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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 08, 2019 01:42PM

I was hard at it during my weekly physical therapy appointment this morning and we were chatting as I did the repetitions that are somewhat boring, but quite necessary. He lights up when he talks about visiting grands and seeing various sights in their area. He is an uber TBM, but is well aware of where I am in life. He attempts to be supportive and understanding of that, which I appreciate. He told me about a brewery they toured (I found that odd, which amused him, and he said they also make a lot of sodas - that part was what interested them), a great place for amazing custard, and then he mentioned a monastery. He said he knew I'd probably want to pass on it, though - I disabused him of that notion immediately. He described it and it sounds fascinating - enough so that we will put it on our itenerary for the next time we're in that area (we also have grands near there). The monks sound interesting, the architecture sounds compelling, and the view from the top sounds like it is stunning. I can't wait. And then, I wondered...

...where is the line?

We've discussed this before, but it's on my mind today. Those who know me know I'm a hardcore atheist - anti-theist, actually. Once my shelf collapsed I instantly became passionate about taking on religion and attempting to undermine the LDS church in subtle and overt ways every chance possible. I loathe religion. And yet, there are things connected to religion I don't feel the need to leave behind or blatantly reject. We will tour this monastery, if possible. I find beauty in many religious structures, and, more than anything, I miss the music.

I played the organ much of my life, in various wards, and I miss the physical act of playing the organ (especially the last one - I spent 18 years on that thing). I miss it so much. It's almost a physical pain. I miss playing the hymns - I had our ward trained to sing the hymns properly, although it took years to get them to that point. Visitors were amazed to hear this little ward in this tiny little hamlet in the hills sing like a divinely inspired choir. You could always tell the visitors because they would sing through where we had taught the congregation to pause just a bit, for emphasis. They sounded incredible. I miss many of the hymns - the words are appalling to me now and I hate that I didn't realize what I was promoting all those years. But some of the hymns are gorgeous. They're swiped from other religions, I know, but, as a Mormon, they were as familiar to me as the back of my own hand, especially because I played them thousands and thousands of times. I miss playing for truly amazing singers performing some of the most beautiful music - O Divine Redeemer, The Lord's Prayer, Ave Maria (less often, because it's not technically a Mormon classic), and many others. The singers I played for did such an amazing job the hair would go up on MY arms, and I was the one playing for them! I miss all that. I had a network of music people, so I was always able to branch out and play for many situations outside the church as well - community musicals, high school musicals, bands, orchestras, and so forth. All that is gone and I can't gain any traction where we live now.

O.K., so I'm not playing any more and I miss it all intensely. But, that's not only what is difficult. Where are the secular Christmas songs for people like us? I enjoy some of the usual Christmas music, but it almost always lapses into the religious bent, which I can't stand now. It is painful to hear, now, what I took for granted for so many years. I miss hearing (and performing) concerts in amazing places, like tabernacles and such. Now I don't play or go, but I miss the amazing acoustics and general feeling of being there. (BTW, I had a proud moment a bit ago - a 10-yeard-old granddaughter was participating in a school program, did very well, and then, as everyone stood to sing Silent Night, had to sit down and hide within her class somewhat because she didn't know the words - her parents won't teach her religious songs of any kind. I loved it.)

My physical therapist assumed, as so many do (and probably rightly so) that I would never be interested in seeing something like a monastery, or a very old church, or similar situations, but I am. But, should I be? Where is the proverbial line? It's different for everyone, but I wonder how everyone else handles this. I reject, utterly and completely, anything to do with religion - when I left the church and all religion behind I purged our house of anything and everything that had anything to do with that life. Books, hymnals, study materials, posters, even my old banner from Primary that had badges on it from memorizing scriptures and stitching I did, poorly, that outlined a religious phrase (anyone remember THAT??) - all of it went in the trash. My g's went and I actually stood in my kitchen and watched the trash truck lift the bin and dump it into the big storage area, where they would be smashed, left at the dump, and plowed under so the ever-present birds and bugs wouldn't find them. It was an amazing and freeing feeling.

And yet...I miss the music, I'll tour a monastery, I'll enjoy the architecture of an ancient religious building. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I'm sorting it out and, like I said, it's different for everyone. There's no right answer. But, I wonder where the line is for all of you. It's a somewhat peculiar netherworld I exist in where some things are rejected outright, sometimes angrily, but other things are embraced. It confuses me. I don't spend a lot of time hashing it out in my mind - I just live as I feel the need to and take each situation on its own merits, but I wonder how solid the line is for all of you. Does it move? Is it hard and fast? Do you have a line at all? It's a curious world in which we live - the choices and situations we find ourselves in can create some thought-provoking discussions.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/2019 01:45PM by Cathy.

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: February 08, 2019 03:28PM

Nevermo, raised Hindu AND Christian New Thought, became a Jew, am a pantheist (so far as I am able to determine; I am still searching for the "right" descriptive word) answer:

"The line" is fluid, and a minimum of a few books wide and long (it would take a few books to examine these different perspectives and realities adequately)...."the line" is composed of different "stuff" for each person (the perspectives and realities as perceived by each individual)....and is constantly drawn and redrawn by every person, each one of us who comes with our own physiology (which, as with you, can play a very large part in this process), our own life history in this lifetime, and our own Long History. (At minimum, I do definitely believe in reincarnation among humans.)

For you, "the line" seems heavily weighted towards sound and touch: what you hear, and what you feel. (Sight, and intangibles such as a sense of beauty, and a sense of history, would probably be close behind.)

For you, when the sounds are "right," and the feelings (especially of vibration) you can physically feel are "right," that is where "the line" is--regardless of the content.

The content is irrelevant. For you (especially), the content is an "also true."

In Judaism, the biblical story of the ancient Jews fleeing from slavery in Egypt is central to the Jewish holiday of Passover, so much so that there is "an" actual script (in reality, there are countless permutations of this story, all of them written down throughout the ages) which people read, out loud, during the Passover seder (meal of traditionally "religious" foods), step-by-step as the story of the Jews fleeing from Egypt is told. There are "scripts" ("haggadot") of all kinds....including a sizable number of atheist ones.

At this point in history, most every Jew knows that the events in this story either never happened at all, or did not happen in the historically and traditionally accepted way.

But, having nothing to do with our personal beliefs or non-beliefs, or with our professional scientific/archaeological knowledge and credentials either, we go to sometimes enormous efforts every year to recognize and reiterate aloud, with each other, what is likely something akin to a national fairy tale.

We do this because, in some felt sense (and regardless of historical fact or proof), the Passover story IS "true" for the Jewish people.

Passover is a place where the Jewish people (including those of us who are atheists, etc.), have "drawn the line."

My answer to you: "The line" is where YOU know and feel it is, because there are times in real life when everyday logic is properly secondary to the deeper reaches of human truth.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/2019 03:30PM by Tevai.

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 08, 2019 03:37PM

Ah, Tevai - so beautifully written and so spot-on. You always make me think and I thank you for that. This is it and you said it far better than I did -

"For you, "the line" seems heavily weighted towards sound and touch: what you hear, and what you feel. (Sight, and intangibles such as a sense of beauty, and a sense of history, would probably be close behind.)

For you, when the sounds are "right," and the feelings (especially of vibration) you can physically feel are "right," that is where "the line" is--regardless of the content."

Yes. Exactly.

And this -

"...there are times in real life when everyday logic is properly secondary to the deeper reaches of human truth".

Absolutely yes. I was extremely interested to read about the rites of passages of the Jews - I knew it, but not to that extent. I will mull over your wisdom - it helps.

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: February 08, 2019 03:50PM

Your words have made my day!

:)

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 08, 2019 03:52PM

Ditto. :)

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: February 08, 2019 04:00PM

A four minute, wonderfully fun and contemporary, musical take on Passover, via the Maccabeats :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZgDNPGZ9Sg

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 08, 2019 04:11PM

There are no words for how much I love that!!!

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: February 08, 2019 04:29PM

I thought you might!

:)

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: February 09, 2019 01:25PM

Cathy, I feel that in a lot of ways, I'm at where you are at. I just don't know anymore. A lot of it stems from my disgust with the Catholic church, in which I was raised. I used to think that even if I disagreed with doctrine and policy, at least there were many good people who were nuns, priests, and brothers, and that there were many good members as well. I assumed a certain level of altruism and goodwill. And to a certain extent, I think that is still the case. But now, much of what I see is the complicity in the abuse of the young and the vulnerable. And worse, there is the complete failure on the part of church authorities to adequately address the abuse, along with the failure of the membership to insist vigorously on change. At what point does the toxicity outweigh the good? At what point should *every* member be held accountable for the abuse?

And yet, like you, I have always had a deep appreciation for good architecture. When I was last in Montreal, I toured the Basilica there, and found it exquisite. I have still come across some wonderful Catholics, some of the kindest, most generious people that I have met.

So I find myself stuck in that gray area. I just don't know.

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 10, 2019 12:52PM

Exactly. It's a peculiar situation to be in.

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Posted by: catnip ( )
Date: February 11, 2019 12:30AM

I think you can enjoy religious expression in many forms without being religious yourself.

When I visited Europe in 2006, (post-Christian, post-Mormon) I enjoyed seeing many of the gorgeous Catholic cathedrals everywhere, particularly the whole collection of them in Venice.

When I visited the Basilica in Assisi (I think it's called Santa Maria Degli Angeli) which was built over and around the little wattle-and-daub structure where San Francesco died) I felt a sort of inner peace and maybe transcendence - definitely something spiritual.

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 12, 2019 10:16AM

That's where I am - I truly love beautiful buildings, the work and discipline that went into creating them, and the feeling I get when I'm there. I don't regard it as a spiritual feeling, but I don't really know how to describe it. Still, the line seems to be blurred and I'm working on sorting out why I'm o.k. with all that and not with religion. It's as though I'm supporting religious causes, I guess.

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Posted by: exminion ( )
Date: February 11, 2019 01:14AM

Congratulations on making the Mormons sing the hymns up to tempo!

Cathy, I played the piano and organ all my life, including being a ward and stake organist. It does consume a lot of your life. Our ward had a beautiful, exposed-pipe organ from Germany, and the building was built around it, acoustically. What a thrill to learn on that organ, and to have all the sounds of the orchestra at my fingertips! It was within walking distance of my house, and the chapel had an ocean view, if I opened the doors to let the sea breeze blow through.

We moved away, at about the time when wards were told to use only Mormon-written music. Our new ward had a little electric organ, and I started to notice the lyrics of the new hymns. The music just--died. I haven't played the organ since I resigned. It used to be so much of who I was, and was the main reason I was of value to the Mormons, personally (besides my tithing and my children.)

I have changed my attitude towards religion. It does not matter! Not everything has to do with religion. It makes do difference to me who built those beautiful cathedrals, or who commissioned the divine artwork. Do you care, or even know what religion a talented artist or musician is? Were Beethoven and Mozart religious? I have no idea.... Bach was a church organist, and I loved playing his music. I still like Handel's Messiah, even though the Mormons have hijacked it, and it doesn't matter if I'm believing in The Bible or not, at the moment.

I missed music, and about 5 years of silence, I went to a movie of Don Giovani, filmed at La Scala Opera House. I went alone, and cried at the beauty of it! I had no idea of how much I had missed classical music! I go to all the movie operas, and the Utah opera and symphony, and sometimes the ballet.

I don't know where you live, Cathy, but most Catholic cathedrals have beautiful architecture, and a decent organ, and they give several concerts at Christmas and Easter. We go to the Cathedral of the Madeline in SLC. They have a decent choir, too. I feel the thrill, without thinking about tithing and worrying that I'm wearing pants, or feeling bad about not going to church. I'm filled with the music and love of music. I feel just as "spiritual" out in nature.

Religion doesn't OWN beauty. They don't try to lock people away from these things (unlike the Mormons who want to lock non-members out of the temple), but want to share it with the world.

You can branch out into other kinds of music, too. I like Jazz, and even some heavy metal (Listen to Metallica's performance with the SF Symphony on Youtube). Branch out into art, and dance, and see how that makes you feel.

I drew the line very close to Mormonism. In my mind, the line is just outside the church and temple doors. Anything inside, I want to keep out of my life, but all the rest of it, on the outside is for me to pick and choose. What variety! What an adventure!

Likewise, that's where the Mormons stay. Outside of their smelly cult buildings, they don't come into my home, they no longer abuse me or my children, they aren't allowed to lie to us (without our objecting to it), they don't recruit my grandchildren, or take our money, or cheat us in business, or have opportunities to be rude to us.

My "lines" don't bind ME at all, but they do bind the Mormons.

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Posted by: exminion ( )
Date: February 11, 2019 01:25AM

I forgot to tell you about some other opportunities to play the piano, that you might enjoy. I have done all of these.

Playing for elementary school, or even pre-school
I loved playing for my kids' school's annual musical show.
Teaching piano lessons
Playing for dance classes
Background music for receptions and parties
Christmas carol sing-alongs
Organist and/or accompanist for private funerals
Play for yourself!
Like you, I threw away all my Mormon music, so I enjoyed
learning something new. Debussy, Movie theme music, lighter
stuff, these days.

Don't get me started writing about music! As you can see, I get carried away!!

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 12, 2019 10:25AM

I've done all of those many, MANY times. I've played more than most will play in several lifetimes and in just about every scenario imaginable. Gotta admit - I've got some stories! I thrive on live performance and love to carry shows, like musicals, by myself so I can fix what goes wrong onstage. Most of the time the audience never knew something was haywire, and that is where my passion and internal rush lie. I've played in the best of LDS buildings and in front of 15,000 at a time (and was thinking about what to have for dinner while doing so - I had done it so many times). I can't abide teaching, although I can't figure out why - I think it's partly because people tell me to teach their kids how to play like me, and I can't puzzle out how to do that. I'm lucky in that my skills seem to be innate - I'm an incredibly lazy musician that hates to practice.

I also can't write music, although I improvise and add to what I do play constantly. It seems to go over well. I just can't get traction in Cache Valley because I don't have that LDS network to get me started, but that's a price I'm willing to pay. I can do the other things you mention, and I will if asked, but my heart is in doing shows, playing for choirs, and gigging with little bands. I have some major weaknesses, but I know where my niches are and they work for me. Opera and ballet...not for me. I appreciate the talent involved, but I'm a white bread pianist with fairly non-sophisticated tastes. ;)

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 12, 2019 10:20AM

This resonates with me -

"Anything inside, I want to keep out of my life, but all the rest of it, on the outside is for me to pick and choose."

I think that's it, really.

And we do attend concerts and such. I've branched out in many ways - I have never focused solely on LDS music (although I was sometimes made to feel guilty for that). I was asked to give a R.S. lesson one time on music - I told everyone to put their manuals under their chairs because they wouldn't need them, and then I played many examples of music that puts the hair up on my arms, i.e. Les Mis and similar music, so everyone would understand that there is a gigantic and gorgeous musical life outside of Mormonism.

I was never asked to sub again. Funny, that, eh? ;)

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 12, 2019 10:26AM

Oh, and yes, those Mormons sang up to tempo! They were NEVER allowed to drag the hymns down to dirge tempo. We rocked the buildings. :)

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 12, 2019 10:32AM

So, o.k., here's a theoretical question. You're a decent musician, you loathe religion (especially Mormonism), and you won't support it in any way. But, an extremely well-regarded singer, Mormon or not, asks that you accompany them in, say, the Tabernacle in Salt Lake in front of a large crowd. It is an exceptional opportunity that won't come again.

Do you do it? Where is the line? That is my struggle.

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: February 12, 2019 08:24PM

Cathy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Do you do it? Where is the line? That is my
> struggle.

I was raised in a very highly creative and arts oriented (fiction and non-fiction writing/music/set design, dancing, etc.) sector of American culture, and the bottom line priority for everyone is:

Get that credit!!

[Exceptions would be if, to "get that credit," it would be necessary to go against what are, to you, your core morals, ethics, and values--and the decisions on these kinds of issues vary enormously from person to person.]

My personal answer to the situation you describe would be: Get that credit!!

I have never faced a similar situation to yours, but many of my credits were earned--and this would be true for most anyone whose career depends upon credits--doing projects I didn't want to do, in concert with people I found reprehensible.

You may be in a different part of the industry where you have more actual freedom to say "No."

My advice would be to "try on" a yes, and then "try on" a no, project your consciousness forward several decades, and feel whether the "yes," or the "no," was the optimally "right" choice for you when, in your vision, you look back on it in retrospect.

Inside, you do know which is the best choice for you. You just need to consciously connect with this already-existing knowledge.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/12/2019 08:26PM by Tevai.

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 16, 2019 07:31PM

Truth, as always. I'll have to, as many people do, go on a case-by-case basis.

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Posted by: You Too? ( )
Date: February 16, 2019 09:12PM

I've run across plenty of Protestant and Catholic organists who don't believe.

Somewhere there's a parish looking for a good organist.

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Posted by: dp ( )
Date: February 17, 2019 03:45AM

You Too? Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've run across plenty of Protestant and Catholic
> organists who don't believe.



It's too bad that Mormon Social Club rules prevent one from openly stating disbelief yet still participating with full fellowship in the community.

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Posted by: Cathy ( )
Date: February 17, 2019 12:35AM

Good idea, although it would feel very weird. I miss playing so much!

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