Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gray Matter

I have spent most of my morning perusing the Mormon and Ex-Mormon Blogshpere. I started at Main Street Plaza and and followed the links located in Sunday in outer blogness.

I had significant thoughts about everything I read and wanted to comment, I did not comment because my thoughts were way to complex for my writing skill level. ugh.......

This post lead to my train of thought. So, an L.D.S. woman is trying to cope with her husband disillusion with the church. The husband is an otherwise good guy, his only fault it seems or at least the fault being discussed is that the has come to the conclusion that the whole L.D.S. thing is a sham and can no longer tolerate participating.

Well, maybe it is a sham or maybe it isn't. I am not going to try proving or disproving that. What I am most interested in is, is the social climate that lends to members leaving the church and their spouses hoping and praying that they may return to the truth.

Truth it seems is a black and white issue, there is no in between and there does not seem to be any room for having faith in the myth. Honestly, many have a hard time with myths, Mormons are not excluded from the shift from symbolic thinking to realist thinking. From my experience in Mormonism I guess that most Mormons don't consider any of the Biblical stories, NT stories, Book of Mormon or the Joseph Smiths vision as Myth or Metaphor. If it didn't happen then how can you faith. It is this mindset that makes it easy to leave the church. If the Church is not meeting your needs all you have to do is stop believing that Joseph Smith was visited by God and the entire Church becomes irrelevant.

Leaving at that point is easy if one does not have emotional ties, marriage is full of those. I have not run into many former Mormons who would willingly give up their families over a philosophical split. Though, I imagine it must be awkward to try to pursue ones religious convictions with the knowledge that your spouse might think your mind as been clouded by Satan, the love one has must overrule any awkwardness.

How about a little gray area?
Is is impossible for a doubting member to conclude that the "restored church" is really just metaphor, or the for the TBM spouse to conclude that there are other valid paths and "my spouse is no longer on my path and that's ok" Or is there no room for a faithful member to have doubt?
I can't help thinking, that if the Church were more accepting of divergent views and a certain amount of dissent, many of the people who have left the church might have stayed.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Why I'm not an Atheist.

Here I am going to try to explain something that I don't completely understand, that is explain a philosophy, which I have very little to no formal language or training; all I have is direct experience. Direct as in actual physical experience not some kind of...Idea beef stew: chunks of ideas in a thick broth, with diced carrots and onions.
I do have snippets of philosophy of Religion, and Eastern Philosophy, these have only given me a way to think about what I experience and are not to be confused with actual experience.

When I was a young Mormon, I had this very concrete idea of what and who God is. I don't doubt that that idea was fed by Mormon teachings, God is this very old man who sits on a throne making edicts and sending angels to earth. He sits up there making spirit children, he as a very large book with names in it and a series of boxes with all right acts and sin listed there for checking off and scoring on judgment day; as I got older God became much more complex. The big accounting book went away, but suddenly God did not just include as his chosen, Mormons who were married in the Temple but anyone who was good. ( Like Scrooge at the end of "A Christmas Carol")

God became even more complex as I learned  the theory of evolution in school; not so hard that one. I assumed it was part of Gods plan, he is powerful enough, why the heck not. Dinosaurs, no problem, everything was put on earth for some reason; humans evolved from a Chimp like common ancestor; like I said God is powerful. 

Then, I found out about other religions, religions that did not have "the God" (the God I like to call the God of Abraham.) they have other Gods, one religion could have several. To me this seemed wrong, but as I looked at these other Religions I realized that they had truth, they taught their members to do good also. So, my God expanded to include these other religions. This is the  way it worked in my head:  God had these messages he sent down to humanity, then humanity interpreted these messages in the ways that made sense to them. It's a little like the Mormon teachings on revelation; even more like telephone.

At some point, I got into Hinduism; the idea of Brahman and all the different archetypes, or human manifestations of Brahman. Krishna, Shiva, Kali etc. (correct me if I'm wrong) And I started reading about the Tao, etc. So then the idea of God became one of, simply put, a force rather than a being. (more like the Force).  Not only do I find this idea to be much more logical than the idea of a guy sitting on a throne deciding who gets to go to heaven and who doesn't but I have no problem believing that such a force exists. The only evidence I need is the movements of my hands, my sons beating heart, the tree outside my window, Glenn Beck, the fungus under my toenail. etc.

In reality the argument over god or no god, is sort of irrelevant I mean even if I decide I believe or don't I still have to take out the trash, I still have to eat and have a job. 

Besides, I sometimes like to think that myths might be true, that is a part of my mind I don't want to kill off.

Plus, I really can't stand labels...those are for tombstones.