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Some of my favorite things about the church

November 17, 2008

I just wanted to write about a few of my favorite things about the church:

1) Involvement from “average Joes”

I feel like the church is a great place to improve yourself. Even without opening any of the standard works or subscribing to a single belief…just by looking at the way the church is organized, it is a great place for self-improvement. You will get callings, eventually. You will be asked to give talks, eventually. And even though I know many people do not magnify their callings, these were always welcome challenges for me.

I love giving talks. I love speaking in general. If I did not have a church that was so speaking-oriented…if I did not have a church that exposed me to a wide variety of speakers and speaking styles (every member, basically), then I wonder if my speaking ability would still be as developed? Would it have worked out the same?

Even though you know who the high stakes people are…obviously, you have someone conducting the meeting…someone presiding…someone must get the sacrament first, of course…much of what makes the church “run” is done by average Joes. I like that. It seems like the church is about the practical self-improvement of its members.

2) Mormon blogs

One of the things I disliked about my home wards was feeling that the gospel was intellectually stifled or that the members were uncreative (sure, milk before meat; line upon line, etc., no revelation until we live what we currently have. but even still, people just…didn’t want to play with the ideas and think). You hear the same answers all the time in Sunday School. Sometimes, you realize that the other people you are associating with just aren’t thinking very deeply. It can drive you crazy. Ok, maybe this doesn’t happen to *you*, but I feel so paranoid if I write like this is only my sentiments. (To be honest, elder’s quorum was a refreshing change from this, partially. I kinda like going just for elder’s quorum because it feels like I’m learning secret meeting stuff. Sunday school, deacon’s, teacher’s and priest’s quorums were all for little kids, but Elder’s Quorum? that’s for big thinkers who can handle anything!)

When I discovered the Bloggernacle…I began to realize…there are some genuinely smart people here. Some follow the party line very well (so some of the bloggernacle blogs do annoy me because of they remind me too much of the people back in Sunday School who only answered with standard faith-promoting seminary answers), but some others have anticipated my doubts or anticipated questions I have had and have thought about them too. If church was like this all the time, I’d be ecstatic! Of course, I recognize that most of the stuff the Bloggernacle or Outer Blogness has exposed me to would never get past correlation. And then I recognize even more that I’m only looking at things from an intellectual or social perspective, whereas the church wants *action*.

3) In-depth culture

The sociologist in me recognizes that beyond what I feel to be a somewhat prepackaged and shallow exterior to church doctrine (what gets past correlation these days)…deep down, there’s an intricate history to church doctrine. Even reading what past general authorities have written make me realize things are a lot different than the faith-promoting fluff (oh I’m going to pay for that one) that the manuals like to present. Looking at the church historically, sociologically, or culturally is fascinating. I can read hours and hours of this kind of stuff. I just have problems now with the stuff that’s currently sanctioned.

It’s interesting how we have this idea now of, “Leave the church, but can’t leave it alone.” Are people expected to leave something of this magnitude alone? Perhaps in other churches, but not this one.

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