Thursday, March 19, 2009

openly apostate? (revisited)

(hey folks, this is the version I wrote up for The Exponent. feel free to comment here or there. And thanks for your help.)

Just shy of a year ago I stopped attending church. I no longer believed what the church taught and had gotten to the point where sitting through three hours of it was both numbing and excruciating. But I think it's time to start attending again. Not because my beliefs have changed, but because Sunday has become such a fragmented disjointed day for our family. Something has got to change and I have decided that I will be that something. So a couple Sundays a month I will attend with my husband and child. I will bring books to read and my journal to write in (a friend suggested an iPod, but that's too obvious for my taste) to help get me through talks and lessons that would otherwise send me over the edge. Also, I think that perhaps I have had enough time and distance that there will not be the same painful cognitive dissonance that I used to experience; maybe I'm in a place now where I can be more generous about the things I disagree with and more open to catching the gems that do resonate. We shall see.

But my question to you has to do with my desire to be honest and open about who I am. Part of the discomfort from before had to do with the double life, the need to hide so much of my thoughts and experience. I'm done with that. But when I think about how that will actually LOOK, me being more open, I have a hard time imagining the line between honesty and disrespect. I don't want to cross that line, I dislike making people feel uncomfortable.

Here's me: I'm pretty agnostic with existential leanings, view the scriptures as man-made metaphors, don't see much difference between the LDS church and other churches out there (i.e. no one true church with exclusive priesthood authority led by a prophet of God etc.). I don't believe in necessary ordinances, don't wear garments, don't live the word of wisdom, etc. etc. etc.
Basically, I am rubbed the wrong way by most of what the church says (though I do believe in food storage).

So... I will just sit in the back and keep my mouth shut and read my book? (Unless talking about food storage?)
Those of you in my position, how do you walk that line?
And those of you who are believers, what are your thoughts about the participation of someone who just doesn't believe in the church?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

openly disbelieving church goer?

I have been thinking lately that I should start attending church again with my husband.

I really do not want to go back to church.

But Sundays have become such an uncomfortable awkward day, so fractured, the pull between hubby attending and me and son staying at home...

Hubby was supportive when I stopped going. But I wasn't sure what to do next. Was this just a temporary break? Would I find a new church home?
Well I never felt comfortable finding a new church home.
So what now?

If I go back, it will be to support my husband, support our family.
If I go back, I want to be open about who I am.
But who really wants that:
I don't wear garments, I don't keep the word of wisdom, I don't believe anything in any of the manuals, my view of the scriptures and God and life is wildly different from the sanctioned one taught over the pulpit. I think the church hierarchy and the lineage of priesthood authority and the necessary ordinances for salvation (etc etc) are a lot of bullshit. Oh yeah, and I swear too.

So if I go back... it will be to sit and grind my teeth for three hours. (Like I was doing before.)
Or maybe it won't be. Who knows? Maybe it will be different this time.

I plan on writing a little about this over at the exponent, the question of attending church even if you don't believe and don't live the gospel "according to Salt lake" and how one should do that (if one so chooses to do that). If you have any thoughts or ideas or suggestions, feel free to share.
God knows I could use them.
(This is horribly written but I'm going to publish anyways. hope it's not too hard to read.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Infidelity Monogamy Humanity (and books)

"...the fact that people continue to have affairs and divorces may demonstrate that simple monogamy is not adequate to deal with the complex psychology of human beings."

That quote is from the Toscano's Strangers in Paradox; from the conclusion of the chapter on polygamy and sex roles. It is, I thought, an intriguing idea.

So just for kicks, I am reading Against Love, Laura Kipnis' polemic against the institutionalized concept of monogamic bliss. And after that, I am going to read Not Just friends, by Shirley P. Glass; a guide to avoiding and recovering from dalliances outside of the institution of marriage.

Then I think I will rent a few seasons of Big Love and look into the local suburban swing scene. Purely for educational purposes, mind you.
(Ahem. I AM joking about the swinging. You know that, right?)

Meanwhile I will give DH lots of tender loving foot rubs, because he keeps looking at the books on my nightstand and rolling his eyes.

the crutch and the confidence

Something that happened when I moved out of participation in the church. I lost my confidence. Of course, I was no longer getting the validation and sense of responsibility that comes from callings/teaching/etc... and for a introvert like myself who does not naturally seek out service/leadership/human contact opportunities that has noticeably reduced my sphere of influence in the world. But I noticed something else as well. I had thought I was just going explore and expand my belief system, but instead I found my belief system merely disintegrating and when that happened, I lost grace. I lost the shield that had previously softened my failings. I don't mean this in a salvation way, a "repent or your sufferings will be sore" getting-to-heaven way. I mean this in a day to day, suddenly feeling much more overwhelmed by my errors and my insignificance. By the utter inconsequence of being a human animal.

I just finished Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth. Campbell talks quite a bit about the importance of our spiritual Myths and Rituals in giving the individual a sense of place, purpose, connection to something greater. And he's pretty clear that the literalness of these myths isn't the point, it's their ability to give humans some sense of meaning in an otherwise meaningless world. A sense of confidence.
A crutch.

I've been trying to write this post now for several weeks, and I am still no closer to having some sort of nice wrap-it-up epiphany about finding meaning, having confidence, metaphorical belief systems, etc... So I though it was about time I just hit the publish button anyways and see what your thoughts on the subject are.

Friday, March 6, 2009

producing, creating, and parenting

(posted at the exponent)

I've had the most interesting time lately make art with my son. It started at his insistence and I was merely humoring him. But as we went along, drawing and painting on the same sheet of paper, I got really really into it. He was making these complex structures (he calls them forts) and I found myself completely absorbed in working around his images.

Here's the thing, I've been slugging through a bit of an artist's block not finding much inspiration in my own images and to suddenly be caught up in the innovative lines and shapes made by this five year old was intensely satisfying. Inspiring. And the thought I had was this: I'm a real selfish bitch sometimes. I can get all sorts of resentful about the enormous amount of time and energy demanded by caring for a child and sometimes blame him for my own inability to get any studio time. But when I am honest with myself I have to recognize that the labor intensive experience of being his mother has also been a tremendous source of creative impetus.
I need to give him his due.
And keep making these forts, those are really fun.