Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stadium Seating

So, church. This business of having sacrament meeting last. Yes, some of you have heard of my annoyance with this practice that has become a common meeting schedule and yet is largely unnecessary in many of the wardhouses come each Sunday. In my own uneducated opinion, that is.

Yes, I understand that in some crowded meetinghouses it is helpful to have one or more of the wards attend their other meetings first and attend Sacrament meeting last. You know, after the kids get cranky. After they've been sitting down on folding chairs for an hour and a half. When lunch time is approaching (for those of you unfortunates on the 9 am schedule) or when nap time is approaching (for those of you on the 11 am schedule) or when berserk time is approaching (for those of you who thought you lucked out on the 1 pm schedule). Yeah, helpful.

But I don't really understand. I mean, the priesthood meets in the chapel for the first hour. What's the difference if the rest of us just meet in there, too? Who would we be inconveniencing?

But, some of you may say, other scheduling conflicts arise of which you know nothing about, you soap-boxing diatriber. To this, I say, "Yes, but that's not actually my point anyway."

"Why bring it up?" you ask.

"It's my blog. Duh."

So, the real point is that having Sacrament meeting last encourages a trend that increases exponentially each Sunday, the sea of scripture cases strewn on pews, this insane need to SAVE YOUR SEAT. I don't know why this is. Like maybe if I sit in the front pew, I'll be the first to go to heaven. Like maybe if I mark my territory with the scriptures of every member of my family, a few jackets, and my primary bag for good measure, maybe I won't have to pull out my claws when the Finklestein's try to park their dirty butts on MY PEW. MY PEW!

The thing is, it's just not Christlike, right? I mean, I have been in wards where you literally could not sit on a bench in the chapel if you (or a member of your family) did not leave Sunday School fifteen minutes early to spread out the stadium blanket in the chapel. The more people do this, the more people have to do this. The only Christlike people in the congregation are sitting in the overflow area straining to see. And let's face it, people, if you can't see nothin', the eyes drift closed and zzzzzz......off to sleep in a lousy folding chair.

Thing is, I'm much more comfortable in the overflow so I can sneak out with the kids when lunch time hits.

Thing is, I am SO taking a fringed stadium blanket next week, maybe an umbrella to protect me from the elements, and a cooler full of snacks. Because that's what seat saving does to me on Sunday: the standing up, the waving, the calling "Over hear, my fellow Finklestein!" the strategically placed white shirted CTR6s sitting six spaces away from their tights-clad-dress-over-the-head sisters sitting another six spaces away from their roving-eyed parents. How many spaces do they need? Who are they looking for? It makes me feel like I am hunting for a piece of grass in the park at the fireworks: like I should be carrying a cooler and snapping glow sticks onto my kids so I don't loose them in the dark and maybe pushing everything on earth except for a child in a stroller over a grassy knoll.

Actually, should anyone from my ward accidentally read this, our current ward is probably one of the best I've seen for not participating in seat saving that I've been in in a while. They were probably chided or admonished some time in the recent past.

But that brings up another point, and that is that everyone has their own pew so they don't need to save one. You don't really notice this unless you are new in a ward. I have been new in a lot of wards and it's always sucky to sit anywhere because you know you're in someone's seat. You just don't know whose. You don't know who is casting furtive glances at you wishing you would just disappear. All in the name of worshipping, though.

It's human nature, I know, believe me I know, to be habitual about things like this. I'm SO guilty of it myself. When I was in school, I'd walk into a classroom the first day and sit three rows from the far right side of the room and three rows back from the front. This was a really comfortable position in almost any classroom, making it easy to both look at and see the teacher and to take notes with my right hand. So I guess it's completely possible that each family has a particular reason for the pew they have claimed as rightfully theirs.

But, I have been speaking on this subject too long. To sum up: DON'T SAVE SEATS IN THE CHAPEL ON SUNDAY. IT'S STUPID.

10 comments:

Kristin and Steve said...

In my opinion, one of your best pieces in a long time. Your descriptive creativity sailed above and beyond in this one. And...oh so true. We have sac first, but it's not till one. We used walk into the Chapel at 9:03 each Sunday during the first song and find an empty part of a bench in the chapel. Perfect for coraling the kids in and setting the right boundry. But, it seems, Every gets their game on by 1:00 and they send representatives from the family over at 12:30 to "save" at least twice as much space as they actually need. So cruise in at 1:03 all the benches have been territorily marked just as you mention in your post. We are banished to the overflow until we can get it together, which I don't see happening anytime soon.

RNE Palmer Family said...

Sacrament meeting last is Horrible! Our stake loves to have the meeting last and focuses on reverence. You try to be reverent with an onery 2 yr old who doesn't want to sit still. It just doesn't work. At least in primary they can move around. I am in much agreement with you!

Annie said...

you could come to our ward...our bishop has even called it "A" ward and "B" ward. The overflow is on the side. it sucks.

you make me laugh by the way!

Bob said...

Great post...

We have sacrament last in our ward and 3 weeks ago they announced that we were going to be changing to have it first based on the decision by our Stake President that having it last is disruptive all the things that happen as a result of having it last (like you so elegantly mentioned). We were so excited only to find out the next week that the old people in the ward complained about changing the schedule, so they decided to put it off for the time being...
so much for heading the advice of your church leaders.

Things like this just increase my general hatred of people...

Dan said...

It's a good thing we were never in a class together, because that's the exact seat I'd always pick, given the choice. Third from the right, third from the front. It's a perfect seat. I didn't do as well in the classes where I was forced to sit on the left side of the room.

Russ said...

I am the opposite, I would sit in the second seat from the front clear on the left side of the room. I did this because you then have a one seat buffer in front of you, and I am right handed, so I only had to look down to take notes because I was already looking the direction of my paper. If you sit on the right you have to turn your head back to the right and then down to see your paper.

Additionally I hate the sacrament meeting last. I go to church to pay attention and by the time sacrament comes I've lost all attention. I don't even hear the speakers anymore. My eyes just wander to all the kids making noise because they are ornery or tired or hungry. I mean I understand the concept that you should build up to sacrament, but for anyone who has a calling that requires them to do something on Sunday they just can't build enough focus by the time sacrament starts.

mindy said...

When we were in a ward where sacrament mtg was last, there were fewer people who would stick around for it. Your reasons (ornery kids, naptime, lunchtime) were all contributors to this.
We were also in a ward where the bench just in front of the overflow was known as death row...elderly only!!

Mark & Margaret said...

I have been touting this for a long time as well. You should read my article in the Dec 07 Ensign on this very subject. Just kidding. However, sacrament first would solve many reverence issues. Nobody leaving sunday school early to save seats, people would have their scriptures to use in class because they wouldn't be on a bench saving seats, and if people want a good seat, they will be there on time. Not to mention what has been said about upset kids. THEN... you get chided about not being reverent in the meetings. That is what chaps me the most.

Lisa said...

Agreed! I'm pretty sure I know of a previous ward you speak of, and let me tell you that even though that ward has now split, the saving seats thing migrated to the new ward. Hate it!

Terrisa said...

Wow! I think you've said it for every church go-er in America! Amen to your blog! I think you should get there early one Sunday and tape all the pews off with the yellow caution tape and see what happens!!