Becoming A Pickle
Okay, any increase in posting rate achieved by my making myself post every day for a week was apparently short-lived; my posting here has once again become rather sporadic. But I have a reason; I'm kind of going through a hard time financially right now, and so my time has been occupied by, well, trying to get things worked out; blogging has, for the moment, had to take a back seat. But anyway...
Twice a year, the LDS church has a "general conference", in which normal church meetings are replaced by discourses by church leaders. In the old days, when the church was small and localized, I think all the members were expected to personally attend the conference meetings; now, of course, they're broadcast over cable TV and over the internet, although many members still do make the trek to Salt Lake City to be there in person.
This weekend was one of the weekends of general conference, and I had no plans to watch or listen to it. However, my mother called a few hours ago, and asked if I'd watched that morning's conference session, saying that there were things said there that had really touched her. Now, I'm still not quite ready to tell my family about my disenchantment with the church, but on the other hand I'm certainly not comfortable with outright lying about the matter, either. Still, I managed to avoid the subject, implying that I'd watched conference without actually saying so (which I suppose is arguably still a form of lying, even though I didn't actually say anything false--but, as I said, I'm really not ready to tell my family about my atheism yet).
Still, though, I decided I may as well listen to this morning's session, if nothing else just so that I could respond appropriately if my mother wanted to discuss specific talks (as well as out of some curiosity to see what had touched her so much). It wouldn't really be a waste of time, since I could just have it on in the background while I was doing something else; I wasn't going to focus all my attention on it. (Actually, I listened, I just realize, to the wrong session; today's Sunday and I listened to the Saturday morning session. Eh. Oh well.)
As I expected, I hadn't been missing much. The last talk, by the first counselor in the church's First Presidency, and the next in line to become the president of the church when the current one dies (which, at his age, may not be long off), was particularly annoying (and rather disingenuous), starting with a deceptive selection of culled quotes to foster the impression that all agnostics and atheists are ignorant pessimists who place no value on human life. But one talk...well, one talk featured what may be the most bizarre religious metaphor I offhand remember ever hearing.
This talk, by recent addition to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles David A. Bednar, centered around a metaphor likening the change that a convert undergoes through the Holy Spirit when he comes unto Christ to the change that a cucumber undergoes when it becomes a pickle. Yes, seriously. This wasn't just a comparison mentioned in passing; this was the central metaphor of his talk.
I certainly didn't start this blog to mock the LDS church, or religion in general. I don't believe in God; I think religion does a lot of harm to the world and has done a lot of harm to me personally; there are a lot of members of the church I like, but the church itself, as an organization, I harbor little goodwill toward. But I don't know that mockery is the most suitable attitude. For the most part, I'd rather couch any criticism in clear and direct terms, rather than hiding it in sarcasm and parody.
But this--this pickle metaphor is so utterly ridiculous it's hard to let it pass without mockery. Except that it's so absurd on its own face that there's not much left to mock; it's hard to make it seem more ludicrous than it already clearly is.
If you're curious and want to hear it for yourself, you can find it online here. Just click on the "MP3" link to the right of the name "David A. Bednar" in the "Saturday Morning Session" section. Normally I wouldn't necessarily recommend listening to the General Conference talks, but this one almost has to be heard to be believed. (Or read, I suppose, but the text won't be available online till Thursday or so.)
So, remember. The Gospel of Christ is like brine, and taking Christ into your heart is like becoming a pickle. An Apostle of the Lord said so.