Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Reconciling the Gulag with Conference

Last LDS Conference October 2012, my horrible mission experience was still so fresh, I found myself incredibly angered and mentally combative with the approximately 4 minutes I watched and had to leave.

I found myself nervous but kinda open this time around, and then I read this post and felt heartened to know that actually, a lot of people watch it with a critical lens and this is ok, if not, the way it should be done. There is beauty in the struggle, in the dissonance. Pretty sure that's the crux of life.

I felt vindicated from my experience in the MTC (aka the Gulag/a horrid mental trip of a kibbutz/"Spirit Prison"/Concentration Camp/a coed sexually frustrated convent-monastery), when I raised a pretty provocative (by their, not my standards) statement that (paraphrasing) you have to always stand back and evaluate what patriarchy presents, as they have historically contradicted themselves and continue to do so today; this is the nature of organized religion and it's ok, etc. This proved frightening to my poor 3 years my junior (not to be ageist) teacher and he took it upon himself to chat with me for an hour privately (without my comp! I should totally report him for breaking the rules! Plus, a man a a woman in a closed door room? That's pretty much adultery-status in the MTC. ). Apparently, having anything but an akin to Deity view of the Lord's anointed is "scary." Direct quote. I remained unchanged in my opinion (I guess it's an opinion? But I was raised to critically think and ask questions, this is not wrong....?) and resigned myself to counting down the days in "Spirit Prison" with increased misery and urgency.
(Not to mention, I felt a little offended that the "class time" essentially comprised redundant primary lessons- Dude, I have been through 24 years of this curricula (more than you!)! I actually went to seminary and out of teacher-ly respect and general interest in learning, stayed awake!)
At the MTC, I actually begged to go to Spanish classes (so I could at least engage my mental faculties somewhat), but of course they turned me down hahaha.)

I had a set of insane out of body promptings that I was supposed to be out here, surely that first of many transcendent "wow it all makes sense this is so amazing i love missionary work so much this is the best thing EVER!" experiences would come soon. Spoiler alert: it didn't.

Once again, The Bubble brought out the worst (most resourceful/clever?) in me- I tuned out "class time" as much as I could to write letters to people, the best thing I could do to outlet my stifled creativity and anger, to write with different audiences in mind. This angered the same aforementioned "teacher" because sure, it was disrespectful. But he hadn't done anything to merit my respect anyway. Eye for an eye. ;) And when the 8+ hours of daily "instruction" is not even scripture study but rather surface level pre-fixed skimming for sunday school answers to Preach My Gospel exercises and your questions are answered with discontented variations of "it's not important," and we need to, instead, for the millionth time rehash 'the importance of The Spirit in teaching,' I didn't know what else to do. It's enough to make banging your head against the wall for 8 hours a very attractive option.

I guess I was being primed for the shock of having a BEYOND crazy cold rigid first comp (and Mission President's pet) in the field who would regularly check my subject comprehension, and would say my answers were "wrong" if they weren't verbatim out of preach my gospel. She'd also get visibly distressed when we were a minute off-schedule, among other really endearing qualities. I DIGRESS.

Anyway, I liked the session or two I watched last weekend, especially Uchtdorf (I just love the guy for the love of humanity and sympathy for human struggle he emanates) and Holland (the visual of Abraham taking Isaac to the alter to be sacrificed was powerful. I thought of what Abraham's thought process might have been, like This. is. absolutely. crazy. illegal. punishable by law. immoral. Is this just all in my head?! And even how uncouth his thoughts might have been- like Why is God f*$%ing with me like this?! Because I'm lying if I haven't had this thought, recurringly, the past year, even while a missionary).
My sister raised her annoyance at the unflagging conservative hard-coreness that is Boyd K. Packer and his distaste for all things tolerant, and my mom and I expressed that you really can just toss some things out and tune into others more intently. I came back to my personal conclusion that faith is an organic, multi-layered struggle, more beautiful and admirable than blind acceptance of things said by one individual. Provocative, I know. ;)

1 comment:

Katie said...

I know I barely know you, but I feel like I really know you, especially when I read posts like this. So nice to hear these voices of reason during my own faith transition.