5.19.2010

Me and my current relationship with Mormonism.

Like many people, when I first was leaving/left the Church, I had an almost obsessive interesting in all things Mormon, especially those things one doesn't hear in Church. Well, I guess almost exclusively those things one doesn't hear in Church. For whatever reason my interest seemed to have lasted a while longer than most of my friends(Perhaps my general interest in religion played a role), but eventually, my interest too died out to the point where for a while I had virtually zero interest at all and even disliked talking about it. However, more and more often I find myself going through spurts of active interest.

I even go through phases where I find myself missing being part of the Church. I miss believing something absolutely (even though it also caused confusion for me, not knowing what contradictory, ambiguous or symbolic elements were true. But some core parts I believed absolutely. Well, no, but close to absolutely). I miss the community, even though I always felt somewhat alienated from it. I miss having the notion that there is an ideal way of living and there had existed a perfect person whom I could model myself after. I miss feeling that if I do certain things, unrelated good things will happen to me.



I particularly miss the church when I read or hear liberal(I don't mean politically liberal, but liberal in their approach to religion. Although these people often are politically liberal as well.) Mormons.
When I listen to interviews with people like Joe Bennion on Radiowest or read blogs like Zelophehads Daughters or Feminist Mormon Housewives I think to myself 'If this is what most Mormons were like, I probably would have stayed in the Church. Not necessarily because I would have maintained a belief that it was true, but because I would have enjoyed the community and post-modern interpretations to concepts which I grew up believing and enjoy.'

Though, when I continue this train of thought in my mind and actually imagine myself as a believing member of the Church, or look at things produced by the Church like Lds.org or even The Deseret News I feel an enormous amount of gratitude to no longer have those beliefs.

I've sometimes tried to stop thinking about and being interested in Mormonism. Since Church members often see those who leave the Church yet maintain an interest in it as being bitter, not being able to leave it alone, or trying to justify themselves. I think part of me wanted proof to myself and proof to them that one can leave the Church and no longer think about it.

And while many people I know do leave the Church and no longer think about it, I don't think this can be true for me. Not because I am bitter against it or can't move on, but because it genuinely interests me and even like it. It is not only fascinating to me but also comfortable. I clearly don't believe it is 'true' and I have serious qualms with it, but it is like one's family or hometown, it will always have a soft spot in my heart. I will always feel a certain amount of kinship towards post or current Mormons that I don't feel with others. If Marissa didn't feel so strongly against the Church, I could even see myself attending services once a month or so.

It may even surprise some people that in situations where people are speaking negatively about the Church (which happens often when it is found out I was raised Mormon), I often speak to defend it. I've found that many people have warped and inaccurate views about the Church, which I make the effort to correct and give the Church credit where credit is due. Of course, when accurate and honest criticisms are made, I readily agree.

Granted, I am, in general, much less interested in Mormonism than I used to be and it feels good. I am sure I will continue to go through phases of complete disinterest and strong interest, but I hope to no longer feel as if I my interest in Mormonism is something I need to get over.


Part of what motivated me to write this, is that for the past several weeks my interest in Mormonism has been in an upswing. I've been reading liberal Mormon blogs and the Deseret News(regularly reading the Deseret news is always a sign I'm in an interested phase) and listening to the Mormon Stories podcast.


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This next part isn't necessarily related to what's above except that it is about Mormonism and is something I came across today as I've been reading various Mormon Blogs. I thought it was funny but also illuminating. It makes a point that seems obvious yet had never occurred to me before. It is about The Rameumptom from the Book of Mormon.

Written by someone named Phil:

Cast: A father and his daughter.

"What's a Rameumptom, Daddy?"

"Well, the Book of Mormon says it was a place where the Zoramites stood to worship and pray."

"But my Primary teacher said it was a tower that evil people used."

"I can see how someone could think that. The Book of Mormon says it was a place for standing which was high above the head' and only one person at atime could go up there."

"Was it like the speaker's stand in the church?"

"A speaker's stand? You mean a pulpit? Yes, I suppose it was. In fact, the word 'Rameumptom' means 'the holy stand.'"

"What's so evil about a holy stand, Daddy?"

"Well, it wasn't the stand that was evil. It was how it was used. The people gathered there in their synagogue. . ."

"What's a synagogue?"

"Just a different word for chapel or church, honey."

"Oh."

"They'd gather in their synagogue one day a week."

"Which day, Daddy?"

"I don't know, honey. It just says 'one day,' and they called it 'the day of the Lord.'"

"It must have been Sunday."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because Sunday is the Lord's day."

"Well, maybe it was. . . Anyway, they'd gather there and whoever wanted to worship would go and stand on the top of the Rameumptom."

"Could anyone go up there?"

"Well, no, that was part of the problem. Apparently, they had to wear the right clothes. . . "

"You mean like us when we wear Sunday clothes, Daddy?"

"Well, not exactly, but in a way, yes, I suppose. Some of us might have a hard time accepting certain kinds of clothes or people in sacrament meeting. But we wear our Sunday clothes to help us be reverent, don't we?"

"Yes, Daddy."

"So anyway, where was I?"

"They went to the top of the Rameumptom. . ."

"Yes, they would go up and worship God by thanking him for making them so special."

"Were they bearing their testimonies?"

"Well, uh, I guess maybe they were in a way, but they weren't true testimonies."

"How come?"

"Because they were too proud."

"What do you mean 'proud,' Daddy?"

"Well, they would talk about how they were 'a chosen and holy people.'"

"My Primary teacher said Mormons are the chosen people and we're a special generation."

"Yes, honey, but that's different."

"How?"

"Because we are."

"Oh."

"Besides they were very, very proud about how much better they were than everyone else, because they didn't believe the 'foolish traditions' of their neighbors."

"What does that mean, Daddy?"

"It means that they believed everyone else was wrong and they alone were right."

"Isn't that what we believe?"

"But it's different."

"How?"

"Because we are right, honey."

"Oh."

"Everyone would stand and say the same thing. . ."

"That sounds like testimony meeting to me."

"Don't be irreverent."

"Sorry."

"Then after it was all over, they would go home and never speak about God until the next day of the Lord when they'd gather at the holy stand again."

"Isn't that like us, Daddy?"

"No honey, we have Family Home Evening."

"Oh."

5 comments:

liz canaan roberts said...

i like to visit your blog and read about your thoughts on religion. i recently read the story in Alma about the rameumptom. that dialogue with the father/daughter is pretty funny.

Alma does specify a few other things about the Zoramites in chapter 31, like that they no longer kept the law of Moses and they weren't praying daily. he also expressed concern that they would start corresponding with the Lamanites and become enemies to the Nephites as so many other dissenters had done, (which is what happens in chapter 35.)
but the thing that stands out the most to me is the Zoramites denial of the existence of Christ, or that he would come.

i can see why you would enjoy reading liberal Mormon blogs. it's refreshing to find active Mormons who are open-minded and not hypocritical, (as i sense this is what you like about them. and not that all non-liberal Mormons are closed-minded and hypocritical).

i also find it disheartening that so many members profess beliefs in certain ideologies (often political) that don't jive with the teachings of Christ. for example, the general belief that preemptive war and torture are somehow justifiable, or that Christ's teachings condone them.

at any rate, i'm glad my faith is not based upon the actions of other church members or non church members.

Chris Almond said...

I guess it probably came across, but I want to clarify that when I referenced liberal mormons I didn't necessarily mean politically liberal (although this is often true) but rather 'open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values' in their approach to mormonism.
In addition to those elements that you mentioned, part of what I enjoy so much about liberal mormons is their ability or at least attempt to view the church objectively. They don't feel obliged to think or speak of every aspect of the Church in positive ways. They are comfortable with both making and listening to criticisms of the Church without being defensive or seeing the critic as morally lacking. Which I think is healthy, even for an institution one may otherwise believe in and love.
I do agree that it is important to not base one's faith in a believe system on the behavior of it's adherents, but when that belief system is a religion, it does say something about that faith(not necessarily about it's truthfulness) if it's members tend to, in general, behave in particular ways.
I find it interesting that when church members are generalized in positive ways they often attribute it to the Church, but not so when the generalizations are negative.

max everything said...

Do you ever listen to the Mormon Expression podcast?

Chris Almond said...

This is my first time hearing of it. Do you recommend it?

max everything said...

I think Mormon Expression has done some great segments/interviews, including one with John Dehlin. Some of their earlier episodes can be confusing because during each there are a lot of panelists talking, maybe too many.

I recommend it. I think you might like the Dream Mine episode or the Nauvoo Expositor episode. I'm sure you're familiar with a lot of the material they present, but they still make some interesting comments, etc. I also like that they include as panelists people who have left the church.