The Disillusionment Phase

guest catholicism, God, history, inter-faith, marriage, Mormon, questioning, religion, service 27 Comments

Today’s guest post is by Kate from Myriad Mormon Musings.  Here is a brief introduction, in her own words, followed by her post:

“My name is Kate. I was raised Catholic, but converted to the Mormon church in 1999 in a hippy branch at Cornell University. Since leaving that branch, I have struggled to find my voice within the LDS world. Where does a politically liberal, PhD-holding, working mom fit in? I created the Myriad Mormon Musings blog in an attempt to find my niche as I struggle with LDS culture versus doctrine.”

Recently, my husband and I attended a marriage and family retreat. One of the speakers described three phases of the marriage relationship as the honeymoon, disillusionment, and joy phases. The honeymoon phase is where your spouse can do no wrong, and is perfect.  The disillusionment phase occurs when you start to realize that your spouse is not perfect, and ask yourself “what have I done?”  However, it is only with a full understanding of the other person, warts and all, that you can reach the “joy” phase, where you love one another despite (or even because of) their failings, and this makes the commitment that much greater.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how this concept applies to my walk with God. It will be 10 years ago in September that I officially joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons).  Before joining the church, I thought I had done a lot of research into my decision. I had spent 4 years looking at other churches, learning their doctrine and attending their church services. Surprisingly, not all of my academic efforts led me to the decision to become Mormon. It all came down to the Holy Spirit and what it was telling me God wanted me to do.

When I was meeting with the missionaries, they talked a lot about the Restoration, and how we are the only church with authority on the earth. The talked about how other churches have light and knowledge, but how ours is the only one with the fullness of the Gospel. In Conference talks, there is a lot of focus on our church Fathers, the Pioneers who lead the way across the Plains to Utah to settle Zion. In our Sunday School lessons, Church history focuses exclusively on Joseph Smith’s first wife (Emma), and ignores the “less-savory” aspects, such as polygamy, blacks in the Priesthood, the expulsion of the intellectuals, the Church’s role in the ERA, etc.

I knew that there was a lot of history that has tripped up the testimonies of others in the church. For that reason, I have really pushed off learning about it, in an effort to build my own faith before trying it. This past year, I made the decision to open that historical can of worms and found… worms. Yes, it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid of (it wasn’t snakes). However, it still has been enough to change my perspective and shake things up a bit for me.

I know that all churches have things about them that they would prefer to ignore. The Catholic church has the Inquisition and its relationship with Hitler. Muslims have the fundamentalist view of Jihad. Mormons have polygamy. The problem I am having now is that for years I have thought that our church was perfect. That the Prophets would never teach anything that was incorrect or untrue. Then I find statements from Brigham Young saying that interracial marriages are, in God’s eyes, punishable by death. I find contradictions, where early church leaders taught that the “new and everlasting covenant” meant polygamous/plural marriage, whereas now we teach that only monogamous marriage is acceptable. While my faith in fundamental Gospel principles and doctrines remains firm (I still believe in the Restoration, for instance), my ability to blindly accept everything the Prophet says as true has been shaken.

It may not sound like that big of a deal, but in a lot of ways it is. It’s like being married to someone and then finding out that they aren’t what they appeared to be when you married them. You still love them, but some of the being “in love” has worn off. You find out that they have imperfections where you once found them perfect. They have fallen from a pedestal you had placed them on. My hope is that this disillusionment phase can only lead to a final joy, where I can rest in my stronger testimony of God and His Apostles.

Another thing that I realized recently is that there are several non-doctrinal “ways to faith” that the Mormon church doesn’t really emphasize. For instance, meditation and devotion are largely undiscussed in our faith culture. Yet, these are some of the ways that I have felt closest to God in the past. I have been rediscovering them, and realizing how much my own spiritual growth has suffered without them. How does one learn about these things, when they are not taught or an active part of the faith culture you are in? Does the fact that they are not taught make them wrong?

Another example is the idea of a personal ministry. In the Mormon church, you are called by a priesthood leader, through no power or act of your own, to different responsibilities/ministries in the church. There is really no place for someone who feels God calling them. Typically, it is said that if you aspire to a calling, then you are unrighteous. It’s as if God must work the hierarchy; if you haven’t been called by a priesthood leader, it doesn’t count.

Recently, I have been feeling more and more like God has been trying to call me to a specific ministry. But I can’t determine what it is. Moreover, it is somewhat impotent when I feel like there is not a church program or mechanism for me to reach that ministry, no matter what it may be. I felt strongly that I was supposed to go to the Marianist retreat. Now I feel that I should be exploring other faith cultures again, to “find” this ministry. But to what end? If I know the Book of Mormon is God’s word, then what else and where else can I go?

Comments

comments

Comments 27

  1. “There is really no place for someone who feels God calling them. Typically, it is said that if you aspire to a calling, then you are unrighteous. It’s as if God must work the hierachy; if you haven’t been called by a priesthood leader, it doesn’t count.”

    Not true. D&C 58:26:

    26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
    27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
    28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

    If you call yourself to an institutional position, you have a problem. If you wait to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit until you’re called to an institutional position, you have a problem.

    But if you *are* called to “do much good” as a private person, and the good you want to do is in harmony with the gospel and not in conflict with the institution, that’s what is expected of you.

    (Please tell me you don’t feel called to a ministry of, say, traveling around the church teaching meditation in Relief Society meetings … ifyour impressions toward a personal ministry involve an alternative path in competition with church teachings, lessons, programs, whatever, then you’d better doublecheck the source of your promptings, or at least rethink how you’re being prompted to implement it.)

  2. I think sometimes we assume that a call to ministry has to be within the confines of the LDS church when it may be that it is totally unrelated. Lowell Bennion as a professor of Social Work at the U of U organized a neighborhood volunteer program of incoming freshman and then later established, I think, the first food banks for Salt Lake. Some years back I attended a 2 day workshop at the local Episcopal diocese on the gifts of the spirit. I had thought it would deal with faith, etc. but was aimed a helping a person discover the gifts or talents, such as teaching, organization, social justice, outreach, they could bring to their parish and community. Ministry, to me, has to do with anything and everything that we can do to help in the broadest sense imaginable. If the Marianist retreat you’re thinking of attending is something you feel the Spirit is leading you too then go for it. There’s a good chance the world be a better place because of what you’ll do.

  3. Hey, my sister used to go to that branch at Cornell and she adored it — Her favorite church experience in her 45 years on earth. She’s felt let down since moving back to Utah because there’s a lower concentration of folks applying intellectual gifts to the gospel. For a church that emphasizes intelligence, education and learning, she’s been frustrated by the number of people in her ward with no inclination to follow that counsel.

    I think I understand a bit about the “what’s my calling other than my CALLING in the church?” feeling that you get. We all have our talents and experiences and we should find a way to use them to build up the Kingdom of God and expand each others’ understanding. If you have academic gifts and feel to look into other traditions, may I suggest that church doctrine and the higher-up church leaders are wide open to the notion of acknowledging the truths found in other faith traditions. Maybe you have a contribution to make to the “best books” in that regard? I certainly love learning the myriad ways in which I find the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that he speaks to all nations.

    I also agree with a number of the points in #1. I can testify from personal experiences both good and bad that if you sense even an ounce of the notion that God is calling you to “make things right” because you know stuff and other people don’t, that’s a calling you can probably ignore for a while. Even the wisest among can only blindly sense a fraction of the “elephant.”

    Humility is an inherent challenge for the intellectually gifted — it takes constant self-reminders that everybody you meet is your superior in one or more significant areas, with wisdom and vision in areas where you’re likely totally blind. (One of my sister’s best lessons from spending four years in one of their doctoral programs was just that: these really smart people are pretty clueless about wide swaths of their own field, and even worse when it comes to everything else in the world. (Which, ironically, hasn’t particularly helped her own struggles with humility, but there you are …)

  4. Kate–

    Thanks for your post.

    You said: If I know the Book of Mormon is God’s word, then what else and where else can I go?

    There is no where else to go. You have all the truth you need, but maybe you haven’t understood that the Book of Mormon is largely a guide on how to fulfill our baptism covenant. Most members, from what I can tell, haven’t had a complete baptism. They have experiences with the Holy Ghost but haven’t been baptized by the Spirit–fire and the Holy Ghost. A careful study of the doctrine of Christ, as found in the Book of Mormon, will make this clear. Also, read the Gift of the Holy Ghost, in the Aug 2006 Ensign.

    The baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost can’t be forced. It comes based on the Lord’s time table. And from what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve learned from others, it usually comes when we are in a state of deep humility (contrite heart and broken spirit) as the result of a crisis in our lives. A crisis can either make or break us when it comes to the things of the Spirit.

    Another article I would recommend to increase understanding was given by Elder Dallin Oaks, Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct 1994, 11.

  5. With regard to LDS and meditation, if one goes to the LDS Church website (lds.org) and types in “meditation” in the search box, 656 articles will come up urging members of the LDS Church to take time to meditate. There is everything from a Young Women’s lesson urging meditation to an article by my old BYU philosophy professor, Chauncey Riddle. There are encouragements to meditate from Pres. David O. McKay (I actually remember him giving that conference address) to a talk by Pres. Hinckley. I’ve even heard messages in recent sacrament meeting talks to meditate.

    There are lots of things we Latter-day Saints don’t do, that we should do, but that’s no excuse. I’m sure each of us could come up with a fairly long list. (I’ve found that in the last few weeks with our 52″ television in the repair shop, I’ve been doing a lot more serious reading — and, yes, even some meditation.)

  6. Thank you for the post. I think it is most admirable that you took the church history bull by the horns, as it were. For me, learning about church history (which I am still in the process of doing) has helped me in my spiritual journey (although not in an orthodox way). It is easy to get sucked into either the anti-mormon, or apologist camp. I find both positions rather unsatisfying as both provide a very incomplete picture. I also don’t fall into the camp of chalking everything up to narrative fallacy. This, in and of itself, is a fallacy as it ignores information, even in inductive reasoning. I believe there is an alternative method of understanding church history.
    Re: 3 (Lorin)
    “Humility is an inherent challenge for the intellectually gifted – it takes constant self-reminders that everybody you meet is your superior in one of more significant areas, with wisdom and vision in areas where you’re likely totally blind.”
    Nothing could be more accurately said about many orthodox church members. I point this out because I don’t believe it has anything to do with being “intellectually gifted.” I think it has to do with love, or rather, a lack thereof. Many choose to place others beneath themselves. Religious folk are among the worst perpetrators in this regard, as are pompous academics. The solution, I think, is to see the “god” in each individual and nurture the budding or mature relationship with that person, not to steer clear of academia, or other intellectual pursuits.

  7. One of the things we learn as we find out more about the history of the church is that a prophet is not infallible. Even though they receive revelations and guide the church through the inspiration of the spirit, they are still men and some of their thoughts and comments come from their culture, environment and limitations. How do we know the difference? We have a responsibility to seek for spiritual confirmation to know when their statements are truly inspired. Brigham Young, Harold B. Lee and others have talked about our responsibility in this matter.

    It is important for all of us to follow the direction or the Spirit in our lives. My sister has spent a lot of time trying to help the people in Kenya to achieve a better life. This is not something that she received as a calling or even a mission assignment. She has also spent a lot of time with the UN conferences because she felt moved by the Spirit to participate (even though such conferences would force her to bed for a while after they were finished). The priesthood leaders will receive the inspiration for our calls in their jurisdiction (ward or stake), but they will not tell us what causes to be involved with and where to spend the rest of our time. As you know we are not to be commanded in all things and we can’t depend on the priesthood leaders to define all our activities either. I encourage you to take the steps to follow where your dreams and inspiration take you.

  8. Kate – just to second the comment about meditation, that is something I have heard discussed a lot at church, more often in the 1980s than in the last decade or so, but as was pointed out, a search of lds.org will show it’s a frequent GC topic. They don’t really describe meditation per se, but the word is used, sometimes in conjunction with prayer, but not always.

    I agree with your perspective, and I love the analogy. It works for me. I would also add that people do have a calling in life, whether it’s talked about at church or not. The church’s administrative angle is really to meet the needs of the organization – so that classes are taught, records are kept, members’ needs are met, and meetings continue. But one’s calling in life is very personal and unique. I think many people never contemplate that or discover what that is for them. Many people are simply not that spiritual. They go through the motions or they do the things on the checklist, but they don’t go any further than that. Only you can say what your calling in life is – and when life shows you what that is, you should do it.

  9. Kate,

    I enjoyed your post. I try to fulfill the callings I am given by priesthood leaders AND also fulfill callings I feel I have received from God by the Spirit. There is not, I believe, any dichotomy between the two. They are both from God. I do the first, and do my best to also do the other.

    Lowell Bennion did much good. But he also, it seemed, in the end, wasn’t as much of a Mormon as another mere humanitarian (though he spoke once, I believe, in General Conference). I think it is important not to lose one’s testimony and membership over some personal mission or ministry. When what some perceive to be “their calling” and it becomes more “gospel” than the gospel, you can tell that their ‘strength’ indeed became their downfall.

    I try to meet and talk with friends occasionally who seem to be inclined as I am to have a deeper understanding of the scriptures and the gospel. I think that the lack of those searching to understand what God offers was the cause for Nephi’s lamentation—

    7 And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.

    (Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 32:7)

    But we first must learn our ABC’s before we can read words. We must walk before we can run. We must be nurtured with milk before we can take meat. But so many seem to be stuck still on their ABC’s, walking and milk. Maybe your personal “mission” or “ministry” may be to help other members to “grow up” a bit!?!

    Maybe this can help—

    8 And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.

    9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

    (Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 32:8 – 9)

    God bless you that you may be filled with his marvelous light!

  10. Many of our prophets have talked about and taught meditation. The Book of Mormon is my Urim & Thummin. Before, during and after reading it, I ponder and mediate to feel the spirit of the Lord and feel His teachings for me. This is not a neglected item. Often we hear the things during general conference that we (collectively) need to hear and are not ready for more.

    I applaud the reference to not being commamded in all things. I have a couple of callings in my ward, but that hasn’t prohibited me from realizing that the Lord has nudged me to serve some less active sisters and older sisters. It also hasn’t prevented me from helping others with some projects in their lives or volunteering in Church-related facilities because I have asked what more I could do and felt guidance.

    There is a place for you. Don’t rely on your PhD as your identity. Think of yourself as a child of God – one of His chosen. He will teach and nurture you.

    Practices in the Church change as the Lord’s work is a work in progress and as the times dictate a change. However, the divinity of the Savior, the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s prophetic work, and the Lord’s love for each of us are constants.

  11. Although we don’t aspire to a calling, its not wrong to discuss the feeling of being called with a Bishop. (Depending on the level of comfort you have with the Bishop, that is.) The feeling of being called could actually precede a change in calling from the ward leader by months in some cases. Perhaps a second calling or serving as an “uncalled” specialist could be the answer. Perhaps, as others have said, the ministry is your are being called to is not something that a description in a handbook can meet.

    We have the frequent charge to develop a list of “focus 5” where auxilliaries can work in a combined fashion toward investigators, pre-investigators, and less active members. 5 from EQ, 5 from HP and 5 from RS means focus 15. I ‘try’ (rather weakly in my current effort) to think of my own personal focus 5 as to how I can use talents, time, and resources to meet the needs of 5 people that I select on my own. (Which may or may not include those who I am assigned to home teach). That gives me a tool to motivate and remind me to minister without ‘being commanded in all things’.

  12. #7:
    One of the things we learn as we find out more about the history of the church is that a prophet is not infallible. Even though they receive revelations and guide the church through the inspiration of the spirit, they are still men and some of their thoughts and comments come from their culture, environment and limitations.

    The old joke is told, with some truth behind it, that Catholics teach the Pope is infalliable, but don’t believe it, while LDS teach that the President is falliable, but don’t believe it. I wonder—does the continual “follow the prophet,” and “the prophet will never lead you astray” emphasis in modern LDS-ism even provides the president of the LDS church with room to examine himself? If several million active, faithful members of the LDS church ultimately believe that their president is unquestionable/infalliable, what sort of affect does that have on him?

    I’ve known a few LDS leaders on the ward/stake level, whose words and behavior suggested that they felt that any opinion of theirs was “obviously” the opinion of deity. I’ve known other LDS leaders whose words and behavior was beautifully humble, and who were quite ready to accept their own weaknesses or mistakes. When so many people are counting on you to be 99% correct in representing the mind of deity, self-examination could make you crazy. It would be far easier (and far more consistent with human nature, sadly) to simply consider yourself 100% directed by deity.

  13. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Kate. I agree that there are more “ways to faith” than we hear in common LDS discourse, which is a blessing and a curse. (It prevents some of the stranger folk from loudly calling everyone to take shooting lesson to prepare for the Millennium, but may also prevent someone from mentioning the positive aspects of a yoga class, for example).

  14. Kate,

    I am going to check out your blog often. I really enjoyed this post. It describes many of the emotions I have felt recently.

    “For instance, meditation and devotion are largely undiscussed in our faith culture. Yet, these are some of the ways that I have felt closest to God in the past.”

    I recently discovered meditation myself and it has been life-changing. Something interesting I’ve thought about is the temple has been a form of meditation for me. The opportunity to have quiet and peace, clearing your mind to focus on eternal things has filled a void. Learning meditation is allowing my to explore that peace more fully.

  15. #9 – Ben, I checked the spam filter and couldnt’ find it. Sorry, but please submit it again. If it had multiple links in it, remove those.

  16. Wonderful post, Kate. Thank you.

    Personally, I think “the Church” asks every single member to find and follow a personal ministry – but because those aren’t the words that are used, the message doesn’t come out in that precise way.

    Excellent insight, Nick.

  17. RE: #10 Diligent Dave

    “Lowell Bennion did much good. But he also, it seemed, in the end, wasn’t as much of a Mormon as another mere humanitarian (though he spoke once, I believe, in General Conference).”

    I know that in the spirit of maintaining the thread I should have let this slide but really now. “Wasn’t as much of a Mormon as another mere humanitarian.” A mere humanitarian as opposed to what most of us are, a space occupying non home teaching, known unreliable average as opposed to mere Mormon. Just because he fell out of favor with several of the brethren because of a nameless twit/spy in the U of U institute over grace and lost his job with CES. Ask anyone who knows and they’ll tell you it was a huge loss for the institute and a huge gain for U of U and the SLC community as a whole. Mere humanitarian, words fail me.

    And now back to Kate’s post.

  18. Ok, comment again.(Thanks to Lazarus, the Firefox add-on which remembers your comments for just this kind of thing!)

    Just a few thoughts.

    I don’t think we’ve ever been supposed to “blindly accept everything the Prophet says as true.” I have quotes from Brigham on down that run counter to that idea, as well as the associated idea of infallibility, i.e. “That the Prophets would never teach anything that was incorrect or untrue.”

    “Does the fact that they are not taught make them wrong?” Not necessarily.

    And meditation has been mentioned on occasion.
     Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 33
      “And I may add, we have a responsibility to ourselves to take some time to do a little meditating, to do a little exercise…”

    “President McKay said to us once, to the Brethren of the Twelve, “Brethren, we need to meditate more. We’re so busy doing little things. We need to meditate more.”” (334)

    I’m not sure they conceptualized meditation as taking place on a yoga mat with slow breathing, but they are advocating a time of cutting out other activities, slowing down, and thinking deeply.

    The following quote, which is more general, I use a lot with my classes to make exactly your point, that there is much good which is not the subject of GC talks.

    “We need to develop the capacity to form judgments of our own about the value of ideas, opportunities, or people who may come into our lives. We won’t always have the security of knowing whether a certain idea is “Church approved,” because new ideas don’t always come along with little tags attached to them saying whether they have been reviewed at Church headquarters. Whether in the form of music, books, friends, or opportunities to serve, there is much that is lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy that is not the subject of detailed discussion in Church manuals or courses of instruction. Those who will not risk exposure to experiences that are not obviously related to some Church word or program will, I believe, live less abundant and meaningful lives than the Lord intends.” Elder Hafen, originally published in the Ensign, Aug. 1979.

  19. Hey Ben – I’d be interested in those quotes if you wouldn’t mind posting a couple references. Thanks in advance.

  20. Although I agree the word meditate has been used in the Church, i think it is mostly in regards to pondering or a weak form of meditation like sitting quietly and thinking. To my understanding they are not quite the same as meditating. I don’t hear people speaking about meditation in the sense of mantra’s or the higher level type experiences offered by meditation.

    In addition, I agrre with Ray that the Church does call us to a personal ministry but in a indirect way. I think the reason we get called (officially) is get us to see people and the organisation in a different way. I recently received a calling that has brought me into contact with many people and their difficulties. I realised that much of what i do i could have done before without the call. I won’t let that happen in this case in the future. I have been shown how to have a personal ministry through my callings.

  21. We are given callings in the Church, jobs, if you will, but they are not necessarily our “Calling.” Except for Apostles and Patriarchs, out church callings are not for life. However, our Christianity is for life and in that we have the Calling or commission that the Savior has given us. Simply “to love one another as I have loved you.” That can manifest itself in any number of ways. both official and unofficial.

    what’s interesting to me is that some seek their own way rather than just finding satisfaction in serving others in the Church.

  22. Thank you, everyone, for your responses. I truly appreciate them.

    To address a few of the common themes in the comments:

    1. Meditation versus Pondering

    In terms of meditation, I think Aaron (Comment 21) got it spot on – when I hear the term “meditate” used at Church, it is almost always meant to imply that we “ponder” a scripture or a verse. In fact, when I discussed my desire to take up meditation with my Bishop, his response was that I find a particular verse of scripture that I like and “meditate” or “ponder” on it. The type of meditation I am referring to is more of a quiet self-awareness and listening or “centering”. Not with questions or other specific verses in mind, but a time of structured meditative relaxation. I am not sure how else to explain it? I know that it is common in a number of Eastern religions, and it is something I have felt incredibly helpful in terms of my ability to clear my head and be open to God’s words for me.

    Perhaps, as others have mentioned, this was something that was discussed more in the 80’s. I will have to do some searches on LDS.org, to see if more info is given on how to “meditate” beyond the “pondering on a scripture” way.

    2. Personal Revelation and “Fixing the System”

    To clarify the question that several commentors have had as to whether I have felt “prompted” that my ministry is to “fix” the Church – NO!! It isn’t like that at all!! I really like my little bubble of myself and my family. my promptings are universally about my own path. I recognize that it is different from that of others, and that is fine. I’m just trying to figure out how to make it jive. I really am a wimp. I just want to fit in. I want to fit in SO BADLY. I want to be an “orthodox” member. For example, I wanted to be a SAHM SO MUCH, but it didn’t work for us (my family). Does that mean I want to make others be working moms, or that I think they are misguided? No. But it does meant that I want to understand why I personally have been prompted to do things that appear to be “out of the norm” and that I want others to accept me, even when I seem a little unorthodox with how I do things.

    My musings on my blog (and in this post) are for myself, in terms of my own coming to an understanding of things. Sometimes I get frustrated with the way Church culture/people/orgnaization is, but it is neither my place nor my desire to try to “take it on,” in any form. Other Church members are receiving the light and knowledge they need from their meetings, temple attendence, etc., and I just need to find my own way.

    3. Personal callings versus Organization Callings

    I loved how so many of you distinguished between the Callings we have at church (because the church needs to function, afterall), and our own personal ministries. Thanks, that analogy really helped! I have never heard this before in the type of language that I understand, so this makes so much more sense to me. Thank you!!

    Since writing this original post a few weeks ago, I have felt a few different “tugs” that have given me a little more sense of where I am supposed to be headed, although it still remains relatively fuzzy (like most personal revelation). One things I have been drawn to more and more is getting involved in some of the interfaith groups that they have at several nearby non-LDS churches. I have long felt that part of my personal ministry is to help others learn about our church in a non-threatening (ie, non-prosylatizing) way. When I was looking at different churches 10 years ago, I knew what I was looking for, and I didn’t want missionaries – from any religion – trying to pressure me. I wanted to be free to examine, think, pray, and experience on my own. I want to help others have that opportunity, too – to learn about what LDS church members believe in without feeling pressured to commit to ANYTHING (a church activity, a Sunday meeting, a baptismal day, etc.).

    I have also been feeling a “tug” that I need to get more involved in learning theology, of various religions but particularly Christianity. I am not sure to what end. I was somewhat dismayed to find that BYU does not offer any kind of theology program – thus removing what I felt would have been the “proscribed route” to exploring theology. If anyone has suggestions for some good source materials and websites, I would love to hear them. I have started exploring the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and writings on the early Christian Church fathers, and that has been immensely satisfying to me.

    4. Academics

    Its pretty humorous to me that it was somehow assumed that I hold my PhD in high honor. I actually have my education in chemical engineering – very scientific and not in the least what one typically associates with “intellectual”. I am a math and science nerd. The reason why I mentioned my PhD at all is just that I have often felt out of place with other women in every ward I have been in, partially because I was pursing higher education. And even more so because it has been in a traditionally non-female field. I’m used to being the only girl in a class of 100 guys; I was raised by my dad; I have always had more guy friends than girl friends. Its who I am. And being me, its not easy to be green in a room of pink and blue. Its not easy to try and fit into the mold of SAHM and supportive wife, when I was raised and taught to see the myriad things I can do as a girl. Its not a “girl power – go out and change the world!” sort of thing as much as it is a “I like pi and pi likes me… no, not PIE, 3.14159… Oh, you don’t know what pi is. Oh, well.”

    It is true that I primarily learn academically. I love to read and learn, everything I can. The same applies to my religious growth. My patriarchal blessing even talks about my academic knowledge and skills, and how they relate to my personal spiritual progression and my personal ministry. I think learning is at the root of it all – the Doctrine and Covenants even talks about it, as was mentioned in several of the comments above. It was something that drew me to our church initially. But I don’t think that somehow means that I automatically feel like I know more or better than anyone else. I more of an “I have accepted myself as a different and unique Mormon – now show me where to go with that.”

  23. In your quest for understanding, I think one thing is really important for you to remember, and that is the only perfect person who has ever walked this earth was Jesus Christ. He surrounded himself by very fallible and imperfect people. Joseph Smith was not perfect. Brigham Young was not perfect. It’s important to take what Brigham Young said in its full context and time period, rather than listen to Bill Maher’s slanted and uneducated take on any religion topic. See: http://en.fairmormon.org/Brigham_Young/Race_mixing_punishable_by_death

  24. This is Kate here… I’ve gone done changed my name to hide from all my chapel Mormon friends 🙂

    Stephen M – Actually, my research is more in the way of protein research, studying blood flow. But, I do editing now, which is a whole other ball of wax.

    ykrause – I’m not quite sure what you are trying to get at with your comment. Are you asking if there is Christ somewhere in my disillusionment? I was never disillusioned with my relationship with Christ, but have been with my relationship with the Church. I can understand how you might be confused by that.

    Heather – You bring up a point that I truly struggle with, a lot. How could God have worked through men who did things that we now would excommunicate them from their own church for doing? Or at the very minimum, have said that they couldn’t have had the Holy Ghost with them? How could JS have felt the Spirit and had God work through him, if he was lying daily about his polygamous relationships? I’m still grappling with this. We look down on others for drinking coffee or wearing tank tops, when our own prophets have lied and said heinous things about blacks. It makes no sense.

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