Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mormon Fight Songs Sing-a-long

Friday night at 7:00 P.M., Mormon Expressions will be hosting Mormon Fight Songs for Dummies at the University of Utah Post Theater.  I volunteered to direct the sing-a-long portion at the invitation from Zilpha Larsen.
In the lead up to rehearsals, Zilpha mentioned that they would be singing 'The Cave' by Mumford and Sons.  I took a listen, and realized I had no idea of the meaning of the lyrics.  A few minutes research on Google and it soon pointed to Plato's Allegory of the Cave.  I'd never heard of that either.  So I read through the Wikipedia page on it, and then watch a sort of silly animation of it on You Tube.
Friday Greg held rehearsal at his home.  They were learning a new song titled 'The Cave' by The Mumford Sons.  Greg was on electric guitar, Hans on banjo and bass, Monolo on drums and Emily on keyboards.  As they were rehearsing, they let me audition to sing it.  I haven't sung in quite a while, but I was pleased for the opportunity.  it was pretty raw (for me anyways), but absolutely fun.  Those guys were seriously moving through the music.  It was great.
So, I'll be conducting the Sing-a-long on Friday, plus trying out my vocals on Friday.  I'm excited.  The lyrics are quite expressive, unique, and therefore, have been somewhat difficult to memorize, but I think I've just about got it, memorizing it to and from work.  If you're not too busy Friday, you ought to come and visit!  See you there!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Leaving the Fold

In October, Colleen and I attended the conference for those dealing with leaving Mormonism. AKA: The Ex-Mormon Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel in SLC.
We stayed at the Hotel there, and enjoyed most of it.
We attended Dr. Marlene Winell's presentation on 'Leaving the Fold'. At first, her message seemed somewhat drab. In other words, she didn't seem to connect really well with her audience very well. Which was somewhat strange and interesting at the same time because it seemed that her message would be spot on relevant to everyone in attendance, but something about the delivery seemed to put you to sleep. (If you're reading this Dr. Winell, sorry about the frankness of the message) However, as I concentrated, I could tell that she had done some pretty deep study, and practice around the topic.

She offered an after conference group therapy session which Colleen and I attended, plus a book. Frankly, the after conference session seemed a little bit too large to have its intended affect. It seemed somewhat similar to many of the CALM meetings I've held in my home, or at Dennis Borg's home. The difficulty that I found, however, was that I felt I had moved past that portion of my restorative therapy.

The book, however, as I began to read it, and take notes, and complete the exercises, has really begun to resonate with my trail. In her book, she outlines the process that folks leaving the fold may experience from twenty years or so as a practicing psychologist specializing in clients recovering from religious indoctrination both on the phone and person from her practice in Berkeley California.

In this blog, I'd like to begin to share with you some of the things she has shared, and perhaps open a window to myself, and in the process, perhaps you too may see some of the value contained there in. Especially as she has recommended as part of the exercises in her book to begin maintaining a journal to document the process.

Chapter 1
"The Recover Process" went into detail to help me inventory my own impact from Religion in my life. Colleen and I read this chapter, and answered it's questions on our last trip to Disneyland. The reading was actually somewhat uncomfortable because of unearthed issues that we had left buried for years, now rising like stinking, ugly zombies. But, there we were, and the zombies needed to be dealt with. So we talked openly about subjects we had been far to afraid to deal with.

The end of the chapter features an exercise: The Impact Inventory. 25 questions to assess the impact of particular issues on your daily life.

Anxiety or fear
Lack of clear identity and personal values
Negative sense of self
Emptiness, as if you have no core
Negative image of your body and discomfor with sexuality
Lack of meaning or purpose in life
Anger and bitterness
Loss and grief
Persistent guilt
Difficulty enjoying daily pleasures
Unreasonably high expectations, perfectionism
Trouble appreciating people
Difficulty with self-responsibility
Lack of deep self-love and skills for self-care
Trouble thinking for yourself
Difficulty feeling and expressing emotion
External focus for satisfaction

Colleen and I were quite surprised to see the impact still occurring in our lives.  We must have talked for quite a while around how religion definitely impacted our views of our body and discomfort with sexuality, and such topics.  I was very surprised to learn about how difficult expressing emotion was.  I'm working on it though.  I think that there is just a bit too much fear around that.  I fear rejection, etc.

Next up, an inventory of the benefits we used to share with religion.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A thought about God and Humans, from Aunt Marilyn

A few days ago, as I sat mourning the loss of aunt Marilyn, at her funeral, I reflected on god a bit more. This funeral was held at a Mormon chapel in Alpine Utah, close to my last home in Highland. Many folks from my family were there, and it was the first time I'd seen them since going to Belgium. The moment provided much time for introspection, which, I think should be the purpose of true spirituality and religion, so it was very appropriate.

The ones she left behind shared wonderful stories of her life that I'd never heard, letting me ascend or pretend to remember more of her than I actually knew. My aunt Linda commented on how Marilyn was her angel, and, at the time, I remember thinking---

OK, I don't think that god actually exists, but all of these people sure do. I love these people, many of them my close family. I love them, and I hope that they love me too, without pity or sorrow... But even more, as Linda was obviously thinking on Marilyn as her metaphorical angel, I had an interesting thought about believing in god metaphorically... which was interesting to me because most religions use quite a few symbols to help folks remember god, and parables to teach without condemnation ...

but I remember thinking to myself, I know I don't believe in god literally, as these folks do. But I enjoy believing in a metaphorical god. I enjoy believing in a god that represents people. And I remembered several things that Einstein had mentioned about god, even though he was an atheist, leaving religion once he entered schooling and found that most of what his religion taught him to be completely different than what he learned in school, etc. But, he often continued to refer to god anyways. He's quoted as saying, "I for one, don't think god plays dice with the universe", using god as a metaphor for pretty much all of the forces, laws and circumstances that originated our existence.

In thinking of Einstein using god as a metaphor, I began to think of my own metaphor for god, and religion as well. I began to consider god as the metaphor for all of the people around us, sharing this existence and making lasting connections with us. I remembered one of Christ's teachings: In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me...

As I continue to explore this metaphor for god, I believe that I begin to like god, more and more. With this, I'm able to see others in this godly, spiritual light. I think that reaching out to these other people, actually reaching and connecting with other people, is as close to god as anyone will ever get, and that heaven is only attainable right now actually.

Then, tonight, while still organizing my new home office in my new place in Cottonwood heights, I ran across something I jotted down on three post-it notes (1,2,3) several months ago, before I came to Belgium:

(1) I believe the spirit to be the Human urging to affect goodness to fellow human beings - Humans have a primal need to pack together - to pack together we must respect each other as Gods - for without each other - we would

(2) not exist - We would become depressed - violent and ultimately never even come together to reproduce - an instinctive trait present in all animal life-form species.

(3) I postulate we would live autistic lives, possessing the ability to carry on, but without the desire.

Anybody else had these kinds of thoughts about the human condition? the human form? The metaphorical god?

Thank you Marilyn for sharing your warmth and kindness in the few short years I knew you, and thank you Aunt Linda for sharing your kind words about Marilyn and those who knew her.