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Baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is significant. The ordinance is symbolic. As a member of the priesthood lowers you into the water in total immersion, the old self is symbolically buried, and out of the font comes a new, clean person. Past mistakes are left behind.

Each week, sitting through the hushed quiet of the sacrament is supposed to be another chance to renew the baptismal covenants. Again, there is a sense of leaving behind the mistakes of the past, starting over with a clean slate. According to the doctrines of the Church, both ordinances are necessary, and must be performed by those with the right and proper authority.

As an active member, observing the weekly sacrament ordinance was a comforting and peaceful practice. The quiet reflection afforded me the chance to renew my spirit, to sit with a quiet mind and meditate on personal growth and challenges. Standing now outside the faith, this is a part of my former faith I can honestly say I miss. I see the value in the ordinance, not as a necessity for salvation, but as a practice that allows the human mind a few precious moments of quiet.

My beliefs tend to align more with the views of the Liberal Quakers who characterize sacrament and communion as “empty forums”, practices which hold value for the people who observe them, but are neither divinely required nor spiritually necessary. Baptism and the sacrament are not processes that mean anything beyond that to me anymore, but I understand and value what they can mean to the people involved.

Standing now at the beginning of another New Year, people the world over focus their energies (at least for a few days) on renewing themselves with resolutions and goals to better life, cast aside the old and the bad, and begin anew.

I am grateful for the reminder. Both on the calendar and in the context of my current faith community, I value the chance to refocus my thoughts, make improvements and deliberately set aside things that do me harm. It is a good thing.

Do human beings need rites and ordinances? New Year’s resolutions? I don’t think so. I believe that just by human intellect alone one is capable of beginning again, throwing out the garbage, and reinventing life. I do not trust dogmatic rituals as the end, although they can surely be valuable as the means.

I find myself grateful for the human spirit, for its limitless capacity to love. I am also grateful for the power of human ingenuity, for the ability I have seen multiple times in other people to cast aside the limited thinking of the past.

Left on their own, people are capable of amazing love and kindness. The human heart has the ability to display magnificent empathy and compassion. How incredible is it when you see an ordinary human being rewrite the rules, and reinvent the person? I don’t give religion the credit for the goodness in people. What I believe about God now tells me that people are the hopeless beings religion may say that they are.

Justice, mercy, wisdom, and love exist within human hearts. Original sin is a fallacy. Human beings make mistakes, but they also cure diseases, rescue hundreds of thousands from the ravages of natural disaster, and look beyond personal danger and run into burning buildings to save each other.

What I believe now tells me that God is present everywhere, even if God is just simply a force of love. This God would not have an ego that requires humanity to worship him, or even acknowledge his existence. In that sense, humankind is wonderful, not damaged and flawed.

So, this New Year I raise my glass to the masterpiece that is humanity. Renewal is entirely within the power of each person, and I am quite ready to celebrate what is good about people, rather than focus on the negative.


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who we are

Welcome to The Peacewriter.

We all want to belong somewhere, to someone. It is a basic human need.

If you have ever experienced a period of doubt or questioned your beliefs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you know that this is not a minor thing. It is tantamount to a crisis, and one that can be life altering.

Lose your testimony, and you stand to lose everything that matters.

There are those who exist on the fringes of the Church, who feel disenfranchised, even unwanted. If you are single, gay or lesbian, feminist, atheist, or uncorrelated, it can be tough to feel like a part of the community. You may feel that you do not belong.

You belong here.

If you have ever loved someone who endured a faith crisis, you know that there are a lot of gray areas. Uncertainty is the dominant force; black and white become moot points.

Those who have walked the same path share a common bond, understood by few who have not traveled the same road.

This is the place to share common experiences, to find a voice, to be heard. This is the place to seek after peace, and to find it in the common ties we share.

This is The Peacewriter.

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