Latter-day Saints have been told by their leaders they can hold services in their homes during the pandemic. It’s been over a month now since I set foot in an actual church. Time for a report.
Being home-churched isn’t nearly as fun as I had hoped. I miss my friends and fellow congregants Liv, Ethan, Aspen, Ryan, Eden, Ryleigh, Danny Boy, etc. Church just isn’t the same without my “kids.”
I’m not complaining, but there is an element of risk to it. While home churching may be a health measure for us, it might not be such a great idea for the church. Once the convenience of home worship takes hold in the minds of members, we just might need fewer chapels.
See, there are distinct advantages to home worshipping. No more getting dressed up. No more stuffing kids into their Sunday best, or hunting for their shoes in the yard. Best of all, no more folding chairs.
This is not my first home-church rodeo. The Old Man was in the Air Force, and we were among the first military families sent to Spain in 1958. There weren’t that many American military families when we arrived and even fewer who were Mormon.
When we finally connected with another Latter-day Saint family, someone — it wasn’t me — came up with the idea of holding church in our apartments. I was only 5 or 6, but even then partaking of Communion was mildly disturbing when it was a sip of water from a large cup.
Also, I didn’t particularly care for the fact that the guy conducting the ersatz sacrament meeting could reach over and smack me for snickering about the body of Christ being a hot dog bun.
But there were some good things about home church, including being able to ride a tricycle down the hall to Sunday school and the availability of a refrigerator.
Asking the teacher (Mom or Sister Braden) if I could use the bathroom was convenient as long as the Sunday school president (the Old Man or Brother Braden) didn’t catch me eating Frosted Flakes in the kitchen instead.
Not much has changed in the 60-plus years since I was last home-churched. Nowadays, I spend Sunday services listening to old General Conference talks while sharpening knives, reading a novel or eating some jerky. Occasionally, I fall asleep in the middle of someone talking.
You can argue this isn’t true worship, but it’s exactly what I do when I’m at real church. Ask anyone who sits near me. Also, since I’m now doing it at home, it’s none of your business.
And therein lies the real benefit of being home-churched — it’s between you and your creator. There’s none of this measuring up to everyone else’s standards.
But it can get lonely. I’m the only Mormon in my house, so being home-churched is the same as being self-churched. And that’s bad when the bishop, the Relief Society, the Sunday school and priesthood meeting are all crammed into one brain.
No one knows how it will shake out. There are millions of Latter-day Saints being home-churched right now. This pandemic better let up soon or we’re going to have millions of new churches.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.