August 14, 2006

Do They Clap?


We have a new set of tenants in our building. The mom works during the day and she leaves at home her 2 year old daughter and live-in nanny. The nanny is my Favorite Person of the Week. Her name is Daphne, she is from Jamaica, has size 5 feet, Don King hair and is as tall as she is wide. Her ancient face showcases a complex infrastructure of wrinkles from laughing and grinning. I'm always on the lookout for interesting interactions during the day so I've taken to dropping by their apartment with Pixie so the babies can play and I can talk to a human. Daphne pretends to like us as much as we like her.

Since they only moved to California a few weeks ago I asked Daphne today about things she has done in Los Angeles so far. The topic of churchs came up and she asked me where I went. The Mormon church. I asked her where she went. She used to go to an Episcopal church in Maryland but hasn't found one out here that she likes yet. She was looking for a new church in L.A.. I told her she was welcome to come try out my church with me any time.

"Do they clap?" Daphne asked hopefully in a thick Jamaican accent.
"Uhh.. no."
"Oh."

That was the end of that.

Why don't Mormon's clap? Why don't all church congregations clap? You would be hard pressed to find someone who isn't moved by a raucous clapping swaying gospel choir. There are lots of ways to praise the Lord but I'll admit, some of my favorite involve clapping and shouting. Mormon meetings are great, don't get me wrong, but we do spend an awful lot of time sitting silently trying to feel something still and small rather than just jumping up on our feet shouting joyous praise. There have been times in our meetings when I would love to clap. Sometimes I forget where I am and burst out a clap or two after a particularly beautiful musical piece in sacrament meeting but my abbreviated two claps in the big silent congregation just make the stillness more awkward.

"Do they clap?" This means so much more than the words alone ask. It asks if the congregation actively expresses their joy. It asks if the sermons are two-sided conversations. The answer to this question defines the tone of the meeting. But what can you do? I trade clapping for my faith and it's not too hard of a deal to make. But I really wish I could have answered "yes" to Daphne's question. I want to clap.

7 comments:

Kristine said...

Clapping or crying...it seems to be one or the other, doesn't it? My kids clap during sacrament meeting. Does that count? (hehe) You make a good point, perhaps we need to be more expressive, even if we don't clap!

patrick said...

I like a good hand clap to get me going, but 1 Kings 19:11-12 may be a reason why "They don't clap."

J-Rod said...

They have a live-in nanny in an apartment? Is that common in LA?

the zen master (a cov) said...

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Yamamba: "The echo of the completely empty valley bears tidings heard from the soundless sound."

And of course: "Silence is Golden." - trademarked by AMC movie theatres

the zen master (a cov) said...

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Yamamba: "The echo of the completely empty valley bears tidings heard from the soundless sound."

And of course: "Silence is Golden." - trademarked by AMC movie theatres

compulsive writer said...

Me too!

Doug said...

Unfortunately I think we (Mormons) tend to blend social tradition in the church with doctrine... I think we sometimes mistakenly assume that some custom within the church is based on some doctrine or prophetic declaration, when in fact it might just be a social tradition. Why not clap? Why not shout "AMEN!" rather than somberly mumble it?