Robert Kirby is on vacation. Honestly, it’s hard to tell the difference from when he’s working. Anyway, this is a reprint of a 2006 column.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the services of another faith.
Can’t tell you which one. It’s a new congregation, and members asked me not to drive off potential worshippers by writing about them. Because I wanted to write about them, we compromised.
They let me stay, and I agreed to not mention them by name.
There wasn't much to report. Basically, 50 adults sat silently while one read from the Bible. It was so quiet that when a guy in front scratched his head, everyone looked around to see what all the fuss was about.
Paying attention in church is not my strong suit, so it took a minute to figure out what was wrong. The youngest member of the congregation was 30-something.
I mentioned the absence of children after the services and was told, “Yes, it’s so much more reverent without kids, don’t you think?”
Actually, no. I’m used to havoc in church. Your average Mormon can worship in the middle of a soccer riot. A fair amount of honking and hooting is necessary for me to feel reverent.
The ward I go to sounds like an orphanage on fire. I like it. Some of the other geezers don’t. They say all the noise makes it tough to hear what’s coming from the pulpit. I say, “Yeah.”
Reverence is relevant. When I was kid, though, it meant folding your arms. Primary and Sunday school teachers insisted that the Holy Ghost wouldn’t show up if everyone’s arms weren’t folded.
I’m not sure how that fits into the scheme of an omnipotent God. I tend to believe in one bossy enough to make the Spirit show up whenever he feels like it.
“Bow your heads and fold your arms,” we were told. We sat in class with folded arms. We walked to the chapel with folded arms. We folded our arms to pray.
The practice came in handy. For example, if I hollered “boohoo” too loudly in the middle of testimony meeting and got yanked out of the pew by the Old Man, I could actually fold my arms over my butt on the way out to the car.
Folding our arms had less to do with making us feel reverent than it did in keeping our hands to ourselves. It's almost impossible to pull a girl's hair or force a bug up another kid's nose if your arms are folded.
Eventually, I didn't have to fold my arms to behave myself. I got married. Then all it took was a look.
Apparently, they’re still teaching the folded-arms thing. Last week, I watched an entire line of 5-year-olds follow their teacher down the hall with their arms tucked into the Sunday school straitjacket.