Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Between Here and There: Navigating in No Man's Land

I have been doing some reading and researching to find/define my truth to be more clear about which set of moral codes and existential compass I want to follow to make better sense of life and the universe. This journey has taken me to conclude that all religious institutions are man-made. But I see the need for humans to create institutions for a collective sense of purpose and meaning. I admit that a lot of good comes out of religion and I personally have benefited from being Mormon. But the perks of being Mormon notwithstanding, I have stopped going to Church.

I think the only time I have ever enjoyed going to Church was when I was a missionary a decade ago. And the only reason I enjoyed it then was because I could sit for 3 hours straight without having to plan, teach, knock on doors, or feel guilty for not being a good enough missionary. The only aspect of Church that I enjoyed before and after my mission was a social one. I went to Church to see my friends when I had them. When I didn't, I would go out of habit, obligation and/or the fear of judgement if I didn't go. But I saw how futile my efforts were. I was there only in body. I always checked out mentally as soon as I sat down in Sacrament Meeting.

I stopped going to Church for many reasons. I questioned the truthfulness of the Church. I always had a problem with the Church claiming sole proprietorship of Truth. (This church is the one and only true Church on the face of the earth!) I lost my testimony of the Book of Mormon, Restoration, and Joseph Smith. I didn't feel spiritually fed or nourished in Church meetings. I was annoyed by the teachings in the Church that just regurgitated the simple-minded rhetoric of keep-the-commandments-and-you-will-be-blessed-and-will-prosper-and-be-happy without regarding the complexities and paradox of life's events. I never cared about hearing the testimonies of others about food storage, what they did over the weekend, how much someone loved somebody in fast and testimony meetings. But I cared about how mind-numbingly boring all the meetings were. Eventually, Church ceased to be meaningful to me.

Curiously, or perhaps not so curiously, I am still emotionally attached to the Mormon Church and being a Mormon. I was born and raised in the Church. Even though I was inactive for many years in my youth, Mormonism was my first religious language that articulated my metaphysical cosmos. It gave me a God that I relied on when life got sad and painful. It told me there was hope when misery abounded. It taught me how to pray. It taught me to be kind. It became my culture, my family's culture. It became my identity.

So, even though I left the Church physically and intellectually, I still have a soft spot for Mormonism. And if I find a good ward, I might even return but on my own terms: without a testimony of the Restoration but with respect for an institution that promotes good things.


Related Posts with Thumbnails