Let’s say, for the sake of argument only, that you were done with Mormonism. (Really, it’s just a hypothetical, don’t freak out!) In such an event, where would you go?
I’ll be honest–I really don’t know. But I’ll try to think out loud about the possibilities that seem the most likely landing spots in my case, and then ask you to share your personal thoughts about other faiths for which you feel a particular sense of sacred envy. So, in no particular order:
- Atheism. Giving up on religion altogether holds a certain appeal for me. Just taking all the dogmas and theologies and doctrines and chucking it all.
- Lutheran (ELCA). My wife’s family is Lutheran, so that is the church I have the most actual experience attending. I like the experience. For some reason Mormons seem to be fascinated by and drawn to high church traditions (maybe because they’re so different from our extremely low church sensibilities), and I certainly feel this draw myself. And the pastor of the family church is a woman (and very skilled at her vocation), which is a plus. I get tired of how patriarchal Mormonism is.
- Episcopalian. I have zero experience with the Anglican tradition, but I have a lot of Mormon friends who are smitten with it. In theory I suspect I would be as well. But this might depend a fair bit on whether the actual congregation in my area lived up to the beauty of the cathedral and choir that I’ve built up in my imagination. A struggling congregation in a storefront might not have the same appeal as what I’ve built up in my head, so it would depend on the actual congregation in my area. (Note: I have a lot of respect for the Catholic Church, but were I to go that direction I’d go Anglican, as Roman Catholicism is a little too much like Mormonism for my taste for purposes of this exercise.)
- Willow Creek. This is a megachurch that is in my ward’s boundaries. I’ve been several times, and they put on a really impressive service. They’ve got like 100 different ministries, pretty much everything you can think of. With that many members (something like 25,000–attending a single church!) and that much money they can do a lot of good. But it’s evangelical in orientation, which would I imagine be a bit of a transition for a Mormon like me. Apart from Willow Creek I’m not sure I’d go an evangelical direction. (Although my friend Bridget Jack Jeffries is evangelical, so maybe she could help to smooth out my transition to that tradition.)
- Judaism. Like most Mormons I’ve long been Philo-Semitic, and I can read classical Hebrew, which would be a plus. I’ve attended Jewish services a number of times and enjoyed them. Here I’d have to decide whether to go more Reform or more Orthodox; I suspect my sensibilities would lead more to the Reform direction.
- Islam. I have a lot of respect for Islam, and there’s much I admire about it. I doubt I would actually go that direction, but I could see visiting a mosque and checking it out.
So what traditions do you feel drawn to by your sense of holy envy?