No one, besides me, has quit church. Sure, some folks have checked out a different house of worship and moved on; but regular attendees, including actual members of the church and people who study the scriptures, they’re not quitting. If the current pastoral staff and worship programming aren’t meeting a parishioner’s needs, they’d transfer to a new church home, not out and out quit! Run into someone at the grocery store who you’re no longer seeing in the pews, first question is, “Where are you going now?” Almost everyone answered with the name of a church, but a few would say they were church shopping. It was hard for me to say, “Nowhere.”
Recently, I stumbled across a video, and then a podcast and YouTube channel, from MormonStories.org. I’ve never been a mormon and what I’ve heard from LDS neighbors about the control the organization has over the lives of members always bothered me. Mormon Stories interviews, for the most part, people who have had a faith crisis and are leaving mormonism. Listening to people who have been devoted mormons come to a place where they describe themselves as post mormon or ex-mormon has been startling and extremely reassuring. If they can summon the courage to tell their truth and untangle themselves from generations of LDS theology, I can feel okay with walking away from a church with some wonderful people but problems that pushed me away, a religion about which I increasingly had questions.
These interviews last hours, laying out the story of childhood, adolescence, and then adulthood that people experienced leading up to becoming inactive, nonmembers, or excommunicated. I may not share the same religious sect, but I identify so closely with the faith crises described. As certain as they’d been that they knew the one true way to live this life and enter the eternal hereafter, I had believed I was on the correct path. Billions of people around the world believe they have the true knowledge and practices to achieve their best life, now and forever. But who has the real truth? They can’t all be right, can they?
The older I get, the more I don’t know, the less sure I am about these matters. Being okay with uncertainty takes time, maybe in direct relation to the strength of conviction held. What I do know for sure is the same sun shines on all of us, rising and setting on each of us no matter where we are in this world, whatever we believe, and irrespective of our achievements or struggles. We all share the same light, indeed.