Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Letting Go

I should be working, but I had an epiphany of sorts, and if I don't write these things down, all to often they end up leaving and I forget the initial feeling, and in this case it's best that I remember this...

I found a new blog last week 'The Liberal Mormon that Could'. I probably spent almost 3 hours that first day reading through her stuff. She's a little younger than me, by a couple of years, but has many of the same questions and thoughts about Mormonism that I have - only she is far more eloquent in conveying those thoughts than I am. This morning she had a new blog entry posted, entitled 'Last Post'.


I'm likely going to butcher this, but if I could summarize her thoughts. Actually, let me just quote her, in identifying the problem... "the Church and my disaffection with it has become too central to my life. It dominates conversation and has shoved every other interesting part about me out." It's not that she hates the Church and wants to bring it down, but at the same time, she's not 100% committed to it either.

Anytime you are involved in something like the LDS Church, and you start to see things you don't like, you walk a fine line.

In the Matrix, there is a quote by Morpheus that I really like. After Neo has been pulled from the Matrix, Morpheus offers him a choice.

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Four or Five years ago, when I started to see that things weren't what I thought they were, I had the same choice. I could ignore what I had found and plunge myself back into the blind obedience and faithful devotion that had been my life for the preceeding twenty something years, or I could take the red pill.

I chose the red pill. When faced with a choice, I prefer to take the option that opens up further options, rather than one which limits me. So it is with the Red Pill. I'm facing some new options...

  1. I can stay within the organization and try and effect the changes I think need to happen.

  2. I can leave the organization and effect change from the outside

I've been trying option 1 over 2. I worry that 2 would cause me to be labeled and apostate and shunned by community, neighbors and family, which ironically has pretty much happened as I have tried option 1. My worry with 2 as well is that I would degenerate into a bitter man, sworn to destroy anything good in the world - much of this is due to being consistently told by the organization that this is what would become of me, should I choose to leave.

After reading the comments in the 'Last Post', I realize I have another option...

Why waste my time with an organization that treats me like crap? It has a lot of good, but all to often that gets twisted and perverted to help corrupt men get what they want.

I realized this morning that I have far too much going on in my life to worry about this kind of thing.

I have 5 absolutely incredible children. I work far too many hours in order to support them, and they could really do with more of my time - rather than me spending it trying to change the culture in an organization that quite frankly, is what it is, and isn't likely to change.

I have an incredible wife who could really use more of my time and support as well.

I live in a great place with many outdoor opportunities, many of which I could share with my wife and children.

There is a whole lot more available for me to experience, and significant opportunities to make a difference in the world, that doesn't involve me being involved in trying to affect change in a corrupt organization.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not going to allow something stupid and relatively insignificant to consume my time.

As a kid I remember being told that Satan would only have as much power over me as I would let him have, and so it is with this. I have allowed something to consume my life, when it really doesn't deserve my time or attention.

Some of you may also be aware of some personal challenges I have faced recently as well. To those who have shared their love and support, I am profoundly grateful. It's another aspect of my life, I've come to realize is not worth my time or attention.

I have far too much good to do, noble responsibilities to take care of and wonderfulness to experience to waste my time with stuff which in the grand scheme of things is of little or no consequence.


  1. And now begins the great adventure of your life. Or one of them, anyway.

    I had a similar epiphany about Italy, many years back. I moved back there after graduating from college and it was the opposite of everything I'm committed to and that I think is important in life. It was misery. The choice was conform or fight from within. Or leave. I left, and have never looked back. Some fights are not worth fighting, and which those are is up to the individual.

  2. I have 5 absolutely incredible children.

    Wow, congratulations on that. Outstanding.

    My worry with 2 as well is that I would degenerate into a bitter man, sworn to destroy anything good in the world

    When I first emigrated out of the U.S. and landed in Calgary I got invited to an "ex-Mormon" meeting by a cousin of mine who had also given our family the boot. I attended largely for curiosity's sake.

    I realized when the attendees ‘blessed the sacrament’ of liquor and corn tortilla chips that these chuckleheads had not left Mormonism at all. They simply inverted and reconstructed it. After the ex-Mormon sacrament meeting, one of the attendees joyfully told me that they were going to reenact a blasphemous temple ceremony later that summer, and encouraged me to attend. ‘Thanks’, I replied, ‘but I never had the inclination to go to the spookshow which was held in the nice building in Salt Lake City, so I doubt I’ll make it to the gathering you’re holding in your grubby living room’.

    Mormonism is pretty much irrelevant, but I've held on to some really good stuff I've learned at the same time. My kids have no idea what Mormonism is, but they've always celebrated family home evening (in a secular sort of way). I don't waste time drinking alcohol (though I don't hold it against those who do it in moderation). I drive a minivan and enjoy the family type life, which is ironically much more authentic than it would be if I were neglecting my kids for endless busywork at church and temple.

    You don't necessarily have to be a bitter apostate. You can always choose the third position. I think most people do, but they're pretty much unknown to the people in the other two camps because they're busy enjoying life rather than concentrating on Mormonism.

    Take Care,


  3. Koda,

    Please believe me when I say I care about you. In our email exchanges I believe I've alluded to facing some of the same sort of issues and decisions you are. I won't tell you what spiritual/moral direction to take.

    What I will tell you is something that unfortunately may severely erode whatever respect you have for me. The final paragraphs of your post hint that you may have come to this yourself. But just in case you haven't:

    Get over yourself.

  4. E! Thanks! My life seems to get more and more adventurous by the day, and I wouldn't choose different.

    Gregoire! Thanks as well! I definitely intend enjoying life, and not in a self serving, self absorbed way, but in making memories with my kids and helping them grow up to be healthy and productive members of the community. I appreciate your weighing in, and sharing the story of people far nuttier than you or I. I feel somewhat normal - normalish, but stories like really help!!

    D. Sirmize! This may sound weird, but that in no way eroded my respect for you - and believe me, I have a lot! Any post I write is generally, gone over for accuracy to make sure you don't nail me on something. You keep me honest, and I say generally, because sometimes I'm not and you call me on it and as sucky as those moments are, I always learn something from you.

    I had to go back and read the last couple of paragraphs and if you'd like to elaborate, I'd appreciate it. I'm hoping I didn't miscommunicate anything though.

    Perhaps another way of saying what I was trying to say was that I don't want to get wrapped up in fighting or trying to change the culture surrounding my religion, or other thing. I'll likely still attend and my kids will be raised with many of the principles, but I'm don't want to get caught up in critisizing, trying to change things or anything else.

    The thing is, I really want to focus on being a Dad. I'm not a great Dad by any stretch of the imagination, but I can be better, and perhaps the best thing I can offer my kids is my time.

    Recently conflicts with the Church, conflicts with extended family and conflicts involving a failed business transaction have all kind of hit at once and taken way too much time away from my family. I think my perception of the problems has been worse than they actually are. I've had to overcome some character flaws that I have involving holding onto the past. I hope I'm doing better at that.

    With that said, if I'm not seeing something, please be blunt. Far too many people lately have told me things that I need to change in my life "Out of Love". You're the first, I believe is actually genuine about it.

  5. It may be because it's the end of a very long day but, what exactly did you decide to do? Stay and deal or leave and get on with your life?
    Sorry, my brain isn't working like it should.

  6. Morgan, It's not you it's me...

    The problem when you take the bundle of emotion and idea's that come with an epiphany like this, and then try and translate it into words is that it doesn't translate exactly.

    I've realized of late that my religion consists of three distinct parts. Gospel, Doctrine and Culture. Lately I've become more and more obsessed about determining where the differences lie and trying to understand that whole thing. The search for differences has become far more a part of my life than it should have, and combined with similar conflicts elsewhere in my life, it was causing serious distraction from my wife and kids.

    In answer to your question, I'm not really going to do either. Perhaps if I could use an analogy to further explain though...

    I like McDonalds. It's food first and foremost, and generally I like the taste. However what I don't like is the amount of weight I gained when eating it on a regular basis, and since trying to be more healthy, I generally don't feel good after I eat there either.

    My wife and kids love McDonalds. My kids love the Happy Meals and the Playland, and my wife loves the fact that she doesn't have to cook or clean and she can generally eat, without being mauled by kids, since they're off in the playland.

    Since my wife and kids love it, I could try and get them to change the menu to better suit my tastes. I could launch an email, letter writing and phone campaign to try and effect this change, or I could get a job at McDonalds, work my way up into Management and then try and make the change there.

    Or I could accept that my effect will be minimal at best, and so just frequent their establishment when my wife and kids would like to, and rather than ordering a quarter pounder, big mac, large fries, shake and a sundae, I could get the grilled chicken salad with a cup of water.

    The Gospel / Principles upon which McDonalds is based are true. Humans need food.

    The Doctrine / Business practices are just how McDonalds works and implements that basic human need. The founder and subsequent leaders have determined the type of food they will sell and how it will be prepared.

    The Culture - well that's just different from place to place. Some restaurants are really clean and serve fresh food, others are somewhat nasty and the food is suspect at best.

    So it is with my take on Religion / Spiritual nourishment. We all need some of it, and by saying that I'm not implying a belief in a supreme being, although it could include that. I include our relationships to each other, our sense of morality and all of that kind of thing. Anything more than just our physical existence here on earth.

    We can take care of it on our own, working with others, or attending an organization that nourishes our beliefs.

    I would be lying if I said I didn't gain anything from attending Church. There is good stuff there, and occasionally I'll leave feeling optimistic and positive about life. Sometimes though I get heart-burn, that bloated feeling, or just plain feel like a slug after I've been there.

    I've decided to treat my Church like McDonalds. My wife and kids like going, and so I'll take them and buy them a meal on occasion. I'm careful what I consume when I do go, and try to enjoy it from that perspective. I'm not going to try and determine exactly how bad certain menu choices are, convince my family how bad the food is, try to change how McDonalds prepares their food, or stand outside with a sandwich board trying to discourage others. I realized yesterday that is exactly what I've been trying to do, and so I'm walking away from that.

    At the end of the day, McDonalds, Burger King or a home cooked meal isn't really the issue. The important thing is that I'm spending time with my wife and kids and helping to foster that relationship.

    I think I just did it again - spilled my thoughts and guts onto the page in a random and gibberish fashion.... Sorry! Hope that kind of provides an answer though.

  7. No, no, I get it this time, and good for you. I hope it works out for you and the whole thing stops driving you crazy.