Thursday, September 19, 2013

This Time I Woke Up Laughing...

So I had the dream again, the one I've been having since I left the LDS Church. The setting varies, but the message is always the same. In the most common scenario, I'm soaking in the bathtub and the men in suits walk in. I scream/try to cover myself/tell them to leave, and they either ignore me or say, "It's okay, Sister Banta, you're not in the way."

The other night's setting was more complex. I was living in a communal house with some church members. We shared a bathroom. There was a lock on the bathroom door that I didn't know how to use, but everyone else did. So I'd go into the bathroom, start to undress, and somebody would barge in. I kept asking people to show me how to use the lock, but nobody would help me. After I'd been intruded on a few times I gave up and told the landlord I was moving out. He was a guy in a suit. "Sister Banta," he said. "You can't leave until you talk to your bishop."

I snickered, then giggled, then laughed, then doubled over and wheezed, and then I woke up, still laughing.

Talk to my bishop?

For those less familiar with the one and only true church, an LDS bishop is a layman. He is not trained in any way for the clergy, and, depending on his occupation and life experience, may be completely unqualified for the job. The Mormon Church not only admits this, it boasts that its clergy is unschooled.

I first went through the Mormon temple in 1980, back when the film included that scene where Satan brings a Protestant minister to preach to Adam.

"A man can not preach unless he has been trained for the ministry!" the smug vicar claimed.

HA! What did he know?

At the time, the minister/Satan's sidekick was portrayed by a very popular BYU professor who taught a class entitled "World Religions." Why I didn't get the irony in this is beyond me. But then, I didn't get a lot of things back then.

More to my point, even though a Mormon bishop may only be trained as a carpenter (yes, I know, like Jesus) he is deemed qualified to sit alone in a room with a church member and ask about her relationship status, yearly income, church activity, her underwear (naturally), and, finally, the details of her sex life.

That's where the creep factor comes in. Mark and I also got married in 1980. Couples who marry in the temple have to have individual one-one-one interviews with both the bishop and a member of the stake presidency.

The stake president interviewed me first. In order to be assured of my "worthiness," he cheerfully grilled me about the details of my intimate encounters with Mark. "Did you kiss?" "Did you use tongues?" "Did he lie on top of you?" "Did he touch you here?" "There?" I was so nervous, I just started lying, answering "no" to everything, worried that if I didn't I wouldn't get to marry Mark. -- Like I said, there were a lot of things I didn't get back then.

Then Mark went in for his interview and I grew even more anxious. What if Mark told him the truth? Then we couldn't get married! But - whew - thankfully, all was well. Turned out the stake president didn't ask Mark any of those questions.

In fairness, I've known my share of nice Mormon bishops, and there are certainly some creepy trained clergy out there. Maybe the common theme here is "clergy."

At any rate, the good news for me is that the idea of meeting with the bishop now inspires laughter rather than fear.  I won't be talking to my priesthood leaders any time soon. Although, given the opportunity, I'd have quite a bit to say to the stake president who interviewed me back in 1980.

But there'll be no more one-on-ones with the bishop...Unless we're at a bar and he offers to buy me a beer.


  1. I hear ya. Never again. Never, never, never.

  2. oh Sister Banta, you're so not in the way. I agree; the thought of seeking an audience with a bishop inspires the same reaction of laughter for me. It's crazy ridiculous how much power we gave these men in our lives while we were 'in' the church. Now from an 'outside' perspective they're just men with absolutely no power.

    1. Looking back it's amazing how many excuses the bishop and SP found for calling us into their offices. People in mainstream religions are rarely in one-on-ones with clergy, unless they (the parishioners) request it.

  3. I really want to wake up from a dream laughing. I don't ever remember that happening.