Monday, April 06, 2009

Lucky 13...

It was a good weekend. Family gathered around. Good conference (not great, but good / not expecting a lot, but received enough). Felt the spirit. Touched by the music. Comforted by my wife.

It started well on Friday afternoon with a face-to-face chat with MOHO no. 13. Lucky 13! He was incredible. He is intelligent and articulate and good looking. He is close to my age, married with kids, and still faithful. He is in a very similar place that I am in. He can relate with so much of what I have experienced. I felt like he knew me as I shared parts of me I don't share very often. That is such a great feeling for a closet-dweller. We ended with a warm embrace and swapped cards with hope of another meeting.

He said something interesting. From studying my blog, he concluded that I portray my persona of "Beck" as a lot younger than I am or at least that I seemed to be more immature / less serious than I really am. This was a revelation of sorts to me. Again, it emphasized that "Beck" is only a part of me, a conglomeration of adolescent and boyish thoughts that I've never outgrown or passed through... and that's probably why I have such a hard time with getting older, with realizing my life has been full of regrets and missed opportunities, and a longing for what could have been instead of what is and will be.

I compartmentalize myself. I am very good at it. We closet-dwellers are pros at this. We are very good at wearing hats! We can wear the good Mormon boy hat. We can wear the faithful husband hat. We can wear the committed card-carrying church-going testimony-believing hat. We can also wear the trying-to-figure-out-wear-we-fit-in-this-gay-thing-that-won't-go-away-even-though-we-now-don't-want-it-to-go-away hat.

Someday, I hope to be able to put all of these hats on (in an appropriately color-coordinated / fashion-sense way) and finally be a complete person for someone to know - no adolescent angst, no fear of doubt, no confusion of self. Just me.

Anyway, thank you no. 13!!! You certainly are what makes this baker's dozen complete.


Foxx said...

So does that mean future meetings are off for numbers 14, 15, and so on?

Beck said...

No, we just start a new baker's dozen! :)

Do you want to be no. 14?

Over the Rainbow said...

I've followed your blog for a while and feel so much compassion towards you- I love it when things are going well, you are so amazing and have been through so much I often ache with you. I hope things stay lucky for a while :)

It's good to hear that you weren't expecting much from conference and that you were able to get something out of it. I had high expectations and huge anxiety as conference approached, it's nice to think that perhaps my disappointment has less to do with faults in the Church and more to do with my unreasonable hopes.

Alan said...

Call me heretical, or burnt out, or cynical, or whatever you want, but I have to say I've stopped hoping for huge earthshaking things from General Conference. The music is nice and safe and bland, the talks are good examples of endlessly inventive ways to spin the same basic topics. It's really not "Conference", it's Sermons On Steroids With Soundtrack.

I know lots of people get lots of warm fuzzies and insights from Conference and that's great. And at the same time I guess I've heard enough of them now that it's all way too familiar. Media coverage has turned what used to be a dynamic colorful event into a slick, prepackaged perfectly timed and polished string of teleprompter exercises. Before I die I am praying that just ONE conference session ends early and not exactly as the second hand hits the top of the hour. At least then I would know some true variable human touch remains.

Beck said...

OTR: I really appreciate your following this blog. Sometimes it is very immature and trivial, but I hope that other times it is very real and personable. When it gets to the point that the "real person" is gone, then I know it is time to quit.

Regarding conference, low expectations has been the name of the game. I've found, however, that if I am really coming to it in a spirit of worship, then I gain more out of it. That's why participating in it in a chapel setting or at the conference center has more value than watching it on television with all the other attractions.

As for "unreasonable hopes", I would think I have given up any sense of hope on seeing any change in the brethren on their views of homosexuality... at least this set of brethren. I am not "without hope", but I feel the time is not now for THESE brethren to be prompted to change the course.

I'm discouraged by this lesser expectation of the brethren, but my personal testimony is based moreso on my feelings for God, for Christ, and their understanding me and knowing that they love me as I am, and not on what the brethren say or don't say at conference. Does that make sense?

Beck said...

ALAN: You are "heretical, burnt out AND cynical" as the best of us are! I share many of your feelings and frustrations with the slickness and media-driven exactness of the script. The spontaneity is gone, and with it goes the spirit.

I remember a few regional leadership meetings several years ago where these same brethen (Monson, Packer, Eyring etc.) spoke unscripted and unrehearsed. The spirit was different, stronger, more communicative.

I was touched by Elder Holland's address on Christ and the Easter story, and the loneliness Christ had to feel, including the withdrawl of the Father's spirit, so that he could completely feel and understand how we feel when the Father's spirit is withdrawn from us. I know this isn't new, but this did touch me as I've felt the Father's spirit withdraw from me, and these words brought insight and comfort to me as I contemplated more about the atonement and how it relates to me.

Conference,nevertheless, and for the most part, is extremely sterile. As it has become universal and global, it has also become as bland as undoctored oatmeal. Where's the butter and brown sugar and cinnimon and hot milk and raisins (yes, I like raisins) to give the lump of colorless mush some flavor?

I, too, would love to see the same structured script disrupted, a spontaneous act insight or revelation witnessed that wasn't detailed by and on the teleprompter (it makes me wonder - who is really controlling this - the speaker, or the man behind the curtain pulling the levers and switches of the "Great Oz" in the telepromter feeder room!). It is too glossy, too rigid, and too impersonal.

Oh for the days of Elder Legrand Richards who went on and on and on... but who spoke from his heart and spirit - unable and incapable of following a teleprompter screen!

Can you imagine the Prophet Joseph or Brigham Young using the teleprompter? When I read Joseph's greatest sermon (King Follet's) and realize that he was speaking without notes or script, and just letting pure revelation flow from him as he received it, I can't help but wonder what it would have been like to be at General Conference back then sitting in a clearing in the woods somewhere. No commercial breaks, no media coordinator, no translation department deadlines, no blandness... just raw spirit-to-spirit.

That said, I know that the more I try to learn and feel and work at it - there is still good to be gained.

But, I was disappointed in Pres. Monson's same tiring approach of every single talk - just once could the talk not have three stories illustrating three trivial gospel points of faith, duty, and service? I used to love his stories as a youth, but I now find myself growing tired of them. Is that my cynicism level increasing? Or am I being desensitized by the sameness of it all?

As for receiving great revelations - no, I've ceased in such expectations years ago. This is a scripted church, and this current administration has shown in its first year that it is staying the party line, staying the undeviating course, staying the undistrupted three points of the same thing with no sign of any slight change of plan.

As for the music, though not the centuries-old chants of those you sing in your choir, I did feel that Mac Wilburg is inventive in pushing the choir to new heights with his arrangements. The choir has been integrated with the orchestra on many of the Spoken Word broadcasts with more creative approaches to hymns and spirituals. Conference, however, is more scripted, structured, and bland as it must fit the mold of universal sterility.

That said, I did enjoy the power of the BYU-Idaho choir at the priesthood session. I don't know why (maybe I'm gay?) but I love the all-male choirs and the blend of their voices and seeing their beautiful faces - I shed a tear or two as I felt the spirit in their music.