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

Friday, October 21, 2011

Habitus or Perfunctoriness

Today I listened to a workshop by a scholar I've long admired, while the substance of what he said is of marginal concern to the purposes of this blog, he did say something to illustrate a point that often we do things because of habitus. In other words, we do things, often without thinking, because that action or behavior has been deeply internalized and has become habit, which also implies in many instances, that we do things without even understanding the rules that structure what we do.

I thought about my place in the church and the rituals I engage in - there are many things I do in the church (which is to supposed to reflect some degree of piety) without thinking. They have become habitual. I roll out of bed (literally) every morning and mumble some words and say "morning prayer, check," then I get on the bus, pull out my Book of Mormon and read a chapter and say "scriptures, check," on Sunday morning I dress and go to church, the say "Church, check." There are still yet many other things I do out of habit, things I'm coming to recognize have lost some value - they've become perfunctory.

The scholar I listened to today, suggested, at least implicitly, that to bring meaning to my rituals requires I come to understand and (I add)come to appreciate the rules for doing those things. I oft forget that there is rich meaning and blessings in store when greater insight is gained from understanding the machinations of heaven.

So it is with being gay, there is an evolving habitus about that that suggests that once I embrace being gay, then I simply leave the church for reasons x, y, and z. Reconciling myself to reasons x, y, and z in order to justify my departure does not in any way invite me to examine the "rules" behind that. The informal rules after you come out seem to be generatively 1) question the church and at some level villify the doctrine, 2) create space between you and the church 3) reconcile yourself to reasons x, y, and z, and 4) leave.

Admittedly, I'm still working on rule number one, but what this scholar and incidentally political philosopher Wittgenstein also suggests is that I examine the rules itself, come to understand the rules, however informal they may be. So therefore, I ask why must I question the church from the framework the rules demand? What is the purpose in questioning the church? Is the final end of the inquisition to gain greater understanding or create distance, as the rules seem to imply?

At this moment, the inquisition for me is to produce genuine and sincere knowledge of my place in God's kingdom, not simply to question the church because of the potential pain I foresee. My place is first to ask why must I question? What is the purpose in questioning? Why must questioning even be a part of the process? Certainly these are difficult questions, at least for me. But I find some small comfort in articulating them. However, I must assert that the comfort I feel (however small) is not necessarily to be confused with hope.

I am Mormon today - tomorrow, I'm not sure. I hope that's sufficient for God.

1 comment:

  1. Thoughtful post. Certainly our individual paths need not follow a predetermined xyz. We can form our own paths that are as individual and unique as we are. Thanks for your thoughtful approach.