Monday, November 19, 2007

no one wants to be e

i like stories. i think they are telling. get it. anyway i dont care much about interests. what do interests tell you. nothing i care about. but stories can tell 1) what external factors have shaped people 2) how they interpreted their experiences and 3) their underlying and perhaps unconscious views about life and coping mechanisms. that is why i think dating should be almost comprised of story telling. that and making out.

in mormonism you have testimony meetings. which is a once a month sort of thing where anyone in the congregation can stand up and bear testimony about God and stuff. it seems that recently the approach to testimonies has been to state things you know. i dislike this approach. i dont think knowing is really all that important. i think its nice when people can relate personal experiences that reflect their interactions with God or even what they think might be their interactions with God. i like the idea and concept of people who want to believe congregating and sharing stories. i recently read an article regarding testimonies. the author described how telling spiritual experiences in testimonies helps the congregation self identify "in a powerful, binding ritual of narrative-based testimony"and that this is important and meaningful because the fact that God "interacts with us, even in the slightest way, creates an underlying relevance to the story we tell." Tessa Meyer Santiago, Telling our Stories of Jesus: the Necessary Narrative, The Clark Memorandum Fall Edition 2007, 31-35. she believes that testifying only using declarative statements such as i know "encourages a uniformity of form but a lack of substance." i agree. the importance in relating any spiritual experience is not to testify regarding knowledge (in fact testifying strictly regarding spiritual knowledge is too limiting) but instead to relate experiences or feelings that persuade you to feel a certain way and unite you to the group. describing your love for you family or the death of a friend or a nice sunset or sin may be your testimony that there is a God. the religious community is not dependent on status or class but instead on relating these religious experiences. as society and individuals change the narrative(s) changes. but the value is in documenting the story. the faith, the apostasy, the repentance, the discouragement and the hope is just part of the narrative. thus, all testimony should be accepted without regard if it is weak, circumstantial, unsure or perhaps even insincere. these testimonies are valid since they are reflections of what the person and society is experiencing. the best testimony i have personally heard came from a man born in china who i could barely understand. the second one was from a middle aged women whose cats died.




12 comments:

becky said...

one of my favorite testimonies was dr. choi's. i also could barely understand him. bless his heart. he gave me an A. thanks dr. choi.

also, testimony meeting makes me squirm. what with the overshares and the crying. but i appreciate people who can share personal things. i just don't want to be in the same room as them.

also, i disagree that interests don't tell you anything. well, at least for ME. for example, i don't think i could date someone who's greatest interest was hunting. i don't relate to people who enjoy killing for sport (yes, i know you're going to eat the meat [and so am i] but that doesn't mean it should be FUN to chase and kill animals). although i don't think i'd ever call any interest, hobby, etc. a deal-breaker, i DO think that interests shape who you are in a lot of ways.

punk rock girl said...

dr. choi had some really great stories. he also gave me an A. thank you dr. choi.

testimony meeting is always uncomfortable. but in a good way.

when i talk about interests i am usually just referring to things such as favorite music. something everyone usually has an opinion on but it usually doesnt matter. i do think interests can tall you some things. but usually what it tells you i dont care about.

brian said...

music matters to me, but that's cause i'm obsessed with it. actually, i think it's all dependent on the music you have to listen to when you're hanging out with someone. if i think the music sucks, it takes away from the experience, but if the music is awesome, it just makes it that much better.

but really i wanted to talk about testimonies. here's my question: if narrative-based testimonies are better at showing the personal ways god interacts with people and great for strengthening communities of believers, why do you think there's such a stigma against them in the church? like everyone complains about the people who tell stories in testimony meeting.

natali said...

yes in a way i feel the same way about interests. for me interests come into play when i like someone (friends or romantic). i like to know about them so i know what they like to drink at the movie or what concert they might want to go to. but otherwise they are of little interest to me. that being said i think i might be wrong about what they mean.

i am not sure why there is the stigma. but i have some ideas. personal stories can make people feel uncomfortable if they are well too personal. also, narratives can seem less reliable as a source of knowledge because they are too open to interpretation. it may be more difficult to understand causation and meaning through stories (parables are complicated). and i think what people would believe it would be more encouraging of frivolous testimony that does not benefit the rest of the congregation.

i think the author of that article cited time management as a potential factor. they want as many people as possible to bear witness in the quickest most powerful way as possible.

Tim & Breena said...

True. Blanket and redundant declarations of what you "know" kind of negates the role of active faith in the whole process. It's much more helpful (interesting, thought-provoking, sometimes painful, and a million other adjectives) to hear how someone came to "know", why someone believes, or better yet why they're not quite sure, but really searching.

I'm not sure how much personal narrative I really want (i.e. the man in my ward who likes to talk about his enemies the Muslims/Iraqis in his "testimony"), but without personal narrative it usually just sounds like a form letter.

I'll never forget taking a nomo friend of mine to a ward in LA where 18 children aged 4-9 stood up and bore the exact same "testimony" (I know the church is true, I love my mom and dad, etc). Creepy. Not to mention hard to explain to my nomo friend.

natali said...

i am pretty intrigued by testimonies and how they change and how their forms change through the years. i am also intrigued by converts. and convert testimonies. those are my favorite.

becky said...

the reason convert testimonies are great is because they are fresh and sincere. well, the recent converts are fresh. anywho, my parents never let us get up and give our testimonies when we were too young to even know what we were saying and i appreciate that

punk rock girl said...

yeah but my point is no one knows what they are saying. not really. kid testimonies are just as valid as anyone elses.

punk rock girl said...

and by no one knows i mean you dont have to know to bear your testimony. so kids shouldnt be excluded from the opportunity to bear testimony.

Tim & Breena said...

kids should bear their testimonies. they just shouldn't be taught the form letter in primary or have their parent's whispering it into their ear as they speak. I'm all about kids bearing their testimony about finding nemo...just as long as it's their own experience.

becky said...

oh, i agree. i was mostly talking about the kids who go up with their parents and then their parents whisper everything they should say in the child's ear. and do they still say anything besides "i know this church is true, i love my mom and dad and brothers and sisters (sometimes when they don't even have them)..."? no, no they don't.

natali said...

i bet my kids are going to have testimonies about ghosts. i know i do.