Year of Sundays

Year of Sundays


What We Did on Our Summer Vacation, By Joel Gunz

posted by Joel Gunz

Though we haven't been writing about it, we've been attending church quite... religiously.

Whoosh! Where has the summer gone? Amanda and I have missed you, dear hot and sweaty reader, and you might be wondering what the hell happened to us the last few weeks as well. Let’s just chalk our hiatus up to a perfect storm of (1) belated summertime, (2) box wine and (3) bikinis on the beach, not to mention (4) gluttony. For punishment, that is. As in: “where should we attend church this week, baby?”

Over the next couple of days I’m going to recap how we spent the dog days of our summer Sundays. Here’s the first installment:

July 31: The Mormons: Maybe This Sunday Would Have Gone Better with Coke

When one of my best friends, a former Mormon (I’ll call him Norman), agreed to come along for the ride, I shouted, “Holy First Wife! This’ll be fun!” Here’s how it went.

You’ve caught them at your door, gaping at your see-through negligee and you’ve seen their presidential candidates with their sprayed-on hair. Hell, there’s a good chance you’ve caught the Tony Award-winning musical. But until you step into one of their church buildings, there’s no way you’ll get the full-on Mormon experience. Because it’s there that you get to enjoy their fine artwork:

Mullet Jesus and His 12 Honky Apostles

…and get to know them on their own turf:

"Elder" Mecham poses with Caucasian Jesus for a photo.

But first, let’s correct a little matter. “Mormon” and “Mormonism” is kindofa nickname. The real name of the church of Mitt Romney and Donny Osmond is the mouthfilling monicker “Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints.” Maybe that’s why they’re totally okay with being called Mormons.

Like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists and members of other offbeat religions, Mormons  are keenly sensitive to public perception and are eager to let you know how “normal” they actually are. One way they do this is by compiling lists of their more famous adherents, like this one:

Jim Backus (a.k.a.Thurston Howell III)

Ted Bundy (Serial killer)

Butch Cassidy (Outlaw)

David Archuleta (American Idol winner)

Ryan Benson (Biggest Loser winner)

Jack Dempsey (Heavyweight boxer)

Gladys Knight (No sh*t?!)

Glenn Beck (Broadcasshole)

Orson Scott Card (Novelist)

Stephanie Meyer (Vampirist)

Stephen R. Covey (Habitist)

Jon Heder (Dork)

Katherine Heigl (DILF)

Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Gay men’s choir)

We attended church on Pioneer Day, a special date in the LDS calendar that commemorates the day the original homesteading Mormons and their wives entered the Promised Land—or, at least, its brackish equivalent in Utah’s Salt Lake valley. If we’d been expecting covered wagons, lacy bonnets or a reenactment of the Miracle of the Seagulls, we would have been disappointed. But Norman had forewarned us that it would probably not be like that.

Instead, we watched a parade of lay preachers take their turn in 10-minute slots, leading the faithful in a discussion of what it means to be a pioneer. (Hint: it has nothing to do with trekking through mountain passes to risk starvation and/or subsequent cannibalism. Instead, it has everything to do with stepping out of your comfort zone to help the needy, or to resist temptations of the flesh, such as dry sex.)

We happened to attend a ward that still meets in an 80-year-old Mormon church with beautiful, high-flown, peaked ceilings in the auditorium (which we were not allowed to photograph) and elaborate brickwork on its exterior. Norman explained that newer churches tend to be more Plain Jane than this, which is true: their gaudy marble and gold leaf regional temples aside, most local Mormon church buildings look as if they had been designed by an American Girl picture book illustrator. But this church was lovely:

Just a side entrance.

The moralism was a little too much for me to take (I’ve concluded that conservative Christians are the most sex-obsessed people in the world), but other than that, the service was an ode to fairly middle-of-the-road Christian values. Though I wasn’t exactly challenged philosophically or spiritually, I can’t complain too much. But I do have a big beef. You might know that a highlight of any service for me is Communion. It’s a chance to get up, stretch my legs and get some free wine. What’s not to love?

But LDS? Not so much. For them, communion is brought around on silver trays that are passed among the congregants like collection plates. It consists of Wonder Bread (naturally enough) and paper fluoride cups of… WATER. 

Are you freaking kidding me?!

I know the Mormon creed forbids the use of alcohol, but the least they could do is serve Kool Aid.

Alex and Genoa relax after a hard day of sitting still.

Whitey Jesus Chats Up the Samaritan Woman at the Well.

Next up: The Quakers: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore




Advertisement
Comments read comments(5)
post a comment
Joel Gunz

posted September 11, 2011 at 2:05 am


It’s a-coming!



report abuse
 

Joel Gunz

posted September 11, 2011 at 2:05 am


Well put, Jane! I agree with you wholeheartedly that there’s a place for every religion. Even the wackier ones!



report abuse
 

rachel

posted September 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm


where’s the rest of the review?



report abuse
 

Jayne Dough

posted September 9, 2011 at 1:05 am


I read … I believe it was in Sunstone magazine … that the LDS church didn’t get the “revelation” from God that blacks were allowed in heaven until (something like) 1972… which, one would think, created a bit of a dilemma for the LDS when they converted lots of blacks into Mormonism during their missions.

(Equally surprisingly, those who were black but converted didn’t let the LDS’ pre-revelation about their equality deter their belief. Now that’s what I call a genuine convert!)

Therefore, it seems really interesting that Gladys Knight is LDS. I wonder if she converted before or after the LDS acknowledged her as an equally heaven-worthy person (vs. back when they still considered her skin pigment to represent the mark of Satan).

I find the LDS fascinating in numerous ways. If you happen to be straight, monogamous, and in no danger of becoming a solid feminist, and none of your relatives just happen to be pedophiles (no religion is exempt from having some), their strong sense of cherishing family and group loyalty must be a beautiful, supportive thing. Look at what happened to Elizabeth Smart: her resiliency was probably due mostly to knowing, in every fiber of her being, that she was loved. Dude, I didn’t get that.

I envy her & her LDS fellows that, but since I’m not straight and I am feminist, and don’t go in for the strong casting of in groups vs. out groups, I won’t be converting.

Yet and still, they fascinate me.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting A Year of Sundays page. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Religion 101 Fellowship of Saints and Sinners Happy Reading!!!

posted 8:38:43am Jul. 10, 2012 | read full post »

Gnock Gnock Gnocking on the Gnostics' Door
When Amanda and I started our church tour, I'd had it up to here with vanilla religion. I wanted to take a walk on the wild side (read: nothing Christian), but it turns out that, for a city that prides itself on "keeping weird," Portland doesn't have much to offer in that regard. And then I heard

posted 1:39:14am Feb. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Home PDX: A Church By Any Other Name
Yesterday, we went downtown to check out Home PDX. If you want to make head honcho Bruce Arnold, squirm, call their community a church.  The word has so many negative connotations, they'd just as soon not use it. Then again, the PDX Homeys have a different word for everything. Take the word "hom

posted 6:54:51pm Feb. 06, 2012 | read full post »

Full-On Faith
It's been almost a year since the inspiration for this blog began with a trip to the First A.M.E. Zion Church in North Portland. It was a predominantly black church in a predominantly black neighborhood and what I wrote about it ended up being our most controversial post to date. To this day, it's a

posted 7:25:08pm Jan. 26, 2012 | read full post »

Happy Anniversary from Emmanuel Temple Church
One year ago, Amanda and I embarked on our Year of Sundays tour of the Portland church scene. To celebrate, we decided to head back to my roots in North Portland and visit a full gospel church, just like we did in our first week of blogging. That's how we landed at Emmanuel Temple Church. Can I have

posted 12:40:57am Jan. 23, 2012 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.