What’s It Like Being Mormon?

The summer of 1984 after my second year of law school I clerked for an insurance defense firm in Rock Island, Illinois. It was really a lovely experience and I recall it fondly.

There were two of us clerks at the firm that summer. The other one was a young woman from Valparaiso. We quickly became good friends and got along well. Often we would have lunch together out in the fresh air along the Mississippi.

One day we were eating lunch, and completely out of the blue she hits me with this question: “So, what’s it like being Mormon?” I think I choked whatever I was eating a bit, I was so unprepared for those words to come out of her mouth. I hemmed and hawed and finally stammered out a bit of an answer, something about the commitment involved and how it’s an everyday thing not limited to Sundays.

To this day I feel as though I really muffed it. She had asked me this fantastic, open ended question and I got a brain freeze and just couldn’t think of what to say.

So now I’m turning it over to you. Imagine that a friend asked you what it’s like to be Mormon. What would you say to him or her?

(This is a bad idea; I’m sure reading all of your eloquent responses is going to sink me into a dark depression over my lack of mental nimbleness on that occasion.)

Comments

  1. It’s confidence-building.

    As a Mormon, I have a purpose to life, I have a God who loves me and wants the best for me, I have ideals to strive for, I have promises of great blessings for simply doing my best, and I have a Savior who’s paid for and overcome my shortcomings. Makes it a lot easier to face and navigate life.

  2. being a Mormon is tough. You’ve gotta reconcile its racist past hoping that that isn’t a precursor for the future if Mormonism were to be the majority religion. You’ve gotta deal with the likes of Glenn Beck using Mormon principles in his crazy insane garbage.

    But then you get to read the Book of Mormon and really delve into some strong, rich doctrine over what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. You get today’s Apostles and Prophets who have shown over the years that they’ve really pondered and prayed about the real deep meaning of the gospel.

    Being a Mormon means being active, being a builder in the church. I’m currently the Sunday School president, and if it were not for my efforts, the overall church experience for everyone there would be diminished. (I say this not tooting my own horn, but my activity, which anyone else could fill in.) The bishop is doing what he does because he accepts the responsibility and not because of payment. For me, being a Mormon means truly following the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in showing love and charity for others, enlarging my understanding of the gospel and the world around me, and helping restore God’s kingdom here on earth.

    Of course, this comment comes after some thought. On the spot, my answer would probably be worse than yours.

  3. 1) Being Mormon means I believe I was in love with my wife for an eternity before we were born, we are in love here as we age, and we will be in love when we will be spirits and when we are resurrected.
    2) The Book of Mormon leads to the happiness of the depths of humility and repentance and the joy of redemption in Christ, the best happiness I have known.

  4. By the way, thanks for asking. It is interesting to me to see what feelings come up. I will be also interested to see what other people feel.

  5. It’s like . . . Diamonds

  6. Eric S. says:

    “It’s like lunch walk in the fresh air along the Mississippi with a beautiful girl who shares my love for reading and drafting opinions that may or may not be published.” Dood, that’s all you had to say, and she would have joined right there on the spot!

  7. Imagine that you are under a belief system that you are among 1% of the world’s population tasked with having the purest doctrine, additional scripture from God, and one who holds the keys for direct communication with him. Your duty is to proclaim these truths to the entire world while trying to live a lifestyle many in the world would find “peculiar”. Imagine all the stress and pressure, both internal as well as external that this role demands.
    But then you get to add to that all the blessings that one would imagine to accompany this post, a belief in a direct communion with our father, a knowledge of an eternal relationship with our loved-ones. A sense of hope and purpose in life.

  8. Antonio Parr says:

    Kevin:

    I would have said “I am not sure I have ever been asked that question. It deserves a an answer more thoughtful than I am able to give on the fly. Is it OK if I follow-up tomorrow?”

    (I write this because I find myself unable to answer this question spontaneously, which is what you were asked to do.)

  9. Antonio Parr says:

    (By the way, Kevin, your question is a real gift. What a wonderful opportunity for anyone who encounters your post to stop and really ponder what it is about Mormonism that inspires us to continue to be a part of its story.)

  10. I’d probably say “What specifically do you want to know about?” Because it’s kind of a stupid question.

    Or I might just say, “Being Mormon gives you a unique perspective on the world that only other Mormons share” and when they ask how so, explain more.

  11. Thomas Parkin says:

    Can you describe the taste of cinnimon?
    I mean, without saying something like cinnimony?

    Well, being a Mormon is mormony-ish. ~

  12. Jettboy says:

    Same as it is for any other person. I live, eat, breath, sleep, bleed, work, learn, hope, pray, and ponder the eternities. Other than that? I sometimes get asked crazy questions that have no bearing in who I am as a Mormon or a human and that can get both frustrating and tedious.

  13. It depends on the following factors:

    1. First and foremost: How much you actually know about the teachings and beliefs (doctrines if you may, whether official or simply carried with the traditions and teachings) of the Church in its whole context.

    2. The location where you live–how much of the culture of where you live has been influenced either negatively or positively by old and new Mormon teachings and beliefs. Mormon communities have its advantages and disadvantages, as well as communities where Mormons are not well known. Both could have a significant impact on your Mormon experience.

    3. Your ethnic background of course.

    4. Whether your family and true loved ones are also Mormons; and if they aren’t, what that implies socially and doctrinally.

    5. And the ultimate and most important factor: what you make of all of it.

    These factors (among other factors I may be forgetting), combine to create the individual’s Mormon experience. I will describe how those factors combine for me:

    Factor 1- Knowledge. Facing the actual substance of Mormon history and doctrine (while being a Mormon) does require quite the character. It is like a refining fire for the mind and the spirit. You must develop conflict/resolution skills in an ideological/spiritual/moral/doctrinal battleground. Mormons who prefer never to face the actual substance of the history and doctrine of the Church can be extremely cruel, envious and destructive of your character if you expose to them how you deal with some of the deeper garbage this Church carries in a concealed manner. Their denial, their attacks and their fanaticism can wreak havoc in your own experience.

    It has been my experience that most Mormons are in this category: they are extremely ignorant of the actual historical and doctrinal substance of their religion and they prefer to linger in the shallower parts of the knowledge pool; never having to face the actual conundrums of their religion and never having to develop a character that knows how to exercise this type of conflict/resolution. They will point at you, demean you and some, will openly try to destroy you, by alienating you in some of the most vicious forms.

    Factor 2 – Location. While it is definitely not fun to be looked at as a strange zoo animal for being a Mormon in a community where almost nobody is; it is even worse when you live in a Mormon community, full of the ignorant people mentioned in Factor 1. It can be all depressing, frustrating, alienating and infuriating at the same time. The passive-aggressiveness of the culture cannot be underestimated. But if you are one of them, life must be really good, even above average. This transitions easily into Factor 3 – since if you are of the wrong ethnic background, it may be a bit harder to actually be “one of them.” In my perception and in my experience, if you are of the wrong ethnic background you will actually never be 100% one of them.

    Factor 3 – Ethnicity. Being the Christian religion with probably the most doctrinally developed notion of White Supremacist, and having the most subtle ways to teach and implement it; make no mistake, being of the wrong ethnic background means being anything that isn’t Caucasian. As Apostle Bruce R. McConkie taught in the “Cast System” section of his book “Mormon Doctrine;” or as Apostle Mark E. Peterson spoke in 1954, all non white races are the result of curses and are designated as the lineages of 2nd class spirits.

    “Let us consider the great mercy of God for a moment. A Chinese, born in China with a dark skin, and with all of the handicaps of that race seems to have little opportunity, out think of the mercy of God to Chinese people who are willing to accept the Gospel. In spite of whatever they might have done in the pre-existence to justify being born over there as Chinamen…
    Think of the Negro, cursed as to the Priesthood. Are we prejudiced against him? Unjustly, sometimes we’re accused of having such prejudice. But what does the mercy of God have for him? This Negro, who in the pre-existence life lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a black skin…” (Mark E. Peterson, Race Problems – As They Affect the Church, Provo, UT, Aug 27, 1954)

    Although most Mormons don’t believe this anymore, current Church Leaders have refused to tackle this subject (conveniently in my opinion) and they have never addressed it in their full authority the Mormon congregation. They have simply gone numbingly mute, thus creating the perfect vague environment for whomever wishes to bring these attitudes to life to feel justified since “the Apostles taught it.”

    Make no mistake, the Caucasian fold of this Church conveniently takes advantage of this vague environment, and as subtle as Satan is, they use all sorts of passive aggressive tricks to let non-whites know who God’s “pet” is in the last days. And strongly suspect the leadership of this Church likes it just the way it is.

    Knowledge of this things, combined with the “wrong ethnic background,” and the blatant comfort of turning a blind eye from an (oh surprise) all white and conservative leadership, can make being a Mormon one of the most demeaning and miserable experiences on earth.

    We can only pray that someday, a leader will give a damn, because as subtle and as passive as things have become today, the spirit of this evil teaching still remains strong at different levels all throughout the Church.

    Factor 4. Family. If your family are not Mormons, they won’t be able to attend your wedding, and in the eyes of other Members, you won’t be able to remain a family in the afterlife, pending they will someday accept Mormonism. This is another thing that goes mostly unnoticed by those who are born in the Church and surrounded by a protective bubble of religion. Once again, make no mistake; these things hurt and will make your Mormon experience a difficult one. The lack of understanding of those around you and their insensitive callousness will be numbing, be prepared.

    Factor 5. Ultimately, your attitude towards these things will define the actual product of the combination of the factors, whether you decide the experience is a refining fire that made you stronger, or a vicious beast tearing you apart and completely destroying your identity: it is all up to you in the end.

    It is no paradise and no fairy tale. It is an experience like many others, filled with both beautiful things and sometimes vile things. If you think your existence should reflect a chiaroscuro (like I do), where the beauty of the light is defined by the contrasting darkness and shadows around it, then you will be happy. You will understand that the ultimate thing that matters is that this life is nothing but a spiritual ascension to God, and your relationship with Him is what really counts. If you get caught trying to make sense of the religion, you will either go crazy or you will become another zombie in denial. One must put all things in the greater context and see the greater picture.

    Oh, but I would not have answered this on the spot. On the spot, I would have answered “It’s rather overrated and perhaps unnecessary, but it’s where I learn to shape my character for better or for worse.”

  14. What’s it like being Mormon? Well for me- and I can only speak for me- everything in my life is better since I became a Mormon. That might seem ironic if you know what my life has been like the last few years, but I know that I could not have survived what DID happen without this church and the love the Gospel of Christ has brought to my life.

    Through Mormonism, I have come to know Christ- know him in a way that transcends the distant savior I learned of before I found this church. There is a tremendous sense of unity, cutting through time and generations within Mormonism- I am more tied of my family, both here and dead- and ever to come.

    Being Mormon is a rich texture, full of nuance and depth that at first might be deceptive in what appears to be its uniformity. It’s not. The community and singleness of purpose that many Mormons do share has blessed by life over and over, and I am honored to be a part of it- a member of this family.

  15. The theology let’s my mind and heart soar; the community (both off- and on-line) gives a string to my mental and spiritual kite; the culture simultaneously drives me batty and grounds me in love and serenity; the overall package allows me the freedom AND the security to explore transcendent truths (a truly rare combination).

    Most of all being Mormon gives me a glimpse of a Father-God who is “real” and approachable – a Being I can emulate and strive to become like – and a Brother-Savior-God whom I can worship and with whom I can relate. It posits God made flesh and God within me in a way that is powerful and awe-inspiring. It gives me an understanding of what universalism is all about, which gives me a chance at real humility that I personally wouldn’t have without it – and that understanding, for me, simply doesn’t exist to the same degree in any other theological construct I’ve ever encountered.

    It gives me light and ever-growing life – and it gives me peace and never-ending hope.

  16. StillConfused says:

    It’s like being Catholic with less hail mary’s and (hopefully) less pedofiles.

  17. Matt A. says:

    I freeze on those kind of out-of-the-blue questions too, unless it is something I have already been giving thought to.

    My answer would have been different when I was younger, I am sure, but right now, at this moment, here is what I would say:

    From a purely social standpoint, it has been difficult for me to interact with Mormon culture. I violate most of the social norms that characterize the “ideal” Mormon, and that has not been without cost, both in terms of other people’s reactions to me, and my own sense of peace and belonging.

    However.

    I would also say that being a Mormon is fundamentally and most importantly all about my relationship with God and Christ, and seeking unity with them.

    That relationship is like being connected to a limitless source of power and joy, that runs as a foundation supporting everything. In whatever difficulties I have experienced, that connection to the Divine has both sustained me and transformed me through my suffering.

    The process of seeking God is like having the boundaries between the divine and the mundane broken down so that I live in a world without compartments, where my beliefs are not separate from my daily life, but rather inform my daily life.

    In short, it is a unity of opposites – there is pain and suffering involved, but also great joy and happiness. Truly a pearl of great price.

  18. B. Russ (first answer)- fabulous! I laughed out loud.
    Being much less thoughtful than perhaps most of you are, my first impulse was to say the following: Being Mormon is great, because it gives me an understanding of my purpose here on earth, and also what I can expect from the life to come. It also gives me an understanding of what I can do to be happy- deep down inside happy (or at least at peace) when everything else sucks. Oh, and it gives me a place to turn when everything does suck. Simplistic, maybe, but that’s pretty much it for me.

  19. Manuel,
    Very eloquently put. That’s more or less the way I feel about “what it’s like” to be Mormon.

  20. Then again, if someone really asked me and I had to think on my feet, I’d probably say something like this.

    “It’s hard. For people like me, it’s really hard. When you’re growing up, it’s easier because life is simple and it’s easy enough to just trust what everyone tells you. But once you’re an adult and life gets more complicated, you have to find your own way and your own faith, and that process can be very painful, even if it’s rewarding in the end. My faith doesn’t look like that of most Mormons I know. I don’t subscribe to most of their cultural norms or expectations. More importantly, for me, Jesus and the Bible come before the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, but I feel like this is where Jesus wants me to be, so I stay.”

    If they had asked me to tall me about my beliefs, I would have actually talked about that, but that’s not what the person is hypothetically asking.

  21. gillsyk says:

    I wonder if the question rose from your friend presuming a shared view of “normal” life, next to which Mormonism is obviously weird and abnormal. So what does it feel like to voluntarily participate in something so strange? Much like asking an astronaut how it feels to be weightless — of course they know the normal sensation of gravity, so they could offer a meaningful comparison.

    Whereas I think sometimes being Mormon gives us a very very different set of experiences and expectations about how life works, a baseline that can be quite at odds with what seems natural and normal to others.

  22. Well, my first instinct was like Daniel’s “it’s tough.”

    But I liked Susan m’s response best. It is kind of a stupid question.

  23. Latter-day Guy says:

    16, Claaaaassy.

    RE the OP,
    It’s a lot like this.

  24. Paul #3.. your 1) answer could spark a thread of its own IMO… curious what everyone’s thoughts are / GA/doctrinal/folklore/origination of that thought?

  25. It’s OK. I mean sometimes good and sometimes bad. Like the other day–I was talking with my dad on the phone and during our conversation no matter what the topic he brought it back to the “gospel” and what a blessing it is. I mean, sure, OK, but you know I want to talk about a movie or politics or even gay marriage without thinking or hearing about how it relates to the gospel. So Mormon hobbyists can be irritating, particularly when you are related to them. I mean, I think my dad has some idea that because I’m living apart from my wife for a few months I must be super tempted by loose women and pornography or something and if he just works enough random references to the “gospel” in then I’ll hold to the rod. What? No, “hold to the rod” means keeping on the strait and narrow. Anyway you know it isn’t like that at all. I mean I basically wake up, go to the gym, go to work until late then come home and fall asleep. Anyway, there were plenty of loose women at BYU. Believe me. Loose. Not that I’m critical of them. Everything has its time and place I guess. I’m just saying that sin will find you where ever you are. I suppose that’s pretty much true whether you are Mormon or not. You know, sometimes I feel so close to God and almost overcome by His love. That in the vastness of the universe there is this Being who is looking out for each one of his children. Cares about them. Helps them–or wants to if they will only let Him. Then there are moments when He seems so far away. There, but far away. What did Neil Gaiman say? “God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of the players, (ie everybody), to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.” I’m probably the wrong person for you to be talking to about this. I mean I don’t really even like Mormons as a people. And I’m even worse when it comes to Mormons as individuals. That makes me a self-hating Mormon I guess. Anyway–I know a couple of guys that would love to come by and talk more with you? Are you busy tomorrow evening, say around 7:00?

  26. My instant response would probably have been:

    “What do you mean what’s it like to be a Mormon?”

  27. I think I would say:

    It has helped me build and establish a wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ. I have confidence in my belief, because there are modern witnesses of God and Jesus.

    It also helps me to develop not only my spiritual self, but to develop myself in all aspects of my life. Five years ago I was an 11 year old Scout Leader. Then I became a high priest group leader. Now I’m a service missionary in the Spanish branch, where one of my areas of focus is to help develop their scout program.

    To be able to serve helps me be more Christ-like and Christ-centered. It heals me and blesses me.

  28. Busy

  29. My off-the-top-of-my-head answer: “I think that in many ways it’s like being in other religions, giving me a sense of who I am and why I’m here. Being a Mormon helps give me a purpose in life and helps me see the broader perspective. I know I’m not on this Earth by chance, and I appreciate how the Church helps me to follow the example that Jesus set while he was on Earth.”

  30. Antonio Parr says:

    Further thoughts:

    My answer would be, at least in part, dependent on the audience. If your colleague was an atheist, I might emphasize one thing. If an evangelical, something else. Orthodox Jew? Yet again, something else. Etc. etc. etc.

    With respect any negative aspects of Mormonism, I would not emphasize them in a first time discussion. The Church has too much beauty and worth for me to help chase someone away with unbalanced criticisms. I would feel duty bound, both out of loyalty to the institution and loyalty to the meaningful spiritual experiences that have come my way thanks to my association with Mormonism, to show them the rose before pointing out any thorns.

  31. Adam Greenwood says:

    Mathew, #25,

    that probably IS a terrible answer, but that bit about playing a game of poker with a Dealer who has goals you can’t even understand with rules you don’t know and stakes that you can’t cover–yeah, that rings pretty true to me. And sometimes that’s extremely exciting and sometimes its pretty scary.

  32. In my years as criminal defense lawyer, my firm defended many Mormons against charges of child molestation, including one man whose first child rape occurred while he was on a mission in Brazil. (I wondered at the time how he was able to get away from his companion; of course, his companion might well have been involved. I never knew.) We never once defended a Catholic priest. Nevertheless, I would assume that the rate of pedophilia in all churches is about the same; with over a billion Catholics, the number of pedophiles is larger.

  33. Michael says:

    I once walked into a kosher deli in Chicago, located under the elevated train. Six rabbis were sitting at a table. One of them waved at me, yelled “Hey, Mormon Boy! Get your lunch. If you get anything other than the roast chicken and the carrot salad you’ll regret it. Then come sit with us. We have much to discuss with you.”

    (It should be noted that I worked for Franklin Covey at the time, and was wearing a sweatshirt to that effect.)

    So, I got lunch and I sat. And I explained. And I asked a few questions myself. One of the rabbis told me “If for no other reason, the Book of Mormon is inspired because of the verse that says ‘Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.’ That sentence alone makes the book inspired.”

    I’ve often reflected on that. We get so wrapped up in the prohibitions and restrictions and phone calls to move somebody in that we forget we are supposed to be happy. We are here to have experiences and joy. If there’s no joy in our lives, we are doing something wrong, aren’t getting enough fiber, or don’t watch enough cartoons.

  34. “If for no other reason, the Book of Mormon is inspired because of the verse that says ‘Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.’ That sentence alone makes the book inspired.”

    You know, that has always been my favorite verse.

  35. Kevin Barney says:

    Michael no. 32, that’s a terrific story!

  36. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    “grounds me in love and serenity”

    I was trying to put something like that in words…

    grounds me in love:

    in a family that seeks to ever love each other more
    in a loving relationship with the members of the Godhead
    in the love of fellowman that was exemplified by our Savior

    serenity:

    in knowing that I have a purpose
    that seeking a great destiny in life is my Heavenly Father’s design
    in knowing that I can be forgiven and redeemed
    in knowing that I can find a ward family for strength wherever I go

  37. Antonio Parr says:

    32 -34:

    Agreed. However, it is a shame that joy is so elusive for so many, including faithful Latter-Day Saints.

    That being said, when I blessed my children, I felt joy. When I baptized them, I felt joy. When I have family home evening (too infrequently — don’t want to be labeled a ~hypocrite~!), i feel joy. There are times in the Temple when I feel a quiet joy that is sublime. When I pray and serve I feel joy. Perhaps that is what people want to hear when they ask what it is like to be a Mormon.

  38. I like this:

    I would feel duty bound, both out of loyalty to the institution and loyalty to the meaningful spiritual experiences that have come my way thanks to my association with Mormonism, to show them the rose before pointing out any thorns.

    I used to think this way, but then I realized nobody really does this. They show you the “rose” as if it actually didn’t have any thorns. Then when along the way you get pierced with the thorns, the members turn their backs, blame you and tell you it must have been all your fault, since the rose is perfect. And well, that is simply false.

    I have learned to never do this anymore. I won’t lure any more people into an organization that suffers from massive denial syndrome and that has a tendency to turn its back on the people who find the “thorns.” No more one sided rosy fairytales worthy of being published in the Ensign will come from my mouth.

    I have determined it is best to be actually honest about the way I feel and about what they (non-members) will most likely encounter if they decide to pursue the religion. All based on my own experience.

    As for “chasing someone away” I am one who believes “the field is white and ready to harvest,” those who are ready are ready and those who aren’t aren’t. My ethics and my experience with the Church as a convert prevent me from using the typical deceiving marketing techniques with the Gospel that I see others use, and that were used on me.

  39. How’s that bitterness working out for you?

  40. Antonio Parr says:

    37. To be sure, there are some thorns around that beautiful rose. Sorry that they have caused you such pain. Best wishes for healing and for happiness.

  41. I am also loving B. Russ’s responses.

    I would say there are good days and bad days and ask which they want to hear about. Would tell me a lot about their view of Mormonism and why they wanted to know.

  42. Heheeh. I am going to assume MinJae’s question (38) is being directed at me.

    It is working very well. My religious experience on a personal basis with God has been greatly enhanced, while my sense of community with the members of the Church has, well, pretty much died.

    My discernment has been strengthened the most. I have learned to have an objective view of people in general – non-members, struggling members, “happy” members, local leaders, general authorities and even the prophets of the scriptures. I don’t mistake their human nature for the will of God. I can see them for who they are and their actual agendas. I can view why some are struggling and why some are happy. I don’t have the bizarre Mormon judgment knife: those who struggle are sinners and those who are happy are good saints. I know many noble souls struggle, and I know many shallow and ignorant live happy, according to what they dare to know. I am eternally grateful for this superior discernment, something most Mormons in my opinion will never attain due to their bizarre paradigm they have created out of a correct principle. The principle being that blessing result from good actions, whereas most have adulterated this principle and have added the vile philosophy that struggles and pain must then come due to the lack of good actions or for breaking the commandments. These are thick scales of blindness in mainstream Mormonism in my opinion.

    Religiously, I focus on Jesus Christ’s core teachings and the commandments of God. I want to know things are true because the Holy Ghost testifies of them, not because “my leader told me and he must be right since he was called of God.” I aspire to be like Him one day and be able to love all, the way He did. Even those who use religion mixed with self-righteousness to persecute, destroy or leave to starvation the weak in the Church, the less privileged: those with the “wrong ethnic background,” those who aren’t protected by a bubble of religion through their families, those who the council of white conservatives who lead this Church rarely speak a word of comfort to.

    I have become a Gnostic, striving to have meaningful religious experiences (ascensions) through the Holy Ghost. I use the Church to practice adoration to God, to remember His sacrifice and to ceremonially experience ascensions (temple work) that allow me to know I am one of His children, and that I have the potential to become like him, regardless of the color of my skin, my eyes, my hair, or the sound of my last name.

    I have learned to expect absolutely nothing from the Mormon community, and thus be extremely refreshed and grateful when something good actually comes from them.

    I have learned that the Church is still in an extremely young and primitive state. The current leaders are not willing to suppress their pride and sacrifice their celebrity status and the glory of that false sense of infallibility they try to convey; and they fail to do this and thus they fail to truly nourish the members that are most in need: the ones they have hurt with their uninspired, vicious and evil lies subtly intertwined with scripture to pass them as doctrine.

    I have learned they (the white conservative council of leaders of this Church) are unrepentant and contradict the very tenets of the Church when it comes to repentance: to face the wrongdoing and to do everything they can to restitute that which was damaged. Instead they go silent, and they pretend that time somehow will fade the issues, never having to face them like real men would. Therefore, I have learned the reason why they don’t receive any further revelations. And I believe they won’t receive any revelations unless they repent and listen to Jesus Christ’s commandment given to them: feed my sheep. (Not only the white and privileged sheep, but all the sheep, and especially those who they starved for a period of time)

    I pray that the day will come when “one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God.”

    I pray for the well being of the ones the Church leave unprotected due to its foul past doctrines and the lack of light shed regarding them. As a Christian, these are my first priority. I let them know God loves them, regardless of what the council of Caucasian conservatives that have hijacked this Church fail to do and teach for the sake of protecting the reputation of their offices.

    Notwithstanding this understanding of these humans, I am not going to deny God from trying to nourish me. There are no perfect beings on this earth, and whatever good God sends through these vain serpents I receive gladly. I have learned to accept their humanity, but never deny it. I am just as imperfect (although I don’t go claiming from a pulpit people must do what I say because I speak the will of God). Let them enjoy their time in the spotlight, and let the true judge decide their reward. I focus on obtaining the good and acknowledging the bad and profiting somehow from both.

    I rise awareness of these issues as much as I can, often driving the rage and ire of the hypocrites, the ones who wish to tell themselves “all is well in Zion.” Nonetheless, I rise awareness, because it is through awareness and by bringing things to light that issues get discussed, analyzed, put in perspective and eventually resolved. Covering up and lying about things simply perpetuates the problem. I am part of a solution not part of a problem. And that in itself makes me happy to receive all sorts of ire, rage and alienation from those spoiled and ignorant in the Church.

    I have learned to truly connect directly with God, instead of connecting through the pious speech of a panel of white conservatives. I love my vision and I pity the lack of vision of others. This is indeed my pride. But this vision has come from many experiences, study, self love and the understanding of the fallen human state, and I wouldn’t change my vision for any of the “happy situations” of the “happy members” of the Mormon Church.

  43. Antonio Parr says:

    The problem is, had Kevin given the “Diamonds” answer, he might have received this response:

    The French are glad to die for love.
    They delight in fighting duels.
    But I prefer a man who lives
    And gives expensive jewels.

    A kiss on the hand
    May be quite continental,
    But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

    A kiss may be grand
    But it won’t pay the rental
    On your humble flat
    Or help you at the automat.

    Men grow cold
    As girls grow old,
    And we all lose our charms in the end.

    But square-cut or pear-shaped,
    These rocks don’t loose their shape.
    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

    Tiffany’s!
    Cartier!
    Black Starr!
    Frost Gorham!
    Talk to me Harry Winston.
    Tell me all about it!

    There may come a time
    When a lass needs a lawyer,
    But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

    There may come a time
    When a hard-boiled employer
    Thinks you’re awful nice,
    But get that ice or else no dice.

    He’s your guy
    When stocks are high,
    But beware when they start to descend.

    It’s then that those louses
    Go back to their spouses.
    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

    I’ve heard of affairs
    That are strictly platonic,
    But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

    And I think affairs
    That you must keep liaisonic
    Are better bets
    If little pets get big baguettes.

    Time rolls on,
    And youth is gone,
    And you can’t straighten up when you bend.

    But stiff back
    Or stiff knees,
    You stand straight at Tiffany’s.

    Diamonds! Diamonds!
    I don’t mean rhinestones!
    But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

  44. Manuel, I understand your pain (seriously, I do), but can you also see that you are talking in absolute terms every bit as much as those you are castigating?

    You use “every”, “all”, “nobody”, “unrepentant” (about an entire group), etc. constantly – and yet you blame others (everyone, actually) for not being open to nuance and fair-handed objectivity.

    Just someting to consider – from someone who cares deeply about helping to eliminate the very real issues you address.

  45. Ray,

    Very true indeed.

    I actually transferred all of my comments to a word document and did a search for the terms you mention. I used “nobody” once, and I didn’t use “every.” I stand behind the “nobody” when speaking as a trend in the group I am talking about. Because significantly speaking, nobody seems the right therm for me to use when speaking of the issue I was referring to.

    I did imply “all” many times, since when talking about an organization it is extremely difficult and perhaps impossible to pinpoint individual stances within, therefore, I simply used my opinion based on my experience of the trend that I see and I experience in the group. After all the question is “what’s it like being a Mormon?” Well, that’s what’s like for me.

    This type of bracketing or trend assignation (maybe unfair) is often necessary since otherwise we would never be able to speak of groups of people, since every individual within a group will have his or her own stance on any given issue; therefore, we have to rely on the trends observed within that group.

    The phrase “Mormons believe Joseph Smith is a prophet of God,” couldn’t be used, since not all Mormons do. But as a trend, I don’t think it is an inappropriate statement to make.

    I think I clearly stated (or at worst strongly implied) that these trends I criticize were my opinion based on my observation and my experience. Just in the same fashion other comments and their authors are.

    As for the term “unrepentant” to an entire and rather specific group, I firmly stand behind my assertion regarding the issues I am talking about (once again through the lens of my pereption, experience and understanding). I will very much welcome gladly anything that can prove me wrong on that stance; I simply haven’t found it.

    Trust me, I cannot explain to you how much I thirst to see a drop of light shed on the issues at hand from that group of people: true light, shed officially and directed correctly to the right audience at hand and through the right venues (not just mere obscure statements done under some pressure and with a limited audience).

    Sorry if you are uncomfortable with the place where I stand. I take the command “feed my sheep” seriously, and as one of the sheep, I am still looking for true messengers. I don’t care for men who are scared to clarify the philosophies of men mingled with scripture that their predecessors fed the saints under their stewardship. And frankly, I haven’t seen any real efforts on that front, and I grow suspicious of the reasons why there are no efforts, and that is what I stated here. Yes, they are speculative at best, but so are the arguments agaist them.

    I didn’t mean to blame others per say for not being open to objectivity (and certainly not everyone). Instead what I wanted to convey is my perception of how the system has worked (or failed to work) for me. I want to convey my perception and my understanding of the people that clearly obstruct objectivity, the people who simply don’t see anything for they don’t bother to see (otherwise they would see), and those others that do see but simply keep it to themselves (and make an effort to “keep appearances”) so as not to have the inconvenience of being treated the way I have many times been treated, like a rebelious pariah against the “great good ones.”

    Having said that, I am ever grateful for everyone “who cares deeply about helping to eliminate the very real issues you address.” I know they are out there, but it is my perception that they are so few, and even within these few, it is my perception than many simply “wish to eliminate the issues” but do little or nothing to actually accomplish it. Nonetheless, I am grateful some people do feel this way.

    Maybe if leaders knew how many people feel the need to clear the issues and how strong this spiritual need is, they would actually do something about it. But being a whistleblower is uncomfortable, and blending in is much more appealing. And the vision of those in charge seems to be cloudy, so here we are.

  46. Calibos says:

    Thank you rameumpton. Not many comments on Christ here. I have stopped refering to myself as a Mormon but refer to myself as a Christian now as that is what I am. I believe Mormon was a prophet and he abridged a book, that was it. Christ has offered me salvation and exaltation. When it says in the scriptures that a church named after any person other than Christ belongs to that person and not Christ, why do we still believe we should refer to ourselves as Mormons? The reason people still don’t believe we are Christians is that we don’t refer to ourselves as Christians. We have a new mission president and last week he came to give a fireside and only talked about the Mormon church, Mormonism and the Mormon missionaries. In the one hour fireside he mentioned Christ only twice.

    How about any answer that is given must focus on the Saviour and how as a result of having modern prophets we understand more about the nature and character of the saviour Jesus Christ. Because of revelation we undersand more about our relationship with Christ and can know who we can become.

  47. Calibos does have a good point. Too many LDS are so focused on being Mormons that they forget to be Christians. They spend so much time in meetings and seeing how they fail on so many commandments that they fail to see the redemption and atoning love Christ gives to all sinners who try even a little.

    We end up bitter, frustrated and angry, when we should rejoice above all others for the promises made by the Lord through Joseph Smith and modern prophets.

    No wonder we are not baptizing more than we are. The Mormons are miserably messing up the work for the LDS Christians!

  48. “I am eternally grateful for this superior discernment, something most Mormons in my opinion will never attain.”

    That, Manuel, as well as the labeling of everyone with whom you disagree who is in a leadership position in the LDS Church as evil, lying, etc. is all I was trying to highlight for you. You will never change, in any way, anyone you are in the process of roasting with poison on a spit, even if you are claiming to do so out of love for others. Loving those you perceive to be hated by hating those you claim to be unloving is not following the council of the Lord you claim to worship any more than those who act as you decry do. Even if your judgment is correct, you are throwing the same stones – only from the other direction with perhaps more velocity.

    Your comment is the opposite reflection of what you are condemning, and I hope someday you can understand that.

    Sorry for the threadjack, everyone. I won’t continue it.

  49. “Not many comments on Christ here.”

    I went back and counted carefully:

    If you take out all the secondary, responsive comments by someone who already had commented thoughtfully – and if you remove all the comments that were nothing more than quick responses to someone else’s comment (not really addressing the title question of the post), particularly the ones meant as humor – well over half of the comments that answered the post’s title question referenced God, Jesus, Christ, Savior and/or some other name/title for deity.

    Misrepresenting participants here as not thinking of Christ when thinking of what it means to be Mormon – and extrapolating that to the membership at large – simply is inaccurate on both counts. I am quite certain the vast majority of members would include some reference to God, Jesus, Christ, Savior, etc. in their answers if asked – and I am quite certain that number is as high as any other Christian denomination if the actual question centered on what it’s like to be (fill in the black denomination), when such a wording almost automatically directs one’s mind to differences rather than commonalities.

  50. Good golly, I hope most of you are never asked this question.

    This question is a hand-picked, hand-wrapped, and hand-delivered opportunity to share the Gospel — and some of you bring your personal ax to grind.

    Bah.

    ————

    Back to the question at hand … this is what I would say.

    Being Mormon is hard. It’s beautiful. It’s rewarding … it’s challenging. It’s consuming. And I love it. I love that I am taught — and I believe — that I am literally a child of God. That He is my father and that he loves me and wants me to be like him. I love that we are taught to reach for the stars — that we own them. I love that I am called to be the salt of the earth — and not a blunt instrument. I love that the god I worship is not just powerful and mighty — but fair and accommodating and tender — that he sent his Son to not only live a exemplary life but to make it possible for me to return, one day, and live with him.

  51. Ray,

    That, Manuel, as well as the labeling of everyone with whom you disagree who is in a leadership position in the LDS Church as evil, lying, etc.

    I am sorry I came across that way. I never intended to label actual leaders as “evil,” rather I labeled “evil” some of the teachings that they have generated becasue they are, and because they have caused much heartache and pain and because there seems to be no speckle of justice or light regarding some of those teachings.

    My actual view is that leaders are human and all that implies: they are imperfect. So I honestly apologize for if I came across that extremist anti-leader. I have had great leaders, but I have also had a very very rough time being a Mormon and I have been extremely hurt about the views and teachings of some leaders and I also hurt of the relaxed way they are being handled. I understand your view and I hope someday you can understand my view.

    You will never change, in any way, anyone you are in the process of roasting with poison on a spit, even if you are claiming to do so out of love for others.

    I am not trying to change anyone or anything, I was expressing my Mormon experience, which I know is also the Mormon experience of many others who are scared to death to share it because of members lashing out at them the way you are lashing out at me.

    Loving those you perceive to be hated by hating those you claim to be unloving is not following the council of the Lord you claim to worship any more than those who act as you decry do. Even if your judgment is correct, you are throwing the same stones – only from the other direction with perhaps more velocity.

    I don’t hate anyone. But I will give you this much credit: you may be right about me. I am very imperfect, my feelings may be wrong, my views may be shortsighted, and my comments may have exstensive room for improvement.

    The thing is, I am not claiming from a pulpit that my views are the views of God, and that my comments are scripture and that I speak true religion.

    Your comment is the opposite reflection of what you are condemning, and I hope someday you can understand that.

    I actually don’t understand it the same way you do, because I don’t think you are being able (neither truly willing) to stand in my shoes. And frankly, no. It is not a reflection: I am not demeaning anyone the way some of the teaching of the Church do; nor am I giving my statements the value the Church gives the statements made by leaders. They are my human feelings and my human opinions.

    I find it unreasonable and disingenuous that after posting a question like the on on this original post, my answer can be so offensive to anyone. If it is of any value to anyone here, there are many who feel like me or even worse. And no, they are not vile and vicious apostates fighting the Church and trying to destroy the leaders; they are good men and women trying really hard to make sense of injustices and hurtful things to find a speckle of peace, a grain of much needed spiritual nourishment.

    My answer, whether wrong or right (you seem to be an eloquent judge of that) is reflective of how many members of the church feel. They just keep their pain silent and their thoughts to themselves because they know they will be condemned they way you are condemning me. I am sorry you are so bothered to have these feelings represented here.

    In any case, I am happy for all of you whose Mormon experiences are nourishing and uplifting; and I pray you never have to deal with the feelings many of us have to struggle with in a daily basis.

  52. After reading these posts Mormonism seems confusing. I don’t think I want to join this church. I guess I’ll keep looking.

  53. Thanks for the response, Manuel. It reads very differently than the one to which I responded.

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