Extremely discouraged with religion

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Life_Journey_of_Matt
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Extremely discouraged with religion

Post by Life_Journey_of_Matt » 18 Dec 2013, 21:45

I have wanted so badly for the church to be something that I believe to have been divinely established and divinely led, but I just don't. I am reading Rough Stone Rolling to finally try to get to know Joseph Smith. The more I get to know of his life story, however, the more I start to feel like he never actually knew any more than I know now. He claims to have spoken for God, but I have no way of knowing if he did or not. Interestingly, I find striking similarities between myself and JS and his parents in his early years:
Joseph wondered for a time if a Supreme being did exist. [RSR pg. 38]
He told his mother he could learn more in the woods from the Bible than from any meeting. [RSR pg. 46]
Both parents had broken out of the standard church orthodoxies while at the same time remaining pious and searching. Joseph Sr. was filled with yearnings for peace and salvation combined with a deep distrust of churches and ministers. He bestowed on his son a concern for the failures of the churches. [RSR pg. 55]
He was bred to independence...After 1820, it was fairly certain he would cut a path for himself. [RSR pg. 55]
One of the most profound statements I've come across so far in the book has been in reference to Fawn Brodie and how Bushman was taking a different approach:
Incredible as the plates were, hunting for deception can be a distraction. It throws us off the track of Joseph Smith the Prophet. In devising a story of a charlatan, we lose sight of the unprepossessing rural visionary who became a religious leader admired by thousands. What is most interesting about Joseph Smith is that people believed him.
Indeed, and at this point I don't. I don't believe him. I like some of the ideas that he presented. I like that he saw the need for some reform and that he attempted to enact the change he thought to be right. In the LDS church, like every religion I've ever investigated, I find great gems of wisdom, but the dogmatism drives me away.

The only spiritual ray of sunshine for me lately has been the spiritual teachings of Eckhart Tolle. He has the only interpretation of Christ's purpose that has ever resonated with me. He has the only interpretation of OUR purpose that has ever resonated with me. And it resonates deeply.

I continue to attend church with my wife and daughter on Sunday to provide them support, but I care almost nothing for the Sunday culture anymore.

For the first time today (on a different thread) I felt like my fundamental problems with traditional "faith" were making it difficult for me to remain respectful of the church. The church itself is just beginning to seem less and less necessary to me every day. I feel like I'm fed up with it all, so I'm probably going off the grid for awhile. I may answer any inquiries about responses that I've already made to threads, but I think I'm done speaking up for now. Thanks for all your support...until we meet again.
"So oft in theologic wars / The disputants, I ween, / Rail on in utter ignorance / Of what each other mean / And prate about an Elephant / Not one of them has seen." -- from "The Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe

"The faith that stands on authority is not faith. The reliance on authority measures the decline of religion, the withdrawal of the soul." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

My ongoing story: http://precariousironrod.com/

Ann
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Re: Extremely discouraged with religion

Post by Ann » 19 Dec 2013, 01:06

Life_Journey_of_Matt wrote:
One of the most profound statements I've come across so far in the book has been in reference to Fawn Brodie and how Bushman was taking a different approach:
Incredible as the plates were, hunting for deception can be a distraction. It throws us off the track of Joseph Smith the Prophet. In devising a story of a charlatan, we lose sight of the unprepossessing rural visionary who became a religious leader admired by thousands. What is most interesting about Joseph Smith is that people believed him.
Indeed, and at this point I don't. I don't believe him. I like some of the ideas that he presented. I like that he saw the need for some reform and that he attempted to enact the change he thought to be right. In the LDS church, like every religion I've ever investigated, I find great gems of wisdom, but the dogmatism drives me away.
It's was a little thing, but I'll share something that happened about a week ago. I was reaching out to God, not exactly praying because I was doing housework, and making a list of all the things I don't believe anymore. Something outside of myself told my mind, "It's okay." No directions like, "The church is true," or "Get out of there." Just "it's okay."

I hope you have a good break from it all and I hope I didn't add to your discouragement in that "other" thread.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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Life_Journey_of_Matt
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Re: Extremely discouraged with religion

Post by Life_Journey_of_Matt » 19 Dec 2013, 04:28

No worries Ann. Thank you.
"So oft in theologic wars / The disputants, I ween, / Rail on in utter ignorance / Of what each other mean / And prate about an Elephant / Not one of them has seen." -- from "The Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe

"The faith that stands on authority is not faith. The reliance on authority measures the decline of religion, the withdrawal of the soul." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

My ongoing story: http://precariousironrod.com/

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DarkJedi
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Re: Extremely discouraged with religion

Post by DarkJedi » 19 Dec 2013, 04:32

Sadly, it can be discouraging when we realize the church isn't all that much different from other churches and doesn't live up yo our own expectations. There's the old "perfect church and imperfect people" cliche (which is only partly correct IMO), but the fact is most of the dogma you refer to Matt is perpetrated by humans. Clear that dogma out of the way, look at the core of the gospel as embraced by the church (and other churches) and in the end the church has a little that the others don't.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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nibbler
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Re: Extremely discouraged with religion

Post by nibbler » 19 Dec 2013, 06:11

I understand where you're coming from Life_Journey_of_Matt. I've felt that way for a long, long time now. I was attending church to support my immediate family but I was largely dead inside.

Rough Stone Rolling sounds like an interesting read. I'll have to do that some time.

BTW, I really like your avatar. :smile:
Ann wrote:It's was a little thing, but I'll share something that happened about a week ago. I was reaching out to God, not exactly praying because I was doing housework, and making a list of all the things I don't believe anymore. Something outside of myself told my mind, "It's okay." No directions like, "The church is true," or "Get out of there." Just "it's okay."
I recently had a similar experience. I'm glad you piped up because I don't know that I could put my experience into words. I wasn't really making a conscientious attempt to reach out to God or anything, in fact I don't know exactly how it happened, but I started to feel the weight of my doubts slowly melt away. I still retain all of my doubts, the only difference is that I do not feel weighed down by them... at least not nearly as much as I used to.

The experience made me go back to the words of Uchtdorf. When he said "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith" I thought one of his goals may have been to shield someone from having a faith crisis in the first place, or maybe guide people back to believing things which they had doubted. I don't know the motives but neither of those scenarios fit me. In revisiting the talk I found another catchphrase that didn't stand out to me at the time. It came right after the "doubt your doubts" line:
Dieter F. Uchtdorf wrote:We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I don't think I realized it at the time but I was allowing my doubts to hold me prisoner. Letting go of doubt was a process for me, one that I think isn't quite complete, perhaps it will take a lifetime. I will say that I've felt liberated by letting go of the few doubts that I've been able to let go of; again that doesn't mean I now believe what I doubted, rather I'm experimenting with making what I do believe be the governing force in my life - doubts have been in the drivers seat for far too long.

Best of luck to you in your journey. There and Back Again, a Matt's Tale. :angel:

Roy
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Re: Extremely discouraged with religion

Post by Roy » 19 Dec 2013, 10:03

Life_Journey_of_Matt wrote:I am reading Rough Stone Rolling to finally try to get to know Joseph Smith. The more I get to know of his life story, however, the more I start to feel like he never actually knew any more than I know now.
I read RSR before my faith crisis and it changed my perceptions of JS. So much of what he did was guesswork and shooting from the hip that it raises questions about what remains at the core of his experiences.

So when my faith crisis catalyst did come I already had lost confidence in JS as an oracle of divine wisdom.

I read a historical fiction book about Emma. There was this part where Joseph and Emma experience child loss. JS is portrayed as being eerily calm. That God had revealed the purpose of this loss to his satisfaction but he wasn't permitted to tell anyone else. That Emma had to take it on faith that her husband knew even when she wasn't permitted to know.

It was a little maddening to see their relationship depicted like that. This might sound a little strong, but if my spouse knew the reason for our child loss and kept it from me I might hate them for it.

For Emma's sake, I prefer a JS that is human and vulnerable to the all knowing almost otherworldly conception I had of him.
nibbler wrote:I recently had a similar experience. I'm glad you piped up because I don't know that I could put my experience into words. I wasn't really making a conscientious attempt to reach out to God or anything, in fact I don't know exactly how it happened, but I started to feel the weight of my doubts slowly melt away. I still retain all of my doubts, the only difference is that I do not feel weighed down by them... at least not nearly as much as I used to.
This reminds me of a scripture in Alma that talks of forgetting your sins or rather to not be weighed down with the memory of your sins.

It is ok. I am ok. My journey is ok.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Extremely discouraged with religion

Post by Curt Sunshine » 19 Dec 2013, 10:47

Thank you, nibbler. Your experience is representative of our mission, in a way.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Daeruin
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Re: Extremely discouraged with religion

Post by Daeruin » 23 Dec 2013, 21:49

I can really identify with what some of you are going through—attending to support immediate family, but not getting anything out of it for one's self.

Nibbler's comment stuck out to me:
nibbler wrote:I will say that I've felt liberated by letting go of the few doubts that I've been able to let go of; again that doesn't mean I now believe what I doubted, rather I'm experimenting with making what I do believe be the governing force in my life - doubts have been in the drivers seat for far too long.
I hope I can start to feel that way too. My skepticism felt good for a long time. But I think it also held back a lot of growth. I'm hoping to get more hope back in my life. Haha. Right now I don't have much hope, but I hope for more. Maybe later I can hope for faith.

I read Rough Stone Rolling after my loss of faith. I thought maybe if I learned more about Joseph Smith, it would help. It did nothing for me. But it was definitely an eye opening read.
"Not all those who wander are lost" —Tolkien

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SilentDawning
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Re: Extremely discouraged with religion

Post by SilentDawning » 23 Dec 2013, 23:22

For the first time today (on a different thread) I felt like my fundamental problems with traditional "faith" were making it difficult for me to remain respectful of the church. The church itself is just beginning to seem less and less necessary to me every day. I feel like I'm fed up with it all, so I'm probably going off the grid for awhile. I may answer any inquiries about responses that I've already made to threads, but I think I'm done speaking up for now. Thanks for all your support...until we meet again.
I think it gets easier when you stop using the church as a source of validation -- in any form, whether validation before God, to other Mormons, or your family. Be agnostic about the church. That is the way I am now. I choose to be undecided about it. And I follow my heart and personal conscience. Also, find new social circles. Take the church down from being the center of the universe, to one of many stars upon which you gaze. Maintain your activity, but make sure it's no longer the big focus everyone makes it out to be.

For me, it meant finding social circles outside of the church where I can belong. It has been marvelous. Today I had lunch with someone who is not a member, but part of a non-church service organization. We talked for an hour about things of interest regarding volunteerism and service.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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