For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

- Mosiah 3:19

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fleeting Moments

Life is frustrating. At least mine is. I have come to realize as I have slowly peeled back all the "primary answers" to gospel questions, which I relied on with ever increasing sophistication, that I had a completely distorted view of God and of myself.

In the last post, I noted that when I finally got rid of all the intellectualizing of the primary answers, as safe answers, I uncovered my real beliefs in God. This is painful and hard to accept. Coming to accept that I never knew God is disturbing to me on many levels.

Being that I am not white, and sensitive to institutional racism, mechanisms of marginalization, and how the excluded often internalize the values of the oppressor to legitimate themselves, to allow themselves to fit in. My notion of God was subject to the internalization process. It turns out that no matter how hard I tried, I could never fit the ideal image of worthiness in the church: a white middle-class conservative heterosexual male. Because I'm not white, the images of worthiness on the cover of church publications associated with worthiness are all of this white male. No wonder, I always felt I never belonged. No matter how hard I tried to be worthy, I continually fell short. I tried to bury that notion of God deep under the platitudes, that I often rattled off with ease: God is love, He is kind, benevolent, patient; through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can receive the enduring power to overcome and so forth. While the platitudes came off as simply overly-sophisticated primary answers, they did not convince me of the reality: the church is filled with white people, the institutions that structure the interactions of the church are derived primarily from the value set of the white middle class conservatives. Thus, their views tend to interpret what worthiness is, who God is, and because I desperately want to be in the church, because it's God's Kingdom on Earth, I easily succumbed to internalizing their vision of worthiness.

As a result, my vision of God was consumed by the pursuit of worthiness. As some level I probably always knew this, yet, I covered this by intellectualizing the primary answers, attempting to show members I was worthy. Since I could never become white, I had to demonstrate I was equal to them, through mastering the scriptures, distilling the theology in compelling ways, and I think I did. Yet, this did not mean I knew God.

God was a construct of mine that was derived from a mixture of societal norms and my own presuppositions. I could not live up to that conception of God.

Yesterday I read of how after King Benjamin's subjects "viewed themselves in their own carnal state..." they "cried aloud" for the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Coming to know that my messed up view of God has hindered me, has enabled my mistrust of God, my progression in repentance, and any hope of the future, is coming to view myself in my own carnal state. My carnal state is a state of allowing the world to shape who I am and to structure my relationship with God. While I have not reached the second part of crying aloud, I am certainly at a point of viewing myself in my carnal state. I am seeing myself, for the first time with clarity. It's frustrating, angering, and painful. Yet, I force myself to be grateful for it, nonetheless.

Each day is frustrating, as each day uncovers more evidence of my carnal state, more things for me to view. But then, each day brings with it gratitude to turn the carnal into the wholesome.

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