In the wake of the Sunstone Symposium an interesting conversation occurred on the Association for Mormon Letters email list.
For me, it was quite a challenging conversation because I personally loved every nanosecond of the symposium. I mean, if Sunstone Symposiums were church, I'd be a stake president with 100 percent hometeaching by now. That's how much I enjoyed it.
So when I came across one (very intelligent, spiritual) person writing:
'The one time I went I felt such a void of the Spirit I swore I'd never go back.'
'This acquaintance warned him to leave [the symposium] immediately or he would be in jeopardy of losing his testimony as this now-excommunicated acquaintance had.'
I had to sit back and wrestle with some strong reactions. I personally had never felt such a spirit of community before I had gone to this year's symposium. Mormonism came alive for me. I was actually moved to tears a few times by the stories I heard there ?¢Ç¨Äú and I'm not a teary guy. These were Mormons that I resonated with on almost every level. I finally felt at home.
But evidently something was separating me from the person who came out so strongly against the symposium. It was a separation so potent that the author was willing to declare that the Spirit could not be found at the symposium (how strong a condemnation is that?). What was going on?
A possibility came up when another (very intelligent, spiritual) person posited a divide:
'Those on one side of the line tend to look at those on the other as being frightened of examining ideas, close-minded, possibly shallow. Those on the other side of the line tend to look at the others as lacking faith or even being instruments of the devil to lead us away gently. Both are wrong in these suspicions. But the line exists, and I see now that I cannot straddle the line.'
So according to this second author Sunstone folks aren't the devil, and anti-Sunstone folks aren't stupid. I'm willing to go with that (filing down my horns). Yet, the first author insists that the Spirit is chased away from her and that excommunication is the most likely result of attendance at a symposium. And the second insists that the divide cannot be straddled.
One side or the other. With us or against us. Sheep or goats.
My question: Does the divide exist? If it does, why is it there? Is it because the Spirit indeed passes judgment on the proceedings and leaves? Or is it more a matter of spiritual chemistry? Are some people just more composed to be nourished by symposiums while others are more likely to be poisoned?
Or are we all just overreacting?