Zelophehad’s Daughters

Quietism

Posted by Eve

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. –Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28

Last March, on the Sunday morning Daylight Saving Time began, I went to church as usual, took my son to nursery, and immediately noticed that the clock in the room was still on Standard Time. I found that my first, entirely natural impulse–to change the clock to the correct time–was so swiftly and automatically stifled that I almost didn’t notice I’d had it. I’ve learned very well to do little at church on my own initiative, lest my actions inadvertently violate an unknown directive or intrude on someone else’s stewardship.

How did it come to this? How is it that I can live on this earth for forty years, decide whom to marry and marry him, give birth to children, raise them, care for them, make educational and medical decisions for myself and for them, teach classes, earn degrees, defend theses and exam lists, and cross oceans–in the service of the church, no less!–and yet at church itself I hesitate to change the clock to the correct time?

The clock incident reminded me of another of a decade earlier, when I was a ward auxiliary president attending a semiannual auxiliary stake training meeting. After donning my skirt and pantyhose and driving forty-five minutes to the stake center, and after listening to the discussion of various issues our auxiliary faced, I raised my hand to propose that we go directly to our bishops with certain problems, given that bishops were the only people empowered to solve those problems. The stake auxiliary president quickly corrected me. No, we should not go over our immediate priesthood leaders’ heads. Instead, we should contact the bishopric member in charge of our auxiliary so that he could inform the bishop of our concerns. The bishop would not, of course, respond directly; instead the reply–which I knew enough about the dynamics of my ward to know would never come at all, under such circumstances–would be conveyed to the bishopric member whose stewardship we were, and he in turn would convey it to us. I sighed inaudibly, bit my tongue, and imagined myself playing this ludicrous game of telephone up the long ladder of men in suits arrayed in layers and layers above me in the Church News General Conference picture order of seniority, all the way to the prophet and then to God, simply to get a teaching calling filled or an overdue interview arranged. An hour or two later I made my way alone to the parking lot and to my car for the forty-five minute drive home.

Several years after that, I found myself in sacrament meeting sitting on the piano bench, having just played the opening hymn and bowed my head for the opening prayer, staring at the floor and hoping that my overwhelming emotions were not evident to the congregation as the bishop read one of Salt Lake’s periodic directives not to write to the General Authorities with our doctrinal and personal questions. I puzzled over the familiar directive for the thousandth time. Where was I supposed to take my concerns about the temple? Neither my bishop nor my stake president was authorized to interpret the temple; not even the temple president seemed to have any power of definitive interpretation–and it went without saying that the matron didn’t. Certainly none of these good, kind lay leaders had the slightest power to change anything. Only the General Authorities could tell me whether the God they worshiped considered me a person or a helpmeet, an eternal being with my own subjectivity or a seductive, submissive subject-object conjured into being for someone else’s happiness, a silently smiling prop to be acquired and controlled as part of someone else’s glorious destiny. How on earth could such a one as I get their ear? And even if I could get their ear, against all odds, how could I make them understand? I imagined struggling to articulate my lifelong anguish over my ritual subordination in the church, an anguish I could barely choke out over tears, up that ladder of layers of men in suits, many of whom, I knew from sad experience, would smile condescendingly, pat my hand, and offer me the reassurance that God loved and valued me as a way of excusing God’s church for doing neither. No, I thought that day, as I had many times before and as I far have too many times since, there was nothing to do but disengage from the institution on that issue and retreat to my private religious life.

Still several years later, I found myself in a new ward, accompanying my husband and his teenaged home-teaching companion as they took the sacrament to a nursing home within our ward boundaries. They broke the bread, blessed it, and set it before the old man they were ministering to. He was so frail that he had difficulty taking it, and I unthinkingly, spontaneously reached out to help him. Equally unthinkingly, my husband intervened to prevent me from touching the tokens. I was devastated. I don’t know when in my extensive church experience it has been clearer to me that my feminine presence was a contamination of the sacred. On the way home my husband explained the instructions he had been given as a young man that no one was to touch the sacrament but those blessing and passing it. It was, needless to say, instruction that had never been conveyed to me. That day I realized that precisely because I was excluded from priesthood instruction and responsibility, I was also excluded from the instructions that would inform me when I was trespassing on priesthood perogative. The instruction was about respect for the ordinance, my husband explained. It had nothing to do with gender. Of course not, I replied bitterly. Of course not.

Quietism has been the great solace and the great temptation of my reserved and melancholy temperament. I am a private person, and I cherish my time in solitary prayer, scripture study, and meditation. I find immense value in daily considering my life before God, examining myself, and struggling again and again in prayer toward repentance and forgiveness. I have always loved memorizing the psalms and other beautiful, haunting passages of scripture. My private life is the foundation of my public religious life and the foundation of my being. It has also, more dangerously, become my refuge from the pervasive injustices of the institution that I love and believe bears the authority of God on earth. But the hard fact is that in private spiritual and emotional life there is no injustice because there is no sociality. A private religious life is crucial; there is no religion without it. But it is only the beginning of a religious life, which particularly for Mormons, who find exaltation in eternal family bonds, must be lived in relation. To make solitary devotion a refuge from responsible action is a perversion of the sacred. Certainly no student of the Old Testament could dream of worship without justice.

Yet in the face of our own institutional injustice, I’ve been repeatedly enjoined to quietism–and I’m willing to bet you have too, patient reader, if you’re still with me. Bothered by the thoroughgoing patriarchy of the temple? Want to know why women can’t be ordained? Want the young women in your ward to get as much money and as many activities as the young men? Want to know why your ex-husband is sealed both to his new wife and to you? Where the women are in the scriptures? Why women can’t so much as pray in general conference? For that matter, bothered by Joseph Smith’s habit of marrying other men’s wives, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the priesthood-temple ban, the racism of the Book of Mormon, the elisions of correlation, the church’s involvement in Prop 8? The answer is always the same: put it on the shelf, pray, read your scriptures, put it on the shelf, read your scriptures, and pray. I well understand both the need to cultivate a meaningful life in the presence of God and the need to treat personal questions responsibly in the community. But I begin to wonder at what point prayers and scripture study become vain repetitions of evasion. At what point do we resign ourselves to oppression and evil? At what point do we begin to pray our very morality away?

Although various publications and online fora have relieved me of some religious isolation, I also sometimes feel as if I’m dying of my own Sunday silences. I deeply admire the many women and men I know who manage to work the edge within the system to increase justice and mercy and understanding in our congregations. Sometimes I’ve tried to be one of them. In recent years I’ve just been too tired; getting myself and my small children to church in time to take the sacrament is about all I can hack right now. I can’t count the number of church conversations in which I’ve just weakly smiled and changed the subject when I realize that my interlocuters and I are starting from such vastly different premises that it seems impossible to say anything. I’ve ended up managing my church life by absenting myself, as much as I can, from adult religious discussion. (On the other hand, I’m very happy to chit-chat about grad school or raising kids in the foyer, and I enjoy doing so. Especially since I’ve become an SAHM church has been an important social outlet, if not a particularly intimate one.) My children prevent me from hearing anything said in sacrament meeting anyway, and I’ve waited out the last two hours in nursery or behind the Primary piano. But inevitably the self-censorship becomes so severe I begin to feel as if at church I’m no one at all. I begin to feel as if I’m going crazy with so much suppression of difference, so much saying nothing. It’s a dangerous place to be, this place of extreme self-stifling. It’s the place where people snap and hijack the pulpit with a list of personal grievances too long suppressed. And it’s the place where people simply walk out and never come back because they’ve concluded, often rightly, that there’s just no place for them, that the only person they’re permitted to be is intolerably constrained.

What would it mean to be an agent unto myself, to do many things of my own free will, to seek to bring to pass much righteousness? And why is the very church that encouraged me to learn those passages by heart the hardest place to live by them?

42 Responses to “Quietism”

  1. 1.

    Well, I have my own comments on the topic at:

    http://www.wheatandtares.org/2010/10/28/on-being-heard-revisited/

  2. 2.

    Thank you for this post. I loved it.

  3. 3.

    What a beautiful, thoughtful post. Thank you, Eve.

    But I begin to wonder at what point prayers and scripture study become vain repetitions of evasion. At what point do we resign ourselves to oppression and evil? At what point do we begin to pray our very morality away?

    This brought tears to my eyes. It is one of the greatest tensions that I experienced throughout my faith journey in the church. I’ve thought a great deal about the inherent tension in the idea of personal revelation from a living, communicating God, and the claims of tradition and community. Navigating them both can be such a difficult, dissonant experience – and retreating into quiet pondering or endless shelving can quickly turn from needed solace and reflection to a stymieing sense of powerlessness to effect change.

  4. 4.

    I have become entirely uninterested on what any authority on earth has to say about any of the subjects listed above. I realized many years ago when I was herding 6 young children to church by myself because of my husbands use of his agency, that only my Father could answer my questions to my satisfaction, and that many things must not be that important for me to understand in my journey to return to Him. Some questions have been answered and I trust the rest will be and I will then understand why it took so long. One question was resolved in 1978, it brought some peace and one day I’ll know the why’s. I can wait, and I will wait faithfully because I like myself when I am an active faithful latter-day saint.

  5. 5.

    AMEN.

  6. 6.

    “The answer is always the same: put it on the shelf, pray, read your scriptures, put it on the shelf, read your scriptures, and pray.”

    This sentence is hauntingly familiar – it’s what I did myself for so many years until my shelf overflowed about 5 years ago. Eve, thank you for the entire post, I resonated with it all (not just the shelf metaphor).

  7. 7.

    Thank you, Eve, for so eloquently describing the church soup in my head. I got emotional while reading, and that’s a rare response for me. Thank you.

  8. 8.

    The first couple hours after the Sunday block are my most spiritually-trying times of the week–every week. I never thought how the disconnect between my private worship and my public worship could be a big part of the problem, but this makes a lot of sense. Thank you…

  9. 9.

    Wow. There are not words to describe how much this resonates with me. This part especially struck me.

    “But inevitably the self-censorship becomes so severe I begin to feel as if at church I’m no one at all. I begin to feel as if I’m going crazy with so much suppression of difference, so much saying nothing. It’s a dangerous place to be, this place of extreme self-stifling.”

    When I served as a temple worker the temple president raised the following questions during our weekly training session. He asked us, “How does the church function? Is it bottom-up with the members telling the leaders how things are going or top-down with the leaders receiving inspiration and conveying it on to the members?” I was thinking to myself, “Of course it it both. You need a dialogue between the leaders and the members in order for things to function well.” He continued, “It is top-down. The leaders receive inspiration and pass what they received on to the members. The members are not supposed to tell the leaders how things should be run.” I really don’t see how an organization can function this way, even an inspired one. Leaders are mortal. How do they know how their ideas and inspiration are affecting people if they don’t ask? I am sure there are things they don’t see and don’t think of. This, I think, if one of the dangers of self-stifling. As you say, we are no one at all because we have no way of saying, “This is how this policy/rule/doctrine affects me.” We just try to be a sponge, absorbing it all but transferring nothing back.

  10. 10.

    We just try to be a sponge, absorbing it all but transferring nothing back.

    Yes. Thanks, Beatrice. Expanding on what you say here – I have wondered if the feelings that Eve describes are more common in women in the church than men. Does the fact that men can participate in the hierarchy, and are (theoretically, anyway) capable of holding any position in it, all the way to the top, make it difficult for them to truly understand the powerlessness that women can feel? Is the hierarchy less stifling when you know there is a chance you’ll be in it?

  11. 11.

    This was lovely and eloquent.

    A few thoughts: You have written off female leaders for a source of help, and I am not sure that this is always accurate. As a Relief Society president, sisters sometimes came to me when they were upset with some outrageous thing that a priesthood leader said. I was able to help them, and when I confronted the leader about it, he invariably responded along the lines of “Omigosh, did she think that was what I meant?” It was a learning experience for him, that wouldn’t have happened if she had not called me. We all have to do what works for us, but one of the downsides of quietism is the lack of that learning that might occur if the question were raised rather than ignored.

    I dunno, I have been so totally wrong enough times that I have learned to be patient when a church leader does something that strikes me as wrong. Later I realize that they made the best choice. That is humbling enough to buy my patience when the next thing comes up. I don’t assume that I am right.

    As for the issue of going directly to the bishop on things, I can see the value of going through the counselor. Many bishops are called from the ranks of counselors, and it is an important part of their training. If they don’t get back to you, of course bring it up again–maybe before ward council when both the bishop and counselor are there–but I can understand the problems with going directly to the bishop.

    We are all so different in how we react to things. What bothers one person doesn’t bother another. But if I am bothered, I don’t hesitate to bring it up. Not in a threatening way, but just seeking to understand why and to suggest that there might be another way. I have had priesthood leaders freely admit, “Yeah, we could have done a better job on that,” or “Thanks, we knew that wasn’t quite right, but couldn’t figure out a better way to do it until we heard your idea.”

  12. 12.

    I have been turning this post over in my mind ever since you posted it. In addition to church dynamics, this post also makes me think about the self-stifling that can often happen in families. There are some topics that I rarely discuss with my family and if those topics do come up sometimes I try to offer a gentle opinion and sometimes I just bite my tongue. It is such a difficult line to walk at times, trying to express my own opinion without appearing to oppose the Prophet or the church. I long for authenticity, but I also want to respect relationships and don’t want to push buttons needlessly.

  13. 13.

    Although I do have moments when I feel that I am able to navigate these waters successfully. One weekend I was hanging out with my husband’s family. Two of my brothers-in-law were talking about their mission experiences and how happy they were that they had got the opportunity to serve in the mission office. They were mentioning all the things they had learned and how that experience had really blessed their lives. I spoke up and said that it was too bad that I hadn’t had those opportunities. I then talked a little about the coordinating sister position in my mission and how sisters could potentially learn a lot from leadership opportunities. I think my comments helped them see a perspective that they were not thinking about.

  14. 14.

    “On the way home my husband explained the instructions he had been given as a young man that no one was to touch the sacrament but those blessing and passing it. It was, needless to say, instruction that had never been conveyed to me.”

    I have never heard this and I don’t believe it is common practice. Relatives at convalescent homes aid their loved ones in taking the sacrament all the time.

  15. 15.

    […] This post at Zelophehad’s Daughters is a few days old (which is years in internet time, right?), but I just got through reading it, and I thought it was really incredible. […]

  16. 16.

    Quietism leads to stuffing all kinds of negative thoughts and feelings, and leads to isolation, which in turn often leads to depression. It’s what well-bred Mormon women do.

  17. 17.

    Thank you for expressing how it feels to be shushed.

  18. 18.

    Thanks Eve, I want to shout your words from the housetops.

  19. 19.

    Thank you for writing this. It echoes to my soul and breaks my heart. I haven’t been to church in a few months. As much as I’d like to reclaim my identity as a faithful LDS woman, it’s exhausting to even think about going back to church, sitting in the pew, and squirming over whether to speak up when important issues to me come up. I feel I owe it to myself, my future kids, and to the other women around me also suppressing their voices, to be brave. But it’s hard. So here I am, sitting on my couch on a Sunday, reading blogs about church, saying I’ll go next week.

  20. 20.

    “On the way home my husband explained the instructions he had been given as a young man that no one was to touch the sacrament but those blessing and passing it. It was, needless to say, instruction that had never been conveyed to me.”

    Like larryco_, I’ll call hogwash on what your husband was told. That’s absurd. Mothers all over the world are handing the sacrament to their small children.

    Nevertheless, your example works as an example of what you are protesting here.

  21. 21.

    Haunting, sad and raw post. I don’t read much Mormon related stuff anymore, but this touched me. I have no words to make it better, just compassion because I have been there, I have felt that, I have finally turned away because I felt my very soul cringing and crumpling and turning into gray sludge in those situations.

    All the best for you!

  22. 22.

    This is such a heartbreakingly perfect description of the things I’ve felt for the last few years. I’m having such a hard time tolerating those feelings right now, allowing myself to continue that “self-stifling”, which is really such an accurate name for what’s happening. I don’t know when I will cease to be surprised at how perfectly the ZD writers express my own thoughts and feelings, but I think it should have happened already. Thank you, Eve.

  23. 23.

    Oh yes!
    This I can relate to absolutely, having been reprimanded myself for instructing my son in his PH responsibilities one Sunday (nobody else was doing it and they’d had ample opportunity), because I wasn’t his PH leader. Being his mother didn’t count!
    He was a fairly new deacon, a small quorum – the DQP, and my son as 1st counsellor. DQP was away, hadn’t told my son beforehand. All I did was to point out to my son, in the few minutes before the meeting was due to start, that the DQP was away (he hadn’t noticed), and he needed to take over. It was (and is) extraordinarily painful. Both observing that no-one was instructing him (from my vantage at the piano), and then being reprimanded myself.
    “That day I realized that precisely because I was excluded from priesthood instruction and responsibility, I was also excluded from the instructions that would inform me when I was trespassing on priesthood perogative.”
    Indeed, I’d had no idea it wasn’t my place to say anything to him (DH said it wasn’t his place either, which was why he hadn’t). I’d thought I was supporting him in his calling… And I try so very hard not to tread on other peoples toes, which is very wearing…

  24. 24.

    “But inevitably the self-censorship becomes so severe I begin to feel as if at church I’m no one at all. I begin to feel as if I’m going crazy with so much suppression of difference, so much saying nothing. It’s a dangerous place to be, this place of extreme self-stifling… it’s the place where people simply walk out and never come back because they’ve concluded, often rightly, that there’s just no place for them, that the only person they’re permitted to be is intolerably constrained.”

    Eve, wow, like the other commenters I am stunned at how well you’ve articulated my feelings that I myself had not yet been able to put into words. There were so, so many reasons for the stifling. All the questions you mentioned above in your post. But this statement is why I left. This is it exactly.

    Like Beatrice, I’ve often felt the same sorts of feelings with my own family, I think because they are of the generation-long Mormon variety. How sad for all of us.

  25. 25.

    “Quietism has been the great solace and the great temptation of my reserved and melancholy temperament.” And also this. I find that my tendancy towards quietism is also a temptation that lets me slip more easily back into depression’s gloom. It is a delicate balance for me between the solace and the illness.

  26. 26.

    This was so raw and beautifully written. I never really considered this “quietism” until, as another poster wrote, my shelf started overflowing. When I was a RS pres (in a singles ward), I was definitely NOT quiet. Fortunately the Bishop was a wonderful man who I still go visit to this day, because I love him and his wife so much, so he would let me badger and pester him until I got my way.

    Then, earlier this year, I hit the point where I was having my own little faith crisis and I realized that I had no one to talk to at church. I was in a different ward and after one interview with my Bishop, I knew he didn’t understand me at all. So I couldn’t go there, and I didn’t want to be on the “watch list”, so I remained quiet and unobtrusive. I hated my singles ward, felt too old for it (which is easy when most of the members are 18-22). In July I started going to a mid-singles ward (which I’m too young for, but it’s refreshing being the “baby” in the ward as opposed to the old maid) and I still don’t really have anyone to talk to, because I can’t officially be in the ward. I’m just sort of floundering there.

    I wish I was comfortable enough to bring up questions and concerns at church. I wish I could talk real doctrine instead of the watered down “read your scriptures and pray” dialogue that consumes every lesson. Church makes me go crazy. I only go, because it’s really the only way I have to meet people. I don’t feel anything there anymore. I just sit quietly, feeling frustrated.

    Like you said: “And it’s the place where people simply walk out and never come back because they’ve concluded, often rightly, that there’s just no place for them, that the only person they’re permitted to be is intolerably constrained.”

  27. 27.

    This really rang with me: “I’ve just weakly smiled and changed the subject when I realize that my interlocuters and I are starting from such vastly different premises that it seems impossible to say anything.”

    Last week, someone asked if I was a feminist and when I said yes, said that my boyfriend should stop opening doors for me because obviously we should do everything the same. While I don’t mind opening my own door, I felt like he was being accusing in something he knew nothing about, and that enlightening him would take years of conversation, even though I felt like fundamentally, we agree.

    I don’t know how to go about living in a culture so frustrating, but I also don’t know how not to.

  28. 28.

    “I don’t know how to go about living in a culture so frustrating, but I also don’t know how not to.”

    Amen Michelle.

  29. 29.

    Eve, my heart broke a little when you described how your husband prevented your helping the older gentleman take the sacrament. Then I thought, I’d like to know where the man who gave these instructions got them in the first place.

    I agree about the shelf. Sometimes it gets so heavy. Then I remember Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s Lusterware essay, and start thinking about which pieces on my shelf are cultural artifacts masquerading as truth, that should be dashed from my shelf of prized beliefs.

  30. 30.

    So perfectly articulated. Thank you.

    I go through different periods where I speak up a lot during lessons and what not and times when I’m just too tired and retreat into “quietism.” After being virtually humiliated in RS by the teacher because I had the audacity to say that I feel like I have the right to ask my own children to say a prayer in my own home, I’ve given up on speaking up. Now if a lesson or comments bother me I retreat into my scriptures.

  31. 31.

    I am there with you – in all my relationships associated with the church, it just seems “impossible to say anything” anymore.

    Lately, I find it especially disheartening because I feel it inhibits me from serving or performing in my calling (RS presidency). I can not be myself to the sisters or open up to them, because as you described, my entire paradigm is so vastly different. So I retreat and withdraw.

  32. 32.

    Wow. You just elucidated exactly, more coherently than I ever could, one of the main reasons why I left the Church. I just could not do it any more. I guess my shelf has collapsed! Thank you for a great post.

  33. 33.

    This speaks hauntingly and beautifully to the ache in my soul.

    Why do I stay? Because I don’t know how to leave.

    I used to enjoy speaking up, speaking out, and finding some value in my place. But the anger and frustration (and disbelief in the origins of my faith) is too great. I have no calling anymore, no vt, and no speaking out. I go most every Sunday and smile and make friendly chatter, and I touch base with my boys’ primary teachers.

    But my hubs and I can’t leave because for us, personally, we just don’t know how.

    In my quiet moments, I long for the faith and feeling of my youth. I yearn for those simpler times, when I could indeed feel presence of the divine within this membership of believers.

    If I am honest with myself, though, I haven’t felt that spirit since returning from my mission. In the very place where I *should* have felt communion, peace and uplift for my soul, I only felt alienation, judgement and criticism. Dealing with the grief of my father’ death, my depression, my infertility, my son’s autism, being a Democrat, and supporting feminism and gay rights, have only served to alienate me from the majority of our church’s membership, and Infear that the rift has become too great.

    So for now, I simply attend and smile.

    And then I go home and live my life.

  34. 34.

    Wow. This post at ZD resonates deeply with me and my very complicated relationship with the institutional church.

    I really do feel like I have no place at church. And not only that…I feel as though church members make it clear that I do not belong there. And yet I cannot fully say goodbye to the church and my membership.

    However, being less active does has it’s privileges. I sort of feel empowered from time to time because I have some freedom to say unorthodox things in church, but, since I’ve refused a calling and don’t actively participate in the ward in a traditional Mormon way, I have nothing, or very little, to lose. Sure, there will be a lot of ward members who think I’ve an evil apostate and disregard my comments…but I have enough faith in people to believe that there are those who think my (or anyone else’s!) unorthodox comments are a breath of fresh air.

    The self stifling has definitely lowered in intensity since I decided that I did not need to go to church every week and put myself through the stress and anxiety of being an outsider trying to participate every week.

  35. 35.

    Thank you, everyone who has commented, for your thoughtful replies and kind words.

  36. 36.

    Eve, I’m a little late but I wanted to say truly great this post is.
    I also wanted to reply to Galdrarag’s excellent questions:
    “I have wondered if the feelings that Eve describes are more common in women in the church than men. Does the fact that men can participate in the hierarchy, and are (theoretically, anyway) capable of holding any position in it, all the way to the top, make it difficult for them to truly understand the powerlessness that women can feel? Is the hierarchy less stifling when you know there is a chance you’ll be in it?”
    I’m a man. I’ve felt many times frustrated by interlocutors in priesthood meetings, not knowing where to even begin to bridge the gulf. I struggle with the same list of questions, and have my own tentative answers that allow me to keep going. But, I find myself resorting to quietism, even with my own kids, because I don’t want to damage their faith, or make things more complicated for them at church. Having had a few roles in the “hierarchy” and facing the possibility of needing to serve again certainly has not made it any less stifling for me.

  37. 37.

    Beautifully expressed, and very evocative to those of us who share feelings of fatigue, loneliness, and a yearning to be authentic.

  38. 38.

    […] problematic example of a problem was registered on zelophehadaughters.com: I found myself accompanying my husband and his teenaged home-teaching companion as they took the […]

  39. 39.

    Like Romni I can say that as a man I have felt all of these same things in church. For me it is not being outside of the male power structure, which you’ve articulated so well, it’s about being outside of the leadership hierarchy, and about not buying into that hierarchy anymore. I find myself so far removed from those who do buy into it that I find non response to be the only way to deal with it. But non response has a price and that price seems to accumulate rather than dissipate over the years.

  40. 40.

    @Romni and KLC: Thank you both for sharing your thoughts – though I must admit that I don’t know whether to feel comforted that you can relate so well, or saddened that this seems to be such a pervasive issue.

  41. 41.

    I have a personal story of “loudness,” as opposed to “quietness.”

    I have struggled for years with the same feelings that others have described. As a general description: I wondered week after week why I felt so horrible at Church, when that was the place I was going to worship God? I finally decided that it all came down to one simple thing:

    I as an individual human being do not matter to the people of my ward. (Not all of them, of course, but enough of them.)

    After I realized that this was the simple truth of the situation, I felt great peace. And I also felt inspired to share this insight during Fast and Testimony meeting. (“Oh, great,” you’re thinking. “Not one of THOSE testimony meetings.” Yes, one of those testimony meetings.) The peace that I have felt since that testimony sharing is indescribable. The feelings of conflict and grief and confusion just evaporated. God had told me the truth of the situation, and I had shared the truth with those responsible. In my own way, I was choosing to speak up against injustice and error. I stood up for myself, letting the hateful people in my ward know that they weren’t fooling anyone – we have covenanted to care for each other, yet few Church members can manage a cordial “hello,” let alone a feeling of charity for their fellow saints.

    So here’s the aftermath: nothing has changed at all with the people who have always been hateful. Many other people have told me that they feel exactly the same way at church, and they reached out in love to me. And the bishop called me into his office to chastise me. Apparently, he received multiple complaints about my testimony. I constantly self-reflected before and during my meeting with the bishop, and I felt nothing but peace. I spoke the truth and had nothing to apologize for. And so I did/do not feel guilty, nor did I apologize.

    Now that I have spoken the truth, I feel free to live the Gospel at Church. I strive to see Church members as God sees them, and then I try to treat them as He would. I no longer see the hateful people as enemies, and I don’t feel horrible when I am around them. Instead, I consider that their hatefulness is just as vile as my own multiple sins, both of us needing God’s grace.

    I was comfortable speaking up in a public place, because I am an extrovert. Perhaps others would not choose Fast and Testimony meeting to speak their truth. But no matter the venue, telling the truth is liberating! And it is authentic. The alternative is what has been described in this thread.

    I thank God for a brain that wrestles with fear and hypocrisy, a heart that strives for authenticity, the Holy Ghost to reveal truth, and the peace that comes from standing up for what is right. These blessings are given to all of us. Let’s not be shushed or shunned.

  42. 42.

    We are human beings. Every human is a singular embodied framework composed by three nets intricately interlaced 1. soul-net (mystical nature), 2. psyche-net (mental nature) and 3. physic-net (sense nature). Think each net as waves moving into each other embodied by an universal no chaotic fractal patterns, but be always aware that I have not yet pointed out anything about intelligent design. Each human is so much unique that Jesus needs to call us one by one and in Heaven we are counted one name by one name, if our names were written with golden letters in the Book of Life. But people from Israel is countless, as said by the angel to Jacob. I glimpse that what has been said in this paragraph is either a delirious incoherence or that something is missing. But it may be both, delirious incoherence plus something missing, or better: a delirious incoherence by something missed.

    I think that what here is missed is a new or an upgraded concept of soul enough to apprehend new realities around and beyond ourselves and our immediate environment. In which point to start this job if everything is constantly changing -former postulate- and too there is not something new under the sun -latest postulate-? LDS Anarchy site has done an exhausting effort to bring out keys for help – An alternate view of the keys. Author Unknown, April 27, 2010. http://ldsanarchy.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/an-alternate-view-of-the-keys/#comment-9623

    But, 2012, two years later, the keys have not opened any new door under the sun though, to satisfy the former postulate, there must be many ones opened. A new or an upgraded concept may changes our actual paradigm and it is known that it always reacts against the changes -Thomas Kuhn -, nowadays reacting enough to blind us. So then this might be the reason why each one of us is almost conscious but insufficiently yet to enjoy individually and together. This situation seems to be cause doubtless of deceit for many people leave their respective areas of religious sight and live an unsatisfactory life.

    I pose you some test: «can you understand something as to think with your soul and to pray with your mind?» Is it not true that you tend to think with your ‘brain’ because it is said so by the actual paradigm worked and paid by you? If you pray with your mind your body automatically tends to express it -neuropsychology- and maybe you would fall on your knees worshipping to Holy Ghost while walking by the Fifth Avenue, New York :). There are two solutions, either our actual paradigm authorities ‘must’ reprimand both kind of behavior or the actual paradigm must be perished by our struggle to make way for the new one «with our inner mystical nature: \(^_^)/ OUR SOULS!».

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