Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I Know

  • I know that I don't know the answers.
  • I know that I'm no longer willing to quit asking questions when the prophet has spoken.
  • I know that I don't believe being buried in ghastly dress, robes, apron, and veil is going to send me straight to heaven. (Note to any family members who might be reading this: I want you to dress me in something that I'd wear in real life, and not my temple clothing [which is just as well, because I threw them in the trash]. May I suggest skinny jeans, grannie boots, a purple tank, and a black leather jacket?)
  • I know that I don't believe my body can only be resurrected (if physical resurrection happens at all) if I choose cremation over burial. And yes, cremation, please. It's not like I'm going to be inside my body at that point.
  • I know that it's impossible to know what happens when we die until we die. For example, whether he was right or wrong while he lived, Christopher Hitchens now knows absolutely what happens after death.
  • I know that it's okay to not know, to ask unanswerable questions, to question authority.
  • I know that any authority that refuses to allow questions to be asked is unrighteous (I hesitate to use that word, but I'm not sure what other word to use).
  • I know that in the essentials, I haven't changed that much since leaving the church. I was a bit of a rebel for the last 11 years, and didn't fit in anyway. I still feel like myself, just with far less stress and angst.

I don't understand how we can be judged solely by our actions and our obedience to the dictates of others. If I am here to learn lessons, that means that I am not expected to be perfect. I tend to learn things the hard way.  That means I make mistakes, wrong choices, fuck up. That's part of life.

The mormons teach that there was a great council in heaven, and that lucifer had a plan to save everyone by taking away their free agency. Jesus had a plan to allow everyone their free agency, and would save those he could. And Jesus's plan was chosen. But let me ask, how does the church not take away one's free agency in all the ways that matter? (Wasn't it Neal A. Maxwell who stated that "we are free to choose our actions, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions"?)  If we love someone who is not a member of TSCC, we cannot marry that person because s/he cannot marry us in the temple, which is the way to exaltation. And remember--"salvation without exaltation is damnation." We're told to have children, whether or not we think we're financially or physically ready. We are supposed to clean the church buildings. Pay 10% of our income to the church without ever receiving any accounting as to what is done with those tithes. We are to fast once a month, and make generous fast offerings. One former general authority stated that if the fast offerings would double, so would the level of spirituality (I'm paraphrasing). In other words, give us your money. We're supposed to go to the temple regularly and participate in bizarre secret combinations (oops--wait--secret combinations are bad).

Once you step aside and start asking questions, and seeking for truth instead of pablum, the cog dis grows and grows and grows. Then if you're able to be honest, you will realise the church is nothing but the works of men, and it attempts to keep people in control by setting impossible standards of conduct and living and taking their money and encouraging them to have children who will grow up and toe the mormon line and give their money and to serve missions to make converts to toe the line and give their money.

Since leaving the church, I've seen the phrase "Pay, pray, and obey" all over the place. And truly that seems to be their priorities, in that order. Pay 10%, but it's really more than 10%, because of the mission funds, and the fast offering funds, and humanitarian funds. Pray to know if it's true, but if you don't get that burning in the bosom, it's either because you're not living the other commandments, or it's because you already know it's true. Obey. Be little zombies following the routine--church for 3 hours on Sundays, all of your meetings, scouting, Young Women, Primary, Relief Society, compassionate service, scripture study, genealogy, temple service, journaling, family home evening. They keep you so busy that you don't have time to ask questions. By the time you get to the end of a day, you're so exhausted you can't do anything.  And you probably felt guilty because there were more things you needed to do, and you just couldn't do them, but you're commanded to do them, which means you--and not those making the impossible demands on you--are falling short.

I want to be a good person. I'm trying to be a good person. But my definition of good has changed quite a bit. I have an internal moral compass, and I follow it. I let someone turn in front of me when I'm driving home. I try to be there for my friends when they need me. I try to live so that what I believe, what I say I believe, and what I practice are in harmony. Okay, yeah, I still cuss fluently when I'm driving, or when I'm having a really bad day, but I don't think that makes me a bad person. If the worst thing I ever do is cuss when some guy with a teeny little weenie in a big-ass truck cuts me off in heavy traffic, well, I don't think that's so bad. And no, that's not the worst thing I ever do. At the same time, however, I no longer think I'm a vile pernicious sinner who's doomed to spend eternity in outer darkness.

I guess I just have learned that things are both simpler and more complicated than I always believed. Instead of "knowing" that Joseph Smith was a prophet, I now know that he practiced polygamy and polyandry. Instead of "knowing" that the Doctrine & Covenants consisted of revelations from God, I now know that he pretty much made them up whenever convenient. Instead of "knowing" that he translated the Pearl of Great Price, I now know that he made up something, perhaps thinking that no one would ever be able to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs. Instead of "knowing" that the Book of Mormon was the word of God, I now know that it, too, was made up, perhaps from several sources combined with Smith's fertile imagination. Instead of "knowing" that the primary ancestors of the native Americans were Israelites, I now know native Americans descended from Asians. I've traded "knowledge" for knowledge. There's a big difference.  Not that church leaders would necessarily agree with me. Remember that "some things which are true are not very useful." That's a correct statement, if you're attempting to keep the truth from people so that you can have their money, their time, and their slavish devotion to your teachings.

If, however, you're seeking after genuine truth, then the things which are true and not useful to the mormons will be of incredible use to you.

1 comment:

  1. I like the thoughtful question, "how does the church not take away one's free agency in all the ways that matter?" It's something I thought about too. It would be a cruel thing to have God say you have free will, but only if you chose to follow these men and do all they say? Really? So the choices are to have followed Satan before we came here or repress every once of individuality here because some men say so? Isn't that the damn same thing?!