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A Crisis of Faith: Descending to Ascend

I’ve taken a longer essay on my personal crisis of faith and have broken it into three smaller, digestible parts. Though these experiences are personal, they may be useful for others. The feelings of despair and sadness accompanying a loss of faith do not need to be permanent, and may actually be a necessary part within a longer journey towards living an authentic life. I’ve come to believe that each of us has the power to create a greater resolve toward living after a faith crisis, than we could have possibly imagined before.

Part 1: A Child’s Religion

My family moved out of the only house I had ever known just before I turned seven years old. Up to that time, my parents had become disillusioned with their Baptist faith and avoided church wherever possible. Speaking with my father as an adult, he had determined that all churches were corrupt, and wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. Both he and my mother had made a conscious decision to not speak about religion in my presence, all in an attempt to spare me the trauma they had experienced from a fundamentalist upbringing. All of that changed though, just months before leaving. They were tracted out by two LDS missionaries, convinced they had found the truth, and were soon baptized as newly minted Mormons. I didn’t know it at the time, but my entire world was about to changed because of that decision, and it wasn’t even mine to make. As far as church is concerned, I went from zero to sixty over night, but it would be a mistake to think that just because I wasn’t given a set of beliefs before Mormonism, that I didn’t have any.

Modesty, Mormon Style...Doves and Serpents Post

Heather at Doves and Serpents writes about a disturbing article in The Friend geared towards the smallest members. It is a lesson in modesty. The subject of the story is a four-year-old girl.

She writes:

Reading this story–written for an audience that includes my children (ages 8, 11, and 14)–made me feel like a member of a freakish cult that hypersexualizes its preschool
children girls rather than a member of a beautiful (and sometimes weird) religious tradition that has brought a lot of blessings and meaning to my life.

This is not an easy point to discuss, but this must be discussed. This is not about slamming the Church. This is not anti-Mormon rhetoric. This is important.

Thank you, Heather, for speaking up about this. Read her post here.

Holding to the Rod

Losing faith in LDS doctrine and its origins was like watching the Iron Rod I had clung to so tightly for so many years turn to dust in the palm of my hand. The words of God are no longer clear cut and laid out for everyone to follow no matter how smart or simple the listener might be. Turns out that what I thought was the word of God, as spoken by God himself, was nothing more than men proclaiming the right to speak for God while God himself may have had no hand in the smelting of that rod whatsoever. The words of these men sounded Godly, and made since to me, and even promised great rewards, but in retrospect, copper and aluminum can be pretty and shiny as well.

For months after seeing the religion that I had been part of exposed, I had no idea what to do without that rod in my hand. I couldn’t imagine that God would place us here with no instructions. The word of God, that Iron Rod, had to be somewhere. I looked at a lot of other religions and philosophies but there was just no getting around the fact that all of them begin with a man making unverifiable claims that God spoke through him. Apparently over the centuries God has chosen to speak to a lot of men and women to impart his will. The problem is, these people all contradict each other. My question today remains the same as it did the day I knew the LDS church was no different than any other religion- “where is the word of God?” Where is that Iron Rod that I can hold on to, and know I am on a path back to God if He really does exist. I think for many this is the beginning of where their belief in God can no longer be logically sustained. A year from now I may very well be forced to agree with them.

Where Does That Leave Me?

When I was first seriously considering the possibility that the Church wasn’t the one and only true Church I immediately sought out where this leaves me spiritually. Where exactly does this leave me in relation to God? Jesus Christ? This quickly became my next big focus.

Because if I were to reject the Mormon faith, what kind of faith would I end up with?

I vividly remember my first interaction with Bob McCue. I was on the phone with him, explaining my situation. He was one of a select few that offered a listening ear and some very sound advice to me in my time of need. One of the first things I asked him was where he was spiritually now that he has left the Church. He was very hesitant and responded, “I suppose I’m agnostic. But I find that question very difficult to answer.”

In a lot of ways, his answer scared me. So, if someone as smart as Bob hasn’t come to a concise conclusion about who or what God is, what does that mean for me?

The God Crisis

How do you define God these days? What about spirituality? Have you progressed beyond an LDS testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and into another religious point of view, or into agnosticism or atheism?

For some, following a crisis of faith and disaffection from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is almost a second crisis when the “God Question” comes into focus. And as with a faith crisis, you can be left feeling confused and isolated, unsure how to refocus your thinking and redefine your life.

Recently Kiley from We Were Going to be Queens posted her thoughts as she revisited questions surrounding belief in God. She writes in part:
The whole “God question” is troubling to me because it is hard for me to think about there being a god without my next question being what does he/she want from me? Why do we suppose that such a being would want something from us? What would God want of me?”

If I were to try and answer the question of what a being like God would want of me I think this is it. Be happy. Help others be happy. So in some ways I'm not sure this post is anything I have not already said before but I think that we have to be happy to live in the present. I think that is what a loving creator would really want of us. That is all my little heart and brain can worry about right now.

Part of the founders’ vision when the Peacewriter began last fall included finding peace and understanding along the way by sharing thoughts and feelings through the written word. And it has been a privilege to read some of the writings others have contributed.

Have you found a spiritual home post-LDS? Some desire a faith community following a split from the Church, while others take a path that leads to atheism. Still others embark on a continual evolution which changes as time passes.

Where do you fall?

What does prayer mean to you now?

Do you have a story you would like to share? No matter where you are or what you believe, or do not believe, I want to publish as many contributions on the subject over the coming weeks. Simply type up an essay and send it to the Peacewriter through our contact page.

Thank you.

Modern Mormon Men: On Queers and Marriage

I LOVE this blog post. Love it. Read it and see why.

"The second most commonly asked question I get from mormon friends who don't support same-gender marriage is, "How can you sustain the prophet and support gay marriage." I love this question because it is gorgeously complicated and messy - just like all of the best religious questions (see: Eden, Garden of*)."

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.

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