Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Looking Back: Religious Progression

It's weird reading my old posts. I was so afraid to say or admit to certain things, afraid to offend people I didn't even know. I conceded often--which isn't a bad thing, necessarily, but...I dunno.

I sometimes feel as if there's not a hell of a lot more for me to say, like I've already said it all, just cleaner and more PC. To continue or repeat those rants would be a bit of a snore. Staged and scripted. I've felt a bit dry lately. I don't like to write unless I'm driven to write.

Anyway, it's interesting to see how some of my readers changed throughout the course of that blog. A few people left when they felt I crossed the line (how dare i criticize a leader!), but for the most part people kept with me, and I appreciated that.

But I have at least one (non-member) friend who felt I was far too conciliatory, and I think I always knew she was right. Let's face it, though: I was saying a lot of really controversial crap, at least to the TBM and even wavering-TBM crowd. To myself. It scared me a lot to say some of the things I said and it took me a while to stand up firmly to it, even if for only a few points. Two people I know from my own stake visited the blog. One girl kept with me for a while and we eventually had to part ways on facebook, and the other came only once to say "c'mon, we're not all that bad are we?"

Members take this shit so personally.

I even found out later that my dad was worrying about me. My dad! Mr. "Well-where-are-the-golden-plates-now, hmmm?"

I mean, shit, you can't please anybody. Hard as you might try, it's not gonna happen.

It's just interesting to see the progression and it makes me wonder where I'll end up. I look for quotes sometimes for this blog and find the sentiment that agnostics are pansies who can't make up their minds because they're scared. Fence-sitters. That's kind of where I was eighteen months ago, a fence-sitting-mormon girl. Hated it.

I hate that some may regard me as sitting on the fence of belief. But that's my problem. After all, I did take the leap and record my religious beliefs on facebook as "agnostic" and haven't looked back. But I had to be ready first, just like when Eric was later ready to list himself as "atheist."

Eric and I had a talk the other day and concluded that we're really just a hop, skip, and jump away from being on the same page. I consider myself agnostic because, like I've already mentioned, I don't think we know anything so to say we do seems a bit presumptuous to me. However, I'm leaning more on the atheist side. I'll be okay in the end either way, I figure. There's still the question of the ultimate point of creation, whether it be of a creator or a bunch of atoms bursting (and where did those come from?)--and that keeps me agnostic, too. Eric's college courses led him to believe there just isn't enough evidence to worry about it.

It is a fact that the more we learn from science the less religion needs to answer for the unknown, this even though some adopt a cafeteria-style approach to scientific theory and fact because the Bible says the Earth is only 6,000 years old!

I'm not quite ready to proclaim a confident disbelief or if I'm even sure I feel that way. But I wish I was. Then again, is it so bad to be a bit more open to things? I think it depends on where I am honestly: open or scared. Letting go of god and all that comes with him is frightening, and I've a lot of respect for people who've been able to do that.

I'm not even sure anymore if I have a hope in god. The more I consider the idea of returning to the Earth at death, the less I find I need him. The more I realize people are good without god, the less I find I need him. The more I find that life goes on just like it always has, the less I find I need god.

If I have a hope it is in that everything will work out. That I'll learn to trust myself and that that will be enough. Faith in oneself is just as hard, if not harder, as faith in a benevolent supreme being.

But it frustrates the fuck out of me to find myself praying to whatever when I'm scared. In there, I suppose, is a hope. But it seems like an awful selfish one when there are people in the world who suffer exponentially worse than me. That doesn't mean I don't matter, but I'm aware that I'm much more fortunate than many others. That said, I don't find myself thanking "god" for my so-called blessings. I find I can be thankful just for the sake of being thankful. It feels more honest.

I allow sentiments that suggest I'm a wuss to get under my skin far too much. I just spent two to five years afraid to leave a church I obviously didn't agree with because I didn't want to hear about it. Because I'd been told what would happen if I did. I wrote my last blog with the initial intention to prove a member could be liberal and a faithful mormon, but it was intellectually dishonest. I wasn't all that faithful. I ended up exposing myself as the rule and not the exception. I wanted to be strong, and while some of my posts--especially toward the end--suggested some strength, I was still very much afraid. Only time can heal that, I've found.

Right now I'm ready to resign, but I won't until my husband is ready, too. After all, it's his family, his community (he grew up here), and 30 years to my 10. I can wait.

So I'm a waverer. It's part of a process. At least now I'm not afraid to admit I drink coffee and have the occasional beer or cocktail or say the leaders and even the scriptures are assholes and full of crap.

And I can't help but wonder if leaving the LDS church is a bit of an inevitable gateway to atheism (or if that's a bad thing). I know it doesn't have to be, but it feels that way. I can't see the way to reach any other conclusion, especially as one who has been to many other (christian) churches before.

My above-mentioned non-member friend had her own struggle with Christianity and came out on the believer's end, and that intrigues me. I guess I just always felt I'd come out on this end because even there, at my other blog, when I'd go on about Christ I wasn't speaking of myself so much but to those who were reading so they'd listen to me a bit more. I don't take issue with Christ so much, anyway. I like much of what he's purported to have said and done. My biggest issue was the church's self-serving narcissistic bullshit with the occasional Jesus Christ punctuation.

Besides, it's a debate strategy. It's also, to me, a matter of respect of other people's beliefs.

But it bothers me that I'm generally the one to respect and feel others don't feel the need to respect me because I'm the apostate. Eric says it's that way because we're the ones who have changed the rules. I don't know. So I'm afraid to "blaspheme" sometimes. To offend. I don't know if anybody I know has found this blog or not (my ex-roomie is rather sneaky), and so I still hold back a little. Is this a matter of respect or just fear--and where's the line? Example: I don't care who knows my sekrit temple name, but I know it'd be crossing the line for the few friends I've left.

Topic for another post.

And I don't know. One of my personal mottos is to "never say never." So who knows. I may find myself an unorthodox believer someday. I don't want to ever consider myself a zealous one again, shiver. I just never want it to be out of fear. I never want to be put in a box in any sort of shackles because I don't feel I can handle this life on my own, with those I love around me. Shouldn't that be enough?

Life is too short for that.

I'm happy with where I am--to an extent. I still feel in a bit of a purgatory spiritually, like I have to pick a side. Perhaps that is my inner people-pleaser more than it is anything else. I still haven't found my peace. My husband has. Other people have. I'm still looking and waiting for my own.

I guess in some ways I'm still The Liberal Mormon That Could.


  1. Nice post. I can identify with your progression of feelings. When I left (some 15 years ago) I decided I never wanted to say "I know" something is true anymore. That's one of the few things that hasn't changed about me since.

  2. I have to say that I really loved your old blog, Lisa. If it wasn't for you and your specific way of dealing with difficult issues, I would probably still be a member of the cult... er, religion. I know that I got all preachy on you more than once, but look at me now! I can't go a whole day without saying "fuck" at least once, and I am getting my nose pierced! (Ok, that sounds much more extreme than it really is).

    Anyway, thanks for still writing. I love what you have to say, and how you say it.

  3. Thank you so much for saying that, MC. It means a lot, really <3

    fuck is a good word ;)

  4. donna: i hadn't thought about it that way before--as a rebellion against the "i know" thing.

    yeah, pretty much.