A new family to the ward
I’ve never taken dreams all that seriously, so it’s interesting to read articles by people who apparently take dream meanings very seriously. (I always have to wonder how they know their interpretation is correct).
Maybe it’s because I was able to get a good night’s sleep after days of studying for finals (or, more likely, procrastinating my studies for finals), but last night…I had a very interesting dream.
In the dream, I went back home for Winter Break. (So far, so good. I’m planning on doing that today, in fact). My brother convinced me to go to church as soon as I got back (which is strange, since my brother hasn’t been to church in a while either…and he actually won’t be going home at the same time I will be.)
I remember feeling awkward. We had driven straight from College Station to Oklahoma, and we were all in school clothes (although I did have a button-down shirt [not white] and a sweater-vest on, so I argued that that was good enough)…but we were in the church parking lot, so why not go inside?
When I entered, everyone was so glad to see me, and they wanted to know how life at college was. (Of course, I didn’t inform them of my disaffection, as I have not in the past. Talking about college is a great enough excuse for why I haven’t been there in a year…and they never inquire about whether I attended church at school [I suppose it is assumed], so that never sours the atmosphere.)
But when sacrament began…the first counselor to the Bishopric announced that the two speakers speaking today would be a new family to the ward introducing themselves with a pertinent gospel message.
The first person to speak was the husband of the couple, and he informed us that he wanted to have a very interactive, if unorthodox conversation rather than talk. I didn’t worry too much about it.
At some point, my mom made a remark to the guy using some cliche common phrase (and at this point, it dawned on me that for the first time in a long time, my entire family was at church.) The guy jumped on my mom’s use of a cliche (I don’t even remember what it was, but it certainly sounded vaguely scriptural), asking, “You say that so casually, but do you know where in the scriptures that occurred?”
My mom guessed, but it was something embarrassingly misinformed. She guessed some event (that had occurred in the Old Testament), and then attribute it to New Testament actors.
The speaker was not amused. He publicly corrected that not only was that not the right event, but that that was an event from the Old Testament, not the New Testament. He then revealed whatever the origin had been (I’m not an Old Testament scholar — so I’m pretty sure the dream churner within me just picked some obscure Old Testament book that I myself haven’t read and made stuff up.)
I felt embarrassed for two reasons…firstly, my “family” was in the negative now…but secondly, I also didn’t know enough to answer the question…so even though I was disappointed in my mother, I knew that I wouldn’t have fared any better.
The guy asked another question, to which my father correctly answered, and I felt a little better inside.
Somehow, the talk (that was supposed to be an introduction of the family, I suppose) ended up more with a general chastising of the spiritual inattentiveness of the members of this ward.
…then the wife went up to talk. I don’t even know what she was talking about, because what I do remember was significant about her talk is that for the greater portion of it, she didn’t even talk. Instead, she took my father, my brother, and myself outside the chapel into one of the foyers, and then she and her husband challenged us.
The first challenge was something with four cupcakes. I don’t remember all the limitations, but the challenge was to eat all of the icing off of four cupcakes without any of the cupcakes hitting the floor. The problem is that as soon as you got to two cupcakes, it was difficult to do anything with the other two. So my brother dropped the third and fourth cupcakes.
When it was my father’s turn, I expected him to triumph once again…but even he only got to three cupcakes.
For me, however, they said they’d bring out a different challenge. Instead of cupcakes. I would have swords. And I’d have to work with my father.
My father placed one sword flat on his index fingers, with his fingers serving as abutments to the sword as a bridge. He took a second sword, balanced it on the first, trying to avoid the sharpness of the blade. Then carefully he passed the blades to me.
I took hold of them, and for a second things seemed to go well…but then as I was taking the third blade, the second began to slip, and the blade nicked my finger. I felt a trickle of blood, and saw the redness, and I panicked, dropping the swords.
After, we went back to the chapel, and the wife continued her speech. The couple revealed that had I more faithful, I would have been able to complete my task without harm.”
I protested, “But I clearly got cut.”
“Oh?” the wife seemed to sigh more than say. “Did you really get cut by one of these?”
She tossed one of the swords from before to me, and beckoned me to feel the sharp edge. There wasn’t one.
“What is this…I don’t even…”
Then she explained. “Some people believe they cannot be hypnotized, but trance states occur all the time. It requires no words, because we are primed to enter trance states by the appearances of things.
“Did you know that when someone sees a book, they are primed to think that they should learn something? In the same way, when someone sees a sword’s blade touch them, they are primed to feel the sharpness, sense blood, sense the cut. For people who are concerned about appearances, they actually fall further into the trance through this subconscious distraction.”
Like most dreams, the end is kinda fuzzy. But I remember that on my way out, I thought, “Wow, with these kinds of people in the ward, I really want to stick around…”
As a general analysis, I guess I picked up a few things. Firstly, my father is involved in martial arts, and I fence, so we both have some experience with swords (but not super-sharp ones). My father is also a hypnotist.
However, I don’t know what to think of this. I’ve never seen him in action, or with his clients, and even though I’ve been interested in hypnosis, I just do not think I’m all that hypnotizable. I think some kind of confusion technique would be necessary to put me under a trance rather than more standard or traditional methods.
So, the dream seemed to be about competition. Here we were, outclassed by a new family to the ward. Not only in swordsmanship, not only in proficiency with the human mind, but also with faith and scriptural knowledge.
How could this be?
I don’t know, but it was probably significant that my entire family was at church that day. With my dad working on weekends, my mom being one of those people who just was offended, my brother having…who knows what reasons for not going, and my place as the apostate atheist of the household, the S. family just doesn’t have representation in the pews all that often. My youngest brother and sister have a nearly null awareness of the gospel at all, which is interesting…while I blog about all the things I dislike about my church experience, I have to be aware that my youngest brother and sister wouldn’t even know what I’m talking about. At several times, they have not known that they (or at least our family) are Mormon, much less what Mormonism entails.
And so wouldn’t it be expected that such a family drifts away from Mormonism proper over time?
We lost that magical, hypnotic edge.
But then again, many members never get such an edge. What is the trance that we enter into during church? I suspect that for many members, it’s a complacent trance. The answers are the same. There isn’t any critical thinking or creativity.
These members, as well as ourselves on the fringe of the institution, lost the opportunity for a deeper, more nuanced and enlightened testimony that one may have when one can accept truth — wherever it may come — but reject bullcrap — wherever it may come.
Or something like that.