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.)


jana said...

You could bring a good book and totally tune out the service. :)

adam said...

Big questions... I know a handful of people who don't believe but attend for the sake of their spouse/family, but they have a pretty good attitude about it (not saying you don't, but it's hard to tell from this post :) ).

Honestly I wish people in more diverse situations felt comfortable, and felt like they didn't even have to stay quiet the whole time. There is a difference between being disrespectful and just being honest.

I think if there are some things you still like and/or believe, it could be doable. However, if it's pretty much all bunk now, that could be difficult. I see the pull though, as having a "shared meaning" system in a relationship is extremely important.

Alisa said...

That sounds like a hard decision. Maybe they would be happy enough to have you back that they would let you pick your calling. Maybe primary is better than RS?

Also, does going back mean all three hours 4-5 Sundays a month? Maybe starting slowly with 1-2 Sundays a month would help.

If I don't attend the LDS church, I really try to make a spiritual time for myself during the exact same time by going into nature or attending another church like the UCC. Maybe you're already doing this, but for me it's easier to go to the LDS Church when I know that those three hours are spiritual devotion time, no matter what (and not time to cross other things off my to-do list).

G said...

hey adam, yeah I have a bit of an attitude problem about this. I swing back and forth between being pouty/resentful/resigned and being hopeful.
when i wrote this last night I was more in resigned mode.
If I could keep it in hopeful I'm sure things would go smoother.

As for being openly 'diverse' as a church member, it is that line between being honest and being disrespectful that I am hoping not to cross. but wow that's a hard line to play when I try to think up scenarios in my head.
(as per my beliefs/actions, at first I was able find common beliefs to hold onto... but all most all of those have fallen off now. It's pretty much 3 hours of hearing things I don't believe in. I guess, imagine going to a political rally for the candidate/party in opposition to your own stance?)

Alisa, yes I'm sure everyone would be thrilled to see me in church again. I have received multiple visits just this past week from church members implying that they miss me at church.

when I stopped going to church it was with the notion that I would find some other spiritual activity to fill in, like you said; nature or another church or something. What has been difficult is the actual practice of that when we are also trying to balance the care of our five year old son.

Before I stopped attending I did the book thing and tuned out the service (like Jana said).
maybe that will work again?

(hopeful mode... get into hopeful mode...)

djinn said...

IPod, Elliott Smith. Should work. Libertines should also be on your playlist. Or you could be totally childish and do what I did when forced (for various reasons to attend) and bring amusing questionable books (Henry Miller in my case) and see if anyone notices. My finest moment was passing some role around in Sunday School on top of "Tropic of Cancer."

Sanford said...

Hi G,

I read your blog regularly but haven’t commented before. I find you journey very interesting and we share some similar views on the church. I consider myself something of a Mormon agnostic. I don’t really think in terms of whether I believe it or not, I just look for things that help me gravitate toward wisdom. My wife is not a Mormon so I don’t need to go to support her, but I go regularly anyway. Sometimes my kids go with me, sometimes they stay home. I leave attendance up to them. Even though I disagree without much of what I hear every Sunday, I also find that there is much there that I agree with (I feel the same way about the Democratic Party by the way). I consider Mormonism to be the base from which I journey in the search of truth.

As for being yourself, I think you are smart to try and find balance between honesty and disrespect. I find that I straddle that line regularly and sometimes cross the line into disrespect. The funny thing is that there are ward members who really respond to honest if unorthodox views. I regularly have members tell me they appreciate my point of view (i.e. when I told my Sunday School Class that I disagreed with the Church position on Prop 8). But I share so much in common with my fellow members that the things we disagree on don’t ruin the experience for me.

Anyway, I think it is possible to find meaning in Mormon services even if you only agree with a portion of what you hear.

PS. I read through much of Sacrament Meeting every week but I try to be discreet about it. It's a nice safety valve for talks that don't work for you.

mfranti said...

g, nice to see you post again.

i've only been to church once since i told the boss man i needed a break and it wasn't very pleasant.

i can't imagine feeling like i had to go (i think that's my biggest problem-feeling like I HAVE to be there because i'm a mormon and that's what we do on sunday).

anyways, we should chat about this.

love ya

Sunflower said...

Hi G,

Great to see you posting again. I've missed your thoughts. I'm glad your husband has been supportive of your choices - one thing I've been wondering about is the decision to keep your son home with you on Sundays while your husband goes to church. Was that a difficult decision/negotiation?

Best of luck to you on your continued journey.

xJane said...

you could take the time to do something that fulfills you—whether a hike, some yoga, or a book, as Jana mentioned—reclaim Sunday morning as something special for you. You'll be surprised how fast the time flies (is church really three hours long?! I would not have lasted as long as I did in Catholicism if it had been so!).