I recently started learning Portuguese – obrigado Rosetta Stone! It’s been at least 10 years since I’ve learned anything that required an effort on my part. The routines I forged to satisfy the requirements of my day-to-day existence here in New York City became the end as well as the means. I’d forgotten how thrilling the learning process is for me!
The best part of it is that the excitement I feel is influencing every aspect of my life. My “to do” list that has been moldering in a corner is now active and changing frequently as I complete each item and move on to more. Projects like this blog, which have been floating, nebulous ideas, are now becoming a reality.
I’m reminded of a phrase that I heard throughout my childhood, growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was part of a revelation given through Joseph Smith to the Mormon saints gathering in Jackson County, Missouri in 1831 in the face of ardent and often violent persecution. He encouraged the saints to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause.” (Doctrine & Covenants 58:27) -- to find ways to make strides in their lives -- spiritually, physically, intellectually -- without being compelled to do so or told what to do.
From a very young age, those words spoke to me, as they do to many people who grow up in the Mormon church. I spent the first half of my life anxiously engaged in as many things as possible – anything I could do to avoid the proverbial idle hands. I certainly didn’t want to be a jungle gym in the devil’s playground ... maybe a swing set.
This whole concept of being anxiously engaged in a good cause is what I’m experiencing right now. The mere act inspires more action. Enthusiasm begets more enthusiasm. Accomplishment begets more accomplishment. Did I have to be Mormon to learn these things? No. But, I was, and I did. There are many other concepts that I learned and experiences that I had as a Mormon boy, young man and adult that I wouldn’t trade for the world. They are as much a part of me as anything else I have experienced.
Now, a 43 year old single gay man living in New York City, one would think that I don’t really have a lot in common with my spiritual roots. But Mormonism is as much a part of who I am as it was a part of what I did within the context of the church. I no longer have an active connection to the church, and I question some actions the church has taken in recent years. But, I cannot dismiss the fact that many, many people within the Mormon church lead very good lives because of what the church offers to them spiritually, organizationally, even intellectually.
My original title for this blog was “Auditing Mormonism” because I wanted to explore my relationship to a church I could not officially participate in, but that held sway in my life. But, as I began to map it out, I realized there is a lot more that I can explore in addition to that. Hence, “IN A GOOD CAUSE.”