Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On Curiosity

I don't know about you, oh wonderful people who read my blog, but I personally have a big problem with curiosity. You see, I find it rather difficult to control this particular aspect of my life. If there is information out there, I tend to want it. Even if it's not something I really care about that much, there's very little that you could tell me about anything that I wouldn't be at least somewhat interested in hearing.

Regrettably, that's the healthy side of my curiosity. There's also a dangerous side, a side that becomes a monster uncontrollable. This side only rears itself when there's something that I really really want to know. I've been known to completely neglect just about anything and everything to satisfy my curiosity about certain subjects. That includes neglecting my own personal well being. Tonight, I had such an experience.

I was talking to a couple people online, but the conversation lulled. During lulls in conversation, I tend to start thinking about mostly unrelated topics like, "what is lint actually made of?" and "do they ever come up with really awesome plaids by complete accident or is there like a mathematical formula for it?" Usually, it's a harmless question that I ask, like one of those, and a brief stint on Wikipedia will provide me with the information I need. Ocassionally though, I've asked slightly more dangerous questions. We needn't get into some of them and the (usually horrid) adventures they've led me on, but I would like to talk about the one tonight.

The question that I posed was, "so what exactly happens during an endowment ceremony." I know you're all cringing. I should have cringed at the very thought of it. I knew it was stupid to look, but I did it anyway. I justified, "nobody has ever specifically forbidden it to me." But I still knew I shouldn't do it... I looked. Just a peek. I looked up "Mormon Endowment" on google, and I picked a response off of the first page. It was the exact text of the Endowment Ceremony, transcribed from a tape recording. This was the first red flag.

I read a little bit. Right down to the part where the First Presidency says that everything in the Endowment is sacred and that there is a solemn obligation not discuss it outside of the temple. This was the second red flag. Note that one red flag is enough, and two red flags is clear and convincing evidence that I should not be there. Even so, I continued further. I read days 1-5 of the film completely. All the while, I kept thinking to myself, "don't do it, Stephen! Don't read on! Tell somebody what you're doing! They'll tell you to stop, and you'll stop! Just STOP!" I started reading day number six, checking back to google chat regularly, nay feverishly, hoping that somebody would say something, or that I would tell somebody, and then it would all be over.

And then I came to a realization. I didn't need them to tell me to stop. I softly and clearly uttered the word "stop," even though I didn't really intend to say it at all. And then I stopped. And I closed the tab that it was in, and I went off to Google chat to say goodnight. Next thing I knew, I was here writing this blog about curiosity.

Now, my life experiences aren't any good to anybody, including myself, if there isn't some reflection and analysis. The good news is, I didn't learn anything new. Other than a little bit of what the ceremony sounds like in the very very very beginning. I assume it was only the very very very beginning because that page was ridiculously long and I had only moved a very little bit on the side bar. The information presented though was nothing new to me. The other good news is that I stopped. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I stopped. I'm rather proud of myself for that.

The bad news is, I knew that something was wrong and I didn't stop immediately. I knew that it was wrong and I just kind of kept going. Somehow, that strikes as remarkably unwise. I ignored clear and convincing evidence that what I was doing was a bad idea. And yet, somehow, I did it anyway. I stopped, and that's good, but I started, and that's bad.

So, what I have to say about curiosity is that although we are all faced with things about which we are curious. We have got to be wise enough to know when to resist it, and we've got to be strong enough to actually resist it when we know we should. I still don't know what happens in the rest of the film, and I still don't know what happens after the film, but you know what? I'm OK with that. Someday, I'll find out, and until then, I don't need to peek. I don't want to peek. It is hubris for any man to reveal what God has ordained mystery, and it is hubris for any man, including me, to think that he need not wait and hear mystery in the proper time, at the proper place.

I'm sorry to those that I told I was going to bed. I didn't mean to lie to you, and in fact I did intend to go to bed. I hope that you can forgive me for that. Really, truly, I'm sorry.


playasinmar said...

Curiosity made the cat bisexual.

Abelard Enigma said...

I did the same thing before I went to the Temple for the first time. Although, this was in the days before the Internet. I found an anti-Mormon book in the public library that had the complete endowment ceremony. Unlike you, I didn't have the courage to stop reading it - I read the whole thing. It was this sick sort of fascination similar to that which causes us to slow down and gawk at accidents as we drive by.

Anyway, the good news is that you stopped yourself - that says a lot about your character. Sure, you got a little carried away with your curiosity; but, you caught yourself. And, I presume, you learned a lesson. Some of us just have to learn the hard way.

Gimple said...

Curiosity causes weird things to happen. I'm glad that you were able to stop that you still have some surprises! It is no fun to know all of the secret of something before it happens. Huzzah (I've been saying that with Salad today for some reason)!

Brady said...

Most of the stuff in the endowment you can learn from reading the Pearl of Great Price. Other stuff you can't. But as with most things in the church, it means more when you learn it in the proper context. I was really curious before my mission as well, but managed to refrain from learning about the endowment ceremony. A few times I really wanted to, but it felt apostate for some reason - although, like you said, there's no commandment (to you) against looking it up.

Max Power said...

Sheesh! Am I the only person who didn't care that much to do any research into it? I feel like such a mediocre member now. :P

Abelard Enigma said...

I feel like such a mediocre member now

Or, perhaps, you are more righteous than the rest of us :)

I do agree with Brady, reading about it doesn't do anything, you need to experience it in the proper context, and with the spirit that you feel in the Temple.