Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rage in its purest form:

This is going to be angry. Probably preachy. And completely emotionally driven (see all those adverbs already?). I can't guarantee that it will be worth anything, but it is what it is.


I have this issue with people, and I think a lot of us do: individuals who open their mouths and start spouting off nonsense about a subject they know nothing about. It's a disease, and at times we all suffer brief, unexpected, relapses; but there are those, who for whatever reason, never received the vaccine to combat the stupidity. "Foot in mouth disease" my parents called it. True indeed.

Here's the story from today (or, at least as much story as I can give to preserve face for those involved): Me and few other individuals were having a relatively decent conversation about religion. I know, right away: "what do you expect from a conversation like that?" I know. Believe me, I know. And usually I don't get involved, I just let people say what they want, express whatever denominational point-of-view they prescribe to, and leave it at that. But these people didn't know what they were talking about because they were trying to define Christianity (a difficult task at best), and were really screwing up Christian history, so I had to jump in. Now, I am no "expert" in the classical sense (degree and all), but I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints my whole life (28 years+), so that has to account for something. And I've had several history and religion classes, whatever. So I jumped in, and tried to straighten things out. Great. Nothing preachy, just simple dates and historical facts. Makes sense. Simple stuff, too. About Constantine and the Romans and his vision of the cross and the transition over to "Christianity" for the Romans and how he combined the Pagan holidays, etc. Pretty common stuff most people read about it in high school or GE college courses. Then we disputed the Bible, how it's been mistranslated, corrupted, edited, etc. Things got a little shaky, but still on track. Anyway. Then one of the individuals involved started spouting off some seriously misguided accusations about Mormons. Mind you, I've taken a lot of flak over the years from people about being a member of the Church, friends and not alike. It comes with the territory. And for the most part, I can handle it, because it comes from a place of bounding (with friends, anyway; others, you just have to ignore). But when people start repeating rumors and blatant lies about the Church -- and any religion for that matter -- that they know nothing about, I get angry. I won't try to recreate what was said verbatim, for my inability to be accurate, but here is the gist of it:

What Mormons believe (according to horribly confused person): 
- Joe Smith made up the Book of Mormon
- Mormonism is a business. We send missionaries on missions to convert people so the Church can get more money
- The Book of Mormon and the Bible are the same
- You can't prove anything in the Book of Mormon is true, so it's not true. Mormon scientists have tried to prove it's true, and they couldn't
- Mitt Romney (and other Mormon politicians) were/are financially supported by the Church
- All Mormons are very judgmental

Unfortunately, that's all I can remember. But that's basically all of it. And this person backed up his/her statements by saying: "I've written a lot of essays on Mormonism." Well good for you. Since when does writing "a lot" of essays make you an expert? (which no doubt was not a lot, judging by this person's writing skills) I've written dozens of essay on a variety of texts, but I would never, and I mean never (no matter how much I may joke about it) consider myself an expert on any piece of literature. I had professors in college, who had been teaching for at least a decade or two, and were still learning about books they studied in college, books they wrote their theses on, books they loved and analyzed and devoured and tore apart until their eyes bleed and there was nothing left on the page but red and black. And even they, with their brains so stretched it was all their skulls could do to keep their heads from exploding, even they were still learning, still growing, still finding new truths in their beloved texts. They are experts. And I still, now, will go to them with questions about those texts, and stories in general, because I know they know. Because they have worked for it. It's taken me years to realize that I know little to nothing, years of school and getting things wrong, and right, especially when it comes to other people's beliefs.

I'm no theologian. Far from it. But I know my stuff. Like I said, I've been studying it for 28 years. Certainly there are gaps in my knowledge, big gaps; but what I know, I know I know well. And I try very hard not to assume I know anything about other religions. That's stupid. Idiotic. Disrespectful. Presumptuous. And infuriating. How can we claim to know what someone else believes, when we don't believe it ourselves? It's ridiculous. It sounds like this: all Muslims are terrorists. Ludicrous. It's rash and assumptive and pathetic. It's a weak defense mechanism to try and rationalize our own menial existence in this difficult, dark, angry world. We are all alone, trying to figure what to do next, but we're lost and don't know where we are (probably at the bottom of an ever-change staircase with no lights and no ventilation). And rather than help each other, since that too is difficult and frustrating and time consuming, we find pieces in people we don't understand, pieces that we may not agree with, and we attack, hoping to destroy that person, or his/her beliefs, to add to them to the pile of bodies beneath our feet to help us climb out of that darkness. It's moronic. Because in the end, no matter how many bodies we acquire, we can never reach the top of that infinitely increasing stair.

But I digress.

I could refute all of that person's misconceptions about the Church, but to what point? You don't care, and that's fine. You don't have to care. Nor should you. And I don't care that you don't care. These are my beliefs, and as much as I want others to believe what I believe, feel what I feel, I know that not everyone is interested to hear what I believe. And that's fine. That's life, and that's what makes it interesting.

But I will say this, just to set the record straight: I believe that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates given to him by an angel. I believe the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, just as the Old and New Testaments are. I believe that we cannot know everything in this life; we can't hope to beginning to understand the true nature of the universe, no matter how awesome our telescopes become, or how amazing the LHC is with its brilliant and wonderful and ground breaking discoveries (I love science). There is so much still to learn. I know that God exists, that Jesus Christ is His son, and that the Holy Ghost teaches us truth. And I believe that those three are three separate beings. I believe that I am a son of God, that we all are children of a Heavenly Father. I believe this, and so much more, but for the sack of time and space, I'll conclude by saying that I believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth the teaches the whole gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what I believe.

You may not agree. And you don't have to. You may think I'm crazy. That's fine. You may be the exact opposite: an Agnostic, or Atheist, or whatever. Sweet. We can still be friends. We can still get along and have great discussions and explore the world and life together. Isn't that the point? We are still people, trying to figure out this crazy messed up rock orbiting that giant ball of nuclear explosions spinning in the black void we call outer space. We are just people, trying.

What more do you want from me?

What more should I want from you?


*     *

As a white middle-class male growing up in the suburbs, there were two phrase/mantras I heard from almost everyone I knew:

"Ignorance is bliss"
"The truth is difficult to digest"

I think those phrases somehow over the years have gotten mixed up, some mistranslation decades, or centuries ago, when people started thinking more and living less. It should be:

"Truth is bliss"
"Ignorance is difficult to digest"

That sounds right. I just want truth. I just want people to want me to want truth. And I want them to want truth for themselves. Whatever that truth may be. I believe in universal truth, one ultimate overruling truth that governs all. But that doesn't mean everyone does. And we need to find whatever truth makes us happy, and makes us better people. So we can help others be better people. I just want truth. Not facts, not statistics, not theories or conjectures or postulations; not opinions based on Wikipedia or online news sources; not something someone whose name you can't remember said to you once at a place you never visited. Just truth. That's all.

Am I crazy?


1 comment:

Steph said...

You are amazing - and I'm so glad that you shared your testimony! And I'm thankful that you can speak intelligently about what you believe. I support you :) -Steph