I’ll confess to a certain amount of disappointment in the reorganization of the Mormon First Presidency last week. It was not what I was hoping for.
I was hoping for some invigorating youthful faces (including some of color) in President Russell M. Nelson’s choice of counselors. Instead, he dropped the only alternative we had from Utah-based Mormonism — Elder Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf.
As you might surmise from his name, Uchtdorf is not from these parts. And before you say, “yeah, we know, he’s German,” he’s technically Czechoslovakian. Or at least that’s where he was born.
My friends’ opinions on the new presidency range from those completely supportive of “Heavenly Father’s will” to “what the #$%%@ just happened?” all the way over to “I can’t bring myself to care.”
Now that the deal is done, my disappointment is fading. I’m right back where I was before the change: finding ways to entertain myself in church when it gets boring. Which happens a lot.
Please don’t try to tell me that you’ve never been bored sitting in church. You’re either a liar or some freak of nature.
Some people endure boredom well. I’m not one of them. In fact, I don’t endure it at all. So it’s on me to find ways to keep my spirits up while at the same time not ruining the worship experience for everyone around me.
Sometimes I read. Currently, I’m in the middle of “The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot,” by Bart D. Ehrman, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It’s good. Look it up.
Sometimes I listen to music (with earbuds, of course) as a way of perking myself up spiritually — blues mainly, but also some Celtic stuff.
I try not to listen to music too much because I’m old and hard of hearing. I worry that I’ll have to crank the volume to the point that it interferes with those sitting nearby.
Besides, my absolute favorite method of church boredom alleviation is what I call “shark chumming.”
I’m not the only one who has a hard time paying attention in sacrament meeting. Children — and there are a lot of those in a Mormon ward — also get restless. They scream and scuffle and throw things.
What I do is stick a wrapped Starburst candy onto my forehead and pretend it isn’t there. It usually takes about 30 seconds before some 3-year-old slips away from his family to come and stand in front of me, staring up at my hairline.
He knows something’s not right, but would it be dangerous for him to point it out? Invariably, hope overcomes hesitancy. He points a drool-covered finger and I lean down.
The Starburst is plucked off my forehead. Then the sharks start to school, finding some reason to wander past where Brother Kirby is handing out anti-boredom meds.
I’ve been shark chumming in church for years. It could be argued that this is inappropriate and detracts from the spirit of the meeting. Not that it would make me stop.
In reality, it’s just my attempt to influence the church. Years from now, long after you and I are dead, it’s possible that one of these snot monsters will be called into the church’s upper echelons.
Old, wrinkled and somewhat dim by then, an apostle or prophet will sit and ponder the effects of the gospel, wondering why it is that church hymns always cause him (or her) to salivate.