Sunstone and Its Effect on Me


Yesterday I explained why I go to Sunstone; here's something I posted last year about why it's hard to attend, and how I always feel weird in Utah.


So, I take it you're feeling vexed and weary?

I go back and forth on whether to attend Sunstone for exactly the reasons you delineate. My "membership", my Mormonness is a love/hate relationship. Mostly, I stay away from Sunstone because I'm weary of many of those who attend who agitate for change, but then do nothing about it once they leave Sunstone and return to their respective wards and stakes. Sunstone is like a big youth conference for grown ups. It's a gripe session extraordinaire with a lot of bitching and moaning and no follow through.

I suppose I'm being overly harsh, but what good is Sunstone as an "education foundation" and "sponsor of open forums of Mormon thought and experience" if we don't take those thoughts and experiences to the next level--action? We all clamor and bitch about how oppressive the church is/can be, but then we do NOTHING about it. Our sense of democracy gets stuck in the craw of theocracy. Or, put in religious terms, our sense of godly, let alone humanist, justice and love gets stuck in the jaws of orthodoxy and fear.

Churches, whether intentional or not, are arenas of constant conflict and--for the thinking faithful--are a source of confusion. You highlight this beautifully by using the example of believing we are to question and pray about everything, but we're not to question or pray about recent things. And yet, conversely, churches exist as a means of ordering the universe. They provide black and white constructs of action and consequence. For those who wish to be led by the nose, it makes life cut and dried. If I (insert religious behavior), I will (insert proclaimed promise/blessing.)

I think what gets muddled in Mormonism is the difference between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. No one gives a great deal of thought to why they do what they do, only what they should be doing and what will happen to them if they don't. Most Mormons can rehearse verbatim what they've been taught to believe and most behave based on those beliefs, but if you ask them WHY they believe it or IF they really believe, they become flustered and defensive. Another way to look at: ask a Mormon to tell you the difference between their religious life and their spiritual life and they often answer you with a deer-in-the-headlights stare. The idea that their religious life involves an institution that is comprised of flawed, imperfect people and doctrine is seperate from their spiritual life (their actual relationship with the divine/diety and understanding of who they are in the life of the divine) is incomprehensible and inseperable.

What I've concluded for me: I don't go to church because it vexes and wearies me. I don't go to Sunstone because it accomplishes little of substantive change and is an exercise in banging my head against a wall. I respect my family's activity and faithfulness as their right to be active and faithful. I'm happier outside the church than in. My behavior and personal ethic is a direct consequence of my Mormon upbringing and I appreciate that for what it is. My beliefs, however, are a result of study, questioning, and experience (whether positive or negative), and understanding that there is more to salvific outcomes than being Mormon.

Boy, you got my brain going on this one.... In the end, though, it's just my two cents...

Hi Holly,
I'm just back from vacation and being away from my computer for a week, so I haven't caught up with your posts yet--am looking forward to reading your sunstone post from last year. Looking forward to hearing about this year, if you want to share any highlights. The only Sunstone types I know are really more Exponent II types, and not sure if they still do Sunstone, but if you see Lavina Fielding Anderson, is there any way you could say "hi from Missy" for me? Not sure she'll remember me, but she sure was important to me, during the firing of Cecilia Konchar Farr from BYU years. Take care out there, and thanks for writing about this.

Hi Margo--I didn't get your comment until after Sunstone was over, but I did run into Lavina--I like her a lot, though I didn't end up at any of her sessions this year. Sorry I didn't get to pass your greeting on--she seems to know EVERYONE, and to enjoy being so well connected.

Janet--yes, I have indeed felt vexed and wearied--that's one big reason I haven't done much on the blog since I got back Wednesday night. I'm trying to work my way out of the vexation and weariness now....

I agree with all you say about faithful Mormons, their beliefs, their attitudes, but have to say: I don't know what action COULD arise from Sunstone. Are we going to storm the church office building? Start picketing? Maybe I just don't see what can be done because I don't live in Utah and am not involved in the politics of the church any more, but I DON'T see how we can change the institution in significant ways and I long ago gave up trying. I don't think it's an institution worth saving, frankly. I think the only action worth engaging in via Mormonism and such is personal: teach factually accurate and challenging relief society lessons if you're still in or whatever, or be openly happy and content with your decision to leave if you've left. The church ISN'T a democracy and I don't think democratic means will change it.

Asswipes like Boyd K. Packer are in power for life, and nothing they do will ever get them kicked out--witness Hinckley's blatant denial of Mormon doctrine. What grassroots action is going to compete with that?

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on August 11, 2006 10:30 AM.

Why I Go to Sunstone was the previous entry in this blog.

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