Jeff, this is a great article, and it's one that, for me, has been an especially annoying factor with some of the people and family that I have. I come from a split-religious home. My father is a practicing member of the church, always has been. My mom was baptized, but could never reconcile her decision, nor did she dare to tell her Roman Catholic family, that she did. It ended with her becoming estranged from the church, and then openly antagonistic. The net result was that I and my father were the LDS members, and my younger siblings were raised as nominal Roman Catholics (none of which are active in any church today, I might add). For years I lived with this "division" and took a fair amount of the brunt of my Roman Catholic family treating me like I was a "special project" to be reclaimed (my dad was hopeless, but maybe they could do something with me). I had some of the most hurtful things said to me over the years I was growing up, and some of it sank in. However, it didn't give me any desire to be a Catholic. Instead, it made me much more of an outward agnostic, and I answered their hostility by effectively becoming a "pure libertine" (more directly, I became musician in the glam rock scene, and lived the trappings of that scene with a vengeance from the age of 17-25).
It had an interesting effect. The "Mormon boy" was no longer there to encourage to be "righteous". Instead, a sneering pretty boy/punk was put in his place. Oh, and talk about developing a rhino's hide; some of the cruelest and cattiest commentary can be had for free in the music industry. I remember showing up to "Christmas Parties" with my long hair and make-up and nonchalantly hanging out with my very conservative Italian Roman Catholic Aunts, uncles, grandparents great aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. and relished being the Elephant in the room. You want "damned"? Then get a taste of "THIS"!!!
An interesting thing happened when I went back to church and became active again. The taunts, the cajoling, the helpful but hurtful talk totally ended. Why? Because they saw what happened when I made the commitment to go back and commit to living as an activeLatter-day Saint. They saw my demeanor change, they saw that I was just plain not willing to fight with them any longer, they saw that I was, astonishingly, HAPPY!
I also learned some valuable lessons in my own lions den all those years. I learned to let stuff roll off of me. I learned to let people believe what they will believe. I learned to bear witness by my actions and efforts, not by my words. Mostly, I learned the value of a simple phrase that, ironically were lyrics to a friend's song ("Stand By" from Dance Hall Crashers; the lyrics actually deal with hypocrisy and arrogant blindness from a patriarch in a family unwilling to see what is happening with his own kids, but that's beside the point). The line is a simple one...
"I don't care who you want to pray to, if it makes you happy then go ahead"
My adopting that moderately cynical sounding, but very much real statement, has made al the difference for me. I really don't care if people think I'm going to hell. If I am, I have some wonderful company to meet me there. I also have a marvelous community of people here and now that are helping to sustain me and keep me involved and engaged, learning and growing. Frankly, if that means I have to suffer the slings and arrows of well meaning but pernicious "twits", I can deal with it .
Posts: 1885 | Registered: Aug 2005
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