This is a question I just had for everyone…because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this blogging, it’s that people have such widely differing relationships with Mormonism. I’ve taken for granted that people are looking for the same “things” from it as I was/am, but that is not the case.
So, my question is: what is (or was) your relationship with the church and Mormonism? (I asked this question on my blog too, and there were a few answers.) What purpose did it/does it serve…what do you look for (or what did you look for) from it?
To give an example of what I’m trying to think about, let’s take three different people, whose positions I hope I have correctly surmised. These types aren’t meant to be comprehensive…I just had three people in mind.
Person A looked for something that spoke out to him internally. Subjective/spiritual experience and validation were principally important to him. He wasn’t concerned about historical issues or theological issues, because those weren’t what he got or was looking from Mormonism. Rather, a pursuit of personal authenticity, personal peace and joy was what he was looking for. To the extent that the church did/does not lead toward these things, this disharmony was/is a dealbreaker.
OK; that’s person A.
Person B had a different view from Person A. The subjective experiences person B got from Mormonism weren’t necessarily all that good (no ground-shattering revelations to share for fast and testimony meeting…), but these weren’t the matter of principal importance to him. Rather, even if the church caused him a great deal of pain, he dealt with whatever personal discomfort that came by recognizing that the church is simply true, so it is “necessary,” and may actually be a “necessary” (as a result of its facticity) “evil” (as a result of the personal pain it causes). However, if the church were not true (or if Person B sufficiently doubted such), then it would not make sense to continue to bear the burden.
Person C had a different view from both Persons A and B. For C, again, the actual truth of historical events or theologies weren’t vitally important…and neither was personal peace…so to the extent that there were uncomfortable or controversial parts in either of these, the “reason” for being Mormon woudn’t be threatened. Instead, Person C’s relationship with Mormonism was that it was his community first and foremost. As a beneficiary of that community, he owed an allegiance to the community. Person C was invested in being a Mormonism and it, in turn, was invested in him. Regardless of the nature of history or theology or experience, the Mormon community he grew up in provided him with the backbone for seeing the world, for evaluating ethics, philosophy, and so on. And so far as that backbone was flexible and adaptable to the world, he continued to pay homage to his sustaining community.
As I said before, these examples aren’t mean to fit everyone and everything. They aren’t meant to be comprehensive. So my question…does your relationship fit into one of these or is it different? If it is different, how would you instead describe your relationship with Mormonism?