The Ditching-Church Svithe


I'm at home in my pajamas. Lady and Little Lord Steed are asleep in the other room. The Big O and the Large S are to Church with my parents. I'm supposed to be conducting a meeting today but that's not going to happen.

When I was younger I was much more rigid about visible letter-of-the-law stuff like Going to Church. Now, here, in the twilight of my life, my conception of What's Important has changed.

This is to be expected, I suppose. Life is a process of sorting, after all. But what are the criteria by which we make these alterations? Because clearly we do not all reach the same decisions, even when we come from the same tradition.

So, question: What criteria do/should we use as we alter our views of What Matters Most?

I'm curious. And I'm sure you've thought about it. So do dish.

last week's svithe


  1. I have also noticed a lessening of attention to the minutiae as well as a reduction in the fear of 'doing something wrong'. Unfortunately this tends to be reflected in the fact that stuff like scripture study isn't happening as much as I would like it to. I need to find a balance now I that I've learned not to obey out of fear.

    For me, a life-changing talk was one by Elder Oaks about 'becoming'. He points out that the point is to become like Christ, not to keep some kind of score or balance sheet. So I often reflect on whether my actions will bring me closer to being more Christlike and will help my soul or not. Obviously going to church regularly, prayer, and scripture study are all things that will do that. But I feel a lot less terror and guilt over the occasional lapse.

    A few weeks ago we ended up skipping sacrament meeting because the kids were too tired and needed to sleep in. We have 9 o'clock church and had been very busy with family things. If Little Dude is awakened before he is ready, he becomes clingy and weepy, and we've had trouble transitioning to nursery in a new ward. So I sacrificed the most important part of our Sunday worship for an investment in my son being willing to attend his class. I think it was worth it for him, but in an ideal world things would have worked out differently I suppose. We don't live in an ideal world though.

  2. foxyj, that elder oaks talk is one of my all time favorites that I refer back to often!!

    I skipped church today and got some much needed post-baby recovery sleep.

    wv: cluttor

  3. .

    Lady Steed won't be back to Church for a good four weeks, even if I am back last week.

    I had forgotten about the Elder Oaks talk but I think his points are excellent. Like you say, Foxy, giving up the tally sheet can also mean that things like scripture study get shuffled aside without the correcting influence of guilt kicking in like it should, but overall, I think that's a horribly important part of spiritual development.

  4. I've been dealing with this quite a lot lately, since The Franchise has been having some health issues.

    Most Sundays for the last six weeks or so, he's stayed home and I've gone to all three blocks. One Sunday he stayed home, and I left after a block and a half. A week ago, he came, but could only stay for the first block (we have Sacrament meeting last), so we both left after that. Yesterday, we stayed to take the Sacrament, and then left.

    I've kept our bishopric posted on what's going on, and they're really chill with it. I figure if I come to Primary and take care of my calling, then I can go take care of my husband. I do what I feel like I can, trust that God knows my heart, and try (with varying levels of success) to not worry about it.

    I figure we won't really be in trouble until the bishop starts sending the committees after us.

  5. .

    That's a good point, this idea of perspective. Being in "trouble" can be more a reflection of perspective than reality.

  6. I think that people we meet and experiences we have can alter our views of what is most important to us in life. For me, the black and white world of my youth is becoming more beautiful from various shades of gray as I see and learn from the joy in other people who are different from me. As the Church becomes more diverse, I expect that what matters most to Church members will also diversify.

  7. .

    My current ward has helped me see that rainbow.

  8. A scorecard? No. But due diligence to live according to the precepts we've accepted as true might lead us to a place that looks like there is such a thing. Conversely, what we consider "observing" at one point in our life might not have been quite there at another.

    Over the past few weeks, circumstances have led me to recall some times from my past - these have been comforting at the very least. Some of these were when my father would take the family camping or travel away from home. While rare, sometimes these vacations would take us away from home to someplace unfamiliar over the Sabbath. My father was adamant that we attend church whenever possible and made the effort to know where and when services would be. Most times, our family would nearly double the attendance in some of these remote branches. I remember these times as a testament to my father's conviction and testimony.

    Since his passing, I have not been to my ward, taught my class or actually even heard from anyone. In any case, I understand when life becomes more important or events in life prevent us from attending church.

    Since Sabbath observance is a commandment, I have to wonder what other commandments we decide aren't as important and let slide.

    After the graveside services, I found myself speaking with my father's uncle. He commented that my father was just like my father’s father except that he was active in the church. I found that interesting because somewhere, my grandfather decided he didn't need the church. I do not pretend to know what the judgment will mete. You see, I have known some very good people that do not attend church, while others who I might judge less worthy do.

    Lots to think about, yes.

  9. .

    A truth of life is that we will never be able to do all things at all times and thus we must make decisions. Figuring out the correct decision in those iffy cases is, I think, one of the greatest schools on earth.

  10. Recently, I decided to go inactive. Once I was comfortable with that, I didn't actually go inactive. I generally still made it to at least one meeting till I got over the pressing desire to go inactive a few weeks later. Make of that what you will.

  11. .

    I'm guessing you carry a gene for that.

  12. Starting from the assumption that going to church regularly is generally a good thing, analysis criteria for ditching church:

    - motive (good reason, or just being lazy?)
    - potential outcomes (good and bad)
    - priorities (family needs vs church responsibilities, need for rest, etc)
    - immediate effect on other people (who might have to fill in or get a ride with someone else, or who might benefit from your presence at home)
    - where this one instance fits in the scheme of things (eg one instance or is a pattern forming?)