I’m talking with a neighbor about forming a little book club to read some Mormon history articles. They are here at http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/essential-articles-in-mormon-history/. I don’t know him well but I thought he might have interest. He is well informed and engaged in the ideas he presents in church. He responded positively but took a moment to let me know where he stands with the church. He is a content happy Mormon with no interest in upsetting the apple cart. He basically said that he was ok with the getting together if I could accept that he is what he is, a solid dutiful believing Mormon. Yeah, I’m ok with that. I don’t have definitive answers but I do like to discuss ideas and I love Mormon history. And I don't need others to share my semi dis-functional approach to the church.
Here is what I wrote him back.
Thanks for letting me know where you stand. Here’s where I am Mormon wise. I am drawn to Mormon history because it is my story and my family’s story. It’s why I am here at this time and place. I grew up in an active family, enjoyed church and community, and served a happy successful mission. But that was a long ago and my strict belief default has given way to considering the church’s truth claims on the merits. Teachings and practices must make sense for acceptance. I have struggled with Mormonism for many years and regularly consider checking out but I return week after week. I guess I get enough needs met that it compensates for frustration.
I do often feel that my presence at church is a distraction to others and I wonder if I should be quiet or stay home, but I think/hope people see me as a sincere if eccentric member and take a charitable approach to my quirky participation. And there have been many comments from the brethren about welcoming all people. I suppose that includes me. I do disagree with the brethren about some things I feel my integrity requires that I deal with it, but I try do so honestly and appropriately.
While I don’t have any sort of conventional testimony neither do I know that Mormonism isn’t true. In fact, I’m not sure of what is true and what isn’t or if I am even interested in seeing the world in those terms. I mostly search for meaning and leave truth alone. I know I must sound like one who is ever searching for the truth but never able to find it, but I’m ok with that. In fact, one of the things that drives me batty in the church is the absence of and disdain for uncertainty. I mistrust people and institutions that claim to know all. I am moved by declarations of not knowing more than knowing. I think it’s harder and perhaps better for people to realize what they don’t know . As you can imagine, that makes Mormonism a challenge.
Having said all that, I am a reasonable person who enjoys exchanging ideas with a broad range of believers and non-believers and am pretty agenda free. I think getting together to read the articles will be worth the effort.