Obviously you don't know your audience

So I realize that I tend to tell stories about the crazy people I run into at church. I don't want anyone to get the idea that all Mormons are crazy from these stories. The fact is that we're quite down-to-earth, reasonable people, which is why the weirdos tend to stick out and get remembered. Over at Mormon Mommy Wars, a discussion got started about crazy things people have seen happen at church, including the married couple who kissed 41 times during a 1-hour meeting, and the lady who hit a squirrel with her car on the way to church and put it in her pocket and took it to church with her. That post now has 180 comments.

I realize that there are nutters everywhere. It's just that in our church we invite them to get up in front of everyone and say what's on their mind. I refer specifically to the practice of Testimony Meetings. On the first Sunday of every month, members of the congregation are invited to come up to the front if they wish and spend a few minutes sharing their feelings about and testimony of Jesus Christ. This can be a wonderful, faith-affirming time for the people who share their testimonies and for the people who hear them.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees this as "testify of Christ" time, which is why we get things like these:

  • Roomate-imonies: "I just want to say how much I love my roommates, blah blah blah." Dude. Tell them, don't tell me.
  • Confessionals
  • Political/social soapboxes
  • Bragging sessions
  • Travelogues
  • Calls to repentance
  • Inspirational (read: crap) stories that they think are true but which totally came from Internet forwards, like the one about Mel Gibson being The Man Who Had No Face. No lie, someone used that one once.

If anyone starts saying anything really crazy then the Bishop can get up and kindly escort them down, but I've never actually seen that happen.


Tiffany said... [reply]

Google for the song "A Few of the Testimonies". I'm sure you'll be able to relate.

TheMoncurs said... [reply]

That post over at Mormon Mommy Wars is probably my most favorite blog post ever. I have been passing it around all week after I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

I almost feel kind of left out that my wards have been really normal. The only really weird testimony I've heard was in RS. We had a girl stand up and talk about how she was raped. AWKward...

Th. said... [reply]


Our first fast Sunday in Berkeley I had the privilege of hearing the f-bomb. Fortunately, the guy's accent was so heavy and he'd been going on so long, no one was quite sure what he had said.

But we did listen more closely to the rest of his "testimony" in case it happened again.

But no luck. It was all just about how much Bush sucks.


It's quite the accent.

(Note: Since then, Berkeley has not lived up to that initial suggestion of bizarrity. You might not know the word "bizarrity"; sorry if that makes you and all your readers feel stupid.)

Janssen said... [reply]

Wow! What a nutter. If he is thinking of running for political office, he might want to tweak his style.

Kip said... [reply]

I remember the Mel Gibson sacrament meeting. Sometimes I wish I had people to play testimony bingo with again. Sigh.

Usually Happy said... [reply]

That's hilarious!

My bishop asked someone to sit down once. It's because she was telling the story of how a miniture three foot Jesus appeared to her in a rainbow go-cart to give her advice about her sick cow.

Natalie said... [reply]

I love the tiny diety and the cow story!

Our ward had a lady tell us about how the three Nephites were behind her in the check out line at Food 4 Less and told her to buy canned salmon for her year supply. And then John the Beloved came to her while she was working in her yard, gave her roses he picked from a neighbor's bush, and told her she was beautiful.

She moved. I miss her.

kristen said... [reply]

We had a then nonmember get up and asked a young lady in the congregation to forgive him for making some moves on her on prom night. Awesome.

th.--I'm from the Bay Area; we call Berkeley, "Berserkly". Interesting place....

Tusk said... [reply]

I love the tiny diety and the cow story

Sounds like that woman should have her own TV show....
"The Tiny Deity and Rainbow Cow Cart Shooooow" (said in a japanese voice, of course)

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

Once Pres. Hinckley came to my ward (yes, that is me name-dropping), and it was testimony meeting, and she kept turning around to bear her testimony of him. "And I know that YOU, President Hinckley, are a prophet of God, and that YOU, President Hinckley, guide this church..." But you couldn't ever hear the part that was a testimony ("a prophet of God") because she was turned away from the microphone. So it was just "I know that YOU.... and I know that YOU...." The best part is that she didn't even go to my ward. She just came because she heard he was going to be there. Like a little Mormon paparazzi woman. I saw them taking pictures directly after the meeting. I wonder if she sold it on Ebay.

Azúcar said... [reply]

I despise being underestimated. That's why I would undertake it to pepper my conversation with the most intense and arcane vocabulary imaginable. If he wanted 'big' words, he'd get them. Make his head spin!

Azúcar said... [reply]

p.s. I have seen a bishop escort someone away from the stand. I think the lady was drunk. Pretty awesome.

Têtue said... [reply]

I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's always a mistake to give the general public access to a microphone.

I've actually told people who were interested in coming to church for the first time *not* to come on the first Sunday of the month lest they think we do that all the time. It is kind of weird if you step out of your Mormon shoes and really think about it...

Kelly said... [reply]

I wonder what it actually takes to get the bishop to ask someone to sit down? Maybe some bishops think testimony meeting should be a free-for-all.

We had a girl in my ward a couple of years ago who was honestly schizophrenic and who didn't take her meds the majority of the time. She would get up basically every testimony meeting and ramble on and on, moving from talking about some personal experience of someone offending her and having to forgive them, to talking about being named the number one high school student in America, to some sort of acceptance speech where she gave a shout out to Kanye West.

Some people laughed, some people were really uncomfortable. I think those would have been perfect opportunities for the bishop to quietly escort someone off the stand, but it never happened.

Cicada said... [reply]

The last time I was playing testimony bingo, my bingo partner turned to me and said, "Is it really too much to ask that people bear real, sincere testimonies? Oh! Did she just say 'fiber of my being!?' BINGO! I have a BINGO!"

I thought it was slightly hypocritical. But maybe I just felt that way because she got the BINGO first.

Scully said... [reply]

My Bishop has never asked anyone to sit down, but he did have to endure and testimony spoken directly at him, not the microphone, that made the first counselor blush. It went on for a long time and the congregation couldn't hear anything. Turns out this lady had hit another ward meeting earlier that day and had actually used the microphone and proceeded to regale the congregation with tales of her sexual abuse until the bishop of that ward politely suggested it would better to make an appointment with him. That same Sunday, in our Relief Society meeting, she got up AGAIN, and told the sisters she new this was the true church because after she joined it, she found a doctor that she liked and helped her lose weight. She could just not be stopped.

N.F. said... [reply]

I've just been thinking the same things....how people in my ward use Testimony meeting as their OWN PERSONAL TIME to thank everyone and their dog in the congregation. Irks me like none other.

I did hear a story in my ward, pretty recently, about a loon at the stand. I missed it that day, unfortunately, but he was a NUT, from what I heard afterwards.

Kind of makes me HYPER AWARE of when I share my testimony, because I focus (TRY TO) on sharing things that I KNOW ARE TRUE. Not my laundry list of X, Y and Z.

scienceteachermommy said... [reply]

I heard a member of our local stake presidency use an Internet forward story in a ward conference meeting. He made it sound like it happened to some students he knew at the local high school, but it was almost word for word from some cheezy thing my mother sent me off the internet.

You don't know weird until you have lived in a branch out in the bush in Australia. We NEVER invited people the first Sunday of the month.

chosha said... [reply]

We have one guy that gets up first every month and always include some long rambling story from his family history or about the good old days when our ward was just a tiny branch. It's mind-numbing. But generally testimony meeting in my current ward is pretty good and the ward in general is pretty sane. Most of the nutters I've come across were in the ward I grew up in. Fun times. :)

N.F. said... [reply]

Ooh! I just thought of another story! There is a lady in my ward, who EVERY FAST SUNDAY shares her testimony that includes the SAME THING EVERY MONTH. I can quote her, just like clockwork. She starts off, "Blah blah blah"...I'm grateful, and then she says, "I'm grateful for 2 missionaries who gave up 2 years of their life and knocked on my door....." EVERY DANG MONTH she says the same thing! Now, THAT is mind numbing!

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