A long time ago, I wrote that one of the grand narratives of Mormonism is discovery, and that knowledge often requires modifications in world-view. I’m not sure that I like the term world-view anymore, but it can be a useful short-hand. I wrote that a world-view could be imagined as a structure that incorporates points or anchors in a three dimensional space. When new points are realized a modification of the structure is sometimes required. At times this modification is simple and expansive, at others it may be violent and painful.
I have experienced both, yet I remain. This is another grand narrative in Mormonism; to stay while others walk away.
I bleed Mormonism. I count Mormon ancestors back to the beginning and my family is quite active in the Church. My immediate family are practicing and believing members. But my Mormonism arises from something more.
My family also lives a particularly emphatic faith. I grew up with the stories of God’s power made manifest in their lives and those of their parents. The stories of prophecy, miraculous healings, blessings. And I found my own stories. There are a few points in my structure which represent the application of faith. Real points. The voice of God. Power. Revelation. But these are only part.
I grew up with the standard church education, though I started going to Gospel Doctrine at age 16 because I felt like I was being patronized. I had a penchant for speculative doctrine, but my concepts of church history were generally limited to the fruits of correlation. My world view was a simple structure, naïve in many ways, but also serene, useful and empowering.
As happens, discovery continued to reveal pieces challenging to my world view. Points accumulated outside my structure and I remember feeling off balance. Sam talks of salutary virtigo, but this just seemed like the run-of-the-mill kind. I once said it was a crisis, though in retrospect it doesn’t seem much of one. I said it felt like the structure of my worldview was destroyed, not lovingly, but violently and perhaps by my own hand. I see this statement now as rather silly, but it represents the turmoil of the moment. I think that I didn’t know what to do, which for me is terror. I was fortunate. I had people close to me who hadn’t experience my particular struggle, but those far worse–the death of a child, cancer–and remained. Just being able to say that I hurt to someone who loved me and would still love me was healing. It was such a short time.
I reevaluate the points in my view, and I began furiously to see more. I felt like I stood and spread my folded wings. The new construction was different. It seemed more accommodating to future change and dynamic; but it was beautiful, more than the first. I have heard leaders in the Church say that the problem isn’t studying church history. The problem is studying it too little. I believe it.
This is the study of history; it makes us more charitable and forgiving. We become more tolerant and kind. We become stronger and indefatigable. We see the lives of those who went before us as we become part of their story and they part of ours. We find our heroes who suffered greater strains on world view than our own…prophets even, male and female. And some perish, as many have since the beginning, yet I remain.
I believe in the restoration. I believe in the sacraments. I believe in the living Church, of which I am part.