Part 9: To church we all wander happily

Sunday. Fine day, Sunday. Why? No idea, it really isn’t that great, come to think of it. But it was my first day of church. Of Mormon Church. It was that first-day-of-school feeling all over again. David had called me the other night, asking if I needed a lift to the church. I certainly didn’t mind it, so he would come to pick me up at 9:45 AM. I woke up early. I had to mentally prepare for what was to come. As well as physically. Putting on a monkey suit was mandatory. And it would take time. I rarely dress that way, so especially putting on a tie can take some time. I tell you though, it felt good to throw on a suit and tie, and polish my shoes and shave my beard extra neatly. Maybe I should have gone out to look for a hookup instead. See, the thing is that a hookup actually DOES require you to look nice. If god wanted us to look the way we do in church he would’ve created a suit skin for us.

I needed a hot beverage. What to do? Coffee and tea are off limits! As if. I made myself some tea and toast. I know, totally badass. I sat down to enjoy that mellow feeling that comes with a boring Sunday. And with non-boring Sundays. I took a bite of my toast and sipped on my tea, feeling the sin run down my throat. Aah, sweet sin. Good thing Jesus died for my sins, otherwise I would’ve been properly fucked.

At 9:45 AM I went outside, and there was a car waiting for me. David stepped out of the backseat and held the door open for me. Apparently the car was full and I got to sit in the middle of the backseat. Inside I met his parents, and his little brother. All nice people. During the ride to the church I got the same questions I had already answered a million times before. About how I had gotten in contact with the church and things like that. They also were intrigued by the fact that it was their relative Sarah who had been the one I first came in contact with. Of course they also asked me about my general life.

Finally we arrived at the church. The church had a doorman who opened the door for us. Inside the church there were a lot of people. Let me tell you something about the church. It really wasn’t a church in the conventional sense. A church usually focuses on the mass hall, with benches and an altar. The Mormon Church was so much more. It was a two-story building, one of which stretched underground. There were lots of smaller rooms around the place. Then they had a gymnasium. I kid you not; they had their own gymnasium, perfect for basketball and other sports.

I met the missionaries in the greeting hall. They asked me if I wanted to come and sit with them, but I told them I was probably going to be sitting with David. I also met the Stengers, and of course a lot of other Mormons interested in this newcomer they hadn’t seen before. After mingling for a while we went to the mass hall. I sat down with David. I knew what was ahead of me. One hour of mass, a one-hour teaching session, and a one-hour meeting. Three hours. Three hours is quite extensive. And here I sat, by my own will. I think I was going crazy. Well, at least I’d fit right in.

The mass was interesting. It was so unlike anything I’ve experienced in church so far. There was no priest to my astonishment, but many individual members of the church who held different sermons. When it came to communion, we didn’t stand up and walk to the altar, but the bread and water was delivered to us. Yeah, that’s right, I said water. I must have missed that part in the Bible where Jesus said “take this water and drink, for it is my blood”. At least it was decent bread, and not a wafer. The bread had been torn in smaller pieces and the water came in small, plastic glasses. We were talking tiny, puny. Smaller than a shot glass. I ate the bread and drank the water. Soon I realized that people around me were bowing their heads in silence and kind of soaking in the moment. So I followed their example. I felt quite silly. But more importantly I felt tired. This silence and trying to feel a higher power made me all drowsy. Fortunately the mass soon continued. Rest of the mass wasn’t really anything out of the ordinary. We listened to how great god was, and sang hymns. About the hymns though, they were Mormon hymns. I had never heard or sang them before. It’s a good thing I knew how to read notes, otherwise I would’ve been completely out.

After mass there was a small recess, after which it was time for the teaching session. Apparently I could quite freely choose which session to attend, since people asked me to join them left and right. But I went with David, since I’m such an awkward creep that I can’t be in a room with complete strangers. It was a small and comfortable room, with its own refrigerator.

The teaching sessions are about one member of the church choosing a topic from a textbook-like book, and then teaching about it. It felt like Junior High in a sense. The text in the book was simple and well-summarized. David was the one who would be teaching us, and had chosen to teach about prophets. He asked each of us to read a small portion of the text, and then we discussed what we had read. I started wondering that if the book had a little over 20 chapters and they had these sessions every Sunday, then wouldn’t it mean that a subject would be dealt with twice a year, year after year? What was the true purpose of these sessions?

We talked about the current living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and about all other prophets; who they were, what they did, what the real purpose of prophets were. They’ve had a living prophet since the time of Joseph Smith. One guy who claims to be in direct contact with god himself. Well, then we at least know there is one Mormon out there who knows the church is bullshit. But hey, you get money. For huge amounts of money I’d dress up as a duck and spread the duck religion and claim to be in direct contact with our duck overlord, not caring about the validity of what I teach. I wondered about how these prophets were chosen, because god himself is too lazy to appoint one directly. Maybe they had some highly spiritual way of determining the next prophet, something no mortal could understand. Like “eenie, meenie, minie, moe” or “one potato, two potato”.

One elderly woman approached me after the session. Her name was Marie and she wanted to tell me how great it was that I was interested in founding out the truth about our reality. She told me about an upcoming fair. It was the “Food, science and literature fair of Dis”. She said the Mormons would be there for a couple of hours representing their church in an own booth, and asked if I was interested to come there. It actually did sound very interesting, and since she said she’d leave an envelope with a ticket at the side entrance, I could go that way and not have to pay anything. Oh, happy day!

After the teaching session it was time for a meeting. The meetings were divided by age and sex. The women mainly had the task of taking care of children, and I went with the young adult males (18-30 years old) to the gymnasium and behind the stage. This meeting was… well a bit different than the teaching session, but there was something similar. One person spoke, and we held discussions about a subject: patience. Well my patience was running out, I’ll tell you that much. It felt like a boring lecture at the university. I was glancing at the clock like every 30 seconds. Just think, to be a Mormon. Three hours of all of this every freakin’ Sunday. No way, Jose. I’d end up killing myself. Then I’d at least end up in heaven and get to chill with G-man and J-man. Come to think of it, if heaven is like so great and an ultimate place without suffering, why not just kill yourself? Why does god put as through this odd test of dwelling on the earth if he already knows which of us are going to pass through the test with flying numbers? Life is like a very odd appendix to the eternity of bliss in heaven. And if heaven is so great, why do believers pray to their god to not end their life suddenly anytime in the near future? Why do they cry at funerals?

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