Day 44 – Faith/Religion in the Blog: Sprinkle or Shower?

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Saturday – October 11, 2014

powerI was on deck as the Stay-at-Home Dad today, a role I fill with complete and total adequacy. It wasn’t quite supposed to work out this way, but Erin had a lot of places to be and I trust they weren’t all “day spa.” I’m actually quite happy to be the parent on deck. I think the (quite excellent) job Erin has done raising our kids at home over the past 12 years is maybe the hardest job a person can do. It’s child-rearing, it’s cooking, it’s cleaning, it’s taxiing, it’s giving comfort and aid, it’s educating, it’s disciplining–it’s all of that, 24/7. No real breaks or vacations. I think I could do a more than adequate job if I had to, minus the cooking part. It probably helps that she loosened the lid a bit and our household already runs like a well-oiled machine.

Since it was Saturday, I started the day by taking Cami out to the Heart of the Horse Horse Therapy Ranch for her half hour ride. Once again, she had a hard time letting go. She let everyone know, forcibly, that she wanted a couple more laps before she was willing to be her usual, agreeable self and get down. Seeing her assert herself like that and make her wishes known is a new thing. I like it.

The rest of the day was spent in the house with the kids, sneaking in an occasional bit of writing here and there. At 4pm I had a church priesthood meeting at the Stake Center.

I’m going to try to unpack this as best I can:

Mormons attend church according to geographically designated “wards.” Everyone who lives within certain boundaries attends church at the same time, in the same building. A Bishop and his two counselors run the ward according to the direction they receive from the Stake President, who leads the stake. A “stake”* is made up of about 6-10 wards. The Stake President gets his direction from the Area Authority who leads many Stakes. You can can follow this on up the chain to the President and Prophet of the Church himself, Thomas S. Monson.

*Why “ward” and “stake?” I don’t know. We’re not crazy people and we’re not building tents or killing vampires at our churches, so the designations only seem right to me by virtue of the face I’ve been using them all my life.

But let’s stick to the local level.

So, this afternoon was a meeting at the Stake Center–the chief meetinghouse where the Stake President has his office–of all the priesthood brethren in the Fresno East Stake. In the Mormon church, boys and men 12 years of age and above hold the priesthood. This means I ill-advisedly number among them, but I’m glad for it on several levels–not the least of which is the brotherhood we all enjoy.*

*Right now, admittedly, my interaction with everyone is a bit different than usual. Those at the meeting who met my eyes all asked the same question: how’s the job hunt going? I’ve lost a bit of my identity in that way. I may as well wear a badge that says “Hello, My Name Is Unemployed.” It’s okay, though. I understand how it is. It’s always nice to know what to ask a person to create an instant conversation. Makes things easier. 

To get further away from the point of this blog and back to the topic at hand, I’m giving all of this background info so you can begin to understand the frame of mind everyone was in today as we went into the meeting. You see, there is a rumor there are big things about to go down.

The rumor is this: that all the ward boundaries are about to be redrawn. While there have been slight adjustments from time-to-time, if this rumor pans out, it’ll be the biggest change in over 25 years.

It’s a necessary change because of the shifts in population growth over time. For example, my current ward, the Fresno 7th Ward, was one of the smallest wards–if not the smallest–in the Fresno East Stake when we moved in 10 years ago. Now, it’s far and away the biggest. We’ve got people sitting in the choir section and on the floors in the foyer because we’re just too big to handle right now.

If the change does happen, it’s going to quite difficult for many people. Our closest associations happen at and through church. Friendships will be tested as people will be moved to different buildings and simply not able to be in as much contact with each other as before. I remember when this happened to a friend a friend and I between 6th and 7th grade. Our ward split and he went one way and I went the other. He got new friends and I didn’t see him as much. I hated it.

This time around, I’m looking forward to it. It didn’t happen in today’s meeting, nor in the second, general adult meeting in the evening, but I don’t think anyone really thought it would.

Still, there’s a sense of finality in the air. Tomorrow, we have another special meeting. We’ll see what happens.

* * *

I didn’t go to the second meeting because I took my turn with the kids again so Erin could go. To her surprise, a friend of ours, Jennifer Ward, was one of the featured speakers and she made lengthy reference to this very blog. She even quoted a fair bit of it. I gave permission for this to happen, but didn’t think to ask during which meeting it might occur. And I didn’t tell Erin about it. She was somewhat… shocked to find that suddenly the hundreds of people in the chapel with her were learning all about her unemployed state. I was super bummed I missed it.

Jennifer’s purpose was to hold this blog up as a positive example of how to share faith online without being preachy or hitting someone over the head with it.

I hope that’s what I do, if that’s what I’m doing at all. My faith is not my focus here, but my faith is a big part of who I am so naturally it’s appropriate at times to share that perspective and insight. Sometimes it’s a sprinkle, sometimes a shower.

To be honest, I’ve never been particularly interested in preaching to the choir in my writing. It’s a far more interesting challenge to try to reach outside of my world to reach others. It’s just more exciting to me.

You all are better judges than I am. This particular entry was obviously a little heavy on the Mormon of it all, but I don’t think I go to this well too often.

Do any of you read other blogs by people of faith? Does it bug you when they don’t shy away from that, or do you appreciate it for what it is?

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11 comments

  1. I’m not religious myself but I have no problem reading the blogs of others who are. All I really care about is the content. In this case I found what you were talking about in regards to wards etc actually really interesting but I originally started reading because I like your blog hook.

    After all, faith is part of your life just like what I talk about is part of mine.

    I hope the job hunt is successful soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sweet. I really appreciate that feedback.

      For the most part, when it comes to the religious content, I try to ask myself if whatever I’m writing will be interesting to someone who is not of my faith. Nice to have it confirmed that I’m on the right track.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with hassanizzo. I also do not subscribe to any organised religion, I have my own faith which helps me live my life and it serves me well which is different from yours..

    I find it interesting to read how your religion, your community, underpins and influences your outlook on your situation, but at the same time you come over as just a regular guy, with all the fears and failings and humour of everyone else. Not at all pious or holier than thou. or “preachy”. Nor do I get the impression that yours is unquestiong faith, but that you have worked out your beliefs for yourself..

    I have a great respect for anyone who has decided to follow a way of life based on a belief and are happy with it and can respect that others feel differently, which you seem to do. As I said in a previous post. Whatever works for you to help you through life so be it. Who is anybody to disagree.

    Being British, I know nothing about the Mormon church. I have never met a Mormon. So this blog is a very good learning curve for me. I am not sure I understand the reasoning behind why you have to attend a certain church and why you don’t have the freedom to attend any church you wish. but that is obviously an important part of the organisation.

    However, I too began reading your blog because I find the story of your life and your current situation, interesting,. plus, quite simply, you are an interesting and entertaining writer. You are also American and that cultural difference is interesting as to how you view the world and unemployment.

    In the UK, the current government seem to demonise the unemployed and blame the ills of the country on them, very unfairly IMO. Ok, there ARE some who are work-shy and happy to live on benefits, but there are also an awful lot of people especially redundant public service workers, who desperately want to find a job to support their family and a lot of young graduates who just cannot find paid work thanks to the exploitative intern system.

    I don’t think I read any other blogs by people of certain religions unless they mention it in passing.

    In my own blog I have no qualms about talking about meditation which is an important part of me and my life. But then I write my blog for me as I am always surprised when people read it. I don’t really see myself as a writer.

    Denise, Love from England

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    1. I always enjoy your thoughtful comments, Denise. And, by the way, England is one of my very favorite places. Back when things were a bit more financially stable, Erin and I visited Europe and spent a couple days in the London area. I wish we’d had more time because it was just a spectacular experience to walk amongst so much history. Oldest thing around here isn’t much older than 100 years.

      As for why we don’t simply just attend whichever building at whichever time we like… thinking of it like a school district. The same curriculum is taught at ever school, but the students go to the school that’s in their designated geographic area. Imagine if everyone just went where they wanted to go. Some school would be overrun, while others would have barely a population.

      It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, our Church is exactly the same. If you were to find your local LDS church and attend it this Sunday, and I were to attend mine, afterwards we could have a conversation about what was taught and we’d be largely on the same page, having heard the same lessons.

      So, really, it doesn’t matter where you attend as far as the experience goes, but it very much matters for the purposes of staying organized properly. The ward boundaries aren’t arbitrary. Their designed so that each ward gets the proper support and leadership it needs. If people didn’t go where they’re supposed to go, that support would either be too little or too much. This is ESPECIALLY important in a lay ministry, when the general membership is doing all the work.

      Hopefully, that made some kind of sense.

      Like

  3. I don’t choose to read this blog for the religious musings, but to read about your thoughts on things and to share in some of your more uplifting thoughts is interesting. I’m not a Mormon but I am a Christian and I’ve always found it interesting to listen to other people’s take on faith in general. As I’ve said before, reading this blog has opened me up to being more prayerful and I am grateful for that. I also don’t think your writings on faith come across as preachy, just honest.

    I don’t write about faith on my own blog as it is geared towards supporting a game which I am a member of, so the “religions” I discuss are for those set in the game mechanics. And whilst I don’t talk about my own faith often to those people in the system, occassionally it does come up. It guides how I behave and how I choose to interact with people, but I don’t think it’s fair for me to shove my beliefs and my values into their faces in the manner of saying “you’re wrong because you don’t believe as I do.” It has probably made me more tolerant of working with other people’s faith as I understand the need to feel connection with something other than ourselves, however we choose to see it, and it helps me see the other side of the coin when people get worked up over little things in the game mechanics.

    Sorry for rambling on a bit, but you asked the question.

    Keep in good spirits,
    Space_wolf

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    1. I think we’re basically on the same page. I respect immensely other peoples’ beliefs and their right to them, but at the same time mine make up a large, large part of who I am. I never include it here as anything other than a piece of my own personal experience because to not do so would simply be dishonest. I want to be honest, that’s always the goal.

      Appreciate you reading and giving your thoughts on this.

      Like

  4. I grew up in the faith, so I do know all about it. But I don’t think it’s right for your ward or stake to put pressure on you to be an example through your blog. You already are a great example of a decent human being, and I think that you insert it just enough so that your readers are aware of your faith, without making this blog about your faith.

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    1. I hope I haven’t set you up with the wrong idea. The fact that this blog ISN’T about my faith and that my faith is really just one element among many is the big reason Jennifer highlighted it. I receive no pressure from the Church to do anything like what you’re suggesting. Jennifer is simply a friend who was aware of what I was doing and realized it went along with the topic she was asked to speak on.

      Never fear, I have no interest in turning this into a faith-based blog. I’ll leave that to others.

      Like

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