Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Midnight

If this song was written just before I left the church, I probably would have listened to it a lot, both before and after my transition out. Everything I was feeling, Tyler hits so perfectly:

Wrestling with sadness and dysfunction.  Being unable to reconcile the church's story and steadily unfastening myself from church services (where it felt like God wasn't), and feeling less dissonant and more stirred and humane for it.

Longing for more, like realizing the whole plan of salvation seemed broken and corrupt beyond even God's control, and thinking of ways for us (*all* of us) to risk eternity in a bid to hit the reset button of divine order, all for a chance at doing it better next time. (Say what you will, the church's salvation narrative always needed a compelling jump start anyway.)

How becoming an adult in the church and learning of the endowment ritual and extraneous pieces of church history "made everything weird".

The burgeoning excitement as I began to entertain the idea that discernment of truth could come from within me and me alone (no spirit nor prophet's permission were needed) and realizing that maybe this is what life's ultimate test really is.

Praying before going to sleep anyway, and stopping in the middle of my last sincere prayer to tell God that I guess he doesn't exist, and being unable to take it back.

"I guess what's done is done."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In A Nutshell

Pretending to know things that we do not know is not an act of responsibility. Likewise, leaving an organization when we discover that its foundational claims are bunk is absolutely not the same as "quitting responsibility". Personal integrity carries a price, and leaving an organization that is perpetuated and motivated by powerful, irrational convictions is not for the faint of heart, nor does it demonstrate a lack of personal integrity.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

“Did you pray with full intent?”

“Did you pray with full intent? Did you actually want an answer? Did you go down on your knees to pray? I'd try doing these things before saying that you didn't feel anything since I know if you do then you will feel that it is true.”

It’s curious how loaded words like “full intent” and “actually” can be used in the context of your comment to imply that the other person is not sincere enough. I could just as ineffectively make the equivalent comment:

“Did you *actually* want the truth, or did you just want an answer? Did you apply your complete awareness with *full intent*? I’d try doing these things before saying you didn’t understand anything since I know that if you do you will see that it is true.”

(For the record, I never said “I didn’t feel anything.” I would actually claim the opposite. There is much to be felt in any religion. But these feelings are not exclusive to any one religion, and it is astounding to claim that they are exclusive to religion at all.)

It is not some sort of insincere or selfish desire to believe what we want that leads many of us past religion. It is, in fact, the opposite. What we discover is often unexpected and/or upsetting, but at the same time, more plausible. When religion prevents outmoded understandings from being replaced with more plausible and more functional understandings, we are placed in a difficult dilemma: (1) Risk the potentially painful consequences (psychological or otherwise) of questioning our religion or (2) find a way to put our questions back on the self (suspend our incredulity).

Susceptibility to religious affect does not make one mindless or somehow less human. I could iterate a thousand times that I know what it feels like to believe in this church and how, from within that belief structure, it does not feel like manipulation. When you believe in it, it feels as though it would have to be some kind of perfect fraud in order to not be true. I just happened to unwittingly contemplate two key questions to their ultimate (and dare I say, unexpectedly euphoric) extent: (1) If this church isn’t what it claims--if it is the perfect fraud, would I want to know and (2) how would I be able to know?

But to answer your questions: yes, yes, and yes.

If this church is the perfect fraud, would you want to know? Would the tools and environment offered by this church allow you to know?