Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Ashley Blodgett, Landon Chrstensen Evan Price
Back Maren Price Preston holding Kristy and Lisa, Sid Robertson
Front: Julie Price, Chris Spoja Anna and Kelly Spoja

Rachael Latour holding Evan Price

Evan Price

Lisa Price
Maren and Julie Price
Maren and Julie Price

Maren and Julie

Kristy, baby Sydney Spoja, Lisa in front of Julie, one of the Spoja twins.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Staying True to What I Believe

There is a story of a young couple moving to a new town.  In trying to find out more information about the town they were moving to, they asked an elderly man, who was a native of the town, what that town was like.  In response the old man said, “Tell me about the town where you live now.”

     “It’s great!”  Answered the couple.  “The people are fun and friendly.  Everyone goes out of their way to be kind and helpful.”
     “This town is just liked that,”   answered the old man.
    Another couple moving to the town stumbled upon the same old man.  This couple also asked him what his town was like.   The old man queried, “Tell me about the town where you live now.”
     “Oh it’s awful,” the couple responded.   “The people are snobbish and stuck up.  Everyone is unhelpful and unfriendly.”
     “This town is just like that,” answered the old man.

People always find what they are looking for.  This is true of research and any topic, especially Joseph Smith.  No individual will ever know of the truthfulness of any faith based on logic and research alone.  No matter what church you belong to, it requires faith to believe.  There is no religion, famous person, or organization that will shine in the glaring scrutiny of staring backward in time at bald facts.  If you want to find dirt, you will always be successful.   Not even Abraham Lincoln smells like a rose in the light of this scrutiny.  All religions have allegations of child abuse, deceptive and self-serving clergy, infidelity, murders in God’s name, and any other atrocity you can think of.  Look for it on the internet.  You’ll find it.

Since there will always be voices opposing any belief in anything, faith is required. Having faith is a decision.  It means feelings must be listened to as well as facts. It means prayer.  It means study.  It means creating a space for something besides what you can see, touch, and hear in your life.  It means you are not guaranteed a complete understanding in this mortal existence of everything that has ever happened.  Why would you need faith if you had that understanding? 

Having faith is spiritual exercise which leads to growth.  Faith can lead to a trust in God – depending on individual decisions.  This must be important because humans rarely have complete knowledge and understanding of anything.  Ask a physicist if you don’t believe me.

I am almost 60 years old. To abandon my faith means that I must lie about the spiritual promptings I have received from a source outside myself.  It means that I must abandon the assurances, comfort, joy, peace, and happiness that I have experienced as I have practiced my faith.  I would have to say these experiences never happened, or they didn’t have any significance. Or I would have to adopt the position that these experiences were the result of my own self-delusions.   That would be the ultimate self-betrayal.

  I’ve seen deluded people.  They are not peaceful, happy, or assured.  That is a fact.

When you become divorced from your feelings, you have to rely on facts as others present them.  Without consulting your feelings, there is no fail-safe mechanism to weigh another’s presentation of facts, except other facts.  How do you know which “facts” are really facts?  What part do others’ motives play in the presentation of facts?  It’s hard not to flounder among all the different versions of the facts.

The interesting thing about those who propound facts and logic as the only way to reach conclusions is that those in possession of this “knowledge” often end by telling you they just “know” their conclusions are right.  In the end, even proponents of facts and logic must use feelings as a foundation for their beliefs.

When dealing with plain facts, the backstory makes a big difference.  For example, how would you judge a woman if you knew that she encouraged her two-year-old child to drink shampoo?   Next, that woman used a toothbrush to force her child to vomit.  What would you think of a woman who would do such awful things to a child?  I’m certain you would call Child Protective Services in view of the bare facts.

I am that woman.  I tried to make my child drink shampoo.  When I wasn’t successful, I used a toothbrush to force her to vomit.  I did this at the direction of the Poison Control Center after my daughter grabbed a bottle of Campho-Phenique and took a swig.  The back story matters.  Backward glances in time may reveal some facts, but much of the backstory is missing.

As far as Joseph Smith’s marriages, I don’t like them.  And I don’t understand them.  But here is what I do understand:  trying to analyze or condemn, explain or abhor, defend or decry the actions of people from a vantage point with a gap of more than 150 years in time is an exercise in the ridiculous.  In many ways, people living in our culture today are miles apart in experience from people living 150 years ago.  There is also a significant cultural gap.  Compare marriage laws, if you doubt me.  If you believe that Joseph Smith had a powerful vision of God our Father and Jesus Christ, there is a gap of light years in spiritual knowledge as well.  People slinging mud without really knowing  the backstory, feelings, and experiences of the majority of people involved seem every bit as judgmental as people who oppose abortion and Gay marriage are supposed to be.

Speaking of being judgmental, compared to homosexual marriages, late term abortion, drug use, transgender surgeries, cross dressing, purposefully having children though not married, LBGT fight clubs, and a lot of other practices accepted in our society, plural marriage seems tame.

To tell the truth, I think it’s humorous that all this hoopla about polygamy is again in the news.  I heard all this stuff forty years ago when I was a college student.  And a hundred years ago many of the same stories were circulating with the same viciousness. There is nothing new here, except the internet.  My guess is that these new attacks are a funded, organized effort in retaliation to the church’s positions that militant groups don’t like.  If your position is that the church manipulates its members into acting on and believing its doctrines, how can you be so sure you are not being equally manipulated by groups opposing the church?

As for me, I have never had much influence on anybody.  I am not rich, famous, or even especially intelligent.  No one is required to believe the same way I do.  In fact, I would be acting contrary to my religious beliefs to use any methods to coerce any person to think or act the way I believe is right.  I believe in the individual’s right to think and act as they please.  I have a deep and permanent love for all my friends and family, no matter what their choices and beliefs.  Although that love does not mean I will tolerate abuse either of myself or my faith. I am willing to trust in God  and let Him handle the outcome.  I know that trust is justified.