Dedicated to the Bishop Green and the Logan YSA 49th ward: Thank you for putting up with my unnecessarily dramatic lessons each Sunday.
We have a lay clergy in the Mormon church. This is great-it allows any member of the church a chance to serve in some capacity. Everyone in the ward is usually given a “calling,” a responsibility to do something or serve someone. It usually works just fine. It does have a few flaws, however. One of those flaws is me.
It is well established that I have a bit of a megalomaniacal streak in me. It has been said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In my case it was the mere proximity to power that did me in.
I was called to be the Ward Clerk in a Singles Ward. Essentially the Ward Clerk is the bishopric’s gopher; he prepares reports, audits and updates membership rolls and processes tithing. Most of the time in meetings is spent discussing new callings, who to release from callings, and the like.
The Clerk has no real authority. He does, however, get to sit on the stand.
Also, you end up running a lot of errands for the bishop, you talk to the bishop a lot, and you are around the bishop for hours each Sunday. The proximity of power to one tantalized with authority can be…intoxicating.
I would like to think I was the best Ward Clerk.
Unfortunately after a ten month stint I moved out of that ward and into another Singles Ward. I think my old bishop may have warned the new bishop about my particular egomania, because I was not put in as the Clerk. I was put in the Sunday School.
A Sunday School teacher has no authority, real or pretended. You are given a manual filled with doctrine and scriptures, and sent forth to teach a mildly sedated class of Mormons.
I was deeply offended. Outraged, even. I had been taken from the corridors of power and relegated to that of a babysitter! I quickly hatched a plan to regain my throne: I would be the worst teacher in the history of the church! People would weep when they saw me stand up at the front of the room and they would run screaming from the building every time I was asked to give a talk! In no time the bishop would be forced to give me a calling of MY choosing, and I would rejoin the bishop on the stand!
The morning of my first lesson dawned and I awoke early to prepare myself for my auspicious debut. I slipped my costume into my car and slunk in a side entrance of the church.
The ward members filed sleepily into the room, yawning and bumping into each other as they sat down. I was not in the room. After a minute or two people began to be concerned. “Where’s the teacher? Can we go home?” many asked. That was my cue.
I proceeded, in full costume, to whack a sister sitting in the front row repeatedly with a rubber sword.
I was certain the bishop would run screaming up the row to drag me outside of the room and release me on the spot as I continued randomly whacking people with the sword while shouting out scriptures from the New Testament.
That was not what happened.
It had clearly backfired. More people than ever commented, hoping to be hit with the sword, not a single person fell asleep, and I was complimented by half the ward after-including the bishop.
Clearly I was not trying hard enough. I needed to set my sights higher. I schemed for a week, and finally came up with a plan: blasphemy! That would do the trick!
The next week, the class shuffled in excitedly, only to see me standing next to an altar made of rocks in a blood red robe. I dramatically unveiled myself and in a shout of primal fury I lit the altar on fire.
Looking back I should be grateful they didn’t throw ME on the fire.
Surely THIS, I thought, would bring swift justice upon me. I had broken the fire code and had committed serious blasphemy in a dedicated church building. I waited with baited breath.
We wound up having a spiritual, engaged lesson on Elijah calling fire from heaven.
This was not working. I went back to the drawing board. My next lessons included playing a music video from the band “Two Steps from Hell:”
Giving an extensive discussion of constitutional law in the early years of the American Republic:
Calling someone up to the front and humiliating them in a game of Star Trek Trivia:
And the time I taught false doctrine and the bishop had to stand up and correct me.
AND THEY STILL WOULDN’T RELEASE ME. Nothing I was trying was working! Ward Clerks were being called and released every few weeks, and yet my teaching calling was eternal! There was no justice in the universe!
I only had one more arrow in my quiver, and it was a desperate one. It would require a great deal of courage and a willingness to be humiliated (more than I already was, anyway). But desperate times call for desperate measures. The bishopric had just purchased brand new candy for the Clerk’s office, Sour Patch Watermelon. No sacrifice was too great to bear to get my hands on that calling and candy. I WOULD win this time!
The ward stampeded eagerly into my classroom the next week, knocking some smaller people to the floor and trampling them half to death. None could wait to see what my next antic would be. I did not disappoint.
The lesson was on the law of chastity, and I was acting out the scene with Bathsheba and David. I danced:
I coaxed David out onto the balcony and brought down his empire. It was a depiction worthy of every Oscar in existence, and my Sunday School class were all witnesses. Blasphemy had not worked. Mockery and humiliation had not worked. Assault with deadly weapons had not worked. But SURELY this would do the trick! I finished my lesson, and turned to the class eagerly.
I stormed out of the class, my veils and bracelets tinkling to the floor behind me. I was done. It was over. I was doomed to be a Sunday School teacher for the rest of my life. But then someone placed a hand on my shoulder. It was the bishop!
“I’d like to see you in my office please,” he said, steering me there briskly. It was happening! It was finally happening! I was going to be released!
“Brother Larsen,” he said grimly as we sat down, “the time has come to release you from teaching the Sunday School.”
“Actually,” the bishop interrupted,
And it is there I have stayed, ever since. I shall still be teaching Elder’s Quorum long after I have become old enough to be a high priest. God is almost certainly punishing me for my many casual blasphemies.
I teach nearly every week. You are welcome to come watch. If you dare.