Claim Your Blessings Now!

Sunday I happened upon a “sacrament meeting” in some quarter of Zion-Utah, and upon entering, was a bit confused.  Was this a smart phone and tablet instructional seminar, designed to teach the fundamentals of using these new gadgets?  No!  It was a missionary homecoming?  At least, at the podium was a recently returned missionary talking as they typically do, but, I’m not lying, one man in a folding chair in the basketball section of the chapel (near the three point line) was openly playing Solitaire on his tablet, and everyone from teens to moms and dads were flagrantly playing games, texting, or looking at people’s faces on their phones.  The kiddies, of course, were all coloring and markering pre-printed drawings, and generally making a racket that nearly drowned out the speaker.  This is a Mormon church in 2015?  You’ve got to be kidding.  Their batteries will need a re-charge, that is certain.  Their lips are one place, and their hearts in quite another.  The heads, of some, anyway, are generally indistinguishable from what they’ve put on their folding chairs.

Why do we build churches with chapels that will only seat half the congregation, and stretch it into a basketball court, where the others sit on folding chairs?  This expansion across the foul line isn’t an accident, they are built this way.  Someone at the COB actually decides, on a daily basis, to have his fellow Mormons violate the 3 seconds-in-the-key rule, while partaking of the Lord’s Supper!  My batteries are re-charged, and I’ve worked out a new Triangle Defense for the Elder’s Quorum! 

I can see an archaeologist in the future with a rather puzzled look, as she uncovers what appears to be a sports court leading into a classic Protestant chapel.  What sort of cult was this?  And what do these tiny cups mean?  Were they especially small people, who worshipped basketball players for being tall?  Is that painting of a bearded man in the flowing robes supposed to represent The Great Jimmer?

Can you imagine walking into the Temple at Real Zion, and forty feet from the throne of God is a bowling alley, because they just couldn’t be so prodigal as to design separate facilities or rooms for these two generally distinct activities?  Pick up the spare, Jehovah, on that 7-10 split!  Now that’s salvation!  What if we didn’t have all these distractions, and had to actually sit in a room, and listen to what was said from the pulpit?

Imagine I set up a buffet restaurant, and nearly every patron who showed up and paid for dinner refused to eat what I provided, and instead pulled out cold cereal from their pockets for a snack.  How long should I continue this enterprise?  As long as it remains profitable, right?  What hope do I have that my buffet will remain profitable?  Not much.  So, why not simply serve them rubbish?  Why bother with the good stuff?  And maybe I tell diners that by showing up and paying some fee (in time, labor, or cash) they are guaranteed a better dinner next week, or the week after, or after they die?  At some point, my food is too poor and unnourishing even to keep diners believing in that hopeful lie.  Probably the only folks who continue to show up will instead bring their own food.  And that’s fine, as long as they pay up I can stay in business.  The logic of the market place has taken over, at this point.  And when my diners’ bodies are disassociated from their environments, that logic becomes all the more compelling.

So, a challenge to all Mormons: Avoid all distractions, and actually listen to what is said in chapels (or basketball courts) on Sunday.  I did.  How long can you continue, under those restrictions?

Maybe, you reply, it isn’t about what is said, it’s about how I feel.  OK.  Does that feeling have anything to do with what is said?  If not, is it the building’s design, the hollow steeples, the pre-fab pews, the carpeted hallways, or the drinking fountains?  It is built to appear like one thing, and to be from a cost perspective, something else.  Chapels tell us about the image versus the reality, and a hollow steeple high above a satellite dish is all you need to know about our religion.  I admit, church water is a pretty good reason to attend church, but if there isn’t light in the voices of those speaking, there is darkness.  What you report as a feeling can be found anywhere you turn your mind to God, and away from Candy Crush, for a second or two.

Speaking of darkness…Following the missionary was an older man who read to the congregation from a children’s book, apparently following his boss’s insistence that he “keep it simple,” for we are stupid.  Saturday, he explained, is the day before Sunday, making it a special day, a day to get ready for Sunday.  Sunday is special because, well, it is called The Sabbath, and we don’t use strange words for things that aren’t special, right?  And we are to keep the Sabbath Day Holy, meaning, well, special.  You see?  In any case, you will get blessings if you do keep the Sabbath Day Holy, and blessings are whatever you’d like to call blessings.  The most blessed people are the most flexible in their usage of that term.

Again, being unable to explain anything about his own traditions, this man — specially assigned to preach, and not merely a passerby pulled up to wing it — turned to a children’s book designed wholly to instruct toddlers on the merits of Sunday.  Those merits being, because Saturday is pretty awesome, and Sunday is sort of like Saturday, in coming immediately after it.  When this vein no longer brought in the spiritual gold, he offered us the simple equation: Obedience => Blessings.  The marketplace provides the substance of his speculations.  How many parents have had good results by blatantly bribing their children to do unpleasant things, which they are asked to do only in order to get the reward?  Stand on your head, and let that man pour apple sauce over you, and remain still while the flies crawl over your face, and I shall pay you many GoobledyGooks.  What is that, you ask?  It’s invisible, intangible, and comes in forms that we call Everyday Experience of Ordinary Things.  Who does this?

We are leaving blessings on the table if we aren’t Sabbath Keeping the Holy Day, or whatever!  You don’t want to waste blessings do you, young man?  Look at all those blessings Jehovah has cranked out, and you want to sit there and not get all of them?  There are kids in Hell who would kill for a few blessings, and you, shaaaaaame, would rather not show up and sit on folding chairs, playing solitaire near the three-point line, in a suit?!  I must say, Inconceivable!!!  Oh, Noah saw no such wickedness in his day!

But wait… if you show up within the next six days, we’ll double the offer!!! Imagine double the blessings!!!  Double the, um, blessings, whatever you think that is.  No more turning on your spiritual iPhone, and finding it out of charge.  No more running out of spiritual battery when you’ve almost made your little pixel man jump over the final obstacle!  Just pay additional shipping and fast offering.

What I think the entire meeting boils down to is: We Are Right.  We Must Be Right.  It doesn’t matter what anyone says, or that no one is listening because I’m not saying anything but what they can read in their toddler’s book, ironically designed to distract the child so I can listen to the informed man in the suit, who nonetheless is reading from that same toddler’s book.  But I don’t care, because I just got a Jack of Spades, and that allows me to knock out another line in Solitaire, and when I go to show my spouse, I interrupt her texting to a friend about a new toxin designed to reduce evidence of having aged on planet earth, and it’s all good, because me and my family will serve the Lord as we scurry to our separate pens, being hand fed pellets of recycled Chinese newspapers, but in the end, we are Right, because we are Right.  How else do you explain all my blessings?

God sends the rain on the just and the unjust, and blesses those that curse Him.



  1. At least we’ve get plenty of light from our devices, as long as they can plug in somewhere that is. That ought to count for something?

  2. In a previous meeting of elders I attended, in a room across from the gym, we spent the WHOLE meeting talking about all the nifty features on the church’s website. Laptop, projector, and little pointy cursor. I had a book with me, made of actual paper, a rare sight I know. I admit I was distracted from what was being said and turned my attention to the words on the pages. I missed the light and knowledge shed on the online. I have missed out on the blessings and missed out on even more blessings the could be obtained by using this inspiration turned to code to aid my neighbors to get us a whole horde of blessings! Like a really big pile of ’em.

  3. Me: I have [X] issues with the church.
    TBM: Well, it’s not about that; it’s about taking the sacrament.
    Me: But you don’t need a church for that.
    TBM: That’s not right. We need the priesthood authority to bless it.
    Me: Why?
    TBM: Well, because that’s the way it is.
    Me: Alright, fine. But you’re saying it doesn’t matter what we teach or what our doctrine is. What makes us different from any other church?
    TBM: I already went over this, we need the priesthood.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Neo-Catholicism wearies me. Their only firm doctrine and defense is “we have priesthood!” A senseless circle. The prophet is always a prophet because a prophet is always the prophet. How could we be wrong? We have the priesthood / a prophet, right? Oy vey.

    And, no, Daymon, I will not commit to your challenge. Any time I listen to closely, it ruins my day and I have to leave.

  4. Indeed, would our services be any more or less nourishing if they were given in Latin?

  5. One of my “never agains” is to accept offers of blessings contingent on obedience to some command. I’m not interested in those kinds of blessings. You can keep them, thank you very much (and yes, I understand the implications here, just do you know). If blessings-as-payment is driven by analogy to market concepts, then I could justify myself, I suppose, by saying there are opportunity costs to everything, when leaving blessings on the table.

  6. Riding my bike to school, I had a and had a big ‘a-ha!’ moment. I realized that the Law of Moses= LDS Church. I think many of us would agree that Joseph Smith and Moses experienced similar disappointments (ie., D&C 84 & 124, Joseph’s restatement of the 10 commandments (plus additions) in D&C 42. and also the parallels from dying before they reached the promised land to wandering in a desert/wilderness to no more Law being given after Moses, except for Rabbinic interpretation galore…). The light bulb moment came in realizing that the Church (indeed, the ordinances, the temple, BOM, etc.), which was designed to point us to Christ, has instead ended up pointing us to IT. People look ‘beyond the mark’ when they think they are saved by the church’s ordinances alone or by following the words of the ‘living prophet’ who never prophecies. And just like the Jews (and many of the Nephites, Laman & Lemuel especially), we Gentiles will (in large part) REJECT Christ BECAUSE of the Church. Well, not because of it really….more because we put our faith in the Church. We will all agree that the Lord’s Hand has moved with the people in the Church, as it did with the people who lived the Law of Moses. But that doesn’t make it sufficient.

    I guess I also realized that our Church could just as easily be considered Joseph’s Law if we lived by laws like they did back then. (Today we live in the world of organizations/corporations/institutions, so we call Joseph’s Law an institution.)

    According to Christ (quoting the Father) in 3 Nephi 16:10 (though you should read all of that one, as well as ch.s 20, 21, 28 & 29 with the thought that the members of the Church are the LDS-Gentiles–D&C 109:60):
    “…At that day when the Gentiles SHALL sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations…”
    (emphasis mine…maybe. I haven’t heard Christ give the speech so I can’t be sure)

    In light of this, how should we interpret 2 Nephi 25 and Nephi’s understanding of the Law:
    24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
    25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.

    Just a thought. Or a series of them, jumbled as they are.

    1. There’s probably many Mormons who would agree with you on this, and yet most who attend churches on sunday probably wouldn’t have the foggiest notion of what you are saying.

  7. I developed a built-in defense against pulpits and the things said over them. It’s a survival instinct, and those that lack it rely on electronics to deliver them from evil. The internet calls my particular mechanism “Aay Dee Dee,” which means that it isn’t my fault; but my wife claims that my inattention is calculated and deliberate, a claim which I naturally protest.

    For instance, I told myself that I would pay *close attention* to the man announcing the change in the bishopric of my ward. I was interested in that announcement, or so I thought. Alas, twenty seconds into the spiel and the man turns into Aldous Huxley! He went on and on, saying the most interesting and outrageous things: “… and in religion, all words are dirty words. Anybody who gets eloquent about Buddha, or God, or Christ, ought to have his mouth washed out with carbolic soap.” Amen to that, I think. Oh, but the Stake President is most alarmed at this heresy, and he begins to rise up from his seat! At this moment, a commotion to my side. A giggling; perhaps my seven-year-old has just farted himself awake. And then the toddler remembers, for the third time, that she very badly needs to pee. Off I go.

    The pottying takes not so long as the three-year-old had hoped, and upon returning to the closed door that separates us from the chapelnasium, the kid loses her nerve.

    “Dad, I’m waiting out here.”

    “Fine, at least give some room so that people coming out of the door don’t clobber you.”

    Well, I can sit or stand like this in close proximity to my neighbors for a maximum of one hour, twenty minutes before I must leave them. I pick up my prefabbed blessing on the way out the door, and I know I have it when I feel it exult within me. It is the blessing of the meeting being over with, and it is mighty.

    On my walk home, some friends in the other ward (burdened with the nine-o-clock schedule), pull up in their SUV and roll down the window.

    “Slackers!” they shout at us, for we have left the “bloc” a full hour and forty-five minutes early, the same time as they who have endured the earlier bloc in its entirety–yet still collecting our blessing in spite of this. Our friends seem somehow annoyed about it, perhaps wishing they had thought to do the same. I recite to myself, “for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them; but he slacked on the seventh day… and six days *you* shall work, but on the seventh day *you* shall slack!” I shoo them away with a wave, but they just think I’m trying to be friendly.

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