Religion as an Extracurricular Activity…at Wheat and Tares
So, in a blogger scheduling shuffle, my weekly posting date for Wheat & Tares has been changed from Thursdays to Wednesdays…this past Wednesday was my first Wednesday post…Religion and Extracurricular Activities. An excerpt:
What if we treated religion more like an extracurricular activity? What if we recognized more fully that, just like neither my fencing club nor my brother’s Circle K has a monopoly on leadership development, no one religion has a monopoly on personal or interpersonal moral development? Or even if we try to say one has “more” or “better” development, what would happen if we more fully thought about the possibility that different people can progress at different rates depending on whether they are pursuing their interests? That if there isn’t something about an activity that thrills and excites you, then perhaps that is hindering or plateauing your development across the board?
And I would say something more. A lot of the time, we focus on, “Is it true?” “Is it right?” I don’t mean to downplay the nature of truth claims in any particular religion (although, I guess having said that, I will inevitably proceed to do so), but what if we viewed truth claims of a religion as being a smaller percentage — say…two percent…– of the experience taken on the whole? What if we came to expect that people would seek to engage themselves with more than just book learning and classroom instruction?
…Discussion-wise, it didn’t go over very well.
Ultimately, I feel like what I’m saying is a no-brainer. When religion is posed as this all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it sort of thing, we can see what that does to people. People decide to leave it. When religion is an obligation, and they feel like they have to do every little thing (when they don’t enjoy or even understand the purpose of many of those things), then eventually, it’s going to seem like a waste of time.
Yet, people don’t usually see it that way. Usually, they are too busy cringing at people being “cafeteria Mormons” or picking and choosing. Because that will corrupt everything, if we say that the cafeteria approach is ok, right?
Here’s how I see it:
1) We should be glad that people are taking their fill of what they want to eat from the dining hall, rather than going completely without…What’s the goal: that they have exactly what we are having, or that they have something at all?
2) The church needs to get to a point where it can admit (and accommodate) the fact that different people have different personalities, wants, needs, etc., So, to be relevant, it can’t just be relevant to a certain kind of person (that will probably represent more and more of a minority as time goes on)…it needs to be able to provide something meaningful for people of all sorts of life situations, interests, personalities, etc.,
…if that means that eventually, it has to say, “It’s ok if you don’t like this kind of stuff; try to do things your own way,” then it should be trying to find a way to help people say, “I’m Mormon in my own way, but that’s ok.”
I probably wasn’t very clear in the post there, however. I guess I’m not being very clear now, either. It’s just really frustrating to have a post and get so few responses (and yet, I understand that some of the other bloggers feel the same way on a weekly basis…it’s tough to appeal consistently to an ornery crowd…).
But then again, low-responses is kinda what happens here too, so I dunno. Honestly, the main reason I still post here is because it’s “home” for me, and plus, I get a whole lot more points from Empire Avenue from a wordpress.com blog than I do from wordpress.org blogs like Wheat and Tares. [Talk about perverse incentives…I don’t even really pay much attention to Empire Avenue anymore, anyway, as my single-digit Empire Avenue score betrays…])
Kiley had a status on Facebook (is it ok to post those things? I dunno the etiquette…it’s weird when online and offline blend like this…):
I think one of the biggest traps that the “would be” creative person faces is producing only when inspired… I don’t think you can always wait for inspiration. Sometimes you just need to force yourself to produce sans inspiration… (This is my pep-talk to myself as I stare at blank pages.)
I definitely have problems with this…I really get paralyzed when I don’t have inspiration (this is especially the case when my mom asks me essentially to write scholarship essays for her coworkers’ kids because what they currently have is pretty much unsalvageable and the deadline is too soon for me to coach them, as would be my preference). Recently, I’ve been able at churning out stuff that I don’t feel all that inspired about, but I just can’t help but personally feel it’s subpar…like, *I* know it’s subpar.
So I can’t really blame people for not wanting to comment.
(Ugh, I know that no one likes to comment on mopey blog posts…that’s what my site stats consistently tell me…so here’s to another 0-comment post?)