Before I discovered the Internet, I assumed that most people who stop believing in Mormonism had approximately the same issues I had. One of my biggest revelations upon discovering the exmo/DAMU community was the variety of experiences. Though everyone had reached approximately the same conclusion (about the truth of the LDS church), the reasoning to get there varied wildly — to the point where things I saw as the church’s strengths were exactly the points some others saw as its weaknesses and vice-versa!
Naturally, I’m building on Andrew’s post grouping Mormon types (though this variety has been kind of a common theme here, stretching back to Wry’s excellent post Grayer than thou?). But there’s one point where I’m curious whether anyone’s experience differed much from mine: the meetings.
When I was a kid, attending church was simply a commandment — one of the many things you do out of obedience to Heavenly Father. To know exactly how I felt about it, you can read the piece I wrote about it for the Student Review back in my BYU days (Why I hate church), or read the fictionalization.
It was a major point of confusion (or cognitive dissonance?) for me when I was a young teen and I heard one of my teachers talk about how she looked forward to Sacrament Meeting, and enjoyed feeling the spirit there. And one of the other girls in my class agreed — and they seemed totally sincere!
I was thinking Are they attending the same meetings I am…? Are they nuts??? I’d assumed that the three-hour block was meant to be like the refiner’s fire — not pleasant, but edifying. (Or, y’know, theoretically edifying.) The idea that someone might enjoy it practically made my head explode.
I turned it over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of it. I figured that they weren’t just lying outright (to make themselves appear more spiritual/righteous), but perhaps it was some sort of auto-suggestion: if you want to like something because you think you should like it, you can sometimes convince yourself that you do like it (as discussed by Alan and Andrew in yesterday’s comments).
I eventually concluded that super-righteous people who are really “in tune with the spirit” will feel it in Sacrament Meeting, and feel edified by it. And so I added that to my big pile of guilt and inadequacy (see here).
So how about the rest of you? Was your experience similar or different?