Music: C+ Loved the music. People here seemed to either not know the music at all or be very shy to let it out. The first song made me totally trip: it sounded like a bunch of people mumbling incoherently over an organ playing at twice the volume. Things shaped up a little for the other three songs that got performed. Members of vile intent who may or may not read this blog might be pleased with the lyric “who eats and drinks with pure intent”. This nice little hitler youth ditty too: “holding aloft our colours, we march in the glorious dawn, o youth of noble birthright, carry on carry on carry on”. Throw that alongside the classy final line to “As Zion’s Youth in Latter Days”: “with faith we hold the iron rod and find in this our joy”. What exactly is this iron rod, and what is its use? To be more descriptive, there was an organist who i thought was fantastic, had that real classic feel to it, almost too classic like a hollywood cliché of the music at a tiny culty backwoods chapel. And a leader who stood next to him waving her arm, but not singing into a mic. Like i said before, a rather cutely incompetent crowd of soft mumbly “singers”.
people who will die in the next 20 years: 8% (very precise, i know)
pastor charisma: There wasn’t a really pastor here per se.
décor, iconography: Very small room with a regular low ceiling. Very humble, no pomp. They had these cool rectangular lights hanging from the ceiling in groups of three. Interior painted white brick. Ceiling fans. Room for no more than 150 i presume. There were no symbols in there whatsoever, no writing. Everything as plain as possible. Carpet.
food/drink: There was a potluck if i were to stay through 2 more hours of bible study. Also mormons don’t do caffeine. So i’d say there’s shit all.
scare quotient: Meh. They are super into scaring themselves (from sex, drugs, etc.) probably cuz of devil shit. It wasn’t the focus today though.
number of people: 40
The real story:
Nobody with me to take on the mormons on this morning. On the way there my genitals basically froze while biking. I considered stopping to hold them but i was in river heights and probably would’ve had the cops called on me or something. So the first thing i did when i got inside their building was ask for the bathrooms and go in there to “warm up”. Then i got out and got fucking rushed by all these motherfuckers in suits. “Brother” this and “Elder” that, “Sister” this and “welcome” that. One was asking how i’d ended up there and i told him it was cuz i’d seen a tv show about mormons. That actually seemed unsettling to him for some reason, maybe he expected a better reason.
One guy who was from Las Vegas and got ordered to come and do missionary work in winnipeg sat beside me. The service started, they call them “sacrament meetings”. They sang that funny mumbly song. Then a tall skinny white boy in hipster glasses came up and said a prayer from his brain. I believe the older woman in front of me whispered to her partner “Does he not have a job?” That was cool.
Then the MC said there were some announcements. So i learned about this thing mormons have where the women have a group called the “relief society”. The one at this church was disbanding and they needed to elect a new one. They did this right there by show of hands. Funny to have an election in the middle of church; i mean it was a formality cuz it was already decided, but i imagine this could theoretically be an actual thing in other contexts. They also had a “vote of thanks” to the departing “relief society”. I didn’t bother to find out what they do, but it’s for women only, and knowing mormons, it’s about converting motherfuckers.
Onto the “sacrament portion of the meeting” where they have communion. The guy next to me told me i was welcome to decline or accept this. I almost always take it, just cuz i figure it offends people to have a shitty stupid looking heathen eating their god’s flesh. Just a little thing i like to do: eat godflesh. Their godflesh was leavened bread torn into little pieces and i sorta figured if mormons are down with the internet and shit, and this goes for all those christians out there, why the crappy bread? Why not put some butter on god’s body? Why not have cocoa swirls in there? Or cheese or jam or whatever? Instead of wine these guys had water in little shot glasses. haha. Thought he turned water into wine lol. While the dudes walked around handing that shit out, there was total silence in the room, you could hear cars pass by on academy. It gave the room a rather insecure feel, like they weren’t far enough from the outside world. It was scary and sad.
The next thing that happened was weird and made me feel a little bit like i was in high school. This woman, actually the song “leader”, about my age, came up and just started telling her story. Apparently this is a thing these mormons do: an old person in the church assigns a theme for another person to do a presentation about in front of the congregation.
She had her text on an ipad in front of her and declared herself to be very nervous. She started crying almost immediately after starting. She was talking about her very real struggles in her recent past and present. It was pretty heartfelt. Her theme was “the challenge of living by the gospel”. She talked about how hard it was to be a mormon teen – no alcohol, no tobacco, no dank weed, no caffeine, no sexual nothing, no shopping on sundays, no iced tea, no revealing clothing, etc. The hardest thing for her seemed to be dating a dude who just would not convert to mormonism, with a close second being losing her job.
She said she’d be so tempted to drink (or w/e) at parties that she’d have to “pray on the side”. At this point she was really losing the fight against tears. It was weird yo. I liked it though. I wondered: probably this is the type of pain that gets you a first class seat in heaven, maybe everyone there was just proud to have raised such a resilient repressed human. For me it didn’t feel like that. She went on to talk about how hard it’s been being with a non-believer boyfriend for eight years and him moving away. That compounded with losing her job has made her “vulnerable to the temptations of the world”. It was interesting that she took such a personal approach to the theme, and how the doctrine of the mormon church regarding consumption of drugs, sex and marriage, and conversion seemed to be the main source of friction with “the gospel” in her life. This is obviously NOT surprising and a damn shame in some ways if i can be allowed just for a moment to inject some of my own biases into this poor woman’s business.
For me it was a briefly, partially opened window into the life of contemporary religious-culty youth in the city. Shit’s hard! Most probs don’t make it, reminds me of seeing the doc on the phelps family (“god hates fags” “westboro baptist church”) and how a bunch of those kids were mad pissed and alienated from their upbringing. Also, how is it possible to be mormon and young? wtf?
When she was done they sang that hitler youth song and it was another young woman’s turn of to share her story with the group. This person was going to explain to us why she decided to go on a mission even though it’s not required of women inside the church. And she didn’t waste a moment before the tears started coming down. According to her, the gospel is the only object that will save the world. And “reading that made me realize how amazing this gospel was”. Tautology.
She told us that she asked god if she should go on a mission. She knelt in her room and asked but no answer came. But then like twenty minutes later she kept hearing “you already know” in her head, so she decided to do what she wanted! Convenient! This is wild to me, because if i want to figure out if i want to do something or not, and i hear a voice in my head telling me to do something, i just assume it’s Gillian Anderson talking to me! To each their own.
She told people that everyone should do the “Temple experience” and “go through the endowments”. I know not what either is. Sounds kvlt for sure. But she found out about heaven: “That’s what the celestial kingdom is all about: being with out families forever with the heavenly father”. Total Oedipal Crisis! I don’t wanna go! I mean, i can barely hang with my family more than a few days without going nuts. The lesson here being: what mormons call heaven, lots if not most consider it hell.
That was more or less it for this woman, as far as my notes go. And now let me get all meta on this bad boy. How many churches that are led by old man whitey in winnipeg have most of their service taken up by two young women of colour candidly explaining their struggles to everyone present? My guess is next to none. Hey all you liberal united dweebs! While you’re reading from that old crap bible of yours, remember that for every minute that you use on old rituals emptied of meaning, passed down by theocratic old douches, you lose a minute of people sharing their struggles, or generally relating to each other in ways not dictated by bogus old traditions. I guess some of these united churches are theoretically not “homophobic”. Mormons suck, United church liberals suck, all you fucks suck hahaaha lol. All i’m saying is that neither one has shit on the other maybe. Maybe? I don’t care.
So this shit was almost done. Another person came to the front for the closing prayer. They seem to just make these up on the fly cause they’re really weird like: using thou lovest us/thee/prayeth all that old style grammar that makes zero sense to me, mixed with normal-ass english like “do our best” or whatever. How does a phrase like “Thou lovest us and help us to do our best” make ANY sense. It’s hilarious.
Then MC dude tells us about the potluck after the two prayer and bible study sessions. The guy next to me leans over and explains to me that they have a break after this, then a session, then a break, then a gender divided session, then the potluck, to which i’m invited. I obviously decline. MC then tells us about a “high priest social” coming up. WTF. I sorta want to go but i forgot about the date and shit.
I got hand shaken all the way out the door. I kinda wanted to roll a smoke in their lobby cuz they’d hate it, but i was anxious to leave and it was just so damn cold outside anyway.