Open thread for faithful Mormons!

I knew we had faithful Mormons reading this blog, but ProfXM’s thread on “feeling the Spirit” really brought them out of lurking!! So, today, I’d like to open a new thread where the faithful can introduce themselves and the rest of us can welcome them!

I want to reiterate that Main Street Plaza is a place where we can all have a reasonable, civil discussion — despite differences in belief. We are absolutely open to constructive criticism. Organizations (like the CoJCoL-dS or the Mormon Alumni Association) can only improve by recognizing and addressing problems. I would just like to ask you first to be sure you’ve read our welcome page and our FAQ (on why we write about Mormonism) so that we don’t waste our time, yours, and precious electrons on repeating ourselves (eg. “you guys are all a bunch of ant-Mormons and I’m sure that you hate me,” etc.). Your feedback on specific posts or policies, however, is welcome! :D

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171 Comments

  1. 151
    Amy says:

    I have to tell you, my niece found out a lot of the information and thinking about leaving the church. Then she had a spiritual experience..and she is happy with the church. She doesn’t believe it is the one true church, but she is happy in it.

    Also, I’ve had spiritual experiences while I was active..and a very spiritual one the week I decided to leave. Maybe..God leads us to where we will feel closest to him…we are all different, so he would talk to us in different ways, and through different churches.

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  2. 152
    Dayna says:

    I guess you’re right about making your own mind up by youself. I don’t feel that people(church) are telling me what decisions to make, though, and that it is my choice in the end. Just like my sister who met her boyfriend who she is getting married to and now decided that the church isn’t true and that Mormon history isn’t true. She doesn’t try to tell me theses things she’s ‘learnt’ but I’m just saying I don’t think she would have thought that if she wasn’t marrying him and reading all these things about how the church isn’t true. I want to give it a chance to be TRUE first.

    Like you said, I do think other things and churches can be true for different people, though. I wonder why people leave after having spiritual experiences thoufgh, especially when that is what I want.

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  3. 153
    chanson says:

    Just like my sister who met her boyfriend who she is getting married to and now decided that the church isnt true and that Mormon history isnt true. She doesnt try to tell me theses things shes learnt but Im just saying I dont think she would have thought that if she wasnt marrying him and reading all these things about how the church isnt true.

    Changes in belief can put huge amounts of stress on family relationships. I’m glad that your sister isn’t trying to pressure you to change your beliefs to match hers. It’s important to remember that disbelief isn’t an attack on faithful family members or a rejection of the family. Remember that you love and value each other. Also, in the interest of family harmony, beware of jumping to hasty conclusions about her boyfriend.

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  4. 154
    Amy says:

    So many people have spiritual experiences..in and out of the mormon church. When you have one, and then discuss it with someone of another faith, you will see that they are very similar, and theirs was just as strong and powerful.

    I know it has to be hard when a family member leaves. And I know that the only reason my sister doesn’t really talk to me any more is because she is scared to find things out..but also, scared for my eternal soul.

    But I didn’t leave on a whim. I mean..I’d gone through the temple..my childrens’ eternal souls were at stake, as well as my own. I wish you could be happy for your sister, because she is happy. I wish my sister could be happy for me, because I am happy. But because it is so difficult to see the other person’s pt. of view…it causes a lot of heartache and conflict.

    Please try to stay close to your sister. No matter what, family should come first.

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  5. 155
    Dayna says:

    Chanson, what you said was very nicely put and true about family stress on relationships, but in all honesty her fiance never liked mormons and was always quite happy to say so. Anyway, I’m not going to come back because I shouldn’t even really come on these things I only end up rubbing people the wrong way.
    It’s good to know that there are people out there that aren’t hating on the church even though they have left.
    Thanks and sorry.

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  6. 156
    Dayna says:

    Amy, it is sad that your sister can’t be happy for you and I guess it’s hard to see things that I do until they’re pointed out in others.
    Everything is so much easier though when people have similar beliefs. I worry for my sister and want to see her when this life is over. That is what scrares me. Growing up sucks

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  7. 157
    Amy says:

    Aww.. Dayna..your gonna make me tear up…:)

    My sister and I were best friends..and she just kind of dropped me, so anything on this subject is very close to home. I was wondering why you were here..and I can see that it’s because of love for your sister…you do want to see where she is coming from, and are trying…that is a very caring thing.

    If you feel that is detrimental to you right now, I would say, do what you’ve been doing …work on your testimony. If you don’t need to know the history…it’s understandable. I’m sure your sister will continue to respect your wishes in that area…and you know what..growing up DOES suck!! :( But I know this life is well worth the ride…

    Don’t be scared..a loving God could never hurt you..or keep you from those you love.

    Good luck hon!!

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  8. 158
    Seth R. says:

    It was only sorta rhetorical Chanson. The way this blog’s comments are set up, you read the last page of comments first. It’s kind of second-nature to me to scroll down the page after reading a new post and glance at the comments. After reading all the nice threadjacking drama with Jessica, I’m not really sure I want to read the rest of the comments.

    (warning: long bio ahead – I got carried away)

    Anyway, my name is Seth. I grew up in the LDS Church. My father converted to the LDS Church from a stance of agnosticism while attending BYU as an undergrad (I’ve never gotten a clear answer from him why an agnostic guy from South Dakota would pick BYU of all places). He also did his masters degree there before heading off to med school in native South Dakota – by that time he’d already married my mom and had me.

    My mom grew up in a mixed faith home with a Protestant father and a Mormon mother. She attended both churches up through high school without being a formal member of either. She decided on Mormonism one Sunday while attending her dad’s Protestant services – during youth class they were reciting the part of the catechism that states the doctrine of the Trinity and she found herself physically unable to say it. After that, she went home and told her dad she’d decided to be baptized Mormon. She met my dad at BYU in a karate class where he kicked her in the chest – things progressed from that point.

    After med school and an internship, my dad joined a small rural practice in Richfield in southern Utah. We lived there about six years – enough for me to clear elementary school and middle school. I didn’t particularly like living there (although I look back on it with a lot of nostalgia now of course), when we moved to Provo, I was just as happy to be starting high school somewhere else.

    I went through high school, completed seminary, finished off the Eagle Scout award, joined swim team, and did the whole Aaronic Priesthood thing like most faithful Mormon boys. I was raised in a fairly strict orthodox Mormon household. My dad is a pretty hardcore member of the church. He takes religion seriously and wasn’t shy about enforcing the behavioral aspects. Not that we kids minded too much. We all agreed that religion ought to be done that way – never occurred to us that you’d do it differently. We were kind of surprised to find Mormons in Utah who actually play around on Sunday, go waterskiing, watch football, etc. Regular family prayer, home evening, near 100% church attendance, all that good stuff.

    I was a pretty strong reader of the scriptures (my dad paid me $20 every time I finished the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, $15 for the New Testament, and $10 for the Pearl of Great Price – he never even bothered to suggest the Old Testament). By the time I entered the MTC, I guess I’d read the Book of Mormon about 8 times clear through, 4 times for the D&C, and probably 6 times for the New Testament and Pearl of Great Price… maybe more, hard to remember… I read the entire standard works during my two month stay in the MTC (while ignoring my Japanese lessons – which I wasn’t really getting anyway). I also read Marvelous Work and a Wonder and Articles of Faith while there and remember thinking the arguments were pretty awesome – I’d never really gotten into stuff arguing the case for Mormonism before.

    My mission was a good experience for me, despite a lot of stuff happening that might make others feel otherwise. I never was a very successful missionary – mostly because I was absolutely terrified of street contacting (I almost threw up the first time I tried). I avoided it, made excuses, found other ways to occupy my time, visited inactive members (actually had a pretty good success rate reactivating people), and visited with “eternal-investigators.” I had a soft spot in my heart for the “tough cases” – which probably explains a bit why I hang out here.

    I loved my mission and I loved the Gospel. But I also was well aware of how I wasn’t measuring up to expectations, and had plenty of time to feel equal measures of guilt at not doing as well as I knew I could, and resentment at the artificial system I was working under, and ethically deficient “successful” missionaries I was working with. I had a lot of time to think in Japan. I thought a lot about what was good and bad about how we were doing missionary work. The fact that our mission was a pilot program for a new and innovative method of proselyting that basically threw the “white handbook” in the storage drawer probably encouraged that kind of independent thinking. I also saw for myself that General Authorities don’t always know what they are talking about and do not always behave well. I learned that I had an opinion of my own, and that it could be just as valid as anyone else’s – including my poor exasperated mission president (a man I still greatly admire to this day). I saw missionaries crash and burn, saw them lose their enthusiasm for the church. Saw others fire themselves up and get excited about the church for all the wrong reasons. And saw other missionaries who were just basically decent and impressive human beings. Takes all kinds.

    Came home with my eyes open to a wider world, and wider reality about the Church. I didn’t take things for granted anymore.

    During undergrad at BYU, I discovered Hugh Nibley and his stinging critiques of the deficiencies of LDS culture really resonated with me in a big way. I always felt a certain shallowness in a lot of the religious behavior and worship in Utah. Part of this was valid observation – another part of this was my own sense of self-importance as a young man. I think from my mission on, there was never a time when I wasn’t very aware of the hypocrisy, shallowness, and hubris of my religious community. Just the same, I never questioned my commitment to the Restored Gospel. I questioned my commitment to Utah culture (which I was growing heartily sick of), my dad’s way of doing things, and sometimes even to the LDS Church itself, but my devotion to the Restored Gospel was never at issue.

    While at BYU, I got married to a faithful California Mormon, had my first child (a beautiful daughter), and set my sights on law school (a popular – if often misguided – choice for Political Science majors who have no clue what to do with the rest of their life). I got accepted to Wyoming and packed up the Uhaul knowing I would miss Utah dearly, but not one bit sorry to put the stupid culture behind me.

    I loved church service in Laramie Wyoming. The members were excited, charitable, giving, warm-hearted, and greatly accepting of people from all walks of life (something I’d always felt lacking in my Utah experience). I served as Executive Secretary to one of the most awesome bishops I’ve ever encountered. I learned how a ward works – and is SUPPOSED to work – from that man. We still send them Christmas cards, and I feel kind of jipped that I never managed to set up their daughter with my kid brother who was at BYU by this time.

    I discovered the bloggernacle in law school and it was a total religious epiphany for me. This was the Mormonism I’d been waiting my whole life for. Debate, varied opinions, and intelligent people who relished digging up everything they could about Mormon history, theology, and its controversies. I dove in wholeheartedly, and was a regular commenter on all the major blogs. It was fantastic.

    After law school, we left Wyoming and set up to take the bar exam in Colorado. After barely passing, I hunted around for legal jobs and got skunked. While moping around and attending luncheons with the local bankruptcy attorneys (an area I had interest in) one of them suggested that I just hang my own shingle and start a law practice to generate some funds in the meantime. I ran with the idea, and five years later, I’m still here and still acting as the legal equivalent of a Catholic Priest absolving people’s sins.

    In the meantime, I’ve kind of said all I have to say in the bloggernacle. I may go back sometime, but for now I’ve moved on more or less. A few years ago, I got in a major knock-down drag-out debate with a bunch of Protestant scholars, and pretty much got my hat handed to me. Far from shaking me or discouraging me however, it had the opposite effect, and fired me up to do a better job explaining my faith and defending it. At this point, I started frequenting Evangelical blogs – some anti-Mormon and some less so. Also started debating secular critics of the Church.

    Which pretty much brings me to now. I absolutely love Mormon theology. I find people like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to be absolutely fascinating and powerfully compelling men. A lot of the heroes people pick are honestly so freaking boring. Bland, milquetoast wallflowers who don’t have enough charisma to even suggest anything meaningful. I used to kind of subconsciously feel this way about LDS heroes.

    Until I actually studied their lives. Wow… I just find it absolutely delicious that God would manifest himself through men so controversial. This is not the “safe” religion I learned in seminary. This is powerful, potent, mind-bending stuff. I think it has the potential to change the way humanity thinks from here on out through the ages. And I get to be in on it – on the ground level. It’s an absolute privilege for me to be a part of this religion, and I can’t wait to see how it shapes up.

    Sorry for the essay. Just felt like sharing I guess.

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  9. 159
    chanson says:

    The way this blogs comments are set up, you read the last page of comments first. Its kind of second-nature to me to scroll down the page after reading a new post and glance at the comments.

    I know what you mean. We’re going to make another round of tech changes soon, and I’ll be voting for all the comments to be on the same page with the thread, if possible.

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a terrific bio!! I already knew some of that, but it’s interesting to read the whole story, and how your real-life experiences fit in with your Internet interests.

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  10. 160
    Amy says:

    I know I’ve posted way too much today..but Seth I thought your intro was great.

    You know, sometimes I wonder if I had moved out of Utah sooner, would I have had the desire to dig deeper into the church history, I may still be in the church. I mean, I’m thankful for the road I’ve been on and wouldn’t change it..but moving out of Utah sooner…now that, I should have done. Utah culture drove me crazy…I hated living there.

    Very interesting to see someone who knows all the history so fired up and excited about it..lol. I like that. I do like hearing all the sordid details of the past..especially when it has to do with my family members. It makes grandma seem SO much more tangible/human when I know she got knocked up by her neighbors husband…etc.

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  11. 161
    Seth R. says:

    Yeah, my great, great, etc. grandfather on my mom’s side was Aaron Johnson. He was one of the Nauvoo polygamists and was basically like Brigham Young’s right-hand man. He made the trip across the plains about a dozen times leading new wagon trains. He had a genius for organization and founded the city of Springville south of Provo. He had something like 13 wives (and one local Indian woman who they saved from being dragged to death from a horse by her husband and took into the household to care for).

    He had to go into hiding during a federal crackdown on polygamy, and was accused of murdering a couple of collaborators while up there in the mountains. Never convicted of anything though.

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  12. 162
    aerin says:

    Just wanted to say welcome to the faithful members. Thanks for sharing your stories.
    PS. for technical changes, from my phone, I see all the graphics in the array whenever I hit this site. I like the rotating graphics, it just makes it harder to read on my phone. I suspect there isn’t an easy way to fix this, but I wanted to mention it just in case.

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  13. 163
    Ms. Jack says:

    I was a pretty strong reader of the scriptures (my dad paid me $20 every time I finished the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, $15 for the New Testament, and $10 for the Pearl of Great Price he never even bothered to suggest the Old Testament)

    And yet, I buy him a book on evangelicalism out of my own meager income and ask him to read it, and four months later, he hasn’t even cracked a page. I guess I should have left a twenty-dollar bill as a bookmark or something.

    (I’m using guilt because guilt is the only thing that works with Mormons.)

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  14. 164
    Chino Blanco says:

    I really liked Seth R.’s contribution to this thread, esp. the bit Ms. Jack quoted. Or maybe it’s just nostalgia for my own Mormon upbringing. They don’t raise ‘em like they used to, not even the Mormons. These days I hear they’re paying kids $10 to not read the Pearl of Great Price. badum-CHING

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  15. 165
    Holly says:

    I just find it absolutely delicious that God would manifest himself through men so controversial.

    Yep. And let women remain empty vessels through which he manifests pretty much nothing.

    Though I guess “delicious” isn’t exactly what I would call that.

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  16. 166
    Seth R. says:

    Anyone who has actually studied the history of Mormon women in depth would consider that an overstatement Holly.

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  17. 167

    [...] something compelling from the church through other things than the 3-hour block. Seth R recently wrote his brief history (testimony???) at MSP, and what he wrote was interesting: I absolutely love Mormon theology. I find [...]

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  18. 168
    Chino Blanco says:

    Hmm, that new post from Ardis discussed in the above link is kinda interesting.

    What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

    In other words, nothing to see here, move along, the Mormon church has always been losing young people.

    Except, at least one thing has changed:

    Among people coming of age in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, this number was about 5%. In the 1970s and 80s, it went up to about 15%. In this decade, it’s hit 30%.

    “It” being the percentage of folks reporting “none” on surveys of religious affiliation.

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  19. 169
    Screaming Nephite says:

    So many Mormon-Haters think once a kid dumps the church they never come back. My Stake President went inactive when he was 18. Kids will do this a lot, they will leave the church for a while thinking there is more to life. They will investigate other religions and realize the other guys are even more messed up than Mormons are. Eventually they come back to the Mormons once they start having kids, then it starts all over again with their own kids.

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  20. 170
    Craig says:

    Wow, what a crazy thread. I wonder what Jessica, Liz, and Dayna are up to now…

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  21. 171
    Chris F. says:

    I suppose it is time for me to post a story here. If it weren’t for Craig’s recent post, I wouldn’t know this thread even existed. Thank you Craig.

    My family isn’t very religious, though there is a history of Protestant and Lutheran, with a little bit of Catholic. When I was a small child, a family friend use to bring my sisters and I to a nearby church. She passed away and we stopped attending that church.

    When I was in high school, a friend of mine invited me to his youth group in a Pentacostal church. I was properly saved there, though I don’t remember if I was baptized or not. My youth pastor taught me how wonderful it is to worship Jesus and God.

    During my senior year, I became friends with a pretty girl who was working for my mom cleaning stalls. She was a Mormon and I followed her into the church. I went through the discussions with the missionaries at members’ houses because I knew that my parents wouldn’t approve. Everything seemed to make a lot of sense that the missionaries were teaching me, and since I was young and naive, I didn’t question any of it.

    I was ordained a Priest, but I was going to the Pentacostal church at the same time. Soon my youth pastor convinced me to stop going to the Mormon church. Soon after that, I graduated high school, and with no prospects for college or real jobs, I ended up joining the Army.

    While in the Army, I attended several different churches, but I also got well immersed in the ways of the world. I didn’t even consider things that I was doing to be sins. I had my wits about me, and everything was consensual, and I never felt guilty about any of it, so I felt no reason to change.

    After eight years in the Army, I decided that it was time to actually make something of myself. I went to college and attempted to get an electrical engineering degree. It took me 5 years to satisfactorily complete two years worth of major required classes, though I had all of my electives and other stuff taken care of. Somewhere in the middle of that, I was diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger’s, but too late to really make a difference.

    I went back to my old Pentacostal church one time, and during that time, I saw a propaganda movie telling Christians that they should side with the Jews in the war in Israel. That was a major flag for me, so I haven’t been back since.

    A few years ago, I found the woman that would become my wife. She is a Mormon, and I told her that I would be supportive of her religion, but I gave no guarentees that I would join. Eventually, the missionaries found me, and I started to go to the discussions again. Now I am an Elder. Luckily, my church doesn’t involve itself in the more contraversial aspects of the church (polygamy, racism, gay rights, etc.) so I haven’t had to leave out of spite (if my congregation were actively anti-anyone’s rights, I would have to leave).

    I found this site when, on a whim, I looked up ‘Reformed Egyptian’. After reading through some of the blogs, I think this site is exactly what I need. Mormons, ex-Mormons, and other interested parties having intelligent descussions about issues that are pertinent to some of the more contraversial pieces of the church as well as current events.

    It is my belief that a church that proclaims itself as “the one true church” should be able to hold up to any sort of scrutiny unscathed (or at least intact). I know that Joseph Smith wasn’t perfect and I believe the truth of his life is somewhere between the church’s official representation of him and the story that anti-Mormons give about him. I know that “The Book of Abraham” is false. I have currently read through most of each of the books of scripture with the exception of the Doctorine and Covenants. I’ve looked through the section that supposedly is given as a commandment for polygamy and found it to merely state that it was acceptable to God in the past, so where Joseph Smith saw that as a commandment is beyond me. My favorite part of the Book of Mormon, so far, is Jacob’s Allegory.

    I am interested in good documentation for or against the church. Sorry for the wall of text.

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