Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Part two: believe half of what you see and none of what you hear

... I realized that I was Mormon and always would be, It had nothing to do with what I thought, just who I was. I did not have to think about any of the “problems” ‘cause they did not matter, what mattered was my family and I did not and could not really know anything with 100% confidence. If the church wasn’t true then I’d still live a good life and if it was...

So I was a practicing non-believing Mormon, went to BYU, had church callings and told my bishops how I felt... Two of said bishops confided in me that they were in a similar boat... this made me feel better, well sort of.

I learned to cope with church meetings by finding interesting people to talk to, sleeping through many meetings and just leaving rather than wrestle with the crazy talk and dumb headed beliefs that lead to conclusions I was not willing to embrace i.e.. that the the church and all of its beliefs were a thing made up by people.

Then one day my girl friend, who I planned on marrying, asked me what I thought of the church and the Book of Mormon. I couldn’t give just my cover story of “good leaders good plan for life” and had to vocalize what I really thought, something I’d never really done, I would tell people about my concerns... but what I really thought...

I put it all into words... “the Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith and is not a record of ancient America, Church leaders are good people but what they are teaching in not what they report it to be.” it felt good to finally get it off my chest.

... more later

Sunday, October 12, 2008

believe half of what you see and none of what you hear

I sometimes write about what I believe, but really it's simple, I believe what is real.

Ah you ask how does one know what is real?

This is the rub, I've always believed what is real, and I think everyone does the same. Yet my beliefs have changed over the years. So what has changed?

Growing up I was told to pray and get answers, that those answers were real. My mother would pray to find her car keys and she would find them. We prayed for my father to return from Vietnam safely, and even though there were times that it seemed that his plane should've been shot down, he returned home safe.

As a teen i read the scriptures, was a good kid, Deacon and Teacher quorum president then assistant to the Bishop as a Priest and prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true.

I've heard "believe half of what you see and none of what you hear". I've also heard "believe what you feel."

I was successful at getting my friends to stop swearing and we talked about religion
but I was always ashamed to bring them to church because the kids there were not good examples. It was always the same no matter where we lived.

At 16 an older girl at the kitchen I worked at talked to me about evangelical Christianity, she was born again and wanted to "save" me. I listened to her, discussed the scriptures and was sorry that she was so lost.

One day she brought a sheave of papers for me to read, proof that Mormonism was false. I took it home confident in my faith. It said crazy things that I knew were lies, evil oozed out of it.

I had been praying for years for a testimony of the Book of Mormon, this book was the answer for me. If this was so evil that i could feel the evil radiating off it and through my bed, then what it was fighting against must be true.

I still prayed for a more clear answer. In the MTC preparing to go to Georgia on my mission i met missionaries that knew nothing about the church, none of the doctrine or history, yet had strong testimonies. In Georgia I met a return missionary who had a burning testimony, but only in Spanish, the church did not feel real to him in English.

We met a Church of Christ minister who accepted our invitation for a discussion about the Church. During that meeting he bore his testimony about the truthfulness of his belief and that after her read the Book of Mormon he knew that Joseph Smith was not a true prophet. His Testimoney was one of the most pure and honest testimoney I had ever heard.

I still had not recieved a testomoney as strong as his. I had been telling people to pray and believe what they felt... yet this guy did just that and got the "wrong" answer.

This started turning into a crisis of faith... so I went to my mission president who told me "the church is not true, but it is divine" that the path that the church lays out for people to follow is the path that will lead to the greatest happiness. I believed him.

There were other crisis's of faith for me but I wanted to believe, felt that belief in the church was tied to my family and i clearly was "a chosen one."

Imperfect members, general authorities saying racist things, church policies that were dangerous were all excusable because it was the path that was good.

but then