of 52 -
So far have traveled about 57,000,000 miles.
Thoughts during week before visit:
Thinking about what I said in last week's report about the Mormon’s "common" belief with the Jehovah's witnesses, I think there is an important difference in the weight the belief is given.
Among the Jehovah's Witnesses - in my ten or so visits 50 years ago - and my visit last week - this doctrine is the subject of the talk every single Sunday. The talk is always about why they are right and everybody else is wrong. Mormons have the same belief - but it is not given nearly so much attention. At least they can go to church and hear talks on a thousand subjects - how to have happy families - or how to have healthier bodies, etc. I'm sure the Witnesses do this also - but not in their main religious meeting - that one is only about being right while everyone else is wrong.
Anyway - you may rest assured - there is no danger of Chuck Borough becoming a Jehovah's Witness. In discussion, they accused me of "condemning God." I said, "No - not condemning God - condemning beliefs about Him that make of Him an evil god. There is no such god as that, and if there were, rather than worship him, we would be wise to hate him." I will meet many people this year who believe God is evil, by the actions they describe Him as doing, and yet define Him as Good by definition – because someone said so.
going to visit
I know someone whose daughter was married there - and they said it was so beautiful - and they were so glad they hadn't decided to marry at the Mormon Church - where "civil" marriage is usually criticized right in the ceremony - and the whole thing seems not a celebration. The four of our children who have married, have done so in the temple. If one of my children were marrying - but not in the temple - I think I would advise them to avoid the Mormon Church for the ceremony. Go to a place where people will feel it is the most beautiful thing they have ever seen - and the ladies cry, etc. And walk down the aisle with big big organ music - and pomp and the call to commitment with support - and no advice that something is wrong with the way they are doing it. The knowledge that they are making their lifelong commitment this way because they have been found unworthy of the correct way - is damaging to the process. Some people are very much in love and committed - who have found themselves a little too close to each other before they married. If they belong to each other, (not promiscuous) - then it is still beautiful - and their love and commitment need to be fully and enthusiastically acknowledged.
What will I find here? These single visits, I know, give only a cursory glance - but I can get a flavor.
Well - this was a pleasant surprise. This is a very positive, upbeat, prepared, and enthusiastic group of people. It is not hard to see why they have become so successful and popular.
This was easily (slam dunk) the best Sunday meeting I have ever attended in my life.
They appear to have a "bottoms up" way of doing things. There is no high-up person who has decided that my daughter's saxophone is not as acceptable as his daughter's violin.
There were two clarinets - three trumpets - a trombone - three violins - one viola - one cello - and even a tuba - and an alto saxophone - (can be such an expressive instrument - almost like the voice.) - plus big-sound pipe organ and piano - and a hundred part choir.
The meeting began with music - no announcements - not even of each element that was coming up - just bang bang bang it went. The words were projected large on two screens at the front - everyone looking up - no one looking down into a book. Everyone sang with impressive enthusiasm - a couple of hymns that would be familiar to us - with all that accompaniment!
Then after all this wonderful music - everyone on the stage left the stage and took regular seats. The stage then had only the music director - who led us in the singing of one verse of several hymns - with no accompaniment at all - and the harmony was almost like a Tabernacle Choir. I sang loudly - and did not stick out.
Then the music director stepped down - and the minister (young man with a mustache) stepped up - but began talking in the aisle. First he said that while we greeted those around us - we could look at the topic in the program. If we didn’t like the topic - we might want to sneak out. There was lots of laughter throughout the talk. His topic was passion in our marriages - using Song of Solomon as text to draw from. (Joseph Smith said we could take Song of Solomon out of the Bible and not really lose anything.)
He started by talking of a picnic - wherein an alligator came out of the lake - and promptly bit off the arm of one of the people - and returned to the lake. They immediately gave attention to the poor guy who had just lost his arm - and ambulance came - and took him away. Then they quietly returned to their picnic lunch, as if nothing had happened. A visitor among them said, "What is going on? Did I just see an alligator bite off one of your friends arms? And you are going on about your business as if nothing had happened?
A man there took this visitor aside and whispered, "In our society, it is not polite or acceptable to talk about alligators."
There are those among you who have lost the passion in your marriage. It is important enough to talk about openly. Wouldn't you like to have it back?
Then he proceeded to talk about the elements that make passion grow and prosper - mostly about talking to each other. Using Song of Solomon, he advised, "Tell her she has beautiful breasts. Why do you think this example is in the Bible?"
"Don't be abusive - don’t tell her she's fat. I have never seen a bride that was not beautiful. (I've seen a few grooms.) However old you are now - she's still your bride - and you should be interested in having passion with her. And ladies - do not abuse your husbands by belittling their attempts. That man is still your groom."
It was about a half-hour talk - lots of laughter - and lots of silent spots where people were impressed to think about their marriages. "Men - have you ever done this?" (describing a negative action that most of us have done.) "Ladies - have you ever done this?" (describing another action most of the ladies had probably done.) These things are abusive. Learn not to do them - and replace them with positive statements to your partner about his or her attractiveness to you. Passion comes from security and talk. How she feels about herself is the most important thing for you men to understand and use.
"Now you young people - TV, radio - the internet - all around you - people are telling you that you are unusual or even weird if you save sex for when you are married. I want you to know that these are Lies From The PIT of Hell. Nothing is more beautiful than this love saved for the one you will be committed to all your life."
The music - the handling of the topic - the enthusiasm and emphasis on beauty without tops-down restrictions - All this made it obvious why my friend's daughter's wedding was handled so beautifully.
Last was the sacrament. The minister said, "We need twelve men." Twelve came up to take one sacrament tray each. There was no prayer - and not much explanation - except to notify visitors that all who accept Christ are invited to partake - and that the emblems (tiny hard crackers and little cups) were in each tray together and would be passed to everyone.
When it got to me, I took one of the crackers and put it in my mouth - and then picked up the little cup. Only then did I notice that I was the only one who had put the cracker in my mouth. (Woops.)
They waited until everyone had both a cracker and a cup - and then came the meaning of the emblems - after talking about the broken bread, all took the bread at once together. (That's with the exception of I, who had already eaten mine.) Then talk of the wine and it's meaning - and all took the cup together. We had held the cup before this for some time as it was being passed to all the others. Looking down on the red color had a pretty strong symbolic personality. It was grape juice.
And this was the end - we were excused.
The lady sitting next to me was talking quite a bit to me during the service - to explain what to do - what each thing meant, etc. After the meeting, she asked what I had thought of it.
I told her that the service was breathtakingly beautiful - and that I was now interested in some of what they believe. She wanted to know what I meant - so I hit her with a pound or two of it. (Poor lady.)
"Well - you see - the Church in which I grew up - teaches some things about God that are uncomfortable to me."
"Well - What? - can you tell me some things?"
- they teach that God sent an angel down to kill all the firstborn of
She was silent - and, of course, I knew these people believe the same rotten stuff. That was unfair of me - I should have waited to talk with the minister. I am a little over-stimulated in all this.
I'm afraid it will be difficult to find any full-blown Christian religion (You know - not counting Unity - or Christian Science), which does not believe these things of God. This is only the fifth visit - I have 47 more to go - so who knows what I will learn. This one was a surprise - I had heard they had a bit of a mean spirit. If so, they are very good at hiding it. I never saw such a happy congregation. It's like every single one was on an upper.
Our good Bishop Denning told me that he thinks I will learn some interesting things on my trip - but probably not get basic important answers. I think I agree with that. I'm on a steep learning curve, though, I'm committed to see it through, and I will return to you a little wiser.
I love having the little contacts with different ones of you - and still feel loved at home. You will always be special people to me.
Let's get a little more bottoms-up stuff going on in the Church - don’t ask permission - just try something. If there's to be bottoms-up - you're it. Just arrange to have a musical number by Sister or Brother So-and-So - and then show up with your tenor sax to play "Love at Home." There are few people who will not love it. Before this tops-down wind instrument prejudice came about, my two little bothers and I played that song with clarinet, trombone, and sousaphone. Freddie was very small - and that sousaphone was very large - and it all began with laughter - before we played a single note. I was much taller - and had the clarinet.
05 of 52 - Trip Around The Sun – Emanuel Faith Community Church (Fundamentalist)