Most weeks for me at church are really irritating, but this week was actually pretty awesome. I think it started last night as I was dreaming about (not really dreaming, more like my brain was trying to work out) how I could be more active and part of the church community even as total unbeliever. I'm not sure I want to commit to anything regular, like - heaven forbid - a calling. But I like some of the people at church and I could probably stand to be more social.
So I approached the day with a positive attitude. My wife got a migraine just before we were about to leave the house, and I surprised her when I said I would take the kids to church by myself. Not for all three hours; I'm not that crazy. But long enough for my wife to take a nap.
The Elders Quorum lesson was about profanity. The instructor is one of my favorite people at church, because he always has an entertaining way of saying things. He took an interesting approach wherein he alternately would write "fake" swear words on the board, but then refused to say "Dios" out of respect, even though he said the word in English when he asked, "What's the Spanish word for God?" I volunteered "cheese and rice" as fake swear words. He didn't get it, and I didn't explain it.
I brought up the recent study showing that using actual swear words can alleviate pain in physically painful situations, and the instructor said that you could probably find a study to support any position. He mentioned conflicting studies about the benefits of wine, and said we should take those kinds of studies with a grain of salt. The guy next to me and I looked at each other immediately. He said, "Salty wine?" I said, "Maybe with a margarita, but not with wine, ugh!"
The instructor then proceeded to cite a few scientific studies as part of his lesson. For some reason I can't remember which studies they were, but they were good ones. I thought the irony was kind of funny, but then again, I was amusing myself throughout the whole lesson. Other people piped up and talked about how the most offensive part of profanity was the (sometimes) hurtful intent behind it, not necessarily the words themselves. Not everyone was convinced.
After the lesson, one guy came up to me in the hallway and said he had read about the same study I cited. We got talking, and I was surprised that we agreed about nearly everything regarding profanity, even down to the idea that words truly have no meaning except the meaning we give them. It was perhaps the coolest conversation I've ever had in church.
The Sunday School lesson was about "celestial marriage", and I was prepared to bite my tongue hard when the instructor started reading from D&C 132. But instead, it turned into a discussion about nice things we can do for our spouses to show them we love them. I enjoyed the conversation so much, I even stopped reading my book! In fact, I was in such a good mood by the end, I even said the closing prayer when I was called on spontaneously to say it. Most weeks I either would have declined, or seated myself farther back to begin with.
Anyway, as long as I'm going to church, and I don't see that ending anytime soon, I think having a positive attitude helps a lot. I'm going to try to do that more often, and to look for ways to interact that don't require me to share everyone else's beliefs. I'm not sure what exactly that means, but it was a good day and I'm feeling encouraged.