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Adopt-a-Gentile Day

December 29th, 2008 · 15 Comments

gentile 

In sacrament meeting last Sunday our stake president surprised us with an announcement regarding our February ward conference:

We’re having an open house.

In light of all the tumultuous press the Church has gotten lately, our stake leadership feels prompted to have us invite non-member friends and neighbors to our 3-hour block. In the first hour we’ll have sacrament meeting as usual, probably with strategically-themed talks on what the Church is all about and hymns that drive home who we worship. In the second hour, instead of the normal Gospel Doctrine lesson, there’ll be refreshments in the cultural hall followed by an open, frank Q&A session in the chapel. Priesthood and RS will also be supplanted by further Q&A and who-knows-what-else. All wards in the stake are involved and our ward has been given the challenge to bring 100 non-members.

I’m torn about this. The endeavor could either be productive, inconsequential or disastrous (I think the smart money is on inconsequential). One of my concerns is that, when word gets out to our gentile cohabitants, would it inadvertantly reach zealous opponents who might take advantage of the situation? Call the press, have a protest? Would “plants” insinuate themselves with the visitors to lob loaded, confrontational questions and make heated declarations? One might think all this is far-fetched, but after the dramatic fallout we’ve seen so far, who’s to say? And with eight wards in the stake, the risk is exponential.

On the other hand, the control of hand-picking invitees inherently filters out the riffraff. I’m sure those who do invite their non-member friends will be extremely selective, probably having already had some previous discussions about the Church.

Sometimes I feel like the Church suffers from schizophrenia. While the message over the pulpit seems to be, “We follow the Lord and His leaders with no apologies,” we still really, really want to be liked. Unfeigned misanthrope that I am, I’m in the former camp. Like me, don’t like me, whatev.

Nevertheless, I admit it will be interesting to share the pews with outsiders– more interesting than the usual ward conference. The Mrs. and I haven’t come up with any candidates for the little experiment yet. We do have some gay friends (alas, all men– no hot lesbians to show off), but will probably pass them by and instead swoop down upon a vanilla family.

I’ll let you know how it goes– that is, if you don’t read about it in the papers first.

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15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Silus Grok // Dec 29, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful experiment! … Let us know how it goes!

  • 2 Karron // Dec 30, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    I really do not like being put on the front burner like that, as a member. I don’t know any non members, heck I don’t know many members at all either. One of the fall out issues from being a loner and a crotchety old woman who doesn’t much care for people is that you don’t get to know anyone.

    Still, it is good they are looking for an open discussion with people who want to know what we really stand for. All in all, it could turn out well as long as the hate filled rabble doesn’t hear about it and turn up to make things tense, or cause trouble.

  • 3 David // Dec 30, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    If they want the event to have at least a marginal degree of success, they’re going to need to do more than remind the members every once in a while during the sacrament meeting announcements. If it’s going to be a real open house, the word needs to be discreetly put out so that people who don’t have LDS friends (and the potential discomfort that accompanies accepting the invitation to attend) can come on their own and hear it all. This may heighten the risk of letting the wolf in, but perhaps steps can be taken to prevent that.

  • 4 xoxoxoxo // Dec 30, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Never a dull moment for the California Mormon is there?

    “Sometimes I feel like the Church suffers from schizophrenia. While the message over the pulpit seems to be, “We follow the Lord and His leaders with no apologies,” we still really, really want to be liked. ”

    I understand what you are saying here, but I tend to see it differently. I don’t think the Church really, really CARES about being “liked”….as much as it cares about being represented fairly and accurately.

    I think the Church’s goal to spread the gospel and offer it’s restored message to all has and always will be it’s primary focus, and when situations like Prop 8 happen-so much muck gets tossed out there that it tends to undermine that goal. I think the Church often feels the need to stop and clean up a little, clarify the facts for those outside (and often inside) the membership, and re-establish what we are all about-but not because we desire to be liked. Rather, because we desire for others to get a sincere, accurate opportunity to accept or reject the gospel on it’s own merits.

    I hope that makes sense…

  • 5 David // Dec 30, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    xoxoxoxo,

    Perhaps I’m just being a little gun-shy after the Prop 8 fallout.

    From the beginning I said I wasn’t comfortable with our church getting into bed with the born-agains who make us sermon fodder on Sundays. Some saw it as an opportunity to redeem our status in their eyes (I’m sure Salt Lake didn’t harbor such illusions) And while a few brave representatives from their group have come to our defense against the pink onslaught, most are satisfied using the Mormons as human shields.

    I’m also not completely comfortable inviting an unregulated public into “our home” in the current political climate. I’m probably stressing needlessly, but there it is. On the one hand, I think members personally inviting friends, neighbors and co-workers to the get-together will be largely benign– for this to be an effective exercise, it should solicit the public. On the other hand, in so doing we risk adversarial card-carriers crashing the party. Perhaps when more details of the invitation process come down the pike I’ll feel better.

    I agree with you that bringing the restored message to the Lord’s children is our primary goal. Doesn’t mean the methods are always the best.

    Finally, I love apostrophes, too, skippy– in fact I’m a supporter of members of all punctuations. Hell, I liberally sprinkle commas all over my diatribes, as you well know. But it’s “its,” not “it’s.” :)

  • 6 queuno // Dec 31, 2008 at 1:27 am

    The “Church leaders” may not care about being liked, but Church members (and local leaders) do, and I kinda wish we’d get over it and get back to being used to being persecuted.

    Stakes have done things like this all over the Church. Generally, they’re harmless and informative and serve to build bridges. The pros outweigh the cons.

  • 7 Karron // Jan 2, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Queno is right, I have seen this sort of thing done in the church all over the world. Usually it turns out OK, no real interest from most people who turn up, but it is a harmless way of letting others know what we believe.

    I am one of those who doesn’t particularly care if people like me or my beliefs or not. I just go on my way puttering through my day ignore the stress of what others think. I get a bit snarky when I am personally attacked, or I see stupid behavior demonstrated as we did over the prop 8 issue. But tend to let other people do the stewing while I am comforted and strengthened by my beliefs.

    One thing I know for sure, as with all true belief, there will always be those who will persecute us no matter how kind, loving, caring, or supportive we are to people in our communities. There will always be someone who is so egotistical that they think they know better than anyone the correct way to worship God. Jesus Christ was persecuted, and he was the living son of God, who are we to expect to be excused from persecution for know the truth of things, just because we are His spiritual children?

    So, like a turtle, I just pull my tender parts into my shell, and keep going, one step at a time.

  • 8 xoxoxoxo // Jan 3, 2009 at 4:37 am

    I’m not responding because you’ve pointed out that I didn’t or can’t puncturritate correctly, it’s ‘cuz I wanted to type in a bunch of apostrophes AND share the new word I invented just for you. *G* :P

    Karron, the more you post, the more I am convinced you and I would be great friends! I’m in total agreement that those who insist on obsessing can stir their own cauldrons while I go do something productive…or chocolate related.

    I’m not sure at my age and degree of snarkiness how many of my parts qualify as “tender” anymore, but if Dave has any left, perhaps he could invest in a titanium cup of some sort? *G*

  • 9 David // Jan 3, 2009 at 6:12 am

    Ty,

    Sorry dude, my site’s not a stump for bashing born-agains.

    xoxoxoxo, Karron, queuno–

    I kvetch about our little Andy Hardy production, but I will, of course, support it like the good soldier. Not because I’m a bleating sheep, but because I never assume I’m the smartest guy in the room. And no one loses points for trying to build a bridge.

    My titanium cup runneth over.

  • 10 xoxoxoxo // Jan 3, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Of course you’ll support it…it’s who you are and why we like you. I suspect all of us would do the exact same thing (even Karron with her shell on).

    I did however expect at very LEAST a wince or something over “puncturritate”….sigh….

    “We can build a bridge……”

  • 11 xoxoxoxo // Jan 3, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Or was that “Love…..can….” “Refreshments can build ANYTHING”.

  • 12 Karron // Jan 3, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    LOL…. refreshment can build anything . . . very good.

    yes, I would support the program, maybe grump a bit, but would go and do my howdy do and welcome thing.

    XO, I am always up for making new friends. Dave has my email address on his comment form. Feel free to use it to contact me.

    Build a bridge . . . gotta keep that in mind.

  • 13 xoxoxoxo // Jan 4, 2009 at 5:14 am

    Karron- This whole building bridges thing made me chuckle because there are times when I’d definitely be the “troll” that lived under one!

    I also had a very vivid Jr. High School dance flashback when I pictured the “bridge” event in Dave’s stake…everyone standing around the edges against the walls with small paper plates in their hands…no one brave enough to walk ALLLLLLL the way across the floor to shake hands….angst angst angst…

  • 14 Karron // Jan 5, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Oh horrors XO . . . those things were SO awkward and awful in Junior High.

    Troll . . . move over for the ex hippie hermit.

    Too funny. . .

  • 15 David // Jan 6, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Well it was clarified to us this past Sunday that our invitations for the open house should be prayerful, personal and one-on-one; the same as if we were just inviting a friend to church any other Sunday. The stake leadership decided not to go with any public announcement beyond flyers to our hand-picked chosen. Had this been another ward I might not have been too optimistic, but ours is pretty gung-ho. The goal is to get 100 visitors and we just might get close to that.

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