Last year in April, I was at my niece and nephew's baptism, and at the end their bishop challenged everyone to go home and write about the feelings they felt during the service (meeting? who knows the lingo anymore...). It was a baptism of 4 children, my niece and nephew (twins), and two other kids in their ward that were unrelated to each other.
So...I'm doing my homework:
My first feeling during the service was trepidation. Lee and I took my unbaptized 8 yr. old daughter with us, and I was worried that I'd hear endless whining from her about wanting to be just like the other kids. But that never happened! I've told her that when she's 18 she can study all about it and decide if it's something that she wants for herself. The trepidation turned into relief when I never heard anything from her about wanting to be baptized.
Then I felt a bit of nausea (but technically that's a sensation, not a feeling), when one of the other kids' grandmother spoke from the pulpit. She commented about when Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were "thick in the translation of the Book of Mormon" and working on 3 Nephi 11. This is a place in the scripture that talks about baptism 40+ times. She related how she "knows in her heart that Joseph and Oliver looked up at each other and realized that they too needed to be baptized". I think the underlying feeling behind my nausea was utter confusion at the words she used. I'd like to reword her thoughts in my own words, just to make it less confusing. Enjoy:
A long time ago, in a setting where no witnesses were present, and no third party documentation was taking place, legend says that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery may have had a discussion when they were allegedly depicting certain characters off ancient hand-made plates of gold, and they called the certain characters 3 Nephi chapter 11. Some people feel that an unseen all-powerful being gave them a strange tool to depict the foreign characters, though certainly this cannot be proved since we do not have any evidence of its existence. At that time, in that chapter, apparently the tool was depicting the word "baptism" a lot.
One might assume that the excessive usage of the word "baptism" was the reason for the alleged discussion between the two men about their own baptisms.
It's almost been a year since then. Now my daughter is 9 years old. This past Sunday we went to another church meeting, because Lee's new granddaughter was getting "A Name & A Blessing" (which is kind of similar to a christening in other religions). It's such a different experience to sit in a congregation among Mormons, not believing anything that they say. Different from how I used to be, that is. This time I tried to take something away from the meeting, but there wasn't much for me to pull from. Everything was "pay tithing", "listen to the spirit (even when you're not sure why)", and some scripture references from the book of Paul. I wanted something more, something like "Do unto others what you'd have others do unto you", or something else edifying beyond religion.
We left that meeting and apparently my daughter wants to get baptized. Here we go! She's got 9 years left under her parent's rules, and our rule is "Not before you're 18". We'll see what happens I guess...