A Stream of Consciousness

At this point in my public life, I’m a sort of vague unassuming lds member. I’ve found that church is a miserable slog through a hell; as the years pass I’ve come to accept Robert Smith’s (of Upward Thought) assessment that the church does more harm than good due to pervasive false traditions. Despite the fatigue I experience through the lds church, I continue to attend. I don’t make ripples because I’ve found it a completely fruitless effort.

I recall an incident that shaped me deeply. During my first year at BYU, I came to the conclusion that the church was not true. I was angry. Tangibly so. One time I was arguing with my mother about some things that Boyd K. Packer said. My final point was basically, “Why can’t Boyd K. Packer just be wrong on this point?” It was frustrating to be arguing with a brick wall – one that placed the scriptures in a subordinate position to tradition. My mother made it clear after my statement that she didn’t want to discuss it any further and the phone call ended.

I felt isolated at BYU. At that moment I felt isolated from my own blood – my family. I realized I was alone. I didn’t just feel alone, I was alone. Emotion and pain consumed me in the seconds after the call ended. I had a total emotional breakdown. I was living in a dorm setting at the time and I quickly scurried to the public restroom as I held back tears. I didn’t want my roommate or anyone to see me so I locked myself in a bathroom stall and cried. It was a pathetic scene. I hate reliving it in writing.

I did come out of that stall comforted. I learned that my reliance had to be on Jesus and “no other name under heaven” (Acts 4:12).

Most other interactions in the church have been similar negative experiences, though not as dramatic. I argue from a fundamentally different perspective than the church accepts as authoritative. The best way I’ve found to articulate the idea is to use a tree as a model: The lds church (an some others) view truth as the fruit of the tree of authority. I believe that authority is the fruit of the tree of truth. The lds church assumes if something stems from proper authority it is true. I assume that things that whatever is authoritative is derived from truth. “Between us . . . there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26).

My perspective is a difficult one, by what criteria do we discern truth without an “authority”? The other perspective has an answer to that question, therefore it is satisfying to many. I see why it is appealing to adopt; it solves my dilemma and frequent source of pain – searching for truth.

So where is the truth tree?

All this reminds me of an interesting little quote from Joseph Smith: “Had I inspiration, revelation, and lungs to communicate what my soul has contemplated in times past, there is not a soul in this congregation but would go to their homes and shut their mouths in everlasting silence on religion till they had learned something.” (13 Aug 1843)

Apparently, Joseph Smith didn’t think his congregation had learned anything. Also, he seems to indicate that this “learning” was not something that could be communicated person-to-person. It was not obtained in a church, nor a general conference, but at home in silence.

I really ought to learn something about religion. And maybe I should abandon this little stupid blog and seclude myself to monastic vows of silence on religion.

Recently, I’ve become somewhat infatuated with Jordan Peterson. I was watching a video recently where he said something that comes as close to an articulated truth as men can conjure up in language. I jotted it down:

Straighten out what you can straighten out and stop saying things that make you feel weak.”

Over the last eight years (particularly through a crash course of necessity at BYU) I learned to stop saying things that make me feel weak. However, because of that same dogmatic environment I never learned to replace that speaking untruths with truths. I’ve confined myself to “silence on religion“. I can tactfully avoid saying things I disagree with and dance around with my words. I know the church is imperceptive to my lack of affirmation of basic lds doctrines. I was able to serve a 2 year mission and never say any form of “I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God”.

It reminds me of a discussion with a religion professor at BYU, where she talked about how she had to speak the language of her department in graduate school to please them. Her school assumed that there was nothing “true” about the New Testament and treated it through that lens. Her personal opinions and beliefs were divorced from the things she spoke or wrote.

She learned to satisfy their biases. I have done likewise within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Over the last 6 months I have seriously considered giving up on the lds church. I’ve been convinced for a while (say 2013) that I would one day leave. While serving my mission, I had a dream where I was in a church trial for my beliefs. I was excommunicated. I interpreted this as the spirit of prophecy and it brought me peace. No directive has come through inspiration to distance myself from the church. As such I don’t feel at liberty to leave or remove my name from the records of the church. Jesus lived 30 years in a corrupt religious environment and did not make waves until his time had come. But I am tired of waiting.

A few days ago, I was out with the missionaries teaching. Of the three “teachers” I was constantly trying to direct the conversation into the scriptures while the others sort of parroted general mormon doctrines. I don’t much care whether anyone joins the lds church, but my presence is interpreted as supporting the church program. Maybe my “silence” is just as bad as “speaking untruths”, it certainly makes me feel weak.

I remember the frustrations that I felt as a missionary and would like to ease the burdens of the lds missionaries, though we have different yokes. If I were to leave the lds church, I’d be left with no outlet for charity. There is no one in my area who shares my views, who I could fellowship with. In my circumstances leaving doesn’t seem to be a productive route. Like Adam in the garden, I am confused at seemingly contrary directives; I grow restless and desire to take things into my own hands and eat fruit out of season.

Would that the Lord send direction. Maybe I missed it. That thought crosses my mind frequently. I am not who, what, where I could be in some alternate world. I feel like one of my alternate selves stumbled on better choices and has entered the rest of the Lord. But he isn’t me. And for some reason, I am not him. And that “some reason” would be good to know.

Jesus is Lord.

I Am not.

I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me. (Alma 29:3)

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Personality types and organizations (read: churches)

[Note to my 2.5 readers: I apologize for posting less frequently. That is just an extension of trends in my life; I’m continuing through a bout of depression which has caused me to withdraw from social interactions. At times I wonder if this blog has run it’s course. I have considered reorganizing/reformatting/rewriting the material I’ve written here and making it into a short book. That would be a time-consuming project and I’m not sure I’m willing to sacrifice the time needed. Back to the actual post.]

I recently had a probing interview my bishop. I brought up an idea I was exploring. His reaction was less than supportive. I had been thinking about personality types and the church. The church as an organization cannot appeal to all personality types. For example, people with more introverted or analytical personality types have more trouble fitting in with the larger church.

He acknowledged this problem but indicated that when people (*me*) find dissonance between their personality type and the larger church, they should just confirm to social norms. Don’t cause ripples. Don’t stir the pot. Just do what we tell you. Smile while you do it. The church has no responsibility to care for my needs, no imperative to comfort me when I stand in need of comfort. Discomfort those in need of comfort.

This was one interview in a painful series. This bishop may think he did good. He certainly got the results he wanted: conformity. His intrusion actually caused harm for my relationship with the church. I keep trying to make it work. I keep getting bitch-slapped. Disregarding truth claims, it has been an abusive force in my life for the past 7 years. It has caused me distress.

As I have branched out and attended other gatherings outside of the LDS church, I have noticed similar dissonance between my personality and the larger group. I am not sure my personality lends itself to group worship. That is a sad thought to confront and wrestle with.

Correlative data: https://www.16personalities.com/articles/religion-and-personality-type
Correlative data: https://www.16personalities.com/articles/religion-and-personality-type

Invoking the Muse (As Promised)

Heavenly Father!
We believe that thou art God!
And we believe that thou art holy,
And that thou hast a spirit,
And that thou art flesh and bone,
And that thou wilt progress forever.


Heavenly Father, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren
And we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren,
Which was handed down to them by the Great Apostasy of their fathers.
But we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy one true and living church!
And also thou hast made it known unto us that we have all the keys.
But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever!
And thou hast elected us that we shall be exalted,
Whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to the Telestial Kingdom!
For the which holiness, O God, we thank thee.


And we also thank thee that thou hast elected us to give us all the necessary keys,
That we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren,
Which doth bind them down to a belief that they do not need all the true priesthood keys which we (and only we) have,
Which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our god.
And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people blessed with all the keys.


Ancient American Sacrament Meeting (and the true order of prayer)

Amen.

A Purpose Statement or What-Not

Why another one of these blogs? With all their GD negativity? Another soon-to-be-victim of the Great TM?

I guess we’ll just have to find out and see . . .

I rather like these words:

“I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country.” – Cap’ Moroni

Maybe that is as good a purpose statement as any? I seek not for power, but to pull it down.

I am a bit hesitant about blogging, because I feel like I am in a constant flux of ideas – so it’s a bit hard to peg down what I believe or what I think is true. It’s a process, so this blog is a chronicle of that process – the exploration, the growth, and (of course) the error.

Hopefully a couple ideas I have will spawn some good dialogue, with the potential for correction (which ever side it may be). May the blessings flow!

Also, FYI I ain’t got no keys. Therefore feel free to disregard all my writings. Because keys are super fetchin’ important and if you don’t have the keys, you really are in no place to do or say anything. I honor the keys and their holders so much for all the key-power they have. Long live the keys! So many keys, without them what would we do? We would be super lost – that’s what! Imagine if you just showed up to church and suddenly there were no keys – the bishop lost them let’s say. The horror that would ensue! The bishop would be left helpless and keyless and we couldn’t hold any meetings! Remember to honor the keys and their holders.

In fact, let’s start with a prayer next post in honor of the keys I so reverently honor.

 

my blog – it’s a metaphor, get it?