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Saturday, March 04, 2006 

Another Brick in the Wall

Recently, a friend of mine had a very spiritual experience, not in a church, but in a martial arts (Aikido) studio. This person is going through a very trying time in his life and was looking for a way to “center” himself while he dealt with things. As I listened to him recount the experience, I heard him describe a joy that he had never felt before. He described his experience of feeling a connection and comforted by this newfound spirituality. But as I listened, it seemed that he gave full credit to the art of Aikido and the situation instead of himself. And from somewhere…somehow, I found myself advising this friend. I told him that while Aikido didn’t give him spirituality...it did allow him to find it in himself. It was the vessel, if you will, for finding his spirituality.

When I was active in the church, I never really saw the Mormon Machine image. I was part of the Mormon Machine and I relied on it. I went through the motions…held callings because they asked and because I felt like I should...received the Gospel in Action and Young Womanhood Recognition awards because it was expected of me… had a testimony of The Church because that’s what you did. I looked to the Mormon Machine for my spirituality because that’s how things were done. The Mormon Machine should have only been the vessel for my spirituality…not the basis for it.

I can stand here today (or, you know, sit here and type at my computer) and tell you that I’m so glad for the experiences in my life that have allowed me to find out who I really am and not rely on tradition, rules or The Mormon Machine to dictate my spirituality. I am on a continual quest for my own personal spiritual revelation that will, then, define what I believe or how I believe it. I’ve never denounced the Mormon religion and there is a possibility that my quest for personal revelation will lead me back that way. I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is me not questioning anything and following blindly. I’m not okay with me getting “sucked in” to the Mormon Machine instead of being a moving, working, thinking, feeling, individual part of that machine.

Posted by JP.

I used to talk a lot about conforming when I taught the 15 year old Sunday School Class. I urged them to do things not in order to conform, but because they are right. I like what you have to say about your awards.

Some, though, seem to have discovered an intrinsic joy to doing what is right, or church ordained. I wish I could do that.

Good post.

I agree that spirituality is something that comes from within. It seems to me that the mormon church likes to think it has exclusive access to the spirit. We are told that yes, other people might be able to feel the spirit once in a while, but we have the gift of the holy ghost, therefore we can feel the spirit all the time. I find this view pretty presumptuous.

There are other traditions, especially from the east such as meditation, yoga and martial arts that are incredible tools to help us access our spirituality. In my own personal life I have found these much more satisfying than anything the "mormon machine" has to offer.

That's an interesting thought, JP. I largely agree with it. It is of course true that the brain mediates all of our experiences. In that sense, it is correct that responses to external stimuli are a product that we generate ourselves.

On the other hand, I believe that these experiences are exhilirating because they create the impression that they link us to our environment. Aikido makes us feel good beause it raises our awareness of our body. So it seems to me that exhilirating feelings are meaningful because they are relational. In that sense, it is about us but also about so much more.

Spirituality can come from many places. I've had spiritual experiences doing Aikido as well. I think we err to assume the spirit can only communicate with us in Sunday School.

Sorry, this has nothing to do with your post, but it has everything to do with you. I've seen you comment on some peoples' blogs and seen you post stuff in here and I always thought JP was a guys' name. So I had this image of a flamboyant, feminine guy when I read your comments. Now that I've figured out you're a girl, it makes a lot more sense! Sorry I'm dumb. I've enjoyed your comments and posts (as a man and a woman).:)

Oh, heidi...what's funny is that I'm sure you're not the only one. Seriously. Oddly, JP is a nickname for my nickname...just to confuse you more.

Thank heavens I am a girl...my husband would be TICKED.

The Mormon Machine should have only been the vessel for my spirituality…not the basis for it.

That is what the Church is for. It can't be the basis for your spirituality. It can only help hold and shape it for you.

The Church is for man, not man for the Church.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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