Last night as our family and some friends saw the New Year in, we talked about our worldviews and how over the course of 2017 they’ve been challenged and shaped. ‘Are we in the box or out of the box?’ was a question we passed around.
The box is the established order of things; The way things are or have become. They include our agreements, our beliefs, the prism through which we see the world and these are all supplied by those who have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. We all, therefore, have a relationship with the box. Take our family for instance.
I’m out of the box, but I like to know that the box is there.
Nathan is squarely in the box but pays attention to what’s going on outside of the box only because that’s mostly where I am.
Our eldest is out of the box and has a somewhat strained relationship with the box.
The second son is a Scorpio, he’s probably in the box but he wouldn’t admit that.
The third son is out of the box and doesn’t even recognise there is a box.
The fourth son is solidly in the box.
The fifth son is mostly in the box but when it comes to dressing himself he’s out of the box.
The sixth son is out of the box and if the box is going to serve any purpose he’s convinced that it ought to serve his.
Because I’m out of the box it’s made it easy for me to be religiously promiscuous over these last few years, spreading myself across different faith communities. More recently I’ve come to some rest in an Anglican parish led by a wonderful feminist priest. In this community, we acknowledge the box and respect the box, we even use some of the things that are in the box, but we never actually get into the box.
I share this reflection because yesterday I went to the LDS Church for the full three-hour block. At the LDS Church, I invariably find most people there in a similar relationship with the box. Like Nathan, they love the box. They find tremendous comfort from the familiarity of the box. Our Sunday School lesson was on the temple, which was essentially a discussion about all of the things that are in the box and have been in the box for all of the years I’ve been endowed.As an out of the box person, I found this conversation troubling. I don’t ask for much. Even one minute in a quick dive outside of the box would have redeemed this long interminable stretch of monotony because it’s just dull for those of us outside of the box to be thrust into conversations about the perfection of what’s in the box.
I’m not suggesting that everyone ought to get out of the box and join me and others of our ‘out-of-the-box’ community. I’m suggesting that you are killing our souls with your insistence that everything in the box is the only world we ought to concern ourselves with when we come to church. I’m also stating emphatically, that you can’t make ‘in-the-box’ people from ‘out-of-the-box’ people. I’ve tried to be in the box but I can’t manage it. The box served me well for a time, but it’s not my natural spiritual habitat and it’s no longer where the Divine is located for me.
Having said that, I’ve decided to make a fist of Mormon things for the next year. I’m going to stump up, show up with more regularity and more commitment to my community – just to see what happens and to help me decide what I’m going to do with my Mormonism moving forward. But I’m not going back into the box because that’s not possible and it’s not faithful either. Nobody gets back into the box after getting out. I’ve seen people try and do it. They pretend they are in the box when they aren’t, and it makes them depressed at best and mean at worst.
I’ll be taking a lot of ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking with me to the LDS church this year and I’m realistic enough to accept that it may go badly (and that’s the reason I’ll continue gathering with my Anglican community). But, I’m going to give it a go because I think it’s worth trying in good faith, to set an honest intention to be my best ‘out-of-the-box’ self in a community that has spent too long worshipping the box and its contents. I love the church enough to give it that – at least for another year.
I’ll keep you updated!