On being wrong


What does it feel like to be wrong? Please take 20 minutes and watch this excellent talk by Kathryn Schulz as she dissects what being wrong feels like, and why it’s important to know the answer to that question. And don’t think that reading this post can substitute for watching, because I will be going way off topic. I didn’t see this video until just recently, but I feel it describes well parts of my experiences in the last year. I used to be so sure that God was in his heaven and that I knew who his prophets were. Now, I don’t. My wife, my father-in-law, and many other people have asked me in on one form or another “What if you’re wrong? What if Joseph Smith was right all along? What if Satan has deceived you and is dragging you down to hell?” I think I may have responded with something along the lines of “What if you’re wrong?” If I didn’t, I’m sure whatever I came up with in that moment was equally as compelling. So, how can I be sure that where I stand now is right and where I stood before, where my wife stands, is wrong?

The plain fact is I can’t. That is the great truth here: I don’t know. I didn’t know. I probably will never know. But that’s not a bad thing, and it certainly needn’t be a scary thing. I could dilute myself into thinking I have it all figured out for certain and I am right and my wife is wrong, or I can accept that I don’t know, and just focus on being good and trying to approach an answer.

If I die, and come to stand before a god to be judged, will I regret how I lived my life? I hope not. I hope that a god responsible for the creation of all the universe, who cares for our actions here, will actually care more about how I lived my life than whether or not I offered him my oblations. I do not believe in God any more. So what? I believe in doing good. I believe in honesty and integrity and curiosity and inquest and discovery and improvement and security and human kindness and community. I am opposed to cruelty and arrogance and tyranny and selfish hedonism and complacent ignorance. And I believe in raising my children to believe in all that too. And if there is no God, or if there is but it does not pay much mind to us small bipeds who have lived for a fraction of a moment on a small speck of rock in some small pocket of its creation, then so what? Our live spans are measured in years and our domains are measured in kilometres. Let’s all do the best we can with the time we have and let the chips fall where they may in the end.

But I digressed into a small rant. Please forgive me. Am I right? I don’t know. Do you?

Fascinating Conversations

Well, there you have it; he’s finally written something! hahaha Last week when our blog started getting some attention on Reddit and we were somewhat overwhelmed with comments and the seeming exponential increase in daily traffic after only a few days online, my Mister snuck into my WordPress account and made himself an author (I wouldn’t let him be an admin or whatever – I’m too controlling for that! muahahaha!) because he wanted to make sure he had a chance to say stuff, too!

But then he’s been a little busy.

And let’s face it; we have lives!  Albeit sometimes those lives consist of us sitting on the couch together plugged into our various electronic devices… whoops….

Anyway.

Let me tell you about our weekend.  As you know, Friday was our 10th anniversary. And while we didn’t really do anything special for our anniversary (being a grown-up means, a lot of the time, these special days are just DAYS) we were tremendously blessed the NEXT day to have a chance to go see Les Miserables playing in Toronto with my parents and brother & fiancee.

As always, it was INCREDIBLE, but more on that later.

After we got back to my parents and it was time for bed, for goodness knows WHAT reason, we crashed on the couch downstairs, and finally, after a year, the floodgates opened.

And we talked.

And HE talked.

For the first time, I think, since he started doubting, researching, learning, and changing his opinions and views, my hubs really opened up and just let it all out.  I mean, unless he’s still hiding things inside or we just ran out of time (1:30am came quickly! And with it some serious exhaustion; when did we get so old?)

Some of the things he brought up and listed….my gosh, it makes so much SENSE. If I didn’t have the faith that I do and I looked at what he’s learned or what he understands, there’s no WAY I’d be in this Church; no WONDER he’s left!

And that’s not to say that I’m better than him or anyone else because my faith is stronger or anything, goodness no! I just currently choose to hold to my faith.  My understanding is that faith is to hope and believe in things which are not seen (but true) and that it cannot by definition be a perfect knowledge. So yeah, there’s going to be lots of things to bombard my attempt at a perfect knowledge of religious truths, for sure. The test of my personal faith is whether I let go of it or not, because maybe Church history is a little bit (a lot? Crazy! And cool – I love history!) different than “Legacy” makes me think, or because I don’t totally understand the workings of the Church policies and functioning of the various quorums and presidencies.  I still don’t understand polygamy as a Celestial law, and definitely wonder about the not-so-up-and-up practices in the early Church….

But for me, it’s not enough to shake my faith. Not today.

It was a FASCINATING conversation.

We were joined, eventually, by my brother, who also does not consider himself a member of the Church, though technically both my boys are on the records so they’ll occasionally be bothered by annoying home teachers and what-not 😉  And then the conversation got REALLY interesting!  I did not know, but apparently my bro’s belief in Christ as the “Son” of God is that the whole Bible thing is more or less allegorical and that Jesus, The Son, is actually the SUN, as in the celestial body in the sky during the day.  Kind of a super cool theory, no? He read something somewhere – let me know if you’re interested in what and I’ll find it and link it for you – and basically said, yup, that makes sense to me, and that’s what he subscribes to.  Very very neat.

My Hubs thinks that theory has basically been debunked… it was some movie, Zietgeist? Or something? No idea spelling, but anyway, the movie was totally ripped apart somewhere else?

Anyway. It’s taken us a year, but we’re finally getting to the point where we are very comfortable and non-confrontational, sitting and chatting about our various beliefs.  And it makes, honestly, for absolutely fascinating conversation.  Assuming he’s right we discuss this; assuming I’m right we discuss that… assuming the sun is The Son there’s a whole different spin on things.  And, goodness, if you take Christianity out of the mix entirely and praise Allah, well, I don’t know anything about that, but I’m sure it’s another riveting topic!

I don’t believe you can truly be “Mormon” without love and respect for everyone else’s beliefs or opinions. It’s in our Articles of Faith. Almost like, the top thirteen things most important in our religion, would you say? Important enough we all learn to memorize and regurgitate them from Primary ages on? We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God…and allow all men the same privilege; let them worship how, where, or what they may.  Not we’re right, you’re all wrong, and you’re all going to outer darkness while we party it up in the Celestial Kingdom. HA HA HA YOU SINNERS!

….I still think he’s wrong…but he thinks I’m wrong. So we at least have that in common. 😀

STOP WITH THE TABOO! TALK about it! Differences are GOOD! They make us interesting! They help us LEARN and GROW and GET BETTER. Image from: http://tisistirades.blogspot.ca/2011/06/stupid-situation-6-talking-about-your.html

The Husband Responds

“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”

All this talk about me, I guess it’s about time I actually spoke up and put up a post. My wife has been receiving a lot of questions about me, about the reasons for my change of faith, and about what I believe now that I no longer believe in Mormonism. And since nobody knows the answers better than me, here I am.

What were your reasons for leaving the church?

I wish that this was a simple answer. If it were something as simple as someone offending me, or never really believing in the first place I’d be finished this post already. It’s hard for me, looking back, to find that one thing that flipped the proverbial switch in my head, from Mormon to non-Mormon. I don’t think there could be one thing alone that could have made me leave. But I do know when I started to really look for answers. It began when I started learning about polygamy in the early church in more detail than I was previously familiar with. Now don’t get me wrong, I was aware of polygamy for a long time. How could I not be? But I was okay with it. There were reasons why the early church practiced it. It was commanded by God. It was to care for the widows of those men who had been murdered by the mobs fighting the church. I went through many such stages of understanding, although full readings of Doctrine and Covenants section 132 never really sat right with many of those stages. But I was okay with it. It just wasn’t relevant, not important to my salvation, and for many other similar reasons, I didn’t look any further into it.

Then, as happens in life, I stumbled onto something unexpected. Polyandry. Early prophets of the church, specifically including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, marrying other men’s wives. That was strange… It must be because they were not able to be sealed to their unworthy husbands… Nope, there’s a husband being sent on a mission to England… Maybe it was just a symbolic union… Nope, there’s a child… It was so out of character with what I knew of the church. I started to research more about what type of polygamy was practiced in the early church, and found secret wives hidden from first wives, teenage brides to old men, and suddenly it wasn’t just something I didn’t understand and could leave alone. It needed to be squared. But it wasn’t polygamy that led me to leaving the church. It started with what happened next. I asked myself one of the most surprising questions I had ever had.

If it wasn’t true, would you want to know?

And I had to answer honestly. Yes. It was important. “Is it good” or “were they justified” were not the right questions. Is it actually, literally, and fundamentally true? If God was what I believed he was, and this was his church, and the prophets are prophets, then “is it good” didn’t really matter. Lots of things are good. More things are relative. Everything that I couldn’t square with my inner moral scale could be safely boxed up and shelved if it was true.

And so I started trying to discover if it was true. Of course, growing up in the church I had already found out it was true. But had I really? I had come to the conclusion that it was true from a confirmation direction only. I hadn’t ever really considered the possibility that it wasn’t true. It’s like I had only ever looked closely at Ford cars, only discussed cars with Ford dealers, only researched cars from official Ford and Ford friendly sources, told other people how awesome Fords are, and then, having decided that I wanted to buy a Ford, tried to decide for myself if Fords really were the best cars. But somebody else similarity immersed in Toyotas would come to vastly opposing conclusions.

I knew the Book of Mormon to be true by spiritual witness, strong feelings that what I know is true, which feelings I believed to originate from God, after studying its contents; the same way that a Bahá’í knows the Kitáb-i-Aqdas to be true.

Now I’m not going to expound fully on all my reasons I left the church. I don’t think that is what my wife had in mind for this blog, and there are better places to find answers than here. But my wife recently asked me if I had doctrinal reasons, as opposed to historical reasons, that I don’t believe. My first response was asking her to define “doctrinal.” But since it was late, and my filter had already gone to sleep, I sort of kind of brain dumped on her. And that dump contained a virtual cornucopia (Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, yay!) of historical and doctrinal issues I have with the church. The honest outcome of my search for the truth of the Mormon church led me to find, from multiple fronts converging with unity, that it is not true. And if it’s not true, why does it matter whether or not it’s good?

What do you believe in now?

My search for truth, along with leading to my belief that the Mormon church is not true, also led me to a few other findings. Other churches’ claims to truth are generally no better founded than Mormonism. And, surprising as it would have been to myself a year ago, that’s okay. I do not believe in any God. I don’t have some revolutionary proof that God does not exist, I just don’t believe in any given god, and that lack of belief did not leave a god shaped hole in my world begging to be filled. I still have a sense of awe and wonder at the universe. I don’t find death to hold any great fear from the unknown. I have found that I still have the ability to morally reason without fear or hope for eternal consequences. I actually find that I may be happier and more at peace than I was as a Mormon. And both RedKin10 and I agree that our marriage is doing better now than it has been for a long time. Possibly better than it has been in all 10 years. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

Was it the right decision?

bad-decision

This one cracks me up every time I see it! X-)

We’ll, we got our first question, and it’s a doozy! Thanks so much, for asking. Your asking questions allows us to examine our situation and work together to understand it a bit better, even. LOVE that.

Question: “in retrospect, was it still the right decision?”

My answer? No, of course not! My husband’s an idiot! 😉 hahahaha

HIS much more thoughtful, insightful response:

“To which decision is [the question] referring? Deciding to follow my findings and conclusions by expressing by disaffection from the church or staying with you and making our marriage work? I would say yes to both questions. I feel that both have been right decisions that have led to both great peace of mind and a happier home. You have been so good with our situation over the past year, giving me strenth and support and it has forced us into working on improving our myriad of other marital issues. I didn’t realise that I had managed to hold onto you because you wanted the priesthood in your home. Now I realise that I was that close to losing you, and that I no longer have that crutch to lean on.”

So, there ya go.

Honestly, I’ve never in my life felt more betrayed, heartbroken, or desperate for help. But for the most part those feelings have passed. I wish it could have happened a different way, of course – I DO believe and hold the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ very near and dear – so I wish regularly that my husband could have made a different “right” decision.  And yet I am SO thankful that he did.  This has been a wake-up call for us in our relationship and marriage. We have made such great strides together. And I am SO SO glad that although it took him time, he was secure enough in me, and in us, that he COULD make this decision.

Does that answer your question? Any others? 🙂

Why now?

Some of you may be wondering why, after a year of holding this information pretty close to the chest, we’re suddenly so out in the open about it. Especially those of you who are our friends on Facebook who’ve seen my husband’s recent, uh, “coming out of the closet” status update!

Here’s what he had to say:

My Facebook friends and family, I apologise for the incoming wall of text, but I wanted to help settle some rumours that some of you may have come across, more of you have not, and many of you don’t really care about. Not all rumours are false, but even the ones that are true never really match reality. You may have heard that I have fallen away or apostatized from the LDS church. The fact is that while I no longer consider myself a Mormon in faith or creed, the terms “fallen away” and “apostasy” poorly represent the process I have gone through. It has been neither through an apathetic falling nor an embittered apostasy that I have come to where I stand today, but instead through a heart-felt, honest, and at times agonizing search for what I could accept to be true. It is a hard thing to have your world view disrupted, but I could not have come this far without the love and support of those with whom I have confided during my journey. It is the fear of many who experience a religious change that those they love, both family and friends, would shun them for fear of their own faith. I am happy to say that I have not experienced this, and for that I am grateful.

Many of the lessons from Mormonism that I have learned, especially those about honesty, integrity, courage, seeking truth and knowledge, charity and love have been invaluable to me and will continue to play an incredibly huge role in my life. Also many of the friendships I formed there are still important to me, not least of which is with my wife [that’s me!] , who has stood by me this past year despite not agreeing with me in my conclusions. In some ways I feel that we are closer now than we have been for years.

I’m not asking anyone to agree with me or to validate me, all I’m asking is that you don’t fear me or mourn for me. I am making a conscious decision that I feel serves the betterment of myself, my family and the world. I won’t spend my time trying to be antagonistic towards the church, as many of the people I love are Mormon and I owe my childhood and the greater part of my adulthood to them.

If you are interested in knowing more about my journey, feel free to talk to me privately. You can usually find me online, or even at church on Sundays. Part of my motivation for this post is also to let anyone who sees this, who is grappling with their own doubts and private struggles, know that they are never alone. There is always someone to talk to, and always somebody who has felt how you do. I do not seek to push or pull you away from what you hold close to your heart, and I am aware that many people have travelled similar roads as mine and have found ways to hold onto their beliefs. But I know it can be hard to find someone to talk to without fearing that you will be judged just for asking your questions.

To think that I tried to leave Facebook three years ago. While I still don’t always agree with its stance on privacy, there just isn’t another platform available that allows me to maintain this degree of contact with so many people with whom I have crossed paths with over the years.

To those of you who have read this far, thank you for your time and love. I hope that our travels through this universe we all share will continue to lead us through some marvellous places. Even better if we can travel there with good company.

As you may have read in my previous posts, I was pretty devastated when I first found out about the conclusions my partner had come to. And as we tend to do with devastating information, I hid it. I didn’t want anyone to know. I feared for the comments, the stares, the gossipmongers to get the information and rip my little family apart; I didn’t need their help in doing that because it was already happening on its own.

But having come so far together in our relationship and our marriage this past year, having welcomed our second, beautiful, perfect little baby girl into the world, and having withstood life having the dogmatic differences that we do, we’ve started to hit a bit of a stride. We’re okay. We’ve shown ourselves, I think, that we can do this, at least as far as we’ve gotten so far.

So when a few weeks ago my husband was asked by an unknowing acquaintance before the beginning of church services one Sunday morning if he would help administer and pass the sacrament to the congregation we found ourselves in a bit of an awkward situation. It definitely wasn’t the time to say, oh, by the way, he doesn’t believe anymore, so no, he can’t help with that.  Holy AWKWARD!!

Then, later, he was asked to participate in some home teaching, going into a member’s home to teach and review points and lessons of the Gospel that he claims no belief in.

Riiiiiight. ‘Cause THAT’S a good idea.

Another time he was asked to say opening prayer in our Sunday meetings.  We weren’t sure if the requester was kidding, knew that the prayer wouldn’t be offered by my mister after their somewhat jesting conversation, or what, so I finally said enough is enough, called him back, and said “you know he doesn’t believe the Church is true, right? He won’t be giving prayer?”

The time to keep it to ourselves has passed. We’ve dealt with our issues with it as they’ve presented thus far.  It’s time to share, and open up. And as he’s opened up via Facebook and subsequently within various text and personal conversations with various people, I figured it was my turn, too. I have a side, I have a story. So with his blessing, here we now sit.

I said before, ask me anything;  I mean it. I want to know what you want to know. I want to know what you think you’d do in my/our circumstance.

I want you to know that’s it’s really weird sitting in General Conference sessions hearing the wonderful Brethren speak with such love and conviction and offer their support to those women and children in the Church without the Priesthood in their home…

….and be ONE of them.

I am one of THOSE women. And I never ever ever ever ever ever EVER dreamed in a million years I ever would be.  Ever.

I’m a Mormon. My husband isn’t. Not anymore. Maybe one day, again, but my reality has to include the possibility that we may differ in this for the rest of forever.

Ask me anything.