In case my recent post on belief left you with questions about my attitude towards Mormonism, I thought I'd share a couple of experiences that have happened since, both of which were good reminders that my current status notwithstanding, my participation in the LDS church has fundamentally shaped who I am and in balance has doubtless been a net positive.
The first experience was a comment on the post that wasn't posted to the blog but emailed to me directly. The commenter mentioned how it was interesting that he and I went through periods of examining our belief at more or less the same time, came to different conclusions, and somehow ended up strengthening our friendship and enhancing our mutual respect.
This friend went on to say that my post prompted some discussions regarding belief with one of his adult children and another who's preparing to serve a full-time LDS mission. His comments only serve to strengthen my opinion that the conclusion one reaches after examining one's belief system is much less important than the examination process itself.
Belief is a personal thing, and all I can decide is what works for me. If another concludes that participating in a certain faith tradition leads to personal fulfillment, happiness, betterment, or any other positive outcome, I don't see how anyone could argue against that (which is not to say that dogma or fanaticism that lead to violence or infringing upon others' rights are beneficial to an individual or society in any way). I'll admit that at times I've been tempted to be bitter towards certain aspects of the LDS church as an organization, but never towards the people.
The second experience relates to our friends in Boise. I have nothing but positive things to say about the LDS community we were a part of in Boise. There have been good people other places we have lived, but Boise was unique in terms of the sheer quantity of truly outstanding people (which makes Troy's experience that much more horrifying considering he lives just a couple of miles from where we did).
We own a rental house in Boise, and one of the spigots outside was leaking. I sent out a few text messages looking for a plumber. Within minutes, I had three recommendations for plumbers and the contact information for the plumber I'd used before but whose name and contact information I had forgotten. One friend who develops commercial real estate in his spare time (when not working as an ER doc and serving as a bishop) responded and said he was in Moab for the weekend but offered to send one of his property managers out to look at it. I had three phone calls within an hour, two from the plumber, and one from another friend just making sure I had things taken care of. It was fixed that day, even though it was Sunday.
Mormonism is a demanding religion--it expects a lot of its adherents. I don't know if those expectations lead people to be more committed and responsible in what they do or if the people who aren't committed and responsible just don't make it as Mormons (if so, what does this say about me?). Either way, if I were to decide that I wanted nothing more to do with Mormons ever again, not only would I be pretty lonely, but I would miss out on associating with some of the finest people I know. Besides, the truly crazy ones like Chris Buttars and Gayle Ruzicka thankfully keep Utah just weird enough that it doesn't become Boulder.