The brethren are speculating based on perceptions of their feelings. I admit/recognize that mankind can be inspired by god, however the line of communication is fuzzy at best. Anyone who pretends otherwise is trying to pull something over on the listener. Divine ideas shaped by perception and perspective. The church can’t have it both ways, its either literal and its all true or its metaphorical and their whole house of cards falls down. The church will never admit to mistakes because it erodes confidence in their leadership i.e. if they admit fallibility it contradicts the obey the brethren mantra that has been preached for so many years.
Religion is a fable, a narrative that helps people exist in a shitty cruel world where life is tough. However there may be some truth in that it is a glimpse of a different world that is better that gives us hope. It is awfully presumptuous for mankind to claim to know the mind and will of god (if he/she/it exists). The challenge is to try to live spiritually in this world.
I just totally disagree with the fundamental premise of the church regarding sin. They truly sell a disease and the cure. It seems they do this because the want to get people hooked. It’s the only thing they can do to keep us engaged in the church. Because the way they present their product is just subpar. They only care about themselves, never the individual needs of the members. They treat their metrics as the end all of yardsticks for individuals fulfillment and happiness. It just doesn’t work for me.
The more the members have to feel guilty about, the more they need the church. Build them up, knock them down, build them up, knock them down. Carrot and stick. Pretty soon, they are dependant on you. Kinda like a pimp. It’s about submission and control. People don’t even recognize that it’s being done to them.
The church is f’d up because we live in a telestial world and telestial laws apply. Including applicability to the church organization and governance.
Unfortunately people’s opinions of celestial law are just as f’d up.
I am writing this letter because sometimes I don’t do well in communicating what is in my heart and mind. I often stumble laying out the progression of reason and logic in my mind so I thought this would help. And if I never give this letter to you because I am too chicken of the consequences maybe it will help me find some peace and understanding.
Some years ago I set up a news feed in Google regarding Mitt Romney when he was running for president the first time. It sent news stories to my gmail about his candicacy. In the mix of this “Mitt Romney news feed” I also received other news stories related to the church and discussion around church culture. As I read the “news” I discovered alot of disussion around church culture as it relates to the “gospel”. This topic led me to other websites that discussed church history. From this I found many interesting facts related to the official church narrative that are quite a bit different. While they are too numerous to go into I can summarize by saying they made me go Hmmmm ….
I have been very dedicated to the church our entire married life. In spite of my weaknesses, swearing and anger, I have tried to live the “gospel” as best as I could. You also know we have struggled from time to time. Only now after 20+ years of marriage are we in a somewhat half decent place in terms of finances. I spent numerous hours in leadership meetings away from home as you struggled with the kids when they were young. As I have aged I came to feel that all these church demands were largely a waste of time and I felt no spiritual satisfaction from them. It felt empty and meaningless. I contrast this with the feeling I had delivering meals on wheels … I felt what I think to be how Jesus feels helping other people. It was incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Something I never felt at church. My heart swelled up with happiness as the little old lady looked me in the eyes and said thank you and she meant it. I contrasted that with the fact that for years I have felt bored and uninterested at church. Maybe once a month I would feel spiritually uplifted at church. That along with the message I would hear over and over again … be perfect, you are not good enough and sacrifice, sacrifice sacrifice. This along with the pressures of life made me feel depressed. I also see the moment when I felt more concern and compassion from the people I worked with when my dad died than anything I felt from a group of people that was my church, my ward family. Seeing people who by their own choice volunteered in the community and were good people even though they didn’t exactly reflect “LDS” standards.
I know I have wandered a bit with this. But I want to say I feel that faith is a very personal thing. Between a person and god. My faith is evolved. I no longer hold to the same frame of thought and philosophy that I once had. I believe that god led me to the church to rescue me from my own self destructive tendencies. It has brought many good things into my life. But through my own process of maturation I also believe it teaches negative things that have brought uneeded strife and stress into my life. I believe that the church can be a force for good in people’s lives. That it can help people avoid dumb things. I believe in a god. Whether he has 10 finger and 10 toes, I don’t care. I choose to believe in a being who is loving and kind and forgiving. I believe he put us on this earth to learn and grow. I believe jesus was a great man and moral teacher. Did he save me from my sins? I don’t know. But I believe that by following his teachings and principles I can transcend the crap that is in this world and live on a higher more “godlike” plane of existence. That his teachings can free me from the bondage of human stupidity. If he is my savior in the traditional sense, great. If not I am a better person for trying to live like him. For years I have been thinking this and feeling this and it kills me to hold it all in and not talk about it with you. I am worried that you would be very upset by all this. And if you are I understand. My feelings and thoughts are very deep and heartfelt. I am sure this letter will open up a whole other can of worms but I have to let you know how i feel.
Your Loving Husband
What do you do when you wake up in your mid 40’s and realize that over the past 5 years everything you based your life on for the past 20+ isn’t what you thought. What do you do when you realize there is a good chance that the main thing you have in common with your wife is not a shared value any longer. Wow! These are profound questions I am facing right now. I fear, and I don’t use that word lightly, that if I communicate how I feel the fit will hit the shan and my life will become hell. But the longer I go that I do not believe I want more and more to tell someone. Get this off my chest with somebody who means something to me. Someone who will not judge me but will listen to me and help me explore what I am going through.
In the mean time I still participate. I still am involved but feel a need to be genuine. I still see an opportunity to breathe some sanity into the Bat $h!+ crazy stuff that goes on. I still see an opportunity to do good to my fellow man. I still see that as mankind’s duty to each other … to be excellent to one another. And in a small way I can still do that. But eventually I will have to spill. I still see some good that can come from the organization.
Ok world here is my first post. Don’t know if anyone will ever read this but I can at least write down what I am feeling. So here goes.
I bought a song on itunes this week called “If It Makes You Happy” by Cheryl Crow. The lyrics are foggy to me me but the chorus struck a cord that explains how I feel about my relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The chorus goes …
If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad
For twenty plus years I have been a faithful member of a very demanding, controlling organization that is an enigma to me. On one hand my involvement in this group has brought tremendous good into my life and on the other hand needless burdens, emotional distress and warped mental models. For years it has been portrayed to me and others as the “plan of happiness”. In hindsight, the teachings of Jesus Christ are a blessing to people. Be kind, serve others, strive for spiritual things, help those in need whether it be spiritually or temporally. However, the demands of a corporate church have not been a blessing to me. Endless, waste of time meetings, 10% gross earnings donated to an already wealthy organization, get married young, have kids early … all strongly emphasized teachings I bought into. God I wish I could have seperated gospel and church earlier in my life. So the program that was supposed to “make me happy” made me feel “so sad”. Well, no more; I will engage the church on my terms. Not on a self serving, worldly organization’s controlling agenda. God this feels so good to say. My next posts will be why I view myself as a Deist and values.