Submitted by Ned Flanders
Tess, in a comment on Is Church Embarrassing?,
asks why I have started going back to church. I’m not really sure that
I know the answer to that. It may be that the explanations I tell
myself are wishful thinking; the reasons seem to change as I try to
figure them out.
I had been attending the Episcopal church with
my wife occasionally and I liked the feeling of going to a church, any
church. I found the
bloggernacle in December, left my first comment
in January, and started blogging in March. I don’t think it was a coincidence that four weeks later, I attended
church for the first time since 1998. Would I have attended church
without the bloggernacle? Probably not.
I used to think of the church as a monolith: I imagined scads of
members with highly correlated testimonies. It’s tempting to fall into
the either/or mindset as a Mormon. Either the church is true or it
isn’t. Either you have a testimony or you don’t. You are a faithful
member or you aren’t. When everything is in black-and-white, it’s hard
to see where you fit in. This virtual community of bloggers reminded me
that there is incredible variety within the church. Some people with
views very near my
own are active, faithful members. This threw me for a loop; maybe I
wasn’t as far outside the mainstream as I had imagined.
when I was lurking on Times & Seasons, I saw a comment that said,
"I pretty much disregard everything that some people, like Boyd K.
Packer, say." I was shocked to see my own feelings reflected in a
Bloggernacle stalwart, but pleasantly surprised that a believing
Mormon could think this. I found the commentator’s own blog, a website
Moons (you may have heard of it), and this was the first blog I visited
regularly besides T&S. So, in a way, you
could say that Rusty’s personal apostasy contributed to my partial
Being part of the bloggernacle made me want to
check out church, just to see what I was missing. So why do I keep
going (well, not next week; it’s ward conference)? I don’t know. I
don’t take the sacrament, I don’t get a lot out of the talks, and I
don’t actually talk to anyone. I don’t think God cares whether I go or
not. I guess I go to remind myself that there might be something else
out there, something that is very imperfectly reflected in the noisy
congregation of saints gathered each week.
Could I get the same feeling at another church? Probably. But I guess
I’ll stick with this one until they start bothering me at home.
Cross-posted at VivaNedFlanders.
**Please note: Rusty has brought it to my attention that he did not make the comment I so vividly remember and attribute to him. Alas, my memories are no more reliable than I am. Please do not impute someone else’s delightfully on-target apostasy to Rusty. He fully sustains all our apostles, especially Elder Packer, even if he were to speak out against beards.**