Loving your religion? Not a priority.
Lady Amalthea has had what is to me a very perplexing post at Zelophehad’s Daughters: Why I don’t really love the church (and why I think God’s okay with it.) A snippet:
I have spent my entire life in the church, and I feel pretty confident it’s where God wants me to be. But I am never going to love being in this church. Even if I put aside all my doctrinal issues, my feminism, my liberalism, how much I hate the Mormon culture, and all the clashes I’ve had with other members, my experiences at BYU in particular have made very clear to me one thing: with the church as is, I will never gain acceptance; because the institution and its people don’t want me for who I am – they just want me for who they think I should be.
On the most basic level, I would ask why Lady Amalthea feels “pretty confident” that the LDS church is where God wants her to be, especially when she states with certain terms (“never”) that she is not going to love being in the church. And considering that she concludes that even if she puts aside doctrinal issues, feminism, liberalism, and her hatred of Mormon culture, then that’s some deep-seated feelings…
But the most perplexing part of the essay wasn’t that paragraph…it was the one that followed:
So can’t I say that’s enough? Do I really have to love it? If I show up every week with a good attitude and participate in my callings and keep myself temple-worthy, is loving it really necessary? If we start requiring love from its people, we move into dangerous territory. I’ve long held the belief that no utopia is applicable to everyone, because people are far too varied. And I resent the idea that a place with Mormon homogeny should be the ideal for everyone, especially everyone who’s Mormon. I hated living in Utah, and I resent any implication that I should feel otherwise simply because it varies from the opinion of the majority. And where other Mormons see church as a safe haven from the world, I oftentimes feel it’s the opposite.
I’m just a silly nonbeliever apostate speaking here, but it seems to me as if this is going about things in a backward way. I wouldn’t say it’s about whether she “has to love it”…but I would imagine that a religion one feels “pretty confident” they are supposed to be in should be about more than “show[ing] up every week with a good attitude.”
Amalthea frames it as if her loving Mormonism would be eliminating her personalities differences. “No utopia is applicable to everyone, because people are far too varied.” But it seems to me that there are two other ways to approach it that she simply doesn’t:
Perhaps Mormonism could cherish the value of different styles of worship, different personalities, etc.,
Perhaps, even conceding that no utopia is applicable to everyone (and you can’t necessarily just start adding “branches” to the utopian tree that appeal to different people), then maybe the answer there would be to realize that perhaps that utopia isn’t even for some people.
But for that second one to really make any sense, I’d have to understand how Amalthea feels “pretty confident it’s where God wants [her] to be.” Does God want people to be in places they will *never* love being it? I mean, it’s one thing to suggest that God is trying to change individuals into being the kinds of people who love those things…but it’s another thing to say: “I’m supposed to be here, but I hate it, and I don’t think loving it should be the ideal for everyone.”
Ultimately, her analogy of her relationship with the church to how she felt about the Pixar movie The Incredibles didn’t clarify her position for me. I think it’s ok for people to have different tastes when it comes to movies. But that’s not really all. First of all, we don’t expect that everyone should enjoy the same movies. And secondly, we don’t expect that people who don’t like certain kinds of movies should force themselves to watch those movies or preoccupy those movies. It would be bizarre if someone said, “If I show up to every movie I dislike with a good attitude, is loving the movie really necessary?”
Well, no, it’s not necessary. But why would you keep going to those movies that you disliked?