Oct 16, 2009

The Faithful Dissident Says Good-Bye... Sort Of

When I first started this blog, it took me a while before I wanted to reveal anything about myself. I think it took me a few posts to clarify that I was female. I figured that someone would eventually pick up the extra "U's," an "eh," or some other subtle difference in my spelling, so I figured I may as well say that I was Canadian. And then when I discovered all the ridiculous horror stories about "socialism," I decided to divulge the fact that I live in Norway, in order to get my two cents in some of the discussions. Eventually you got to see my eye, then half of my face. Now that I feel like I'm reaching a turning point with this blog, I'll leave you with my profile. :)

Why I'm Taking A Break:

There are times that I think I would have been better off had I not read Rough Stone Rolling or started studying Mormon history in-depth a couple of years ago. But the truth is that I was already unknowingly in spiritual decline for much of my life, even though I thought I was rock firm in my faith. Something didn't feel right. I didn't fit in. Certain elements within Mormonism nagged at me for years and they remained unresolved until they festered and erupted onto the surface almost four years ago.

The pain and frustration I've experienced by being propelled into Stage 4 (see the sidebar for more information about Fowler's Stages of Faith or my earlier post on the subject) has been difficult to contain. I seem to waver between keeping it bottled up inside so that I don't "infect" others with my doubts, and desiring to force everyone in Stage 3 into Stage 4 so that they can feel my pain and admit that you can't just "forget" or "get over" it. Perhaps the most difficult part about Stage 4 is that you yearn for acknowledgment: from the Church, from your family, and from your fellow members, that yes, you have good reason to feel the way you do and you're not just "weak" or "bad" or being fooled by the adversary. It's hurtful and annoying when other Mormons dismiss your issues, while they themselves feel no need to pick up a history book or read anything other than official publications. Unfortunately, though, you know that you wouldn't have believed it yourself if you hadn't experienced it first-hand. This is something you have to experience in order to truly understand -- although John Dehlin's telecast "Why People Leave The LDS Church" does an excellent job of trying to educate others about what it's like.

So, religiously speaking, I've had a tornado rip through my backyard. I've lost my home and it's time to build a new one. It may resemble that old home to a degree and I may end up very happy in it, but it will never be that old home again. Instead of just fixing up the remains of the old one, I'm starting from scratch to build a new home for myself. I can lament over the loss of the old home I grew up in, or I can focus on building a better, sturdier one. But, by blogging about all the things I've been lamenting over (and there are many), I'm distracting myself from building.

In all honesty, I have no regrets about my intense participation in the Bloggernacle. I've learned so much and it has all had an impact on me that I think was necessary for growth. I wish, in fact, that more Mormons would get involved in online discussions because I think it's a great way to develop compassion, respect, and an appreciation for differing perspectives. You also learn so much about yourself and the people around you. The downside of the Bloggernacle is that it can be a vent fest. Venting is necessary, I think, but it can't be a permanent stage without being detrimental to the mind, soul, and therefore even the body.

My family members have been pretty good about my Stage 4 experience, but at times I've feared creating a chasm between some of them and myself, which I don't want to do. This prompted me to make the change that I now feel is necessary, by taking a break from this blog. Whether it becomes a vacation, sabbatical, or retirement remains to be seen. I will perhaps continue to post relevant thoughts or developments from time to time, as I know that I love discussing things too much to walk away from it completely. And I'm sure that you will continue to see me commenting around the Bloggernacle as I continue to follow my favourite blogs. I'm just going to try to have a more casual relationship to it all. I hope to use this blog to feature inspirational and thought-provoking posts from around the Bloggernacle that have caught my eye. So stay tuned for those.

The past couple of years have been a very intense personal study of all things Mormon and how I really feel about it.

What I've Learned:


The Church is nowhere near perfect, but...

In my opinion, the Church has problems with:
  • Owning up not just to the good, but also the bad and ugly of its past (i.e. not just polygamy, but polyandry and post-Manifesto polygamous marriages, declining to ever issue an official apology for anti-black teachings, inflammatory rhetoric by Church officials that played a key role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, electroshock therapy on homosexuals at BYU, etc.). Moving forward is important and I think we're doing that. But acknowledgment of past mistakes is a key element to ensuring that the damage from such mistakes is not perpetuated. A willingness to openly discuss these issues, which is often lacking, is also a huge factor. It is what it is. So let's just quit trying to avoid that.
  • Recognizing that some people do not, cannot -- and probably even should not -- fit the "Mormon mold," toning down hurtful rhetoric, inflexible gender roles, and exclusive teachings.
  • Dismissing people with legitimate concerns, questions, disagreements, and theories (i.e. feminists, intellectuals, historians, gay activists, unorthodox members), sometimes going as far as to label them as "anti-Mormon" or "apostate."
  • Building up the office of prophet -- at least culturally -- into an infallible post, although our history is rampant with examples of why it's not.
  • Declining to make public the records that show how and where Church funds are being used, thereby closing the door to debate on the Church's involvement in certain ethically questionable and/or hypocritical activities (i.e. funding Evergreen International, making huge profits off the killing of animals in hunting preserves). Shutting the doors on constructive criticism or debate stunts growth and compromises integrity.
  • Getting politically involved in things such as the ERA and Prop 8 because they're "moral issues," but remaining decidedly neutral on other moral issues such as the Iraq War and capital punishment.
  • Making sure that members of the Church (particularly in America) are keeping politics out of church and ensuring that members are able to separate the pure Gospel of Christ from the personal political opinions of Church leaders and members. I'm pretty sure that Deseret Books would want to steer clear of any politically-charged literature about feminism or gay rights, so I'm not sure why Glenn Beck's "Arguing With Idiots" makes the bookshelf of a Church bookstore. The fact that so many Mormons are still under the impression that "good" Mormons have to be politically conservative and that the faith of liberal Mormons is often called into question for their political leanings is, in my opinion, a problem that needs to be dealt with before we lose more members over political disagreements.
That being said, there are loads of things that the Church deserves praise for, such as:
  • Giving people -- particularly the youth -- a sense of direction in their lives.
  • Putting the value on motherhood and traditional values that they deserve (unfortunately, though, sometimes at the cost of cultivating diversity or understanding for individual circumstances).
  • Building a strong sense of personal honesty and integrity.
  • Stressing the worth of each individual as a literal child of God, cultivating self-esteem, and encouraging us to always aim higher and reach our full potential.
  • Opportunities for development and sharing of our talents and skills via callings, activities and the different auxiliaries. There are also many opportunities for compassionate service that are hard to get outside of a tight-knit church community.
  • Putting love, charity, and compassion at forefront of our religion. I think we're pretty good at talking the talk and even walking the walk, but we can do much better.
  • I know the Church does a good deal of humanitarian and charitable work around the world. This is definitely something that should be commended, but taking into account the fact that the Church is worth billions of dollars and it does not make financial records public, it's hard to say whether or not we're doing a lot or way too little in terms of humanitarian aid. I fear that our image has become one of a Mormon business that runs churches on the side.
  • "Clean living" is, in my opinion, something that sets us apart in a good way. In a world full of broken homes, infidelity, promiscuity, substance abuse, dysfunction, hate, and disregard for human life, setting a high standard for ourselves is important. I LOVE the Mormon way of life. I think that it is and should be a source of pride for us as a people. Sadly, though, we often let this pride translate into a haughty sense of superiority as we look at those who aren't sharing our lifestyle, either because of their own poor choices or the circumstances that they were born into. This, I believe, is to our detriment as a people and it is where we should be more Christlike.
  • At the end of the day, despite our many shortcomings, Mormons are a pretty good bunch of people and are probably, on average, more compassionate and honest than most people in the world today. I think this is true about Mormons, from the most conservative and orthodox, to the most liberal and radical.
  • It says something of the Mormon lifestyle when, despite all the disappointment and disillusionment that stem from the Church, I don't feel the need or desire to make any significant changes in my lifestyle. Regardless of where I end up religiously, I feel that this truly is a good lifestyle.
What I've Resolved:

Religiously speaking, I haven't resolved much. In fact, I've probably gained ten problems for every one that I've solved. But on a personal level, I've been able to resolve some conflicts and develop an appreciation and understanding for those whom I've treated unfairly, such as my sister-in-law, my grandmother, and my own brother. Generally speaking, I think I've also gotten a much better understanding of my fellow countrymen (Norwegians), which took me a while to warm up to. As well, I've gotten a more realistic view of those whom Mormons often feel most threatened by: homosexuals, feminists, non-believers, "apostates," and ex-Mormons. And if I were to pick a personal "favourite" out of that bunch, I would say that I've been most touched and inspired by the many gay Mormon "faithful dissidents" who find themselves in between a rock and a very hard place. For those of you who are reading this, know that I value your perspective tremendously and that I've been blown away by the special spiritual gifts and intuition that you possess. My hope is that in time, the Church as a whole will take notice of those special gifts and take advantage of their potential to bring about positive change within the organization and in the world.

I was chatting to a good friend recently and she said that for her, the Church, religion, and faith are separate things. So how do I feel about each?

The Church:

To use a marriage analogy, my relationship to the Church is very strained. I feel like I've been deceived in some ways and my trust has been broken in others. This relationship has been further strained by those who tell me to just "get over" or ignore the historical issues -- or worse yet, those who have denied them -- and those within the Church who desire to protect its image at all cost. As I said in our discussion about the hunting preserves, I honestly believe that there will always be someone there to defend it and rationalize its actions, no matter what.

So my feelings towards the Church as an institution can perhaps be compared to a wife whose husband has broken her trust, but does not desire to sever ties because of family implications and the fact that she really still loves and admires him in many ways. Although it's understandable that a breach of trust can justify walking away from a relationship or a church, in some cases forgiveness and reconciliation can make it worth not cutting off all ties. Although I have a sincere understanding and respect for those who leave the Church over issues of trust, I'm not ready to walk and feel that I need to give it another shot. I may be able to retain my relationship to the Church for the rest of my life and it may even become a happier one over time. But the 100% trust is gone forever. And realistically speaking, it's probably the way it should be.

Religion:


I'm fascinated by religion and I hope that I always will be. But I have mixed feelings about religion. More so now than in the past, I feel disdain for religion because of the religious dogmas that harm individuals, both within and without Mormonism. When my relationship to the Church was good, I either didn't notice or I downplayed the harmful effects of certain dogmas. Now it's like I have an ultrasensitive sixth sense for it. So I think I've gotten a pretty good idea now of why so many today (particularly here in Europe) avoid religion like the plague or pursue a personalized spiritualism rather than an organized religion. Religions and churches like to blame the people for their wickedness, but for the most part, I think that religions and churches have to share the blame for their mistreatment of certain people and hypocrisies that have led to a decline in participation by the public because of resentment and mistrust.

Faith:

While my views on the Church and religion are somewhat cynical these days, I have higher hopes regarding faith.

Do I believe that the Church is everything it claims to be? No. Do I believe that the LDS Church is the only path to God? No. Do I have major problems with Mormonism? Yes. But I also feel that there is something very compelling about the Mormon faith. It's my religious home and I am Mormon on my own terms. In the end, aren't we all?

Recently I re-read George Orwell's novel 1984 and got thinking about the concept of Newspeak. The ultimate goal of Newspeak was to limit language such that it would eradicate the ability of the citizens of Oceania to conceive or process any thought that would threaten the image and power of Ingsoc. As human beings, I think that we are are confined to a Newspeak sort of existence on this earth. Although I believe that we can make personal connections and receive inspiration from God, I think that our perspectives, thought processes, and understanding are limited because our mortal state prevents us from having an "expanded, perfected vocabulary," spiritually speaking. Although we may be evolving (as opposed to regressing, which was the case of Orwell's utopian society), I fear that we do ourselves and our fellow human beings a disservice by assuming that we know with certainty the essence of God, what he want us all to do and how to be -- at least on any more than a very personal level -- because of our limited, fallen, "Newspeak" spiritual vocabulary.

I still believe firmly in God and my concept of him and the afterlife are still very Mormon. I continue to attend sacrament regularly and my lifestyle is pretty much the same as it's always been. But instead of being of the mindset that I know that's how things really are, I simply exercise the faith that, at least at this stage of my life, it's where God thinks I'm best suited to be -- much like Mother Teresa's place was within Catholicism, and Gandhi changed the world through his Hindu traditions. Who could argue that these individuals would have been better people anywhere else? It's not that I feel that I'm anywhere near the same league of people of such stature, but perhaps my personal potential, whatever it entails, is from within a Mormon frame. I guess only time will tell.

Over the past couple of years, I feel like I've gotten to know some of the "apostates," "dissidents," "liberals," "homosexuals," and even a few atheists and ex-Mormons. I feel privileged to have gotten a glimpse into their world through communicating with them and trying to view things from their different perspectives. Some of these individuals are the finest of people I have met and I am happy to be able to call some of them my friends. Although I may not always agree with everything, I admire the courage and integrity it takes for some Mormons to speak up and voice their disagreements or objections when they are outnumbered -- often at the risk of being ostracized in their wards, having their families broken up, or even losing their jobs if they are employed by the Church.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Whenever I find myself thinking about "the good old days" in my life as a secure TBM, I can't help thinking about the following passage of scripture:
"And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient."

(Moses 5: 10-11)
Like Adam and Eve, I've fallen. Some would say that I've fallen big time. It's been a tough road and I've lost the security of "Eden" when I was secure in the Church. But even if I could go back to that state, I don't want to. I really am thankful for what I've learned and how it's forced me to look at the world without those rose-coloured glasses that were impairing my view of other people.

I don't really think anymore that the whole point of this Mormon experience is to follow all the rules so perfectly that we lose ourselves in the process. All of us who have tried to fit ourselves into that little box that just doesn't have room for us know that it's painful -- as painful as if that box was physically real and our bodies were being literally crushed inside. Even though I have no idea what it's like to be gay, I see so many parallels in my life with the lives of gay Mormons. And that is why I sympathize with them so much. It's not a political thing. It's an emotional thing. I get the pain, even though it's in a slightly different way.

One thing that kind of irks me sometimes is the insinuation that those of us who have taken an unorthodox path either don't care or don't think about the eternal consequences. But, personally speaking, this couldn't be further from the truth.

I don't really think that I'm a morbid person, but I think a lot about death. I probably think about it even more now than I used to. Certainly my spiritual musings have caused me to ponder it more, but I'm also surrounded by things that make it a constant theme in my life. For starters, I work in a nursing home and someone is always at death's door. As well, I've been thinking a lot about my grandfather and my husband's family members, most of which are older and in poor health. Of late, I've also had a couple of co-workers who have been on my mind. The first one is a young man, barely 20 years old, who has very aggressive brain cancer that has metastasized and whose last hope is alternative treatment in Germany. The other is a woman who just lost her husband to cancer, only 42 years old. As I was talking to her a few days ago, she talked about her husband's belief in "the circle of life" and took comfort in that concept. A few years ago, I would have probably felt sorry for her in the sense that she didn't "know" what I "knew" and there was no need for uncertainty in terms of death and the afterlife. Now that that certainty has been replaced by ambiguity, I find myself in much the same boat as her as I think about the mysteries of God. It's humbling and it's difficult, but it's also made me look at this life in a new way. And while I don't think that it's reason enough to simply "eat drink and be merry," it does give new meaning to "men are that they may have joy."

I still think about life in terms of an eternal progression. But instead of it being a "one-size-fits-all" path, I think that we find ourselves in different stages and circumstances for a reason. Whether he has had an active, intentional hand in our lives or whether his approach is more Deist by nature, I think that if God wanted us to be all the same, he would have made us that way. Otherwise, it would seem that many of us are at a severe disadvantage in the journey to exaltation. In my opinion, there has to be more to it than that. The enormity of this world, its people, their individual lives and tremendously varied experiences, indicate to me that while Mormons may have much goodness and a portion of the Truth, we make up such a tiny, tiny fraction of the souls in the history of this universe. Surely all the others have had a deeper purpose than to simply get a body.

If I had one wish for Mormons and non-Mormons, believers and non-believers alike, it would be that people would really take time to really try to see things from a different perspective. Personal contact and communication is what breaks barriers of fear and mistrust (or builds them, depending on how we act). When I think about how I used to fear apostates, feminists, or gay activists, I now feel pretty silly about it. We only fear what we don't know, but now that I feel like I have a better grasp on what makes those people tick, most of it doesn't feel so threatening anymore. They're not bad people. And I only wish that those who feel threatened by Mormons would take the time to look below the surface and see that we're not all a bunch of bigots or fanatics. I wish that we could all see each other for what we truly are before we let judgment fall.

To the TBM's who will say that I have let pride get to me and that I've "apostasized," I say that my pride has been shattered as I lost the one constant, firm foundation that was always perfect in my mind. In its place has come compassion, understanding and love for those on a much higher level than I experienced before I found myself in the depths of Stage 4. Was it a fair trade-off? I don't know, but I will make the most out of it. Never say that it can't happen to you.
"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."

(1 Corinthians 13:2)
I think we all underestimate that verse. I don't pretend to have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, all knowledge, or even have the strongest of faith. But I sincerely hope that I have a bit of charity and so I try to make that verse my personal Gospel.

I think I'll wrap up this post for now and I wish you all well in your individual spiritual and life journeys. I've had the pleasure of getting to know some of you personally on Facebook. If you're interested in connecting with me there, you can send an e-mail to the address in my profile. Please tell me who you are and I will send you the link to my profile. And please keep in mind that I do not publicize this blog or its name in any way on Facebook. For personal reasons, I intend on keeping it that way and I ask you to respect that.

For those of you who are interested in politics, I recently embarked on a new project called "The LDS Left," which is a quarterly PDF publication and this corresponding blog for Mormons from varying degrees of the left side of the political spectrum, as well as those with a heterodox/unorthodox faith. Perhaps a little more subdued than what you're used to from me, it's a compilation of leftist and unorthodox writings from a faithful Mormon perspective. We've released two issues so far and welcome your submissions. You can find information about requesting back issues or submitting articles on the blog.

I look forward to continued interaction with many of you around the Bloggernacle.

Best wishes,
FD

54 comments:

Clean Cut said...

Best wishes back at you, FD. Thanks for sharing.

thefirestillburning said...

Amen.

FireTag

DMI Dave said...

Enjoy your blogging sabbatical, Faithful.

I don't think you're a Stage Four. I don't think anyone is a Stage Four. I think you're just a learning, questioning, growing person like everyone else. I hope your individual path stays within the Church. Best of luck.

Carol said...

I've really enjoyed your blog, your thoughtfulness, kindness, and goodness. Thanks for your thought-provoking posts and for your respect for all of God's children. We wish you the best and hope that some day you may consider continuing the blog.

Papa D said...

Hey, FD. Take care of yourself - and drop by my blog occasionally. *grin*

Jared T. said...

Best wishes on your journey.

Mormon Heretic said...

FD, I must say I'm disappointed that you won't be blogging as frequently, but I completely understand. I probably blog too much, and perhaps I should take a break, but I am just having too much fun with it. It is a real outlet for me, but I understand that it can be a problem for some people spiritually speaking, and I hope you enjoy your sabbatical.

I'll miss your frequency of blogging, and hope you'll continue to stop by my blog. The current book I'm reading is a faithful feminine perspective on polygamy by Kathryn Daines called "More Wives than One". She's a BYU grad and had Richard Bushman review it prior to publication, so I do hope you'll continue to monitor my blog on occasion.

Good luck! It's been fun getting to know you on your journey. I'm still too chicken to reveal my face, but I do feel like I can effect some positive changes in the church.

Andrew S said...

Every time I hear about someone toning down their blogging, I get kinda sad.

But then I realize that this is your life; you've got to go for it. You don't perform for the rest of us; every post is simply a treat that, though we don't deserve it, we enjoy them nevertheless and hope that eventually, there will be more.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Great post. In so many ways I understand exactly where you're coming from. You and I have always shared a kinship, I feel.

If this turns out to be retirement, I will miss your blog terribly. But I get it. And, of course, I know that you and I will still continue to communicate regularly.

Good luck to you in your continual journey. There is much I would like to say regarding your post, but it would take far too long, and unfortunately I do not have the time at the moment, but perhaps we can talk about it later.

Love ya lots.

Jettboy said...

Good riddens. Another wishy-washy whiner out the door.

How harsh, how mean, how "un-Christlike" you say? Fair enough. However, if the "faithful dissidents" would show more faith and repentance and less dissent then I would show more compassion. The Scriptures don't hold too kindly to the unrepentant and non-believer - no matter how many "love thy neighbor" teachings exist.

Andrew S said...

How harsh, how mean, how "un-Christlike" you say? Fair enough.

So Jettboy understands the beam in his eye *without even having to be informed of it*, and still he points out a mote in others?

If Jettboy would like to be exemplary of what our believers should be (since he apparently doesn't think FD fits the bill very well), then I think the church is out for the count without anyone else doing a thing. Who needs an anti-Christ when the believers can self-destruct on their own..?

Jettboy said...

I say "Fair enough," meaning that is what I expect to be called. Not that I believe I am actually un-Christlike. Actually, we should all believe that we are "un-Christlike" or sinners to motivate us to repentance. That is a value I don't see in dissidents.

Clean Cut said...

Jetboy, I'd to recommend that you read a wonderful book by Stephen E. Robinson entitled "Following Christ". I promise it will be worth your time. (Especially pay particular attention to the last chapter concerning "The Prime Directive" of the gospel.)

Andrew S said...

I say "Fair enough," meaning that is what I expect to be called. Not that I believe I am actually un-Christlike. Actually, we should all believe that we are "un-Christlike" or sinners to motivate us to repentance. That is a value I don't see in dissidents.

Your message is one of rejection, of pushing away, of turning off.

What are you pushing people away from? Well, whatever you're advocating. Whatever you're trying to sell. So, if you're trying to sell "motivation to repent," that is precisely the cause you are hurting. I think that is anti-Christian.

Bruce in Montana said...

May God bless you on your journey.

thefirestillburning said...

FD will be fine. Not so sure about Jettboy. Sounds like he's the one who needs prayer.

FireTag

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for this period in which you feel that what you believed in has let you down. On the other hand, I'm several decades down that road so I know that -- based on the honesty, intelligence, compassion and fearlessness you've consistently displayed -- a whole new road to what greater truth humans are capable of is opening up to you.

You're closer to it when you discard what comes between you and it.

My hope is that you'll feel like journaling your discoveries again at some point in the future and that you'll leave the trail of breadcrumbs. You are too special to be deprived of.

Godspeed, FD. I have admired you greatly and I continue to.

DavidH said...

I, like the last commenter, am several decades down this road, with a reconstructed faith, a second naivete (as Jim Faulconer might put it) after the disillusionment that followed learning that things were not exactly the way I had been taught or understood.

I, in a manner similar to what you describe, have felt that God wishes me to be part of this faith community. To paraphrase an old saying, it is as if God had said to me, "David, I love you exactly the way you are, warts and all; of course, I love too much to leave you exactly the way you are. Perhaps", God continues, "you can do the same favor for me, and love the faith community, warts and all, into which I have placed you, and do what you can to help make it a little better in your own way."

It has been and continues to be an interesting, frustrating, difficult, enlightening, fulfilling challenging, amazing faith journey.

May God continue to bless you and keep you on your journey, wherever and however God may lead you.

Clean Cut said...

Well said, DavidH.

Bored in Vernal said...

I refuse to say goodbye. I hope we have many, many more interactions.

I love your story and how beautifully you have explained it in this post. I relate to many of your feelings. I am sad that you won't be blogging as much but I hope you continue to share your journey with us!

The Faithful Dissident said...

I want to thank everyone for their comments so far. That includes you, Jettboy, because for every comment such as yours, another reader out there who is already feeling troubled by certain things in the Church will hopefully be motivated to consider the possibility that there is a problem with the mindset that you possess. (By the way, I second Clean Cut's book suggestion. I remember hearing a story from either that book or another one of Robinson's called "Giving Him Everything -- Misunderstanding Grace." )

MH, I will definitely continue to follow your blog regularly. It has become one of my absolute favourites and I rely on your knowledge of Mormon history, not to mention your access to all these great books that I don't have over here. :)

Cody (GayLDSActor), thanks for your kind words. I treasure our kinship and you're one of the finest people I've never met. :)

Andrew, I just wanted to say that I appreciate the unique perspective that you bring to the Bloggernacle and will continue to follow your blog. I like to think that friendly atheists like you are what keep us believers grounded. Although most Mormons would probably say that we'd be better off without you, I say that we need you to keep us humble. :)

"My hope is that you'll feel like journaling your discoveries again at some point in the future and that you'll leave the trail of breadcrumbs. You are too special to be deprived of."

Thank-you, Anonymous. That means a lot. I really do intend on posting here regularly again someday, perhaps when things make more sense to me.

"I, in a manner similar to what you describe, have felt that God wishes me to be part of this faith community. To paraphrase an old saying, it is as if God had said to me, "David, I love you exactly the way you are, warts and all; of course, I love too much to leave you exactly the way you are. Perhaps", God continues, "you can do the same favor for me, and love the faith community, warts and all, into which I have placed you, and do what you can to help make it a little better in your own way."

DavidH, that was beautifully put and I sincerely hope that I'll be able to do exactly that. Thanks so much for sharing.

Bored In Vernal, this is nowhere near good-bye for us. :)

Bro. Jones said...

Be well, sister. In my own journey of faith, I've had to stop and take a few deep breaths before venturing onward. Sometimes a lot of breaths; heck, a couple times I had to sit down and think things through.

When you take your deep breaths and ponder your next direction, I hope the air is clean and fresh, and fills your mind with clarity.

Good to be Free said...

God be with you till you blog again.

Jared said...

FD--

I admit by heart is deeply saddened. I wish you the best, and hope that the love of the Lord will find you, and lift you on the wings of faith such that you will return soon.

The Lord has shown me by power that the restored church through Joseph Smith is true. I wish I could somehow share this with you, in a tangible way at this very moment, so that you would change your direction--but I cannot.

You're in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Excellent for you, Jared!

I'm not sure what I've read of your responses at Mormon Matters would have lead me to predict that response but I am thrilled to see that I misunderstood your underlying caring attitude.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Thanks, Jared, I guess. But I'm not so sure that I need to "change my direction." Is it really so lamentable?

Jared said...

FH--


"Is it really so lamentable?"

Exercising our agency is not lamentable. That's why we are here.

Kaylanamars said...

Thank you FD...You are a voice that I really needed at this moment of crisis in my life and your thoughts have meant so much to me. Good luck and I hope to hear more from you soon! And this farewell/sabbatical post is just beautiful! Thank you again,
Hugs
Kaylana

Matthew said...

Best wishes on your hiatus. Thank you for sharing your thoughts - I have found this blog to be both interesting and insightful. God bless.

SUNN(0)))ofaB.C.Rich said...

what do Mexicans, Canadians The UK and Norwegians all have in common? They all care more about U.S. politcs more than the U.S. cares about politics in their respective countries... Guess I never paid attention to you not ever having been an American... takes a ton of weight off anything you ever said relating politics in the U.S.A. You know what I mean... Oh wait no you don't... have a nice life.

Kaimi said...

Thoughtful post as always, FD.

Best of luck going forward, wherever your journey takes you. Don't be a stranger in the nacle. And if you ever do feel like picking up the pen again, I'm sure you'll have no shortage of readers.

Cheers,
Kaimi

mormongandhi said...

hey faithful dissident,

want to meet up in Oslo at some point? feel free to contact me anytime. would be happy and honored to be called your friend :)

mormongandhi

The Faithful Dissident said...

"what do Mexicans, Canadians The UK and Norwegians all have in common? They all care more about U.S. politcs more than the U.S. cares about politics in their respective countries"

I take that as a compliment, Rich, Even thought I'm pretty sure that's not the way it was intended. So thanks. Sort of. :D

Kaylana, I look forward to following your blog and communicating with you. It's great to have friends like you.

I hope to never become a stranger around the 'nacle, Kaimi. :)

Mormon Gandhi, yes, we're definitely going to have to meet up. I'll be in touch! :)

Gwennaëlle said...

I have discovered you just a few weeks ago and I must say that I have enjoyed what I have read.
I hear my words in many things that you've wrote, I only wish you to find the path that will make you feel closer to our Heavenly Father. For me it has been to come back to the church but in the process I have learned that it could very have been to become a muslim!
I have a testimony of the church but my whole soul (yeah you have heard those words before) screams that there is much more to know and understand about this whole thing.
I too think about death but not in a morbid way as you said but as a way to get some answers, so I am doing my best to get ready for those answers while I can.
The path you're taking is going to be tricky one. Watch out for yourself ;)

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for some time now, and it's time I let you know how much I've enjoyed it — and how much you've helped me in my own journey vis-à-vis the Church.

So, thank you, and best wishes for whatever comes next for you!

-SLK

Anonymous said...

If I may make a suggestion--I recently bought Daniel Peterson"s cd's called Defending the Faith. One cd in the set is just for LDS who are going through similar doubts. The other cd in the set is answering the critics. It realy helped me.

Tatiana said...

FD, what an amazing post! I feel exactly as you describe in so many ways. But for me I know the church is my path forward. Eyes open, knowing all the potential for wrong and betrayal there is in any human enterprise, yet feeling the church is threaded throughout with something higher than human.

I guess because I didn't grow up in the church I never had that rude awakening you describe. Though I see the failings, the hypocrisies, and the dissonances, I never had the feeling that I'd been told less than the truth, the way it seems so many good people who grow up Mormon do. I guess because I was a wizened jaded cynical person before I discovered the church, what struck me most was the sweetness, the honesty, and the deep-down goodness of so many Mormons. I figured the church must be doing something right. And so it is.

May your path bring you joy and elevation, wherever it takes you. I'll look forward to reading your thoughts around the nacle. And if someday you find your way back here, well, surely there will be many who welcome you with open arms.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Thanks for that, Tatiana. I really like what you said in your first paragraph, that "the church is threaded throughout with something higher than human." Very poignant and something I can say that I believe to be true.

I also appreciate your comment as a convert. For those of us who were born in the Church, it's helpful to hear how someone like you sees things.

*ALi* said...

"To the TBM's who will say that I have let pride get to me and that I've "apostasized," I say that my pride has been shattered as I lost the one constant, firm foundation that was always perfect in my mind."

Amen! I found your blog via fMh, I hope you don't mind me posting. I look forward to reading your past posts as it seems my experience is similar to yours and I am searching for validation. I am also trying to figure out what to do about my house. I just wanted to say thank you for this post and your blog.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I don't mind at all, Ali. Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad that you enjoyed the post.

Maureen said...

Hi FD, I too just found your blog tonight through fMh. Looks like I have plenty of reading material to get through here while you take a break. My husband and I have recently left the church after growing up in it. I have been wondering about what role the Church will play in my life as I still have many active friends and I feel that there is much good in the church that I would like to keep in my life so I will be reading your past posts with great interest in the hope that you have some ideas for me there. I feel that you have reawakened my relationship with God again and I'm excited to redefine my spirituality. Have a wonderful break and I too look forward to hearing bits of news from you when you have the time/energy. xx

The Faithful Dissident said...

Thanks so much, Maureen. I wish you all the best on your journey. :)

Madam Curie said...

I'm going to miss your posts, FD, but respect and understand your decision. Good luck!

Elder Joseph said...

Great blog and excellent thoughts/essays from you. You have a great talent of putting into words how and what many of us feel.

"I continue to attend sacrament regularly"

I was a bit puzzled by this, though I hope in a way that you are able attend sacrament if its meaningful for you. I found that I was unable to sit through any of the church lessons/classes once I knew the real deal and that includes sacrament. Many talks in sacrament I found to be unrealistic and potentially harmful, not that the speakers intended that.

The talks on how 'material' blessings are linked to being faithfull to the church were a little disturbing because I knew some faithfull LDS who were not really blessed materially as the speakers might suggest but struggled. How were they supposed to feel hearing such talks? I feel I am blessed materially and yet I wasn't at all faithfull to the church in the way the manuals suggested.I used to read on the Internet most of the time I was investigating (especially after a couple of months). I didn't know what was about to come thundering in from the Internet! :)

Then there were the hard line talks usually by the Stake Patriarch on how those of us without testimonies only had oursleves( our sin ? huh) to blame. lol

It didn't matter we were freaked out by Smiths strange marriage practices or Brigham Youngs threats of hell to girls to just obey him/God? and his polygamous arranged mariages and all the rest of the problems in church history and claims.

"I don't really think that I'm a morbid person, but I think a lot about death."

I agree, I think about death probably daily. Its natural to think about what our purpose and ultimate destiny might be, afterall we see and experience people/friends family die around us and we know that we won't be immune to it unless one believes we are in the last days and expect to be changed in the twinkling of an eye? ( JW's for one perhaps?) :)

I'll spend some time catching up on your various posts. Thank you.

CJ said...

I just want to say that I admire you SO much for your honesty and bravery. I, too, see many of the issues and concerns you point out. I actually went through a similar experience a few years ago...I had a "falling out" with the church, left, joined a different church, actually...and then 5 years later, came back. Although, I completely understand those who don't...one thing I realized, through my experiences, is that there's no one "right" path to God, if God is even necessary. So, if you'd like to talk to someone who's walked where you are now, or maybe just vent to a sympathetic (and non-judmgental ear), please feel free to email me, or leave a message on my blog.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Thanks, CJ. I'll definitely be in touch. :)

sxark said...

Faithfull Dissident:

Some suggested issues to think about during your leave of absence:

There are more than a few absolute statements concerning the LDS Church. Please consider one:

The LDS Church is a true Church with Jesus Christ at its head and it will not perish from the Earth and its Leaders will not be permitted to lead the Church astray.

That being the case, then why quibble over misspreceived or missunderstood LDS Church historical/present day issues?

Do you think that Church Leaders would lie like PR reps defending some company?

No one is advised to follow our Leaders blindly. [exceptions are given to those with little or no faith] All LDS members are encouraged to strive to reach that point in life where they can receive the same revelations in the same manner that present day LDS leaders receive their revelations for the Church as a whole.

What a challenge in life that is!

Stephanie said...

I've enjoyed blogging with you. Glad to see you'll still do political blogging. :)

The Faithful Dissident said...

Thanks, Stephanie. We've certainly learned a lot from each other, haven't we? Politicalds was great while it lasted.

Have you had your baby yet? Another boy or girl this time? :)

Paul said...

Capital post! I just discovered your blog. Please consider posting more often than not. I think you are indeed "faithful" and being a dissident, which is just fine, is not being an iconoclast, which wouldn't be a very good thing. So, in this regard I think you can be a force for good and make a positive difference in certain peoples' lives.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

good riddance

Hypatia said...

Best wishes FD. I'll miss your posts, but keep in touch if you can!

Written In Earth said...

FD, Best wishes and just wanted to say that I enjoy your blog and will miss your posts-

But I just wanted to say that

"I am Mormon on my own terms. In the end, aren't we all?" I found the most interesting yet beautiful things....

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