I was listening to a podcast recently in which they abandoned their usual format to simply have a discussion of listener-generated “condundrums.” These were questions like:
- Would you rather live in a world without electricity or a world without plumbing?
- Would you rather be unable to admit to having read War & Peace or to be compelled to admit to having read Atlas Shrugged?
- Would you rather give presents and get none OR get presents and give none?
This got me thinking about possible conundrums for Mormons based on the online discussions I sometimes read. Here are a few for you to think about and comment on:
- Would you rather be able to ask any Church leader anything (and they have to answer openly & honestly) OR to be able to tell any Church leader anything (and they have to listen and understand it). Depending on your answer, be sure to share what you would ask or tell.
We’ve all had really bad bishops from time to time, so here’s the next conundrum:
- Would you rather be able to have ward members vote bishops in, and you’d all have to live with him as bishop, OR would you rather be able to vote a bad bishop out but have no say in the original selection?
One thing that I often hear non-believers claim is that they would give anything to be able to believe again because it would smooth over relationships and make life easier, so here’s one for the non-believers / skeptics out there:
- Would you rather still believe as you once did OR have stopped believing at an earlier point in your life (with a lower sunk cost)?
- If you served a mission, would you rather have served for six months longer OR six months shorter?
And here’s one for believers, one I have often wondered about:
- Would you rather be born in the covenant (receive the gospel as the assumption you operate under from birth), but feel like you didn’t really choose your religion, OR receive the gospel as an adult potential convert and risk not accepting it? If you were a convert, do you wish you had the other experience, and if you were born in the covenant, do you sometimes wish for the other experience?
Here’s one for the hand-wringing parents who don’t like all the talk of sad heaven:
- Would you rather have a wonderful, close, loving relationship with your kids in the present but no real hope for a Mormon eternal family (e.g. temple sealed, church-going), OR would you rather have a distant, perfunctory, conditional relationship with your kids now, but the hope of an eternal family? Honestly, this one feels like a real choice a lot of Mormons are making right now.
- Would you rather have kids who obey you out of fear of disapproval OR kids who love you but do things you don’t want them to do? (That’s probably the same question put another way).
Let’s quit with the heavy topics, and talk about more dinner conversation conundrums. Here’s one:
- If you could eliminate a Church policy or rule for everyone but yourself (you still have to observe the policy), what would it be?
This is one I’ve personally wondered, often:
- Would you rather if the Church eliminated all sexism and racism, but your ward members were still sexist and racist, OR if the ward members were not at all sexist or racist, but the Church as a whole still embraced sexist and racist ideas?
Here’s a political one:
- Would you rather have a POTUS you hate, whose platform you disdain, but who won the election fair and square OR a POTUS whose platform you fully support who had to cheat or suppress votes to win?
Back to a ward level question:
- Would you rather the Church have full financial transparency, and find out that a lot of it was going towards things you disapprove OR would you rather the Church retain opacity while secretly doing a lot of good in the world in ways you will never know?
- Would you rather pay 5% tithing, but have to clean the Church every week and attend every ward event OR pay 10% tithing and never have to clean it again and only have to attend what you want to attend?
I mean, you could also do what I do and just skip lame activities and not clean the Church… Here’s another ward question:
- Would you rather be in a ward that is unfriendly and judgmental, but does a lot of well-organized, inspiring good in the community OR would you rather be in a friendly, accepting ward that is pretty uninspiring?
I suppose that question goes to the heart of what is most important to you at Church: sense of community or sense of purpose. One more ward question:
- Would you rather be the smartest person in the ward, OR the dumbest?
- Would you rather be the richest person in the ward, OR the poorest?
Alright, let’s switch to Church leadership at higher levels again:
- Would you rather be able to change one topic in General Conference to a topic of your choice (e.g. switch any talk of “Covenant Path” to “Black Lives Matter”) OR cut General Conference to two sessions only, but have no control on the subject matter (e.g. it could be all Covenant Path, prosperity gospel, and Family Proclamation)?
Here’s a crazy question about Church leadership to consider:
- Would you rather find out definitively that several apostles had seen and talked with Christ in their role OR that several apostles didn’t have a testimony at all and were just faking it all along to fill a role? (No implication that there is an equivalence between these two things!)
Here’s my favorite one to wrap it all up:
- Would you rather live one day in Church History (e.g. visit the 19th century) OR live one day in the future of the Church (50+ years from now)?
Pick the conundrums that appeal to you and discuss your answers in the comments.