Monday, February 21, 2011

Convert - a most annoying word to me and I'm not one am I ?

Among the LDS people there seems to be a need to differentiate between generational LDS and 'converts', meaning people who were not raised in the culture (or the covenant) but decided to join the culture via baptism covenant.  Okay, in the sense of converting to another religion or culture, I get the useage of the term convert in it's many definitions.  In my limited understanding of how that word is used in context of religious cultures, a person changes from one belief set to another or it could also mean when a person more closely aligns to a belief set similar to the one they already carry.  

I don't see myself as doing either in this case.  I see myself as bringing what I already own via my appreciation, experience, understanding and belief sets to this religion without any wish for my belief set to be 'converted' to align more in line with the LDS model.    In some ways, it feels more like a testing ground to see if the LDS model can be adaptive enough to permit me to keep my belief set and permit it to be deepened within the their structure, a structure which, btw,  I view as subtly changing, perhaps needfully so, and in a way as to be more inclusive, opening up what has been or seemed to me to be a closed cultural structuring.  

However, in the technical definitions applied to the word convert, perhaps I am more comfortable with this definition;   to exchange something of equal value.  

I don't see myself as 'converting' to the LDS world view, rather I see myself as trying to embrace yet another human made structure of the spiritual mysteries.  I see myself as bringing intact my already existing relationship with Jesus Christ, and not that I am without a relationship and in need of having a relationship.  

But, perhaps I personalize the words I hear a bit too much.  As Arthur has explained, it could well be that the people in their earnestness to embrace me as a newcomer, they are liberally (wink, wink) pouring out the spirit, their testimonies all over me in a show of loving embrace.   Okay, I'll work on reframing it in my mind to be more the latter than the former.  I've pretty much resolved that Jesus walks with me where ever I go, there is no threat to the belief set I have formed of my relationship to Jesus except that it continues to expand.  The difficulty is in attempting to verbalize the individual personalization of that relationship, it has lived comfortably in a place of no words for a very long time, and giving voice to something so personal does not come easily.  

I see in many religions there is a standard of normal to share ideas, thoughts, discussions and dialogues about what is the meaning of the spirituality connection to the Greater Source, and that gets defined in many unique and different ways.  For me, less comfortable with the religiosity of the word useage, it seems more comfortable to keep my personal relationship quietly, inwardly personal.  I'm not saying better, just more comfortable.  

Having grown up with parent in military, it became part of my heritage to look at different cultures, different approaches with interest and curiosity, borrowing what I valued, leaving behind what was less valued.  I'm not sure that has left me with what is called a cafeteria approach to my own personal spirituality, as in taking what I want and leaving the rest.  It feels more like I'm drawn to a precept not unlike Joseph Campbell's comparative religions (belief sets) archetypes of mythical figures as is better explained  in his book 'The Power of Myth'  and the 1988 PBS collaborative series with Bill Moyers of the same name.  

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