Monday, July 17, 2006

The Ensign Moment That Wasn’t—

Wife of Bath and I went on a backpacking trip this weekend with an old friend from church. I was his home teacher for about eight years, through the death of their third child and some very tough times. James used to be the only person I could really discuss the LDS gospel with, because he was and is infused with the spirit and was serious about it. Most LDS shy away from spiritual discussions (at least men) because the subjects are considered “private” and people just don’t open up that much. At least not with me anyway. James was different, because he lived and loved the gospel.

One of my consistent prayers through all this is for intervention. “Lord, if I am on the wrong path, send me a sign. Have my bishop call me in for an interview. Have my elders quorum president schedule me for a PPI and ask me how I’m doing in a way that suggests he really cares, i.e. by allotting more than 10 minutes for the meeting. Send me a friend to ask me how things are going.”

As of yet, nothing. I have met with my bishop several times about mundane administrative things and tithing settlement, and he has never had a clue, other than our last meeting where I laid it all out. Since the evolution of my belief I have only had one PPI from my quorum presidency, which was last month after I had already decided to talk to my bishop.

This weekend was another “intervention” opportunity. Two days in the woods of Kentucky, with nothing to talk about but God, angels, and the restoration. James has been a seminary teacher for years, and is probably the most doctrinally knowledgeable person in my circle of acquaintance. He has pulled at least one person back from apostasy that I know of. Would this be my turn? Would he be prompted to reel me back into the fold?

Apparently not. Gospel subjects really never came up, other than he repeated a standing joke between us about me being called to be a bishop, which WoB and I found to be kind of grimly amusing, considering what is actually going on.

I have to believe that 1) if the LDS church was true, 2) if those around us are blessed with a spirit of discernment 3) if we have a father in Heaven who wants WoB and I to remain as fully active members of the LDS church, and 4) if we have a father in Heaven who answers really important prayers, that somebody around us would be inspired to stop us from going down the path we’re headed.

Instead, the spiritual witness I keep getting is that there is a God in heaven who loves us and wants us to look after each other, and that a good portion of what the LDS church teaches is legalistic pharisaical bullcrap. In some ways it leads us to God in ways that we might not otherwise be brought there, but in many ways it causes us to get caught up in the minutia of details and structure and human organization in ways that obscures a fuller and more nuanced relationship with the divine.

So, another chance to pull us back from the brink of apostasy passes without incident. Onward we continue into the unknown . . .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your post. Backpacking is a natural venue for spiritual discussions since so many things in nature can prompt spiritual moments.

I read with hope that your blog would recount a discussion of deep exchanges between you and your friend. But the absence of such doesn't surprise me. It was my experience too.

Stripped away from the commandments to do this and that there's little remaining in Mormonism.

Best Regards,