About my serious side

Not to break the spell or spoil the fun, but you've probably figured out my real name isn't Dummy.

The CTD Diaries is my playground. No one tells the truth in their diaries anyway so I figured I should find another place to get real, where the head lights aren't so bright. I originally thought this would be a good place to post my creative writing, but I think this is just a good place to tell the truth.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nylons and a quick truth goose . . .

This past summer I got into a heated discussion with a few of my siblings over following counsel from the Stake President to wear nylons to church. I was really dumbfounded by it. And a little peeved. Thinking back, it's likely I'm a bit tainted, even cynical about religious power and authority because my husband and I have been working for the church for the past 12 years.

My poor brothers were somewhat aghast by my somewhat passionate stance against blindly obeying a stake presidents counsel about foot wear. I guess I just don't see what foot wear has to do with spirituality. Please don't try to explain it to me either because I've heard it all before, and I even slightly understand it, yet it still gets my knickers in a knot. See I'm one who sees our church and the Gospel as two different ball games being played against each other sometimes even though they're on the same team.

On the night I told my brother and several other family members I thought it was a misuse of authority for a stake president to set forth a proclamation calling all women to wear nylons to church I encountered an awkward silence. And then with wide eyes, one brother told me that he was worried about me. Worried that I might leave the church.

I was extremely surprised. I had never had anyone worry about me leaving the church before (except my husband when I almost left the church during my mid-life crisis 10 years ago.)

As I thought about it I realized that after living away from my siblings for nearly 20 years they really don't know me that well or what makes me tick. My brother wasn't insulting me, he was simply reacting to what he was seeing and hearing at that moment.

He has no idea how much I love the gospel principals, despite my irritations with the way it's imposed and implemented sometimes by members fumbling along trying to understand all the deep mysteries. Or worse yet, not trying to understand all the deep mysteries.

I think this is true of you, my readers, as well. You don't know me very well. When I poke fun at things--my husband, my mother-in-law, my friends, my kids, stake conference, relief society, Mormon mommies--some of you may not be sure how to take it or where it's coming from. When I tease you and then tell you I'm a liar, some of you may not know whether to believe me or not.

I thought it might be helpful if I cleared a few things up on this backstage blog. For those of you who are interested anyway. My hope is that it doesn't confuse you more.

I'm actually a truth stalker. I've been addicted to the search for truth and pinning down a definition of truth for several years now.

My class themes revolve around simple truths and complex ethics. We talk about morality and ethical dilemmas and layers of truth--relative truth, emotional truth, moral truth, happening truth, story truth. We often discuss things like whether it's ever okay to lie.

It's an extremely complex search. But one thing I've discovered is the way you tell the truth is almost as important as the truth itself. Form/style is as important as substance. I think of truth as a gift, and half the fun and excitement of receiving a gift is the pretty wrapping and the curly ribbons.

For instance, in the letter to my husband from jail a few of you noted, correctly, that I started off serious and then retreated back to my funny playful Crash self. But notice I got humorous, but I didn't get silly. Crash's diary is my silly place, where I can tease the truth. But here I will only humor the truth, humorously maybe, but only because sometimes the truth is funny.
But mostly it's not.

Often humor can reveal truth more quickly than coming directly to the point. Plus, I like to make my readers think. I hate to be handed anything on a silver platter and I want readers who hate it too.

Two reasons I used humor when writing that love letter:

1.) Love letters can sound trite. Love is so deep and complex and double sided. It's exhilarating, yet disappointing and disillusioning. It's never ending. In love it's hard to tell where emotional needs and ego are getting in the way of real intimacy. Love goes on and on and on, ever changing, yet ever persisting. Love never dies. It's like an idea. You can't kill an idea. You can kill love, but it's never fully dead. Love is a constant process of small and simple realizations. 

I wanted to express that side of love because that is the truth (for me). But it's hard to avoid generalizing with cliched phrases or passionate exclamations.

2.) Love is private.  And deeply personal.  It touches so deep that even if it were possible to come up with the precise words to describe it, it may not be appropriate to share in public.   I wasn't really writing a love letter as much as I was making a point about the nature of love/marriage.  Love is beautiful. But love is a lot of hard work. Love is serious business. But love is funny too.

There's nothing more pleasantly painful than love. Or truth.  But we just can't handle all that pleasant pain at once.

So why not soften it up a bit with some pretty paper and a nice curly bow?

It mattereth not, as long as the truth is inside, the gift is always worth opening.

13 comments:

Alyson (New England Living) said...

"Form/style is as important as substance." - loved this quote! I also loved what you had to say about being handed things on a silver platter. Gosh, will you be my English teacher?

I am also seriously disturbed by the nylon thing. That's so weird and, somehow, a little invasive. I don't want my stake president thinking about my panty hose!

I've always had an issue with how some bishops ask the husband's permission before giving his wife a calling. I've had people argue the point with me, but I'll never understand it. I'm not a child, I can speak for myself. I can accept a calling on my own behalf.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

This site looks so interesting, CTD! I'm obviously well-aquainted with your other blog. I'm coming back tomorrow and leaving some comments, but for now, it's been a long day for me (almost 3 in the morning) and I must get to bed.

The Rogers Family said...

Wow! I like the deep thinking, truth seeking, and still humorous Crash. I am impressed by your philosophical side and your ability to express it with words. It makes your humorous side that much more impressive. Truth is a difficult concept. When it comes to our religious beliefs, it is practically impossible to be objective. Most people grow up in a metaphorical room with only horizontal lines. Their brains develop and neurons connect to make sense of their horizontal line environment. If later in life they are introduced into another room that has a table with vertical legs, their brain will have difficulty processing it, and they will run into the leg. It is called cognitive dissonance. That is a rather simplistic example. Now add social dynamics, family dynamics, cultural dynamics, and misc. dynamics, and your brain, and cultural beliefs ignore and reject what may be truth. Nietzsche, A philosopher of the 19th century said something like this. Is arriving at a particular belief in God, the world, and reconciling both, to make us feel comfortable, the most important thing??
The truth seeker strives to be indifferent to the results of his investigation.
The truth seeker is not in search of happiness, peace, or rest, but only the truth, albeit ugly and disconcerting.
This is the dichotomy: If you wish to strive for peace of the soul and happiness, then believe(have faith); if you wish to seek truth, then INQUIRE.
Stephen

The Rogers Family said...

Truth seeking is not really for the faint of heart. Social, cultural, and familial isolation may result. The ability to privately find truth and publicly live the cultural, familial, and social beliefs may be of higher benefit.?

The Crash Test Dummy said...

AMEN to all of that. I hadn't thought to differenciate between the seeker and the finder, but you're right. Often truth doesn't lead to peace. Yet the truth always leads to satisfaction(even if it's uncomfortable.)

Thanks for the brain bending.

Youngblood4ever said...

Sorry I have been MIA lately...LOVED this post. Are you sure we weren't twins seperated at birth? Cuz I'm thinkin' we are! I have had a few family members tell me I'm off my rocker, and one sister who nominated me and my hubby as "the most likely to leave the church and join a polygamous cult." This was definitely news to me- I haven't lived near this sister in 14 years, now I know why. This is sounding really bad, huh? I should stop now.

Matti is the verification word. Makes me think of Manti- an area that is known for housing groups of polygamy-practicing families. I need to get off this subject, don't I?

Funny Farmer said...

Ah... I love this side of my Crash. I agree with Stephen - the serious side gives substance to the funny. The pain is part of the joy. The sad is part of the happiness.

I want to hear more about your midlife crisis.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Hi guys! Youngblood, I'm glad I've found a kindred spirit. Alyson, it's fun to see you on this side of the tracks. You're right about that calling thing. I've wondered that too sometimes. Maybe they're trying to make sure we don't weasel out of it. ;)

Lisa, you're right about the pain/joy thing. Impossible to have one without the other and they're always felt equally eventually. Sometimes when I feel extreme joy, I think to myself, "oh no, this is gonna HURT like the dickens someday."

I doubt I'll ever go into my mid-life crisis (in much depth). Some things are way toooooo personal to share.

Eric-n-Ali said...

Crash, I’m sorry you had to have a heated discussion with your siblings. It is interesting to me how we (and I’m including myself) defend, or get defensive on behalf of others, and on behalf of principles at the expense of listening, and understanding. Certainly this is a complex social interaction with so much history, and belief behind each side of the story. I wish I could have been there so I could look aghast, and add to that awkward silence. J

You are right on when say “I realized that after living away from my siblings for nearly 20 years they really don't know me that well or what makes me tick.” I verbalized that to Alison after having read CTDD for a couple of weeks. I wanted to know what made you tick after so long, but was frustrated because I was unable to peek through banter.

A truth stalker? Is that someone who watches for the truth but doesn’t participate? J Ok, I have to state a few of my truth stalker imperatives. There are only two kinds of truth. The Absolute Truth. This truth exists completely independent of any individuals and their opinions. It is what stalkers are looking for. The second truth is Relative Truth. This is the truth that we have actually found (or at least we think we have, thus it is relative to us, and only us). We do our best express in language, or math, or code, but there is rarely if ever a consensus. We defend our relative truth, we preach it, we hold tight to it. I’m interested in what you think of relative truth because you mentioned it. I don’t believe you can define truths as moral, emotional, or social truth. Those are all just relative truths. Story truths? Hee Hee, what does that mean? Whether it is okay to lie, or whether you should wear panty hose are not even truths in my opinion.

When you talk about a searching for the truth, it is really a selfish and self-serving endeavor, simply because the truth is so broad, and we are forced to choose to study the area of truth that interests us, or helps us. We only choose the truths that make us feel good or satisfy the problem or life experience we are having. It is interesting to observe the relative truths that people cling to, or spend time studying (including myself).

This is a serious question that I would like a serious answer to. Is there a ruler, or standard that you use to determine when you have found the truth. I’m guessing your answer will only confirm that all truth we know is relative. What truths do you think you know that are not relative?

The wrapping of truth is definitely important if you want people to care about what you are saying. I’m a good case in point. J No one is interested because my truth is wrapped up too tight, and therefore preachy, and boring. If you think my English is boring, you ought to read my C#, or even my XML. Whew, now that is boring.

BTW, I love your humor, your humor writing, your smile, and your laugh. I was merely making the observation that your writing while in Relief Society was far less Crash, and in no way criticizing Keep building the playground, and we will continue to come play. Your house is always house where all the kids come to play.

Thanks for sharing!

Love Eric

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Eric, I'll have a post about all that.

Coming soooooon. ;)

Braja said...

My first response is: don't wear the nylons. Let's see where that takes us...

April said...

I only wear nylons when I go to the temple (actually knee highs) or if I want to be in a bad mood then I wear the nylons...they are too restrictive. The "oldtimers" believe that it is proper manners and being modest to wear nylons or in other words, cover your legs in a formal setting.

My problem is that when someone in authority tells me what to do, my first response is to say, "No". I have authority issues for my own reasons! =) Long story!

I once had a Stake President that would not allow the women to show up to play volleyball in shorts. We had to wear pants. If we wore shorts we would be sent home. Imagine that, a grown woman being sent home for wearing modest shorts to play volleyball. Apparently the women and young women were responsible for the men and young men's thoughts when we wore shorts.

BTW, nice to meet you Crash, we have a "kute" friend and her mom in common thanks to your cupcakes! You are awesome.

Kritta22 said...

I'm going to bed...I'll have to read this tomorrow. THanks for chatting with me tonight.