Friday, August 31, 2012

Finding Peace Despite Heterodox Views

I was participating in an online discussion years ago about those who don't see some things in the same way as most of those around them - and how it's OK to think differently and not feel guilty about it.  In the course of that conversation, someone asked specifically about how others had managed to be at peace with their differences - how others could believe some things differently than what this person called "mainstream Mormonism" without feeling guilty.  The following was my response to that question:

I don't feel guilty at all at church about areas where I see things differently than many of the members around me. I'm so at peace largely because I consider myself to be a "believing, faithful member", even though I certainly am not "mainstream" in some of my beliefs. HOW I serve in the Church is somewhat out of my hands; WHETHER I serve in the Church is completely my own choice; IF I am happy and at peace at church also is completely up to me.

Honestly, a large part of that is because I have "broken away" mentally on a number of topics but remained firmly mainstream on others - and because my life is very orthoprax. I am part of a community I love, and I'm ethnically Mormon, on top of that. I haven't thrown out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak - and I absolutely LOVE the grandeur and breadth and depth of what I see as "pure Mormonism".

However, I don't expect everyone to see it the way I do, and that lack of expectation helps tremendously.
I've come to realize that those who "live Mormonism" and express their heterodox views carefully, gently, considerately and not in an apparent attempt to "convert" generally are accepted by everyone but the most extreme members. I've also come to realize that there are FAR more members who think differently about something than most people realize - mostly because so many of them are orthoprax. In other words, it's hard to tell if someone sees various things differently than others if their lives "look Mormon".

Finally, I maintain peace largely because I am trying to internalize the ideal of becoming Christ-like/godly as my ultimate objective. I'm consciously trying to be more charitable. I'm consciously trying to become more blessed by living the concepts taught in the Sermon on the Mount. I'm striving to be at peace with and within myself, and that effort is the core of why I am so at peace at church - and at work, and with my family, and in every other way. I am at peace personally, so it is much easier to be at peace inter-personally - no matter the setting.


backandthen said...

"Finally, I maintain peace largely because I am trying to internalize the ideal of becoming Christ-like/godly as my ultimate objective. "

To me this is what "mormonism" should entirely be about. No matter the way/path we take, to me if this goal is our main one then we are Mormons.
the sad thing is that out of charity or cowardice (I don't know) we have let other define mormonism as something else and we look at odds now when we voice this simple truth.

Turin Turambar said...

I like this idea. My current problem, however, is that my developing heterodoxy seems to be taking the wind out of my orthopraxy sails... Where do you get the motivation to remain orthoprax?

Papa D said...

Turin, I do what I can and don't do what I can't. I do more than I might naturally, but I only can do what I can do. I'm OK with myself, and that's critical in avoiding unnecessary and debilitating guilt and anxiety.

I'm willing to sacrifice, but I'm not willing to cross lines I just can't cross in good conscience. In the end, I worship "according to the dictates of my own conscience."

Sam said...

I love this post, except one word: "despite" -- why not, "with"? Why should we give ground to the presumption that finding peace is something that is reached in spite of heterodox views instead of along with them?

Personally, I describe myself as "informed and faithful" instead of "informed but faithful" for the same reason.

Papa D said...

I really like that distinction, Sam - and I agree completely.

Thanks for your comment.