When I was six I took piano lessons. I enjoyed the first year, but when I moved on to the second and much harder book, I complained until my parents took me out of lessons. I wish they made me continue, not because I long to be able to play the piano well, but because I wish I developed the perseverance to not give up when things get hard.
Monday, 9 February 2015
This is my WITOR (Who Is The One Researching). As I seek to answer the elephants I want to first disclose my biases. I will try to research objectively, but I am not objective. I have a bias and this is it.
My experiences, beliefs and desires which shape my biases are vast and self-contradicting. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since February 2014, I have spurts of budding faith and stifling doubt. After deciding to believe in God I joined the LDS Church because the God They spoke about seemed to be a good God, and also because of the exemplar lives of Mormons around me. My conversion was not based upon feelings I had when reading the Book of Mormon. Nevertheless, I have since felt that I received direction and understanding from the Spirit. I use the word “felt” with skepticism. I am not one to trust feelings. Rather, I typically look to logic and the scientific method to satisfy epistemological questions.
My experiences prior to my LDS baptism have also shaped the way I approach research. Four years of theological training at a local Bible College instilled within me a hermeneutical approach to scriptures. As I read holy books I question the context in which they were written, the meaning it had for the people of its time, the use of words in their original language, the underlying principles and the significant for today.
Throughout my life, I have attended with commitment many different denominations including (Listed in order from longest duration to shorted duration): Baptist (Canadian Baptists of Western Canada), Mennonite Brethren, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Roman Catholic, LDS, Plymouth Brethren, Christian Churches (Stone-Campbell Movement). The list of churches I have visited is far longer.
While I abandoned Christian thought to embrace agnosticism/atheism, I have never ventured far into understanding non-Judeo-Christian worldviews. As well as completing Bible College and regular church attendance throughout most of my life, I spent four years working for an evangelically minded youth organization. During this time I sought to lead Mormons out of their church and to who I deemed was the “true Christ.” To strengthen my polemics, I studied anti-material and stacked up the Church’s flaws. Meanwhile, I visited Utah and was inspired to write the Plan of Happiness, a story about a gay teenager and her struggle within the LDS church.
For a number of years I have advocated for the LGBT community, yet only recently have I come to acknowledge my own gayness. While I believe I can be perfectly happy single, immersion in a community that constantly commends heterosexual marriage frustrates me.
I am an idealist. I imagine the world as I think it should be. Let’s all just get along. I am a people pleaser to a fault. I live with the constant temptation of saying what people want me to say, doing what they want me to do and lying rather than speaking offense.
want the LDS Church to be true. I love being in the temple and do not want to jeopardize
my temple recommend. As I consider serving
a mission for the LDS Church, the stack of anti-material I once created come
back to haunt me. Previously I held to truth as the highest transcendental,
being of greater importance than goodness, success or virtue, than beauty,
happiness or creativity. I have since
realized that my own happiness is far easier to judge than the veracity of a
doctrine, let alone a church. Nevertheless,
truth matters. I want to know if the LDS
Church is true, not only true, but is it good?
Is it beautiful?
|this is the small print|
My appreciation for the Church’s principles, prophets and procedures has been acquired through chosen blindness towards elephants. Though I was aware of the Church's flaws (both real and perceived I’m sure), I joined without working through them. I want to see these elephants, let them speak for themselves and accept the truth that they share.
“I have always had the satisfaction of seeing the truth triumph over error, and darkness give way before light.” *
*Letter from Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery, Sept. 24, 1834, Kirtland, Ohio, published in Evening and Morning Star, Sept. 1834, p. 192.
Thursday, 5 February 2015
|“And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.” Ether 9:19|
There are a few topics that tend to go untalked about at LDS functions, problems, past or present to which I’d like answers. These are issues that I once held as surplus evidence against the LDS Church. Now I try to avoid them, but if they are the elephant, I am the room. Every so often it wells up inside of me, pushing me to the brink of explosion. Ignoring these problems works only for fleeting moments, and then, when the elephant is aggravated, any faith progression I thought I made during its dormancy crumbles. Living with this internal elephant is terrifying. I never know when someone with a feather will come along and prod one of its soft spots. It has many soft spots, or perhaps there are many elephants.
|Book of Mormon archaeological elephant|
|Book of Abraham elephant|
|Blacks and the priesthood elephant|
|Spiritually dictated control elephant|
|Changes in scripture elephant|
|Patriarchal predominance elephant|
Church history elephant
|Gender stereotypes elephant|
|Perpetuation of harmful thought patterns elephant|
|Unverifiable epistemology elephant|
The character of Joseph Smith elephant
|Secrets and lies elephant|
|Obscure rules elephant|
|Requirement of a family elephant|
|Questionable and contradicting Scripture elephant|
I am hardly acquainted with some of these elephants, changes in scripture for example. Nevertheless, I am bothered that changes have been made to the “most true book.” Perhaps fear keeps me from delving into past records. I fear the evidence against the church will be overwhelming. If the elephants are as I dread, anyone of them is strong enough to shatter my faith. Their combined weight is crushing. Petrified by the thought, I avoid thinking of the uncomfortable.
But there are elephants in the room, a whole stampede that cannot be contained, will not be ignored. If I don’t act, I will be the ground upon which they trample. They demand my address.
Elephants! I tell no secret when I admit that you far outnumber me. You are a legion, I am one. So, I will face you one-by-one. Choose a fighter! I will not back down. We shall wrestle until I prove you a fraud, your threat a mere mirage, or I ride out of this church victoriously upon your back.
Let the battles begin! (oh yeah… I don’t like violence, so let’s do this nicely. Conversation, open dialogue, no name calling. Wherever this leads us, let’s be friends)