Date: June 09, 2019 02:06PM
I got there early and nabbed a primo parking spot and backed in, so that I could make a quick escape, should that become a factor. I was dressed in brown slacks and a brownish sports coat, pink shirt and an obnoxious 100% silk tie. And I showed up all Mexican-looking, with pretty wild hair. Seriously, I’ve been letting my hair grow out and it’s achieved a fairly wild state. 40 years ago it would have been close to being an Afro, but time has taken its toll and there’s so much thinning going on and now it barely is able to defy gravity.
It was obvious that I was not of a type with which los mormones were familiar. Saucie thinks I looked simply darling, but that’s just Saucie being Saucie...
Despite getting there early, all the center seating was taken. But I had a choice of where to sit on the side rows and grabbed an aisle seat and hung on to it, making White people step by me, like in the movie theatre. Four of them did so. The first two, a couple, slid all the way down to the far end of our side row. It wasn’t until it got crowded and they opened the overflow curtains that two older women asked me if I were saving seats. When I said I wasn’t, they may have expected me to move down, but I didn’t.
The older lady who ended up sitting next to me did offer to shake my hand. She gave me her first name and I responded with my first name. She then asked what ward I was in. I told her I didn’t know, which obviously piqued her curiosity, but I interrupted that flow of discourse and asked her what this meeting was all about. She said she didn’t know and said that she was a very recent convert (probably why she didn't 'mormon-ignore me) and was simply aware that the meeting was scheduled, so she and her friend showed up. She then gushed about how wonderful her life had become because she’d converted. I “uh-huh’d” at the appropriate intervals and then the meeting began. I do recall that once she joined the church, her doctors finally started figuring out what her medicals needs were, and were meeting those needs, so yay! Baptism!
The presiding dude welcomed us to the Saturday evening session of stake conference, which was being presided over by Elder Clayton, and the program was reviewed, in terms of who was speaking and their order, which was nice because there was no written program. Then we sang #336 in a songbook with which I had no familiarity. I sang with gusto because, in for a penny, in for a pound. I retain no recollection whatsoever of the opening prayer. And yes, I peeked.
Then came the first speaker, the grandmother. Hers was the only talk I heard in its entirety because she spoke with measured tones that my one good ear was able to completely decipher. She started off by stating that she had had many doubts about the veracity of the church, because she’d been influenced by friends who had retired from participating in the church. I took the gist of her talk to be that despite all the horrible answers to “secondary” questions, the church was true because the answers to the “primary” questions make it so.
Secondary questions are ones like “was Joseph Smith imperfect?”, “did Joseph marry women who already had husbands”, “has church history been purified?”, “was the church racist in its past?”, etc. She acknowledged that the list of secondary questions gets longer and longer, right? And because of research she’d done, there was a time that she doubted the divinity of TSCC.
BUT!!!!...Thanks to more research, and guidance from SLC, she was able to understand that those secondary questions DON’T MATTER! What matters are the four Primary Questions: 1) Is there a heavenly father; 2) Is his son Jesus Christ; 3) Was Joseph Smith a prophet; 4) Is the COJCOL-DS the one true church?
And you, yes YOU!, can answer yes to all four by using the four correct ways to learn truth. These four methodologies are Scientific, Analytical, Academic & Divine. And she explained how each system works, and how each one proves the correct responses for the four Primary Questions! And once those are taken care of, the secondary questions become mere piffle, they don’t matter!!! The big truths ingest, digest and then crap the silly secondary questions, and their answers, leaving the church to be true! True I say…in Jesus name, amen.
Next was the Crying Lady, the second in the parade of mormon “cripples”, which I’ll explain in a bit. She is divorced. She remembers vividly kneeling at the altar in the temple, across from her WORTHY husband and knowing that she was now a participant in the gospel plan of Eternal Salvation! Growing up devotedly Catholic helped her really appreciate the temple experience because it’s so like Catholicism: recite a lot, repetitively, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight.
If she explained how the divorce came about, I didn’t hear it. There was a good deal of crying, and she’d brought her own little crying towel, rather than depend on the box of tissues next to the lectern. Then we learned, I think, that after the divorce she decided to get her AA. Then she got her BA, and went on to get her MA, all in six years. And she ran 13 miles that morning. (That was impressive! But she later mentioned, I think, routinely running 32 miles, and how without running she’d probably have screaming fits because life is so…lifeish.) Then there was more crying as she recounted how when doing temple work, she would not do sealings, but finally she girded up her loins and did some sealings and it brought back to her just how wonderful ghawd’s plan is! And I waited for her to say, “ghawd will match me up with someone worthy!” but she didn’t. Quite the letdown… But the big finish was there: Families are Forever and she loves everyone.
During Crying Lady’s talk, when she was praising how much the temple meant to her, I asked the lady next to me if she’d been yet. She said she was preparing herself. “Yay!”, I said back to her. We never spoke again.
Then came Scott Osmond, whose name I didn’t know until papaken revealed it to me in his report. Scott’s speech pattern was bad for those with less than perfect hearing. I probably missed a good third of what he was saying. He reviewed the shock and surprise that it was when his door was knocked on and it was some mormon officials. His immediate intuitive leap was that he was going to be given notice of his very own personal Court of Love. But the visit was to invite him to speak! He mentioned that another Gay man had been invited to speak at the previous stake conference, and gave that man’s name. Until papaken corrected it above, I’d had the impression that Scott was an active member of the church. So I’m now doubly gob-smacked that Scott was up there speaking! WTF, man!!
And it was at this point that my “bunch of cripples” notion occurred to me: the Doubter who came back, the Divorcee making a go of the gospel, and now the Gay guy, whose purpose for being there still escapes me. But I then had the follow-up notion, maybe the GA was going to tie it up with a nice ribbon and we’ll know the church’s position in these arenas.
With regard to Scott’s talk, I missed a lot of detail because I couldn’t understand a lot of what he was saying. I completely missed his name, which he revealed to much laughter, after the story of Lee(?) the bus driver who shielded Scott for years from the bullying he endured from his school bus mates. Scott said that he knew he was Gay from a very early age and asked, “Do you know what it’s like to grow up Gay in Utah with the last name Osmond?” Only I didn’t hear “Osmond”, so thanks to papaken for that info. The audience thought it was funny and there was laughter.
But I did hear Scott tell us all that ghawd loves him and ghawd has included him in the Plan. Yes, ghawd loves him as a Gay man and made him that way, and he’s grateful he is a Gay man. Yes, he used that phrasing, that he is grateful to be a Gay man. Scott believes that all that he endured is just part of the plan. His two years of missionary service in Denmark were all part of it and no one should judge the Gays, they should just love them.
Then Clayton jumped up to invite a young couple to come up and bear their testimonies. This was apparently a surprise to everyone. The young couple went up to the stand together and I didn’t make any notes, so I now can’t remember (I’m old!) what the male said that made people laugh, and then when it was the female’s turn, she remarked that “…only Elder Clayton could make me do this…” and then started a tearful testimony, but then Clayton got up, tapped her on the shoulder, said something to her and then she finished quickly with the usual stuff … in Jesus name, amen. Then they returned to their seats.
Then came the what-else-could-he-be-but-Gay man who’d been sitting completely alone, with a zone of avoidance around him, who got up, went to the podium, waited while the lectern was raised by remote control, and then sang his song, with a rich baritone. Quite lovely… something about what a nice ghawd Jesus is, or something along those lines. Later Elder Clayton confirmed something I suspected, when he said, “I’ve never heard that song before.” Meaning Ballard would have had a hissy fit!
Then came the out-going Mission President and his wife. They have finished up their three years and will be released next month. They stood together at the mic as each spoke, each with an arm around the other. He explained that first we’d hear from his wife and then he’d wrap it up. I don’t recall anything she said. Sad, huh? But I do remember the guy’s talk. He actually said something useful, from the LDS point of view. (Unless you’re a missionary!) He said that the best thing to do to convert people is just to say, “Come and see...”. And by living a good life and letting people see you live this good life, you, too, can convert a neighbor, like they did. They would invite this neighbor family to do things with them and by their example, they were able to impress the father of that family. It took a while, but the father finally converted. The wife and kids weren’t having it, but they got the dad! All by just being friends and Good Examples!
Now, how would that fly with this MP’s charges, his missionaries? “Hey, we’re the missionaries! Let’s all just hang out and have fun together and by the example of our monastic life styles, you’ll eventually have the then current set of missionaries baptize you because of the examples we all set for you, six to twelve weeks at a time!
Finally, Clayton comes to the stand. And I was certain that he would review the talks given by the mormon ‘cripples’: the Doubter, the Divorcee & the Gay man, and explain how the gospel plan, as carried out by the ‘Complete & Whole’ members, needed to include these ‘cripples’ as full partners! Made sense to me!
But Clayton never made reference to any of the previous speakers. Instead, he harped on REPENTANCE!!!
But he did mention Rusty, which I enjoyed. Clayton said that the GAs, meaning the Big 15 and the 70s, those that are in town, meet the first Thursday of every month in the temple. That first meeting, after Rusty was sworn in, he, Rusty, promised to listen carefully to what ghawd tells him and to give us this truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. All the GAs in attendance were SO EXCITED! Rusty is the real deal and he’s doing the lord’s work and the lord is going to work miracles through Rusty!
Then we got to the Repentance message. I recorded all of Clayton's talk, the whole thing, and it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll ever listen to it. Clayton is a very polished speaker and he loves connecting with the little people. He did a power-pointish mini-presentation using his state of the art $5,000+ MacBook, along with a tablet, AND a cell phone when the tablet took a dump. He had a microphone passed around and had different people read power point items displayed on the big screen and then Clayton would comment. Early on, he seemed to be encouraging audience participation; he asked us all to raise our hands. “No! Higher!! Get those arms ups! Now be sure to raise you arm if you want to comment!” But that trend never really developed. It was just, 'next reader!' And then Clayton would comment.
I learned that Alma is his homeboy! But which Alma? We revisited good ol’ Mosiah 3:19…Wheeee! Then he told a story about converting someone as a missionary and the purge they did of the guy’s house, removing inappropriate videos, naughty books, etc., including all the guy’s Coca Cola. Then they go with him to church and follow the bishop into the parking lot and park next to him, and when they all get out, a Coke can dropped out of the bishop’s car. Oops! Everyone laughs! And I’m wondering, did the convert laugh when it happened?
Recall that I was interested in going because I was curious about the possibility that the church had a plan for upping the status of the Gays in mormonosity. Were they onto to something that would get the enlightened segment of humanity off their backs regarding the church’s treatment of the Gays? ...And the other ‘cripples’, as viewed currently by the church, the Doubters and the Divorced/Alone…
Nope. Nada. Same old, same old. Repent! Toe the line! Be faithful to the end! Prattle, prattle, prattle! And he was so goddam full of himself! He knows all these things are true, and everyone should listen to him and things will be fine! There is no secret plan for plugging up the hole in the hull caused by the manner in which the church has treated and does treat the Gays.
Could Scott Osmond, even as a faithful Gay member, go to the temple? And if he could, why would he?
Is there a way out of the Gay quandary for the church? Not in any way that would allow the church to be the same Restored Gospel Joe Smith revealed/made up.
So on one level I don’t regret the time I spent attending this meeting. I have DVR, but didn't even set anything to be recorded. I would have been breathing in and breathing out wherever I was during this time...
But on the levels that kinda really count with me, I loathed and detested what I endured. There was no physical trauma, and I’ll quickly shake off any mental trauma. I already knew, as in strongly suspected, that there are mormons who appear to be toeing the line and that there will always be mormons who pledge their loyalty to the church. But I sincerely believe that the percentage that are trying to repent and become perfect little morgbots is dwindling. And will continue to dwindle. Attending this meeting, in my mind, helps confirm this. What a colossal waste of dressing up and doing nothing.
After the closing song, which I remembered from my past, and which I thought was sung too dirge-like, the closing prayer dismissed us. I hung around, hoping to say hi to papaken, and maybe even get a chance to shake hands with Scott Osmond, with maybe a chance to gain further light and knowledge regarding just what the hell he thinks is going on!!
I positioned myself in the now deserted middle of the center seating section, amongst the folding chairs in the overflow area, about 10 feet back of the line the curtain makes when it’s closed. I was now in my own empty space of avoidance. There were the usual small, medium and large groups of people chatting with each other. I stood there for 12 minutes by the clock. I think I ID’d some Gay men who’d possibly shown up to support Bro. Osmond. Was I correct? I have no idea. The bon homie was thick, but very contained. Heads were tilting back to allow hearty laughter to blossom, but the sound wasn’t carrying.
The scrums at the front of the chapel, the people around Clayton, the people around Bro. Osmond, remained in place that entire time. And there didn’t seem to be any signs of it slackening any time soon. And in thinking back, I have no idea what happened to Doubting lady and the Divorcee. I don’t think there were any scrums around them. If there were, they were very small scrums.
And then I decided that enough was enough. I walked out of the building, passing people and being studiously ignored. It had to be the hair…