Friday, May 3, 2013

Thoughts about Manufacturing the Spirit

In my adult life I've been very leery of manufactured spiritual experiences. I wasn't sure why, but I've been suspicious of treks, special camps, pretend scenarios such as airplane crashes and others that end up being about judgement and rewards and so on. It's been hard to stick to my dislike when group after group of people bear testimony about the life-changing experiences, but I've managed to keep my distance from such things.

Years ago, when I was in a YW's position, one of these manufactured spiritual experiences was being discussed and I got a pit in my stomach. Even though I was not the president at the time, I knew I had to do something to stop it. There was going to be a whole judgement day game and at the end those who had made "right" choices would be rewarded and those who did not would not get the reward of the celestial kingdom at the end. It was just a game after all, so why did I get so sick about it? I discussed the "game" with a friend and she pointed out that the game denied the atonement. After all there was no place in the game for those who had made the mistakes or listened to Satan's voice to repent. And even a game that does that is wrong if it was held under the guise of a church function.

I was so uneasy about the event even though among all my leaders, both in Young Women's and in Young Men's and in the bishopric, I was the only dissenting voice. Plans were underway. With a pounding heart, I drafted a letter that declared why I thought it was wrong and delivered it to one of the leaders in charge. The activity was cancelled. And no, it was not because of my letter. The decision was made before the letter was delivered. One of the husband's of one of the YW's leaders remembered a similar activity when he was growing up and he felt like it was a damaging experience. I was relieved, but somewhat bothered that he was the only one who seemed to know that things that are supposed to be a wake-up call can backfire. Or activities that are supposed to evoke emotion are replaced for true spiritual experiences.

Today I came across this blogpost that hit my uneasiness about these things on the head. Spirit and Emotion can be confused and often are, but they are not the same thing. Read and enjoy.