuable and worthy lines in his article, I’ll paste a couple but the only way to appreciate the fullness is to read it on his site.

Distorted Love: The Toll Of Our Christian Theology On The LGBT Community

This is the cost of our religion to the LGBT community. More accurately, it’s the cost of our religion to LGBT human beings. This is the painful collateral damage that comes when we see principles and ignore people; when we refuse to give them the dignity they deserve.

Apparently Love does hurt; really, really badly.

The most common defense I’ve heard over the past 14 days from Christians who believe that being gay is both chosen and sinful, has been some variation of the supposedly well-meaning, “Well, we’re just loving people by being honest with them, by giving them ‘the Truth’. Telling people the truth is loving them.”

Really?

Theology is NEVER a truth … yes, I said NEVER a truth, divine or otherwise.

Original sin is not and never was a real thing … nor was the consequential need for redemption and atonement … none of that is any kind of truth.

Theology is merely a righteousness tool most frequently used as a cudgel by people who want to FEEL morally superior in any desperate way to someone to whom they are in fact not superior in any way.

Then there are those who do passive/aggressive ostraciscm of friends and loved ones who doubt or stop believing their societal or cultural “truths.” This from John Shore:

Is this fundamentalist mother’s letter to her daughter loving, or horrible?

Or as John Pavlovitz expressed it: “actively and passively driven from faith, by people of faith.”

Very True … only the shallowest think we are deep divers from another place stuck here under earthly skies while being linked to the above by some doofus holy air-hose.

pantheise quotes Sagan

Revering the Universe. Caring for Nature. Celebrating Life.
Learn more about Scientific Pantheism and the World Pantheist Movement!
www.pantheism.net
www.facebook.com/groups/2230619808/
WPM Gatherings: http://facebook.com/groups/worldpantheistgatherings/
WPM Networking: http://community.pantheism.net/

… using faith to exploit an angry and ignorant populace with a collective Bible literacy that wouldn’t fill a shot glass.

Us believers gotta stick together!

Us believers gotta stick together!

This, dear readers, is mandatory reading for any American who takes his religion seriously … along with his understanding of civic duty.

  • Luke 3:11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
  • Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Was Betrayed by Republican Religion: What my years as a Christian fundamentalist taught me about right-wing faith – 

It is one of the great ironies of of contemporary American politics that, while The New Testament is further to the left than “The Communist Manifesto,” somehow the book and much of the religion it created have been subsumed by the cruelest, most selfish conservative politics I’ve seen in my lifetime, replete with outright hatred toward poor people, immigrants and every other unwashed commoner for which Jesus professed his most intimate love.

Claiming to be spiritually informed by Jesus, politicians pretending to Christian morals, aided and abetted by media more interested in viewer interest that civic and religious honesty, these pretenders have built what Lyngar calls a “media construct” … something that is not real. This media construct is presented to the gullibles as part of the effort to encourage a mass unconscious conspiracy to consider a lie the truth.

The political version of Christianity is first and foremost a media construct, like so much of our lives these days. It’s championed by Fox News, the 700 Club and a parade of has-beens and never-weres, selling the “prosperity gospel” like so much snake oil. It’s a powerful and toxic stew that is as relevant to Jesus as professional wrestling or a discarded Playboy. 

Lyngar:

I could fill a dozen essays with examples of Bible verses that contradict the core ideas and statements of conservative candidates, politicians and talking heads, but it’s a waste of time. No matter what the politicians and pundits claim to believe, they are only using faith to exploit an angry and ignorant populace with a collective Bible literacy that wouldn’t fill a shot glass.

We attended a Sunday service at the Spokane Unitarian Universalist Church. You might know them as that liberal religion that had the gall to go against the self-righteous public religious norm and openly invite non-traditional believers to come worship and dine at the Lord’s table with them.

I found a business-sized card that I now carry in my wallet. It begins with What Do Unitarian Universalists Believe?:

Well, for starters …

The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Not one dang thing wrong with any of that. We met several impressive individuals, several of which have never formally joined the UU church but whose personal spirituality and belief in goodness for the sake of goodness has nothing to do with religious orthodoxy, born again moments or accepting a mythical god as a personal savior.

I felt like I had encountered a religious organization to whom I would entrust my family to be taught goodness for the sake of goodness, charity for the sake of charity and love for the sake of love.

So who really “owns” Jesus? What does social and political activism in the name of Jesus really look like?

Before one lets the candidates and parties tell you what God wants of you, think about what it means to be Christian in America.

Think about the revised “tradition” of belief and attitude that is being pushed in this country at the expense of social justice, equality and compassion:

Who wants mandatory prayer in school?

Who wants to weaken separation of church and state?

Who wants censorship?

Who wants literal interpretation of Religious Scripture?

Who opposes women’s rights?

Who rejects the theory of evolution?

Who favored on invasion of Iraq?

Who opposes gay rights?

Who opposes contraceptives?

Who opposes sex education?

Who favors corporal punishment?

Who declares that there is only one TRUE God?

Who declares that dissent is disloyalty?

Who looks the other way when torture and murder happen – especially if it is the torture and murder of non-citizens?

Who favors the death penalty?

One answer to the above questions: Osama Bin Laden

Anyone else come to mind?

And finally this from my own cultural heritage … how I was raised to think … and I remind my cultural brethren who take the pretenders far more seriously than they ought:

Book of Mormon: Mosiah chapter 4:

13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.

14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.

15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

to know God as God is

The Second is like unto the First.

The Second is like unto the First.

Whether Jesus was real or mythical, if we try to live by shallow view of the life of Jesus we may very much limiting ourselves to the idea that we never measure up to the traditional theological notions about who Jesus was and is. We, for example, then see the ideas and concepts that Jesus teaches about our relationship to God as our being stricken with some consequence of original sin or possessing inherent evil. Both are in fact nothing more than old sectarian notions. Regardless of anyone’s convictions, the reality of original sin and a need for redemption … isn’t.

Were we in fact not in possession of the capacity to know God as God is because of an inability to measure up, we then cannot relate one-to-one with Jesus who – according to mere theology – was not born guilty of original sin or possessing inherent evil. This if we follow the logic of those who insist that Jesus in the most unique and powerful way, was and is God.

Our relationship to the God, however is the same as Jesus’ relationship to the God.

less to do with salvation and its assumed requirements and more to do with …

Jesus’ gift of salvation – as a gift – is one given without conditions. A gift once given is like bread cast on the water. We no longer own the gift and its belongs to the recipient to enjoy. Otherwise, it’s a contractual loan.

Striving to be and live the life of a Christ-like person could then be founded on the idea of Jesus’ love for humanity

… an unconditionally given gift that has less to do with salvation and its assumed requirements and more to do with having learn to see things as Jesus saw them and know things as Jesus knew them.

grounded in a truthful spirit

I think we should be grounded in a truthful spirit that is honest enough to desire instruction, correction and enlightenment from the Compassionate God. We then can “judge” ourselves by considering our ways.

But we are not to judge anybody else. We can consider their ways and determine our own comportment toward them accordingly but without condemnation.

If we then are desirous to know God as God is and perhaps come to understand how we are in God and God is in us, we become unshackled from the self-judging and often self-condemning mind set that comes from too much theology and not enough search, ponder and pray by one’s own methods whatever those methods be.

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
― Meister Eckhart, Sermons of Meister Eckhart

Speaking of Pat Robertson: Me and Jesus Once Had a Conversation Ourselves

03/26/2008
Guess who showed up in my office

I’m right here honey

If you’ve seen the movie GHOST and remember the scenes where Whoopi Goldberg tries to convince Demi Moore that she (Whoopi) has actually spoken to Patrick Swayze, you may have a sense of what it was like the day an internationally known psychic walked into my office announcing that God would shortly grant an interview,adding,

“You’re all God’s got so He has to use YOU.”

Needless to say, I closed the door to my office lest a few ears could hear any other fantastic drivel spill from her lips.

“I’m glad you brought me in here. It makes it easier to set up the interview,” she said as I closed the door.

“You mean you are going to produce God himself? Are we going to have some sort of ‘crossing over’ here?”

“Oh, heavens no! Uh, pardon the expression.” (With a whisper, she continued,) “I used to say ‘hell no’ but since linking with Mr. Big himself, I don’t dare use the phrase. Now Arthur, God wants you in this room tomorrow morning at 4:30 a.m. SHARP and says that the rest will be handled for you.

You just be here!”

“You’d better explain yourself.” I told her, thinking of how to get a 911 responder to believe my reason for calling.

She explained. Article space is precious and it would take up too much  to relate how she convinced me to at least give God a chance to show up at the appointed time. Since tomorrow morning I had planned to start work on my next article before turning on The View,  I decided to get up real early so as to humor the lady. Assuming God would not show, I could still get some work done.

Next morning I was no sooner in my office and reaching for the light when the light switch activated before I could touch it.

And there was light.

A voice, not loud, not soft, not a whisper but then not a shout either … spoke quite forcefully.

“Sit down son. After turning on your light for you, I’m only going to give you one other miracle.”

There wasn’t time to go through any theatrics of shock and awe. I heard the quite command and I obeyed. As I sat down at my desk, I suddenly spied a shape in the side chair opposite my desk. The shape clarified itself and I found myself staring at a distinguished old man dressed in a long white robe with gold edging casually sitting in my side chair.

Old Wrathful

Old Wrathful

There was no pillar of fire or light and no aura around him but I knew somehow that He was either legitimate or Steven Spielberg’s special effects crew had snuck into my office and set up shop in the middle of the night.

Now I felt it … I really KNEW who was sitting there.

I remembered one time a child’s story about new arrivals in heaven not recognizing their Savior when they met him. It was explained to me that only the righteous will recognize Him instantly. Well, I knew instantly that I was looking at God. There was no time to be astonished. One minute there was nothing and the next I found myself no longer alone in my office.
God was sitting in my side chair looking directly into my eyes … and I exclaimed, managing only a quivering whisper,

“You really are … God! I somehow know it to be true. You are … you are!”

Then God turned in His chair, facing me from another angle. And my wild eyes saw a woman; graceful, elegant and wise, smiling gently all the while.

elegant ... wise ... knowing

elegant … wise … knowing

She shifted again and I saw a young man looking exactly like a Michelangelo David

… who moved again and I found myself looking at my 13-year-old granddaughter who, I knew, was 150 miles away sound asleep.

“I … I think I get your point. You’re telling me … you’re revealing to me that you are …”

“I’m not revealing anything that all of humanity does not already know inside. Now, let’s get this going and be done with it.
Son, I’m not a meddler, but things have gone so far in the wrong direction that something must be done. You people need to redirect the path everyone seems determined to march down.”

My granddaughter was back and pointing at my legal pad.

“You do some asking and I’ll do some telling. As things progress you’ll realize a few things without asking. Other things won’t come to you as answers from me, but as understandings … if you pay attention and let your thoughts run free.”

I was convinced … or hallucinating … or delusional like Uncle Pat. robertsonassassinateChavez

God was talking to me. No doubt about it. I can’t and won’t launch into any speculation as to why God chose me. I appreciate John Denver’s role with George Burns even more now. And somehow I know that it’s not relevant to me whether some or all disbelieve what I write. What is relevant is that I know and God knows that I know.

The wise old woman was back only this time she looked like an older Queen Latifa.

“Start the interview young man.” was all she said.

I did and managed to come up with a question.

ARTHUR: Why didn’t you appear on a mount or in a mega church before one of the prominent Christian celebrities or even in Salt Lake?

GOD: I tried! I couldn’t get through. All of them were like you were yesterday, only much more dense to my touch.

A: What do you mean?

G: They are all like peas in a pod. What they inwardly imagine is the only thing they’ll accept. They have in their minds a specific image of what God is and how God communicates – by the way, most of them think I talk only with men. It’s a part of their minds that is literally stony. There wasn’t any use in appearing to them in the way they expected. Their chests would all puff out and they’d be thinking, “see? I told  you so. Now quit doubting”

swithoragYaWithUsOrAgainstUs

A: What way would that be?

G: Looking like Max Von Sydow or Jeffrey Hunter or Jim Caviezal in the movies.

A: Why not?

G: Because I’m not that way! I’m not in any way the sort of character your Christianity has made me out to be.

A: What sort of character are you … uh, Lord?

And it was my granddaughter again looking at me across my desk.

G: Do you know where I’ve come from?

A: Uh … Heaven? A Mighty Fortress?

Granddaughter laughed uproariously.

G: We’d better back up. I can see you need to have your own assumptions adjusted. You’ve noticed that I can appear as anything I want (adding with a sly smile) even an angel of light?

A: (Thinking that somewhere I’d read or been told that the devil could appear as an angel of light and that you can test the angel by touching) Would you mind shaking-

G: Yeah yeah yeah. (Young David  reached across and gave me a hard gripping hand shake. As if he’d been lifting weights.) I’m not the God you people think I am.

A: Obviously … er, Lord. But what sort of God – I mean, why do you say that?

G: Well, for heaven’s sake, pardon the pun! More than a few of you are starting to pray to the female me. Does it matter?

A: I beg your pardon?

The old woman sighed and shrugged at me.

G: No young man. I didn’t come from some heaven or a mighty fortress out there somewhere on the other side of the moon. In a way, I’ve come from your future. No, better said … I’m trying to portray your future in a way you’ll understand.

A: But doesn’t the Bible say that –

The old beardy guy was back.

Old Wrathful

Old Wrathful

G: The Bible says three things. ”
“My thoughts are higher than your thoughts, ”
“believe in me ”
“and love each other. “

The rest is 6000 years of private interpretations.

A: But your Son? He was killed and the priests say we owe him. Which of those three things expresses that?

G: All three of them do … minus the need for fear, shame and guilt.

A: But all those commandments!

G; Private interpretations son. Believe in me and love each other. Everything else will take care of itself.

Cover,bible-thumb

A: Are you telling me that –

My granddaughter was giggling.

G: Gosh Grampy, you’re being dense.

A: But what about the End Times? What about your Son coming to-

G: To kick butt and take names Grampy? What for?

A: Because of evil! Because of the war in Heaven! You and Satan are-

Granddaughter giggles again impishly.
G: You know I’m asleep 150 miles away but even I know that Satan is only a nightmare.

Adversarially Yours

A: A nightmare? Surely you know how many people have been killed because of Satan?

Young Adam smiled and took my paperweight in his hand, eyeing it with one eye.

G: Surely I know how many people have been killed because of someone else’s nightmare.

A: Is Satan real?

G: Only in the Left Behind novels.

rapture2

A: Okay, so now I’m talking to David the body-builder. You were there at the start! What about the serpent in Eden.

G: A snake. Nothing more, nothing less.

A: But he made Eve ruin everything.

That brought out the old lady again.
G: You men are such twits! Eve watched the snake as she watched all things in the garden. One day, watching the snake shed its skin and not die, she figured it out. Told Adam what she learned from the snake. They took the next step together, knowing what they were doing.

Adam the twit passed the story on … but you know how gossip grows. Years later – by the time the patriarchs took over – the story changed to a talking snake, guilty women and innocent men. Fixed in place by dullards.

She gestured to the morning light coming through the window and I knew it was time.

A: We’re about through aren’t we?

G: Yes we are.

A: They won’t believe it.

G: Well, Junior, whether they believe it or not, God is not coming to their rescue, God is not going to justify what they say or what they do and God is not going to punish their enemies or reward their self-righteousness.

A: You mean you’re just going to let –

G: I mean, sonny that humans have gotten into and out of messes for millennia without my meddling. It’s your world. It was built for you to nourish, not to treat like a rental.

A: Meddling? Aren’t you interested? Don’t you care?

G: Does a parent care for the children? Does an artist care for the creation? Oh you betcha I care young man!

She stood and moved toward the door.
G: But I may have to meddle just a little bit if things get worse.
A: And if they do?

She smiled and shrugged.

And then the body-builder was eyeing me and wiggling his pectorals.
G: I might just have to appear as you see me now, kick a few butts and take a few names. Tell them to take care about what they say and do in my name.

covjesus2

Fer all yew fundamentalists: Beelzebubba Ain’t Makin Ya Do It!

Whys Everybody Always Pickin On Me

Why’s Everybody Always Pickin On Me?

In the culture of my upbringing and in later life my dragging around, Mormon beliefs about this fellow Satan are quite specific. Satan is the villain in the LDS drama theology. Without this eternal Oil Can Harry, a lot of what is offered in the name of good versus evil would have much less substance.

However, Mormons are not unique in bearing a literal-minded acceptance of an belief in the reality of Satan, known elsewhere as Lucifer among other handles. I use the Mormon sample because that is the Satan in whom I sustained a literal belief for half my adult life.

There’s the official LDS PR statement about Satan/Lucifer – buttressed as usual by literalistic scripture reading:
Answering Media Questions About Jesus and Satan

This statement has been expanded since it was originally released on 12 December 2007.

Like other Christians, we worship Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God. Satan is a fallen angel, diametrically opposite from Christ in every attribute.

As the prophet Isaiah wrote, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”

The Apostle Paul wrote that God is the Father of all. This means that all intelligent beings were created by God and are His spirit children.

Jesus Christ represents all that is good, true, virtuous, merciful, just and godly.

Lucifer is the adversary of everything that Christ stands for. He embodies all that is evil, false, immoral, and devoid of any trace ofgoodness or divine light.

He is the enemy of God and of every human being who seeks to follow Christ.

There’s an endless roster of ecclesiastic sermonizing against Oil Can Harry. Some of the more recent, and mind you, these are verbally dispensed with few if any smiles, in an almost funereal gravity and in full assertion that Harry is no laughing matter.

O That Cunning Plan of the Evil One – Apostle Ballard

Withstand Every Temptation of the Devil – W. Rolfe Kerr

Satan’s Bag of Snipes – Richard C. Edgely

Dare to Stand Alone – President Thomas S.
Monson

From my perspective, a case could be made that Satan is the biggest myth – not only of Mormon theology, but across the entirety of atonement-based Christianity.

However … and if I must start my “however” with holy scripture, I could begin with that trouble maker that God authorizes in Job … and I can see mischief in the tradition of other points of view.

To wit …Them pesky Pagans and their more grown-up and believable evaluation of resistance, temptation, allure and mark-missing. (Notice, “mark-missing” is my mistake-descriptor of choice. I do not believe in “sin.”) …
Wow.
Wouldn’t it be hard to be terrified and wary from someone whose actions and motivations are better explained and understood, and accurately compared to Lex Luthor, Oil Can Harry, Captain Hook and the Gremlins?
And this from what I consider to be a superior class of mythology upon which to base a reverence to reality system of belief.
There ya have it.
So here’s my guy … and as my current tactic for internally responding in my own knee-jerk way to the tossing around of the Satan/Devil/Evil-One like ketchup and mustard at a barbecue.
The following is the internal image I cultivate every time some sober-faced or tear-stained testifier preaches about The So-Called Adversary:
 

Sunday: Tell a child that Heaven is church 24-7 and

that child might be able to describe somewhere else for you.

Churching Around

6:00 a.m. this Sunday morning and its raining, the street is still dark and Jake needs to go on his morning walk. Too wet to bring my kindle for entertainment while Jake sniffs his way down the street slowly dragging from spot to spot, from bush to bush, from tree to tree.

I think about what my Sundays looked like when I was but a boy in Caribou County and the mountains of Southeastern Idaho … Mormon Country.

We were a farming community. But we didn’t ride around in buggies, and – although there were occasional beards and women dressed like they’d stepped out of a rural 19th-century movie set, I suppose we could have been transported to any rural American agricultural setting and presented no obvious or stand-out difference.

Here, take a virtual tour of what it looks like now

I remember Sundays when mostly farmers and a few of us city clickers attended church.

By the time I was 12 years old, I would get up around seven, go out on the porch and retrieve the Sunday edition of the Salt Lake Tribune, lay on the floor with my feet resting against the heat vent from the coal furnace in the basement, throw aside the front page and all that world and national stuff and open the second section.

I’d start with the comics and end with the sports section. About 8:30 I’d drag myself to the bedroom and put on my dress clothes for the Church two blocks away.

The whole town was essentially a 4-block by 5-block square with a bunch of houses additionally across the tracks.

Main street, which was 4 blocks long, handled our business section where you could find a drug store on the corner next to the highway (U.S. Highway 30 which ran from Omaha to Portland), the Post Office, Arts Billiards (my grandpa’s pool hall), Sanders Furniture, Keith Mabey’s electrician business, the Barber Shop and then an open field with a raised bank all the way around that would hold the water in the winter long enough to freeze and create our ice pond fer skating.

Across the street you had my Dad’s service station (Utoco Gas), a big fat tractor implement store, an empty second tavern, my Uncle Gene’s grocery store (he and Aunt Elnora lived above it, Howard’s Cafe, the Court House,

Court House/City Hall

the Jenkins apartments, the IGA grocery store, the Call Lumber Yard, the theater and that was it. The school maintenance garage was on the same side of the street but on the next block.

At the end of Main on the west side there was the combination grade school-junior high-high school building entitled the North Gem (North end of the Gem Valley) school district.

Across the street from the school sat the LDS church building. That’s where I’d go after reading the Sunday paper and wishing I could drink coffee with cream and sugar like Mom and Dad.

I’d put on my go-to-meeting duds and walk the two blocks to the church.

Church started at 9:00 a.m. sharp with Priesthood Meeting – the men’s stuff. We’d gather in the chapel, sing a hymn, listen to a prayer, do something of a business/agenda ritual and separate into classes. Mine was the Deacons’ quorum where us boys sat through the first of our two Sunday classes.

A guy taught us something religious that had to do with one of the 4 Mormon scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants or Pearl of Great Price.) There was a lot of the sort of wordage that – in any community of that type- gets tossed around like ketchup and mustard at a barbecue:

the Lord, … the Gospel, … the Truth (or true church) …righteousness … faithfulness … and so forth.

Them lessons were more or less okay if you took into account that I had to be there … and if the lessons included stories.

I didn’t care what kind of stories, if they included stories my mind would sort of unleash itself and I’d walk into and inside the world of whatever story they were telling as they narrated their way through their god-talk points.

Anyway … after the hour of Priesthood meeting was my favorite half hour of the day. We boys (at least those boys packing the necessary quarter) had a half hour before Sunday School and would walk the two blocks north on Main to Ma Howard’s Cafe. Fer 10 cents ya got yer RC cola and fer the remaining 15 cents yer Hostess fried pie. I preferred the apple or cherry most of the time.

But we had to be back by 10:00 case that’s when Sunday School started. By this time the chapel was full of folks – men, women and children. I usually sat in the pews in the south-eastern corner of the chapel where the sacrament (communion for you non Mormons) table was located. Sunday School consisted of opening exercises with the usual hymn, prayer, announcements and other business. Then came a second hymn (a sacrament hymn) while older teens at the sacrament table got up and broke slices of bread into little chunks captured on trays with handles. The row of bread trays were in front of a row of trays holding little paper cups about the size of your thumb and that contained water.

Such constituted the LDS communion of bread and water (Mormons a long time ago dropped communal wine and substituted water.) After the song and the bread was broken, one of them older boys read a set sacrament prayer over the bread and stood patiently while us younger Deacons came forth to be handed one of the trays of broken bread which we would then in organized manner (almost like jets in flying formation) spread out and passed the bread to the congregation.

I was good with that except maybe when I had to hand the tray to a row where some old guy was already asleep or some buxomy woman was nursing a baby and I’d get confused about my priorities.

After the broken bread we returned to formation and returned the bread trays, exchanging them for the trays with the little water cups sitting in small slotted holes so they wouldn’t tip over. After a set prayer on the water, we then went through the same procedure as before.

Afterward was the Sunday School program which included a youth speaker for what was called a 2-and-a- half-minute talk, followed by other speakers and hymn singing. I remember as a youngster giving a 2-and-a- half-minute talk about the entire history of Christmas and completing the job in only 45 seconds. I didn’t know what to say for the remaining 105 seconds so I sheepishly sat back down.

After the opening exercises we all retired to our separate classes and I sat through the second of my obligatory Sunday classes which this time included us 12-14-year-olds but also with girls of the same age. I don’t remember sitting with them girls at that age. Us boys mostly stuck together unless one of our elders (like Grandma) told us we had to sit next to a visiting cousin even if she was a girl.

When I was younger (maybe 8 or 9), I got uppity in a Sunday school class which was being taught by the Bishop’s wife. She lost her patience with me and smacked me on the head with her Book of Mormon. Then she started crying and hugging me and apologizing. I wasn’t even indignant, mostly embarrassed and hoping she wouldn’t tell Grandma about my uppityness.

Well, around 11:45 a.m. the whole dang torture session came to a merciful end and we were released to go home. The rest of Sunday was mine for kid stuff which included outdoor games and exploring in the summer and un-micro-managed indoor stuff where Mom just wanted us to stay out of her way.

Often we’d go for Sunday drives where Dad would take us usually to Lava Hot Springs, stopping at Mike’s Tavern about half way for a beer or two while Mom smoldered in the car and we kids were hoping for a 7-Up or Hershey bar. Then we’d go to Lava where there were possibilities of swimming and stuff.

On the days when we weren’t out of town, the whole dang churchiness stuff started up again around 7:30 p.m. where we all gathered at the church for Sacrament Meeting. After the usuals, we’d go through the Sacrament bread and water routine and then settle in for the endurance ritual.

Usually three speakers for the next hour or so and boy, did those subjects ever get boring! Especially on hot summer nights. This was what separated the old men and the boys from the younger adults. Us young’uns and old guys could more or less fall asleep and get away with it. But the prime-aged adults didn’t dare cause they were supposed to be the examples, or in some cases they might be preparing themselves for future calls (opportunities) to leadership jobs and needed to look sharp, alert and attentive at all times.

So sleeping on a hot Sunday evening was a risk we had to take. Reminds me of a couple of stories with which I’ll end my reminiscences about Sundays.

These are apocryphal or anecdotal or whatever you call them. Mebbe they happened and mebbe they didn’t … but they COULD have.

#1

Brother Brown was visiting the ward (what we called our congregations) as a Stake High Councilman and when they came, Oh Boy! Could be what seemed an hour for his talk alone and the subjects were usually the most boring.

Anyway, it seems that Brother Brown fell asleep during the Sacrament Meeting preludial activities before his talk. When it was time, the Bishop stood up and said solemnly,

“We will now be favored with a talk from our Visiting High Councilman, Brother Brown.”

Only thing … Brother Brown had fallen asleep.

Bishop looked flustered …. “Brother Brown?”

Then more flustered and sort of louder, “Brother BROWN!”

Brother Brown woke with a start and … lost and confused … (of course he was) … groggily stood, walked to the dais, and said the closing prayer.

#2

The Sleepy Deacon

It seems that on an especially hot summer evening during Sacrament Meeting, the Deacon assigned to sit toward the front by the sacrament table and do the Bishop’s bidding … you guessed it … fell asleep.

The chapel was full … you know, Standing Room Only.

Suddenly the doors at the back of the chapel opened and in walked the Stake Presidency, (the three most important men in the Stake, which is like a diocese – you know, a bunch of wards.) Well, the Bishop sprang into action, using hand gestures to get the attention of the errand-Deacon who was asleep.

Eventually, half-groggy, the Deacon closed his mouth, looked around self-consciously, and saw the Bishop making frantic hand gestures at him. The Deacon’s expression became quizzical …

The Bishop surreptitiously pointed to the back of the chapel where the three important dudes were standing, and silently mouthed the words “STAKE PRESIDENCY!” , apparently thinking the Deacon could read his mind.

The Deacon entered into the word-mouthing game.

“SO?””

The Bishop’s eyes flared with agitation.

“THREE CHAIRS!! FOR THE STAKE PRESIDENCY!!”

The Deacon got a look of total confusion and nervous reluctance.

“ME?”

The Bishop moving toward frantic-ness.

“YES YOU!!!”

Terrified, the Deacon responded.

“NOW??”

The bishop in his most authoritative expression of order-giving almost shouted what he growled in silence.

“YES!!!”

So the awakened, confused, somewhat terrified but courageous young Deacon stood up and shouted out loud …

“RAH, RAH RAH!!! STAKE PRESIDENCY!!!”

Ah … Sundays in the good old days.