Monday, February 12, 2007

Following too closely...

Is there such a thing as "following too closely" the Brethren?

I just feel too rebellious, too cutting edge, too non-conformist, too free-spirited - not wanting to fit the mold of the standard member of the Church. Why is this? How come I can't just be "normal"? Why do I have to fight against the conformity of it all? I want to follow, but I want to do it in my own way. Maybe I feel this way because I have never "fit in" to the mold the way I see everyone else "fitting in". Maybe as I try to "fit in" I know that I'm different and it's all an act, so I need to relieve the pressure of this act by acting out and being a bit rough-around-the-edges just to give anyone that comes close to me to know that I'm different... even though deep down I want to conform and be "normal" - I just can't.

I've been growing my hair a bit longer just to put out signals to everyone that I'm a "radical" in hopes of getting a reaction from the "straight and narrow" brethren (who are scandalized by any returned missionary not appearing as a missionary conformist for the rest of his life!) that do not reflect who I am - or do they? I've thought that I might not wear a white shirt to Church anymore (Oh my!)... and I've even contemplated putting hooped silver earrings on just to see if anyone will notice! :)
(Therapist interlude: Can't you see Beck - you're not comfortable with who you are and you're not honest with yourself and the role you're playing so you are seeking attention and wanting someone to notice and feel your pain!)

At the Worldwide Leadership Training on Saturday I wasn't at awe with the Brethren at all. Their spontaneity "act" of chatting together and role playing was so polished and rehearsed that it came across to me as phony and sanitized. I know they were trying, but I just once would wish that they were truly human and not so controlled by the every word they say. Maybe it has to do with the "cameras rolling" mentality - I don't know, but I don't see the Savior teaching by a rehearsed script and the Holy Ghost directing the scene yelling "You're on!" I know the correlation department and their "manuals" have their purpose to keep a vast array of peoples and cultures in some order of conformity - and I recognize needing some sense of central control. But have you ever looked at the manuals for YM and YM lessons? They are an absolute joke - outdated and dry as an ox skull on the dusty pioneer trail.

The training session spoke of "teaching by the spirit", but then they talked about using the manuals. My definition of "teaching by the spirit" is to teach from what you know and to be spontaneous to those feelings and promptings (ideas of your own that come into your head - dare I say "INSPIRATION" - of personal belief instead of correlated dialog from on-high. Give me a break! When I taught my lesson on Sunday - I threw out an idea about a principle and then let the discussion flow - with no absolute plan of the prescribed end result. The Spirit bore witness of what was taught and class members FELT the lesson. Fortunately, the class I teach is allowed to be more free-spirited in context and agenda... and being free-spirited permits the Spirit to be free to participate!

Maybe I am just begging for attention. I know I concern my wife that I am expressing more and more this "radical / tough" attitude. I'm sure my double life has something to do with my complex of never fitting in as much as I try.

But sometimes, you can be following too closely in the steps of conformity and miss the message of the Spirit, of the Prophet, of the Savior - all together.


Enduring Eric said...

I completely understand your feelings. I think Joseph Smith said it best, "...[t]each them correct principles that they may govern themselves." Be yourself, apply the principles in your own unique way. How boring it would be if we were all robots! Yuck! Having long hair and wearing a pink shirt to Church will not keep you out of the Celestial Kingdom. :)

Mormon Enigma said...

You know how the Jewish faith has Orthodox and Reformed Jews? Maybe we need Orthodox and Reformed Mormon's.

Foxx said...

We do. They're called Funadmentalist and Mainstream Mormons. ;)

Beck said...

There actually is a group called Reformed Mormons... I'm not espousing anything of the sort - I am happy with my feelings about the Gospel and the Plan, I just struggle with the rigid interpretation thereof when it comes to day-to-day implementation through the correlation committee!

Loyalist (with defects) said...

it could just be me, but I've always found that the Wasatch Mormons were a little more stranger in the cultural interpretation of LDS principles.

my advice is wear the non white shirt and be happy. if they can't deal with it, oh well.

i may be joining the utah area for a while, so i will definitatly be wearing non white to church, but then I've never been a conformist.


-L- said...

Things are constrained through tight correlation specifically to _avoid_ splintering like that in the church's history. It amazes me that with explicit and pointed temple recommend interview questions, constant world-wide General Conferences, and clearly identified authoritative writings, there are still huge groups of people who think they can participate in it piecemeal... or make it what they want it to be.

Ultimately, I appreciate individualism and simultaneously recognize that understanding how closely to follow the prophet has a right answer and can be found in the scriptures.

Beck said...

L: I most definitely know and respect the need for tight correlation to keep from splintering off like other religions. I most definitely respect the Brethren's need to keep things what they should be. I am not dictating any "piece-meal" approach to church participation (at least on my part). I am whole-heartedly devoted to my Church and Gospel. I'm speaking more of the rigidity of some locally who interpret so tightly the practice of following the manuals that "individualism" of any kind is squashed - and then "amen" to the spirit. I'm not advocating any revolt or "hit-n-miss / take-what-you-want" attitude. I hope you understand that - and maybe I say things more for shock value and dialog than I should - but I'm frustrated with locals who can't see the bigger picture of the benefits and wealth of knowledge and spirit that come from not being so constrained.

Mormon Enigma said...

"Fundamentalist Mormon's", aren't they the polygamists? Isn't that a Utah/Arizona thing? That's not something we have to deal with out here in Baptist country :-)

I wasn't advocating any sort of division of the church. My comment was meant to be more of a tongue in cheek observation that some members are very 'letter of the law' while others are more 'spirit of the law'. I tend to lean towards the latter.

As for white shirts, there is one big advantage to wearing them to church - fewer decisions needed on Sunday morning. My biggest decision when getting dressed is what color tie to wear. I don't know if I could handle having to pick out a shirt and making sure it coordinates with my pants. I'm not that awake.