Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Priesthood Session, Warm Fuzzies, Scary Temple Scene

Recently, a group of Mormon women requested tickets to the General Priesthood meeting. The LDS Church countered with the claim that the physical presence of women in the Conference Center would violate the sacred bonding between fathers and sons who attend the session together. As a feminist, I admire the efforts of this small number of women who seek to equalize their status within their church. But as an Ex-Mormon, I can't fathom why anyone would want to sit through this mythic snore-fest. Moreover, I question how much father/son bonding takes place during 90 or so minutes of verbal chloroform that is only enlivened by occasional scoldings toward those who are single, gay, or sometimes tempted to touch themselves.

But then, the Mormons are expert at promoting their bizarre and tiresome rituals as warm and fuzzy spiritual experiences. Lieutenant Matt Ryan discovered that when he inadvertently found himself inside a Mormon temple endowment session--under the guise of Brother Zimmerman, whose temple recommend he'd borrowed. It's just part of my new novel, False Prophet. (Yes, this is more flagrant self-promotion for my book--did you think it wouldn't be?)

Excerpt from False Prophet:

A voice from the speakers said, “We are instructed to clothe you in the Robes of the Holy Aaronic Priesthood.” I heard, “place the robe on your right shoulder.” It lost me after that. I saw that my neighbors were removing their Dearfoams. I popped mine off too, with barely a tug at the overtaxed elastic, and rummaged through my clothing for a robe. I found a long skinny scarf, what appeared to be a hat, and a folded square of white cotton. I figured it for the robe.
“Need help, Brother Zimmerman?” (actually Ryan.)
I looked up to see Brother Booze and a handful of others standing and staring down at me. 
“Nope, I got it,” I replied, and jumped to my feet. 
What they called a robe looked more like one of those sexy drapes that actresses wear in movies set in ancient Greece. It fastened with those annoying little hospital gown strings that I never could properly tie. When I at last completed the task, I looked around to see that the entire room was now fully accessorized and seated. Brother Booze leapt to my aid. 
“Where are the rest of your temple clothes?” he whistled. 
Indeed, where had they gone? The young red-haired man on my right collected them from underneath his seat. He stood, handed my hat to Brother Booze then tied the long white scarf around my waist. Booze placed what looked like a baker’s cap on my head, and came around behind to tie yet another string, this time connecting my hat to the shoulder of my robe. I stood still and stiff, aware that every eye was on me. 
Brother Red Hair searched under his seat again then mimed, “Where is it?” 
I shrugged. 
“Your apron?” Booze whispered. 
“The green thing?” 
Booze nodded. 
“I’m still wearing it.” 
Booze and Red Hair hiked up my skirt on either side. I flashed back to the pained expression of my fellow kindergartner, Rhonda Tressler, after I’d performed what I thought was a harmless playground prank. Brother Booze removed my apron and motioned for me to tie it around the outside of my clothes. Then the three of us sank gratefully into our seats. Red Hair pointed at my feet. 
“Brother Zimmerman, you need to put your slippers on,” said Brother Booze. 
Right. The Dearfoams. I guess I could manage that on my own. I found the left one in front of me on the floor and then felt around for the other. Shit. It must have traveled. If only the goddamned elastic wasn’t so tight. I dropped to my knees, searched under my seat, and those around me. I thought I spotted it, but when I touched the toe it moved. This was getting me nowhere. I climbed back into my seat and aimed a desperate look at the officiator. 
He cleared his throat. “Will the brethren in the room kindly check around their chairs for a stray slipper?” 
The room roiled with the bobbing of white caps, until a polite whisper of discovery came from behind, and the shoe floated hand over hand in my direction.“Thank you, brothers,” I murmurred before returning it to my foot and facing the altar. 
The officiator sent me a withering look and motioned to Brother Booze. Booze glanced over, grabbed the baker’s hat that dangled from my shoulder, and put it back on my head.  
I smiled up at the guy at the altar. He nodded, sighed, and depressed the button that activated the voice of God.

That will do! For now.

Click here to order False Prophet--and check out its first 5 star review from Mikayla Anne Pratt!


  1. Considering how fussy temple garments look, I have a feeling this kind of scenario plays out a lot! I hope Matt was wearing underwear.

    As for women being barred from "sacred" space so as not to distract men, it's pretty common among conservative religious people, sadly. Mosques making women pray at the back behind men, not to mention Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities segregating the sexes, are two examples. How immature are these guys if they think they can't bond with each other or their God if women are present? It's like a boys tree house club or something.

  2. Good observations, Ahab. Also, I know lots of dads who enjoy bonding with their daughters, likewise mother's with sons, essentially parents with children.

  3. Donna, thank you so much for the fun. I just might order the book. Guys like "Zimmerman" just make the temple experience really rotten for those of us who go there to meditate . . . and get out as quick as we can to go to the Old Country Buffet! They just slow the whole thing down. Plus, did you hear that they lengthened the movie by 12 minutes, making it very difficult to last until the Buffet!

    1. When I was a Mormon I hated that I never got to meditate.

  4. I went to the temple for the first time with my mom so I was pretty much on my own to fumble around like "Zimmerman" because of the way we were segregated in the room. And being super sensitive and scared that if I did anything wrong I would be shamed so badly I wished I was in hell, it didn't make the experience one that I ever wanted to do again.

    But after getting through it I felt like I needed to sit in the Celestial room and meditate on what the hell I just went through, only to be told to shove off after about 5 minutes of gathering my thoughts.

    I guess even the Mormon heaven is a temporary place.

    1. Ha! Yes, hopefully it's a temporary place. But really, they told you to shove off? Sounds like those weddings in the SL temple that my friend InsanaD calls car washes. And how horrible that you were on your own. My bishop's wife was there to "help" me, but she ended up sleeping through a lot of it and I was on my own.

  5. lol. Donna I totally enjoyed your book. I smiled all the way through. Back in my temple going days I enjoyed the competitive nature of the 'who can dress and switch their clothes around the fastest and most efficient'. I was pretty damn good at it. Thanks for the laugh. Have you received any criticism from the 'sacred temple' people? You and 'Big Love' totally giving up all the temple secrets (I mean sacreds).

    1. Not so far, no. But it's early in the game. :) I was an ace at the clothes changing...wanna make a small wager on which of us can do it the fastest?

    2. well, it has been awhile. If you can get hold of two temple recommends and two suitcases I'll give it a go. I need a practice session then I'll feel pretty confident (it's like riding a bike). The bigger question is where should we go after the session?

    3. Or we could just do the whole competition in a bar...

    4. sounds good. We should pick three bars to progress through. I'm not sure what a Celestial bar looks like compared to a Telestial bar. I'm thinking a Celestial bar has a full selection of whiskey to choose from.

    5. Bar hopping in our temple clothes--how cathartic is that!

  6. I can't decide if my mind wants to see them somewhat like Shriners or poorly dressed Scotsmen. Maybe I better get the book.

    1. Ha! Hope you do get the book, but if you don't--think of them as Masons. :)