Jan 28, 2009

The Faith Gene

Have you ever wondered why some people, who you think could be "perfect" Mormons in so many ways, reject the Gospel? What about how some people can sit through the most spiritual of meetings and feel absolutely nothing? Or witness events that we consider to be miraculous and still feel no reason to believe in a god?

There are certain reasons why we can assume that people do not believe in God. Among these are:

a) personal pride
b) disobedience
c) falling prey to Satan
d) denial

I admit that before I really gave atheism or agnosticism any serious thought, I would have put the blame squarely on the shoulders of anyone who claimed to not believe in God. And the reason why it was their fault and no one else's was because of one or more of the above. After all, God opens to all who knock. So why don't they just knock on the door?

But could there be more to it?

I think that I started to think about this more after getting to know certain people who were among the most wonderful, compassionate, loving individuals that I had ever met, and yet are either atheist or agnostic. The case of one friend in particular -- I'll call her Amber -- who happened to be born into the Church in Utah but later left it, made me think a lot. She is a real sweetheart, has the biggest heart for animals (a cause near and dear to my heart as well) and people who suffer. She has been through a lot of sadness and tragedy in her personal life. We had some interesting discussions via e-mail about God and why/how I can believe in Him. She wanted to find peace. She wanted to believe in God like I do. But she can't -- at least not up to this point in her life. I wouldn't call her an atheist, but I would say she is definitely agnostic. And I just can't quite attribute it to any of the reasons on my list.

We've been having an interesting discussion over at Three Feet High And Rising about whether a "faith gene" could exist. (Read the thread if you get a chance because it's very interesting.) I'm a believer. Yes, I have my doubts and sometimes they are major. I see many logical and sensible reasons to deny that God exists. Yet I can't. And then we have people like my friend who yearn for the kind of peace that believers are accustomed to, but find it to be elusive. Why is that? And who is to blame? Is it Amber's fault? Is it Satan's fault? Is it God's fault? Or is it simply the card that life dealt her?

PB, a non-believer who wished that she could believe, said on the Three Feet High And Rising thread that, "a core belief for Christians is that they are saved by Christ, which means that non-believers are damned."

I responded:

"That isn't really what we believe as Mormons and yet we seem to do a great job of making people think that that is what we believe. If we truly believe in our own doctrine -- that God is fair and just and that EVERYONE will get a fair shot to hear the Gospel in its purity and entirety (and not just the flawed, human, earthly interpretations of it), whether in this life or in the next -- then what do we have to fear if people like Jupee, PB, or my husband, decide to not join us in baptism and fellowship in the LDS Church? I don't know Jupee or PB personally, but I would venture to guess that they are good, decent people. We don't know why they seem to be lacking the "faith gene," but I believe that if God exists, he will give them their fair shot and won't hold it against them if they honestly never felt his presence in their earthly lives -- especially if they sincerely wished they could believe, like PB said."

Fifthgen, a fellow Mormon, then responded:

"So, I was thinking about the “faith gene” on the way to work. It has interesting implications for Mormonism. As FD points out, Mormons believe that, at some point, everyone will have a full opportunity to accept (or reject) God’s plan and follow Christ.

Let’s assume that there really is some genetic component to faith. If someone is genetically prevented from believing, or even significantly hindered in their ability to believe, Mormon doctrine would suggest that their full opportunity to make a knowing and voluntary decision would not come in this life. Presumably, it would come in the hereafter, when their genetic condition no longer interferes with their ability to have faith and accept God’s teachings. This raises some interesting ideas.

For example, maybe the “faith gene,” or rather its absence in some people, is a necessary part of the mortal experience. If everyone believed easily, no one’s faith would really be challenged. At least in some things. Maybe the genetic non-believers are here to allow an environment where faith is even possible.

Additionally, a genetic component to faith would make any sort of value judgment about non-believers very problematic. Until we can test for the DNA marker for the “faith gene,” who knows if you are talking to someone who made a voluntary decision not to have faith and follow God, or someone who simply cannot do that. The safest choice for believers would be to treat everyone charitably and without judgment, recognizing that they may not have really had their full opportunity to embrace God yet."

So what do you think? Are we genetically predisposed to either believe or not believe? And if we are, can we "change sides?"

45 comments:

Andrew S said...

Although I can't say if I believe it's genetic, I do think that some people are predisposed to believe and others are predisposed not to believe for some reason (and so, sorry, but as someone in the latter group, I am baffled/completely clueless about the reasonings of people in the former group.)

The comment by fifthgen (and I guess, comments by believers in general -- but I guess the feeling is mutual whenever applicable) unnerve me. Obviously, fifthgen takes for granted a system in which the church worldview is ultimately true, so everything to the contrary, he has to "explain" and "assimilate" into the context of how it could possibly work with the Plan of Salvation. So, for him (if he is a he?), it's easy to say that unbelief is just an affliction of this earth that will vanish in the hereafter (or whatever).

This...sounds offensive. But I guess it's predictably so, since people aren't on the same sides of this. It's like the people who say things like, "Well, homosexuality is just an affliction of this world, so gay people should hold on tight and be celibate and worthy and endure to the end and in the next life, they'll be straight and have the opportunity to marry!"

And I think it was a poster a Zelophehad's Daughter who pointed out the unnerving implications of such an idea even to her, a believer. If we can just be "changed" in the afterlife (like for example, what if women are changed so that they want to be part of polygamist celestial marriage? just a hypothetical), then this is somewhat...unnerving.

So, I'm kinda biased because I'm from the wrong side, but it seems that if there are predispositions to faith or skepticism, then this *breaks* the LDS model. It either requires 1) fancy theological footwork (like "desiring to believe" or the idea that some people don't have the spiritual gift to know but merely to "believe on the words of others. -- it sounds like a gimp of a gift, but ok, that's one way to go about it), 2) rejection of the LDS model (so, it isn't true that everyone who knocks will get an answer)...or 3) a replacement of the LDS model. See, the LDS model is a free will kind of model that is a bit inadequate to account for these instances. BUT if you have a calvinist model, where grace is *irresistible* for the elect, then you can really start to see how some people are elect and others...aren't. Playing with the calvinist model, as "cruel" as it is, is what made me name my blog Irresistible (Dis)Grace.

Fifthgen said...

Man, that fifthgen dude is crazy! :)

Let me make a couple of initial comments. 1) I am a he. 2) I am a believer. 3) Andrew S doesn't know me, so I can understand why my comments might have been a little misunderstood.

My discussion of the faith gene at Three Feet High was really in the category of almost pure speculation. It was framed in the context of the implications of such a theory for Mormon doctrine. So, of course, it worked from the assumption that Mormon doctrine was ultimately true.

I actually tired pretty hard to make unbelief value neutral in my comments. That was kind of the point. But, again, because the discussion was about what such a theory would mean for Mormonism, “genetic unbelief” ultimately had to be something that was changed or corrected. Otherwise, the whole theory wouldn't work at all. I do not necessarily agree with Andrew S' that I was characterizing unbelief as an affliction, but I can see why the discussion makes him think that is what I am saying.

Personally, I think the idea of a faith gene is really interesting. But, I am not convinced that there is such a thing. I think agency is so central to our eternal nature and what God has in mind for us that the idea of a faith gene is kind of problematic. I agree with Andrew that Mormonism is pretty much a free will model. The faith gene theory might, however, fit into Mormonism - - with its ideas about post-mortal conversion and progression, temple work, etc. - - better than in other Christian religions. I don’t know. I am interested to hear what others have to say.

Andrew S said...

that Fifthgen dude is so popular on the internet too!

No, I see what you're saying. And that's kinda how things would have to be like for it to work in the LDS framework (that is, if a "faith gene" is the case -- which, of course, this is all speculation as you say).

Marlo Balmanno said...

I link to this blog from Sanford's. I too am LDS and I am a woman. I have had many people mention to me the idea of Believing Blood or Royal Lines. I have heard these terms used by older members upon meeting me. One particular patriarch once said to me that he wasn't supposed to use the phrase “Believing Blood” anymore because some have taken it out of context to mean race. Obviously he shared the idea with me so he didn't have a specific gag order from the church. As for Royal Lines, this is the idea that one can be born with greatness built in: a person with high moral character or a very strong sense of right and wrong, a person who will not compromise when a perceived injustice has occurred. I am sure many would feel that those who do not have the ability to believe are given a raw deal but if Believing Blood or Royal Lines are real then why couldn't one grow into those traits? Like artistic ability is born in some yet can be taught even embraced by many. Let's not forget that if you are a believing member of the LDS Church then the promises that were made to prophets of old to protect their descendants in both physical and spiritual ways would apply in this instance.

Sorry for the tangent.

Andrew S said...

This is kinda where I would shy against using the term "gene" or anything like that.

Because although I don't have any problem with saying, as Marlo said, for example, that there are people who seem to have greatness born in or are born with artistic talent, etc., I don't think it necessarily follows that these are genetic traits.

You can find great people who come from less-than-great backgrounds. You can find artists from parents who don't have artistic bones in their bodies. So, even though these talents are precocious very early on, it may not be fully heritable.

So, for example, I can't say that my skepticism or anyone else's (or that someone else's faith) is inherited in anyway.

Nature/nurture is tricky too...I think that these things are inbuilt because nature AND nurture can't really account. You can have people grow up in a religious home...but not be religious. So, it seems that skepticism is not necessarily a gene or something you are just "taught." There's some aspect of personality that is unique and solid.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Andrew S, thanks for your comments. You bring up some great points.

You also said, "This...sounds offensive."

I mean no offense when I ask this, so please don't take it the wrong way. But, assuming that you believe that what we believe is completely false (meaning the Mormon religion), and if all Mormons were able to, as Fifthgen said, "treat everyone charitably and without judgment," even while still maintaining their (false) beliefs, then why would you care? Why would you take offense? Isn't it sort of like the case of Catholics being upset with Mormons for baptizing the dead, when they themselves don't recognize it as even being valid, and when it does nothing to interfere with their own faith?

"You can have people grow up in a religious home...but not be religious. So, it seems that skepticism is not necessarily a gene or something you are just "taught." There's some aspect of personality that is unique and solid."

I agree. We each have our own unique personality and some people are by nature more skeptical or trusting than others. However, could certain personality traits not be possibly at least partially genetic?

Andrew S said...

Don't worry; I know you mean no offense. I'm just saying...that's just something that sets a flag off in my mind.

I would care because really...actions are rather inconsequential...really, *beliefs* are at the center of hurting and healing. For example, with something like racism (just to throw out an extreme example), the worst part about it aren't the actions that an individual takes...but the beliefs held. So this is why tolerance is woefully inadequate, because it allows people to maintain certain beliefs as long as they "treat everyone charitably."

I once listened to this guy who talked about how Christians should lead by quiet example. He suggested that the intrusiveness and unloving behavior of some Christians was ruining the reputation of the faith, so if Christians would be more humble and silent then things would improve.

I was kinda impressed by the words, but then the speaker said, "And we should leave atheists and nonbelievers alone and not pester them because that just gives them a negative impression of the religion" and I was REALLY intrigued there.

HOWEVER, his beliefs got in the way and worked against anything his actions could have accomplished. The reason he thought Christians should leave atheists alone (an action of tolerance, of "treating everyone charitably) was because he also believed that atheists were like weeds in a garden, who would be dealt with later by the Lord but could not be rooted out now without damaging the rest of the garden.

Obviously, atheists don't believe they are weeds in a garden that will be rooted out divinely. But precisely because of this, that's why people would take offense. Tolerant actions are trumped by unaccepting beliefs every time.

So, I think this is particularly relatable to the Catholics and Jewish people who protest the baptisms by proxy of their members. For them, it *does* very much interfere with their faith and is a private attack against it (in the same way some Christian preacher's privately held belief that atheists are weeds-in-the-garden is a private attack against atheists no matter how charitably he acts towards atheists).

Andrew S said...

With respect to your comments about personality traits, well...yes, of course things can be partially genetic...but we can't rely on things to be so clearcut because then that leads us to think much more than we actually know.

For example, if identical twins don't have the same percentage of being homosexual with the same "genes," does that mean that homosexuality is obviously not genetic? Well, no. Because there are different ways genes can be expressed or hidden up. so it could be highly genetic or it could be something else (hormones in the womb? etc.,)

The Faithful Dissident said...

"...the worst part about it aren't the actions that an individual takes...but the beliefs held."

I get that beliefs can lead to actions, but the beliefs are worse than the actions? I'm not sure that I agree with this.

Racism is an extreme example, as you said, but I think that most people -- whether they want to admit it or not -- hold some personal prejudices towards others of either a different race, religion, or belief system. Many probably don't even realize it themselves. Are their personal thoughts and beliefs truly worse than if they go out and start actively persecuting people based on their skin colour or faith? Don't we all have certain beliefs that someone, somewhere, will find offensive and objective? Whose belief system is the one that we should all be aligning ourselves to?

"So this is why tolerance is woefully inadequate, because it allows people to maintain certain beliefs as long as they "treat everyone charitably."

In an ideal world, all of our thoughts and beliefs would be just as pure as our "charitable" deeds. But realistically, how will the human race be able to manage anything more than tolerance, as "inadequate" as it may be, without requiring that every human being share the same belief system? Where is the room for personal thought, faith, and conscience?

"Tolerant actions are trumped by unaccepting beliefs every time."

"Unaccepting" according to which belief system?

Fifthgen said...

Andrew S: I am not sure I understand what you mean by "actions are rather inconsequential...really, *beliefs* are at the center of hurting and healing." Certainly, beliefs are important and are at the core of what we do. But that is my point. How would you know of anyone's beliefs, unless they were translated, somehow, into action? Even expressing a belief is action. Without *something* to reveal them, how are my internal beliefs hurtful to anyone (except for maybe, me).

Finally, charity and tolerance to me are different from feeling one way and acting another (although that might be better than nothing). Treating someone charitably and without judgment means that I respect their inherent dignity and hope good things for them. It does not mean that I agree with them. That is something else.

Andrew S said...

Re Faithful Dissident:

(sorry this will be long)

I think some of the disagreement may be that I see there are different ills associated with certain things. I think that racism, sexism, etc., are essentially ills of belief and thought. So, I can easily imagine that the "worst" racist or the "worst" sexist ACTS completely fairly with others...because it's not the actions that define the racism or sexism -- it's the unaccepting nature of his beliefs. Any actions undertaken in a racist mindset have other ills associated (violence [which is an action], intolerance [another action], etc.,), but the intrinsic problem of racism is not in action, but in belief.

So yes, as far as offenses of beliefs are concerned, the belief *is* worse than actions. It might sound like a racist who, for example, attacks someone of another race is 'worse' than a racist who acts charitably, but this is because the emotional weights of other crimes creeps in. As far as racism (a belief-centric ill) goes, both racists cause equal amounts of damage despite their different actions. I tried to express this in my examples, but I guess it's hard to express. If you have someone who simply harbors racist or sexist or homophobic or any other kind of thoughts like this, it is just as demoralizing and offensive if they don't act on these as if they do. People can advocate for very tolerant actions, but really, if they have unaccepting or prejudiced beliefs, the damage is done.

The fact that everyone has prejudices (even some that they may not recognize) does not excuse the vital role of the belief and it does not suggest that action is worse than belief. That just shows how every person has work to do.

The problem is...for the very reasons you mention (we all have different beliefs and worldviews, and some are going to be offensive to some or some are going to be less accepting of others)...it's impossible (I think) to come to a point where we all have accepting beliefs.

So, I think we need to do certain things. 1) We need to have somewhat tougher skin. I know that some people are going to say things that sound offensive...but I try not to *be* offended. There's a distinction in how I *react*, I think. So, when I said that something sounded offensive, I didn't mean that you had offended me or that now I'm going to cry and think you're a worse person for it. Because then I'm just as much a culprit of unaccepting attitude. I take the context in how you or anyone else presents ideas and simply note that I do not agree because I don't share that context.

2) I think that life is about looking at our justifications for what we accept/ don't accept and putting them under scrutiny. And this is where there will still be disagreement because we come from different worldviews -- so I'm going to say something that you might disagree with or find downright offensive and I apologize in advance. I would suggest that we need not accept any one belief system (so I'm not saying that one is "right" and all others are "wrong."). I would simply note that, in my opinion, views that do not rely primarily on the empirical and practical reality, like that of many religious faiths, are poor worldview to justify because so much relies on faith and the supernatural, the untested or untestable, the unexplained or inexplicable. I do not think everyone should necessarily give up the supernatural or faith (at least, that would be another comment if I went there)...but I think that if I were to believe someone is a sinner purely because of my religious beliefs, there's a problem because my beliefs and thoughts are based on things that don't align with the natural world...so I wouldn't really be able to justify these beliefs. That is why I have a mental flag that goes up whenever people try to reason certain behaviors in terms of eternal/heavenly consequences. Heaven is not something that represents the empirical facts of the universe we live in (at least, not yet -- it's not necessarily "false" because there is no evidence, so theoretically, there certainly *could* be evidence that validates it.)

However, we might be overwhelmingly justified against things like murder, rape, etc., because regardless of belief and worldview, you can see that practically, these things have very clear, seen, real-world negative consequences. So, regardless of if anyone's position on the sanctity of life is right or wrong, that's not really what I'm too concerned with. The issue is...I think that these kinds of positions are justifiable because they relate to things we can actually see, relate to, and experience as practical matters.

You raise a good point that perhaps, anything greater than tolerance may be impossible. And you know, that depresses me. I'm not advocating the sameness of everything and everyone. I just think that people should be more mindful of the real-world implications of certain beliefs and tend towards beliefs that have more real-world positive benefits than benefits in the supernatural (e.g., in "eternity" or "heaven" or "the millennium" or wherever else.) As far as personal beliefs, conscience, etc., can fit in there, then great (because I do believe that these things are how we discern things -- our moral foundations, how we naturally think about morality, are some of the most true real-world practical emotions for *ourselves*), but at the same time, we can't give free reign to these things. If someone's moral conscience tells them that people of another race are bad or people of alternate sexualities are bad, I think that's something that needs to be worked on.

"Unaccepting" according to which belief system?

Unaccepting to the belief system of ANY person who faces that challenge. I guess I'm taking a limb, but I think that everyone will find that if a person acts tolerantly to them, but does not personally accept their beliefs, they will feel bad. Whether it's an atheist who feels bad because the well-meaning Christian thinks he is nothing but a weed or a Mormon who feels bad because his well-meaning friends think he is a member of a nonChristian cult, or ANY situation, I think that's something that constant in people. All that changes are the particulars.

pb said...

I for one would rather have someone believe that I was a weed in the garden than start acting on that belief somehow by, say, throwing weed killer at me. Consider the young girl in Afghanistan, on her way to school. A man stops her in the street and inquires where she is going. She answers, "School." So he throws acid in her face. It was his belief that girls should not be educated. How much better off this world would be had the man been able to simply hold that belief without acting on it.

Andrew S said...

Re Fifthgen:

That's the worst part, though. There're multiple theories about this of course.

1) When you don't know someone's true beliefs (because it hasn't been translated into action), you (or at least I do, I don't know about you :p) feel worse because you don't know what to expect. It's a suspicious attitude. So, that's one way I'd say the beliefs are really more central.

2) I could also say that it is impossible to never act on your beliefs. And this is a failing of tolerance that we see as well. For example, if you tell someone to "act naturally," then obviously, this is going to be different than if they just *are* natural. Acting naturally is at its core an "act." It isn't legitimate and it's usually clear it isn't legitimate.

Tolerance is kinda the same way. When people try to be tolerant, they usually make a mockery (unbeknownst to them, of course -- they don't do this on purpose) of what natural tolerance might be. So, one example is a judge who is racist, but knows he must be fair and impartial. His impartiality is awkward and stilted, while when he is naturally hanging around with his friends, he's kinda biased in favor due to his amicability.

I think that treating people with charity and without judgment, but without accepting them or their positions, will inherently miss the mark, but some in less disastrous ways than others.

Because even while you're respecting a person's inherent dignity and hoping the best for them...your definition of both of these differs from that person...and this still causes the disconnect. I hope this will be a good example: I'm MOST certain that most evangelicals who preach to Mormons do so because they have respect for our inherent dignity...and the way they show that and hope the best for us is by trying to bring us to the "real" Christ (as they see it). If they didn't, they wouldn't care about us at all, because their beliefs pressure them to show their love and charity in that kind of fellowshipping way.

But obviously, this still is problematic.

Even if they don't outreach to us (so their beliefs are relatively muted, if not completely private [since as you noted, even expressing a belief once or twice is an action...), really, we don't want tolerance. We would want acceptance. We would want them to see us as Christian, or to consider our ideas meritous, etc.,

I think this new paradigm gets people into a lot of disagreements...because when people begin to realize that tolerance is not enough and they want acceptance, then you're *really* challenging beliefs, which is, as you said, "something else." So, from the other side, we might think, "How can they demand acceptance when we have given them tolerance already. Why should I set my personal beliefs down?"

So, I don't really know if that ever will have a resolution.

Andrew S said...

re pb:

but then again, throwing weed killer is a different ill than the thought that one is a weed. The thought that one is the weed causes the same amount of discomfort in both scenarios -- it is the core ill.

To go off your example, of course, tolerance *is* a necessary step...but imagine: how much better off would the world be if the man never even harbored the belief that girls shouldn't be educated? That is what I'm getting to. Regardless of if the man commits violence or not, it's extremely problematic that he holds these beliefs, since they are most likely held for irrational reasons (at least, I haven't heard of a rational reason that provides better consequences for society to justify these kinds of beliefs).

Fifthgen said...

"I think that treating people with charity and without judgment, but without accepting them or their positions, will inherently miss the mark, but some in less disastrous ways than others."

What do you mean by "accepting" them? And, ideally, would everyone accept everyone? What would that look like?

"we really, we don't want tolerance. We would want acceptance. We would want them to see us as Christian, or to consider our ideas meritous, etc.,"

I really am OK with evangelicals not accepting me as a Christian. I am what I am, whether they accept me or not. I am less OK with their being disrespectful about my beliefs.

Andrew S said...

I would phrase acceptance as an adjustment of terms you've used, just for simplicity. You would respect their inherent dignity and hope good things for them, but the good things you'd hope for them are the things that they want (instead of the good things that *you* might want). So, saying something like, "I hope you find salvation, whether in this life or the next" can be respectful of dignity and it is hoping good things of someone, but it is not accepting of an atheist's personal worldview. Saying, "You're really great for a black guy, but most black people are x, y, z" is respectful of an individual's dignity, but it is not accepting.

There's a bit of a two-step we'd have to go through before we can accept everyone else. Right now, it would be disastrous if everyone accepted everyone else, because there are some things that people find "good" that are not good (and of course, you get into issues about what is goodness, but let's just say that there are some things people can collectively agree aren't good...murder, rape, etc., [then the next issue, arguably, is in defining what exactly these things are...but that's another topic.])

So, theoretically, acceptance could come if we were all united in any kind of belief (e.g., Zion, etc.,).

However, if we can come to an agreement in some way by which people can do things that are generally 'good' (however you define that...we live in a pluralistic world so this definition is going to have to be somewhat broad), then acceptance shouldn't be an issue.

My question concerning your being ok with Evangelicals not accepting you as a Christian...what exactly would define disrespect towards your belief? And when you say you are "OK" with their nonacceptance, is that to mean that you wouldn't feel any different if they started accepting you as Christian (assuming all else is constant and the change in belief is all that happens)

Because I think that in some ways, once again, the nonacceptance *necessitates* some of the disrespect. After all, even if you know what you are regardless of whether they accept it or not, somehow and somewhere your beliefs will butt heads with theirs (whether in a private conversation or some public event).

RAP08 said...

Faithful,

I think this idea may have been alluded to earlier, but I was thinking of Abraham 3:22 where it talks about the noble and great ones. This would seem to indicate that there was status in the pre-existence. Could it be that faith or the ability to have faith is not genetic, but more related to the spirit?

I also was reminded of D&C 130:18-19 "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come."

Could something similar have happened in our pre earth life?

As I grew up I remember being told many times that we were an elect generation and that we had been saved to come forth in the last days. Think "Saturday's Warriors".

If there was such a faith gene, it would probably enable the "spiritual" receptacles in the brain/heart (where ever they are). May be we could find a pill to replace the function of the gene, or some form of gene therapy. Of course you would have to get a team of scientists who have the faith gene to do the research as most intellectuals would just laugh.

RAP08 said...

Andrew,

You must have a much more controlled thought process than I. If everyone could perceive my thoughts I would be embarrassed a lot of the time. I find that I have unkind/inappropriate thoughts more often than I would like to admit. My actions on the other hand are much more inline with who I think of myself as. It could be that I am not honest with myself and that I am really the less “good” person that my thoughts would make me out to be.

If I harbor a view and truly believe it but try not to let it show in public, then I would submit that those beliefs will come out in my actions at some point. I think it is impossible for a strongly held belief not to be expressed in some form of action.

Andrew S said...

RAP08,

I think that an improvement to the actions is one of the first things we can do. And I mean, I'm not saying that I'm perfect or that I'm 100% accepting of everyone either (because I know that's not true, and I know I have my own deficiencies).

Consider: even in the church, there is a kind of attitude that as you are obedient to commandments, it transforms your thoughts and beliefs. So, if you are struggling with some kind of bad thought, then you have to do something spiritually uplifting and eventually -- or so the scriptures say -- you'll have no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually. I think this is the same way with thoughts.

The question is: which beliefs will we strongly hold...because I also think that strongly held beliefs will come out as action sooner or later. So if we have beliefs we do not really support, beliefs that we would really rather not stand by, then we need to work on these and change them.

The Faithful Dissident said...

"I think this idea may have been alluded to earlier, but I was thinking of Abraham 3:22 where it talks about the noble and great ones. This would seem to indicate that there was status in the pre-existence. Could it be that faith or the ability to have faith is not genetic, but more related to the spirit?"

RAP08, I have also thought about that. I admit, though, that I'm not very comfortable about too much pre-existence speculation and how "noble" we were or weren't. I think the whole "less valiant" theory about blacks really turned me off to that. And although I find the idea of a faith gene intriguing, I'm not sure it's something I can believe in. However, D&C 46 comes to mind:

11 For all have not every a gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.

15 And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.

16 And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.

17 And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.

18 To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.

19 And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;

20 And to others it is given to have faith to heal.

21 And again, to some is given the working of miracles;

22 And to others it is given to prophesy;

23 And to others the discerning of spirits.

24 And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;

25 And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.

26 And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.


Wish I could write more, Andrew had some interesting things to say that I'd like to respond to, but I have to get ready for work. Will hopefully get more time in the next few days. RAP08, I have to quit spending so much time over at Politicalds. :)

Papa D said...

Fwiw, I hate any term that implies faithfulness is hereditary. I do think that there are widely different spiritual states (gifts, if you will), but I also think we make WAY too much of knowledge and WAY too little of simple faith (actions without knowledge) in the Church today.

Also, great discussion. I really enjoyed reading the conversation thus far.

To defend Andrew's belief/action perspective:

I think it's easy to say actions are worse than beliefs (like the acid in the face of the Afghan girl), but that also can be an excuse to focus on suppressing external actions rather than changing internal beliefs and character. I think I will write a post at some point on Mormon Matters about "reactive vs. proactive repentance" - but the heart of it agrees with Andrew. Changing one's action doesn't happen completely until one's beliefs change.

Ray

Andrew S said...

The interesting thing, Ray, (or I guess you go by Papa D here?) is that you can see it going both ways (that is, belief -> actions and actions -> beliefs)

I've had lessons justifying both that mere obedience can start to change your beliefs for the better (e.g., after you try a commandment for so long, you will come to an understanding of it), but then I've had just as many lessons saying that your beliefs must change before you can act properly (if you do your callings in a negative spirit...or you aren't enthusiastic, then you'll suffer in those callings)

Whichever the direction goes, it's clear that beliefs and actions both matter...but perhaps in subtly different ways.

pb said...

Beliefs and actions both matter and there is certainly interplay between them. It's like the interplay between our physical body and the state of our mind. We may not feel particularly great or energetic, but then we force ourselves to go on a run and lo and behold we feel much better. To me, it's clear that one must bring about change in oneself both through cultivating change in action and change in thought. However, the initial comment was addressing actions / thoughts with respect to third persons. Here, there's a clear, very real distinction: It really doesn't matter to me what a person's beliefs about me are. It does matter to me what his actions toward me are. The man in Afghan can and should change his misguided beliefs, but the difference between his misguided belief and his heinous action is the difference between the girl being able to attend school unmolested as opposed to living the rest of her life with a scarred and mutilated face. There's a big difference.

Andrew S said...

Then in respect to that final statement, I'd have to default and say that beliefs never completely are absent from actions. They will creep into action one way or another, even if it isn't the most overt and egregious way (such as violence).

So the belief is still critical. Even if the man doesn't overtly harm a girl going to school, his beliefs will still direct what he will do elsewhere. Few people nowadays will beat up gay people, but their beliefs surely could motivate them to act in more covert ways...such as, say, to vote against gay marriage.

Both actions, despite having much different physical consequences, are driven by beliefs that cause the same emotional and psychological damage. That's why it matters what people's beliefs are.

Papa D said...

Personal threadjack alert:

Andrew, just so you know, Papa D is my handle for my personal blog - since my wife and kids picked it. (The YW in our ward started calling my wife, Mama D, when she was the YW Pres. - hence, my name.) So, it's what shows up when I comment through my Google/Blogger account.

Everywhere else, when I'm not commenting through Google/Blogger, I use my real name.

John said...

Hey Faithful Dissident,
I haven't had internet for awhile, and therefore I haven't had much of a chance to keep up with the blog. That said, I hope I don't bring up stuff that's already been discussed.

When I was on my mission, I became close with numerous people of different faiths and worldviews. One night, after a particularly interesting discussion with a devout Catholic girl that my companion and I had become close friends with and who loved having us over for discussions, a thought occurred to me that I thought might apply to this blog posting.

The thought was this:
I believe that some things in this world are directly inspired by God. For instance, the fight against slavery, racism, exploitation, persecution, ignorance, and violence. Nearly every (if not all) successful "warriors" for these causes have not been LDS. In fact, had they been LDS, it is doubtful they would have even had minimal success.

For instance, if Martin Luther King Jr. had been LDS instead of Baptist, I do not feel he would have galvanized the black community of the south as he did, nor would he have gained southern white allies for the civil rights cause, and I believe he would have brought down even more persecution upon civil rights fighters (of course, at that time it is very doubtful the Church would have even allowed him to do what he did without excommunicating him).

If Ghandi had not been Hindu, there is no possible way he would have gained the support for his non-violent fight against British exploitation, or his fight against the oppression of the lower castes in India.

If Abraham Lincoln had been LDS, he would have never become President, and therefore would have never signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves.

There are numerous other examples as well. What if Dorothy Day, or Cesar Chavez, or Mother Theresa had not been Catholic?

I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that gay rights, even to the still limited extent they exist today, would not exist at all. The same is true of women's rights.

I think this view can even applies to atheists. For instance, Church's and religious organizations were often opponents to the expansion of individual rights, including democracy. So, would Thomas Paine have been so staunchly democratic if he had not been outside the religious community? Church's and religious organizations were also common opponents of worker's rights throughout history, so would the great leader's of labor history been taken seriously if they were religious? The same is true of many of the great scientists throughout history as well.

So, long story short, I think there are some people that are not meant to accept the gospel in this life, specifically because God has another purpose for them. This does not take away from my belief as a Mormon that they will have the opportunity to accept the gospel at some point in eternity in any way, and it is my personal opinion that most, if not all of them, will.

Oh, and sorry I used so many U.S. examples. I know you are an international woman, but I'm sure the example won't be lost on you or any other reader from across borders and seas.
=)

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

I should also just add that this doesn't take away from the fact that truth should be taught whenever the opportunity arises. As President Hinckley used to teach, there are many truths in other faiths that Mormons could still learn, and we have truths they could learn as well.
There are two reasons this doesn't take away from our responsibility to testify of the truths that have been revealed to us; first, because it is our responsibility and second, because who's to say that that seed of truth that you plant will mature , not in this life, but in the eternities?

I also wanted to just quickly point out that I haven't seen anyone mention that the Mormon faith teaches that even those who do not accept the gospel will receive glory (in non-LDS terms, there is a heaven for them). To us as Mormons, to be damned doesn't mean to be punished, but to be stopped, or prevented from progressing.

I like to think of it as being like a rocket scientist who refuses to take calculus. Because he has more knowledge than the average man, he may get a lower level position working for NASA, but without the further knowledge, he simply cannot become a full fledged rocket scientist. It is not a matter of being punished, it is the simple fact that he does not possess the knowledge necessary.

I hope that made sense and I hope it isn't too far off topic. I know the discussion was about the faith gene, but I just thought further explanation of LDS theology on the issue of salvation and damnation might clear up any misunderstanding if someone unfamiliar with Mormonism is reading.

Andrew S said...

John,

in your first comment, you raised that many movements that we can still find good in would possibly have been hindered or impossible if conducted by LDS church members.

Does it cross your mind at any point that this is an unfortunate sign that the LDS church should look for change. I mean, there's one thing if the church is hindered by *others'* opinions of it, but isn't it entirely different if, for example, certain women's rights would not be supported and emphasized at all thanks primarily to LDS doctrine and/or culture?

For example, it's one thing to say that Martin Luther King Jr. had much more of a reach because he was Baptist instead of LDS, but it seems most embarrassing to note that in fact, he may have gotten excommunicated for his actions, or that the church's movement towards a 1978 revelation took so long after the Civil Rights Movement.

The Faithful Dissident said...

John, you brought up some great points. I think the one about MLK is especially true because, as Andrew pointed out, it's not unlikely that he would have been ex'ed as a Mormon.

And Andrew, you're right, it is embarrassing (at least for me personally) to think that MLK could have gotten ex'ed had he been Mormon. Or that it took so many years after the Civil Rights movement for the ban to be lifted. I think that most of my regular readers know how I feel about the Church's history regarding race and so I'll spare you all another rant. :)

I certainly think that any religious dogma (LDS included) can, in some cases, hinder progression and things such as civil rights. I think, though, that churches are rarely changed from the outside in. This is why I think we need more "faithful dissidents" (Andrew, I know you think that the sensible thing for us to do would be to just all leave, but since most of us are still in it, I ask you to humour me here. :)

If it weren't for feminism, the prophets would probably still be calling birth control an evil sin, instead of saying it's a personal decision. All of the LDS women who work outside of the home (I think that most do today) would probably feel enormous guilt from the Church for doing so (some may say that they still do).

If no blacks had ever joined the Church, if there hadn't been such a sizable black LDS population in Brazil who wanted to attend the temple that was going to be be built there, then I doubt that the priesthood ban would have been lifted. Or at least not until even later than it was.

If no gays ever remained in the Church, all the current manuals would still be saying that homosexuality is a choice. They'd still be disciplined simply for having a same sex attraction. It wouldn't have even occurred to most Mormons that they probably have more gay and lesbian brothers and sisters among them than they realize. I don't know what the future holds for gay-Mormon relations, but I don't believe that we're finished. But change isn't going to come from gay pride parades or criticisms from GLBT groups. It's going to come from those gay members of the Church who change it from within, even those who find themselves unable to live up to the Church's standard, but still retain their faith and a testimony and who are simply doing the best they can.

Change will never come if the status quo is never challenged. And we can see that certain things have changed in the Church over time, even if it's not enough for some.

Papa D said...

When I lived in the Deep South, invariably a black investigator would join the Church, face intense pressure from family and friends for joining a "white church", stay active for about 3-6 months then fade into inactivity - sometimes citing the fact that no other black people were joining the Church. Just as invariably, about 3-6 months later another black investigator would be baptized - and the cycle would repeat exactly.

After a few years, if those black members would have stayed active, there would have been a thriving black membership in the Church in that area.

I'm NOT blaming them for leaving. I actually understand how difficult it is to remain active in an organization when you feel like a token member - especially when you feel like the others in the organization don't really understand you. For many reasons, I get that completely.

All I'm saying is that when someone leaves they automatically contribute to the stereotyped self-fulfilling prophecy against which they complain. They also reinforce, unfortunately, the stereotyped view of those who are unlike them - that black members, or liberal members, or gay members, or feminist members ad infinitum never make life-long members.

Being a pioneer or Christlike rebel is hard, but leaving only exacerbates the problem at both ends. "Be the change you desire" is great advice, as long as that desire doesn't include bitterness and harsh confrontation and self-righteousness. It's a tricky balance sometimes, and it requires serious humility and meekness, but it's worth it in the end for those who can do it.

John said...

Well, just to clarify, I don't think MLK would have been excommunicated for wanting to do away with racist laws, I am simply saying I don't see MLK not opposing the Church's ban on priesthood if he had been a member, and the unfortunate fact is that although the Church came very close to ending the ban well before it did, opposing the Church on the issue so publicly I believe would have resulted in MLK's excommunication.

The Church did officially come out in support of civil rights, despite the fact that there were certain Church leaders who personally disagreed with the efforts of the civil rights movement and it's leaders, and numerous prominent LDS members did join up with the civil rights movement. That said, I'm not saying that participation in the civil rights movement would result in excommunication.

As to women's rights, the Church has a mixed record on that. For instance, the Church called for women's suffrage long before it ever became a national issue or a movement, but I will come back to this issue in a moment.

For me, I believe there are three reasons why the Church does not, and sometimes cannot, get involved with movements that I would personally throw my lot into.

The first reason is that the Church's main purpose is to maintain it's existence so that the priesthood remains on the Earth until the second coming.

When the Church was first organized, blacks were in fact given the priesthood. This created a violent and bloody reaction from the pro-slavery non-Mormon population in Missouri which resulted in expulsion of the LDS population from the state with an extermination order on the law books in Missouri until the 1970's. Church leaders were imprisoned, members were massacred, women were raped, houses were burned and crops and cattle were destroyed. This was all as a result of a simple article published asking blacks to come and be baptized. If this was the reaction to a simple request to join the Church, imagine the backlash if it went beyond that and blacks had held priesthood leadership positions.

This is only one example of the Church being threatened with extinction, but it is not the only one. There was the Utah War, the anti-polygamy imprisonments and property confiscations, and in more modern times there have been attempts to bomb Prophets (Ezra Taft Benson at BYU) and Church buildings, etc.

The reason I bring this up, is because I believe the Church must take a somewhat conservative position on hot button issues much of the time to simply prevent further wrath from those who feel the Church is already a challenge to the status quo.

The second reason I believe the Church does not, or cannot, get involved with issues of social change, is that the Church cannot agree with the methods and aims of those causes.

For example, the Church has long agreed with some women's rights causes, but the women's rights movement has become highly involved with supporting abortion in cases that are outside of what the Church views as justifiable cause for abortion. The women's right movement has also become highly involved with putting women in the workplace, which is a noble cause, but has been misused by the business community as a way to lower wages for everyone (it is a well known fact that it now takes two incomes in a household to provide what used to only require one income prior to the 1970's). With American families taking in two incomes, wages have been able to stagnate without much notice because a families standard of living hasn't changed all that much, but if a woman decides to quit working a be a stay at home mom, it is then very obvious and nearly impossible for most families. The Church cannot support steps which have such a drastic impact on family life.

I believe this argument holds for many of the other issues I brought up. The Church opposed slavery, but could not condone the actions of abolitionists who agreed with the methods of John Brown, or who moved to Kansas in order to create conflict over the issue. The Church could not support labor movements that took a strong Marxist tone, atheism and all. The Church could not condone the civil rights movement as it became gradually more militant, and more Maoist (the Black Panthers or Malcolm X's Nation of Islam as two examples). And today, the Church supports much of the gay rights movements efforts for equality under the law, but cannot support those efforts that contradict it's fundamental teachings.

So, sorry for the long post, but what I'm saying is that, although I may not agree with the Church on many of these issues, I understand why those positions are sometimes taken. And as I was trying to say before, when the Church cannot take those positions, I believe God raises inspired men and women who can take on those challenges without violating covenants that they have made with him.
After all, it is a fundamental LDS doctrine that Eve was inspired to partake of the fruit of life, despite it being in direct opposition of God's commandment.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

I would also like to add that although the Church as an organization may take a particular stance on an issue, this does not take away from the individual members agency to choose for themselves what they will and will not support.

The Faithful Dissident said...

John, that was great food for thought and I thank you for sharing that. Especially important was your last sentence about the agency of individual members. It perhaps gives us some insight into why it seems that some of the rank and file members have been "ahead" of Church leadership throughout history. It's frustrating to those who want to believe that the Church is that beacon of light and inspiration, but who find its leadership fighting against change that it often finds itself embracing later.

Papa D said...

FD, I agree, but it cuts both ways. If someone doesn't approve of a Church leadership position, whether it is seen as "too backward" or "too progressive" doesn't really matter at all.

Think about this:

I dare say the Church's sexual standards over the last nearly 200 years have been criticized by as many people for being too "lax" or "immoral" or "progressive" or "liberal" as they have for being to "traditional" or "backward". Whatever the standard, if there is a standard, someone is going to disagree and be upset.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

I agree with you Papa D. I think no matter what the Church and it's leadership does, someone is going to be upset, or at least disagree.

That is precisely why it is important to have a personal testimony of the gospel. Unfortunately, I think it is very possible to have a "testimony" of the Church, and yet lack a testimony of the gospel. When someone has a "testimony" of the Church, but is lacking a testimony of the gospel, intolerance will quickly rear it's head (I put testimony in quotations because I am not fully convinced that it is possible to have a testimony in the sense the scriptures teach unless one does in fact have a testimony of the gospel, perhaps it is a close counterfeit, who knows).

For instance, when controversial issues are taken up by the Church, any dissenter is quickly confronted with members of the Church that are quick to make judgements and pronouncements that the dissenter is not a "true Saint" etc. However, if one truly had a testimony of the gospel, they would quickly realize that any principle, even the principle of following priesthood counsel, must be obtained personally, just as they gained theirs personally. All one can do is to have reasoned discussion, making sure not cross boundaries that must be left to personal study and prayer.

Everyone in the Church is allowed to have the opinions and views they hold just as much as I am. If I think my opinion is more true or correct, than I am free to discuss my views in a respectful manner, once again not crossing boundaries that must be left to personal study and prayer (in other words, I can't denounce the other person as an apostate simply because they don't view an issue as I do, or don't have a testimony of a particular principle).

So what I am basically saying is that I have no issue with it "cutting both ways" as you put it. I just wish others were willing to let it "cut both ways" as well. Unfortunately, in my personal experience at least, any dissenting opinion I may express, even when I attempt to express my understanding through the scriptures, historical examples, and personal experiences, is quickly accompanied by a very vocal, and very hostile response. That is certainly not letting it "cut both ways".

My personal experience is as one who does in fact dissent occasionally, but I have also seen dissenters use the same hostility towards those who refuse to dissent so I don't want to look like I am playing the martyr here.

Whenever I do see this though, I am reminded of Joseph Smith History 1:28 which begins with a brief passage that I feel applies in these situations I'm describing:
"being of very tender years, and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me"

Lastly, in response to the last sentence of your first paragraph, I do think it matters. There are numerous examples of this. For instance, Brigham Young tried very hard to teach the doctrine known as the Adam God Theory, and met some very firm opposition on it, most notably form Orson Pratt. At the time, Orson Pratt was aggressively chastised by Young, and other members of his quorum that agreed with Young, yet the Adam God Theory was quickly abandoned after Young's death and even taught as being false by more modern Church leaders.

Another example is George Romney, who supported both the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King despite the wishes and counsel of some Apostles, and yet he is hailed as a hero both by modern Mormons and his son Mitt, who tried to use his father's support of MLK and civil rights as a political tool in his campaign for presidency.

If it didn't matter, than these instances would be hailed as examples of folly and not examples of heroic Mormon righteousness.

Stella said...

When I made my break from the church many thought it was because I was committing some major types of sins. I was a worthy temple holder, but they just didn't want to believe that I could stop believing in their faith without there being a logical reason.

Morpheus Maximus said...

Thanks for providing the information on the subject. hope am not making a false assumption that someone here is a mormon or was. The interesting thing is, when i was reading ur blog for the first time yesterday afternoon to inquire about 'the faith gene'. i was also flicking through my TV stations;a movie 1/2 way caught my attention and shocked me; completely spinned my head and stung my nerves. The movie,
"September Dawn", Familliar?
the credits mentioned 'based on true story'. is it?

The Faithful Dissident said...

Hi Morpheus. Yes, I'm Mormon, though probably more liberal and unorthodox than most you would meet. I've seen September Dawn, and although I think it had certain strengths, I found it to be a little "over the top." I think it did an excellent job of portraying the Mountain Meadows massacre itself. And although I'm sure that some elements of the religious/political climate that were portrayed in the film were accurate, I think that it took way too much liberty in dramatizing actual historical facts. For example, in the film it's clear that Brigham Young was directly involved, but the actual history is inconclusive one way or the other. I certainly think that Brigham Young was guilty of creating a climate under which such fanaticism could thrive (he is known for somewhat harsh, fiery rhetoric, as well as preaching a "doctrine" of "blood atonement" and I feel this was a major factor), I really don't think that he personally, directly gave the order to exterminate all those innocent people. That being said, I think he shared some responsibility, as an individual and as leader of the Church, and I don't think that he owned up to that. He also didn't appear to be very co-operative with gov't authorities during the investigation afterwards. But you have to understand that there was a lot of animosity and mistrust between Mormons and the gov't during that time...

The Faithful Dissident said...

Another inaccuracy about the film was that it was portrayed that all Mormons were and had to live in polygamous relationships. The actual number was probably closer to around 30%, depending on where and when. I also thought that the fictional father (played by Jon Voigt) was a dispicable character that had probably been greatly embellished. Although I can't say with certainty that there were no Mormons who behaved in such a way, it would have been an exception and not the rule. As well, the scene at the end where he hunts down and murders the girl in cold-blood was way over the top. That part was completely fictional. What wasn't fictional was the group of men accompanying the wagon train who, on the signal given by John D. Lee of "do your duty," turned beside them and shot these innocent men, women, and children. The smallest children were saved and adopted into Mormon homes for a time, before the gov't took them away, I believe.

So, I would say that the film is partially based on a true story. Yes, the massacre was completely true. Yes, I'm certain that certain Mormons of the time were guilty of fanaticism and hate, leading to the mass murder. But the family portrayed in the movie is completely fictional and was a little overdramatic for my tastes. I think that the filmmakers could have made a balanced, historically-accurate film by sticking to what we know is fact and refraining from jumping to conclusions about other things (i.e. Brigham Young's direct involvement). I wouldn't apply the label "anti-Mormon" to many things, but I would say that this movie probably fit the description. I think the filmmakers obviously had an agenda to defame Mormons, and although I think there is plenty of evidence in the matter that is embarassingly true and incriminating, they took it too far by drawing conclusions that are, in my opinion, impossible to draw on this historical event that happened such a long time ago. So for the most part, aside from the scene of the massacre itself (which I thought was well-done and probably historically accurate), I have to say I think that the film was a farce.

I remember at the end of the film, it said something about how to this day, the Mormon Church has never apologized for MMM. That is only partially true. The Church has condemned the massacre and expressed regret about what happened, but it has never, as far as I know, made a formal, official apology admitting any guilt in the matter. I have mixed feelings about that because although I think it's unfair to blame the Church for the actions of a few men who took things to the extreme, I think that the Church fails to acknowledge how the teachings of Brigham Young played a huge role in inciting these men to commit such a horrible attrocity. Some people would disagree with me on that, though.

You can read about MMM here as well there's a book by Juanita Brooks which I haven't read, but is probably considered the best historical account of what really happened.

Morpheus Maximas said...

Let me congratulate you on your commitment to your faith, knowing such history.
am sure there was a lot that we don't know. from what we know, it could have been much worse than the movie portrayed.
Thanks for responding, good luck on ur journey.

Morpheus Maximus said...

Reasons (E-L) why some humans don't believe in anything (MiSelf).
e- Self confid-awareness
f- personal fortitude
g- superior intellect
h- immaculate perception
i- mindful presence
j- pure insight
k- intuitive knowledge
l- clear purpose
Still working on the rest of the alphabet.

Max Parthas said...

The Faith Gene
(A Poetic Thriller)
The Maximum Impact Experience

http://www.thelasersshadow.com/12160/snardfarker.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-faith-gene.html


© Maximus Parthas 2004
www.Maximum Impact Poetry.comredrai-