On opinions about us based on both observation and – more importantly – assumptions whose validity may possibly never be challenged, corrected or refuted
As I’ve stated several times and in an assortment of ways, my own path has come to be in this moment a satisfactory reclaiming of the who-I-am self-identity. This is an important event for me because it becomes possible to capture (or in my case recapture) a spiritual sense of identity.
A spiritual sense of identity is individual.
It does not serve well as a means of communion with the Divine from inside a corporate reality [read “church” or “religion”] defined by unprovable claims. Nor should it ever be based on validation by the religious institution where belonging and conforming is gently or coercively obtained as the means of connection to higher truth.
What happens then is that the higher truth in reality is defined by the greater (but not ever higher) religious institution as a basis for like-minded thinking (conformity.) The religious propositions which are proclaimed without much inhibition then easily wander into some sort of boundary-less emotional territory where the individual is subject to the unsolicited opinion of the organized religious body.
The greater corporate structure insists on the same unsolicited but relentlessly unchanging religious philosophy; a philosophy which gets broken down into the less critically-thought-out opinions of less-self-aware in congregations. These are in most cases less-critical thinking attenders and belongers who sincerely and almost unconsciously enforce a norm that never goes beyond the simplistic exhortations that pass for encouragement to serious spiritual growth.
In the presence of such narrow, shallow and unmoving water, serious spiritual contemplative growth is not an easily obtained or developed fruit of the spirit. Per corporate policy this particular spiritual water in which every member swims should not be splashed – even in the shallow end of the pool where the bulk of Salt Lake Mormons congregate. It is only in undisturbed shallow water where participation in seriously limited and scripted gospel conversations occurs with almost mindless repetition every week .
The Salt Lake Mormon “bubble” which is essentially an unconscious acceptance of a “Truman Show”-like way of life, is a life where the exaggerated religious melodrama is repeated and consumed week after Seek. The melodrama contains very little variation of theme and message. Rather it has become a kind of manufactured drama fit for soap opera scripts. These scripted performances are rehearsed in both lesson and pulpit contexts and pass for spiritual intercourse.
As time passes my particular and specific Arthur-identity had less and less to do with healthy contributions from me to those truth narratives coming out of the Salt Lake Church. My own spoken and unspoken-but-implied support and agreement with the religious myths of the Salt Lake Church’s identity may have kept familial disappointment somewhat to a minimum, but at the price of a sense of personal hypocrisy in looking like one thing but actually being another.
Even if my hypocrisy was not deliberate nor intentional, I have learned that I cannot correct, let alone manage, the mostly blind assumptions that are made just because I show up in Church and offer comments and commentary that seem “safe” in a public context.
We all should realize that other human beings will form opinions about us based on both observation and – more importantly – assumptions whose validity may possibly never be challenged, corrected or refuted.
I seemed to have arrived at the achievement of what I wanted as I spent time as a re-baptized Mormon who had come to mental and spiritual wholeness. I was in fact guided, influenced and protected by the powerful wisdom of my wife.
eventually, participation and private discussions between us led to a recognition that at least for me, continuation of almost any form of church activity in all its correlated venues caused feelings akin to a sense of touching a dead spirit battery where no spark ever gets generated.
I will always be grateful to lay membership of our ward and my birth families for the loving acceptance and forgiveness offered me upon re-baptism. The pattern for me seemed to follow after that of the Father of the Prodigal Son. However, the Prodigal who returns must be allowed to return according to his own definitions and expectations. Otherwise, there is only regret and repentance that returns to a subjection to someone else’s magic.
I felt that my recapture of my identity in the form of a cultural Mormon is complete.
In the end, religion once organized seems unable to move in any direction other than a corporate brand and mode of both expression and presentation to the rest of the world.
In the end, religion will not do if limited only to religious practice based on artificial moralities that insist that there is a nit-picking God of petty mind who has an obsession with obedience. Such becomes be a God whose mode and manner lack any notion of eternal progression based on the satisfying of natural human curiosity and longing for communion with the Divine.
As we are spiritual beings, we must grow to whatever form of spiritual maturity we seek on an individual basis. Despite foundational and doctrinal claims to the contrary, the Salt Lake Church – any church for that matter – has no justification for the notion that the church is a vessel for coming closer to God and as such, a vessel we can never abandon, but must pick up and carry on our backs even after it has outworn its usefulness.
As the Buddhists well know, if a boat carries you across the river, you are not expected to pick up and haul the boat on your back beyond the shore once you reach the other side.