09 August 2009

What A Difference An Almost Year Makes

I've recently said to a couple of friends that the me of a year ago couldn't have imagined the me of today. In less than a month it'll be one year since I first came out. What a transformation in my heart, mind, faith, circle of friends, knowledge, experience, courage. I'll talk more about that in a few weeks. But today was a good example of just how different things are for me. I spent the entire day doing things I never would have imagined at this time last year.

Actually, I think I'll go backward chronologically. I spent this afternoon and evening walking neighborhoods with other volunteers from Equality California, talking to people about marriage equality and why it's important. I was really encouraged with the proportion of positive responses. Overall, peoples' reactions ranged from a Hispanic woman who flatly refused to even talk about the subject, to a Chinese Christian guy who was polite as could be and said that since the Bible said Adam & Eve, that settled it for him and no further discussion was necessary, to a transplanted Montana deer hunter playing pool in his garage who stopped to say Sure, people should be free in this country to marry who they want, it's none of my business if two guys want to get married, that's their decision and more power to them. Overall, our group of canvassers reported far more positive than negative responses to supporting marriage equality. It was very encouraging.

Let me tell you folks, next time this question's on the ballot the marriage equality side is not going to be caught flat-footed like they were before. It's clear that they know full well what Mormon money and organizational muscle can do, and they're determined to match and exceed it. I just wonder if individual California Church members are going to have the stomach and the money and the time and energy to do it all over again, because they're going to find a much more prepared and formidable foe next round.

This morning I returned, like a moth to a flame, to Grace Cathedral San Francisco. I just can't stay away from this place. Everything about it is more conducive to reverence and worship and focusing on the Savior and His mission and what it means for each of us. Including a warm hug and "Welcome back" from Vanessa, one of the associate pastors. I'm not sure why other places don't resonate with me quite like this or other cathedrals do. Some high church foes would say it's all just calculated drama to induce awe and reverence and that the theatrics shouldn't matter. I disagree. Every church does this to some degree or another, the only question is how and how much. And for me, ever since I was a small boy, there's been something about big cathedrals. The space, the atmosphere, the soaring arches that lift eyes and spirit, the recognition that I am so small in this vast place and so small in the universe, yet it is for me and each of us that places like these are built, with the arches, the stained glass, the glorious music, all of which combine to remind me in ways few other places can of my place in life and the faith I should always remember. The LDS baptismal covenant and sacrament prayers speak of an obligation to always remember the Savior and try to keep His commandments. Places like this great cathedral really help me to do just that.

I feel sad in a way to have come to the realization that my own church doesn't do much of that for me to the same degree a place like Grace Cathedral does. LDS services are more like big family business meetings in many ways, noisy, barely organized, and with topics all over the map. I honestly can't remember the last time I heard an entire meeting focus on the simple basics of Christian faith, on the Savior, His life, his sacrifice for us, His love for us, how we should try to reflect that love to others in our own lives, and how doing so blesses others and ourselves as well. Yet whenever I go to Grace Cathedral, that's what I hear every time. Plus the most glorious music, far beyond anything I ever hear in an LDS ward. Standard Mormon music may work for most others and that's fine for them, but it just doesn't for me. I have heard it all, recycled so many times that it's neither interesting nor (with some exceptions) generally very inspirational anymore. There is so much glorious and inspirational stuff beyond the narrow confines of music which the LDS Powers That Be have decreed are acceptable in sacrament meetings. It really makes me sad that our leaders have chosen to try to cut us off from so much music that is lovely and of good report and praiseworthy. Joseph Smith said he always tried to think of new things to present to those who listened to him. Why does our current leadership prevent us from doing that with the music in our services?

I will leave you, gentle reader, with a glimpse of the magnificent place in which I sat this morning for an hour of genuine worship and contemplation. I hope this video will give you a taste of why I find this cathedral so inspirational. When was the last time you heard anything like this as prelude in your ward? Or even heard the prelude over the din of gossip and visiting in the chapel, for that matter?


The Wife said...

"I honestly can't remember the last time I heard an entire meeting focus on the simple basics of Christian faith, on the Savior, His life, his sacrifice for us, His love for us, how we should try to reflect that love to others in our own lives, and how doing so blesses others and ourselves as well."

That's exactly what our sacrament meeting was about yesterday, and it was beautiful.

As for the prelude, your video was very nice. I occasionally play the organ (I'm the official sub when the regular organist is gone). I wish I could play like that, but I'm short and have a hard time reaching the pedals easily! :) So I just do my best, and hope that it invites the spirit.

Ezra said...

You've come a long way, baby.

Daniel said...

You would be interested in this article about why gay people are often more spiritually sensitive/active in Church than their straight brothers.

Why Gay Guys Are Churchier Than Their Straight Brethren

"Others note the esthetic synchronicities between Christian culture and gay sensibilities, especially in the old-line traditions like Catholicism. Mark Jordan, a scholar of gay religion at Harvard Divinity School and author of several provocative books, such as "The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism," has argued that this sense of drama in the Mass makes churches a favorite stage for "Liturgy Queens," an epithet that Jordan reclaims as a badge of honor. "The liturgy creates its own divas, on both sides of the communion rail. It is a show that makes for ardent gay fans," he writes. "Liturgy Queens need not be members of the clergy, but they are typically found in the vicinity of the altar – or at least in the choir loft." Or, as Father Martin noted somewhat more benignly, Michelangelo was likely gay: "If we didn't have gay Catholics we wouldn't have the Sistine Chapel.""

I hereby dub you a gay Mormon liturgy queen.