Thursday, May 25, 2006

Coming Out, Part IV

I have expressed this week that I am increasingly convinced that coming out is the right thing to do. That doesn't mean it has been easy.

Homosexuality and Mormonism do not coexist easily. For those who knew me as an active Mormon and church leader (I served as a bishop for five years, until spring of last year), this has been especially difficult news to swallow, particularly since it is coupled with my decision to leave the Church and to make public my doubts and evolved beliefs. Some people have been hurt. I accept that. Indeed, I'm sorry for it.

I received an e-mail from a friend who, I think, speaks for many and have decided to post it here for that reason. He served as bishop of another ward at the same time I did, and we were good friends.

K has reacted to his letter and to a comment from an anonymous poster. In time, I'll respond as well. But not today. Not yet.

(Posted with the author's permission.)
_________


Dear H,

Last night, I read your e-mail about coming out. It was forwarded to me by someone, and is certainly making the rounds (which will not surprise you). I’m sure by now you’re used to the reaction that many of us who knew you as Bishop have had. At first, of course, I was shocked. Then, deeply saddened. I am so very sorry to hear about the end of your marriage. It’s particularly sad to hear about the inner pain and anguish that you have been experiencing all these years, as you’ve secretly battled these tendencies and desires. I am convinced that no one who does not struggle as you have can fully understand the scope and magnitude of the inner-war that’s been raging inside you all this time.

I so enjoyed the friendship that you and I shared as we served together as bishop. I always felt that you and I had a special relationship, not just because we were called at the same time and then were released within a few months of each other, but also because our personalities and humor seemed to blend so well. I truly treasure the memory of our association during that time.

After reading your letter, I followed the link you included to your blog, and I proceeded to read just about everything you had written there about your experience of coming out as a gay man.
I didn’t know that you struggled so much with your faith, and had so many doubts about the truthfulness of the restored gospel. In your blog, you talk about never having had a “big conversion experience, a moment when I felt God speaking to me and confirming the truth of all things, as Moroni promises”.

I felt sad when I read that. I know that there are probably many members of the church who can relate to that statement, many whom, like you, may not have had a significant “conversion experience”.

I don’t know what makes the difference in someone’s life, why one person can have a profound witness and another feel uncertain. When I joined the church 12 years ago, I had a profound witness by the power of the Holy Ghost that the church was true. It was a feeling that I had never experienced before, and I could never deny it. Since then, I have had several similar confirming witnesses of the truthfulness of the restored gospel, including a sacred witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

I’m not for a moment suggesting this makes me in any way better or more worthy than anyone else, and of course these experiences are not a daily occurrence. But they have happened often enough to create a spiritual reservoir that has sustained me through times of trial and difficulty. If, as you say, you really were not in possession of such a testimony, I can certainly understand how painful and difficult your life must have been these past years.

Now you and I have been good friends. I would like to continue our friendship. But in order for our friendship to continue I have to say some things to you. Just as you felt the need so deeply to express yourself, and felt a tremendous sense of relief about doing so, I too must take this opportunity to get some things out. If I can’t speak my peace now, we’ll never be able to be friends again, because I’ll always have these feelings buried inside me.

So here goes...

I was very disturbed by some of your statements about the church, and about how your faith has changed. It will come as no surprise to you that I and many others are deeply troubled by such a public renouncement of your testimony in the church.

Some of the things you write on your blog are, frankly, heartbreaking and disappointing. Your coming out e-mail (with the link to your blog that you included) is being forwarded to many members of the church in the stake. I’m sure you knew this would happen. I wonder, did you consider that some of the content of the blog might be emotionally devastating to people you once served as bishop? (You label yourself a “recovering” Mormon, which suggests that our religion is a disease of some kind, or an addiction, like alcoholism.)

In your blog, you talk a lot about your new religious beliefs. You say “I do not believe that there is one true church--churches are creations of men.”

It seems to me that this is very convenient. If, as you say, all church’s are “the creation of men”, then all of us can simply invent our own religion, each of us recreating God in our own image, to suit our needs. And of course, that’s exactly what you’ve done: “I'm content to think of my beliefs as my own rather than a part of any system or formal theology. My faith is part Mormon, part liberal Protestant, probably even a little Catholic, with a healthy dose of agnosticism tossed into the mix.”

You’re certainly free to invent your own personal theology, one that most accommodates your new “identity”, but what does that have to do with truth? Something doesn’t become true simply because you or I choose to believe it. If I choose to believe that the sun revolves around the earth, does my belief somehow make it “true”? Of course not. Real truth, eternal truth, has nothing to do with what we chose to believe. Truth stands independent. It is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That is what makes it so precious and sought for.

From my point of view, you seem to have constructed an entirely new belief system, almost overnight. This new belief system is not based not on any sense of eternal truth. It’s primary purpose is simply the validation of your new gay identity.

For example: Now that you’ve found your new identity, Heavenly Father has lost His (“I believe in God-whatever he and/or she is”); The Savior has now become a myth (“I don't know if Jesus Christ is/was a real person.”); the prophets and no longer prophets (“deficiency in LDS theology result(s) from a deep societal and cultural bias against homosexuality, particularly among men of the generation that lead the Church.”); the scriptures are no longer to be believed (“I take the scriptures seriously, but not literally. My faith does not rest on the historicity of the Old Testament--which I believe is mostly metaphorical--or the New Testament descriptions of Christ's ministry--which I believe to be historically unreliable--or of the Book of Mormon--the historicity of which I have doubted for many years. As historical documents, they fail.”)

So, to sum up: According to your new belief system, there are now no prophets; there is no Savior; the Old Testament, New Testament, and The Book of Mormon are all not true; and Heavenly Father is no longer God.

Wow. A lot seems to have changed since you have come out. Have you considered the possibility that all things actually remain just as they always were, and that the only thing that has changed is your perspective? Is it possible that your view of things has become distorted as a result of seeing the world through the prism of your new gay identity?

On your blog, you write: “I've rejected my Mormon identity because of the conflict I perceive in keeping it while adopting a gay one”. I’m not sure I know what you mean by “Mormon identity”. From my perspective, Latter-Day Saints, rich or poor, black or white, wherever in the world they may live, are people who are trying to become like Christ. It is His—Christ’s—identity that all of us are trying to “adopt”. Isn’t the conflict you describe between your “Mormon Identity” and your new “gay” one really the conflict between the “Natural man” and Christ? The whole purpose of the gospel is the eternal process of putting off the “Natural man” so that, over time (ages, eternity) we can become like Christ. We are to take upon us His name. We are to receive His image in our countenances. It’s not about us. It’s about Him.

Perhaps the saddest statement I read on your blog was this one: “I am in control of my life, and am in the best position to know what will bring happiness to me and my family.” What a sad statement that is. Of course, it’s not true. None of us are in the “best position” to know what will bring us happiness. Heavenly Father, who knows the end from the beginning, who knows us so much better than we know ourselves, knows far better than we do what ultimately brings eternal joy and happiness.

As I was reading your letter and your blog, I just couldn’t stop thinking of something Elder Maxwell said a few years ago, and today I went and found the quote:

“Only by aligning our wills with God’s is full happiness to be found. Anything less results in a lesser portion. I am going to preach a hard doctrine to you now. The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. It is a hard doctrine, but it is true. The many other things we give to God, however nice that may be of us, are actually things He has already given us, and He has loaned them to us. But when we begin to submit ourselves by letting our wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him. And that hard doctrine lies at the center of discipleship.”

To me the overarching message of your blog is simply this: MY will be done.

I guess what it comes down to is pretty simple. The church is either true or it is not. Either Joseph Smith saw what he said he saw, or he did not. Either the Book of Mormon is a true account of a real civilization and it’s dealings with The Savior, or someone made it up. Either God and Christ were in that grove on that day or they were not. If not, then you are right and I and all I have said is wrong, and it really doesn’t matter what any of us believe. Like you, we can all just invent our own personal theology and give God whatever character and attributes we want he or she to have, and live our lives according to our own will and personal code of what we think is right and wrong—a code each of us reserves the right to continually update and modify, based on whatever circumstances we find ourselves in or in response to whatever challenges we may face.

I do not think that is true. The “hard doctrine at the center of discipleship” that Elder Maxwell referred to is that there is an Eternal Being, and He is our Heavenly Father, and as we surrender our will and allow our will to be swallowed up in His, we become like Him. We become who we were always meant to be. We become who we really are. I believe that’s the only “identity” that any of us should be interested in “adopting”.

You may think that my attitude towards your struggle with same-sex attraction is callous and insensitive. I apologize if that’s how this is coming across.

I have known many individuals in the church who struggle with same sex attraction. It is a very, very heavy cross to bear. Crosses come in all shapes and sizes. A wayward child, addiction, illness, death, depression, abuse, and on and on. I believe that each of us bears a cross. (As I’m sure you would agree, one unique perspective a bishop gains from the calling is the understanding that even those church members who seem the “strongest” on the outside often bear the heaviest crosses, sometimes silently and in secret.)

And, of course, there are certain crosses, like yours, that are simply too heavy to bear. Why would a loving Heavenly Father place upon us a cross too heavy to carry? I believe that is the very purpose of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Relying on our own strength, we stumble and fall. But if we can learn to turn to him on a daily basis, drawing strength from the Atonement, relying upon not our own will or “willpower”, but placing our will on the altar each and every day, then, I believe, his “strength is sufficient” for us. Our hearts can change. Our very nature can change. Eventually, as our wills are swallowed up in His, our weaknesses can become our strengths. That is how we become “perfected in Christ.”

Unfortunately, the Savior does not seem to have much of a role to play in your new identity. You say that you no longer believe that Jesus Christ was real. You talk about believing in “the idea” of Jesus, and not being concerned with whether or not he actually existed. Maybe that’s because you don’t need him to be real anymore. Or maybe it’s because you just don’t want him to be.

There. I’ve said what I needed to say. I don’t believe that anything I’ve written will cause you to change your course, but I needed to express it just the same.

I sincerely wish you all the best.

J

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sad you would get such a letter as this, if only because, it will have no impact other than to further your resolve.

I'm also sad that you have needed to leave the Church, which is a wonderful place to be. If you really don't think you can co-exist in the Church community and the gay community, so be it.

You're missed already (in the Church community).

Foxx said...

I wish there were an easy way to convince the people who write letters like this to me that I'm not creating God in my image. Rather, I'm coming to an understanding of the true me -- the image that I was created in, thereby understanding God in new ways that are different than my preconceived notions. People are gods in embryo, so, by studying people, by studying oneself, you can learn volumes about the God who created him. It's no more convenient or easy, and I have a harder time believing in Him now than I did before because it's not all written out for me.

I will gladly submit my will to God's, but I find that it is not the same as submitting my will to the Church.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a powerful blog. It has been no doubt a tremendous burden & struggle that you have lived with all your life. What a blessing that you have had such a supportive spouse. As a Mormon myself I admit that it is often difficult to hear when former Bishops fall from the church as it seems to shake one's own belief system. You were a great leader at a time when many needed your help. That hasn't changed. You are still a great man (as your words have so reflected) & though it may be difficult for many who 'knew' you before to see the changes you have made, at the core, you are still the same man, and I say that without even knowing you 'before' or 'after.'

I am not homosexual but I know many who are & it is a very difficult thing to live with, no doubt. I struggle with the church in many ways because of their views on homosexuality. I choose to believe the word of the gospel but I do challenge some of its truths. While I'm sad that you had to leave at the same time I completely understand why you did.

It seems you have touched many lives both as a Bishop & now as a gay man. Your truths are yours only & commend you for not hiding any longer. I wish the best for you & your family.

-Sincerely an Anonymous Mormon

BB said...

that letter, friends, is a remarkably revealing manifestation of the terrorizing ills of dogma.

I'm a bit upset, so I should probably refrain from going too deep here. I'll just say two things:

First, the author makes much of the promise of Moroni. I've tested that promise, a number of times. I believe the promise to be true. Ironically, the fulfillment of that promise consistently leads me away from the institutional LDS Church.

Second, Christ's theology is one of love, which is embodied in compassion and understanding, above ALL OTHER PRINCIPLES.

Anonymous said...

Simply a fantastic letter, and a powerful indictment of the morally-void and self-centered nature inherent in the homosexual lifestyle. It eloquently exposes the fundamental flaw undergirding the practice of homosexuality - a myopic focus on self and on unbridled physical self-indulgence. This was really quite moving and I commend "H" for having the fortitude to not erase viewpoints contrary to his own, especially one's such as this that expose him as a man of exceptionally weak character, personal convenience, and spiritual depravity.

David said...

The type of love that we are taught the Saviour has for us is not found in that letter from your "friend." I'm not a psychologist, but I would be interested in the opinion of one regarding that letter. It seemed to me to be very self-serving.

greenfrog said...

I read the letter in this post several days ago, and I've been mulling it over since then. It seemed harsh and unfair to me when I read it through the first time, but I wanted to think about it more deeply before responding. I did that by interlineating my own thoughts into the text of the letter.

Though this is a blog, and not a discussion board, I'll take the liberty of posting my reactions to the letter. Hurricane may (quite properly) choose to delete this if he would rather not have such a debating reaction here.

After reading your letter, I followed the link you included to your blog, and I proceeded to read just about everything you had written there about your experience of coming out as a gay man. I didn’t know that you struggled so much with your faith, and had so many doubts about the truthfulness of the restored gospel.

When I read this, I’m brought up short by the admission. We have created a system where the assumptions are more commonly engaged than the realities. Rather than inquire, we assume. Rather than explore, we assume. Rather than deliberate, we assume.

OTOH, we’ve also created a system where hiding one’s true feelings is considered noble. Hurricane hid some of those feelings from himself. He repressed them. In the guise of “bridling passions,” we teach repression, never distinguishing between honest perception and considered restraint and outright rejection of experience or inclination inconsistent with a particular ideal.

In your blog, you talk about never having had a “big conversion experience, a moment when I felt God speaking to me and confirming the truth of all things, as Moroni promises”.

I felt sad when I read that. I know that there are probably many members of the church who can relate to that statement, many whom, like you, may not have had a significant “conversion experience”.

I don’t know what makes the difference in someone’s life, why one person can have a profound witness and another feel uncertain.


This is a pretty important point, if there is really one Truth, for all. I’ll explore this idea in greater detail below. For here, it suffices to note that it’s pretty remarkable that we can contend that there is a particular Truth that is not accessible to every person who seeks it sincerely.

When I joined the church 12 years ago, I had a profound witness by the power of the Holy Ghost that the church was true. It was a feeling that I had never experienced before, and I could never deny it. Since then, I have had several similar confirming witnesses of the truthfulness of the restored gospel, including a sacred witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

A couple of thoughts come to mind at this point, and it’s important to me to be both direct and respectful. Please advise if you think I’ve missed my mark with respect to one or the other of my objectives.

First, have you ever prayed to know whether Krishna Consciousness is the Truth and a path you should follow? Catholicism? Theravadan Buddhism? How much time and sincere effort do you devote to the study of those traditions’ sacred texts? Have you ever felt an overwhelming desire for those traditions to be true? If you had, might that feeling have influenced how open you were to receiving Divine confirmation of those feelings? Even more importantly, how do you respond to those persons who advise you that they have, indeed, received Divine confirmation of feelings, beliefs and desires regarding those other religious traditions?

When we enclose ourselves in a cocoon of one set of beliefs, one set of desires, one set of sacred texts, one set of hopes, and then we seek Divine confirmation of those things, we can find ourselves getting what we ask for, even when it comes to spiritual manifestations. I think Jesus’ statement is to be taken literally – whatsoever we ask of God, we will receive from God. If we ask and want experiences confirming LDS teachings, we increase significantly the likelihood that we’ll receive exactly that. If we want experiences confirming Buddhist teachings, we increase significantly the likelihood that we’ll receive exactly that. Same for Catholicism. Same for Krishna Consciousness. Same for fundamentalist Islam.

I’m not for a moment suggesting this makes me in any way better or more worthy than anyone else, and of course these experiences are not a daily occurrence. But they have happened often enough to create a spiritual reservoir that has sustained me through times of trial and difficulty. If, as you say, you really were not in possession of such a testimony, I can certainly understand how painful and difficult your life must have been these past years.

Though I am not certain and would like further information on this point from Hurricane, I have not understood his difficulties to stem from the nature of his testimony regarding the LDS Church.

Now you and I have been good friends. I would like to continue our friendship. But in order for our friendship to continue I have to say some things to you. Just as you felt the need so deeply to express yourself, and felt a tremendous sense of relief about doing so, I too must take this opportunity to get some things out. If I can’t speak my peace now, we’ll never be able to be friends again, because I’ll always have these feelings buried inside me.

The honest expression of thought and feeling is healthy. More healthy is creating a community where all honest expression of thought is welcome. I honor Hurricane for honestly expressing his thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Is the LDS community you maintain one where honest communication of this sort is honored? Or repressed?

I’m saddened at the declaration of “…we’ll never be friends again, because I’ll always have these feelings buried inside me.” Did the writer have a friendship when Hurricane was burying his feelings inside him? It sounds like he did. What changed when the positions were reversed?

So here goes...

I was very disturbed by some of your statements about the church, and about how your faith has changed. It will come as no surprise to you that I and many others are deeply troubled by such a public renouncement of your testimony in the church.


“Public”? Why is that relevant? Shouldn’t Hurricane’s experiences and decisions be dispersed at least as widely as the community of people who know him? His current situation is part of the truth of his life. So, too, is his former service as a bishop and a member of the LDS Church. It seems better to me that people who know Hurricane know as much about him as they can. To conceal such a huge part of who he is and why seems deceptive to me. I understand Hurricane to be laying such deceptions aside. I applaud that move.

As I read Hurricane’s blog – and as I’ve interacted with him for years – I draw the conclusion that he continues to have and bear strong testimony. One of the strengths of LDS doctrine, IMO, is how strongly it holds individual experience with God as its touchstone. Hurricane has described in considerable detail here his experiences with God. I believe it to be a good thing that he does not reject those experiences.

As I understand the letter, the author seem to disagree with this. If my understanding is correct, I wonder how he would distinguish between the validity of his experiences and the validity of Hurricane's? If he finds differences, is there a way to reconcile them without dishonoring his own experience? Creatively, compassionately, and devotedly seeking that reconciliation is, at its heart, at-one-ment. Is there only one potential meaning and construction of the author's personal experiences? Or is there more than one?

If he believes, as I do, that Hurricane is a person of integrity, intelligence, creativity, and good will, he may be inclined to find an understanding of his own experience that does not dishonor or disregard Hurricane's. I've not found that inclination hopeless.

Some of the things you write on your blog are, frankly, heartbreaking and disappointing. Your coming out e-mail (with the link to your blog that you included) is being forwarded to many members of the church in the stake. I’m sure you knew this would happen. I wonder, did you consider that some of the content of the blog might be emotionally devastating to people you once served as bishop?

I’m more than confident that Hurricane considered deeply – agonized over, in fact – the effects of his decision and acknowledgement of his situation on others. Moreover, I favor honesty and disclosure over concealment and hiding.

(You label yourself a “recovering” Mormon, which suggests that our religion is a disease of some kind, or an addiction, like alcoholism.)

I can think of many ways that “recovering” could be understood more charitably than this. Is the author's experience with Hurricane so limited that he wouldn’t know that a charitable reading is more appropriate than an uncharitable one? If his experience is so limited, shouldn’t he be asking questions at this point, rather than imposing harsh readings on his words? (“Can you provide more information about how you are “recovering” from Mormonism? Did you mean to suggest that Mormonism is a disease?”)

In your blog, you talk a lot about your new religious beliefs. You say “I do not believe that there is one true church--churches are creations of men.”

It seems to me that this is very convenient.


Perhaps. Almost as convenient as wishing something to be true, devoting one’s life to it, and then receiving confirmation that it’s True. We get what we seek.

If, as you say, all church’s are “the creation of men”, then all of us can simply invent our own religion, each of us recreating God in our own image, to suit our needs. And of course, that’s exactly what you’ve done:

From here, I choose to direct some of my comments to the author, though I don't know that he'll read this. But this is the direction of my thoughts: Until you inquire, unless you’re omniscient, you don’t really know, do you, whether that is what Hurricane has done, right? It seems to me that each person decides what she or he is going to believe. That is true of me as a member of the LDS Church. It is true of my neighbor who attends an evangelical Christian church. It is true of the hundreds of millions of Hindus. It is true of the billion-plus Catholics. It is true of the hundreds of millions of Buddhists. We each choose our beliefs. Some of us choose a particular set. Some of us choose elements of one or more sets. As a dear (and highly orthodox LDS) friend once observed to me, there are approximately 11 million versions of LDS belief. I think he was right.

In 1820, Joseph Smith looked and found confusion and dissatisfaction with the religious alternatives of his day. He found a path that led away from those.

Better to inquire after and examine the elements of Hurricane’s belief and consider how those tenets will produce good or evil. Engage in discussion. You might persuade. Otherwise, you’re just staking out a position so you can show you’re on the “right” side of the line you’ve drawn. Why draw such a line? Why not inquire, explore together sincerely, and persuade gently?

“I'm content to think of my beliefs as my own rather than a part of any system or formal theology. My faith is part Mormon, part liberal Protestant, probably even a little Catholic, with a healthy dose of agnosticism tossed into the mix.”

You’re certainly free to invent your own personal theology, one that most accommodates your new “identity”, but what does that have to do with truth?


What does Hurricane’s current experience have to do with truth? Let’s talk more carefully and deliberately about truth.

I (and perhaps you, too) hold the belief that each of us has a sense of what is true. When we live in accordance with that sense, we feel “true,” we feel “right,” we feel “integral,” we feel “in tune with the Spirit.” There are lots and lots of ways of expressing the sense. If by “truth,” you want to get less subjective and more objective, then it seems to me that you have to be more specific about what the question is. Is it whether or not it’s “true” that the Book of Mormon is an accurate translation of anciently recorded writings on plates of gold? If so, then there are useful ways of approaching that question. But it’s not at all clear to me that the best way would be to seek a personal, subjective experience to confirm it. How is a personal, subjective experience going to tell you the truth of what a “curelom” is?

Something doesn’t become true simply because you or I choose to believe it. If I choose to believe that the sun revolves around the earth, does my belief somehow make it “true”? Of course not. Real truth, eternal truth, has nothing to do with what we chose to believe. Truth stands independent. It is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That is what makes it so precious and sought for.

I think this confuses objective truth and subjective truth. We use the same word for both, even though they’re wildly different. Objective truth – the earth revolving around the sun – is something that every person interested in the question is free to gain identical experience about, by following the same processes. There are lots of truths that fit this category – most of existence, in fact. But there are some “truths” for which we use entirely different means for gaining knowledge – those are subjective truths for which we cannot promise identical experience to result from following the same processes. But despite the vagaries of subjective truths, they are terribly important to us, as they enable us to act with meaning and purpose in life, and even if they didn’t serve those ends, they would still be important to us because we feel them, quite literally, in our bodies. They are part of our sensory experience. We are organized in a manner that we perceive meaning through feeling. Many of those feelings are quite common, enabling us to live and operate in communities – groups of people who share common feelings about matters of importance to the community. But those feelings, even when common, are not identical, and are not easily replicable. Because we impose verbal glosses on those feelings. We create stories out of them, and when we do, we forget the feeling, and we remember the conclusion – the construction – we imposed on the feeling. We remember the story we fashioned about the experience and conclude that we have accessed a conduit to revelation from God. I don’t intend to denigrate this process – it is precisely those core experiences around which I organize my own life. But I try to recognize that I do so overtly and intentionally, not unconsciously and surreptitiously.


From my point of view, you seem to have constructed an entirely new belief system, almost overnight.

From my perspective, this is a very good sentence, as the writer is focused on his own experience – reporting what he perceives to be a rapid shift in Hurricane’s thinking. But before we move to the next sentence, consider what this sentence conveys if we assume that Hurricane is, as I’ve suggested above, a person of integrity, intelligence, creativity, and good will. Alternative #1: the author was oblivious to the signs that all was not as he perceived it to be. Alternative #2: Hurricane concealed the nature of his beliefs from the author. Alternative #3: Hurricane’s views changed significantly and rapidly. While the author proposes only #3,

This new belief system is not based not on any sense of eternal truth. It’s primary purpose is simply the validation of your new gay identity.

With these two sentences, the author rejects the only real truths he has available to him – which are his perceptions of and feelings about the situation – and instead he supposes his own omniscience: Hurricane must be wrong, because the author must be right. If we were dealing with objective truths here, the author could propose a process by which Hurricane could re-orient himself to those objective truths. (“You are mistaken. The right way to determine the direction of magnetic north is to use a compass. Its indicator will point toward the direction you seek.”) But we’re not in the realm of objective truths – we’re in the realm of subjective ones, even though they’re labeled “eternal” for reasons not entirely apparent from the text. The author then takes an even longer leap and provides his layman’s psychoanalysis of Hurricane: “you’re lying/self-deluded because you seek to justify your gay identity.” Note the conclusion about causation: you’ve abandoned eternal truths because you prefer gayness to truth. I’m not even sure how that is supposed to make sense from a logical perspective. I understand it as condemnatory of variation from the story the author uses to make sense of his own experience.

For example: Now that you’ve found your new identity, Heavenly Father has lost His (“I believe in God-whatever he and/or she is”); The Savior has now become a myth (“I don't know if Jesus Christ is/was a real person.”); the prophets and no longer prophets (“deficiency in LDS theology result(s) from a deep societal and cultural bias against homosexuality, particularly among men of the generation that lead the Church.”); the scriptures are no longer to be believed (“I take the scriptures seriously, but not literally. My faith does not rest on the historicity of the Old Testament--which I believe is mostly metaphorical--or the New Testament descriptions of Christ's ministry--which I believe to be historically unreliable--or of the Book of Mormon--the historicity of which I have doubted for many years. As historical documents, they fail.”)

Lumped together without context or explanation, these statements are probably pretty alarming to someone who believes that God is a human-form male, that Jesus Christ is also a human-form male. As to the rest of the lumped-together assertions, I’m frankly at a loss to understand the startlement factor. Does the author really read all scriptures literally? As I read them, many of them explicitly instruct that they be read non-literally. And even for those that do not so instruct, I find greater value in applying them to my own life (i.e., applying them figuratively and metaphorically – not literally, as I did not live in Old Testment or New Testament times). But, again, if those ideas are alarming, if one’s experience is that Hurricane is a person of integrity, intelligence, creativity, and good will, it seems to me that the better course is not venting alarm and engaging in condemnation, but asking questions and seeking further light and knowledge. If, after that process is engaged sincerely, differences remain, then gentle persuasion seems to me to be the order of the day (to say nothing of 121).

So, to sum up: According to your new belief system, there are now no prophets; there is no Savior; the Old Testament, New Testament, and The Book of Mormon are all not true; and Heavenly Father is no longer God.

This is a rhetorical flourish, defining Hurricane’s perspective as “other” in an “us vs. them” construct. It is useful as an implement in a form of intellectual combat, but in my view it has nothing to do with longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, or love unfeigned.

Wow. A lot seems to have changed since you have come out. Have you considered the possibility that all things actually remain just as they always were, and that the only thing that has changed is your perspective?

If I continue, as I do, to believe that Hurricane is a person of integrity, intelligence, creativity, and good will, I wouldn’t pose such a question. I’d be 100% certain that he had considered that possibility, and that he’d rejected it for reasons consistent with integrity, intelligence and good will. So why is the author asking it here?

Is it possible that your view of things has become distorted as a result of seeing the world through the prism of your new gay identity?

Again, I’m not sure of what is really being suggested here. Nothing Hurricane has written has suggested to me that his homosexuality is a “new” thing in his life. The only aspect of it that is new is that he has decided that to live with integrity, he must acknowledge it and no longer repress it. From what he has reported, he hasn’t suddenly decided that to become homosexual. He’s always been homosexual. So the “new gay identity” seems more of a construct that the writer has created than a reasonable summary of what Hurricane has described. I’d be interested in other more charitable understandings.

On your blog, you write: “I've rejected my Mormon identity because of the conflict I perceive in keeping it while adopting a gay one”. I’m not sure I know what you mean by “Mormon identity”. From my perspective, Latter-Day Saints, rich or poor, black or white, wherever in the world they may live, are people who are trying to become like Christ. It is His—Christ’s—identity that all of us are trying to “adopt”.

Again, I can think of other understandings of Hurricane’s words that are, I think, more consistent with my continuing belief that Hurricane is a person of integrity, intelligence, creativity, and good will. “Mormon identity” can mean something as simple as “identifying myself as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It could be understood as an entire complex of thoughts and emotions that are intertwined with experiences shared with other self-identified Mormons. It could be something else entirely. Even so, nothing I’ve read Hurricane write, either on this blog or elsewhere on the Net, suggests that he’s lost his desire to become like Christ. Rather, to the contrary, I understand he believes he is pursuing the only path consistent with Christ-like love.

Isn’t the conflict you describe between your “Mormon Identity” and your new “gay” one really the conflict between the “Natural man” and Christ? The whole purpose of the gospel is the eternal process of putting off the “Natural man” so that, over time (ages, eternity) we can become like Christ. We are to take upon us His name. We are to receive His image in our countenances. It’s not about us. It’s about Him.

There is a story of Procrustes that comes to mind at this point. I’ll forbear repeating it. Instead, I’ll note that the Mormon instruction about putting off the natural man is useful only to the extent that one has already decided what characteristics to assign to the “natural man.” It isn’t much help at all in deciding what is, and is not, “natural” and, therefore, to be rejected. I haven’t seen Hurricane declare himself no longer interested in God or living righteously. I understand him to be coming to a recognition of the importance of integrity between one’s experiences, feelings, and actions.

Perhaps the saddest statement I read on your blog was this one: “I am in control of my life, and am in the best position to know what will bring happiness to me and my family.” What a sad statement that is. Of course, it’s not true.

This is about to be followed by a remarkable, and perhaps unwittingly clear, statement. But before we move to the next sentence, let’s look at the implications of this one. If one is not in the best position to know what will bring happiness to oneself and one’s family, then someone else is, and making decisions for oneself is at best misguided, at worst immoral.

None of us are in the “best position” to know what will bring us happiness. Heavenly Father, who knows the end from the beginning, who knows us so much better than we know ourselves, knows far better than we do what ultimately brings eternal joy and happiness.

This would be a nice resolution of the tension created by the prior assertions, if Heavenly Father were readily available for clear consultations, but in this world, we see through a glass darkly, and we have to make do with our best perception of what is right, rather than simply letting someone else (even a bishop) tell us what is right and wrong. Accordingly, in this statement the author appears to assert that Hurricane is not best positioned to know what God thinks is best for Hurricane and Hurricane’s family. If that’s the intended reading, then it really suggests that the author knows better than Hurricane what is best for Hurricane and Hurricane’s family. And that, to my mind, is a terribly flawed and harmful conclusion, one that mistakes subjective truth for objective truth, one that endeavors to persuade Hurricane not to rely on his own experience of God, but rather to defer to the author’s, and one that supposes that Hurricane is not a person of integrity, intelligence, creativity, and good will.

As I was reading your letter and your blog, I just couldn’t stop thinking of something Elder Maxwell said a few years ago, and today I went and found the quote:

“Only by aligning our wills with God’s is full happiness to be found. Anything less results in a lesser portion. I am going to preach a hard doctrine to you now. The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. It is a hard doctrine, but it is true. The many other things we give to God, however nice that may be of us, are actually things He has already given us, and He has loaned them to us. But when we begin to submit ourselves by letting our wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him. And that hard doctrine lies at the center of discipleship.”


The quoted passage is an excerpt. Without the source material, it’s hard to be certain, but my recollection of Elder Maxwell’s sermons and other writings suggests that he did not exalt submission and devotion above truth. If the quoted excerpt were all he had written, it could readily be applied by the fundamentalist Muslim with a bomb strapped around his waist. It could be applied to a crusader slaughtering the Muslim woman and child in a hovel outside Jerusalem. It could be the call of Jim Jones as he distributes Kool-Aid in the jungles of South America. My recollection of Elder Maxwell’s teachings is not that devotion and submission are the apex of religious and spiritual life – but rather that they are valuable tools for deepening one’s relationship to God.

To me the overarching message of your blog is simply this: MY will be done.

I guess what it comes down to is pretty simple.


Here, I simply disagree with the author. What it comes down to really isn’t simple at all. If it were, it would be objective truth. Objective truths are much, much simpler than subjective ones. The author seems to have mixed up the simple – that about which there is no reasonable difference of opinion, since the same experience is available to all by following the same process – for the subjective and complex, for which following similar processes yields very different outcomes.

The church is either true or it is not.

This statement would be sensible if the “truth” of the Church were an objectively determinate fact – a fact that we could discern by applying a particular process that would yield identical results for all. But it isn’t. The author of the letter even said as much at the beginning when he noted that he doesn't know why he has had experiences that provide him with a testimony and others have not.

Either Joseph Smith saw what he said he saw, or he did not.

While it may be comforting to sweep away questions by a strict, binary, “either-or” situation, it certainly doesn’t change the other possibilities – it just pretends they don’t exist, so they don’t have to be considered. Along the spectrum of the “either” and the “or”:

1. Photons bounced off of the tangible, physical bodies of God the Father and Jesus Christ and reached Joseph Smith’s eyes. They were physically present and he perceived them physically, just as I do when I look across the dinner table at my wife. Any person standing next to Joseph Smith would have seen exactly the same things Joseph Smith saw, no matter what the person’s preparedness for such an experience. This, as I understand it, is the letter author’s “either” situation.

2. But it doesn’t really fit the text of the First Vision account in the Peral of Great Price, which suggests, instead, something a bit different, a situation involving a state of altered consciousness (since Joseph reports at the end of the account of the vision that he “came back to himself”). In an a state of altered consciousness, Joseph Smith very well may not have seen with physical eyes anything more than the trees and plants of the Sacred Grove. What does it mean to “see” without eyes? The potential answers range from abstract thinking and imagination, to dreams and, well, visions. But whatever such experiences might be, they do not involve photons and retinas. Might God and Jesus Christ have chosen to present themselves to Joseph Smith in such a manner? It seems to me that They could. Might Joseph’s mind have been an important element in what he saw? Yes. Does that mean that there was nothing of God in such an experience? Surely not. There are as many potential blends and mixtures of man and God as there are minds to imagine such an event.

3. Might Joseph have never visited the Sacred Grove, and just made it all up? Of course. But that’s hardly the only alternative to #1.

Either the Book of Mormon is a true account of a real civilization and it’s dealings with The Savior, or someone made it up.

Once again, a bright-lined “either-or” takes all of the potentially messy interactions of God and mankind and tosses them into the realm of impossibility. Just as the “either-or” of the First Vision fails to account for what Joseph reported, so, too, does the “either-or” of the Book of Mormon. Was it translated? Not if we apply the word in its usual sense – a person reading one language and rendering an approximation of the meaning in a second language. By historical accounts it is clear that Joseph Smith “translated” significant portions without even looking at the plates themselves. When we use the word “translate,” we usually assume that the translator has a text that matters in front of him. Joseph’s process sounds much more akin to creation or revelation than it is to translation.

Either God and Christ were in that grove on that day or they were not.

Or your concepts of God and Christ and our perceptions and interactions with Them are more narrow and artificially constrained than they need to be.

If not, then you are right and I and all I have said is wrong, and it really doesn’t matter what any of us believe.

Nothing Hurricane has said suggests to me that he advocates the “nothing-really-matters” nihilism implicit in this characterization of his thoughts. I imagine that this sentence is an expression of the author’s frustration more than it is an attempt to fairly summarize Hurricane’s ideas. But making false accusations in order to express frustration seems quite wrong to me. Hurricane has indicated throughout this blog that he is quite certain of the importance of the relationship between belief and experience. That his experience has led him to lay aside certain of the tenets he held previously (and which the author seems to continue to hold) suggests a change in the content of belief – something that is sometimes called “conversion,” sometimes “apostacy,” depending on one’s point of view regarding the nature of the change).

Like you, we can all just invent our own personal theology and give God whatever character and attributes we want he or she to have, and live our lives according to our own will and personal code of what we think is right and wrong—a code each of us reserves the right to continually update and modify, based on whatever circumstances we find ourselves in or in response to whatever challenges we may face.

I understand this to be an expression of fear of disintegration of community more than a responsible summary of the views Hurricane has expressed here and elsewhere on the Net. Even so, I’m not sure I disagree with the author. In fact, I think that each of us does, daily, revise her or his belief structure to conform to her or his experience. Not only do we – I think that we should do exactly that.

A reasonably useful belief structure is generally going to be consistent with experience. The utility of beliefs is their ability to enable us to predict the future, whether it is as prosaic as the belief that we’ll have water to brush our teeth if we turn on the faucet or whether it is as pivotal as a particular action causing eternal damnation in a lake of fire and brimstone. The belief structures that don’t keep us from walking in front of speeding trains get weeded out pretty quickly. And we’re then left with belief structures that are reasonably useful at predicting the future. But it’s almost never that, in a hunt for truth, we hit on the exactly right hypothesis from the outset. In most areas of my life, as I get more data, I refine my hypothesis. That is, definitively, a process that leads to greater truth. Can a change in hypothesis lead away from truth? Sure, it can. So we keep testing, and we keep refining. We derive information from our own experience. We seek information from others’ experience, and we adjust our hypotheses to take into account the information we trust. By the fruits, we know them.

We encourage that sort of thing not only with regard to objective truths, but with regard to subjective ones, too. We teach that religious and spiritual truths are learned line upon line, precept on precept. We teach that the glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. We teach to seek wisdom out of the best of books. Reading the Doctrine and Covenants and the History of the Church reveals exactly how much development, guesswork, hypotheses, trial-and-error occurred in the foundation of the LDS Church. That should be expected as we see through a glass darkly. Hurricane, blessedly, seems to have found and chosen light, rather than the darkness of an early grave.

I do not think that is true. The “hard doctrine at the center of discipleship” that Elder Maxwell referred to is that there is an Eternal Being, and He is our Heavenly Father, and as we surrender our will and allow our will to be swallowed up in His, we become like Him.

Devotion to a false God or to a false understanding of the true God does not lead one closer to God. It leads one closer to falsehood. Devotion, alone, is damnation. We must employ all our faculties to the greatest extent possible to seeking and finding God. It is only in that way that we can become like God. Application of the out-of-context excerpt from Elder Maxwell’s sermon would have told the young Joseph Smith to stop seeking God, and to become, instead, a devoted Methodist.

We become who we were always meant to be. We become who we really are. I believe that’s the only “identity” that any of us should be interested in “adopting”.

If we don’t start where we are, we can’t ever get anywhere else.

You may think that my attitude towards your struggle with same-sex attraction is callous and insensitive. I apologize if that’s how this is coming across.

I have known many individuals in the church who struggle with same sex attraction.


How many? What did you learn from them? Were they all alike? If not, how were they different? What experiences led them to conclude that they experienced a “same sex attraction”? Is that how they described their experience, or is that your characterization and construction of their experience? Is Hurricane different from those other people? How? Is he similar to them? How?

It is a very, very heavy cross to bear.

You know this how? By observation of others? How much could someone else discern about your love for your wife by just looking at you from the outside? If your understanding is based on external observation, tell me about the nature of your observational faculties and why I should find them reliable. Frankly, given how readily you seem to disregard the facts I am familiar with about Hurricane – that he is a person of integrity, intelligence, creativity, and good will – I’m skeptical of how accurately you can digest, summarize, and report on their individual experiences.

Crosses come in all shapes and sizes. A wayward child, addiction, illness, death, depression, abuse, and on and on. I believe that each of us bears a cross.

While this has a nice democratic and equalizing rhetorical tone to it, it lumps together in the name of community wildly different experiences that have no obvious relationship to each other, aside from the likelihood of engendering stress to humans. Surely your point is not that anything that causes stress is like everything else that causes stress, and we can just ignore the details? It’s my experience that when we disregard the details, we forego important opportunities to learn from those very details.

(As I’m sure you would agree, one unique perspective a bishop gains from the calling is the understanding that even those church members who seem the “strongest” on the outside often bear the heaviest crosses, sometimes silently and in secret.)

And, of course, there are certain crosses, like yours, that are simply too heavy to bear.


Too heavy to bear? He seems to be bearing up just fine. Why should we construct a world in which a particular sexual orientation becomes a "cross"? Who is doing the crucifying?

Why would a loving Heavenly Father place upon us a cross too heavy to carry? I believe that is the very purpose of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Relying on our own strength, we stumble and fall. But if we can learn to turn to him on a daily basis, drawing strength from the Atonement, relying upon not our own will or “willpower”, but placing our will on the altar each and every day, then, I believe, his “strength is sufficient” for us. Our hearts can change. Our very nature can change.

I desperately hope that this is not intended to try to persuade Hurricane that all he needs to do is pray a little harder and God will turn him into a heterosexual. That kind of thinking leads too often to suicide.

Eventually, as our wills are swallowed up in His, our weaknesses can become our strengths. That is how we become “perfected in Christ.”

I think we become perfected in Christ as we treat our brothers and sisters with loving kindness.

Unfortunately, the Savior does not seem to have much of a role to play in your new identity. You say that you no longer believe that Jesus Christ was real. You talk about believing in “the idea” of Jesus, and not being concerned with whether or not he actually existed. Maybe that’s because you don’t need him to be real anymore. Or maybe it’s because you just don’t want him to be.

Or, maybe, Hurricane is telling you exactly why he's doing what he's doing, and imposing a third-party psychoanalysis is an effort more for your benefit than for his.

There. I’ve said what I needed to say. I don’t believe that anything I’ve written will cause you to change your course, but I needed to express it just the same.

I sincerely wish you all the best.


Interesting expression of a desire for continued friendship.

-L- said...

Talk about painful. Greenfrog, you talk about reading Hurricane charitably and then in the longest and most emphatic show of denying that, you refuse to do the same. There are mischaracerizations and contradictions in your response here, but I only hope (as I have neither the time nor the inclination for a full rebuttal) that anyone who reads it will see them.

However, I'm afraid my gut feeling is that anyone who reads it will find all the evidence they need to support their own pre-existing evaluation of the issue and the situation. Their "subjective" truth, as you call it.

My view is that Hurricane is a good man who when faced with a difficult situation chose to make things work in a manner meriting some (but not all) of the comments from the bishop. The bishop has attempted to express loving and thoughtful advice. Too bad you would like to wrench contradictions and bad will out of that (or at least, that's my impression of what you've done).

Chris said...

L,

The bishop has attempted to express loving and thoughtful advice.

I wouldn't call what he offered advice. Criticism, yes. Judgment, yes. And that's fine. I know this man well enough to know that what he offered he offered in love and affection for me. But there isn't much advice.

-L- said...

Perhaps "insight" would have been a better word choice. Regardless, I'm happy to see that you agree with my assessment of his character and motivation. It's a touchy subject (as we both know all too well).

Chris said...

Sure, but I'm also grateful for greenfrog's post, which I think more accurately describes the transformation I have undergone.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be more of an exhaustive, overly intellectualized effort to assert that "whatever anyone wants to do is their own personal truth."

"Who really has any right to say what is objective truth? Certainly none of us knows because we all subjectively feel so different about everything in life anyway. So who knows? No one, right? So, just do what seems to be true to you. There is no one single meaning to life and the only truths that really exists are: Do what you feel like doing, BUT be sure you don't make anyone else feel bad about what they are doing, because nothing is really wrong or right except for making someone else feel bad." Where does the boundary for this "logic" stop?

Political Correctness has now morphed into Spiritual Correctness. Anything goes in an effort to ensure "love and tolerance." Even the Gospel (of the New Testament, whether it be metaphorical or not) doesn't read like that.


That being said, I do not judge H. I have absolutely no grounds to stand on. He is trying to be honest. That is more than can be said for most. He is doing what he subjectively feels is right. Be clear that I am not suggesting what is right for him, but just because this is what he feels he wants to do, does not mean that it must be what is right or best for him.

Greenfrog can't dispute "religious or spiritual objective truths" on the grounds of their "individual emotionally subjectivity" and then turn around and assert "individual emotional objective truths" based on a "individual emotional subjectivity."

Well, actually I guess Greenfrog can and did, but I don't buy it, but that's okay, I bet my last statement wasn't articulated in a way where it makes any sense either.

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares what I think, but since everyone else is so self-indulgent as to believe that others care what they think, I will post a comment.

We are all born with something to overcome. Its hard to do. Its also why we are here. Just because H's challenge is sexual, doesn't make him any less able to overcome it. Heavenly Father "gives unto men weakness" and if we "come unto Him" he will "make weak things strong unto us."

Heavenly Father is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He can do anything, can help anyone. And he doesn't do that by giving different commandments to one than he gives to another.

H asks what he should do? He should do what we all do -- the best he can to overcome the weakness he has been given.

I struggle each day to not become chemically dependent. I struggle with being honest with myself. I struggle with perfectionism. And yes, I was born with them. These things cause me great agony and pain at times, and great fulfillment when I make a small stride against them at other times.

Furthermore, Heavenly Father never said that we "deserve to be happy." The scripture in the B of M says that "Adam fell that men might be; men are that they might have joy." Nephi is speaking in an eternal sense, not a worldly one.

Tuth is, nobody "deserves" to be happy. we don't deserve anything. We are here to prove ourselves to Heavenly Father and to ourselves. This life is not the end, it's the test that leads us to the end. . It's not about happiness, joy, or fulfillment. It is about struggle, work, pain, tragedy, and service. In short, it's a gut check.

What any of us believes about truth is irrelevant. The truth is the truth and, when given through a prophet, it is binding upon the world, not just on Mormons.

Commandments are unbreakable. They are given by God. We don't break them -- we can only break ourselves upon them.

All of the Christian love in the world doesn't erase these truths.

The outpouring of love for this family is phenomonal. Would to God that we gave this much attention and love to all of God's children who struggle; in short, that we loved all of our brothers and sisters who struggle, not just those with a "politically correct' weakness to overcome.

Chris said...

anonymous,

Do we know each other? There is something very familiar about your voice and your views.

Regardless, I want to respond to a few of the things you've said.

Nobody cares what I think, but since everyone else is so self-indulgent as to believe that others care what they think, I will post a comment.

I have no doubt that there are many people who care what you think. Recognizing that is not self indulgence. Further, it would be easier for me to gauge just how much I care what you think if I had any sense for whether or not I have (or had) a personal relationship with you.

We are all born with something to overcome. Its hard to do. Its also why we are here. Just because H's challenge is sexual, doesn't make him any less able to overcome it. Heavenly Father "gives unto men weakness" and if we "come unto Him" he will "make weak things strong unto us."

I have to tell you that I think this attitude is destructive. The research and anecdotal evidence is very much against this view. I can no more overcome my homosexuality than others could overcome their heterosexuality. No amount of prayer, fasting or faith will make me straight. My sexuality cannot be overcome. So I must decide what to do about it. Unfortunately, the Church doesn't have any helpful answers for me. Indeed, the view that you are offering is one that condemns the gay person for lacking the effort and faith necessary to bring about that change. The irony is that almost to a person, the gay Mormons that I know were always among the most faithful and committed to the Church. While many people surely try as hard, I don't think anyone tries harder than struggling gay Mormons to do what the Church expects of them. Which makes the realization that being gay is not something that can be overcome all the more devastating.

Heavenly Father is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He can do anything, can help anyone. And he doesn't do that by giving different commandments to one than he gives to another.

If it is true that God is omni-everything, then why hasn't he done anything to change the sexual orientation of the countless gay men and women, inside and outside the Church, who have pled with him to do just that? I conclude that he doesn't want us to change. Because if he is all the things you say he is, then He is terribly lacking in compassion.

H asks what he should do? He should do what we all do -- the best he can to overcome the weakness he has been given.

KK has already responded with great eloquence on this point.

I struggle each day to not become chemically dependent. I struggle with being honest with myself. I struggle with perfectionism. And yes, I was born with them. These things cause me great agony and pain at times, and great fulfillment when I make a small stride against them at other times.

To accept the comparison here, I must accept that my sexuality is abberant and pathological. I believed that for a long time, but I don't anymore. Accordingly, such comparisons fall on deaf ears. Much, it seems, as my attempts to explain my experiences and my perspective fall on yours.

Furthermore, Heavenly Father never said that we "deserve to be happy." The scripture in the B of M says that "Adam fell that men might be; men are that they might have joy." Nephi is speaking in an eternal sense, not a worldly one.

Long before there was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, promises of eternal reward were used to keep people unhappy and obedient. I reject such a view. If I cannot learn how to cultivate joy in this life, how could I possibly do it in the next? Mormonism teaches us that the knowledge we acquire in this life is carried with us into the next.

Tuth is, nobody "deserves" to be happy. we don't deserve anything. We are here to prove ourselves to Heavenly Father and to ourselves. This life is not the end, it's the test that leads us to the end. . It's not about happiness, joy, or fulfillment. It is about struggle, work, pain, tragedy, and service. In short, it's a gut check.

I think this is a remarkably bleak view of the purpose of life.

It seems to me that life can and often is about happiness, joy, fulfillment AND struggle, work, pain, tragedy and service. I cannot imagine why anyone would want a life lacking in happiness, joy and fulfillment. I reject such a life and any god who would so make it.

What any of us believes about truth is irrelevant. The truth is the truth and, when given through a prophet, it is binding upon the world, not just on Mormons.

What you declare to be truth can only be proven through faith. My faith has not proven your truth. That you declare it true and "know" it to be true does not make it universally true.

Commandments are unbreakable. They are given by God. We don't break them -- we can only break ourselves upon them.

All of the Christian love in the world doesn't erase these truths.


And yet, over time, commandements have changed, often as culture changes and evolves. I have no interest in a religion that cannot change with the progression of time and the development of human culture. Such religion is dead.

The outpouring of love for this family is phenomonal. Would to God that we gave this much attention and love to all of God's children who struggle; in short, that we loved all of our brothers and sisters who struggle, not just those with a "politically correct' weakness to overcome.

All of God's children are deserving of the love that my family has received. It is a shame that you view such an outpouring as nothing more than political correctness. I think those who have offered it would probably feel it is simply correct, period, even when they don't understand why I/we are making the choices we have made.

Master Fob said...

If I cannot learn how to cultivate joy in this life, how could I possibly do it in the next?

Perhaps the most profound thing I've read all day. Maybe even all month. Hell, let's say it's the most profound thing I've read in 2007.

Thanks, Chris. I hope you plan on leaving the blog up for people to discover and search through the archives, even if you won't be posting anymore.