Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Categories of Church Membership, and Celestial Rooms

My mom was on the phone with a relative from my dad's side of the family for almost an hour this afternoon.  This particular relative can only speak for about fifteen seconds without something about her church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, creeping into the conversation. Such is the case with several of my paternal relatives.

Many people have been born into or have struck up affiliations with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but do not practice the faith to any serious degree. Some no longer believe. Some profess to believe but claim they just can't follow the rules. Mormons are not unique in this regard. The same sort of church/self relationships  exist in many faiths, particularly in those religious denominations with comparatively demanding rules for members to follow.  The following comments do not pertain to non-practicing, lukewarm, or on again/off again Mormons.

I've decided that practicing Mormons fall into three categories: Mormons, uber-nazi Mormons, and Mormons With Celestial Rooms In Their Homes.  I have one nuclear family of relatives who fall under category one. The remainder are solid twos and threes.

Regular Mormons attend church on a consistent basis, although they don't seem to feel the need to drag a sick child to church because both parents have classes to teach on a given Sunday.  They probably pay a full ten per cent tithing (probably even on their gross income), as they do attend temple session on occasion, and paying one's tithing is supposedly a requirement for a temple recommend. They don't consume alcohol, coffee, or tea, and probably don't drink many caffeinated soft drinks, but they don't make a habit of pointing out distinctions between what they drink and what others drink. They typically do family things on Sundays. On an occasional Sunday, this may be expanded to  include extended family, and sometimes the Sunday activities may even include water, as in swimming in a pool or going to a beach.

Uber-nazi Mormons would never swim or go to a beach on a Sunday. Satan owns the water. This is also a reason given for why young men and women on full-time missions may not swim. (I never understood why, if Satan owns the water, it would be safe to swim any other day of the week, either. If anything, wouldn't God be all the more vigilant in protecting His Chosen People on His Holy Sabbath Day?)  Uber-nazi Mormons' sons serve missions whether or not the young men personally feel the call. It's an obligation and an expectation. Sometimes high-priced carrots, as in new cars or paid college educations, are held over the prospective missionaries'  heads. At other times, the pressure is more psychological: 100%  of Grandma's sons, sons-in-law, and grandsons have served honorable missions. Do you really want to be the one to change that?  Uber-nazi Mormons pay tithing rather than the mortgage if there isn't enough money for both.

With Mormons With Celestial Rooms In Their Homes, everything pertaining to the previous category is also in place. They just step things up a notch by designing (usually this happens in the design phase of a home, before it is constructed, but not always) and dedicating a special room in their homes to be like the Celestial Room of an LDS temple. Celestial Rooms in homes are typically decorated similarly to celestial rooms in temples  and are usually kept in an immaculate state of  cleanliness *** even if the furnishings resemble those of the lobby of the Pink cloud Motel.

(Note: this picture is of the Celestial Room of the Vancouver Temple, not of the lobby of the Pink Cloud Motel. I thought it essential to make the clarification, as confusing the two is a  mistake that could easily be made) Families pray together in these rooms. As far as what else might happen in these rooms, I'd rather not even think about it. Celestial Rooms In Homes make is clear to others that the family who lives here is just half-a-stride and a slightly quicker pace or so closer to the Grand Celestial Kingdom than are the rest of the Mormons -- even the uber-nazis.

If one were to  consider that Mormons of this category usually have two or three boxcars  full of children,  it would, in most of these cases, seem more prudent to devote the extra square home footage to additional sleeping quarters so that the offspring aren't sleeping in such close proximity that the lice can crawl from one head to the next one without taking a single step on non-human-head  territory, and the virus germs can travel from one host to another without going airborne.  That's just Alexis being OCD again, my Mormon relatives With Celestial Rooms In Their Homes   would say.

Some Mormons With Celestial Rooms In their Homes have sufficient funds that the space availability for sleeping quarters is a non-issue.  for them, it's both a function and a statement. Function: We have a special room to pray because we apparently believe god won't hear our prayers unless we're in our Celestial Room. Statement: We can afford a Celestial Room.  unfortunately, non of my relatives With Celestial Rooms fall into this sub-category.

*** Not all Celestial rooms are maintained to perfection. I've been in one (I'm usually not allowed inside them, and this is one I wish I had not been allowed inside) that would make a hoarder cringe either in self-recognition or because the standards of cleanliness and order were beneath even those of the hoarder.


  1. When I was Mormon, the only people I can image who would have been in that Celestial category was probably the Bishop and some of his cohorts. Maybe a few others that were rich enough.In Southern CA - specifically San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica (the 2 places I lived and went to church at) the Mormons weren't as annoying of those who we visited at BYU for the youth conference. Not that I really visited all the members homes to see if they had such rooms, no thank you on that part. But the ones I was at were never freaky overboard.

    There were only a few of the young men that I am sure were forced into going on a mission. Ha, but there was 1 young man that I kinda prevented from that as well...

    I have sometimes wondered what happened to all the people I've gone to church with in the past, if they are still Mormon or not...

  2. Faery, if you don't mind sharing, what did you do to help to relieve the young man of his obligation to go on a mission?

    p.S./my aunts and uncles on my dad's side are struggling to feed and house their families, so they're Celestial Rooms are small and sparsely furnished via IKEA. My grandparents have a little more disposable income, though. Their celestial room looks like the one of the sets of Trinity Brodcasting Network's PTL, the one that Paul and Jan Crouch host. It's multi-level with a winding staircase, a skylight (there are no other windows) and a white Bosendorfer piano tha's probaby worth over 100K. Only LDS hymns - not even Bach or Handel -- may be played on that divine piano, although I'd like it much better in black than in white. Some day I'm going to find a way to get in there when no oe's home and play Moart, Bach, Beethoven, and even a little Billy Joel and Bruce Hornsby just to get it out of my system.

  3. their, not they're, in paragraph 2, sentence one

  4. I think my husband's ex daughter is bucking for status among Mormons with Celestial Rooms in their homes...

  5. It's funny how people overcompensate in their need to believe in a higher power.