Writing My Life

Now and Then


… maybe I can be religious AND spiritual …

Personally, I need the hard back of a pew to keep me pointed toward God. So I guess I’m more religious than spiritual. ~ Lavar Webb

Lavar Webb and Frank Pignanelli are politicos who spar via their column in the Deseret News. Among several other topics discussed in today’s newspaper, the two addressed the difference between being “spiritual” and being “religious.” This interesting debate stemmed from a comment by potential presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Junior’s “articulate dodge of the religious question” as reported in TIME Magazine.

When asked about whether or not he was a practicing Mormon, our former governor replied that he was more spiritual than religious. Webb prefaced the above quotation by suggesting that “lots of people consider themselves spiritual, but not so interested in organized religion. They find spirituality in nature and meditation.”

Now I am NOT interested in debating whether or not Mr. Huntsman wanted to distance himself from the “Mormon question” in order to appeal to “closet agnostics,” Baptists,  or moderate Republicans or Democrats. I am merely reflecting upon my own condition. Am I …

  1. more spiritual than religious?
  2. more religious than spiritual?
  3. religious AND spiritual?

Tonight, I’m going with number 3. While many observers might see religion in the light of the “letter of the law,” I see religion as my doctor’s office. The place I regularly  go to check-up on my “spiritual” well-being. It is there, that my heart is examined through words from the pulpit as shared in Sacrament Meeting talks by fellow church members and through lessons in Sunday School and Relief Society.

To be clear, it is NOT church members or leadership who pinch and probe, it is that spirit that accompanies my reflections as I listen to and learn from others. And just as I do at the clinic, I commit to trying harder and doing better. Why? Because my spiritual life is dependent upon the “good-for-the-soul” changes I constantly work on.

I think the hard back of the pew does point me toward God who is so patient with me and toward friends who laugh at my craziness, family members who forgive my carelessness, neighbors who extend and receive kindnesses, clerks I meet at Maverick’s stations, frustrated drivers who flip me off when I inadvertently cut them off, co-workers I learn to respect, and people in far away places that I don’t know but want to help.

Many may not feel they need weekly prodding to do good. But I need all the help I can get to become more patient, more faithful, more prayerful, more grateful, “more spiritual.”

Yes, I find spirituality in nature, in meditation, AND in organized religion.

Leave a comment

… uphill battle for Christianity …

As I have loved you, Love one another,

This new commandment: Love one another.

By this shall men know Ye are my disciples,

If ye have love One to another.

(Hymns, 1985, no. 308.)

This won’t be a long post and I will add to it, I’m sure, but today as I listened to an audio book – Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardytwo thoughts came to mind:

  • I can’t remember all  the sexual references when I read this as a high school senior!
  • I didn’t realize Hardy viewed Christianity as something archaic, provincial, smothering, etc.

That thought led me to think of the struggle to spread the Savior’s message of charity, forgiveness, and redemption. And many of the problems have been initiated by Christians themselves. Some examples:

  • Unrighteous behaviors of kings, popes, and Christian folk in general. And when I say UNrighteous, I mean more than horrendous – torturing, burning, warring, and killing in the name of the Lord. I do NOT get that.
  • Horrific actions of horrific hypocrites: while we are ALL hypocrites to some degree, I cringe and I cry when I read about well-respected church-goers who hold high positions in their congregations and testify of the Lord on Sunday and abuse their spouses and children on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
  • EXTREME views of sects that attack the beliefs of other denominations – burning the Koran, protesting funerals of fallen soldiers, teaching congregations false information about other churches.
  • And on the other side, the mocking and belittling of those who try to live righteously that rises from many (not all) atheists, agnostics, intellectuals, entertainers, authors, artists, etc.
  • Secularism that is replacing faith, hope, and charity with skepticism, greed, and unbelief.

It’s a wonder that there are people of faith left. Seriously. But with so much against those who want to be true disciples of Christ, there is much support as well: A loving Heavenly Father, a benevolent Savior, the Holy Ghost. And They love us ALL. And ALL means ALL!