When a mild difference of opinion with an old giant soul (and matriarch) of the family occurred, there was a weight attached to it that I found… unsettling. I come from a macho family. We are all opinionated, and we all speak our minds; which makes for spontaneous, fast spreading wild fire when the topic is a controversial one.
I was born Mormon. I grew up in a Mormon home. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – as they prefer to be called – mostly because the off-shoot fundamentalist Mormon’s public and widely known revolting activities. Regular Mormon’s get tarred with the same stereotype slander that the fundamentalists (the ones that practice polygamy and marry kids off to blood relatives – and live in compounds) do.
I was hesitant to write this post – because I do enjoy a good debate – but I also loathe people who don’t understand the concept of a discussion. The ultimate success of a healthy argument is as much about listening and digesting as it is about relaying information.
Being Mormon is a bit like being Jewish. You don’t just decide you don’t want to be Mormon one day. It is a lifestyle. A daily way of being. It is a family oriented series of promises and values placed largely on the foundation of choice and accountability, service and ‘practices’ that keep people ‘together’.
I was a wild child, and I rebelled against it’s structure. At the time I didn’t understand much of what I do now – but as a young woman raging with hormones, my priority was never to be the modern day ‘saint’. I was always more taken with the underdog’s and the rogue, misunderstood. The broken people that littered my teenage world. I saw beauty in the darkest of places, and my family didn’t really understand.
My mother – a wise woman – told me not to be ‘luke warm’ in my participation in the church. I was allowed the autonomy and the ‘space’ to take some very large steps back from it. By then I had done just about everything that a human being could that was ‘not allowed’, and my parents seemed to understand eventually – that it wasn’t about lack of faith – it was about not pretending to be something on a Sunday when the rest of the week I was out doing all manner of things.
Now – let me pause here. When someone says something as fucking stupid as ‘I hate religion’, honestly… all I want to to is break that person’s face with a baseball bat. I would accept that statement if that person knew at least something about every religion. That way they could back it up with evidence or at least a moving argument. But nine times out of ten… they cant. All they can muster is that it’s man made and it makes people money.
Which brings me back to being Mormon. There is much of the doctrine that I don’t know – because I walked away a long time ago. But I know this – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – when it comes to welfare and humanitarian efforts – is astounding. The response to natural disasters all around the world is awe inspiring. Also – Welfare Square – since its humble beginnings in the midst of the Great Depression, Welfare Square has emerged as a powerful example of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does throughout the world to care for the poor, foster self-reliance, and provide meaningful opportunities for work and service. Welfare Square is a modern facility composed of a towering, 178-foot-tall grain elevator, a large storehouse, a bakery, a cannery, a milk-processing operation, a thrift store, and an employment center—all designed to help people help themselves.
Now – I don’t want to have a ‘which religion is better’ pissing contest – but what I do want is to drive home a point. There are anti Mormon articles and videos all over the place. Why put so much effort into discrediting something that you don’t think holds any truth? What is the point? What is there to expose if the people that try so hard just to be good people are happy and not hurting anyone? If anything they contribute to each other and society in a way that is rare. The leaders all live in modest homes, and drive modest cars. They fly economy for heaven’s sake. They wear regular suits and the tithing that is paid – goes to youth, missions, welfare… and not into the pockets of one man at top?
And even if all the members are deluded and misguided – and there is no truth to it at all – is the message of family unity, loving your neighbor and being good to one another SO terrible???
Going back to the original argument. My grandmother has decided she does not want to be Mormon anymore. She has embarked on a mission to discredit the history of the church.
“… research is being done into the deconversion and the types of people who need the comfort of their traditional liturgies and rituals, and the types that feel whole without that.”
It’s not about the people, or the gospel, it’s about me. I made a choice not to be ‘Luke Warm’ about my activity in church. I wanted to either do it for the right reasons (which, ultimately separates me from the idiot people), or to back off and not do it at all, which as we all know is what I chose. I realised that all the rage I had that I was pinning with an industrial sized staple gun to the faces of all the leaders in the church…. was only harming me. Not them. Their message just didn’t suit me and my wild lifestyle.
I had to concede, that just because they were Mormon – didn’t mean they should be any more perfect than a Jew… or a Catholic, or a Buddhist. Because at the end of the day – whatever our personal or religious comforts are in our traditional liturgies and rituals – we all have them. We all seek structure in whatever shape suits us and the way we feel we need it. Does that make us weak? Does that mean we need to be shown the light to a more free way? Does it mean we are a type?? I may not need religion as a structure, but I cling to my routines, and the knowledge that if I fall down, I am not alone. And I like to think I am a very strong, intelligent and fierce minded woman.
It means we are all human beings on different paths, and we don’t always get to have our hands held while we are angry or tired – because it’s a personal thing. Don’t get me wrong – I have many times thought the people in the church grossly arrogant and clueless (because most human beings are, right?). And there are parts of the gospel I don’t like or understand – but in amongst all those faces are people who try hard to walk in the footsteps of good people.
We live in a revolting world. Disgusting. Rape. Torture. Disease. Sickness. We spend too much time criticizing each other or religion to walk away from it by throwing stones at it does what? For what? Purpose? Weather you believe in God and Christ or not I will attest to one singular fact that I know to be true. SERVICE. If anyone wanted to be closer to God, why not go and volunteer at an orphanage instead of making it all about being robbed of truth??
There has to be room for prayer (whatever shape it takes) and for charity and for kindness, regardless of what faith you belong to (or don’t belong to).
…. pisses me off. Really it does.