Over at Pilgrim Girl, Jana discusses how she was told as a teen that her life would be a movie that everyone would watch in the hereafter. She writes:
When I was a young Mormon teen, we had a special speaker for a Youth Conference about â€˜morality.â€™* This speaker told us that at the Judgment Day everyone would have perfect knowledge of everything weâ€™d done in our lives. He explained that there would be a ginormous movie screen on the top of Pikeâ€™s Peak (the tallest mountain in the vicinity) that would replay our lives for _everyone._ And, as this speaker explained, the only way that parts of the movie could be â€˜editedâ€™ was through repentanceâ€”those sins would then be cut from the reel of our life story as if weâ€™d never done them. The speaker reinforced this notion repeatedly throughout his talk decrying various sexual indiscretions, explaining that â€œItâ€™ll be in your movieâ€ and everyone will know what you’ve done if you don’t repent. Following the conference the theme was reinforced in numerous ways by our church leaders. The refrain â€œItâ€™ll be in your movieâ€ was repeated in church venues for months afterwards.
She goes on to discuss how this idea affected her view of herself. I can remember similar discussions of “your life is a movie,” also in church venues. (
And as I recall, Lynnette Eve had a post comment about this idea as well a few many months ago.) It seems that this frightening (and, as far as I can tell, completely non-doctrinal) idea is often a regular part of teen instruction.
But really, I didn’t worry so much about the movie. The idea seemed a little weird and embarrassing, but it wasn’t a big factor in my own teen angst and fears, because I had bigger things to worry about. What scared the daylights out of me as a teen was another idea that I heard from Young Men’s. It is, as far as I can tell, as doctrinally dubious as the “movie” — but I was definitely taught it, and it stuck, and played a large role in my own fears. It was this idea:
If the priest who blesses the sacrament is at all unworthy, then the sins of the entire congregation are on the head of that priest.
When you think about it for a second, this is a very frightening idea. A congregation is big — and there are doubtless some people in that congregation who have Very Big Sins. There’s going to be a lot of collected sin in that weekly sacrament. One wayward thought about the cute girl in History, and BAM! all those sins attach to me.
So sometimes I tried to dodge the actual saying-of-prayer. If I could be the middle priest — the one who just breaks bread, but doesn’t say the actual prayer — then clearly I wouldn’t be in danger. Problem was, a lot of priests tried to dodge the prayer-saying. Usually, it seemed to be for less theologically motivated reasons — people were just uncomfortable speaking in public. And so the non-speaking priest was a bit of a plum role, and I often found myself in the danger zone of having to actually talk.
And then I’d start wondering. What had I done that week? Was a bad thought really enough to trigger the effect? (What about a cuss word?) Had I really sinned that week? Couldn’t that be counted for last week instead? Didn’t I get any credit for stepping up and praying and helping out the other priest? And on, and on. Enough to keep me busy through Sacrament, at least.
Teenage angst combined with quasi-doctrine — ain’t it wonderful?