It may be that we all have an unfinished wrestling match with Grandpa Church. It may be that although we have broken Grandpa’s unfair choke hold and have managed to stagger to our feet as well as more or less keep away from those grasping arms, we nevertheless remain engaged and unable to leave the mat.
We do not seem to be able to simply call the match ended and call the inevitable stalemate achieved our victory in combat with a more powerful opponent. In that sense, when he wrestles with us, Grandpa Church applies his arm twisting and choke holds as a leader of a tag team – which means that among those friend and family souls whom we treasure most, there are many whom Grandpa can tag and thrust into the ring to distract and weaken our resolve through exploitation of
Are we not overwhelming underdogs in a circumstance that is not really “winnable” in terms of being able to retain unfettered relationships with those about whom we care the most so long as we wrestle against Grandpa? Is not Grandpa – as the ultimate tribal elder and authority – practically unassailable?
Cannot Grandpa Church more than likely hold on to more unquestioned loyalty, unquestioned love and unquestioned conformity of more members of those of our own blood who constitute our “in-the-Church” family birthright?
At Wikipedia where I learned that existentialist philosopher Kierkegaard used the word Angest (in
common Danish, angst, meaning “dread” or “anxiety”) to describe
a profound and deep-seated spiritual condition of insecurity
and fear in the free human being.
Where the animal is a slave to its instincts but always conscious in
its own actions, Kierkegaard believed that the freedom given to people leaves
the human in a constant fear of failing his/her responsibilities to God.
Kierkegaard’s concept of angst is considered to be an important
stepping stone for 20th-century existentialism. While Kierkegaard’s
feeling of angst is fear of actual responsibility to God, in modern use,
angst was broadened by the later existentialists to include general frustration
associated with the conflict between actual responsibilities to self, one’s
principles, and others (possibly including God).
This was an interesting find for me, principally because I had been pondering the idea of being programmed from birth to be RESPONSIBLE to God; of viewing my life as a gift from God to whom I then owe (am responsible) obligations to generate good fruit.
Belief inculcated from childhood is a difficult thing to overcome when, for example, the transparency of the religious fabrication is not as obvious as the transparency of a cultural myth, say of Santa Claus, to a child growing into an adult. Religious beliefs are planted (one could even use contemporary techno-vocabulary and say “installed’) in our thinking at an early age when the nature of the installation is not easily perceived as beneficent or malevolent.
The malevolent aspect then resembles more of a “virus” that is so firmly installed in so many programs that removal could very well require deletion and re-installation of the fundamental operating system. This because as young and then not-so-young adults who were active in a “program” (the Church), years of intensive activity caused us to replicate the virus in many venues of our lives, fortifying those strengthened venues with long-term emotional and spiritual devotion-based activity.
Do we realize how profound that circumstance can be?
Just how powerful is that choke hold we have wrestled against and at what price do we seek and achieve genuine liberation?
I remember a year or so ago in a Mormon Gospel Doctrine class in which the lesson was the Book of Mormon chapters where King Lamoni and his father “converted” to the Nephite gospel and took upon
themselves the name “Anti-Nephi-Lehies,” laid down and buried their weapons and vowed that they would never again live by the sword.
As a discussion ensued about what it means to be truly converted and what kind of change is required if a genuine conversion occurs, we listened to what I felt was a lot of rigid and two-dimensional blathering about knowing truth, being teachable, humble and obedient – most of
which sounded to me like suspending critical thinking and devolving into cookie-cut conformity. That to me was the virus asserting itself.
I finally raised my hand and talked about Star Trek (thinking of The Next Generation.) Like the Book of Mormon Lamanite characters who became Anti-Nephi-Lehies, Star Trek Klingons are a warrior society. They talk combat and warrior talk all the time. Such is the only way Klingon’s know how to talk. The Warrior culture infuses everything about Klingon society, Warrior principles are based on habits entrenched in the violent culture of battle, combat, victory, vengeance and death before dishonor.
The point I tried to make in that class was that all the conversion stuff about trust, humility and teachable-ness was trivial compared to the magnitude of the change in a way of both thinking and living that would be required for a warrior society to turn its back on violence and combat-mindedness.
In that regard, how do we set ourselves free and bury our old preconceptions which have become part and parcel of our infections? What happens when we awaken? For me it felt like some internal light had ignited in what was not unlike a massive inoculation of truth serum.
Healing was the object based on massive doses of critical thinking and extended logic. That for me, in reality, only began treatment involving removal of a virus that was continuing to poison.
I would suggest that most of us who linger longer with Mormon Stories groups find themselves in a repetitive pattern of having esolved as well as unresolved feelings about choosing to live a life that
includes or excludes Grandpa Church. Perhaps we have not yet adequately dealt with the virus that may inevitably again start replicating itself in as many venues of our lives as possible.
I don’t know what the cure for that virus really is or what anti-virus program one could self-install to become free of that particular existential angst.
I believe that it is possible to construct boundaries (firewalls if you will) that oppose the virus.
Having said that, I can then confess that for me, all that God talk, all that programmed sober-minded discussion of Eternity and a God-parent who demands that He be pleased in every sense has become
exceedingly wearisome. I have sought out my own new treasures that require no programming, that invite exploration that includes not only finding new wisdom but new entertainment as well.
I do not believe or accept any notion of a religiously defined or religion-based Eternity nor any notion that whatever possesses Eternity is a moralizing, ordinance-principle-and-covenant maker who invents the game, makes the rules and calls the score.
As I’ve written more frequently, I totally reject the entirety of the theologies of the world’s Abrahamic religions of which Mormonism is currently number 4. In doing so, I personally feel freed and liberated from any notion of obligation or responsibility to God regarding sin, evil, atonement, redemption
or being carnally an enemy to God.
I echo a friend whose privacy I want to respect who wrote,
” … I only “do” what I “feel” like
“doing” in relation to “The Church”. The absolute hardest
thing I ever did was to give myself permission to NOT DO Church.
When I feel like doing, being, etc anything “Church” I just
do it. Doesn’t set the precedence that I’m rushing back. It’s more like I said
– “snack”. Reading, exploring, participating, only as an
“interest” not a duty. Maybe it’s kind of a “hobby”?
But either way, I think you get my drift. It’s taken over 2 yrs and I
feel absolutely FINE with my relationship w/ the Church, or lack thereof.