Wednesday, April 16, 2014

LDS General Conference (Walking to Missouri)

Every six months, faithful Mormons eschew regular worship services and spend two days watching  General Conference on TV or online. In all but the most orthodox homes, this is done in pajamas or casual clothes. General Conference begins on Saturday morning with a welcoming address by the President of the Church. During his address, the Prophet often makes major announcements, such as the construction of new temples or significant changes to church policies. Each conference I’m pretty sure I hear a “major announcement” that all the upcoming guidance and instructions are for other, less faithful, members and I can return to my slumber. Strangely, my wife never hears this same announcement. Two years ago a “major announcement” declared that the eligibility age for missionaries would be lowered to 18. In 1999, another major announcement revealed that the Nauvoo Temple would be rebuilt.

Like many members, I try and turn off the lawnmower long enough to hear the opening address just in case the Prophet calls me out by name for mowing the lawn or makes a “major announcement.” “Major announcements” (and the accompanying speculation) actually travel across Twitter and Facebook faster than the speed of light. When the mission age was lowered to 18 for young men, the first Facebook meme appeared two minutes before the end of the speech.

For members, major announcements generally relate to prophesied signs about the second coming of the Savior. Members rank these pronouncements in importance by their ability to generate the most Tweets (in the olden days “Tweets” were called “gossip”). For example, an announcement that the lost tribes of Israel were found living in Wyoming would generate a few hundred Tweets while an announcement that “darkness will cover the Earth—starting tomorrow” would set a new record for Tweets, memes and rampant speculation.  

It’s important to listen or read the announcements in person as sometimes members get carried away in their enthusiasm for “big news”. For example, by the time a generic recommendation to; “prepare now for the Second Coming” gets to someone’s Facebook status it may morph into: “my congregation was just asked to be the first to exchange our cars for cattle which we’ll herd across the Great Plains to Missouri.” An anonymous family, into which I married, may possibly lead the church in making these kinds of announcement transformations.

Most conferences are devoid of major revelations and instead focus on trying to get us (the members of the church) to do the things we’re supposed to be doing (or not doing) as the case may be. We’re counseled to keep all of the commandments, avoid pornography, share the gospel, stay on the straight and narrow, have faith, be grateful, love one another, pray, study the scriptures, forgive one another, feed the hungry, do our home and visiting teaching, clothe the naked, pay tithes and offerings, avoid adultery and keep the other nine commandments, etc. etc. etc.

Sometime the list of things we should be doing (and not doing) seems very long. Perhaps that’s why members so anxiously await major announcements. We’re hoping we can forget about listening to all the “perfecting of the saints” stuff and just hear that starting tomorrow we’ll all be riding back to Adam-ondi-Ahman in air-conditioned RVs purchased for us by the lost 10 tribes where we’ll eat manna and play with lions. That announcement is coming right after the one that tells me I can go back to sleep.  


Monday, March 24, 2014

Losing a Loved One

We all love our companions madly, but unfortunately, their life spans are much shorter than our own. My wife has come to the realization that she must soon part with her faithful companion of many years. The thought of separation makes her sad as she searched for a long time for this companion and for her it was the perfect choice—not too big and not too small—just right. Now that it’s nearing the end of its life she’s sad, not just for the loss but also knowing that she’ll have to replace it. After all, a woman must carry a handbag. It’s in the code.

We’ve been married for about 20 years and I believe that over that time period my wife has purchased about 5-6 new handbags each year (Grand Total = 100-120 ish). We have coat racks and storage bins overflowing with handbags. Surplus bags go so frequently to Deseret Industries that our address is written with a Sharpie on the dashboards of their donation pickup trucks.  Over that same period I’ve had two wallets—a black elk-skin beauty that also held my checkbook (from when people still wrote checks) and a brown leather bi-fold. They hold money and credit cards. When people quit taking and writing checks I replaced the black wallet with a smaller brown one which I still use..

Luckily, none of the hundred or more handbags purchased by my wife over the last 20 years were “handcrafted of sumptuous embossed monogramed Empreinte leather with luxurious ornate handles.” More likely they are made of “faux leather with silver-tone hardware” sewn in Asian sweatshops and purchased from the clearance rack. When they prove “un-suitable” they go to goodwill (tax deductible!)

So, what makes for a perfect handbag? Apparently it’s a secret known only to women but according to Google, a perfect handbag is:
  • A most loyal BFF
  • More important than shoes (this was not written by handcart pioneers)
  • An illusion worth chasing
  • A Friend for Life
  • Indispensable 
  • An essential wardrobe piece
  • One that can be lovingly gazed at time and time again (my favorite)
Now you see why my wife is sad, she had the perfect bag and it wore out. Now she has to start “dating” again. Through her tears, I’ve been able to gather that the perfect handbag is a mix of “mystery, love, sex and suspense”. Oops, wrong blog, sorry. The perfect handbag (no one says “purses” anymore?) has to be chic, stylish, functional, and roomy but not bulky. While my wife was napping I stole her handbag to inventory the contents (for research only). Inside I found:
  • Clutch (similar to my elk-skin wallet—holds cards and money)
  • Small Tablet and smartphone 
  • ChapStick and Lipstick (easily accessible) 
  • Small bag containing band-aids, aspirin, two nail files, breath strips, utility tool, and cough drops.
  • Car keys
  • Pencil
  • More Breath strips
  • Feminine stuff
  • Cough drops
  • $1.78 in loose change
  • Nothing of Mine  
So, if I was listening attentively, everything on the above list and more must fit into a stylish, slim, sexy, and serviceable handbag. It took nineteen years to find this one. I’m hoping the next “right one” comes along sooner. To paraphrase Kayteejay46, “if bags were men, my wife would be a loose woman having short term relationships with bags which appear at first glance to have all she needs only to discover they’re not up to scratch and are unable to meet her modest needs.” However, unlike men, unsuitable bags can be given over to goodwill without any legal entanglements.

Wish us luck in the search. According to some handbag finder website, my perfect handbag is the “Longchamp LM Packable Nylon Tote”. Somehow I think it will be harder for Ms. Wonderful. I’m just hoping she can do it in less than 120 bags. J

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mormon Olympics

Mormon athletes competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics accounted for two silvers and one bronze medal during the games in Sochi, Russia. That’s wonderful, but as every guy who has ever played church basketball knows, coming in second (or third) is a lot like losing. Now I don’t mean to disparage the accomplishments of these outstanding athletes, but aren’t bronze medals kind of like attaining the Telestial Kingdom?

In addition to better training, stronger athletes and more wins, perhaps we also need to add some sports in which Mormons would naturally excel. The modern Olympics awards medals in so called sports like rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, curling, ice dancing and parallel (but not perpendicular) snowboarding. During the Sochi game women’s ski jumping was added to the schedule. To increase Mormon’s gold medal count we need to petition the IOC to add some “Mormon-Friendly” sports to the schedule.

I’ve put some serious thought into this and I think I’ve come up with a few activities, that with a little lobbying (and some Relief Society meals), we could convert into sure-fire Mormon Gold Medal sports.

First on my list is “Moving Van Packing”. No one crams grandma’s priceless antiques into a moving van faster than Mormons. To qualify as a real Olympic event there would need to be some judges and rules. For example, breaking a leg off a Chippendale Side Chair would result in a ten-second penalty; scratching the top of a French Provincial Table would incur a five-second penalty. Judges would time the event and deduct points for injuries such as crushing a toe under the leg of a 900 pound piano or throwing out a back. Points would also be deducted for swearing.

The second event would be “Chairs” (two events—setting up and taking down). Mormons set up chairs in the chapel, overflow, classrooms, gym, stage, and in the Primary and Relief Society rooms—and that’s just on Sundays. We also set up chairs for church dinners, Stake Conference, Ward Conference, weddings, funerals, Young Men and Young Women activities, baptisms, basketball games, General Conference, Boy Scouts and family reunions. Heck, sometimes just for fun a bunch of guys will go down to the church and set up some chairs. I think “Chairs” would displace Curling as least interesting Olympic sport. 

I see “Chairs Setting” and “Putting Away Chairs” as respectively, the first and final Olympic events. The IOC would save a fortune by having Mormons set up and take down the chairs for the opening and closing ceremonies. All they’d have to pay us is a few gold medals.   

Teams for “Chairs” and “Moving” would comprise the same four guys in the ward who show up for every assignment (Elder’s Quorum President, his counselor and two random guys). In fact, knowing that a spot on the Olympic team is up for grabs might encourage more guys to show up for moves and chair assignments. Can you imagine how quickly we could unload a moving van or set up for the “Blue and Gold Banquet” if all 47 Elders in the ward showed up?

Once we get these two events permanently enshrined in the Olympics we can lobby to add some other “Mormon-Friendly” events like “Diaper Changing”, “Dodge the Bishop” and “Tandem Meal Delivery”. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to set up some tables and chairs for the “Sister Appreciation Dinner.”