On August 6, 2009 I introduced myself to the bloggernacle with the introduction Unleashing the Analyst. A Personal Story. It is a story about me, my faith journey to that point, and some of the positions I had at that time. The real revelation in the story (even if only for myself) was the unboxing of the analyst that has always been inside me. I’m an engineer, so my propensity to analyze and criticize, in addition to being perhaps a personality quirk, takes on a professional role as well.
Recently, however, events have caused me to acknowledge the limitations of this powerful tool, and analyze (yes I recognize the irony) how it is not, perhaps, everything I once thought it to be. So this is the continuation of a personal story, a reigning in of the analyst.
Life seemed simpler before the events in my life caused me to question everything. Going to church was something I anticipated, and it felt like welcome relief. General Conference was a charging of my spiritual batteries, and I derived great comfort from things like the Ensign. It’s not so much that I was ignorant of the problems in the church, nor did I understand or believe every aspect of the Gospel. There were doctrinal struggles, even then. But I derived happiness from my certainty, from my feeling, from my intuition, or from the Spirit (whatever that might mean). It’s also not that I now constantly bicker with church leaders, or criticize each talk and lesson when I go to church now. Indeed, at church I usually don’t say much, but listen carefully to try and learn. It’s really about what’s going on in my mind, the nagging voice that feels the urge to constantly correct, analyze, and thoroughly dissect each idea, sentence, and thought.
In short, I no longer feel when I go to church, I only think. And that, I’m afraid, sums up the problem when the analyst is the only one who shows up. And yet, I really do want to go to church and so I continue to go and slog through the analysis. I know what is possible there. I remember the feelings, the certainty, the truth. And still, even though I know (and don’t want) that certainty anymore, even though I’m happy with my outlook on life now, I believe I can allow myself to experience the feelings that were there if I can remind myself what it’s like to feel rather than analyze them.
Like many other things in life, it seems that analysis, like feelings, are tools to be used with discretion. Sometimes I’ve pulled out the wrong tool for the job, and need to put it back and try to find the right one. Other times, it’s not quite clear what the right tool is. I believe we should apply appropriate scrutiny to claims of such a weighty nature as those discussed in the Gospel. Nevertheless, at this point in my life, I find myself less inclined to view my religion (Mormonism) as an indicator of truth, and more as an indicator of what is good for me. And why is it good for me? Because of the way it makes me feel. The big hurdle is to once again allow it make me feel good. And for that to happen, the analyst needs to go back in the toolbox.
So in the vein of reigning in the analyst, and attempting to rediscover what it is about Mormonism that makes me feel good let me remind myself (and all of you) what’s so great about Mormonism:
- Mormonism produces great people. Sorry, no matter how you slice it, the majority of Mormons would give you the shirt of their back if you asked them. At least that’s my experience.
- A set of paradoxical doctrines and ideals that seem to appropriately counteract each other as well as human nature. Self-reliance vs. caring for the needy, liberty vs. obedience, etc.
- Service. Service. Service. I’m so grateful for the chance to serve each week.
- A temple ceremony, second to none IMHO, that provides the quintessential hero’s journey.
- Guiding suggestions/commandments that really will lead to a healthy lifestyle. I have plenty of gripes about the Word of Wisdom, but at the end of the day, you won’t go wrong by following it (especially if you actually follow D&C 89).
- Music that makes my heart sing, and my soul rejoice.
And so I ask you, dear readers, what about Mormonism makes you feel? I’m not interested in whether or not you think Mormonism is true, I’m interested in what about it makes you feel good.