Can't believe it happened to me

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Can't believe it happened to me

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Jul 2014, 08:42

The problem I'm having is that nobody in the church talks about these things as even possibly being allegorical.

It is easy to reach that conclusion, especially if you live in a highly traditionalist area, but there are many members who see a lot of things (especially Old Testament things) allegorically and symbolically. For example, most of the writings about the temple that would be considered "official" by orthodox members describe what is depicted in the temple as figurative and symbolic.

Most regular, everyday people are not philosophers, and most regular, everyday people are not explorers. That's neither good nor bad; it simply is. I know quite a few really intelligent people who just can't think outside a straightforward, literal paradigm - who are literalists not by choice but (literally) by nature. Thus, most discussions of things that could be presented literally (as if a story was factually, historically accurate), allegorically, figuratively, mythologically or symbolically are going to be presented literally - since the people who interpret things differently still can do so without it blowing their gaskets, while those who see things literally often would be shattered and adrift if they were forced to try to leave their literal default settings. (Also, interestingly, many of those people who see things literally, even the very intelligent, educated ones, would not distinguish between all the other perspectives I just listed - since they would tend to lump them all together in one big, non-literal pile.)

I often talk about things I see non-literally in literal terms for no other reason than seeking for understanding of what I say. Sometimes, depending on the audience, I will say upfront that I view the story as symbolic, mythological, allegorical, etc. - but I generally do so only when that interpretation yields a different perspective that is important to me - and I often add a preface like, "I don't know for certain if this story is a literal account or mythological, but I like to consider all the possibilities when I think about how I can liken it to myself." That Mormon tool (likening things to ourselves) allows for a lot of flexibility that others can appreciate and accept more readily, so I use it (or a similarly speculative framing) when I know I am pushing others' boundaries, so to speak.
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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Re: Can't believe it happened to me

Post by logartist » 03 Aug 2014, 22:43

Wow...I was perusing before posting my introduction, but I feel like I may as well just repost yours and sign my name. It felt good to see someone who's experience is so like mine, but at the same time, I am mourning your loss along with you. I was also raised in the Church, served a mission, served in elder's quorums, and was even called to the High Council at 29 yrs old. I am also 36, been married 13 yrs and I too have 3 kids (my oldest is 12 and expecting me to ordain him). I have born powerful testimony to others in the past that has helped keep them in the Church....and yet here I am, wondering all the same things you are wondering about where to go from here. I love the life path my LDS background set me on, and the moral compass it has given me. I don't think I would change that if I could. But I am struggling with what level of participation is best, 'knowing what I know.'

My profession also breeds skepticism, albeit perhaps of a different bent...I'm a cop. It's also a profession that makes being actively religious difficult anyway. But it definitely has given me a nose for 'BS' and the outlook that if it seems far-fetched, it probably is. I too am struggling with the all or nothing reaction that 'if Mormonism ain't true, ain't nothin true.'

Some of my past spiritual experiences are easier to dismiss than others though, and my wife has reminded me of a couple pretty powerful moments that I can still hold on to as at least plausibly miraculous. So I guess at the moment you might call me agnostic.

I am very happy not to be 'alone' in my experience though. And I hope you and I both find some fellowship here that might help us reach a state of peace. Thank you for sharing.


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Re: Can't believe it happened to me

Post by eyedempotent » 24 Aug 2014, 17:17

Thanks so much for posting Joe. I can relate. Forums like this can be very helpful. I've found lately that in person visits or phone calls can be even more helpful. Feel free to PM me if you ever need someone to talk to. And just because our experiences are so similar don't let that deter you from posting an introduction.

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Re: Can't believe it happened to me

Post by SilentDawning » 25 Aug 2014, 05:43

eyedempotent wrote:If I "leave" how I do that (some level of reduced activity, no temple recommend, name removed, etc.)?
I rarely recommend leaving, because you don't know if you'll want to come back in full fellowship again. Name removal is hard to reverse, less activity or non-TR holding status are easy to reverse.
1) what will happen to my local ward friendships (I tend to get lonely easily),
I have found that the really, really GOOD people, who have a long-term perspective,and prue love, remain loyal and kind even when you share a litany of reasons for why you don't like the church. The rest -- some get offended, if they are stake leaders, and you were in leadership under them -- they forget about you and are no longer interested in even social interactions. In their case, you are no longer useful to achieving their personal and organizational goals, so you just blend in. And it does affect your friendships. Something to consider.
2) what will happen when my over-bearing father-in-law finds out (and my siblings)? I don't know if I can live with myself intellectually if I stay and I don't know if I can be happy socially if I leave. Feels like a no-win situation. It also feels very lonely, I guess part of what I want with this group is to know that I'm not alone in my doubting. I wish we could discuss it more in church, I have one good friend who talks to me about it who left and another friend who stayed who I really get along with, but he moved out of town and we haven't kept in touch much. My bishop has mentioned other people in the ward who struggle with some of my same doubts but I don't know them.
I have found relationships outside of the church. Guys in a band, my work colleagues, and friends in a non-profit. They are my social circle now. Plus my family. I get involved in serving people outside of the church and it makes for a whole new set of relationships.

Also, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis regarding close family. Those relationships are often important to people, so you have to look at the damage to the relationship peace versus the peace you feel in being authentic, or away from church. I have chosen to do what is necessary to keep my family happy.
Next question is what to do about my daughter's baptism. My wife's family makes a big deal and they all travel here. I just don't see how I can answer those first few temple recommend questions in the affirmative one more time to be worthy to baptize her. Part of me feels guilty, like she'll feel less loved (I baptized the older two girls), and part of me feels like I'll be doing her a favor. I was relieved to see that recently the policy allows a dad to baptize even if not strictly temple worthy, although at the discretion of the bishop. I think my bishop would allow me to, at my currently level of activity, but I don't know if I can keep up the charade another 2.5 years.
I would get past the feeling its a charade. There are "shades" of belief, and as long as you are on the continuum somewhere, I say answer the questions the right way, and do the ordinances. Make sure you are living the commandments, though, letting your conscience handle those gray areas. If you come out with all these doubts and share your authenticity, you'll just create more headaches and stumblingblocks in the church. Your Bishop (current, or future bishops) will react widely to statements of doubt. Some will put you out on the plank, while others will be accepting and forgiving -- and their possible totalitarian attitude may even put you further into doubt and maybe even lack of commitment.
I just can't believe this happened to me. I had such a strong testimony that I never doubted. I've just come to look at the world through the lens of science and what I considered testimony building experiences I feel can be described as coincidence or self-generated, I just don't see evidence for a God, at least not one like is described in the scriptures. I saw a recent email from FAIR-LDS describe the books one should read before leaving, I figure I owe it at least that much of a try and I'm reading Shaken Faith Syndrome now. But I've tried to reason and argue the "pro" points all along and I'm afraid the evidence against just hit a critical mass in my mind.
I had the same thoughts years ago. Came home from my mission on fire about the gospel. I met a Buddhist who was always challenging my thinking (he got a kick out of influencing beliefs, and wasnt' necessarily taking aim at Mormonism), and I told him I figured I'd always be active. He said "maybe"...and then commented on how life experiences change things over the long term.

Well, he was right. I guess I'm still active but only minimally so. But you know what, life's a heck of a lot more interesting and unpredictable now that I'm taking the road less travelled in the church.
"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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Re: Can't believe it happened to me

Post by Heber13 » 18 Dec 2014, 14:53

Good post, Jeff. sounds like it hasn't gone well talking to your spouse or your friend. Because of that, you may not want to force further discussions. I know it is hard, and you wonder if others know what you know, and you want to open up...but for a while...these online forums may be your best place for that. I have found it tricky to get others to understand me. But over time...I have found how to express myself right, and filter my thoughts too. You said it best about time healing wounds and also to focus on relationships. Don't force the discussions. It doesn't go well.
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."

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Re: Can't believe it happened to me

Post by LookingHard » 18 Dec 2014, 14:57

jeff wrote:I have hope that things will ultimately work out. If time heals all wounds, then their must be some sort of applications for this situation too!
Do hold on to that hope. And I don't think it is just time that will heal this (somewhat), it will take some studying on your part. I wouldn't have understood someone saying what I say now, "I am working to have faith in Joseph Smith, a person that was DEEPLY flawed." Some days I can't even say that, but other days I am comfortable saying that (but not at church of course).

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Re: Can't believe it happened to me

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Dec 2014, 15:06

jeff wrote:Bottom line for me right now is that I refuse to let the church (quite possibly a made up church) to get in the way of what is most important to me. That is my family relationships. Whether that is a marriage or a priesthood ordination. I agree with the way in how to approach the TMR questions and it doesn't really matter how anyone else feels about my "worthiness" other than myself and God. I have found some hope with this site with the essay on how to stay in the church. Like I said earlier, I am no where near being in a good place with any of this, but I have hope that things will ultimately work out. If time heals all wounds, then their must be some sort of applications for this situation too!
I think you have a great bottom line. Family relationships are important. My stake president told me once in a private conversation that he believes the laboratory for loving our neighbors is in the family - they are both the easiest and hardest to love and are our closest neighbors.
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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