The Hot Tub And The Board Game

I went to a church activity (YSA FHE for those in the know) a few nights ago.  Frankly, I don’t feel like I get much benefit from them: the spiritual lesson is often bland and superficial, and the company frankly leaves much to be desired.

But I don’t go for me.  I go because the company needs me.

This week was, alas, particularly lame.  Those in charge had set up a bunch of tables, put a board game on each one, and set us loose.  I should mention that this gathering was (unusually) 95% dudes.

But hey.  Ridiculous gender ratios actually take the pressure off: forget talking to chicks, and make the best of it.  So I sat down with a friend to play Operation.  Yep, that one.  For the record, I am twenty-eight years old.

As we sat down to play (ironically, of course), the mostly-retarded guy in the congregation wandered over.  We told him to play with us, because we’re nice people.  Then the insanely shy and socially incompetent guy came over too.  We told him to play, he demurred, and we told him to play a bit more forcefully, because we knew he’d otherwise go to his iPad and dammit he needed the social interaction, even if it was playing Operation with three dudes on a Monday night.

(Operation is an OK game if you’re 8.  Some pretty bad puns.  But there is a bit of thrill of accomplishment from manipulating plastic out of the hollows without touching the sides)

I’m no angel.  It’s not like I really enjoyed this.  But I forced some enthusiasm,and we played a whole game through, praising them when they did well.  And they had fun, and felt included.

I hadn’t had dinner, so I was hungry.  I mentioned to my friend that I was going to get some Panda Express immediately after.  He said, “Hey, just come over to my place and we’ll go hot tubbing with some friends of mine.”  So I did.

Also dudes.  But cool dudes, with their own thoughts and opinions on important topics I cared about.  We talk, and it’s fun.

I did way more good playing the board game with the weirdos.  But I felt way better sitting in a hot tub talking with good peers.

It was similar when I was a missionary.  You spend all day on the streets talking to either weirdos or people who think you are a weirdo, and this is when you actually have the chance to do some good.  Then every few weeks they gather all the missionaries together and build you up and you remember that you have a calling from God and you feel great, except that no good is done during this time, all the good stuff you did happened when you felt like a fool out there.

You can’t spend all your time playing board games with socially maladjusted people or you’ll either become one of them or kill yourself.  But neither can you spend all your time hanging out in a hot tub because if you do then what good are you?

Apply as necessary.  And remember the analogy here, because I’ll use it in an upcoming post.  Happy New Year.

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3 comments on “The Hot Tub And The Board Game

  1. G. says:

    *I went to a church activity (YSA FHE for those in the know) a few nights ago. Frankly, I don’t feel like I get much benefit from them: the spiritual lesson is often bland and superficial, and the company frankly leaves much to be desired.

    But I don’t go for me. I go because the company needs me.*

    Spoken like a man.

    That said, the older I get, the more value I get out of the bland and superficial lessons. I think it started when, on a lark, I decided to try and formulate one of my very spicy and truly deep gospel insights into terms that would make it sound as blandish and conformist as possible. In other words, get the point across without distracting from the point by making it sound novel or strange. It worked all right, but mostly by making me see my gee whizz star-spangled insights in a new light. You ever have that experience when you were a kid of wondering whether everyone saw the same colors you did? What if, you thought, we all see different colors but we never know because we all use the same name for them? Omigosh. It’s a pretty common experience. But anyhow, I sometimes wonder if the church is like that. Are some of the people we think are stuck on platitudes really working with a foundational knowledge of the nature of things that would make our understanding of what they are saying shocking if they knew it? You can see how there’d be disadvantages but also real advantages to having the language of Church expression being interoperable between different levels of knowledge so seamlessly that we were mostly not even aware of it. I tend to think that there are some such people, anyway.

    But probably none in your YSA FHE group. Young, co-ed, and single isn’t a formula for ready spiritual discussion. The social dynamics just don’t work for it.

    • Maybe this is arrogance, but I somewhat doubt that the simple-minded are anything but simple-minded. There have certainly been many people with worse understanding but better obedience or faith than me, and generally their examples have spoken where their words have not.

      What is actual arrogance is trusting my own counsel over that of the Lord’s where they differ.

      I guess what I’m saying is that I’m hesitant to start looking for wisdom in the mouths of babes—it seems that one only gets value out of such if one already has the wisdom to recognize it.

      And yeah, the social dynamics are punishing for good spiritual discussion. One reason I love priesthood meeting.

  2. […] Last post I talked about two experiences I had that serve as types for life: playing boring board games with weird people and making it (as much as possible) fun for their sake, and sitting in a hot tub with cool people.  You should read it.  No, seriously.  Here. […]

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