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Posts Tagged ‘Laziness’

I referred to myself as a pagan in conversation with my beautiful and sexy wife a few days ago (we were talking about piddly, meaningless stuff like the meaning of life), and she recognized the significance: it was a casual but meaningful declaration of spiritual identity of the kind that I have not been able to make in years.

It wasn’t just a slip, either. I have been thinking about this and I came to an important realization. One of the issues I have been grappling with in the background of my mind is if at the end of the day I basically think that religion and spirituality are highly subjective and have more to do with assigning meaning to human existence than they do with making objective truth-claims about the universe, why shouldn’t I have just stayed Mormon? Wouldn’t it have been easier, after all, for me to just figure out how to reconcile the religion I was raised with than to try to blaze a completely new spiritual trail? My gut rebels against the idea of staying Mormon, but why? I think Mormonism’s truth-claims are bogus, but that’s not really the issue for me (except it kind of is, because Mormonism spends a lot of time and spiritual effort insisting that its truth claims are literal truth). I have problems with the Church as an institution, but a lot of liberal and New Order Mormons figure out ways to deal with that, and the insistence of the orthodox believer notwithstanding, my relationship with the organizational church should not really affect how I feel about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration, right?

So why do I feel like remaining Mormon, or going back to Mormonism, would just be unacceptable? I think it is because I never really internalized Mormonism in the first place. Sure, I internalized some ways of thinking about religion because I didn’t know any better–some cultural transmission from my parent subculture is inevitable–but in a spiritual sense, I was always torn and doubtful about Mormonism and I was always drawn to mythology, the gods, and the spiritual power of the wild places of the earth. As a little kid I was obsessed with mythology. As a young adolescent I stayed awake all night with my best friend on Boy Scout camp-outs talking about Beltaine. As a teenager I flat-out just wanted to be a druid. As a young adult I was absolutely enthralled by Joseph Campbell, the Arthurian romances, Celtic myth, and the cosmic and spiritual significance of poetry and literature.

Yes, when I was nineteen, I “got a testimony” and went on a mission, and began to live a fairly orthodox Mormon life. But let’s not give my conversion too much credit. The coercive pressure from my family was immense-it was made clear to me that being an adult meant setting aside childish things like entertaining the possibility of paganism, and taking Mormonism seriously as the One True Religion. People I trusted and relied on made it absolutely clear that there was no viable moral alternative, that anything less than fully getting with the program meant personal weakness, laziness, and a lack of integrity. So I did what I was supposed to.

But the pagan inside me did not sleep too soundly. As a young adult I was captured by the power of Norse myth, by the dynamic majesty of romantic-era classical music (I discovered Sibelius, and it was love), and ultimately by the brutal, mythic energy of heavy metal.

On top of this, I have noticed a clear pattern in my life: when I have lived out of touch with nature, I have been depressed, unbalanced, and extremely mentally unhealthy. Proximity and involvement with the natural world are simply things I need for spiritual wholeness. And I have consistently had feelings about love, the feminine, and sex that have been reverent, passionate, and worshipful.

The point is, I have been a pagan all along. It doesn’t matter that I went to sacrament meeting every week. It doesn’t matter that I spent two years as a missionary trying to convert people to Mormonism. Mormonism never really fit. My mother and I had countless discussions and arguments about religion and point of view: in her mind the right thing to do was to completely internalize Mormonism, and subvert your entire mind to it, to relinquish all non-Mormon thought as something unwelcome and alien. I always wanted to take the point of view of an outsider, because I always was an outsider.

I was a pagan, and I always have been.

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I mentioned a few posts ago that I was considering shutting down this blog. The fact is that I have had a great deal of things developing on the religious/spiritual front for the past several months, but I have been reluctant to blog about them for a number of reasons. When I stand back and think about that, I seriously consider whether there is a point to this blog anymore. From the beginning, my intention was to chronicle, in an admittedly incomplete fashion, my search for God. Thus the “sailing” motif–my search for the holy city.

However, over the past year it has become increasingly the case that I have had important spiritual milestones, breakthroughs, significant thoughts, interesting developments, and just not blogged about them. One reason is that, frankly, the more personal and spiritual something is to me, the more vulnerable it makes me feel and the more I am reluctant to talk about it. I can talk about religion in a detached, intellectual fashion all day, but when it starts to get personal and real, I clam up. I’ve always been that way. Ask my parents.

So in other words, I am developing spiritually without writing about it in what was intended to be my online spiritual journal. Why is that? I can think of several possibilities. First, a lot of people are reading this blog, including a lot of people in know in real life, and a lot of people in my extended family. Most of them don’t comment, but they have told me that they periodically check my blog. At no point did I intend for this blog to be a place to write anonymously, so when things come up that I don’t necessarily want to share (for fear of real-world rejection, fear of real-world judgment, and just plain not wanting to offend or hurt real-world peoples’ feelings), I leave them out. That obviously defeats the purpose of the blog.

Second, a related point, is that the more personal and dear something is to me, the less I am inclined to want to feel like I have to debate it or justify it to other people. I have made a lot of friends in the blog-o-verse, and a lot of them have vastly different opinions about religion. Furthermore, a blog with open comments necessarily attracts strangers, hit and run commenters, or people just eager to debate their pet spiritual points. But the more meaningful my religious experiences, the less interest I have in debating them. Again, this is a kind of self-censorship that makes me question whether there is much point to the blog. If I’m censoring the real meat of my spiritual journey, then why chronicle my spiritual journey?

Third, I may just be too lazy to write. If that’s the case, it’s not really a good excuse. fair enough. But hey, if I don’t want to write a blog, I don’t have to. I have had some really nice comments from people lately telling me that my blog has helped them. I’ll be honest–that kind of thing is really touching and makes me want to keep it up. But really the point of this blog never was to help other people. This blog was always first and foremost something for me, a place to work out my own thoughts and feelings. Other peoples’ needs–at least in terms of this particular blog–have to come in at a distant second.

Fourth, I may simply be at a point where I no longer have the need to blog about my spiritual thoughts and feelings. When I started this blog, it was a useful tool because it helped me think things through, investigate options, and the driving need to write kept me from growing complacent about my spirituality. I wanted to have something to write about, so I did a lot of thinking, reading, and investigating. It was important and formative for me, but if I no longer feel the personal need to write about my spiritual life, then the blog simply may have outlived its usefulness.

All of that, however, is a lot less important than this final, critical point: I believe that I am done sailing. I actually think I have landed ashore, spiritually speaking, and I can no longer claim to be searching. I have had a series of experiences over the past few months in the wake of which I no longer feel comfortable claiming that I am still shopping for religion. I’m not saying that I have found the one true truth, but I have been given something mysterious and important, and I have decided that it is more than I have been expecting, and I have decided to commit to it.

I admit that I have a fear of spiritual commitment–once burned, twice shy. And I struggle with my “tomorrow morning this will probably seem stupid” hesitancy. But from the beginning, I laid out the conditions under which I would be willing to commit myself to a spiritual path, and those conditions have been more than met. So I’m at a critical juncture. I believe that if I second-guess myself now, I will never find what I am looking for. If I am going to ignore powerful, intense spiritual experiences in favor of “sailing on,” then I am really making an affirmative decision: the journey in favor of the destination. And while I think the journey is important, and in some sense the journey never really ends, I also have a powerful hunger for the divine. It is a hunger that I yearn to fill, and I am certain that it will never be filled by Sailing to Byzantium, but by Byzantium herself.

So where does that leave me? I have considered starting a new blog, focusing on where I am at now, and one that would allow me an amount of anonymity that I feel is necessary at this point. On the other hand, I sort of tried that last year with my Dharma Bum blog and it turned out to be a silly blind alley. I’ll admit that I am worried that this will be another blind alley, but I am determined to commit–like I said, I am actually kind of tired of sailing.

In any case, I do not intend to continue to chronicle my spiritual journey here on this blog. I won’t delete it, because I feel like the archives are useful, and every now and then I get a wave of hits from Google which means someone out there is looking for what I am writing about. And it’s not like it’s costing me anything. I may even put a post or two here every now and then, especially if I do not start a new blog, because it’s nice to be able to post stuff that I want to tell the world about, and honestly I like my blog better than I like my Facebook profile. But in terms of this blog and my spiritual journey, well, like I said, I’m furling my sails and setting down my anchor, because I have some exploring to do.

NOTE: I ultimately wound up changing my mind.

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I just noticed that I haven’t posted much here in awhile, except for a couple news-and-politics items, which are really more what my old blog was about, and something that I generally want to shy away from here.

The thing is, and I have said this before, I have always been reluctant and shy to talk about genuine spiritual feelings. I can talk intellectually about religion all day, but when something genuine comes along, I feel so much more vulnerable about it, and talking about it makes me nervous. I also am much more likely to talk myself out of my genuine spiritual feelings and experiences, because they seem stupid or embarassing to me later on. I’m not sure why.

Anyway, that means that yes, this is another post confessing that I actually have all kinds of things going on in the religion/spirituality department, but no, I don’t want to try to rapid-fire a bunch of blog posts, or even write one long one, to try to get my readers caught up. It doesn’t make sense for me to try to compress what can sometimes be a convoluted and complicated thought process into easily digested pieces after the fact. Do I write about the blind alleys, for example? They’re not really about how I get where I am, but they are relatively important because they show the things I have thought through and decided to discard.

I’m not really sure if I am going to keep up with this blog, or just let it die a slow death. I’m not really sure who I am writing it for anyway, and I am not sure that the bloggerverse is really the place I want to be doing all of my spiritual development anyway. On the other hand, as great as I think a handwritten journal would be, I’m not exactly great at keeping one of those either…

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