Monday, July 30, 2012

The Space Between....

To err is Human; to forgive, Devine.
To seek to amend, is to narrow the space between the two.

Something I've been thinking a lot about lately: the difference between religion and religious tradition, and culture.

I have grown up in the LDS church, and I have always felt something expelling me from it. Deep down, there was something that made me not feel comfortable, and in the end, I wanted out. I am still figuring out what those things are, and they vary greatly. But one that I am willing to consider the possibility of having misunderstood, is that of the difference between the doctrine of the Mormon faith, and the culture of the Mormon faith. This by no means should be understood as me accepting the doctrine, it simply means that I may have misplaced resentments, which I am willing to concede if/where I find them.

I have often heard is said that "the gospel is perfect, the people aren't" and I have always considered that a cheap cop-out for all the traditions that really have no place in God's One Church on the Face of The Earth With a Fullness of Truth. How do these things happen? How do we know who's got it right, and who's got it wrong? We are all "just human", after all, right? And as such, we are fallible, and not only ABLE to fail, we are more or less DESTINED to fail. God has put us here, as we are taught, that we might gain knowledge.

It seems to me that about 99% of the population of the world since the dawn of time (certain deities not included) has learned from making mistakes, from failure.... Trial and Error.

That means that we are all probably being too hard on ourselves. But I think what most people experience within the church, is folks being too hard on each other. So much of people's behaviors in the church are unhealthy, and create a toxic atmosphere in the very place where hurt souls come to worship their redeemer. So many people associate that icky feeling of unworthiness with the Gospel. Ironically enough, it is our tendency to measure ourselves against each other that harbors these feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity. And it is this insecurity that leads us to want to measure up to the expectations of those around us. Perhaps before we can even begin to understand the role of the Atonement in our own lives, we should seek to understand everything that it is NOT. And if we can do that, then we can probably start incorporating the principles of the atonement into our relationships with others within, or outside of, the church.

And so we realize that each of us is just trying to do the best we can with what we've got. And some of us are more broken than others, and we each have our unique challenges in our respective unique lives. There is plenty we can do to become more Christ-like without ever stepping foot in a church.

Is it a good thing that Mormons are traditionally known for coloring in the lines? or are we all scared too witless to even begin practicing our religion? Are we too terrified of our children's failures in their time on earth, to help them feel comforted, hopeful, loved, accepted unconditionally as it is our Christian duty to do? How willing are we to take accountability for our own role in the experience of others? Tradition is the product of shared habits as much as it is a product of shared beliefs. If there is something toxic in the way we see our fellow man, we must be able to take inventory, and do away with the things that are not God like in us. God doesn't shame us into compliant behavior. He doesn't intimidate us into following the rules. He doesn't guilt trip us for failures, he doesn't talk behind our backs, he doesn't withhold his love when we mess up.

And a Biggie: God doesn't beat us, batter us, abuse us, resent us, break us for our stubbornness with domination and abuse of authority, nor does he owe us.

But sometimes we do that. And when we do, WE owe our victims. unfortunately, we cannot repay our victims, but we should be able to, and we CAN start today. In fact, when we don't do all we can to fix where we have erred, we very well may be stunting the spiritual growth process for our victims who haven't been able to process their pain enough to feel love and acceptance and worth in the presence of their redeemer.

Food for thought.