If it makes you happy…

A close relative of mine wrote me the other day about the various things she’s doing in her life.

She is gardening and hanging out with the great grandchildren who live near her. Then she mentioned that she’s excited to try and work at the LDS temple near her home.

Honestly? I’m really happy for her.

This particular relative has had a lot of suffering in her life, including the loss of a child.

She has accepted that I’m no longer LDS and been fairly open and tolerant (as people her age usually go).

I’m not sure exactly what she’ll do if she works in the temple. It is true that there might be other things that she could do that would better serve humanity. But, there are other things that I could be doing that would better serve humanity. I think if this is something that will make her happy, then I support her in it.

She and I may disagree about our beliefs, or even some of our activities. But we can find common ground because of mutual respect.

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11 Responses

  1. Saganist says:

    I think that’s cool. If she’s excited about it and it will make her happy, that’s great. I hope your relationship of mutual respect continues unabated.

  2. profxm says:

    I was just discussing this idea with a friend yesterday. It ties in to a book we both read about cognitive dissonance. You have two competing allegiances – to your friend and to your belief that temple work is not the best use of someone’s time. I, too, would side with supporting your friend in something that makes her happy, even though you see it as a waste of time. It may cause you dissonance, but I’m sure you can find a way to justify it to yourself. I usually do this with my Mormon family – I’ll talk with them about what they are doing in Church, etc., justifying it by saying, “I put family before religion, even if they don’t.” You could simply say, “I put people before religion, even if my friends don’t.” It makes me sound kind of self-righteous (irony or ironies), but it reduces my cognitive dissonance.

  3. aerin says:

    1 – thanks Saganist. I think it will – I haven’t been mormon for some time now, and she and I have always gotten along.

    2 – thanks profxm. One of the things I’ve been working on (the past few years) is allowing people to have their own journey. Not feeling like I have to know what’s right for everyone else in my life (not that anyone was suggesting this, it was simply a by-product of how I was raised).

    I do put people/relationships before religion, period – just because it’s the right thing to do (in my opinion).

    Maybe it helps that most of my still LDS relatives and friends typically do the same thing. It makes it easier (for me). I know that’s not the experience that everyone has.

  4. Chris says:

    I’ve often wondered whether there’s been an increased focus on temple worship over the last few years – it seems that way to me, but I’m relatively young so I can’t say for sure.

    Even if you thought you were actually doing something useful, wouldn’t it seem futile? People are probably dying faster than the proxy ordinances are occurring (something like 150K people die every day).

    It’s kind of frustrating that the church focuses so much on temple work and almost none on temporal service. Conference and SM talks on the temple are frequent and specific (“make a goal to go once a week…”). It doesn’t seem to me that talks on service are similarly detailed – almost like it’s an afterthought to some other topic like “discipleship” or “obedience.”

    Plus the wards and stakes go out of their way to encourage temple attendance. What’s the ratio of ward/stake temple nights to ward/stake community service days? I’d really love to know that. If only I could get my hands on all the ward bulletins….

  5. aerin says:

    Thanks Chris. Twenty years ago in my ward growing up, there did seem to be an even ratio of temple trips to service activities. The service activities might be cleaning up an older member’s yard – but still a useful task.

    I’ve said it before and will continue to say – I think work for people alive and in need should trump temple work for the dead. But that’s my personal opinion, and others disagree.

  6. chanson says:

    When I was growing up, temple trips were quite rare because there was no temple anywhere near. I remember when they finally built a temple in Chicago because then the ward could schedule temple trips once a year or so.

  7. Troy says:

    you could make the same argument about drugs though, or tv.

    as long as it makes you happy…

  8. aerin says:

    #8 – Thanks Troy. I think some things in moderation can be healthy. Yet personal happiness is not the only thing a person should be concerned with. It might make me very happy (and wealthy) to come up with a ponzi scheme to defraud millions, but there are other people to be concerned with. Including the people I would be stealing from.

    It is true though, various people might view activities with a different light.

    But in general, if you’re not directly hurting/harming another person or advocating that harm – I think you might be okay.

    It is a gray area.

  9. Troy says:

    I agree with you Aerin. In fact I would say that anything that isn’t directly hurting anyone should be LEGAL. But I like to encourage people to live life as it is. I think it leads to happiness. “Placebos” and “crutches” or anything people do to “escape” doesn’t allow people to acheive personal happiness that is natual, organic, and free! So my view on this, I suppose, is idealistic, and not very realistic in this modern world.

  1. August 17, 2009

    […] often torn when I think about religion. As aerin noted last week, sometimes religion does seem to be authentically helpful for some people. But then there are […]

  2. August 25, 2009

    […] this post, I wrote that I was really happy for the older relative of mine who wanted to work in the […]

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