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|Short Term vs Long Term Mormons|
Apr. 4th, 2013 at 6:06 pm
I have been thinking lately about the kinds of books I have read. In the past few years I have read a bunch of books written about short-term experiences. Like, I Climbed a Mountain and Wrote a Book. Or I Kept the Commandments/ Went Organic/Lived Off the Grid/Walked Across the Country for a Month/Year. After a while the stories sort of became interchangeable. The basic premise of the genre is the author recognized the need for change, did something radical for a finite amount of time and then wrote about what they learned from the experience.
So far, so good. I don’t expect much depth from my casual bed-time reading. But as I read more than a few of these artificially-designed (artificial because the author had to set it up, the experience didn’t happen as a natural extension of their lives) experiments, I began to long for something bigger, deeper. I got bored. “White person of privilege experiences short-term, self-imposed discomfort. Stay tuned for more coverage at 6pm!” With real problems and suffering in the world, I just couldn’t stay interested in the whole I Did This for a Year genre of books.
Then my thoughts turned to the church. I recalled a comment President Gordon B. Hinckley made about new converts. A new member of the church once told him excitedly about how great it was to be a Mormon, etc. President Hinckley mused it is understandable to be on fire right after your baptism. He wants to talk to new converts after they have 5 years under their belt. By then life has hit and they have really practiced the LDS faith. That’s when you know that it stuck.
I think that is the difference between the short-term experience books I read and books that tell stories that sometimes take years to unfold. Being a Mormon can be a short-term, self-imposed experiment with spirituality or it can be a soul-changing, slow-drip infusion that seeps into the marrow of your bones.
I am sure in some cases people have life-altering, Alma the Younger type conversions that carry them the rest of their lives. My experiences with my Mormon faith have come the more typical way – line upon line, precept on precept, over my lifetime. An occasional miracle here and there occurred to flavor the meat, but the heat from the slow-cooking crock-pot of religious experience is what created the meal.
Maybe that explains something I have pondered over the years. I have read and heard my fair share of ex-Mormons who have websites, protest at church locations and write books about being and leaving the Mormon faith. I have often said I didn’t get it. If they chose to leave the church, why do they keep coming back to it? Why wouldn’t they just move on and never feel compelled to comment on a church-centered blog? Why write books about Mormonism? Maybe it is because without even their noticing it, the faith seeped into their marrow, too. To excise their Mormonhood would be the death of themselves.
Like all humans older than 12, I have had my share of questions about our faith. I have my list of pet peeves and topics that I roll my eyes at. I don’t understand everything or agree with everything. But I am 100% in, all the way to the marrow of my bones. This is not a short-term experiment with radical living for me. It is my life until I no longer have a life to live and I find peace in knowing that about myself.