Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Maginot Line

I almost didn't go to church again this weekend. The Episcopal church meets at the same time and Maude wanted to go. I told her we could alternate Sundays (since we only have one vehicle) and that she could take the first one. When it actually came time to wake up, she was too sleepy and told me to go ahead.

I didn't know what to expect, but this being the Northeast, I figured the Mormon ward house would be small and possibly located in a converted IHOP restaurant. Boy, was I wrong. I pulled up to a brand-new building, fresh out of the church-approved architectural oven. Is it just me, or are the Church buildings getting better-looking? I think this is a positive development for missionary work; it's hard to get people excited about worshipping God in what looks like an old bank branch.

The chapel itself was actually pretty small. Who has ever heard of a chapel with only six rows of pews? I guess this is a mini-ward house, kind of like the newer mini-temples. They had the overflow open so that it was about the size of a regular chapel, only with half of the seats being located in the cultural hall.

I came in about two minutes before the meeting started and landed a primo spot in the back row, just like old times. In my old ward in Virginia, I never exchanged more than two words with anyone during the eight or nine times I went, probably because there were 200-250 people there every week. This week, however, as soon as I had sat down, the guy next to me had introduced himself, his wife and his kids. I was right; it's going to be a lot harder keeping a low profile in small ward. He had gotten my name and half my life story out of me just during the prelude music. I tried going with the whole "I'm just visiting" shtick, but that never works. I wasn't planning on revealing too much about myself, but he came right out and asked me, "So, is your wife a member?" There's really no way around that question. I was only hesitant to answer because I saw two sets of typical over-eager Elders sitting in the chapel. I think they can smell part-member families, just like dogs can smell fear.

Finally, the meeting started and during it I met the guy sitting on the other side of me. He seemed like a kindred spirit, and possibly a new convert. He didn't take the sacrament either, which I find helps ease some of the stigma. As I prepared to bolt at the end of the meeting (to avoid having to meet the Bishop), this guy says, "See you next week." I don't think he was planning on sticking around for Sunday School either.

I am glad that everyone I've met so far has been so nice; I think I could enjoy my time here. However, I am a little apprehensive about the Elders getting ideas about Maude. She hasn't shown any interest in attending, but if she ever does come, I don't think she'd respond well to the missionaries. It was easy to have boundaries in a large ward; I have a feeling it will take a lot more energy now to defend them.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sheep in sheep's clothing

Fortunately, I was in the midst of a move and missed most of the M*/BCC/Dialogue nonsense that flared up last week. (If you missed it too, and have a healthy dose of masochism, feel free to read it here.)

The fallout from this is that over at M*, Jonathan Max Wilson informs us that he can no longer in good faith participate in the bloggernacle. It seems to me that every six months or so, certain bloggers get fed up with the bloggernacle, insinuate those left behind are on the road to apostasy, and bow out. (In fact, I made a similar post almost exactly five months ago, and J. Max Wilson even left a comment.) That's fine. Maybe they are right, maybe they are wrong; what irritates me is the suggestion that they know my intentions better than I do.

I think the bloggernacle would be a much nicer place if everyone just took a deep breath, relaxed, and ascribed the best intentions to everyone in it. The idea that there are wolves in sheep's clothing, or Bloggernacle stalwarts who are secretly anti-Mormons posing as faithful questioners, is patently ridiculous.

Heterodox Mormons are not in league with Satan, and Orthodox Mormons aren't (all--ha!) Pharisees bent on driving the rest of us from the church. We are all working out our own salvation here, trying to resolve our feelings about often difficult and murky topics. I am not trying to lead anyone astray; I couldn't even if I tried. I am trying to figure out what parts of Mormonism work for me and which ones don't, and whether those that don't preclude me from returning to full activity. If discussing hard topics offends some people, then they shouldn't participate; life is too short to be constantly offended.

If the open and freewheeling nature of bloggernacle discussion offends you, fine, but don't pretend to know my motives. We are all sheep, still looking for the right shepherd.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

He who is transplanted, still sustains...

Phwew! It's been a rough few weeks, but somehow Maude, me, and the majority of our stuff made it to our new home. As you may have noticed from my updated profile there on the right, I have left the Washington D.C. metro area forever and am now a curmudgeonly New Englander. I've already practiced saying, "you cahn't get there from heeahr." I am certain my neighbors will just love me.

It's a big transition moving from an apartment to a home. Suddenly, I am responsible for maintaining more than twice the usual amount of space and three times as many bathrooms. Frankly, we weren't all that good about keeping three rooms clean; how are we going to fare with a whole house? I think maintaining this place and the yard could be my full-time job, which is convenient, because I still haven't found one. Without work, I've totally lost track of what day it is but I am pretty sure tomorrow is garbage day. Maybe this Sunday I can finally check out the new church.

I do miss my old work internet connection; I have about two and a half weeks of bloggernacle postings to catch up on.

Monday, August 01, 2005

NY Times article on Mormon cinema

I haven't seen anything in the bloggernacle about the New York Times Sunday Magazine article about Mormon cinema so I thought I would link to it (registration required, lamentably).

I'm not a fan of most Mormon-themed movies, but a comedy about church basketball sounds hilarious. It's too bad the title "Murderball" was already taken. On one hand, "Church Ball" will star Fred Willard. This can only be good news. One the other, it will also feature Gary Coleman. It could be a wash.