Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Worth Getting Up? Possibly.

So I've been going to my ward off and on. It meets at 9:00 AM, which for this blogger is too early. It's already hard enough to muster enough motivation to keep attending a church where I can't fully participate; having to get up when I am very tired makes it all that much harder.

Still, I felt compelled to go this past Sunday. I fought with myself. I truly was tired and would have rather slept in. Jonah and I had a garage to clean out later in the day. I wanted to stay home.

I managed to get myself up. I actually missed the first 5 or so minutes of Sacrament Meeting because I was late. So I missed the opening hymn, which is something I enjoy and can at least participate in.

It was kind of nice to be sitting to a gentleman who didn't take the sacrament, either. It made me feel a little less alone.

The first talk wasn't great. Some youth speaker told the stories of Joseph (of the coat-of-many-colors fame) and Daniel (of the lions' den fame). But that's all he did was tell the stories in great detail. I could read my Bible if I wanted that. It would have been nice to hear some modern-day applications or his opinions, but nope - just the stories.

The second speaker was pretty good. Truthfully, I don't remember much of her talk; not because it wasn't interesting, but simply because my mind was wandering. She gave a well-delivered talk; I just lost focus.

After her, these three sisters (probably about 14, 11, and 10 years old) played "Nearer, My God, To Thee" on the violin, viola, and cello. They were incredible! Not perfect, mind you, but pretty darn good! And I am a music snob.

It was gorgeous and heartfelt and a very interesting arrangement. A couple of hiccups here and there, but overall, it was quite well-done. And they did it without any sheet music. I was impressed. I really, really enjoyed it. I also was reminded of the scene in the movie Titanic where the band is playing a last song before the ship sinks. I thought that was pretty beautiful, too. Anyway, it was a good number. Other church musical numbers should aspire to be so good.

The next talk caught my interest. The guy started out with a "South Park" reference, of all things, and I thought, "This isn't going to be your average talk." And it wasn't, and I was pleased.

He said although he had never actually seen an episode of "South Park" (which I'm actually not so sure I believed), he was aware of a clip from the show where different religious people are burning in hell, and when they wonder why they're there when they lived their religions so well, the person in charge of hell said they had belonged to the wrong religion. When someone asks what the right religion was, he says "The Mormons."

The man giving this talk used the preceding story as a humorous example of how sometimes as Mormons, we grow up with this kind of self-righteous idea that since Mormonism is supposed to be the only true and complete church on earth; that because it's God's true Church led by Christ himself, somehow that means that Mormons have a market on truth and goodness, and the basic theme of his talk was that that idea is not true.

The talk also led into the idea that as Mormons, we could stand to be more tolerant to viewpoints and religions we don't necessarily agree with; that we should find ways to build common ground with our non-Mormon neighbors by focusing on things we have in common or by opening up our perspective by actually learning about and understanding other belief systems and religious beliefs. Even though we may not share some of them, that doesn't mean that there aren't good things to be learned from them.

He said that sometimes we get so locked into our belief system or sometimes are so heavy-handed about the truth that we have, that we end up excluding others who don't share those beliefs and miss out on chances to get to know a myriad of different kinds of people.

I found the talk immensely refreshing. It was such a nice point-of-view to hear in a sacrament meeting. I really do like this ward a lot. I suppose it's worth getting up early for.

I only attended Sacrament Meeting. That garage wasn't going to clean itself.

The garage looks pretty great now. I hope we can keep it that way. We did find a spider whose width was about the length of my thumb. It was huge; probably the biggest non-tarantula spider I have ever seen. I am quite an arachnophobic, too. We were both concerned it was a black widow, but after capturing it in a parmesan cheese bottle, we determined that it wasn't. I still don't know what it was, but it was scary. I was brave enough to take a picture of it once I determined it didn't have the power to crawl up the inside of the bottle. Perhaps I'll post it later. It was creepy, though.

Anyway, that's all I have for today.


Thinker said...

Hi Cody,
I thought about some of your previous posts as I read this one, and I thought about what I mentioned in my first post to you...you are making a difference. I teach a class in the Church. I have utilized some of your thoughts, examples, and experiences in teaching that said class. It is a class of youth. I know that I can't really mention your blog because I live in an ultra conservative place and I can only imagine that I would be released :), but I bring those ideas to these kids and into the other classes I am in. (I don't take credit for your thoughts--I usually say, "I was reading the other day...")

I didn't grow up in an LDS community and my immediate family were converts when I was small so I have the benefit of being familiar with so many different views and ideas and having so many friends of different faiths and backgrounds. I have the ability to talk with frustrated non-members and less active members and the attitudes they encounter in these LDS areas. I even sympathize with the things they experience because it is so unfortunate...but even more, it is wrong that they are treated in these ways!

Sunday we talked at length about the LDS attitude of superiority and the attitude of having the market on truth and being "right". I have taught often about how we see ourselves and others (both those in and out of the Church) and how damaging that is when we refuse to be friends with others who are different from us or who don't want to listen to the missionaries and join the church. We talked about how, since we have the Gospel, we should be singing louder, smiling more, enjoying life more, interacting with others more. The theme for the youth this year is D&C 115:5...Arise and Shine Forth. We ended up talking at length about that and whether we do shine. Do we find joy or not? Do we reflect that, or not?

I'm so glad you were sitting beside someone who didn't/couldn't take the Sacrament. Do you know if you were a ripple in his life Sunday? Were you there for him too? He may not know why you didn't take the Sacrament...but I can't help but believe that if he noticed (and he probably did), he probably felt a little less alone, too. You didn't take the Sacrament but you were still there--what did that say to him? Maybe for him it was a personal choice and it was only for this week. Maybe he hasn't taken it in awhile or won't be able to take it, maybe ever again. To know that he is not alone...where will that ripple go?

I will say this again and again, Thank you for following the Spirit. Thank you for going this Sunday . Thank Jonah (for me) for supporting you in that. To have that support is so very important; and to have it from someone who is not a member speaks so very much about Jonah and his love for you.

You are continuing to go through things and learn things. Your shared thoughts and experiences are being shared and are reaching others. We always pray "help us incorporate this lesson into our daily lives"...do we ever realize if someone is doing that? Our lives are often lessons for others. And like ripples...those lessons we learn and teach keep going.

I'm sorry my comments are long. Just a lot of thoughts about and appreciation for the things you write.

Gay LDS Actor said...


Your thoughts and words have touched me incredibly. I actually cried as I was reading them to Jonah.

You know well that I just wrote a post on the ripples that we create in others' lives without even being aware of them, and you pointeed out two (both of which made me realize things I hadn't been fully aware of before).

The first was that I still have a voice in the Church. I'm aware that I have a voice here on my blog, and of course, I'm aware that I have a voice with the people I interact with from day-to-day. But I sometimes complain that because my participation in the LDS Church is limited, I have lost my voice in church somewhat.

I recognize the voice I have just by my example or just by being there, but I'm talking specifically about the ability to actually voice my thoughts.

But then I hear that someone like you is actually sharing my thoughts and ideas and words in church meetings, and it's a ripple I didn't recognize: my voice is still being heard in at least one church meeting because someone is influenced enough by my thoughts that they are willing to share them with others.

And then I think, who else has shared these thoughts and in what context, and I realize that the ripples I've created are beyond my control and may being shared by others, perhaps in other church meetings. So thank you for reminding me that even though I remain silent in my own church meetings, that in at least one ward out there my voice is still being heard. That means to me more than you could ever know.

The other thing that never really dawned on me was how my not taking the sacrament affected that man rather than than how his not taking it affected me. Like you said, he made me feel less alone, but it never once occurred to me that I might be doing the same for him. I forgot that I might be a ripple in his life...even after talking about that very subject in my blog.

I agree that it is so unfortunate that people (Mormon or not) exclude others because of perceived differences. In Mormon culture, I've heard stories of non-members who were left with a bad taste in their mouths about Mormons due to the way they were treated by a Mormon or some Mormons. On the flip side, I've also heard the reverse: that a person was positively influenced by a Mormon (or Mormons) and therefore gained a positive outlook towards Mormonism.

I just think we should follow the golden rule: treat others how you would want to be treated, regardless of beliefs, religion, or attitudes.

I so agree with you that because "we have the Gospel, we should be singing louder, smiling more, enjoying life more, interacting with others more." And it's true; are we shining? Sometimes I don't think we are.

Thank you for your incredibly kind words. Jonah's attitude toward me and my relation to Mormonism is indeed a testament to his love and support for me. He, too, has to remind me that I do make a difference.

Thanks for reminding me of that, too. And thanks for reminding me of the ripples I am not aware of.

I appreciate you.