Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Lacking expertise to properly articulate an evaluation, I'm content to allow my observations to be more an internal space, less an outward articulated space. Content for the time being to allow my observations to serve as personal markers bubbling up in my learning to both gain and own my own definition of my spiritual self in context to LDS/Mormon religion. I use the combination LDS/Mormon sometimes to mark that I have come to learn there are marked distinctions between current day LDS teachings and historical Mormon teachings. Some carry forward over the history of time and remain part of current LDS teachings (correlated) while some teachings fall into the shadows of history, not quite removed, but not hailed among current LDS teachings. Ghosts of the past wafting to haunt the present teachings. I can't help but be somewhat amused as one who has stood on the peripheral edges looking in from the outside and looking out from the inside. I doubt there is another religion, church, belief set that doesn't have some history to it which might prove awkward, embarrassing, shameful, disturbing in light of examination.
Given that many religions define belief sets specific to the community they serve, the era in which they serve, and location in which they serve, I feel fairly confident that it is safe to say humankind makes their own definitions of the 'Greater'. I've certainly heard the Greater defined in many different ways, enough so that along the lines of Joseph Campbell's, 'The Power of the Myth' it makes more sense to me that the commonality of the multitudes of myths is that there does seem indeed to be a need for a Greater among all cultures of humankind. It would be difficult to discount another's Greater as less great than one's own Greater, and yet one holds in high regard their own spiritual connectedness to their Greater, enough so that someone else's explanation of a different version of Greater might feel somewhere on the continuum as threateningly off putting to invitingly attractive.
Having been somewhat careful with the content of my blog, to date the this blog has covered some of my thoughts about Mormonism with regard to my husband's journey in and out of it, to writing about my own experiences in choosing baptism and the walk for both of us into this church, me as being inside rather than looking at it from outside, him with a return to heritage roots. Shifting gears somewhat, I think there will still be much in store for me to delight in with regard to association with this church and I will wish to blog about those finds. And there will be less delightful elements that are not likely to dissipate for me even with continued participation in this church, these I also wish to blog about.
Being newly baptized, the rule is that a year must pass before I can be readied for a temple recommend, and my husband, being a returnee also must allow a year to pass. In some way it feels like a probation period, and that actually is a two way street. I don't feel a need for the temple part of the church experience to round out my understanding, appreciation, admiration and my consternation for elements of what defines this religion. I'm 60 years old this week, been married to my Mormon husband for 15 years now, this after both of us have had 24 years each in previous marriages, his LDS based, mine non-mormon. We both have adult children, eight between us, with eighteen grandchildren between us, sixteen living, two not living. It feels a bit foolish to me that the church wants us to walk that same path assigned to young, new adults, newly entering their path as temple married LDS couple just starting their lives and families. At this time, I can't see that the effort towards becoming (in the vernacular) temple worthy, recommitting our vows in a temple marriage ( I really loved our wedding, borrowed from a Native American Cherokee theme and the vows of eternal pledges to each other that we exchanged ), doing the work of the temple strengthens what our life experience has already taught us, nor causes us to become more spiritually connected to Greater. It seems more like satisfying the requirements of this church's outline or doctrine than a needed element that will enhance our life experience. So it could well be said (again in the vernacular) that I have yet to gain a testimony of the temple. I don't have such a testimony, nor am I sure that I need or want one, and I'll leave it at that for now, even while I understand the manner of the plan by which this doctrine has been laid out.
I don't yet have a testimony of a few other elements and I am beginning to imagine what kinds of conclusions might be drawn by others from that statement. Somehow, despite 'feeling it', that it is being suggested feels more to me like being pushed into something I'm not yet ready to embrace, and while I know I do not have to commit to taking the steps in that direction, I don't like the feeling of being pushed. Bishop, Stake President, Missionaries have all made statements to both of us pointing in that direction as the expected and desirable direction for us to proceed. I understand that as leaders, they do need to identify what they understand and know to be doctrine - that is the job of leaders. My job, as I see it, is to value that they have leadership positions and as such will be required to point to present day understanding of doctrinal elements and encourage members in those directions. My job is to also simultaneously hold my own ground as to my feeling about my own spirituality and connection to Greater without giving in to being pushed into actions that embrace a Greater I may not yet be ready to embrace. Their job, as I see it as leaders, is to understand this about me as a member as and when I present it, and respect the space I need to carve out for myself.