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Kirby: Amen to cures for Mormon General Conference boredom

Published April 13, 2017 7:41 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I have attended LDS General Conference maybe half a dozen times in my 63 years as a Mormon. The past two were because my editor made me.

She said I needed some good material. Ironically, my bishop said the same thing, albeit for a different reason.

Anyway, the last time I attended was three years ago. Instead of sitting in the designated place for media, I sat among the congregation where I belonged.

Joining with the mob I could at least pretend that I was there of my own volition. Aside from a migraine or a hangover, nothing makes church more tedious than being there because you have to work.

A word to those who think, "Well, if you don't like church, Mr. Smarty-Pants, why do you even bother going?"

I go for the same reason you go, Brother Wiseguy — because I want to. The difference is that not everyone is pliant enough to park their hams for two hours and call it being spiritually fed.

If church is supposed to be universally edifying, why do kids act out in it, old people fall asleep during it, and those with attention-deficit disorder like me start entertaining impure thoughts just to alleviate the monotony of listening to things we've heard 10,000 times already?

If your mind has ever wandered during a church meeting — and let's not pretend it hasn't — it means you weren't always riveted by the message either.

Moving on. I was about 10 when I learned that the struggle with boredom in church wasn't mine alone. My father, who always appeared deeply engrossed in the service, let me know that such was not always the case.

One Sunday, after dragging me out of the chapel for a midsermon drubbing, he suggested I find better ways to entertain myself during talks than threatening to wipe mucus on my sister.

"When I was your age," he said, "we would open the hymnal and add 'underneath the bedcovers' to the end of every song title."

At first I couldn't believe the Old Man was suggesting I be irreverent, but then I realized he didn't care what I did so long as I was quiet about it and didn't embarrass Mom.

It worked. Sort of.

"Come, Come, Ye Saints — Underneath the Bedcovers" was a much more interesting title for the hymn. So was "Have I Done Any Good in the World Today — Underneath the Bedcovers?"

The problem was that eventually I got bored with the Old Man's title addition and started thinking up my own.

"Choose the Right" was even better when it was "Choose the Right — Where Rats Eat Ramona" (a girl I hated). And "Who's on the Lord's Side Who — With Wolfman Boogers?" made me laugh. I had to cover my mouth so tightly that I actually blew mucus on my sister, which ended in another whacking.

I'm older now and slightly more mature. I think up other ways to entertain myself. For example, during the most recent General Conference session I attended, I sat near a family with a small boy. By the second speaker, the poor kid was visibly seething.

Before he started acting out, I gave him some M&M's. The first five were free. Then I convinced him to cross his eyes to get more. Then it was making a pig face. It was like training a monkey. Hilarious.

Some fussbudgets will find this inappropriate. But it beat carving my initials in the seat, deliberately provoking someone nearby or humming The Doors' "Light My Fire — Underneath the Bedcovers" loud enough to bug people nearby.

Fifty years from now, when that kid is my age, he won't remember a thing said in that conference session, but he'll remember the old guy with the M&M's who saved him from being bored or whacked to death.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.






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