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|Thoughts on Church: why sometimes less is more. Or, why I have a spiritual hedge fund.|
Apr. 29th, 2007 at 2:17 pm
I think that often times we approach Church with the expectations that most or all of the things we learn there will be true, and that people there will be understanding, Christlike, reasonably intelligent, socially competent, open to honest discussion, etc., and that we will come away having had a really good experience at the end of those 3 hours.Â If those expectations are firm, some of us are frequently going to be disappointed.Â That disappointment can be greatly magnified if we go home from Church without other great experiences and activities during the week to look forward to.
To use an investment analogy, when we go online to discuss issues in the Bloggernacle, I think most of us, to some extent, are hedging.Â We risk a lot by honestly engaging the Church and the Gospel; sometimes those risks have huge rewards, sometimes just slow and steady gains, and sometimes, for whatever reason, we temporarily lose our shirts in disappointment.Â When that happens, the Bloggernacle is a great place to hedge by finding support from people who know exactly what you mean, to quote Morpheus in the only good Matrix movie.
Now, what about those times when you are not seeing the return you would like in the Church, the Gospel, or the Bloggernacle?Â Well, if youâ€™ll allow me to put on my advice-columnist hat, Hedge again.Â Diversify your holdings.Â By that I mean, get out and get involved in your community.Â Volunteer in a cause you believe in, or one youâ€™re just curious about.Â Join or start a meetup group in a subject that interests you.Â Take a class in a subject unfamiliar to you.Â Stay up all night somewhere with friends doing something thatâ€™s not Church-related.Â Go on a good, crazy road trip to root for a sports team youâ€™ve never heard of.Â Most of all, interact regularly with people who do not share your religious beliefs, even if you have to get out of town to do it.Â Â I don’t think these suggestions constitute running away from things; I think I’m suggesting that it’s healthy to run more oftenÂ to other things besides our religious commitments.
After reading some of the comments in what may be the Mother of All Bloggernacle Discussions between Zelophehadâ€™s Daughters and people on New Cool Thang, I have the impression that there are too many people for whom Church is too big a deal.Â By that, I donâ€™t mean The Gospel as I understand it; I just mean Church, with its hierarchies, bureaucracies, disagreements, misunderstandings, weird interactions, confusing statements and literature, etc.Â Donâ€™t get me wrong- let me say very clearly that I love Church.Â But I think the reason I love Church even with all its â€œsurprisesâ€ and frequent incongruities is, I love a lot of other things as well.Â I enjoy my marriage, work, school, my Arabic study group, friends, several TV shows, cooking, my community cycling group, the cats in my neighborhood, photography, learning about gardening, and on and on.
My personal advice to Zelophehadâ€™s Daughters- your questions and concerns as articulated on your various postings are 100% valid.Â The problem is, as far as I can tell, youâ€™re using one tool (logical argument) to solve a problem for which that tool is not well suited.Â These are issues that require equal parts logic, imagination, philosophy, creativity, hope, humility, intuition, faith, skepticism, and courage, plus a little bit of recklessness.Â
Personally, if I felt I needed clarification on a statement or policy from Church leadership, I would seek a personal revelation, but I would also try to contact themÂ to get that clarification.Â Â I donâ€™t shareÂ your Gospel vexations aboutÂ the feminineÂ to that degree, and not because Iâ€™m male- Iâ€™ve just come to some conclusions about those things, which no one articulated in 400+ postings on that thread (thatâ€™s a discussion that I would need to take offline).Â I do have my own issues; my current one is, why do we talk so much about the importance of tribes and lineages in the Church, when we believe salvation is completely meritocratic?Â That question really, really bugs me when I dwell on it, even more than the word preside.Â Someday Iâ€™ll arrive at an answer to that issue, but if past is precedent, I’ll probably end up just being guided to better questions.