Friday, July 02, 2010

Why I've stayed Mormon--the background

(This is a long post.)

(You've been warned.)

So, I have a story to tell.

It's a story of a group of experiences I had the summer after I turned 17 years old.

It's a story of a group of experiences that led me to the person I am, the beliefs that I have, and the choices I make today.

But, before I tell that story, I need to give a little bit of background.

If you were to head over to a little blog entitled "Living in Utah", you would find the delightful blog of one of my friends. There Heather (who shares what is almost surely the most desirable name given to any female within the last fifty years) shares among other things, the experiences, thoughts, challenges, discoveries and questions that I suppose are essentially par for the course among people who live in Utah but are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Long story a bit shorter, a few days ago Heather finished two books, one written by a Buddhist, and one written by a Mormon. She then posted some of her thoughts and perceptions about both belief systems, and invited comments from those of us who wished to share. I chose to do so, commenting specifically on: 1)Whether or not churches are creations of God or man; 2)My philosophy regarding the exploration of other faiths and paths of belief; and 3)Where I stand on the issue of man judging man, and the LDS belief that the Church of Jesus Christ is the only true church on the earth at this time, and thus the only path to salvation.

I wrote a very long-winded comment which was so long that I had to split it up into two comments before blogger would publish it. You can read it by clicking on that "she then posted" link above and then reading the comments. I won't force you to read it all here.

The main point of my comment that has to do with the story that I'm going to tell though, is this:

I haven't done anything more than a cursory study of any other religion, probably because I haven't felt the need to do so. Not that it wouldn't be interesting and even helpful, but we all only have so much time, and it's not high on my priority list at the moment. That's probably because I'm a happy Mormon. I feel at peace in the Mormon church. I know that it's not a perfect church, and there are some aspects of it that don't make sense to me. The issue of black men and the Priesthood is one of those aspects, and there are a few more. I can live with that though. I suppose it's because the things that I do understand and the peace that I do feel outweighs the areas where I have confusion and doubt.

Heather responded saying (among other things):

As I've explored various religions, I've been pleasingly surprised by how similar they are, which leads me to believe that it won't matter what religion we were, but if we lived compassionately - something I strive for, and struggle with, every single day.

So Charlotte, my question to you would be, what if you did explore another religion and felt the same peacefulness you've felt with Mormonism? Do you ever wonder if you follow the Mormon religion because of the family you were born into and the societal acceptance of it? What if you were born in Israel or Africa and what about those who are Jewish and feel a peacefulness from their religion? From where does that peacefulness really come?

My answer to that question was:

You make a good point Heather. What if the peace I feel from the LDS faith is more about comfort and familiarity than anything else?

To answer your question though, if I were to explore another religion and found that it fit me better, felt more right, and most importantly, if I gained a witness or testimony of its truthfulness that was stronger than the testimony I have of the LDS faith, then I think I would have no choice but the leave the LDS church and join myself with the other one. So far, I've attended Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and 7th Day Adventist Services, and I've done a little exploring of the Hindu beliefs--mainly in connection with a hatha yoga practice. I've found good things in all those places, and I'm glad for the experiences I've had there.

I do think that every second-(or more) generation Mormon should at some point take a long hard look at what they believe and whether they believe it on their own two feet or whether they believe it out of convenience or habit. For me, that happened the summer after I turned 17, and then again, to a lesser degree when I was in the Missionary Training Center at age 22. I don't have time to describe my experience right now, but I'll try to write a post on my own blog sometime this week with that story.

And there you have the background.

If you're still interested, stay tuned for the story.

(Here's a hint:)
quirky 7-10

Coin Image found here.


Robert said...

You're killing me! You rope me in and then you give the "to be continued . . . . ."

When I watch TV I am usually aware of the time and sometimes when it gets close to the time the show is supposed to end you just know it's headed for the dreaded "to be continued." I was trying to do that with your post by watching the scroll bar. Unfortunately there is much more on you're page than just you're most recent post so you're abrupt ending caught me unprepared.

I will be anxiously awaiting the completion of this post!

No sarcasm intended!

Jake said...

I echo the sentiment of my brother, though, I wasn't sure how to put it in comment form.

Charlotte said...

Never fear brothers--it's in the works. I started it yesterday afternoon, and would have had it finished, but Heather's usual two-hour nap was only one hour long. Hopefully I'll have it written and up by the end of the day.

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