My parents are both temple workers.
My mom sends out emails on a daily basis to talk about whatever is happening in her life. It's a nice habit that makes it easy for us to keep ourselves updated on the family. But lately, a lot of her emails contain large chunks of text that are all about her temple shift that day.
It's kind of disturbing how much of the terminology she uses is exactly the kind of terminology people use at...well...jobs. Places of employment. Locations that provide you with money in exchange for your time and your labor and your expertise.
It's even weirder how so much of what she says about her temple work is reminiscent of my time in the fast food industry. She'll talk about snacks in the break room, sore feet from standing for long hours, the confusion of working in a different position than the one she normally fills, colleagues who don't pull their own weight, and unreliable people who arrive late to their shifts. There are entire paragraphs that make perfect sense as fast food stories if you substitute "sandwich station" for "initiatory" and "ground beef" for "family name cards."
One of my nephews is getting baptized soon. While I visited my parents recently, I had the pleasure of sitting through an entire discussion about which other temple workers they could switch shifts with so that they'd be able to attend the event. It felt eerily similar to conversations my old burger joint employees would have as they texted their colleagues to try and find a replacement on short notice.
So, essentially, my retirement-age parents have a part-time job. It's a part-time job that they spend more than an hour driving to. It's a part-time job that they don't receive monetary compensation for. It's a part-time job that they actually pay ten percent of their retirement income to just for the privilege of maintaining it.
If my parents were a little older and possessed less mental acuity, I think this would be a pretty straightforward example of elder abuse. They are spending their time and money during their retirement by doing busywork for a wealthy multinational organization. Their hours in the temple make no discernible positive impact on the world outside the walls, but the church has them convinced that they are performing a vital service for countless souls. What they're not doing is enjoying their retirement and relaxing a little after long years of raising a family and working real jobs. Meanwhile, my mom sends out emails about how stressful it is at the temple when it gets busy.
It would be really terrific if the church could just go ahead and implode so that my parents can be freed from all of this. It can't happen soon enough.