Friday, May 13, 2011

When I Was a Child...

When I was in my teens, I drank like a fish. Well, a fish who only needs a little bit of alcohol to get plastered.

Now, in my late 40's, I drink a little. A glass of wine once a week, a few sips of a mixed drink if I'm out with my sisters on a weekend night.

But my husband is convinced I'm an alcoholic, and my stepmother is upset with my sister "for letting" me drink wine.  WTHF?????

I think most people, if not all people, do things when they're young and foolish that, presumably, go away in time as they grow up and mature and understand more and more of life. I'm definitely not the same person I was at 19. I go to work every day, whether I want to or not. I pay my bills. I'm not out partying all weekend.

But I'm also not the same person I was six months ago. I no longer believe that a church whose originators were liars, sexual predators, dishonest people can possibly be a true church, if such a thing even exists. I no longer believe that it's necessary to pay 10% or more of my gross income to said church (not that I ever consistently managed to do so anyway, as it never did seem logical).  I no longer compare myself to a long laundry list of shoulds, and get sick at my stomach because I am not.

I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, much less six months from now. I highly doubt the rapture will occur on May 21, 2011, if there even is such a thing, but if it does and is, then I guess I'll find out along with everyone else.

I've been reading a lot of athiest and agnostic bloggers lately. I'm not sure that I would identify myself as such, but I don't know where I would identify, so that's not the point. The point is that a lot of them seem to be stating that they don't need to believe in a god, who may or may not exist, in order to have ethics and morals. They don't kill people not because a god tells them not to; they don't kill people because it's not the right thing to do. They don't need articles of faith to tell them what they do and don't believe.

In fact, just for fun, let's look at the mormon articles of faith.

  1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.  I think I still believe in this, but I'm not sure.
  2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.  Not too sure about this. I'm not saying that I believe we'll be punished for Adam's transgression. I am saying that I think we learn from our mistakes, and I'm not sure how I would define sins. Moral transgressions? Behaving unethically?  Persecuting my neighbour because s/he doesn't believe the same thing as I believe? I believe in natural consequences to our actions. I'm still thinking about this one.
  3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.  If there is a Christ, which right now I still sort of believe there is, I believe that all mankind may be saved by his goodness, grace, and mercy.
  4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I don't know about this one. My definition of repentance is now highly different from that prescribed by TSCC. If I'm behaving in a way that makes me, or others, unhappy, then I need to find a better way. If that's repentance, then sobeit. But if I'm behaving in a way that makes me and/or others around me happy (and I'm talking about genuine happiness here), even if it's something forbidden by the church, I don't know that there's anything to repent for. And I certainly don't think that once you repent and turn away from something and are forgiven, that forgiveness is wiped out if you return to your former ways.  I know that I have a hard time learning things the easy way, and sometimes it takes a lot more effort to change a bad habit.  
  5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.  Who knows that God is doing the calling?  I've referred to this before as I've asked how prophets can be sure that what they're hearing/feeling is actually God and not heartburn?
  6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.  See my comments for article 5.
  7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.  Long years ago, I was despairing at my apparent infertility.  Having a husband who's not particularly interested in sex didn't help, of course, and nor did the raging case of endometriosis that I was sure I had but no doctors would listen to me.  But my mother told me she had a vision of my husband holding our child.  I prayed to have the same vision, and I eventually did.  Well, guess what? I never had a child. So was that just wishful thinking?  I'm inclined to think that it was.  Of course, there's no way to prove that, and there may be people who would tell me that we forfeited that blessing by our disobedience.  But see, I don't think people get to have children because they're good, and I don't think they're prevented from having children because they're bad.  I think that sometimes shit just happens, or doesn't happen. Like when I did in-vitro fertilization. I had perfect faith. I'm serious. I had no doubt whatsoever that it would work, and I would give birth to twins, a boy and a girl.  When they were only able to retrieve 3 viable ova, I was sad but still knew that I was going to have twins. When one of the fertilized eggs died before it could be transferred, I was sad but still knew that I was going to have twins.  When I started bleeding several days after the embryo transfer, I was sad but still knew that I was going to have twins.  But there came a point, where I was bleeding heavily enough to know that my dreams of motherhood had come crashing down around my head, when I had to accept that it wasn't going to happen. And it didn't.
  8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.  Who decides whether the Bible is translated correctly? What are the original sources? Who knows for sure whether all the prophets in the Bible truly spoke for God? And I definitely do NOT believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
  9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.  Possible. But my questions have not yet been answered to any degree of satisfaction.
  10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.  My patriarchal blessing tells me that, amongst other things like being a mother to my children, I am to be a gatherer of the tribes.  And my husband firmly believes the lost tribes live under the polar ice cap. Hmmm.
  11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.  How kind of you to allow me to decide who and what and how to worship.
  12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.  Oh really?  Read the newspapers lately?  Because I'm not really seeing this.
  13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.  Not bad. I don't agree that the church is actually following this so-called article of faith, however. Denying people the right to be married isn't what I call doing good to all men. And I'm guessing there was a deliberate reason Smith chose the word "men" there, because they certainly haven't believed in doing good to all women.  And I'm not sure why the word "all" is in this article, because they do not do good to homosexuals and members of other races. Okay, yes, gays can hold the priesthood as long as they're not actively pursuing the homosexual lifestyle, and a while ago the profit said blacks could hold the priesthood after many years of being told that they were the seed of cain, their dark skin was a curse, and even those blacks worthy of the celestial kingdom would be at best servants there, but that was better than anything else.
Here are my articles of faith:

1.  I believe in acting with integrity. If my words match my actions, which match my core values, that's integrity.  And I actually believe I'm doing better with this one as an exmormon.

2.  I believe in trying to make the world a better place for my presence in it.  I may not be able to make huge earth-shattering contributions, but if I can help the homeless guy on the street corner or the cute kid down the block, that's a good thing.

I think that kind of covers it all, for me.  I remember one day, I think I was 20 or so, I had a sudden understanding of how to solve all of the world's problems: love thy neighbour as thyself. If we all start with loving ourselves (not putting ourselves behind home and family, for instance), and then spread that love outwards, remarkable things can happen.  Yes, people will still get sick, people will die, earthquakes and tornados and floods and tsunamis will still happen, planes will still crash every now and then.  But life here would be so beautiful that when it's our time to go, we can go in peace because we've enjoyed our lives in this beautiful world.

I didn't mean to go on so long. Blogger's being down yesterday and this morning meant that I had a pent-up accumulation of thoughts that I needed to express. If you've made it that far, you have my warmest and heartiest regards and thanks.


  1. Yay for shorter lists! Easier to remember and all that.

    But seriously, I love your discussion of the AoF, you made such great points!

  2. It seems that there is another group on the scene with a new perspective in disputing Camping's prophesies. They make a compelling statement that "Jesus is here now." Check out their billboard which I think will stir the pot a bit.

  3. Well, written. I like your first article of faith. A few years ago, I was where you are now... still struggling to restructure my belief system which had recenly been violently yanked out from under me like a rug.

    Give it time. You will find a place where you are comfortable. For me, it is complete atheism. The idea of a god is so foreign to me now that I still can't believe that I ever once believed.

    You'll find your way. It took me about two years.