Sunday, September 25, 2011

tales from the conference, part 6

As Braeden and I have talked over the events from the conference, both with each other and various third parties, we have been struck by the "special kind of weird" that events like this attract. As a college-level Spanish language instructor and graduate student, Braeden interacts with people between the ages of 18-30 on a daily basis, and he pointed out to me that the types of people that he sees on a daily basis and those that attend LDS single's conferences are very, very different. Take Cake Boy, for example, or No-Crackers-In-Bed girl, or the kid who came to the dance Saturday night in a bright blue/purple pimp suit that he sewed himself, or the twin girls with braids past their butts in scarf skirts who danced interpretively in the back lit portion of the gym to all the songs played at the dance. (All of these were actually conference attendees this year.) What is it about LDS single's conferences that seem to gather such a wide array of off-beat individuals together under one roof? We came up with a few ideas:

  1.  In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we are taught that every person on Earth is a child of God, and has inherent self-worth. This means that we should treat others the way that we would like to be treated, and that we should be respectful in our interactions with other people, regardless of who they are.
  2. We are told to ignore the trends of the world: we are taught to "be in the world, but not of the world." This can be, and is, interpreted many ways. I remember being taught in church that I should to dress modestly, regardless of the immodesty glamorized in fashion magazines (not that fashion magazines were every something that held much appeal for me personally). We are taught, basically, that we should march to the beat of our own drummer, as long as that drummer's beat is in time with the teachings of the church.
I think it's these two teachings, which I believe are important and true principles that unite to create this unique environment at LDS single's conferences—or any large gathering of Latter-Day Saints for that matter—where people feel comfortable enough to be themselves, perhaps in a way they don't feel comfortable any place else. I few other experiences come to mind:

One summer while I was in high school a boy in my ward got up to bear his testimony. This specific kid had a pretty hard time at school and in most social situations for various reasons and was teased a lot. But when he got up to bear his testimony that Sunday he had just gotten back from a week at EFY and told the congregation that it had been one of the best weeks of his entire life because for that one week he had not been teased once: he had never been made to feel as if he was less than anyone else: he felt comfortable with himself and those he was around.

At another church youth activity there was a different kid would always be sort of obnoxiously loud and weird and just really out there. At one point his mom, who was friends with my mom, asked him if he acted the same way at school as he did at church and he responded, "What?! No! Of course not! I can act this way at church because everyone has to love me here." Hmmmm...

I think that it's important for people to feel safe and comfortable at church social activities and be able to enjoy themselves. But, as a side effect of this culture of inclusiveness you get some very strange people who come out of it.


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Cassandra said...


My Worthless Degree said...

You are right on with your rationale. There is, however, a third reason . . . It is much less politcally correct and kind than what you have written, so, I will not dirty your blog with my cynical thoughts and keep them to myself.