Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Glasses

Being born, nurtured, raised, soaked in, surrounded by Mormonism from infancy to adulthood, and not being the type to quarrel with or question what my parents taught me in good faith, I grew up inside a virtual cocoon that colored everything I saw in the world.  My mom told me I would ask startlingly probing questions even when I was 4 or 5.  So I was obviously always curious about larger questions and issues. 

I'm glad I went on a mission.  I learned a new language (which I'd always wanted to do), and I learned how to work hard.  But honestly, I didn't really want to go.  I'm not a salesman, and I don't like trying to be one.  I hated knocking on doors with a passion.  I went out of a sense of duty and because I knew I couldn't withstand the social opprobrium that would have resulted if I didn't go.  I made the best of it, and as I said, for lots of reasons I'm glad I went.  But if it had been completely up to me, I wouldn't have gone.  I think I could have accomplished a lot of the same things in different ways and places.

I went because I couldn't see the world in any other way than what I'd been taught.  I was part of the valiant modern Army of Helaman, bring the world God's truth.  I had a priesthood duty and responsibility to go.  I was going to be one of the elders of Israel who saved the Constitution.  All that stuff.

So naturally, when I encountered critics of the church, I wouldn't even let myself consider the possibility that they might be right about anything.  I was an aggressive amateur apologist, well on the way to becoming an insufferably self-righteous ark-steadier like this doof and some of his commenters

Then I ran up against something that I couldn't rationalize or defend.  I'll tell the story later.  But the result was to force me to re-examine everything I'd ever been taught and believed.  Not from the perspective of "how can I make this inconvenient evidence fit the church-approved narrative" but simply "what conclusions does this evidence support?"  No pre-conclusions.  No template.  Just as much objectivity as I could muster.

When I did that, my conclusions were totally different than before.  I agreed with Grant Palmer that the evidence supporting many traditional claims about the church was either problematic or non-existent.

THAT was a revelation.  Things just weren't as I'd been taught and had always accepted without question.  It was like realizing I'd been born with grey monochrome sunglasses surgically attached, and I couldn't have imagined seeing life or the world in any other way.  But with the realization that the Mormon church wasn't what it claimed to be, those glasses were ripped off. 

Ever since then, the world has been far more amazing than I'd been taught before.  Oh, I know, God created the glorious world for us, made it so beautiful, yadda yadda.  But even that belief was filtered through the agenda-driven Mormon lens.  But when I took those glasses off, I really saw the innumerable millions of colors and facets of the world for the first time, I felt.  Not as just some contrived staging area for a mortal test, but just intrinsically, fascinatingly, indescribably beautiful in and of themselves.  It didn't need to have a reason or a purpose anymore.  And it was far vaster and grander and more mysterious than I'd ever imagined.

I still marvel at that revelation.  How ironic it was that shucking off that Mormon world view actually made me more awestruck and reverent toward God's creation than I'd ever been before.  I'll talk in other posts about how it also made me a better Christian than ever before, another amusing irony.

So that's how I took off the glasses.  Now that I'm not driven by the Mormon agenda and unrelenting world view, the world is so much wider, astonishing, miraculous and beautiful now than it ever was before.  One theme of this blog will be my strong belief that the goodness or badness of things should be judged by their results, their fruits.  And when I took off those old glasses and saw the world clearly for the first time, some amazing results followed.  Definitely a good thing.

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