Last week a friend in the elders quorum presidency of FoxyJ's ward asked me if I'd like to come on the elders quorum campout this weekend. I hesitated because I wasn't sure if I'd feel awkward while they had their planned scripture study and testimony meeting, but I figured what the hey, these people are the only real live friends I have in Davis and they're fun guys. And despite the fact that this was only my third time in ten years, I really love camping. So I went and I had a lot of fun. We ate pulled beef sandwiches, s'mores, and pancakes ; stayed up until 2:30 talking about the relative virtues of socialism and capitalism, gay marriage, and fifth-dimensional vectors (or matrices or axes or something like that--I admit at that point I was out of my depth); and had a crazy scavenger hunt/water balloon fight this morning.
The discussion of gay marriage was surprisingly not awkward or uncomfortable. This was nice because a significant contributor to my discomfort during the first few months in Davis was that my only real-life social outlet was FoxyJ's ward and at the time they were all (or most) involved in the Prop 8 campaign, which led me to keep my distance rather than risk heated arguments with people I barely knew. I remember in particular noticing a Yes on 8 sign in the window of a member of the ward and assuming he was just another of those people who support the proposition because his prophet told him to, but hasn't given it any thought of his own. As I learned in our discussion last night, though, this guy had indeed read up on the issue, had a very keen sense of both sides of the argument, and was very aware of the flaws in the arguments popularly made by people on his side. Above all, I got from him a strong sense of empathy for everyone involved and an awareness that situations like this just plain suck. Ultimately I disagree with his position on Prop 8 (anyone who's been reading this blog for a while knows that), but I have a much greater respect for him as a person and I was glad for the chance to get to know him and the other guys as human beings rather than as the faceless pile of Mormons I tend to make of those I don't know well. I feel sad that we're leaving Davis now that I've begun to make more friends.
And as it turned out, there wasn't a whole lot of scripture study or testimony bearing--just enough to remind me that I've no desire to attend church, much as I like my friends who do.