For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

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Zelph
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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by Zelph » 19 Jan 2012, 10:18

Brian Johnston wrote:
If a religion makes someone a better person, but the reasons they thought it made them better are inaccurate, does that make it true or false? It gets pretty fuzzy when you start to inject human beings as variables into the equations.
That's my current view. I see it as good or bad, rather than true or false. If I have issues with historical claims of the church it actually has little to do with my current lack of belief. The church could be true even if the leadership were "bad" men. By it's nature it is only the spirit that dictates "truth". Even then there is a line of thought within the church that I absolutely love. I'd actually argue that it's the one true way within the church. D&C 9 sums it up perfectly. Study it out in your mind then get confirmation. Nothing galls me more than people who roll the bones. They do nothing and think they'll be guided. They do no search or ponder, they just want answers handed to them on a silver platter. Watching a missionary decide where to knock on doors by closing his eyes and pointing at a map, or searching for an answer to a problem by dropping his scriptures and reading the first verse that it opens up to hoping that it contains the answer. Magic 8-ball revelation is complete BS and the antithesis of everything I find of value in the church. Again this doesn't reflect on the leadership, just the members.

So yes absolutely I find a great deal of value in the church. So many lives of those I love the most have been completely changed by it, I am a better person because of it.

My belief only breaks down with the spirit itself. I make do with searching and pondering.

If an FLDS member prays to know if the Book of Mormon is true, he gets an affirmative, based on the common premise of it being the keystone. So what does he do with that information? Is the FLDS church true because the BoM is true? Community of Christ? I do not and can not believe that there is a single line of truth with the current prophet as arbiter. This then means that EVERYTHING is open to being truth/not truth, every claim whether historical or spiritual needs to be "studied out in your mind". So here I am. I cannot implicitly trust everything that flows from the mouth of those who have "stewardship" over me. I cannot implicitly trust myself as I am quite fallible. The only answer for me is to study everything out in my mind. Because I doubt that the spirit is communication with a god whose only true and living church is the LDS church based on the fervency of religion and lack of monopoly on the holy spirit, I then can only rely on the spirit as my own intuition empowering me with the things I have prepared by studying them out in my mind.

Even Brigham Young said that there are no miracles. Only things that we do not understand. IE, there is always a physical law in effect when a miraculous event occurs. By the nature of the LDS gospel and the reasoning behind the atonement god cannot break the laws that he has set forth. This makes him an architect or programmer of the world, who at one point compiled and ran the universe So when I say I am currently an atheist it is only because I don't believe in a personal god right now.

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Brian Johnston
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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by Brian Johnston » 19 Jan 2012, 13:08

Totally agree with you on how to describe religious experience: good, useful, valuable, inspiring, soul expanding, and of course all the opposites of those. True/False just doesn't cut it for me anymore really, not in describing religious experience and theological speculation. "True" is really the wrong category of label to apply to most religious concepts. It's like saying the Church is lemon-flavored. It doesn't make sense.

Historical facts can be true or false. Interpretations of the historical facts to create meaning, generally not so much. I don't find any thing or any person to really be all good or all bad. It's a Yin-Yang of various proportions.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by wayfarer » 21 Jan 2012, 09:31

Brian Johnston wrote:Totally agree with you on how to describe religious experience: good, useful, valuable, inspiring, soul expanding, and of course all the opposites of those. True/False just doesn't cut it for me anymore really, not in describing religious experience and theological speculation. "True" is really the wrong category of label to apply to most religious concepts. It's like saying the Church is lemon-flavored. It doesn't make sense.
i just had hardware floors put into my living room because the @$#% cat declared her territory all around the edges of the carpet. this morning i had to 'true-up' the bookcases as they wobble a bit on the new floor. as well, the boundaries of the room seem to be 'not true', because of a bit of house settle. as i was working with my level, i checked it both ways o make sure it was 'true'.

the word 'true' has a lot of meanings.

as i mentioned to you the other night, i am reading "on being certain" by robert burton. when lds have a comforting, feel-good experience about something in the church, there is a sense or feeling of knowing that tells the mind, "this is true": meaning it feels right. alma 32 describes this process with amazing accuracy. whereas alma 32 speaks of knowledge of a specific, testable thing, the problem is that LDS generalize the conclusion of rightness. they take the specific feeling of rightness, by faith or trust, and extend it to all other things about the church. a declaration of testimony: "i know the church is true" really means, "i feel that the church seems right". when we deconstruct our own testimony, i would submit that the feelings we had when we were constructing an LDS testimony were real and in some cases powererful. the personal experience or the phenomenology of the event is 'true', the subsequent conclusions are not truth or knowledge.

the problem isn't the word, the problem is how we use it.
Brian Johnston wrote:Historical facts can be true or false. Interpretations of the historical facts to create meaning, generally not so much. I don't find any thing or any person to really be all good or all bad. It's a Yin-Yang of various proportions.
hmmm. maybe you're right -- not sure, and it depends on what you mean. invoking yin-yang here may not be a natural fit to judgments of history. dao (unity and interaction of yin & yang) has an opposite, "fei dao" - which means "wrong way". there is no yin-yang aspect of feidao, it is the way if separation, abuse, dishonesty, and death. when facts are manipulated or interpreted to deceive and harm: it is 'not the way'/feidao. yin and yang have nothing to do with it.
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
My seat in the bloggernacle: http://wayfaringfool.blogspot.com

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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 Jan 2012, 10:06

I'm going to WAY over-simplify and use words common to us in what I'm about to say.

Within the Navajo worldview, primary importance is placed on being in harmony or balance between competing forces. For modern "singers" in the Navajo tribe, the ceremonies that are performed to "cure" people are done in order to "restore" those people to such harmony or balance. It's really fascinating to study how that affects the traditional Navajo world-view.
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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montereyredfox
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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by montereyredfox » 07 Feb 2012, 14:10

As a card-carrying nerd, I understand your desire to apply the scientific method to test the truthfulness of facts. I have a 25 year old son from a prior marriage before I joined the church. To illustrate the dichotomy that he grew up living under, his mother and I divorced (in part) because she decided she was lesbian. Within the next year I joined the LDS church. Due to split-custodial arrangements, he came to church with us 2 Sundays a month until he was about 11, then we moved further away, and he spent weekends with his mom, so he stopped coming to church. He has become, like his mother, a professional critic--in his words, "skeptic"--and firmly believes in the scientific method. He is a very intelligent young man, though lacking a little common sense, and very full of himself, in that he thinks that he can master the world through his mind. He very much resembles me at that age.

But what he is missing is that the scientific method disallows for another dimension of thinking that secular individuals probably think of as intuition but which I think of as revelation. These are things that we intrinsically know are true outside of any objective, conclusive proof. My 2nd wife and I both grew up in alcoholic families. I recognized that the painful death of that marriage had a lot to do with my family history. I felt crazy. In my mid-30s, despite the absolute best efforts of my mind, my life had broken apart. I was an agnostic searching for answers. On the advice of others, I went to Al Anon, and they told me I had to get a Higher Power. What's a Higher Power? I had no idea. But I remember with extreme clarity the night 21 years ago I was journaling and God touched me. As I journaled, I was influenced to write that I needed to know who Jesus Christ was. That was a bolt of lightening out of clear blue sky. That feeling from 21 years ago and the knowledge that those words were given to me by God is as tangible to me today as the table lamp next to me.

In our Elder's Quorum class two weeks ago, the teacher drew an analogy between the scientific method and personal revelation which I found interesting. To test the validity of facts, we apply the Scientific Method:
  • Formulates a hypothesis
  • Conduct careful, controlled research to evaluate the hypothesis
  • Evaluate the research and draw conclusions
  • Using our minds, compare the hypothesis to the outcomes of the research.
Then we ask, was the hypothesis true or false?

As you suggested, to test the validity of God, we apply D&C 9:8, aka the Gospel Method:
  • Formulate an idea, opinion, or conclusion
  • Carefully consider and study the topic, gathering information
  • Evaluate the information gathered and make a decision
  • Guided by the Spirit, submit the decision to God for confirmation.
Then we ask, what would God have us do?

I submit that these are not different processes, but one and the same. The difference is how willing we are to receive answers that are given to us in ways that others cannot discern, and how willing we are to rely on and stand by our experience. At the MTC, you experienced an extraordinary witness to the truth of the Gospel, the kind of revelation that few of us get in our lives. Is that experience any less true these many years later? Are you doubting or denying that it happened? It doesn't sound like it.

The LDS culture has a strong element of conformity built into it. It is very hard to openly challenge other people's statements especially in classroom type settings. You were rightly alarmed and upset by this individual's statements about church principles and gays. Uncertain how to respond, you left. I sense a bit of guilt on your part, that you ought to have stayed and questioned his assertions.

I can understand the feeling of not wanting to belong to a group that welcomes anyone who calls homosexuals "fags". That language is not Christian. It is uncivil, judgmental, biased, and homophobic. However, should I disassociate myself--emotionally, physically, or in other ways--from that organization because he is also a member? I believe that is wrong. First, it allows the bigot to stand without the countervaling forces of good that I represent. Second, I will lose the many, overwhelmingly positive benefits i receive as a member of that group. It would be foolish of me to reject the entire group because one of its members--be it an instructor, a General Authority, or even the Prophet--made a mistake. My testimony does not rely on a human being's behavior. My knowledge of the truth of the Gospel relies on the Gospel Method.
Brian
Baptized in 1991-converted everyday

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Heber13
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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by Heber13 » 07 Feb 2012, 16:55

Good post, montereyredfox.

The other point is, if you leave the group and don't speak up, you never learn how many others are sitting in silence just like you, and it can tend to make us think EVERYONE in the group is unchristian, uncivil, or judgmental.

How many times does it happen, when someone says something, others afterwards go out of their way to thank the person and confirm they were thinking the same thing.

Most wards I've been to always have very reasonable thinking members, but the loudest ones (often to goofiest :crazy: ) are the ones we hear from most.
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."

Zelph
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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by Zelph » 10 Feb 2012, 14:50

Thank you for your posts.

Thank you, montereyredfox, I really enjoyed your post and was going to add something but realized that you'd already expressed anything I would mention. I'm not planning on leaving any time soon but mustering the courage to venture into what I previously thought was known territory is a bit frightening.

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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by Minyan Man » 20 Feb 2012, 13:21

Zelph, thanks for the Introduction & welcome to the group. You have alot to say.
One of the things you said:
My brother-in-law has/had issues with his faith and that small outward lapse left him as a second class citizen in the eyes of my father-in-law. Yes it is their problem, but I'm not sure how to convey just how much I care about and love my family. Leaving the church would cost me dearly in the things I love the most.
Regarding your brother-in-law, you said that he is treated as a second class citizen by members of your family. Is that the way you treat him too?
Or, do you have to pretend to others that he is "second class"?

It helps me, to look for people who appear to sit on the outside & talk to them. It doesn't have to be anything profound.
I feel comfortable being on the edge or outside of what others considered "normal". It hasn't always been that way.
I'm looking forward to hear more from you.

NQR (Not Quite Right)
Mike from Milton.

Zelph
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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by Zelph » 27 Feb 2012, 12:32

Mike wrote:Zelph, thanks for the Introduction & welcome to the group. You have alot to say.
One of the things you said:
My brother-in-law has/had issues with his faith and that small outward lapse left him as a second class citizen in the eyes of my father-in-law. Yes it is their problem, but I'm not sure how to convey just how much I care about and love my family. Leaving the church would cost me dearly in the things I love the most.
Regarding your brother-in-law, you said that he is treated as a second class citizen by members of your family. Is that the way you treat him too?
Or, do you have to pretend to others that he is "second class"?

It helps me, to look for people who appear to sit on the outside & talk to them. It doesn't have to be anything profound.
I feel comfortable being on the edge or outside of what others considered "normal". It hasn't always been that way.
I'm looking forward to hear more from you.

NQR (Not Quite Right)
Mike from Milton.
My father-in-law specifically. However my father-in-law is very much a McConkie mormon (ie rigid, doctrinal, and completely convinced that righteousness has granted him spiritual secrets to which he alone is privy). My brother-in-law is my favorite extended family member by far. I think the original point was that coming out as a non-believer while remaining a cultural mormon would drastically alter the family dynamic.

I need to give a quick update however. In some ways I've been able to restructure my belief in such a way that it makes sense for me to continue. I still cannot believe in the spiritual as a separate influence from my own feelings, but some words written by Brigham Young of all people have given me more of a thread to hang on to than I might have previously thought.
Brigham Young wrote:Yet I will say with regard to miracles, there is no such thing save to the ignorant--that is, there never was a result wrought out by God or by any of His creatures without there being a cause for it. There may be results, the causes of which we do not see or understand, and what we call miracles are no more than this--they are the results or effects of causes hidden from our understandings.

Minyan Man
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Re: For the first time I felt like I didn't belong

Post by Minyan Man » 27 Feb 2012, 12:42

Your quote from BY make sense to me too.
I think for example "Speaking in tongues" has a completely different meaning today than it did to the early church.

Mike from Milton.

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