Quietism vs. Justice in the church and in life
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.
The post is pretty long, but I expect that you will take the moment today to go and read it all…but here, I would just like to quote just a part:
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.
Many times, I feel like my experience growing up in Mormonism was supposed to be in practicing this quietism…this self-stifling or self-suppression. It was supposed to be practice for me to learn to endure ridiculous things being said or done in silence. Isn’t that what “patience” and “long-suffering” and all of that is all about?
I went through a phase when I was so tired of that that I did “walk out and never come back.” And I thought that the only reason I would come back would be if I were able to speak up and speak out, and to try to change things.
Then, I went through a phase of thinking that maybe the point isn’t to try to change things at all…maybe the point is to try to change yourself so that you don’t expect as much stuff for yourself…so that while you are constrained, you won’t see it as being intolerably so, because you have removed your expectations of what is tolerable and what you “deserve.” Think of that whole Buddhist “desire is suffering” concept. Think of the concept of “ego death” — the idea being that some of these things that we expect and desire may be sources of our pain…
The very thought scares me. It seems to me that a person who is so resigned has lost something essential and human about them. What can we say about a person who doesn’t expect to be treated with respect, equality and decency? Do we admire them for not being “attached” to these “illusory” desires, or do we pity them for not having a fire within them that craves these things and demands that others not deprive them of it?
Of course, I’ve read a very different view. I’ve read people talk about church as a place that they can feel open. They view it as a refuge where they can be honest and vulnerable. To them, the outside world is where they feel “intolerably constrained,” and within the church is where they can share their pain.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the church could actually be like that for more folks? Or if, at the very least, the church leaders could realize that the church isn’t that kind of place for everyone, and thus recognize that the church isn’t for everyone?