Why did you come today? Oh, I’m just happy to be here.
Going to meeting for me involves essentially only one objective: communion with The Divine in a community of like-minded spiritually motivated human beings. That’s what I consider a not-unreasonable expectation of edification based on joint participation with a spiritual objective.
As for the off-again/on-again religious practice in that LDS context that goes back to my childhood, my thought is that Joseph Smith expressed it at his conceptual best for all Mormons regardless of degree of faith, activity and attitude:
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
This has been my experience. It has been a freely worked-out and obtained experience; a constant experience that has nothing to do with church doctrines, procedures, theology or performance in terms of activity, callings or donations.
I had already stopped going to church for those shallow performance reasons before I walked out in 1991 and asked for name removal.
After coming back, as Lietta and every bishop with whom I’ve met is well aware, I told them that I was not the only one “on probation” as it were. I was not the only one waiting to be found worthy of a restoration of blessings and priesthood.
I without hesitation expressed to each bishop and other leader who asked me that the Church was also “on probation” with me. I needed to see if things had changed and if I could find the Church a worthy venue for restoring my blessings and priesthood before I would accept their action. One may reasonably expect that sort of thing from an organization self-declaring that it is the one and only true church on the face of the Earth.
That Church worthiness has not been achieved according to my own criteria for what a church ought to be and why one would attend meeting therein and participate fully.
I expect communion with our Heavenly Parents to be the predominant experience when I go to meeting; not a communion that occurs only if I am worthy or only if I do what I am commanded (which disqualifies the Church for me because I do not have in my experience a judgmental Divinity who loves and blesses me conditionally.)
A conditional love of humanity by God is a theological construct and has no basis in reality.
I do not go to Church with any expectation of pleasing God because I show up and thereby in such questionable worthiness believe that I am subject to conditional blessings of “the Spirit” (which then would imply that the Holy Ghost is only a mere on-again/off-again fleeting thing in my life.)
I do not know why most Mormons go to meeting regularly, faithfully and devotedly.
I do not know what they get out of it any more than they know what I get out of it.
I can only speculate on the framework in which most active Mormons relate obedience and conformity to genuine spirituality:
As a measuring stick, let me use the following set of questions.
You supply the answers for yourselves or for any active members with whom you have relationship.
1) God’s love for me depends on what I do.
2) Meeting the expectations of others, especially those in my congregation or in positions of authority, are paramount.
3) Moral and ethical questions are usually black and white and only made into fuzzy shades of gray by hand-wringing, bleeding-heart types.
4) I try hard to obey God and it irritates me that others think they can get away with avoiding the same level of dedication.
5) I fall short because I don’t have enough faith, or because I haven’t prayed enough, or because I just need to be a better person.
6) God is predisposed to be angry with me because I am a sinner. My main goal in life is to try to gain God’s favor by doing things that will impress him.
7) My sense of spiritual well-being is linked to a leader or membership in my church rather than a personal relationship with God.
8) I tell my children not to do something in church or around other families that I allow in my home.
9) I believe my church is God’s true church and that everyone else may be sincere, but are sincerely wrong.
10) The exterior choices a person makes in what they wear, hairstyle, piercings, tattoos, etc. is a clear indication of that person’s character.
11) I sometimes worry that people might take advantage of grace if it’s preached too much —people might think they can do anything they want.
12) After being around Christians for a while I feel drained —weary of putting up a false front.
13) When I happen to miss a service or activity of my church I feel guilty.
14) I will likely get into heaven, even though I’m far from perfect, because I have tried to be a basically good person and God will take that into account.
Such was similar to my mental and spiritual frame of reference prior to whatever happened to me, be it a:
crisis of faith,
or crisis of mid-life,
or an attack of critical thinking,
or reality-bonking-me-on-the-head back in the late 1980’s when I told my Bishop to release me from my calling as HP Group Leader before I came to a place of needing to just walk away in mid-moment.
Since that time, having achieved some sort of escape velocity, I began to discover many things about my own spirituality and how disconnected I had been all along from the rigid and doctrinaire definitions of LDS faithfulness in terms of that iron-rod-theology
Obedience + Worthiness = Spirituality —> Blessings
Oh so not true.
Oh so not my experience.
Oh so not connected to the reasons for my on-going love affair with the Divine.