Dear Mormon/Christian,Mormons experience a great deal of joy and freedom in Christ, for the record, and we often show it--when we are awake. But it may be harder to visibly show that joy when we are trying to keep several active children quiet in a meeting or when Botox has been used. When I first read this, I thought the problem was that our troubled Christian had attended the Beverly Hills Ward, where Botox might (I speculate) be used more heavily than in less fashionable wards. Hence the blank expressions. But then I noticed my correspondent had mentioned the real Mecca of fashion and beauty, southern Idaho, renowned for being more Californian than California itself. Suddenly surrounded by numerous "beautiful people," as described in the email, whose beauty may have been enhanced in a few cases with heavy doses of Botox, our overwhelmed visitor might have associated those faces with some deficiency in our theology and not the failings of cosmetic surgery.
I grew up in southern Idaho with many LDS friends and attended several of their church services. As a Spirit-filled Christian I always went to these services with the hope of feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit. All I experienced was a group of people going through a bunch of scripted rituals. Good people, but empty inside and meeting out of duty, not love for the Heavenly Father. Most of the men were asleep and the women were staring with a blank expression as the children ran around. All of the talk was about Joseph Smith or one of the founding Fathers of Mormonism. Nothing about true liberty in Jesus.
I always left those services empty and sad that these beautiful people have never experienced the Joy and freedom in knowing the true Savior.
While Botox helps me understand part of the complaint, I'm really stumped about the "scripted rituals." Someone needs to get over to southern Idaho and see what's up. Our lack of scripted rituals has been a common complaint for newcomers attending our services. Fast and testimony meeting - anything can happen. Regular sacrament meetings: almost anything can happen. OK, we have an opening prayer and a song, and a closing song and prayer, and in between there are a few minutes for the sacrament where a brief specific prayer is used (yes, scripted), but the majority of the meeting is in highly unscripted hands. The first speaker usually speaks before the closing speaker, just like the closing prayer generally comes after the opening prayer--but that's not especially scripted. So what did our friend experience in Idaho?
Please, if southern Idaho wards have become highly organized and scripted, I think the rest of us need to learn from them, even if southern Idahoans make the rest of us feel a little ugly and unfashionable in comparison.
I find that our critics often not only seem to be willing to tell us what we believe, but also what we feel, what we think, and what is in our hearts. This person was able to just look at the Mormons and recognize that they were going to church out of duty, not out of love for God and joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He could see their hearts were empty, lacking love for Heavenly Father. Really? I bet he could see that without even talking to them or looking at their blank expressions. I bet he could even read their minds while they were asleep, perhaps from the other side of the world. The psychic gifts of anti-Mormonism: it wasn't just Fawn Brodey who experienced such supernatural powers.