So, a few weekends from now there will be a big deal in Salt Lake City. Every Spring and Fall, the LDS church (ya know, the Mormons) have their "General Conference", and people come from around the world to attend. For two weekends a year, downtown SLC is awash with white dress shirts and floral patterned dresses. And bad shoes. Always and consistently– the true hallmark of Mormonism– really bad shoes.
| "Is that Joel Osteen?" "Shut up."
If you've never experienced the Mormon General Conference, please, allow me to set the stage: Imagine a huge room, tastefully decorated in warm wood tones and understated but classy decor. In it, 20,000 faithful members sit in quiet decorum as the top leaders of their religion impart messages of scripture and doctrzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… Oops. Sorry. Dozed off for a moment there. As I was saying, the "brethren" give heart-felt talks about how to live better livzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
What? Huh? Oh… sorry. What was I saying? Oh yeah- I was saying that General Conference is TORTUROUSLY BORING! It's old men in dark business suits intoning the same old recycled messages year after year after year after year after year…. If you're used to Catholic or Anglican church (or the like), just imagine if the "sermon" part of the service (as opposed to the stand-up-sit-down, recite, recite, recite part of the service) lasted much, MUCH longer and was given by someone who never formally studied theology or public speaking, but just had to pick it up as they went along. So they all just mimic each other, with the effect being that there is a distinctive "General Conference" cadence. A drone that is absolutely unique to this event, and is instantly recognizable to Mormons the world over. Mormons who, sadly, are expected to watch and/or listen to this miserable broadcast semi-anually (can't we do something to help these poor people???).
| Look-they even bore themselves!
You may ask yourself, if G.C. is so boring, what's to keep members paying attention? If they've heard the messages before, why don't they all just glaze over and go to their happy-place for two hours? First- you should know that most Mo's will tell you that Conference is their happy place. They will say this because they get the glorious opportunity to hear their god's message through his appointed representatives here on Earth. They will tell you that Conference is a special time, because they feel "the spirit." They will tell you how much they LOVE conference. They are liars.
NOBODY can love that drivel! It's awful! However… people can so muddle their own brains that they can convince themselves that they love it. When I say that the "conference lovers" are lying, I don't think they mean to purposefully deceive you or me. I mean that they are constantly and completely lying to themselves. It's fascinating. I've even tried confronting some of my hard-core Mormon friends about the lie that they love conference. The mental twists and turns that they've had to navigate to convince themselves that conference is even tolerable is far too thick a maze to ever penetrate with logic.
I'll say something like "But at it's core, he's saying EXACTLY the same thing they always say, just with a different [made up] "inspirational" story to illustrate the point."
Then they'll say something like "Yes, but the story was so beautiful, and it's always good to be reminded of god's love/forgiveness/laws…"
Then I'll say "Yeah, but… it was… such a long talk, and not particularly well written…"
Then, they won't say anything, because they're too absorbed in feeling sad about how I'm not going to be with them in Heaven, but I have free agency, and I make my own decisions, so I'm bringing it on myself, and why would I be trying to make them feel bad about the church, anyway, when it brings them so much happiness, but that's Satan's way of luring people away from god, and it's really sad that Satan has such a hold on me, but maybe there's a way that they can bring me back into the fold if they just can be a good enough example and show me how happy the gospel of god has made them…. Then their eyes glaze over and their mouths freeze in an awkward (and frequently Prozac-enhanced) half-smile. That's when the conversation is over.
It's tricky inside a Mormon brain.
Anyhoo- if you want to see this phenomenon for yourself, you can come to downtown SLC this April or October and wander among the flock. Just mind that you don't get stepped on- those shoes are DEADLY!