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Mormon fast and testimony meeting is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get

Robert Kirby

Robert Kirby is busy, busy, busy. So don’t bug him, bug him, bug him. This is a reprint of a previous column:

It was fast and testimony meeting in my ward last Sunday, as it was in every other Mormon ward, branch and huddle in the entire world.

For those unfamiliar with Mormon ways, the first Sunday of every month is usually open-mic time. Instead of a sermon or talks, members of the congregation get up as the mood suits them and offer their completely uncorrelated testimonies on, well, anything.

The generally accepted theme of a testimony is what the gospel means to the speaker. Most of the time, that’s what happens. Occasionally, though, we get official reminders that it should really have something to do with the Lord.

In my 50-plus years as a Mormon, I’ve heard testimonies on subjects ranging from time travel to Republicanism. I’ve endured movie re-ratings, medical reports, postgame analyses, book reviews, meandering travelogues, and testimonies so overwrought that the subject was anyone’s guess.

Sunday was the usual mix in the Rosecrest First Ward — some adults, more kids and a couple of heartfelt ramblings that actually registered on me way in the back of the cultural hall. All in all, your standard F&T meeting: generally germane and everyone who wanted to get up got up.

Truthfully, I don’t mind F&T meetings. It’s a great way to learn about members of the congregation, in some cases way more than you ever wanted to know. Not every testimony is going to be meant for you or even one you particularly wanted to sit through, but then what is?

It wasn’t always that way. When I was a kid, F&T meeting was death. It lasted forever because only adults did it. Rare was the kid with the guts to approach the microphone. Those who did generally seized up before uttering a word. There was none of this modern verbatim repetition of what the previous 26 kids said.

Invariably the ward coot would get up and squander every molecule of oxygen in the chapel holding forth on some vague bit of church trivia such as what Kolob looked like, the lineage of Jehoshaphat or the correct recipe for sacrament bread.

For a kid, this was awful. Minutes became years. Your butt felt as if it were growing roots. Long before Einstein came up with his theory of relativity, Mormons were stretching time with F&T meetings.

When it was time, my neighbor Clyde closed out the meeting. Commenting on the unusual number of high priests who had borne their testimonies, he said surely those who hadn’t were now wishing they had.

“The hell we are,” I thought.

Don’t bother with the emails. I’m aware that this was entirely inappropriate. Apparently it was also out loud because everyone sitting around me turned red and looked away.

I need to be more careful with my testimony.

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