Tag Archives: testimony

One Half of Wisdom

“What do you believe, and why?”

. . . is the unofficial motto and often the first question asked of theistic callers to The Atheist Experience.  It is the question that drives most religious debates and discussions.

While listening to Tanner Gillibrand on MormonTransitions this past week, I stumbled upon his response to a family member who asked the question of Tanner when he announced his resignation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (…).  Tanner’s response, in which he details his desperate efforts to keep his faith, is beautiful, heart-breaking, and brilliant.

This was the hardest time of my life. I used to drive out to the fields in Rexburg and pray out loud for hours, begging God for some light, but it never came. Jesus said, “What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?” I begged for a loaf and received nothing. I would have taken a stone over the silence.

[…]

I thought I loved God my whole life. But as I studied the scriptures I realized I could not love such a God. Rather than a God that was found through love, I saw a God that was found through loyalty tests…

Tanner’s family member was brave to ask the question, and Tanner was brave to lay open his story.  Reading his letter, however, I realized that I had never been asked that question by my family or by those friends who had raised me to be a good, believing member of The LDS Church.  None of them asked me to write on this blog.  None of them likely read it.

When I lost my faith, I was taken to a therapist.  I told the therapist I didn’t believe The Church anymore.  The therapist told my parents.  My parents were disappointed, and hurt, but I never remember them asking me why I stopped believing.

After I stopped attending services, my father once asked me if I was going on an LDS Mission.  Somewhat befuddled by the idea of giving two years of my life to a religion in which I no longer believed, I answered with a quick, “No.”  He asked why not, and I replied impatiently, “Because I don’t believe it anymore.”  He never asked a follow up question.  Was it because of my teenage attitude or his lack of curiosity?  I’ll never know.

Later I ran into a member of the local bishopric and a good friend of my father’s.  He asked why I stopped coming to church.  I replied that I didn’t believe it anymore, and that I had some problems with some doctrines and beliefs.  Before I could go on, he stopped me and told me that he knew people who had left The Church, and knew their problems with The Church, but it didn’t matter.  “It’s just true, and I think you know that.”

Instantly dismissive of my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs.  How intellectually lazy and willfully ignorant.  Though it is highly doubtful, this man may have been able to address some of my concerns, but, for him, it seemed better to dwell in ignorance.

After my child was born, our families passively danced around the issue of religion until I felt it necessary to confront my mother about my lack of beliefs.  Though she acknowledged the atheist position, of which she was already aware, she asked no other questions of me.  Even when I resigned my membership in The LDS Church, and sent a direct e-mail making my actions known, not a single member of my family, including my innumerable extended family members, asked any variation of, “What do you believe, and why?”

Why are we so afraid to discuss this topic?  I am guilty as well.  I often want to ask my siblings, father-in-law, brother-in-law, what they believe and why they believe, but I I avoid it – afraid of offending them, as I have been offended.  Why is this one topic so volatile?  So alarming? Though I study and obsess over these subjects, I never really ask those true believers who are all around me.  Are we all really that thin-skinned, or do we just assume that everyone else is so easily distressed?

It is likely part of why I continue to write here; so that I can openly express to strangers what I’d really like to express to those I love.  In which case, thank you for reading.

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” – Francis Bacon

A Place For Your Stuff

I have been gone from The Haversham Church for a long time now, but I am sure there are some people – my family, friends of my family, old Friday School teachers and leaders – who harbor some hope that I will some day choose to return to the flock. That may happen. I can’t rule it out, but if I were to come back, with all of the knowledge I have gained through my years in the godless wilderness, my personal gospel testimony would probably sound a little different than it did when I was 14.

*Note: Every single link in the following is to an Haversham Church-friendly website.

“I want to bear my testimony that I know The Church is true. I know that The Book of Haversham is the word of God as restored by Hank Smythe. I know that Hank Smythe was a prophet of God, and that, when he was 16 or 14, years-old he was visited by God, and/or an angel, and/or The Savior, Jessub Chambs. I know The Holy Spirit led Hank Smythe to a deep well where a sacred branch was hidden, which Hank was able to use for water dowsing and translation. And that several years later The Prophet Hank Smythe was visited by The Angel George, who showed Hank the location of The Diamond Plates, which were miraculously buried and undisturbed in a nearby hill.

I have prayed and studied and felt the presence of The Holy Spirit when reading how Hank Smythe didn’t even need or use The Diamond Plates in order to read the translated sacred words written in spiritual light on the sacred branch placed into his pillowcase. And though there is virtually no archaeological, genetic, or scientific evidence that it is a historical document, and even though it has been changed by The Acolytes many times, I testify to you, my brothers and sisters, that The Book of Haversham is the most perfect book on Earth.

I have a testimony that Hank Smythe similarly inspired by the seemingly common Summerian birthing text to receive and translate the gospel written in The Book of Moses, and that by following the words within its pages, we can all, some day, hie to Seti Alpha VI and meet with God.

I know that polyfidelity, as revealed and practiced by Hank Smythe, was a righteous principle, anointed by Our God. And though, for secular reasons, the mortal practice was deemed unsanitary and illegal, I know that spiritual polyfidelity is still the law in The Kingdom of Opulence. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Hank Smythe was commanded by The Holy Spirit to marry Sibling Victor Baer, his wife, Sibling Rebecca Bast, their neighbor Sibling Hilton Alsop, and his second-cousin, Sibling Edward Birimsa, and his wife, Sibling Sasha Akers. And though Acolyte Smythe was commanded by The Angel George to keep this a secret from his legal wife, Sibling Anna Hayle, it is a righteous principle, and will one day be restored.

I have faith that all of The Acolytes from Hank Smythe to Jacob W. Araki, are God’s representatives here on the Earth, and that they speak to and for Our God and Savior, and reveal the truths of the restored Haversham Gospel.

And though Kenneth Applebaum, Hank Smythe III, Linas J. Bodkin, Perry R. Buell, Witter P. Judith, Clegg W. Conrad, Kittredge T. Campion, and countless other Acolytes are imperfect men, who occasionally lead The Haversham Church astray by exhibiting the anti-Irish mistakes of their times, and make other mistaken revealed predictions, there is no doubt in my mind that Jacob W. Araki and his Thurifers clearly speak for God when they tell us that marriage is between a single man and single woman, and his many concubines, and it will always be that way.

And, finally, the latest words from Our Great Acolyte:

No Man a Minister

“He’s creating a mythology to take back to his people.  Same thing happened to Joseph Smith, and now The Mormons have a monopoly on the hotel industry.” – Dead Like Me

There may be some people – family, friends, Sunday School teachers – who still harbor hope that I will some day choose to return to The LDS flock. That may happen. I can’t rule it out.  If I were, with the knowledge I have gained wandering in the godless wilderness, my personal gospel testimony would probably sound a little different than it did when I was 14.

*Note: To my knowledge, none of the factual claims below are at all disputed by The LDS Church, and every link is to an LDS-friendly website (mostly LDS.org and FairMormon.org)

“I want to bear my testimony that I know The Church is true. I know that The Book of Mormon is the keystone to the gospel of Heavenly Father as restored by Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of The Lord, and that, when he was 16 or 14, years-old he was visited by God, The Father, and/or an angel, and/or The Savior, Jesus Christ. I know The Holy Spirit led Joseph Smith to a deep well where a sacred stone was hidden, which Joseph was able to use for treasure hunting and translation.

I have prayed and studied and felt the presence of The Holy Spirit when reading how Joseph Smith didn’t have or need or even use The Gold Plates in order to read the translated sacred words written in spiritual light on the sacred stone placed into his hat. And though there is virtually no archaeological, genetic, or scientific evidence that it is a historical document, and though it has been changed by The Prophets many times, I testify to you, my brothers and sisters, that The Book of Mormon is the most perfect book on Earth.

I have a testimony that Joseph Smith was similarly inspired by the seemingly common Egyptian funerary text to receive and translate the gospel written in The Book of Abraham, and that by following the words within its pages, we can all, some day, hie to Kolob and meet with Our Lord.

I know that polygamy, as revealed and practiced by Joseph Smith, was a righteous principle, anointed by The Lord. And though, for secular reasons, the mortal practice was commanded to be ceased, I know that spiritual polygamy is still the law in The Celestial Kingdom. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Joseph Smith was commanded by The Holy Spirit to marry the 16-year-old girl, Fanny Alger, who was, herself, led by The Spirit to live with Joseph and Emma in Nauvoo before becoming his first secret spiritual wife.

I have faith that all of the prophets from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson, are God’s representatives here on the Earth, and that they speak to and for Our Lord and Savior, and reveal the truths of the restored gospel.

And though Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and countless other apostles are imperfect men, who occasionally lead The Church astray by exhibiting the racist mistakes of their times, and make other mistaken prophecies, there is no doubt in my mind that Thomas S. Monson and his counselors clearly speak for The Lord when they tell us that marriage is between one man and one woman, and it will always be that way.”

 

I wonder at what point in the previous I would be asked to sit down.  Should you remain a believer and find yourself uncomfortable with any statement in the writing above, you may have some studying and thinking to do.