Yesterday I wrote a post exploring some of my reservations about even lightly reconnecting with the LDS church--the church of my youth. Despite my reservations, however, I do feel strangely drawn to that reconnection, so today I decided to make a list--yes, another list, (it is the lazy bloggers go-to after all)--exploring some of the top things I want from a faith and how my current faith and the one of my childhood compare. In doing this I hope to uncover what I feel is missing from my current practice for which my spirit is searching elsewhere. Here is what I came up with:
1) I want a faith that honors both feminine and masculine divinity equally and offers equal amount of detail about both.
I have not yet found a faith that meets this quality fully. Paganism tends to honor Goddess over God and offers far less information about the nature of the God in general than it does about the Goddess. Mormonism acknowledges a Heavenly Mother as equal to and in partnership with a Heavenly Father, but there is little information on her or actual working veneration of her.
2) I want a faith that acknowledges a multitude of Gods.
Both Paganism and Mormonism fit this one, though lately, with their rigorous PR campaign, the LDS church has been much more reluctant to publicly acknowledge this belief.
3) I want a faith that demands spiritual, ethical and intellectual rigor yet is free of shame.
Paganism is, frankly, not all that demanding of this kind of rigor whereas Mormonism demands it to a point of being shaming should you fall short. In my opinion, there really should be a balance.
4) I want a faith that honors other faiths as equally valid in accessing the Divine.
Paganism fits this to a tee as does Mormonism. Although Mormons do regard their church as the “truest” church, they believe all spiritual roads eventually lead to the same place.
5) I want a faith that supports the idea of eternal progression--that we continue to evolve spiritually, physically, intellectually and emotionally beyond this life on Earth.
Again, I think both faiths fit here, though I’ll admit I take my belief in eternal progression entirely from my LDS upbringing.
6) I want a faith that sees the Gods as a higher evolution of our species, not a species unto themselves--a faith that sees Godhood as achievable by humankind.
From the Pagan side, whether or not this one fits depends entirely on what brand of Paganism you adhere to. I favor Hellenism, which definitely embraces this idea. Once again though, I have taken the entire concept of achievable Godhood from my LDS training.
7) I want a faith with a rich cultural heritage, compelling rituals and complex history.
My Hellenic leanings favor this one as does Mormonism. Wicca would have this too if more in the community would give up their dubious claims of unbroken lineages and embrace their own unique and compelling history beginning in the 20th century--but that’s an entirely different soap box.
8) I want a faith that uses its tenets to actively achieve positive change in the community.
I have to avoid my soap box on this one too, but suffice it to say that Mormons have it all over Pagans on this front. It isn’t that most Pagans don’t have it in their hearts to make service to their communities a priority, they just aren’t out there in a large scale actually doing it. Pagan Pride Day is a good example. Instead of organizing a whole day around patting yourselves on the back, selling occult-y things and ranting about how you are not properly accepted in society, why not spend the day getting all the Pagans in the community to express their faith and pride by cleaning up a park, painting over graffiti, planting trees, etc. Put your values where your hands are and do something with them. Did I say I was going to stay off my soap box?
9) I want a faith that acknowledges Earth as a living organism and her cycles, along with the cycles of the heavens, as representative of the cycles of body and soul.
Now here’s one where Paganism has it all over Mormonism. Though LDS doctrine does acknowledge Earth as a living organism, it doesn’t take that to the next logical step of proper veneration or acknowledging the spiritual lessons apparent within her cycles.
10) I want a faith that demands of itself the same intelligent evolution to a higher spiritual state as it demands of its adherents.
I think both faiths give a good amount of lip service to this without actually achieving it.
To sum up, apparently the things I am missing in Paganism are truly equal veneration of Goddess and God; spiritual, ethical and intellectual rigor; a doctrine of eternal progression and attainable Godhood; putting beliefs into action; a true and accessible cultural heritage; and honest evolution toward better, more fluent expression of that faith. I cannot in good conscience say I could find all these missing pieces in Mormonism, nor am I willing to exchange the Pagan pieces for the LDS ones.
So I am left with even more questions:
What is the balance here? Am I stuck inventing my own faith or have I simply not found the right fit yet? Should I strive for a combination of my old faith with the new and my own ideals? What would the practice and doctrine of such a combination look like? If I cannot create a tenable combination, will I eventually have to compromise on my heartfelt spiritual desires in order to feel accepted within any one group? Is acceptance more important than finding a point for point fit?
As is usually the case in affairs of the spirit, questioning inevitably leads to more questions--and more blog posts. Stay tuned.
Blessed by the Mystery,