Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Book of More Me

Sometimes I wish I was Mormon. It's just that they have such nice skin and their community is so tight-knit. They seem so crafty and happy and pleased. Pleased is not a word I would use to describe myself, and my skin is not always so nice either. Too often I feel mean inside.
Not me or my pic as evidenced by the typos. See? I'm mean.
Not exactly one on the cutting edge of news, I just finished reading Stephanie Nielson's book, Heaven is Here and I admit to feeling almost jealous. (If you don't know her story here it is in 43 words: Beautiful young Mormon blogger with 4 kids gets in a terrible plane crash with husband. Pilot dies, they survive, she is burned over 80% of her body and with the help of her faith and family, learns to live a very different life.) Of course I wasn't jealous of her accident or ensuing pain, but I was a wee bit jealous of her faith. It's just...if something like that were to happen to me? I don't know what I would have to fall back on. I mean certainly my family and friends. But something bigger? I don't have faith in anything remotely god-like. The very term Heavenly Father makes me smirk (don't even get me started on caffeine or the undergarments, the Mormon stance on homosexuality or Prop 8, race, Elders, the priesthood, oy-to-the-golden-plates-vey). There are times I think I am too smart for religion and other times wonder if I'm too dumb for it.

If pressed I will tell you that I believe in something. A shared humanity, something that ties us all together in our joy and suffering. I feel something like this, but I don't have a name for it or a way to speak about it let alone to it. Certainly it is not a god uppercase or otherwise; there is no meaning there. Just a feeling, and not one that I entertain often.

It's just that sometimes I wish I knew.
(Which is exactly why I will never understand faith.)

Surely Mormons have mean days, too. Days when they don't let someone ease into their lane of traffic, days when they see their neighbor and walk quickly into their house to get away. I don't mean to generalize or simplify, condescend to anybody, but they do seem to have really shiny hair, no?

16 comments:

Jules said...

I love this post. I can't wait to see the dialog it starts.

That's the funny thing about faith. It's the belief in something for which we have no proof. Someone once compared faith in a higher power to breathing. With blind confidence we inhale every minute of every day, not once doubting the oxygen we need to fill our lungs is there, even though we can't see it, taste it, or feel it. Same thing with electricity. 99% of us have no idea how it works, but we believe that it does and that it's there. Believing in something powerful is not much different from believing in something mundane.

Petunia Face said...

I love this comment and the metaphor to breathing. :)

sherri said...

Ever listened to Krista Tippett's podcast "on being?" It sort of resparked my interest in my spiritual side. Although, I still have no idea really what that means for me. She interviews all sorts of folks - often intellectual types (something I'd previously thought was mutually exclusive with religion) and it is very thought provoking. I also discovered Anne Lamott's writings around the same time and the book Buddhism for Mothers. I still don't have shiny Mormon hair. I'm rambling.

Lee said...

Yeah, about that breathing thing, I don't have to be taught to breathe. I do, however, have to be taught to give shape and form to specific ideas about "a higher power". If this higher power takes no other form than a vague warm fuzzy feeling of interconnectedness then it requires little additional consideration.
My "faith" in electricity will not cause me to go into a voting booth and decide to deny same-sex couples the same legal privileges that I enjoy. Actively promoting the denial of equal rights is a very not nice thing in my opinion. I don't care how many nice, toothy grins they flash my way.
I look at my son and feel an overwhelming sense of love and connection. It makes me want to be a better person. I am kinder to people now. I have a lot more empathy and patience with perfect strangers. Is this sense of a higher power you write about just another word for love?
If I get in a plane crash I would like to be transported to the hospital where doctors (most of whom probably understand more about electricity than I do) can apply their medical training to healing me.

Petunia Face said...

Sherri--I will definitely check out that podcast!

Lee--in no way do I excuse the Mormon stance on same-sex marriage or gender equality, race--really much of the religion goes against what I DO believe in. And I don't think what I feel as spiritual is just love. Nor is it just a vague warm fuzzy. It's something bigger even, though I am not sure what it is. I don't think it has to be sharp or defined to mean something.

Anonymous said...

I've tried to be on a spiritual quest for most of my life In a sense I think I have have been trying to take care of my soul. I feel like it has little to do with religion, but I am open to learning about all of them. At times I really wanted to belong to one but resolved not to mostly because the rituals were unsettling. Now I am a member of AA because of addiction and am grateful because the 12 steps focus on spirituality and not religon.

the girL said...

I think you should check out the documentary by Tom Shadyac called I AM. It's a very thought provoking look into what connects us. I found a lot of the spirituality and wanting of "something to believe in," in this film.

the girL said...

I think I've forever been on this journey of faith and hadn't found anything I truly connected with until I met Tom Shadyac. I highly recommend checking out his documentary, I AM. It gives an enlightening look into what connects us. It's a beautiful start to a much needed conversation.

MUG said...

I am a born and raised Utahn and I totally agree with you, they do have REALLY shiny hair (and stay exceptionally thin after having children too). I just wanted to offer you a piece of solace from the inside, these women are FAR from having it any sort of together. The "pleased" is only outward projected, I promise. Everyone is still searching, even those who'd like you to think they're not.

MUG said...

I am a born and raised Utahn and I totally agree with you, they do have REALLY shiny hair (and stay exceptionally thin after having children too). I just wanted to offer you a piece of solace from the inside, these women are FAR from having it any sort of together. The "pleased" is only outward projected, I promise. Everyone is still searching, even those who'd like you to think they're not.

Anonymous said...

Yeah they have bad days and are mean to people...like when the church of Mormon worked so hard for prop 8 in California. It's easy to make your life look so great when you're telling everybody else that their lives are wrong.

I take comfort in the idea that in the end when it comes to a higher power everyone and every religion just might be wrong. I think our human brains are just too small to understand how it all works without it being somehow "us" centric. There is no real way to prove or disprove any of it but we will all, someday, find out. I find this lack of certainty strangely soothing.

Emily said...

I first have to say I LOVE your writing!! I have read your blog for some time now. I've never commented before but feel like I have to because I AM a Mormon. PLEASE don't hate me!!! :) I totally get why we all seem so weird to everyone else. I get why we might appear to be hateful with our beliefs on homosexuality. I have a few gay members in my family that I LOVE dearly. I want nothing more than for them to be happy. It is extremely hard to put this into words, but to Mormons, marriage is very sacred and special. I know that others have different beliefs and that's okay. But we believe a marriage should be between a man and a woman. So when we support things like Prop 8, it's because we are defending the thing (marriage between a man and a woman) that we value most in life, not because we are trying to discriminate out of HATE. It would be 100 times easier to just give in and support gay marriage. TRUST ME. But in doing that, it conflicts with the core teachings of our religion. EVERY person in our religion has struggles. EVERY person in the world has struggles. Behind my "outward projection" (which I tend to think of as happiness) you wouldn't know that 2 years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Or that I've had to have a hysterectomy at the young age of 31. Life is hard... it just is. BUT we can make it better with our attitudes whether you believe in God or not. If I walked around with the attitude of woe is me, you simply wouldn't want to be around me!! No one is perfect. BUT with all my imperfections, I will ALWAYS try to be kind to EVERYONE. I truly find it so easy for me to relate to people who are not Mormon (and who are). I feel it is because I see every person as an individual and when we truly try to get to know people beyond what WE THINK their religion is, we see that they are not that different from us. So please don't hate me, because I will NEVER, EVER hate you.

Petunia Face said...

Hi Emily,
I don't hate you. I vehemently disagree with some of your beliefs, but I don't hate you at all:)
Thank you for your comment and for reading my blog. Good to hear other points of view!
Xo,
S

Sharon said...

So glad you're back. My feelings exactly!

Sharon said...

So glad you're back. Sometimes I feel like we are the same person. Although you might be a tiny, tiny bit funnier.

Anonymous said...

A cold water rinse will give you shiny hair and doesn't require that you check your intelligence and humanity at the door the way the Mormons do.