Friday, July 22, 2011

My life has taken an interesting turn over the past few months. I've begun to see some things more clearly, but I've also become more confused, frustrated, lonely and alienated. I've been coming out to more people and have met a few MOHOS from this blog world and others here in Salt Lake. I've also been connecting more with them on Facebook. Overall, it hasn't been that great of an experience (with a few exceptions). It's just made my life more complex and confusing. I'm not sure who to turn to and who to trust anymore. I know I haven't made the best effort to connect with others, but for me, just making the effort is a huge step. I know I offended a few of you with the over 40 only comment. There are actually many of you who I would like to meet who are over 40 (Beck and Bravone to name two).

Lately, (actually, for quite some time now) I've been struggling with the culture of the church. It really bothers me how many perceive what the church is and really have little clue of what it is. The teachings of the church have been so watered down over my lifetime that nobody addresses the tough issues anymore, and when they actually do, the conjecture, misunderstandings and sterilized knowledge of the doctrine totally turns me off. Nobody seems to question anything. How can anyone expect us to progress individually and as a church without taking a hard look at the way we do things. Lets get rid of the cultural "teachings" and focus on the real doctrine of the church. Lets stop focusing on numbers (do you do your hometeaching every month, we need six people to fulfill this assignment at the mill, at the temple), stop making the EQ the cheap labor. Why doesn't anyone pay for movers? It's really not that expensive. Forced service is not the way to go. Guilting us into doing things is not the way to go. Lets revamp the three hour block. Have you been to primary lately? It's not the primary I grew up with and the changes have not been for the better (most of the changes have been socially and culturally based, not doctrinally based). I could go on and on. I know that nobody is perfect and that most are doing their best. I don't necessarily blame individuals for the way things have gotten. I blame the culture.

It's not my intent to bash the church, just the opposite. I have an incredible testimony of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, temple work, and all the other incredible things about the church. I just feel so alienated. I know a lot of it is my own fault, I admit that. But I'm tired of being judged because I don't do all, or even most of the things that others "think" I should be doing. Maybe it's just because I'm not a social person and the programs in the church all seem to be socially oriented. We have to participate in this, and participate in that. I would prefer to do things on my own. I know that most need these social aspects of the church, but for those of us who don't, it doesn't make us bad people. Social activities drain the hell out of me - including church Sunday meetings. I don't feel rejuvinated in the least. I'm made to feel guilty and not worthy. After teaching primary I feel totally wiped out (and not in a good way). Maybe I just need a break. I feel bad for those who have to do so much each Sunday (especially the Bishop and auxiliary leaders). I'm really beginning to question the whole lay leadership thing. I would like to go and be able to just sit and learn, feel at peace and focus without having to do anything. I know that contradicts what we have been taught in the church. We're supposed to serve each other and help each other. But there's got to be a better way.


Beck said...

The church "culture" doesn't mean that much to me. I love that the church provides me with a vehicle to serve and give and teach and try to make a difference in helping other members feel better about themselves. I love to uplift and smile, extend a hug, teach primary kids, slap young men in the hall, stir up controversy in the gospel doctrine to get people thinking, steer the Bishop in discussions of what to do, who to do what, where to go next, who to visit, to give blessings, to comfort, to encourage etc. All these things I do because of the church and the calling I have. If it wasn't for the church and the calling, I could see myself vegetating somewhere and stop caring about doing anything for anyone. It is in the calling that something motivates me to be better than I would be otherwise, to reach further, to hug and love and care more.

I hope you can find that as well... despite the cultural garbage along the way.

Meanwhile, it would be fun to meet you as well, even if I am over 40 (though some have mentioned that I appear younger than my real age - maybe they were just being polite to an old man!) :)

Forester said...

Beck, it's not the loving and caring I have a problem with. Caring for others because it's "our duty, our responsibility, it's required of us" that is the problem. I don't want to be required or even asked to serve. I want to do it because I care. I know your heart is in the right place, and most church leaders do really care. Also, I don't want to be something or someone that I'm not. I just want to be myself. Trying to be someone else is what has gotten me into this mess. And I'm not just talking about being gay. I'm not a type A person and I shouldn't be required to be one to gain salvation.

I love people reaching out to me out of concern, and wish that it would happen more often, but I don't want them to reach out to me to "do" things in the church. For example, not everyone is cut out to be a home teacher, even though it's the calling that everyone is supposed to have, and if I asked to be released as a home teacher I would be judged accordingly.

There is nothing wrong with vegetating. For me, it's in the quiet moments, by myself that I have come closest to God, not giving talks or teaching primary or going to church activities. I don't need to prepare a lesson or a talk in order to study, pray and read the scriptures. I can do all that without "participating" in church services and activities. These things may provide an incentive and a vehicle, but are not necessary for my progression.

Forester said...

One more thought. When was the last time the Bishop, his counselors, or any of the auxiliary leaders called someone to just see how they were doing? It's never happened to me. They only call when they need me to do something. Why do you think people don't answer when they call?

Crisco said...

Forester: on that last comment, you're assuming they are guys who would call to see how you're doing anyway. Guys seem to need a purpose to call or hang out--like a sport, activity, or such.
Anyway, I hear you on the church culture. It sometimes seems so inward looking and so full of rules and regulations that go beyond the scope of the gospel. 3 Nephi 11 is such an awesome chapter that we read over and over again as missionaries. The gospel is simple. Do we really need so many "supposed tos"? Isn't that kind of the reason Jesus constantly harrangued the Sadduccees and Pharisees for all their little rules they had set up to avoid breaking the commandments? Not that the church leaders are anywhere near that or that they are hypocrites like the Jewish leaders were, but sometimes it feels like we're too concerned with appropriate dress standards, numbers, and such that we forget to just care about people.

Beck said...

Of course there is nothing wrong with "vegetating" or reading the scriptures just because instead of because of an assignment. Of course one can be close to the spirit without being assigned to do so. And of course we aren't all the Type A personality that makes a great social home teacher.

I don't dispute any of that.

I am a very introverted person. I can spend hours by myself and be just fine. I hate parties and I hate being in charge of social events, including making appointments for home teaching.

But, I know that I extend myself more and do more for others as I do my calling... and I go "beyond my comfort zone" (which I think is a good thing) and I do it mostly because I want to, not because I have to.

You're right that bishopric members are guilty of asking for things of people. It's a hard task for me to ask people to do things. And I know that for the most part, people cringe when I pull them aside to have a "talk", for they know that I want something from them. But, for the record, I have pulled aside many just to ask "how are you?"

Anyway... I get your argument of the culture and the requirements, statistics and sameness of it all... I hope you will share how you work through this.

I just know that without some of this stimuli the church offers, I would make a great hermit... Maybe that wouldn't be such a horrible thing?

Neal said...

You need a vacay, bro!

I see the Church as a tool for ME (all of us) to use to draw closer to Christ and to find opportunities to serve. But there are other opportunities. Check them out and give yourself some variety.

If you don't want to be called on, try what I did - start wearing colored / patterned shirts and wild, brightly colored ties. No one will ever ask you to do anything again. It's magic!

Troy said...

LOL. Very true Neal! Although, one time when I wore a black shirt to church, the ward clerk gave me a hard time about it saying black wasn't the color of the priesthood. You know what I told him? I said, yeah, that was true until 1978. Boo-ya!

Anonymous said...

just a final comment on that over 40 thing. If you had said, "around my age," it would have been different. But apparently it would be fine to meet up with someone in his early 20's, I assume 15 years younger than you, but not someone more than 5 years older. It is this disparity that made it sound like you were cruising, hence some of the negative reaction. And then to point out two exceptions carries its own message. Ciao

Nate B said...

This is more in response to the last comment than to Forester's latest entry: What's wrong with being exactly clear on who you're interested in meeting? If people get their feelings hurt, it's kind of on them. I'm 34 and if I sent out a message saying that I want to meet guys 34 and under, that doesn't make me an ass. It makes me clear and honest about what I want. Anyone who is 35 and older will just have to muster up enough self-confidence to not take it personally. Maybe the reason why I want to meet guys my age and younger is for a specific reason, you know? So, who is anyone to say that Forester can't be very specific as to who he wants to meet?

MY VIEW said...

Hay, I do understand. And I'll be 40 in six months or so. Write me back already.

Bror said...

Put me on your over 40 list. :)

Since July 15, 2007