I need help.

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Roy
Posts: 6151
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: I need help.

Post by Roy » 17 Feb 2015, 15:57

metalrain wrote:I think the thing I'm having the hardest time with is Joseph Smith. And I think a majority of it was due to the stories and information I was told at church vs. what the history says. How have you guys worked through things like the seer stone vs. urim & thummim, polyandry, book of abraham & etc?
I see JS as a great man that accomplished many great things and started a movement that continues to do many great things. I find it helpful to compare him to MLK or others that were also great men with large personal flaws.

As far as the BoM, BoA, peep stones etc. I find it helpful to compare them to Uncle Tom's Cabin. The book itself was not great - but it accomplished much good.

I see everything that JS experienced and everything that JS produced as coming from within JS (with the undesrtanding that JS was influenced by his environment and may have also had an element of divine inspiration mixed in).

The good news is that the Modern LDS church is only loosely based on the church set up by JS. As already mentioned, his behavior would not be tolerated today. The church today is very much about family first and service and education and stability and planning for the future. These are all good things. This isn't the church of JS or BY anymore - it is better.
"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
Site Admin
Posts: 16831
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: I need help.

Post by Curt Sunshine » 17 Feb 2015, 16:06

Joseph is the most chastised person in the D&C.

He called himself a rough stone rolling.

He was told his name would be had for good and evil.

I'm okay with all of those things, and I use them to filter what the institutional church produced for so long - since his "official" story was filtered through the lenses of people who loved and adored him.

If I wrote a completely honest, comprehensive autobiography, it would be radically different than one written by the people who know and love me. I have the luxury of living in relative anonymity - and I am grateful for that.

Truly great people tend to live on the edges - and when they fall, they tend to face plant. Joseph fits the historical mold really well - at least partially because of the extreme range of his actions and face plants.
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

Ann
Posts: 2576
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: I need help.

Post by Ann » 17 Feb 2015, 19:37

metalrain wrote:I think the thing I'm having the hardest time with is Joseph Smith. And I think a majority of it was due to the stories and information I was told at church vs. what the history says. How have you guys worked through things like the seer stone vs. urim & thummim, polyandry, book of abraham & etc?
I do not say this openly because there isn't much point in distressing and antagonizing people around me, but I cleared everything out and switched my believe-it switch to "off." This is going to sound prideful, or something, but it means absolutely nothing to me anymore that a person called a prophet said or did anything. Ideas, doctrines, truth claims are allowed back in based on new criteria.

My real problem isn't with JS and what he did, it's with the people now who insist that God told him to do it. Joseph, they'll say over and over, "was flawed," but we can never say how. Why not let every Mormon call it as he/she sees it, and speak Joseph Smith's name for good and evil? I think we'd net more good than we do now.
"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

dash1730
Posts: 295
Joined: 17 Oct 2009, 14:21

Re: I need help.

Post by dash1730 » 17 Feb 2015, 19:44

metalrain, Let me make 4 suggestions.

The first is in your studies. Read something that feeds your soul in addition to your compulsive study of issues. Don't let yourself get sucked into the anti's negativity. There's boat loads of negative crap on the net written out of bitterness, anger, maliciousness, etc. As a standard rule, whether in conversation, or some media item, I simply discount anything that is overwhelmingly negative. I do this for religion, politics, and social stuff, too. Learn how to spot balanced reporting, and think through their motivations. This rule probably holds for overwhelming positive subjects as well (like anything Mormon), but it seldom cankers the soul like negativity does.

Second, I suggest you take a broad view. What is the net result? For example, objective Church history shows how 6 people in upstate New York in 1830 grew to today's Church with 15+million members with congregations in 160 countries. This was don despite incessant resistance and violence. Starting with young Joseph being chased by those wishing to do him harm, and later tarred and feathered for his beliefs. He and his followers were chased by mobs out of their homes in Kirkland, then Missouri, and again Nauvoo. They finally fled the United States to a cricket infested place 1,200 miles away. There they hoped to be safe living on the edge of a desert than no one except for a few Indians wanted. Yet within a few years Johnson's Army marched to Utah to put down the "Mormon Rebellion". Some deft negotiations saved them from attack, but struggling to survive in the wasteland took they built first irrigation-based economy in the western hemisphere. Although that put food on the table, trouble wasn't far off. The US government pressed strongly its opposition to polygamy by imprisoning participants, and when that didn't work it moved to take over all Church properties, and threatened the temples as well. The Church teetered on bankruptcy, so they renounced a strongly held religious belief in polygamy. Meanwhile Reed Smoot, a monogamist was elected at Utah's first Senator. Nevertheless he was not seated by the US Senate for 4 years because of suspicions of Mormons. Since then, the Church has become more main stream, surviving the Great Depression better than many states because of the Church Welfare Program. Mormons, together with all Americans suffered through 2 world wars. Now, 185 years later. The Church is being accepted into the mainstream. Their numbers have grown from 6 to 15+ million members with congregations in 160 countries. Spanish is spoken by more members than English, and more members live outside the US than inside. All the above happened because Joseph with only 3 years of formal education asked a simple question. (Remember is all right to ask questions)

Third, take a broad view of the Church’s effect on your life. For example, I live much more conservatively than I otherwise would. I would drink alcohol, a real problem if you have an addictive personality. Then there are drugs, an even greater hazard. And biggest of all is no sexual promiscuity. Both my wife and I give our Temple Marriage credit for us not getting a divorce. After 24 years, we are thankful of that influence.
Fourth, If you can take a broad look at Mormonism’s effect on your life. What about the people you have met through it? What about the values and standards that raise your standards? You could do a lot worst. If you decide to leave the Church, make sure your have a better place to go. Remember it isn’t a binary decision whether the Church is True or not. You can accept what it works and shelve what doesn’t

Fourth, If you like to read and think, I suggest Terryl Givens books. I have read and reread “The God Who Weeps”. For me, It answers questions that make being Mormon worthwhile: Why God cares, given all the crap in mortality, What is faith and how it is different from testimony, & the critical importance of free agency. What may be more relevant to you now is his book “The Crucible of Doubt”. And don’t forget StayLDS. There are lots of caring people here, who are honest and forth coming, and amazingly knowledgeable people here. And you can do a search on this site on virtually any topic related to Mormonism, to see how others who have faced a Faith Crisis make sense of it.
I may not walk the straight and narrow, but I try to cross it as often as I can.
---J Golden Kimball

User avatar
LookingHard
Posts: 2949
Joined: 20 Oct 2014, 12:11

Re: I need help.

Post by LookingHard » 17 Feb 2015, 20:55

This quote just made me think
Ann wrote:Joseph Smith's name for good and evil
It didn't say that believers would call his name good and non-believers would call him evil. Maybe even within the church there is both calling him good and evil and a being a prophet is a separate category.

User avatar
Holy Cow
Posts: 311
Joined: 10 Nov 2014, 17:07
Location: Las Vegas

Re: I need help.

Post by Holy Cow » 17 Feb 2015, 21:47

Ann wrote: I do not say this openly because there isn't much point in distressing and antagonizing people around me, but I cleared everything out and switched my believe-it switch to "off." This is going to sound prideful, or something, but it means absolutely nothing to me anymore that a person called a prophet said or did anything. Ideas, doctrines, truth claims are allowed back in based on new criteria.
My real problem isn't with JS and what he did, it's with the people now who insist that God told him to do it. Joseph, they'll say over and over, "was flawed," but we can never say how. Why not let every Mormon call it as he/she sees it, and speak Joseph Smith's name for good and evil? I think we'd net more good than we do now.
I can relate with this. I've had to dump everything I once accepted about JS, and I've started over from the very basic doctrines that Christ taught. I know my picture of JS is more negative than most others on the site. I can't view him as a prophet, no matter how much I try to change my definition of what a prophet is. I've mentioned this multiple times in other posts, so I won't get into it much, but I view him as little more than a power-driven egomaniac. I've scrapped everything he taught. This was done with some reluctance at first, and I was waiting to feel a complete loss of the spirit for not supporting JS and his teachings (temple attendance, wearing garments, reading BofM/D&C/PofGP, etc.). But, I've actually felt closer to the spirit than I have in years. I focus most of my study on the basic principles that Christ taught.
However, it's important to note that this was the best way that I could find for MY journey. Yours could be very different. Everybody needs to find their own balance. What works for one person, won't necessarily work for another. I think that's why DarkJedi's frequent advice to people to take things slowly is so great. Everybody needs to take as much time as they need to find their own way, and exactly what they are prepared to accept/not accept.
My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6139

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16831
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: I need help.

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Feb 2015, 07:18

LookingHard, that is exactly what I meant about his name "being had for good and evil".

The words themselves, taken only for what they actually say, are fascinating. Collectively, we gloss over them, since we assume we will call him good and others will call him bad - but that isn't what the words themselves say.

My own interpretation is that he would do both good and evil - and that he would do so on a large enough stage that many people would see his actions and recognize all that he did. I see it as the earliest prophetic statement - that was reiterated in hindsight in D&C 121:39 -
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
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

User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7212
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: I need help.

Post by Heber13 » 19 Feb 2015, 11:52

I grew up with a strong testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, who had done more for the salvation of mankind than anyone else, save Jesus only.

I never really thought about what that meant, or how to prove the statement...I just heard it a lot on Sunday and I revered him as the prophet of the last dispensation.

He accomplished so many good works, brought forth scripture and revelation, established the church again as God commanded him. He organized people and started a movement that went beyond himself, and has survived today into a significant organization.

Then, I became aware of the historical facts hidden from most of us, because...well..they didn't protect his legacy and they were confusing and not inspiring.

But I told myself, I'm a big boy now...I should be able to look into what is real, and determine what is good and bad for me to know. I want truth.

I went through many books, and Rough Stone Rolling was a good, fairly balanced approach at the events, letting me make up my mind.

I never got angry or disbelieved Joseph Smith, I more just adjusted my focus and vision, to be able to say, "Joseph did some crazy stuff, and made mistakes AND he also did some amazing things and great works that have blessed my life, and millions others." The "AND" is important.

I don't focus solely on the bad stuff he did. But I don't dismiss it. It's all a part of the man he was. It is comforting for me to know God can work through imperfect mortals, perhaps even me.

Just because you learn new things you should have been taught a long time ago, don't forget the things you were taught a long time ago about him. Keep it balanced.

Remember, Richard Bushman is a faithful member of the church, and he knows it all.

I think it is a reasonable response to say, "Based on what I've just learned...I can't imagine a prophet of God acts that way. But I'm open to keep learning."

You don't want to jump from "I KNOW he saw God" to "I KNOW he is a fraud" too quickly. There are a lot of factors on understanding what a prophet is and isn't that needs to be studied.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

metalrain
Posts: 50
Joined: 12 Feb 2015, 00:56

Re: I need help.

Post by metalrain » 19 Feb 2015, 13:27

Heber13 wrote:I grew up with a strong testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, who had done more for the salvation of mankind than anyone else, save Jesus only.

I never really thought about what that meant, or how to prove the statement...I just heard it a lot on Sunday and I revered him as the prophet of the last dispensation.

He accomplished so many good works, brought forth scripture and revelation, established the church again as God commanded him. He organized people and started a movement that went beyond himself, and has survived today into a significant organization.

Then, I became aware of the historical facts hidden from most of us, because...well..they didn't protect his legacy and they were confusing and not inspiring.

But I told myself, I'm a big boy now...I should be able to look into what is real, and determine what is good and bad for me to know. I want truth.

I went through many books, and Rough Stone Rolling was a good, fairly balanced approach at the events, letting me make up my mind.

I never got angry or disbelieved Joseph Smith, I more just adjusted my focus and vision, to be able to say, "Joseph did some crazy stuff, and made mistakes AND he also did some amazing things and great works that have blessed my life, and millions others." The "AND" is important.

I don't focus solely on the bad stuff he did. But I don't dismiss it. It's all a part of the man he was. It is comforting for me to know God can work through imperfect mortals, perhaps even me.

I can relate to this quite a bit. I had the same view but the transition has been hard. It's hard for me to think about things logically and balance faith/spirituality, especially from what the church has taught vs. the historical details omitted.

IE: Joseph died a martyr, firm in his testimony. (Omitted: Because he ordered the destruction of a printing press. And his party was armed- not exactly the lamb to the slaughter I've always been taught)

Joseph lived in nice homes and had lots of things while other members had nothing. The bank and those failures. How/why?

An angel with a flaming sword commanding him to do polygamy/polyandry? I have SUCH a hard time with that.

The other side of the argument, is, like you said. If God can work through such imperfect mortals, then are his judgements as harsh as I've been lead to believe? I feel like a lot of the things Joseph did would have gotten him ex'd instantly in the church today. Am I going to be judged lighter than I anticipated? I sure hope so.

I feel like the church is so good, but there are things I just don't like. The staunch opposition to gay marriage. The fact that girls are still set on motherhood and not careers and developing their talents. IF I ever have daughters, how do I contradict the things they are taught at church and make sure that they know that they can do whatever they want and be as successful or independent as they please?

I've felt better the last few days, but I've been partially avoiding everything.

User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7212
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: I need help.

Post by Heber13 » 19 Feb 2015, 14:02

metalrain wrote: If God can work through such imperfect mortals, then are his judgments as harsh as I've been lead to believe?
ahh...I think you are starting to ask some very important questions now. Very important questions. Stuff that really matters to you and your journey, as opposed to just historical facts. For me, that was when I was starting to get on the path to truth.

I can share with you my experience...without a doubt...I came to an overwhelming feeling that "Everything was OK". God's judgments will be harsh enough to push me to be my best, and not harsher than that.

At the same time, my daughter gave me a picture of me and her laughing, and the caption read:
It will all be OK when it is all over. If it is not OK, then it is not over.
She didn't know what I was going through...but it was an amazing answer for me and direction in my journey.

The difficult part is that it is a private and lonely journey you go on to figure things out in your head. Keep learning, and keep asking the right questions. Always trade up, and don't use new information to justify lowering your spirituality.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Post Reply