Last weekend I was asked whether I had ever had a crisis of faith. This wasn’t the first time, but I had to ask for some room to define, to interpret the question. I will write about my chain of thought about that.
About faith: I want to remind that faith is not about absolute knowledge. E.g. I know for a fact, that if I let go of an object I’m holding in my hand, it will fall down. Faith, however, is not that kind of knowledge. Someone is going to say that s/he has prayed again and again, and always had an answer forthcoming. My next question would be: “Was the answer what you expected?” Because if it were, you were likely to get it. But whatever the case, you can not reliably predict others’ experiences with prayer.
An empirical fact is like the Pythagorean equation that states a2 + b2 = c2, or in other words that the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angle triangle equals the sum of the squares of the two sides. It works predictably, every single time–and you know that if it doesn’t then you have made an error in your calculations–and you can give it to anybody else, and it still will work predictably. Not so with prayer.
Faith is all about not knowing absolute things; faith is how we deal with ambiguity. Ambiguity is difficult, because we cannot know, but we can do our best to act as though we knew. That is Faith to me.
This said, I can say that although I have had some doubts about details here and there, the core of my spiritual experience, which forms what I call my relationship with God, has always been there since I have experienced it.
I have had, what one might call crises around my faith community and my own worthiness. It would be difficult to explain concisely, so read my early posts like this. To be very concise, I have MDD. And MDD is not a joke, no matter how much one tries to call honest theories of how our minds work psychobabble.
We Mormons are all flawed humans, starting from Joseph Smith Jr. to the last one who was baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every single one. And some of us have done some terrible things like Mountain Meadows Massacre, which thankfully “shines” as the unique example on our path, showing the lowest that we can descend. It actually is unique, because all of those rumours about Blood Oaths and Mormon Murder Machine are bunk0. We can go low, but not low enough to murder dissidents in the Church.
Usually we almost tolerate dissidents, and sometimes our tolerance runs out and we excommunicate them when they make too much noise outside or inside. Mostly we like our sisters and brothers to agree with us, and in a smallish community it is easier than in a large one. Hence, we are slowly learning more tolerance in the larger communities. We try to own our faith, and even our siblings, even when we know their imperfections and downright disgusting opinions & habits. Still, a small faith community can be a challenge.
I know that I have made my peace with the mistakes that I and others perceive in the history. I might have made the same, in the where circumstances they found themselves in. I know that only God is perfect, and that by the grace of Jesus Christ, who atoned for our sins, we can feel genuine forgiveness–an experience that gives enough power to feel forgiven, and forgive others if we make our best effort. That is at the core of my faith.
I believe there is room for those who look different and have those funny views, with which we would like to argue in Sunday School, but don’t because it would open the whole can of worms of dissidents and this or that political faction, whatever. So we bite our tongues and hug each other those uncomfortable people, trying all together to become more like Jesus.
P.S. I have little interest in debating questionable details. I am not a professional historian, and neither are you, most likely. I have cited neutral sources like Wikipedia and expect you to read and think.
Back 0 There are plenty of available sites around teh intertubes about “blood oaths” (which is a purposefully ugly phrase to make the underlying promise of silence about the Endowment seem as ugly as possible) and Mormon vengeance that will fall on the Apostates. The former is an actual oath that used to be a part of the Endowment, and was an oath to pray to God to ask him to avenge the murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith; this was present from 1845 to 1919 and has many misinterpretations both in and outside the Church. Anybody who has read, say, Ann Eliza Webb Dee Young Denning‘s autobiography , cannot take seriously the thought that Mormons run all over the place killing anyone who disagree (for the lazy: her autobiography was a scathing indictment of polygamy).