Stingy with my ninety and nines


I face a rather frequent conundrum in church. Well, I face several, but this post focuses on just one: the Amen. You see, I really think we should only say “amen” when we actually agree with what has been said. So, when a person’s testimony centers on the fact that everyone else in the world is lost because they’re not LDS or the closing prayer implores God to kill a law allowing same-sex unions, I would feel dirty offering up my “so be it”. This position is quite the minority one in Mormonism. In fact, disagreement at all seems to be anathema to the Saints. How many times have you seen a dissenting vote for sustaining? Or had a Gospel Doctrine class where differing opinions were raised, let alone considered? So, most folks just mumble their amens every time someone offers one. Not saying one generally implies that you weren’t paying attention, not that you’re actively abstaining.

But here’s the crux of the problem: what if someone has borne a testimony that is great except for one or two minor problems? Saying amen implies, at least to me, that you accept the full package, irritating false doctrine and all. Or if the lesson you’ve been taught was offensive but the witness shared at the end is bang on? Is it enough to say amen and know for yourself that it applies only to the last bit? I tend to keep my amens robust and for those things which I honestly agree with. Obviously, I shouldn’t bother worrying so much, since no one notices one way or the other what I do. Or if they do, it's only to remind themselves of why they think I'm bound for hell.

Maybe the solution needs to be a complete cultural overhaul. Instead of amen as the only possible response to an amen, we can expand into things like kimat amen (almost amen), amen im bayot (amen, with problems), or ani mesarev (I refuse), etc. Now, when I’m President of the Church…

(bonus points if you catch the title's meaning)


Shaun R. said...

those are some great alternatives to the regular amen. Along a similar vein I have issues with standing ovations.

Jér said...

I have issues with undeserved standing ovations. I can't comment about the rest of the world, but those seem to be the norm here in Utah. Maybe it's because Utahns are such rubes that they can't distinguish between regular, applause-worthy entertainment and stellar, ovation-worthy performances.

So, Alea: are Utahns rubes, or do they just have really bad taste and low expectations?

alea said...

are "rubes" and "bad taste" really the only two alternatives? I don't really have much to compare Utahn behavior with (except Edmontonians, who were likewise quick to stand). My gut feeling suggests that it's not just us, though. Standing ovations have lost meaning. Which is bad, if you're a snob, or meaningless/innocent if you're ok with the loss of culturally salient practices.

Jér said...

I am a snob, there's not question about that. Also an elitist.

I know that Italians (and I think Europeans in general) are still sparing with their standing ovations, and I kind of assume that jaded New Yorkers would be as well, but I have no evidence for that. I guess that's who I was comparing it to. And since my unquestioned prejudice is that all of Middle America is exclusively populated by rubes and hicks, I guess those were the only two choices I could come up with.

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