On community: It’s possible to belong and be active … and not have the Celestial Kingdom as your objective

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There are many who are quite content to live in the simplest arenas of belief – who feel no need for deeper spiritual and mystical experience and have no hunger to come any closer to God than they are right now.

There are others who are so secure and established in a fixed and unchanging spiritual mode that they truly are afraid of really exploring and testing what they really believe. In some cases people like this will be critical of explorers, questioners and testers who are on a quest to come to know God as God knows them – in a highly personal and spiritual context.

Traditional formulas full of shoulds and should-nots are like paved roads. There is much to see from the road, but you never know what meadows and mountains exist if you do not step off the road and make your own trail into a wilderness of opportunity.

Nowadays the internet is a melting pot of literally hundreds of “post-mormon” or “mormon dissent” or “ex-mormon” websites, blogs and discussion boards. After a while it seems like if you have been to one you have been to all of them. Even the most senior moderators on the most senior discussion boards will tell you that there is hardly anything, any issue, any circumstance or any thought, gripe, rant, disappointment or disillusionment that they haven’t already seen many times over.

What’s with the veritable plethora of angry, frustrated, disappointed or disillusioned human beings who do not seem to be able – in a wise, mature or logical way – to write off their connection to the LDS Church and simply get on with life?

I don’t have an answer.

What then might we do with our Mormon heritage and connections?

We are not responsible for the happiness of anyone else in our lives. They are responsible for their own happiness.

In that regard, just as we know we have no right or obligation to impose our beliefs on anyone else or make a relationship with anyone else conditional on our being pleased by them, they have no right or obligation in the reverse.

We owe our fellow saints our maturity. We have no obligation to reward spiritual and emotional immaturity. If relationships are that fragile and conditional, someone needs to be the adult. It is unreasonable and makes not sense to be in a relationship where one soul is responsible for the contentment of everyone else. If friends and family want a conditional relationship with you … are you not obligated to ask them to grow up?

Why must we keep doubts quiet when they arise?  One of the admonishments I encountered frequently was that I should refrain from questioning the Church version of the Gospel because by questioning, I might be influencing others of less spiritual strength and causing them to lose their faith.

This never made sense to me. The idea that I have power in and of myself to overrule God’s influence in the life of someone else belittles God by suggesting I might overrule God’s will regarding someone else.

I came to understand that my own spiritual strength was something I had worked out with fear and trembling assisted by the Spirit. Spiritual strength is not loaned by someone else inside or outside any church.

The “true-churchiness” point of view; that way of seeing and believing – trusted as it was for years – broke down.

The church never had an adequate response to disillusionment it could not contain by exhortation to conformity, exhortation to more intense and frequent prayer on very limited subjects, and unspoken or blatantly declared accusations of doubt, sinfulness or even apostasy.

None of these approaches, used by the Church as tools of control, worked anymore.

Why?

Over the past twenty five years the Church has lost permanently any control over that contrived narration that encourages blind believing and unjustified fidelity to a cause the Church itself cannot prove exists. The pretended truths constantly crash against the wall of indisputable facts that reveal the pretenses as childish, immature and invalid.

There are tens of thousands of LDS Rip Van Winkles who have awakened from twenty or more years of blissful or not-so-blissful) slumber to discover that the reality that secured their lives when they fell asleep no longer exists.

Such reality was never real.

The theological and religious lullaby that worked so well in the past now comes across to awakened souls as not much more than a medley of childish adolescent ditties.

Such is the constancy of that hemorrhage of disillusioned believers that more than likely will continue to grow until the core of remaining church membership will barely facilitate Mormonism’s ongoing decline into the same mediocrity of traditional main-line religions that have little or no influence on the lives of its youngest adult generations.

We owe our fellow saints our maturity.

We have no obligation to reward spiritual and emotional immaturity.

If relationships are that fragile and conditional, someone needs to be the adult. It is unreasonable and makes no sense to be in a relationship where one soul is responsible for the contentment of everyone else.

I propose that what we have left in terms of churchiness is the very real fact of “It’s Okay.”

It’s possible to belong and be active … and not have the Celestial Kingdom as your objective.

It’s perfectly okay to go to church only when you feel like it

… only for social occasions
… only for supporting family or loved ones in a religious life event important to the family
… only to enjoy the sociality and friendship of the culture

It’s perfectly okay to go to church only when you feel like it

… to be a friend of the church
… yet keep it’s demands and requirements at arms length
… to accept no calling unless you feel like it
… and never fear the religious ill-will of the master and commander who supposedly leads the Church

It’s perfectly okay to go to church only when you feel like it

… and not go when you don’t feel like it
… to participate whenever you desire for your own reasons
… and have no intention or goal of arriving in the Celestial Kingdom.

It’s okay my friends.

If friends and family want a conditional relationship with you

… are we not obligated to pray with them

… pray for them

… pray that God will ask them to grow up?

… and leave the mechanics and verbiage of that to God?

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