Saturday, January 20, 2007

facts and faith

From a personal essay I wrote about a year ago. It follows from thoughts I penned in "did you give it a fair chance?":

In some ways, Mormonism is good at helping its members feel peace. For example, the sacrament. For me, it was about reflecting on your week, your life, and finding comfort in the idea that forgiveness could be achieved. That even though you were imperfect, you could do better. Mormons don't worry about the "facts" of the bread and water being Jesus' flesh and blood, but about the comfort of forgiveness and redemption. Whether or not Jesus actually died and was resurrected is of course at the core of Mormonism, but I don't think it needs to be so. For a whole lot of Christians in the world, the point is the ideas of redemption, sacrifice, a personal God, and forgiveness, and not whether it all actually happened. I could even find a place in a Christian church as long as the emphasis is on the ideas, and whether or not Jesus was resurrected is left to faith.

Because we don't have the facts; it must be left to faith. And I think that's fine. I am willing to make a leap of faith for God; I don't think the existence of God can be proven either way, for or against. If I believe in God, it is based on faith, not knowledge. As for Mormonism, there are plenty of facts against the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, the prophethood (and decency) of Joseph Smith, the origin of the Book of Abraham, the restoration of the priesthood, etc. To make a leap of faith against those facts is ridiculous in my mind.

So why don't I take the church in the same way I see general Christianity or religion? (i.e., The ideas might be good enough to overrule any uncertainly about the facts.) Why not forget about the truthfulness of the church, and just find what is good about it ("it" now includes the culture, institution, theology, and gospel): emphasis on family, moral anchor, forgiveness, service, community, family heritage, etc.? As far as family goes, that would certainly be the easier route. For one, all that is good about the church can be found elsewhere--in another congregation or even in a secular, non-religious life. And two, besides what I find to be false about the church, there is so much I find to be negative about the church's ideas, attitudes, and way of doing things. Attitudes about race, women, intellectuals, homosexuals and homosexuality, (one example: 1993 speech by Boyd K. Packer said the Church's three main enemies to be intellectuals, feminists, and homosexuals); over-emphasis on one-size-fits-all and obedience; over-emphasis on truth and de-emphasis on other great aspects of religion; attitude of denial or willful ignorance of uncomfortable church history; the church's infiltration into too many aspects of member's lives; hypocrisy in teachings and actions; the lack of focus on Christ-like living, among other things.


Lemon Blossom said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love reading your blog because you put so many of my unfinished thoughts and feelings into words. Wow.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Totally what LB said. It is no wonder we don't want to be part of that church anymore.

aerin said...

emerging - I found the same thing. Many people who claimed to be christian but in the end were anything but. I completely agree with you about finding the same thing in other places. Although - convincing others of that (like one's family) is difficult.

from the ashes said...

Ah, shucks, gals.

I'm just glad I wrote this stuff down when I did. During the most formative months of my exit, I didn't write in my journal. It was too scary to commit to paper. So much of my thinking is lost. My writings all come from the aftermath.

(I think I fail the word verification at least once every comment I make.)