Thursday, August 25, 2011

It Happened To Somebody Else Too

I've been reading some correspondence to Jeffrey Holland from a Canadian guy, married father of seven, and until a few years ago very active and dedicated Mormon.  Apparently he was forced out of the church when his local leaders told him they would kick him out if he didn't stop discussing his own faith and gospel study with his other LDS friends.  I guess they thought he was spreading apostasy or something.  He ended up writing a couple of times to Jeffrey Holland about it.

I'm reading his second letter and it's remarkable how similar my experience and observations have been to this guy's.  One insight he shares is that the church will do and say whatever's necessary to maintain its control over its membership.  That principle drives virtually everything else and can explain a lot that might otherwise seem contradictory.

What struck me though is when he talked about "monochrome Mormonness."  I've never met this guy, never talked to him, never corresponded with him.  But it was surprising and delightful to see him use the same metaphor I used in a previous post about how the world looks to an active Mormon and how that view changes if one can muster the courage to step outside.  I realized I could have written exactly what this guy did so I wanted to post it here.

As a Mormon comic recently put it, "Growing up Mormon was great, as long as you like sensory deprivation tanks." I wouldn't go quite that far, while appreciating the caricature he drew.  I would say, however, that a Mormon life is filled to overflowing with monochrome Mormonness.  A busy Mormon whose horizon is jammed with Mormon things is not likely to question authority.

You may be temped to say, as a few of my friends and family have, "Bob, I am sorry that your experience with Mormonism was so negative, but that is not my experience at all, and you know that almost all active members of the Church would not agree with your assessment." I understand and accept that. However, let me point out that I was one of those faithful for many years. I was one of your enforcers and cheerleaders. And had anyone asked me if I was happy as a Mormon, and proud to be a Mormon, I would have answered a resounding yes. My feelings in this regard were based on the information to which I had access. In the same fashion that I perceived Paul Dunn differently after I found out that he made up most of his wonderful, faith inspiring stories, I have perceived the Church and my experience at its hands differently since I became aware of how it misled me. My eyes now see, my ears hear and my heart feels differently than before. This is a rebirth process. I remember how the world looks through the eyes of a faithful Mormon leader, and I know how it looks now.

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