Saturday, November 14, 2015

This Never Happens

Mormons (TBM, NOM, Post and Ex) should be really proud of themselves today!  Not everyone in these groups should be proud, but those who spoke up against the Church's new policy on Gays that was leaked last week, should be proud.  See here   These combined voices, which is unusual for True Believing Mormons and Exmormons to have a combined voice, but this last week they did and they apparently "yelled" loud enough that the Church took notice and changed their new policy.  THIS NEVER HAPPENS!  Let me repeat that for those who may be missing my point, THIS NEVER HAPPENS!  A small group of members and a larger group of disaffiliated members caused the Church to change their doctrine/policy.  Of course they claim it's a "clarification"  but what else can they do?  They cannot apologize or change their doctrine, so it had to come out as a clarification.  That's okay, they can call it what they want, those in and out of the Church can bicker over the points of it. I think, besides the good that will come from the actual hurtful policy being changed, the bigger story is that those who spoke up, forced their hand!  This is an institution that is not used to having their hand forced, especially from within their own membership.  The members are an obedient group that values not questioning their leaders as among their highest moral behavior.  It's a sign of their faith and devotion to God, not to question His earthly spokesmen.  Questioning the leaders is akin to questioning God, which is sac religious at best. 

So what really happened here this last week or so?  The Church exposed its true stance on Gays, basically it looks as though the Church while indicating it's welcoming to those who might attend, they really don't want anyone living in a Gay family relationship part of the Church, even if you are a child.  They made it clear that if you are living in a Gay relationship, even if it is a legal marriage, especially if it is a legal marriage, there is no place for you among the Latter Day Saints.  Jesus wants it that way, according to them.  So fine that's their doctrine, its been written in stone, or at least in the Handbook.  They will have to live with that, and the consequences of that stand. 

The other thing that happened this week...the Church experienced an earthquake!  The people rose up and change was enacted.  THIS NEVER HAPPENS!  This was Mormon's Rosa Parks moment. They refused to give up their seat, they refused to throw the children under the bus.  The Church felt an earthquake and it caused some cracks in the foundation.  Only time will tell how bad those cracks are.  The people with the actual power, the members, are very blind, subdued, and brainwashed, and they don't realize they have this power, but it was demonstrated this last week and it worked.  Those most inside the bubble won't see it that way.  They still believe the walk and talk of their leaders, but it happened just the same.  The followers are mostly good people, sheep of the Lamb of God, and happily so, as they go safely back to their green meadows, but the leaders saw the upraising and reacted with lighting speed for a lethargic bureaucracy that is used to calling the shots.  For them to react so quickly there must be much more attrition going on inside this church then those closely guarded, never to be released actual membership numbers indicate. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ben Carson

My brother emailed me a video the other day of Ben Carson speaking on evolution at the Seventh Day Adventist General Conference in 2012.  My brother commented that "he made some good points."  I don't know much about Ben Carson, I did watch the movie about him called, Gifted Hands.  He's an impressive doctor, and his personal story is inspiring.  I was surprised to learn he belonged to the SDA church.  Very surprised!

I had never given the SDA church a second thought until two years ago.  I was at a dinner party and sat next to a lady who, as I learned through our conversation, happened to be SDA.  She was a lovely lady and easy to talk to, so I asked her questions about her church.  She told me of Ellen White, the prophet who helped found the church.  Ellen was among the Millerites who expected Christ to return October 22, 1844.  This event became known as the Great Disappointment.  Many of these believers (Adventists, they were also called) were taunted for this failed prediction. In the aftermath of the nonevent, many Adventist's joined with the Shakers, some went back to their prior denominations, but Ellen White fell in with a small minority who claimed that something had happened on that day, but it had been misinterpreted.  Ellen went on to have visions and eventually founded the SDA church, becoming one of the country's most prolific female writers. 

Wow, I had never heard any of that before.  This same dinner companion told me about a Bible study group that they held once a week, and that I should come to a function at her church that weekend.  I kindly told her I would check my schedule and see if I was available.  My husband was out of town, and I do like to go to different churches, he doesn't, so I thought I might possibly go just to be friendly.  So here's the interesting part...when I got home that night and was laying in bed, I thought, oh, I should google the SDA church and learn more about it.  Up comes all these "anti-SDA" websites, I know from my own experience that these are not really anti, they are just people who belonged to this church who have seen through the false prophecies etc.  As I began to read I thought to myself, I wouldn't touch this church with a 10 ft. pole!  That's when I realized what's happening to the LDS church.  Someone meets a member, or a missionary and they go home and google Mormon church and they begin to read people's exit stories and all the many historical problems, truth claims, etc., and they think to themselves, I'm not touching that with a 10 ft. pole.  Literally, I'm not going there, end of story, close the door.  I had to experience this looking at the SDA church to realize what is happening to the Mormon church.  Of course the corporate church knows that, and that's why Mormon ads are first on all the webpages, which they pay dearly for with your tithing dollars.

So here's the thing...I think I understand why people wouldn't vote for Romney because he was Mormon.  I kind of feel the same way about Ben Carson because he's SDA.  That may be wrong to think like that, it probably is, but that was my knee jerk reaction when I learned that he is SDA. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Finding Truth and Happiness Through our own Experiences, Not Religion

Does  religion have value?  I believe so, but it's hard to find truth, happiness, or God through religion.  That's a bold statement, I know. What's easy to find in a religion... is that religion's definition of who God is, its definition of happiness and its definition of truth.  It's hard to learn these things for yourself as long as you are listening to that religion's definitions, and not learning, questioning, and listening to your own discoveries.  The things that I have learned in my life, things that matter to my happiness, are things that I learned on my own.  Truths that I have learned, and things that bring me happiness, I learned through trial and error, and questioning.  We all do. 

I read a post the other day on reddit by an exChristian called, Quitting the church and Bible reading made me more loving. This person explained that the reason he began to analyse his religion was... "too many Christians I knew and ESPECIALLY those in ministry were impatient, sarcastic and very closed minded...Then I got to thinking why I was different from them.  I  mean, I believed in the same God and followed the same religion but the nicer and more loving I got, the angrier and more intolerant they got.  I then figured out two major differences between me and the Christians I knew.  1) I had stopped going to church.  2) I had stopped reading the Bible...It was amazing that simply stopping doing those two things created a wide chasm between me and the church going Bible readers.  They seemed to get more negative, more filled with pessimism and being judgmental and self righteous while I was being filled with a sense of wonder and longing to explore life."

So what did this person learn from his religion?  I don't know he didn't say, I'm sure he learned some good things, but the main things that he found to be true or that brought him joy, he discovered himself.  He gained a sense of wonder and a longing to explore life, and as he moved away from the confines and dictates of his religious dogma it allowed him to see life as a place of exploration; he became less judgmental, nicer, and more loving.  Of course, this is only anecdotal, but it's a very common theme among people who leave their religion. 

This is not a push for people to leave their religion.  It's an acknowledgment of my belief that it's hard to learn for yourself through a man made religion, and trust me... anyone that's in a religion and thinks they have the truth, I have been there!  I know how strong those convictions are, and if it's serving you well, then stay there.  But... if it is taking you away from any kind of relationship with family or friends, if it is separating you from others, making you believe that you have a better knowledge, understanding, or the truth regarding our existence here, it's probably not serving you well. If you are not discovering your own path, and truths, and are relying on your religion's definitions, it's probably not serving you well.

My nephew is a doctor.  He's an intelligent, kind, upstanding individual.  He was valedictorian of his high school, served a mission in Italy, attended BYU, and got married in the temple.  His life was on track for a complete Mormon success story.  Then something happened, he and his wife divorced before he got out of medical school.  Then after a year or so, he stopped attending church.  My sister-in-law was so distraught over this.  I thought, what a shame that because of our religion we worry about our children because they aren't going to church, or stopped believing the faith they were taught. Anyone on the outside of our religion, would look at this young doctor and say, wow, what a great person, that's all they would see.

These are biases that religion causes, and they can separate families.   I have two favorite books/movies that I have gained much insight from.  One is: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and the other is, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman.  Both of these authors have learned from their experiences in meaningful ways, and have shared that wisdom with us.  In other words, they have learned truth.  They have learned things through their experiences that lead them to joy and happiness.  Here's a few of my favorite quotes from Dan Millman:

..."everyone tells you what's good for you, they don't want you to find your own answers, they want you to believe theirs."

"Everything you'll ever need to know is within you..."

"The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination."

"Life has three rules:  Paradox, Humor, and Change.
-Paradox: Life is a mystery; don't waste your time trying to figure it out.
-Humor: Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself.  It is a strength beyond all measure.
-Change: Know that nothing stays the same."

"Enlightenment is not an attainment, it is a realization.  And when you wake up, everything changes..."

"A fool is 'happy' when his cravings are satisfied.  A warrior is happy without reason.  That's what makes happiness the ultimate discipline."

..."focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new."

"Never struggle with anyone or anything.  When you're pushed, pull; when you're pulled push."

And my favorite one of all:

"There are no Ordinary Moments"

Friday, July 31, 2015

A Smarter Cult?

In a 2012 BBC interview between John Sweeney and Elder Holland, there was a reference to the Church and the Church of Scientology. It went like this:

Sweeney:  What they said to me (the 30 people he had interviewed who had left the church) is that they believe the Mormon Church is a cult.  They believe it's like the Church of Scientology but actually it's smarter and more powerful.

I knew nothing about the Church of Scientology, and I highly doubted that it was anything like the Mormon Church.  Are these former members of the Church claims true?  Is the Church a cult like Scientology but smarter and more powerful?  I decided to take a closer look at Scientology, check out what people who had left that Church say about it and its practices.  Would I find any similarities? 

Let me begin by saying, the ideology behind the two churches is very different, could not be more different!  BUT, having said that... I did find some similarities in the way they do things that surprised me.  Let me also state upfront, that the Church of Scientology is MUCH harsher in their tactics, then the modern Mormon Church, their tactics border if not cross human right violations, and anyone involved in that Church, excluding their celebrities, is at risk of mental and physical abuse.  But I said compared to the modern day Mormon Church, if you compared it to the early Mormon Church, especially during the Reformation in the 1850's, you could definitely find as harsh of treatment, especially when it came to things as outlandish as blood atonement.

So bucket up, let's go on a little exploration together:  (I learned about Scientology from places like This, content from that website is paraphrased or quoted from below)

The first thing I noticed is that they both claim to be the "one true church." They both claim to be expanding, and the "fastest growing" church.  Somehow that makes them "true" if they are the fastest growing.  It reinforces to the members that they are in the right place at the right time, and everyone is awakening to the truth and joining it. Members spend their life promoting the church, Mormons love to promote their church, apparently Scientologist's love to too.  Most Scientologist are caring, idealistic people, willing to dedicate their life to that effort, Mormons are too.

For Scientology, "The ultimate sin is dissent.  If you leave, you are a suppressive person (SP is a person who has harmful, evil intentions and acts on them)."  If you leave the Mormon Church, you are an apostate.  Mormons will usually try to help you see the mistake you have made and want you to come back, but you are a dangerous person, who could have a bad influence on other members.  Your opinions, especially about the Church are null and void, they carry no weight whatsoever.  Everything you say or do is analyzed.  Anything bad that happens to you is a direct result of your leaving the Church.  You most likely left because you could not hack it, you were too weak and perhaps sinning, or wanting to sin.  You are definitely wrong, you have lost the Spirit, and your association with your former friends, if you retain one, is more of a project relationship, trying to get you back into the fold. 

Scientologist's "expected to have a great expansion, long promised.  It isn't happening, but the Church management reports the contrary."  Mormon's too expect a great expansion, they think the Gospel will spread to every country and fill the earth.  They think there will come a day when the temples dot the earth and will be so busy that they will be open 24 hours a day.  They think their numbers are always increasing, but even with the great increase of missionaries they received due to lowering the age requirement, the reality is that the conversion rate is only up 4%, if that amount is even correct.  Many people are leaving the Church, but the Church controls the information on membership, so the official number remains at 15 million, there are many people who question that number.

Neither church approves of their members looking at material contrary to the church.  Mormons are cautioned not to read antimormon literature, anything that isn't from the Church would be considered antimormon.  Both churches are being adversely effected by the internet.  If you post concerns about the church on the internet, and you gain a large enough following, both churches will try to stop you.  If you are a Mormon, you run the risk of excommunication. If you are a Scientologist, the Church becomes very upset and tries to find out who you are if you are posting anonymously, "any threat to it must be stopped at any cost."  What's at stake for both Churches?  "If Church members in mass start to question it, then it will come apart.  It depends on fear of eternal damnation to keep members under control."

"Every Scientologist is taught, and it is drilled into him, that to be critical of L. Ron Hubbard, and/or the Church is to be guilty of hidden crimes."  Elder Oaks in a 2007 PBS interview said, "It's wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true."  President Hinckley said, "The Church will not dictate to any man, but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge, and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein." 

When talking with a Scientologist, "they think they know all the answers, thus they really can't communicate with you.  A Scientologist thinks L Ron Hubbard knew it all and thus Scientology has all the answers.  He is computing in his mind constantly and can never agree with you over anything, which is critical of LRH or Scientology."  Mormons love to say,  "the Church is perfect, it's members are not."   The Church is perfect because it's from God.  How could it be anything but perfect?  So if you say anything critical about the Mormon Church to a Mormon, they are not going to listen to you.  They will not even consider what you're saying.  They believe everything about the Church is true and unchanging. That's what Mormon's are taught, that their doctrine is true and it never changes, so if you happen to mention a change that they have made to a Mormon, you get a blank stare from them, it doesn't compute, because it cannot be possible, God's doctrine doesn't change and neither does his Church.

To a Scientologist the success of the Church surpasses everything.  To a Mormon the success of the Church surpasses everything.  Converting people to the Church, missionary work, spreading the gospel, it's all the same thing and it surpasses everything. 

In Scientology, the small local churches are called Missions; "Hubbard had set the Missions up to be somewhat autonomous.  They were flourishing and expanding.  They were less set in ridged adherence, they also had more money."  David Miscaviage, Hubbard's predecessor, and "his finance police wiped out the Mission network in the early 1980's.  He striped them of their assets and much of their power."  A similar change also took place within the Mormon Church.  Wards, used to be more autonomous, they had their own building funds, and fundraisers.  We used to cut and dry apricots when I was a youth, and we had Spanish dinners once a month to raise money for our ward.  I have lots of fun memories of those fundraisers.  The ward kept their money, and the ward was able to make a lot more decisions on their own, without so much oversight from the top.  But a thing called Correlation was created, and now everything is controlled centrally by the leaders in SLC.  They collect the tithing and fast offering money and then portion it back to the ward on conditions of attendance and tithing payers, etc.  In other wards they are like the government, they collect your money and then give a portion back to you because they know best how to use the money, and they don't tell you where the money is going or how much they have.

I'm no expert on Scientology, in fact I know very little about it, but if I understand correctly, the Missions are run by Orgs, which is short for church organizations, which are run by non-Sea Org members.  The Sea Org is over the Orgs, they are those who have signed a billion year contract (I kid you not) and they are management.  "The Orgs get detailed management programs from the Sea Org.  The amount of control exerted by Senior Sea Org Management over the Orgs is overwhelming, statistics are kept of production levels."  The Mormon Church has its lay clergy.  Everything is voluntary.  The Bishop is head of the ward (congregations).  The Stake President is over a group of wards, usually 6 to 12 wards.  Then there are several stakes that make up an Area, and there is an Area leader called a Seventy.  He is a General Authority, they are called to their position by the Apostles.  When they come to visit a stake, usually at Stake Conference, they bring all the latest rules for procedure from SLC, and what they say is strictly adhered to.  No questions asked, it's the "law".  Everything is said and done in a nice way, unlike Scientology, but it is strictly adhered to.  And they too are very interested in statistics, especially tithing and membership statistics.  They want to make sure those dollars are coming in and people are being baptized.

In Scientology, "the indoctrination of your mind is subtle, it doesn't happen overnight.  The early courses are pleasant, cheap, and the staff is easy on you.  You feel that you have found real friends.  Slowly you are being fed Scientology.  It is the sad truth that the church must hide its real self until a person gets hooked."  Mormonism is also presented in doses. Most members are either born into the church or are converted by the missionaries. If you are born into the church, everything seems normal, you have been raised in it.  I was, and nothing seemed more normal to me than the church.  But converts are only told the wonderful things at first, Christ's church has been restored and there is a prophet of God on the earth receiving revelation from God. Your family can be together forever.  What two things could be more appealing to someone. You are now with God's very own church and your family is going to be together in Heaven.  These are the two things that keep people in the church, more than anything else, and what you are taught about by the missionaries.  They want you to gain a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. 

Mormons tell a lovely story of a farm boy who wanted to join a church, but didn't know which one to join.  He read James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."  Joseph thought to himself, if anyone needs wisdom it is me.  This scripture was the catalyst that lead to his praying in the Sacred Grove and seeing the First Vision of God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, in which he was told to join none of the churches.  Of course what most Mormons don't realize is that the First Vision account that they all love so dearly is not the first version of the First Vision.  They don't know that Joseph Smith didn't tell it this way in the beginning.  He actually didn't tell it at all in the beginning!  It was first written 12 years after it occurred, and shockingly that account only tells of one heavenly being visiting him.  For details about this click here .  This wonderful picture of a humble prophet of God, restoring Christ's Church in the latter days, is such a beautiful story! Unfortunately, the prophet that is painted by the church, simply doesn't exist.  The man existed, but the image that is portrayed by the church, that man did not exist.  But if he had, and it were all true that would be awesome! 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What does God think about religion?

I have a fairly benign view of religion.  Don't get me wrong, religion is huge, it impacts every aspect of people's lives.  It has been the cause of many wars, or at least the justification given for them.  It's the foundation that many countries are built on. So maybe I should say... I have a neutral view of religion.  I think it is helpful, for the most part, for people, and I think a lot of harm has and does come from religion.  I think it's here to stay, and I have no argument with that.  I believe if you took all religion away, before you knew it, people would congregate and create new religions.  People need and want a community, they want life's questions answered for them.  It is... what it is, but my question is what does God think about it?  I can't really ask a religion that question, because I will only get a biased answer.  I can't really ask myself, because I don't know.  So I thought to myself, who would have some insight into this question?  Once again, I turned to the NDE people, they say they have talked to God, they come from varying beliefs and backgrounds, and for the most part, (I hope anyway) they don't have a specific agenda.  So...having said that, I simply googled:  NDE what God thinks about religion.  Brilliant, right?  Thanks I thought so ;)

I found some very interesting stories and quotes on this website .  I'll share some of my favorites:

This quote is by Kevin Williams, the creator of the website.  To learn more about Kevin go to,>1kevinde .  From studying many NDE he concludes that:

"Heaven is not about religious beliefs, but about spiritual actions.  It is not true, as some people believe, that we get to heaven by giving verbal assent to belief in God.  It is love, not religious doctrines, that creates spiritual growth...although religion, in itself, is not important to God, all religions are necessary because there are people who need what they teach.  For this reason all religions are precious in the sight of God.  All religions refer to the same God.  All religions are different ways of trying to describe the same God.  After death, if you insist upon searching for an old man on a throne as God, you will do this for awhile until you get the idea that you are following an illusion."          

The following quotes are from the same website that is linked above:

Topic, Religion is not as Important as Many People Believe

"Doctrine and creed and race mean nothing.  No matter what we believe we were all children joined under one God.  The only rule is God's true law:  Do unto others as you would have them do into you." (May Eulitt)

"God does not care which religion is best.  God does not care what religion people practice.  They are all a blooming facet of the whole.   All religions refer to the same God."  (Mellen-Thomas Benedict)

"Religious beliefs have little to do with what we experience in the transition from one realm to another, except that we are allowed to see briefly the teacher or guru that we followed.  Regardless of cultural or religious beliefs, we have the same basic experience at death."  (Betty Bethards)

Topic, Love is the True "Religion"

"I asked the light, which I call Christ, how people from other religions get to heaven.  I was shown that the group, or organization, we profess alliance to is inconsequential.  What is important is how we show our love for God by the way we treat each other.  This is because when we pass to the spiritual realm we will all be met by him, which substantiates the passage, 'No one comes to the Father, but by me.'  The light showed me that what is important is that we love God and each other, and that it isn't what a person says, but the love in their being that is examined in the afterlife." (Sandra Rogers)

"How are we saved, by unselfish love.  When we love unselfishly, our vibrations are so high that the only place we'll fit into is heaven..." (Arthur Yensen)

"People who truly practice the religion of love will find themselves in a universal sphere where everyone understands that true religion is to love others as ourselves." (Nora Spurgin) 

"There are only two true religions - the religion of love and the religion of fear." (Sandra Rogers)

Topic, Religions have an Important Purpose

"I wanted to know why there were so many churches in the world.  Why didn't God give us only one church, one pure religion?  The answer came to me with the purest of understanding.  Each of us, I was told, is therefore prepared for a different level of spiritual knowledge.  Each church fulfills spiritual needs that perhaps others cannot fill.  No one church can fulfill everybody's needs at every level. (Betty Eadie)

"God created differences in religion because of the different lessons we all need to learn."  (Sandra Rogers)

"Religions have a place and any one person in that religion is on the path of learning what is important for that soul." (Darlene Holman)

Topic, Some Religious Beliefs can be Harmful, Strict Fundamentalism

"Deeply held religious beliefs come into visible expression in the spirit realms, just as they do in the physical realm.  We create our own experience.  Eventually, restrictive minds slowly open and expand allowing them to accept greater understanding.  Then they are ready to move from their limited concept of life to the eternal adventure, for there is evermore to know, to do, to be." (Jan Price)

"The most difficult thing for a person who has been deeply steeped in a particular religious tradition is to realize that the form alone is not what elevates a person; it is the heart." (Nora Spurgin)

"Some Christians enter the spirit world and are led into thoughts they had during their physical life about the soul's state after death, heaven, and hell, until they come to resent their former utter ignorance of things like this, and resent the Church's ignorance of such matters." (Emanuel Swedenborg)

"Those religions which claim some singular relationship with God, claim superiority over others, or exclude people for various reasons, go against God's law that we love one another as we love ourselves."  (Sandra Rogers)

"God is not a member of any church or religion.  It is the churches and the religions that are members within the vastness and the glory that is God.  There is no one religion just as there is no chosen people or person, nor any single way of regarding what cannot be fully comprehended."  (P.M.H. Atwater)

Topic, Extremely Faulty Religious Doctrines

"Some Christians expect heaven to be a place where people stand in front of the throne worshipping forever.  Such a view of heaven is boring and childlike.  There are so many heavenly realms... "(Mellen-Thomas Benedict)

"We do not sit at the feet of a man with a long white beard called God.  God is within, whether you are in or out of the body."  (Betty Bethards)

"When we enter the spirit realm, we are given glimpses of things we expected to see in order to bring comfort.  We may briefly see a teacher we worshipped in our lifetime: Jesus, Buddha, or any other guru, according to your expectations.  But gently we are brought out of many of our illusions and are shown that we have not landed in an ultimate paradise with gold paved streets."  (Betty Bethards)

I found these quotes full of wisdom and very much in line with the way I view life.  (That maybe why I found them full of wisdom) lol.  But they are presented here for you to ponder and judge for yourself. Good luck in your journey and I hope you never stop searching, questioning, and growing, and I hope that all your efforts, doubts, and seeking will lead you to find joy in this life and bring joy to others.  I don't think any of us can ask for more than that. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Going Through Notes

I was cleaning through my office yesterday, and was about to throw away a notebook.  I'm forever writing down thoughts that I have, or notes to an interesting book or interview, whatever, then I get these notes spread all over my house.  Anyway, I was just about to toss this notebook when I decided to glance through it, needless to say it never hit the garbage can because I saw the following story in it:

The story is about a NDE, that I think was supposed to have really happened, but I could be wrong about that.   Let me just say...I'm not sure about NDE's, I find some of them interesting, but I have no idea if they are real or not.  This one seems to be tainted with Mormon ideology, so... you can take it as seriously as you want, but I think there is wisdom in it.  From what I remember, this person, Allen R. Barlow, was a member of the church, who had become aware of it's false claims and left the church.  He had a NDE, in which he sees his deceased grandmother, who was a Mormon.  He asks her some pretty tough questions. In my notes I have written the words, "Main Points," so I guess these are the main points, as I saw them.

I'm just going to write them as they are in my notebook, sorry for not referencing this, or adding a link, I'm not sure where this came from, but a simple google search would probably provide more information. With that introduction, here we go, I believe it starts with a question from his grandmother:
"Why have you come before you are whole?"

(This is his response to his grandmother, Allen's words will be in blue, his grandmother's in red)

"Freedom is a miserable thing don't you think?  So painful."

"Painful to be sure.   To those who really know it, it gives moments more painful than death or birth.  But don't say miserable, say breathtaking or better yet, exhilarating.  There is no growth without it, and growth is life."

           Freedom = Growth = Life

"But did it have to be so confusing?  All I wanted was just to be shown a clear path. I could have managed the rest just fine."

"The rest is virtually nothing, making the path is mortality...hacking your way through the brush of temptation and persecution, stumbling up the hills of uncertainty and scaling the cliffs of ignorance, quenching your thirst at the springs of love.  These are the very things that bring you The Goal."

"It's so easy isn't it?  Make a path, and where should it go?  Hey, no problem we'll send down a hundred prophets (all with suspect credentials) to clearly explain it to you, and they will point a hundred different directions and then you can take your pick.  What? not enough help --tough break that's all there is, no maps on this trip.  No compass either." 

"I expected more of you, life's goal is plainly to draw near to God and become like him.  That cannot be a novel concept to you.  You must have heard it your whole life...which of the prophets didn't teach it to you?  And how shall you accomplish it without learning and loving?  No compass?  Who can doubt the validity of His path when he feels that inner peace that can come in no other way?  The goal and its direction have always been quite clear."

"Come on, people need a detailed plan. If they would have just made the steps plain and the leaders authority unquestionable, we good ones would have followed unfailingly."

"So there's the root of think the answer is more valuable than the ability to work the problem.  It's not true.  Simple obedience is a necessary element in life, but its no virtue in and of itself.  Only as a forerunner to understanding can it aid the purpose of life. Then God asks obedience of His children, its for their own protection as they begin to explore new and unfamiliar realms.  But we must grow beyond it...

"Grandmother does God really answer the prayers of mortals?"

"Be grateful that God doesn't base His interactions with us on our often confused perception of our needs.  He loves us too much for that and gives greater gifts.  To those who truly seek Him.  He grants not what we ask, but what we need.  In your case, I don't know, let me speculate, He may have felt it time to dispel your confusion about the things in life that matter most.  Let us suppose he had answered your questions in just the way you wanted. Would it have made you love your fellow man more?  Increased your integrity?  Enlarged your creativity? Improving your ability to discern truth? Or would you have become ever less empathic toward your fellow man's struggles with life perplexities?  Small wonder then, that He seems to favor comforting, strengthening, and inspiring over clarifying factual curiosities."




Saturday, July 11, 2015

Asking Better Questions

We watched Thor (again) the other night.  There's a scene where Erik Selvig is talking to Thor in a bar, he says, "It's not a bad thing finding out that you don't have all the answers.  You start asking the right questions."  To allow yourself to start asking the right questions is such an enlightening opportunity, but one that few people take advantage of.  I'm so happy that I did!  The reason that line resonated with me is, it's similar to a sentence that I wrote to my brother in an email a few months ago, that resulted in a nice little conversation.  My second to oldest brother had sent out a group email with a link to the John Batchelor Show in which he interviews Amir Aczel, a scientist/author who wrote a book called, Why Science Does Not Disprove God.  In the podcast Amir Aczel says ..."we just don't know very much at all and there is joy in not knowing."  I really liked that quote and decided to respond to the email.  (My brothers are devout Mormon and they don't know about my disaffection from the church).  I haven't told them because it's easier...and I'm a coward.  Some what of a coward anyway, also, if they think you are believing, you can get away with saying more then you can otherwise. So here's my email that I sent back in response to the interview:

Very interesting.  I agree that we just don't know very much at all and there is joy in not knowing.  I've learned to ask better questions, and that a good answer may not be as important as a good question.  I have learned to question literalist's claims.  Especially in light of the church's essays, many things that I was taught as literally true in seminary, in Sunday school, and even by our church leaders, have now been shown to not be true, through the church's essays.  Such as the reasons for the priesthood ban on the blacks, the translation of the book of Abraham, the way the Book of Mormon was translated, and many other issues including polygamy. I believe in a loving God, and that learning to love is at the essence of all our experiences. I have believed for a long time that God is going to save all of his children, I came to that conclusion through the scriptures.  I have learned that as we open our mind to possibilities and new ways of thinking, that God fills our mind with greater insights.  And if we stay thinking and believing as we always have, that's okay too, God allows us to grow and learn at our own pace, it's our journey.  It's all very fascinating this wonderful world that we live in, so many people with experiences and things to teach us and share with us.  So much to learn and grasp from one another. Here's an interesting thing, I don't know if God cares if someone is an atheist. I was listening to a woman's NDE, she was an atheist, and died.  She saw her grandmother, who had passed away, she said I knew I had to be dead, because I'm talking with my grandmother who was dead. Then she saw Christ, she said to him,  "I don't even believe in you, I'm an atheist," he said, "that's okay, that was just a belief, this is real." 

So when I hear something like her NDE, it allows me to think in different ways.  It helps me to be less judgmental and literal in my viewpoints.  These are just my observations, like I said I don't think we know very much, and I certainly don't, but there is joy in not knowing!

(Like I said, this response was to a group email, consisting of my 3 brothers and their wives, who all are devout Mormon's, so I had to choose my wording carefully.  Especially about atheists, whom I completely respect.)   

So in my email I'm laying out quite a bit of stuff, and in typical Mormon fashion (or any strongly held belief, where you are exposing some difficulties with their doctrine) I was ignored.  No response from my middle brother who originated the email, or my youngest brother, nothing from my sisters-in -law, only a response from my courageous oldest brother.  Here's his reply:

Deb, nice comment...I'm not sure what you mean by save all his children, do you mean like Celestial Kingdom type of save?  And all his children...meaning Satan and his followers as well or just all the children born into physical bodies?  What about those considered to be son's of perdition?

This is an opened minded query from my brother.  I was on vacation at the time, so I sent him a short email:

Those are good questions that you have, when I get home I'll try to answer them for you :) this is off the subject of what you asked, but I thought I should explain my agreeing with him that there is joy in not knowing. That's kind of contradictory to the way we normally think.  But I have found there is joy in not thinking you have the correct answer to something.  It allows for understanding of others, it allows you to be less judgmental, and it allows you to learn and grow as God enlightens your mind.  Thus finding joy! When I began to think of God in terms of love.  Plain and simple, God is love.  I began to see my relationship to him in a new way, not so much about laws and judgment or condemnation, or confessing Christ, or salvation for that matter, but just a relationship of love, and learning to love.

When I got home I went on to have a very long email exchange with my brother.  We discussed many things.  It was nice.  He listened to me and I listened to him.  There is so much we can learn from others. 

I live in a small gold rush town in Northern California.  I have a small internet business, and I get to walk through this darling town almost every day to the post office.  I was walking there the other day with a handful of packages, when I passed a man on the sidewalk.  "Beautiful day at the office," he said.  "You're not in the office" I teasingly said in response.  "I know, that's why it's a beautiful day and also I choose to look at things that way" he said.  "I'm actually in the office--see I'm on my way to the post office," I said.  "I see that" he said, "you know I have traveled all around this world and I get the most joy from visiting post offices and churches."  I laughed at his comment, "why post offices?" I asked.  "I see them as a country's way of trying to help others and do it with the most proficiency that they know how... they are not all perfect, but mostly they are trying," he explained to me.  "Oh, that's an interesting way to look at it...what about the churches...what do you see in them?"  I asked.  "Well mostly I see beauty and peace.  I have felt many things in those churches... have had some very significant feelings of peace, even though at the time I wasn't a believer," he said.  "Are you a believer now?" I asked.  "Yes"  he responded.  "What do you believe?" I asked. "In doing good." And then he vanished around the corner, as I stood starring at where he had been.  Sometimes someone will pop into your life with a golden nugget, just like this man did in mine, and if we ask a few questions they will give us a gift of wisdom.  It's not that "doing good" is a new concept for me, its just the way he told it to me, and the simpleness of it, do good, that's enough.  Why wouldn't it be enough?  This chance encounter was impactful enough to me, that when I got home, I grabbed a paper and wrote down our conversation while I could still remember it.