Went to Church Yesterday

I went to church yesterday. In-laws are in town and I’m still NOMmin’ it to keep things somewhat cool between us. During the Sacrament talks I didn’t pay attention, instead I read through 25 pages of 1st Nephi while sitting in the front row. I heard bits and pieces from someone from the Stake Presidency speaking on tragedy preparedness and things of that nature. I think that’s great- that’s important for a community, I think. But I got a lot of reading in the BOM done that morning. Overall I still like reading the BOM. It’s a nice story. I felt content. I wondered if I would have felt the same while reading a good fiction story (I think another good book probably would have felt great too, on a nice Sunday morning). One thing that jumped out at me as weird, though, was when Nephi spoke to Laban’s servent in Laban’s voice. He then explains (1 Nephi 4:20)

[…] I commanded him in the voice of Laban, that he should go with me into the treasury.
21. And he supposed me to be his master, Laban, for he beheld the garments and also the sword girded about my loins.

No big deal, really, it just seemed to me that verse 21 should have explained that Laban’s Servant “supposed me to be his master, Laban, for I just performed an incredible feat by speaking in another man’s voice.” The clothes and sword wouldn’t be quite as big of a deal, to me. I dunno, just something that popped out at me. (by the way I can easily apologetically make sense of this for myself so spare me any explanations, please.)

But I enjoyed my reading. I’ve been reading the BOM my whole life. Its words have been present in my childhood, teenage years, and most of my adult years so it was nice to hear these familiar verses once again. It may be like reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” or 2 Luke at Christmas time. Familiar stories with many memories behind them. Many fond memories. Hopefully I can embrace all that is still good in this religion as continued attendance may be the best thing for my family relationships. Religion will never go away. Embrace any/all heritage you have- you don’t have to agree with it all but embrace it- it may be your culture. If it is not a necessity in your particular family than that’s another story but it is appearing to be a necessity for normalcy or acceptance in mine. I’ll bite the bullet for a while. I’ve started to out myself but maybe I can back up a little and climb back into my old Mormon abode.

Bored in Vernal describes my situation oh so poetically:

I put on black,
My head I bow.
You like me now.
You like me now.

I put away my chartreuse scarf,
And colored things I used to wear.
My second piercings now are bare,
I gel down my unruly hair.

I do not have a lot to say.
My makeup now is quite subdued.
I seem to cook a lot of food,
I don’t go swimming in the nude.

I nod and murmur when I should,
I shut my mouth, my thoughts I still,
My questions and my quirks I kill–
My secret longings none can fill.

The ward is suddenly so kind.
I’m not as different now, you see!
A call has been extended me
To teach Relief Society.

Sedately I walk down the aisle,
The Bishop’s wife sits by my side,
She nods at me; you smile with pride,
I feel a tearing deep inside.

I clean the toilets and the hall,
Read stories to my sweet sunbeams.
We never argue now, it seems.
I wonder where I put my dreams.

Your temple marriage now is safe,
You hold my hand that wears the ring.
I never dance, I never sing,
You would not notice such a thing.

I’m all in black,
I’ve kept my vow,
You like me now,
You like me now.

But this is what
You do not see:
I don’t like me,
I don’t like me.

[by the way, bored in vernal, re-reading this again just pulls at my heart strings!]

Since I’ve agreed to “put on black” I’ve seen my relationships drastically improve with some famliy members and I’ve thought to myself you like me now, you like me now.

Getting back to Sunday, for SS we had a lesson about the apostles from the NT and the apostles nowadays. There was 20 minutes of people saying how we should not question authority, and how these are “literal” witnesses of Christ (it’s funny how we believe this as members, though no apostles or prophets will either elaborate, be specific (like say “the Lord visited me”, nor will they clear up or refute this belief, nowadays). Then we spent 10 minutes seeing who could name all of the current apostles. Then we made a list of the apostles from the NT, next to a list of the modern-day apostles. Instead of having this hour-long lesson I think I could have just been handed a paper with “the lists” and been cool. My wife agreed. We left after SS, cooked up some food and played Halo with some friends (yeah, we’re that cool).

This poem/hymn by MagicCicero summed up our Sunday experience:

Sung to the tune of “Who’s On the Lord’s Side? Who?”

Who’s on the bored side? Who?
Now is the time to doze
They drone consistently
Who’s on the bored side? Who?
The talks are all assigned
They’re the same ones every time
No incentive to improve
Who’s on the bored side? Who?

We only get the milk
There is no time for meat
Avoid the mysteries
Who’s on the bored side? Who?
No doctrine fresh or new
No thought original
Embrace monotony
Who’s on the bored side? Who?

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~ by bonoboi on February 19, 2007.

9 Responses to “Went to Church Yesterday”

  1. Well, I guess we all know what side I’m on… 🙂

    Mark, I’m so sad that you’ve put on black. How do we ever do it? I hope your experience as a NOM can be more like John Dehlin’s than like mine. John seems to be able to do it while remaining cheerful and true to himself.

    Good luck.

  2. Mark = The Man

  3. Hahaha… That is too funny. Yeah I would have thought more emphasis would have been put on speaking in another man’s voice, too.

  4. Mark,
    You remind me a lot of my brother. He struggles with a lot of the same doctrinal issues. Best wishes.

  5. To Bored in Vernal:
    You break my heart (in a good way) with your beautiful, open, courageous, yet pure and passive expression. I wish I could give you my freedom, to be able to be your self.
    Honest with Myself

  6. I feel the same way, I know the church is true but im sick of doing and hearing the same thing everyday 😛 never felt like ive been accepted by the people ever since i joined the church either, maybe the natural man is just to much a part of my personality?

  7. Just found this blog. My heart goes out to Bored In Vernal as well. Fortunately for me, religion,in general isn’t a huge part of my family. My Mom is the only Mormon on her side. Her siblings and other relatives run the whole gamut when it comes to religion. On my dad’s side, he’s agnostic, one of his sisters and her family are LDS, but they live thousands of miles away and I hardly know them. My other paternal aunt is loosely Christian. My husband grew up in more of a deist household.

    My mom was upset when I left the Mormon religion, and initially threatened to disown me, but I called her bluff. She cares a lot about what her siblings think and they would’ve thought very poorly of her for disowning a child just because they don’t want to be the same religion the parent is. She backed down once it was clear I wasn’t going to. That was nearly 20 years ago and even though my Mom is still active and believing, we get along fine. She hasn’t tried to activate me or argue with me for a very long time now. One of my long time closest friends is still believing Mormon. She knows I’m agnostic/objectivist atheist and it doesn’t cause any problems. My other good friends are either NOM or pretty much non-religious.

    I don’t envy the people who feel like they need to stay active in order to feel loved and accepted by their family and friends. However, with the type of personality I have – low socializing, social network needs – I honestly don’t think my decision to leave the Mormon faith would’ve been curtailed if all my family was TBM and I was a lone dissenter. I tend to have the attitude that with billions of people on the planet, there’s no need to put up with people who want to control you and won’t accept you as you are – even if they are relatives.

  8. thanks for the comment, INTJ Mom. i’m glad your mom hasn’t tried reactivating you since you’ve left so long ago. i am completetely honest with my family now about not wanting to go back to the mormon church, and this week i’ve had the idea that showing them that i have replaced it (the church) with something else, they may lay off me in the future as well. i tell them i am a secular humanist now which shows i have accepted a new worldview and, yes, a new set of “beliefs” or standards.

    we’ll see how this goes, though. i’m still NOM whenever the in-laws are in town and i think it will be this way with them for years to come (trust me, it’s for the best) 🙂

    since you’re an “agnostic/objectivist atheist”, you might appreciate some of the quotes and such that i’ve posted on my other blog http://markii.wordpress.com

    c-ya

  9. I never considered it fortunate that my family isn’t so religious until recently. I’m a Bible College Grad that has been completely disillusioned by the church for all of the reasons you’ve listed here and more. I can’t count on one hand anymore the number of times I’ve been sexually harassed by pastors or leaders in ministry and if I don’t comply (which I don’t) s/he (yah women too!) will use his/her position to destroy my reputation before I can say anything. Knowing this, I’ve left one situation after another quietly knowing the lack of integrity in the leadership and nearly having my life destroyed over and over. My husband and I searched for a church for a long time and recently – we stopped. The idea that we’ll ever find something is gone. Now we’re redefining what God means to us in our every day lives.
    The interesting thing is – I don’t think even the most dedicated Christians realize how religious their practices are in their expectation that people will adhere and follow. Worship on stage is the biggest personal promotion, perfectionist concert and not worship at all. Prayer is about what people want.
    God LOVES people. What you get when you read the BOM is all there is. Why would you need to practice anything to reach a great God who made the universe? I don’t know…I’m still trying to define my theology without the church, but it’s been far easier than be squelched over and over and discussing the same things with the church.
    MSN put out an article yesterday about people falling away from Religion. I think a lot of people are lost because the church spends too much time talking about stuff that doesn’t matter instead of focusing on where lives are being changed and changing the world.
    I love the expressions of Bored In Vernal – that is amazing and inspiring.
    This is a great post!

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