Examining emotional health in the Bloggernacle: Case Study II

Having started to show the dangers of emotionally unhealthy blogs, I continue the series. Again, my goal is not to refute the point of the post, nor to judge or condemn the author of the example. Only a study of the behavior to serve as a warning of the consequences of the behaviors is presented.

In this post, in addition to the unhealthy judgment, we also find limited options, and the lack of self-leadership, feeling others are “forcing” them to do anything.

This example is from “The Girl With Her Fingers In Her Ears” found here.
The author claimed to have been sitting “reverently” in the temple chapel, when she is “subjected” to “electric organ music” reminiscent of a “funeral parlor” thus impeding her ability to “ponder the reasons [she] came to the temple”.

But alas, the author is unable to meditate. She is “distracted by the wrong notes”. And thus, the author has but three choices:
1.) Resent the church for “force[ing] its musical aesthetic on [her] personal worship and conclude that since [she] want[s] to run from the musical choice [she] should run from the institution.”
2.) “[A]sk the temple workers to turn it off and make a stink to the temple presidency
3.) “[S]tick [her] fingers in [her] ears so [she doesn’t] hear the music anymore and continue with [her] silent meditation

I consider the possibilities listed to be incomplete, and inaccurate. By allowing herself to believe that she has only limited options, in some ways, it justifies behaving in ways that she knows to be incorrect. In truth, the church isn’t really forcing anything on her. She was the one who chose to come to the temple that day. It’s not really the church’s style to have a forced aesthetic of “wrong notes” in organ playing. There is no official statement from Salt Lake insisting that all hymns be played with wrong notes, thereby purposefully distracting good musicians. Rather, the church calls lay people (read: unpaid amateurs) to do church work. They are asked to give their best. By placing the blame for her temple attendance on the church rather than herself, she may feel that by pointing out that the music is bad, she would somehow be justified in leaving the church. Of course, most rational, spiritual people know this just isn’t the case. She could recognize that the church doesn’t pay for most organists who perform in the church, and that breeds people who don’t play professionally. She could either accept that, or not, but the choice is still hers. She can believe that sitting non-judgmentally through the prelude music is a price she is willing to pay to attend the temple, or not. If all the author can focus on is other people’s flaws, she may need to ask herself what her real purpose in attending the temple was.

Here’s a bad assumption: “understandably confusing discomfort with the institutional experience with discomfort with our doctrinal cannon [sic].” Why is it understandably so? Why must we assume that it is understandable to equate institutional discomfort with the Church’s doctrine? Couldn’t we just as easily assume that people should NOT equate their institutional discomfort with the Church’s doctrine? How else does the author expect a divinely inspired institution to work through the hands of mere mortals? Has the author ever considered, that just maybe, God wants us to look charitably at others who don’t have the same talents we do? Maybe God wants us to learn to compartmentalize, and leave the worldly judgment aside for a few hours each week (at a minimum) at church, and maybe some more in the temple?

Here’s another bad assumption: “Although the earthly experience should as closely as possible mirror the heavenly home our institution seeks to represent, it doesn’t always succeed for reasons of human error, personal taste, imperfect judgement [SIC] and private corruption.” Who says this earth life is supposed to mirror our heavenly life? Who says we aren’t supposed to learn exactly how to be happy when everything is the opposite of perfect? We are supposed to work to make our own actions as Christ-like and perfect as possible (always relying on Jesus’ grace to accomplish that), we are not to EXPECT others to be perfect, nor berate them when they are not. Our earthly experience will not mirror the heavenly home, nor would it fulfill its purposes should it do so. Expecting perfection from others will only increase our own unhappiness, and the unhappiness of those who choose to follow our judgment.

The author’s problem was “the execution and presentation of the hymns,” the fact the some notes were played incorrectly, and that the music was played by an electronic organ.

She almost recognizes that she has the key to happiness within herself, “If we can choose to control what we can and let the other stuff go, our experience within our institution will allow us to focus on the Savior, not the Spam.” Yet, she chooses to blame the spam, instead of focusing on Christ. “We can recognize that we are responsible for our own communion with the Spirit and we are not spiritual outcasts if the certain chosen aesthetic doesn’t speak to us.”
But somehow I don’t think sticking one’s fingers in their ears is truly “letting the other stuff go.” It is not focusing on the Savior. There is still too much judgment and pride in it. If that’s the best she can manage now, fine, but let’s not get stuck on that, let’s recognize the goal is much more than that.

I don’t disagree with the positive suggestions given in the post. I love real pipe organs as opposed to electronic organs. I love good quality music. I like trying to experience things outside of my culture. I love it when hymns are played upbeat and on tempo. That also means that I dislike electronic organs and slow funeral dirges. But we all need to let go of the judgment, and recognize that we have more options than our limited minds let us find. We can control ourselves and limit the effect of judgment. We can feel empowered in our lives and recognize that we have leadership over our life. We can choose to turn toward God, and focus with charity on our own problems, and ignoring with charity everyone else’s.

I close with the words of Gandalf from the Fellowship of the Ring, because I find the mindfulness in it absolutely amazing:

Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. …” Gandalf, Fellowship of the Ring.
But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us Gandalf, Fellowship of the Ring.

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One Response to Examining emotional health in the Bloggernacle: Case Study II

  1. Pingback: Positive Media: Mindfulness in Music I | Andrew and Lizzie

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