Thursday, February 07, 2008

As sort of a postscript to yesterday's entry, I had kind of a trifecta yesterday. I listened to one of President Hinckley's conference talks, I went to an Ash Wednesday service at our Episcopal church, and I listened to a sermon from a local Baptist church while I walked in the evening.

I realized that I spent a lot of yesterday in kind of a funk, which I often do when I get drawn back into LDS church issues.

President Hinckley's talk reminded me that the church is less a congregation of worshipers than a large management training exercise for priesthood leaders. Probably the best thing the church does is to train people who can speak in public, teach classes, and run groups. After all, is BYU known for its school of social work, or for its school of management and its business programs?

The doctrines of Joseph Smith, expanded on by those who followed him, creates an organization that is really one large food chain leading to godhood for those with "demonstrated ability" and being put out to pasture in the telestial kingdom for the lesser.

I am not one with "demonstrated ability". I'm a passable speaker, but at the time of my disaffection I was the oldest person in the Elders Quorum. I'm a counselor, not a presider. When I was 1st counselor in the EQ presidency the president moved, and they called the 2d counselor to be the president. It was hugely embarrassing to me, and a tremendous lesson I won't expand on now.

If the church is really true I will always inhabit the lower rungs of whatever kingdoms are present. I will never rise in the food chain, because of my lack of "demonstrated ability". Thus the closer I get to it the darker my mood.

Despite all that I still want more than anything to belong to the church the missionaries taught me about. That vision somehow won't go away. I was talking to Wife of Bath last night, and I told her that I would go back to full activity and give my heart to the LDS church if it would only do two things: tell me the truth and let me think for myself. If it would be honest about its history and the frailty of its leaders and allow me to follow my own spiritual witness about doctrine and practice, I would go back. I just don't see that happening anytime soon.


Jane Austen said...

CF, whenever I read your thoughts I distinctly feel I am in the presence of one of the most decent men on the planet. No leadership ability? Depend on where people want to be lead. I'd follow you.

ChristFollower said...

People on the internet are not what they seem . . .

From a church leader perspective I tend to fall flat. I'm a writer and not a speaker. I don't have the scripture mastery verses at my fingertips. I get emotional and frustrated with people sometimes. As a result I'm not always as obedient or deferring as I should be. I spent 12 years in the Marine Corps and I want to get things done. I tend to be impulsive and not that respectful of handbooks. I am always full of different ways to do things, and people in the church don't want that.

For example when I was in the stake YM presidency I proposed periodic stake scout leader roundtables so we could share ideas, priest-age adventure outings to try to involve the priests more, and I started a yahoogroup for stake scouting issues.

All these things fell flat. The wards didn't want them. More meetings. Undercutting their programs. Didn't want the stake telling them what to do. I wanted the priest-age outings to be optional for the priest-age YM, and the ward leaders freaked at the idea of "optional". We don't do "optional" in the church. The stake should tell them what to do and they are obligated to participate. I just finally gave up. My style never fits in.

ChristFollower said...

Another thing I did that fell flat was when I was in the EQ presidency, and actually the acting president. We instituted "barn raisings", where the elders would quit working by themselves on their own home repair projects, and instead we would team up and basically go to a different person's house each Saturday and work together and build fellowship.

That fell flat because people wouldn't admit they weren't "self reliant". People would go work on somebody else's project, but they wouldn't admit they needed help on their own. It was incredibly frustrating.

Former Hometeachee But Now Heretic said...

I know what you mean about not fitting the "mold" as defined by Mormon Inc. I'm not the type either. I tried, but it's just not me. But, who says their mold defines success? Is success becoming a Romneyesque Morgbot?

My favorite movie and a wonderful commentary on this theme is "Dead Poet's Society".

One of my favorite quotes from the movie comes from Professor Keating talking to his students, teaching them to be their own unique self: "Now we all have a great need for acceptance, but you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular. Even though the heard may go 'That's bad.' Robert Frost said, 'Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.' I want you to find your own walk right now, your own way of striding, pacing: any direction, anything you want. Whether it's proud or silly. Anything. Gentlemen, the courtyard is yours."

Not just in mourning said...

I love you.