Sunday, January 28, 2007

Calling

The bishop asked me to meet with him Thursday evening. I was a little anxious because I knew he wanted to give me a calling, which meant I'd have to explain to him where I currently stand with the church. Knowing that ahead of time, though--and knowing for the past few months that this conversation would come sooner or later--gave me time to plan ahead how I'd respond.

I continue to attend church in order to support FoxyJ and to be involved in this part of our children's lives, but I don't believe the LDS church has any more claim to truth than any other religion or philosophy. When I asked to be released from my calling in the elders quorum presidency and stopped attending the temple, I felt more at peace with myself than I had in years. A year and a half later, I continue to feel that peace with my decision, despite the difficulty and heartache I know it causes FoxyJ and other faithful Mormons who love me. This continual resolve is significant for me, the man who spends his life questioning every decision he's ever made.

Regardless of my commitment to this sort of Christian agnosticism, though, I've been feeling a little guilty lately for not contributing anything to the church in the way of service. The LDS church, after all, functions only through the efforts of volunteer clergy, where every single member is essentially a member of said clergy. And whether or not I believe in the organization's doctrine, I can't deny that it does a lot of good, particularly for my family. The weight of moving to a new city, away from family and most of our friends, has been lifted tremendously by the built-in support network of the local ward. Basically, I've been feeling like a freeloader.

So when the bishop asked me to serve in a clerical position (i.e. one that wouldn't require me to teach anything I don't believe), I told him more or less all of the above, then said that I'd be willing to accept the calling if he still wanted to give it to me. He said he was (in fact he didn't seem surprised in the least), so long as I'm living according to LDS standards. Being as how I despise the taste of coffee and extramarital sex would be sort of counterproductive to making my marriage work, I told him I am living worthily by that definition, and will continue to do so.

So I have a calling. Assuming, that is, that when the bishop proposes that I be sustained, no one in the congregation objects*. Truthfully, I feel better about this calling, knowing that I was completely honest about my reservations before accepting it, than I have about any other calling I had under the pretense of complete faith.


*This is not entirely impossible, as only a few weeks ago a woman gave a talk encouraging ward members to not be afraid to raise their hands and speak when they object to a calling, and I'm getting the distinct impression that there are members of the ward who know a lot more about me than I have personally told them--which comes as no surprise, all things considered.

10 comments:

TutuKea said...

I liked your thoughts about taking part in the responsibility to give as well as to receive, even though you don't totally agree with the doctrine. That sounds pretty common sense as you explain it, though I'm not sure I would have been un-self-centered (i.e.: considerate; thoughtful) enough to think of it myself.

I also liked your attitude (honesty) about the calling. Though I do believe the doctrine, and accept the idea that we should be willing to accept callings, I also think we need to have a personal testimony about whether we should accept a particular calling. I don't think that accepting a calling out of 'guilt' and then secretly resenting it or complaining about it is a whole lot better than refusing. If we pray about it and feel good about it, then we 'can't' complain. If we don't feel good about it, we need to discuss it with the Bishop, who just may surprise us by agreeing with our concerns. Or help us to resolve them. Either way, we won't know if we don't counsel with him about it. Who knows but what he felt prompted to call us, not b/c we were meant for the calling, but b/c the Lord knew we needed to talk to the Bishop. :)

Katya said...

I'm getting the distinct impression that there are members of the ward who know a lot more about me than I have personally told them--which comes as no surprise, all things considered.

Do you think they found my blog post about you, where I called you a liar, an education stealer, and an illegal alien? Sorry.

Petra said...

Have I ever mentioned how much I respect you for the way you've left the Church? Maybe now is the time. You're a good guy, and a good writer. I'm proud to be your mascot.

Master Fob said...

Basically, Katya, I blame you for everything. And I mean everything. I'm glad you managed to read between the lines.

Thanks, Petra and TK.

skyeJ said...

Master Fob. I admire and respect you immensely for striving to live your beliefs. I think that's all any religion really asks. I think that's all anyone who wants to have spirituality in their lives can do. I believe that God looks on our hearts, and I find it sad that so many out there are not honest with their own hearts. As always, you are such an example to me when it comes to spirituality. Thanks for putting it out there for us to see and reflect on in our hearts.

Katya said...

Yeah, that's kind of what I figured. Probably good to have it confirmed, though.

Th. said...

.

Can I blame you for my
problems too?

Katya said...

Oh, sure. Why not?

Melyngoch said...

I never should have taken that one VT supervisor calling. Good work being more honest than I am.

(It was Katya's fault.)

(Unless I'm supposed to be blaming myself for all her problems? I forget.)

JB said...

It's funny, I had a similar post last weekend. Similar, though still very different.

I really admire that you're in it for your family and that you're making contributions to the church in general. You seem to have a very strong sense of loyalty and family values that I really respect.