About faith crises

Last weekend I was asked whether I had ever had a crisis of faith. This wasn’t the first time, but I had to ask for some room to define, to interpret the question. I will write about my chain of thought about that.

About faith: I want to remind that faith is not about absolute knowledge. E.g. I know for a fact, that if I let go of an object I’m holding in my hand, it will fall down. Faith, however, is not that kind of knowledge. Someone is going to say that s/he has prayed again and again, and always had an answer forthcoming. My next question would be: “Was the answer what you expected?” Because if it were, you were likely to get it. But whatever the case, you can not reliably predict others’ experiences with prayer.

An empirical fact is like the Pythagorean equation that states a2 + b2 = c2, or in other words that the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angle triangle equals the sum of the squares of the two sides. It works predictably, every single time–and you know that if it doesn’t then you have made an error in your calculations–and you can give it to anybody else, and it still will work predictably. Not so with prayer.

Faith is all about not knowing absolute things; faith is how we deal with ambiguity. Ambiguity is difficult, because we cannot know, but we can do our best to act as though we knew. That is Faith to me.

This said, I can say that although I have had some doubts about details here and there, the core of my spiritual experience, which forms what I call my relationship with God, has always been there since I have experienced it.

However.

I have had, what one might call crises around my faith community and my own worthiness. It would be difficult to explain concisely, so read my early posts like this. To be very concise, I have MDD. And MDD is not a joke, no matter how much one tries to call honest theories of how our minds work psychobabble.

We Mormons are all flawed humans, starting from Joseph Smith Jr. to the last one who was baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every single one. And some of us have done some terrible things like Mountain Meadows Massacre, which thankfully “shines” as the unique example on our path, showing the lowest that we can descend. It actually is unique, because all of those rumours about Blood Oaths and Mormon Murder Machine are bunk0. We can go low, but not low enough to murder dissidents in the Church.

Usually we almost tolerate dissidents, and sometimes our tolerance runs out and we excommunicate them when they make too much noise outside or inside. Mostly we like our sisters and brothers to agree with us, and in a smallish community it is easier than in a large one. Hence, we are slowly learning more tolerance in the larger communities. We try to own our faith, and even our siblings, even when we know their imperfections and downright disgusting opinions & habits. Still, a small faith community can be a challenge.

I know that I have made my peace with the mistakes that I and others perceive in the history. I might have made the same, in the where circumstances they found themselves in. I know that only God is perfect, and that by the grace of Jesus Christ, who atoned for our sins, we can feel genuine forgiveness–an experience that gives enough power to feel forgiven, and forgive others if we make our best effort. That is at the core of my faith.

I believe there is room for those who look different and have those funny views, with which we would like to argue in Sunday School, but don’t because it would open the whole can of worms of dissidents and this or that political faction, whatever. So we bite our tongues and hug each other those uncomfortable people, trying all together to become more like Jesus.

Right?

P.S. I have little interest in debating questionable details. I am not a professional historian, and neither are you, most likely. I have cited neutral sources like Wikipedia and expect you to read and think.

Footnote:

Back  0 There are plenty of available sites around teh intertubes about “blood oaths” (which is a purposefully ugly phrase to make the underlying promise of silence about the Endowment seem as ugly as possible) and Mormon vengeance that will fall on the Apostates. The former is an actual oath that used to be a part of the Endowment, and was an oath to pray to God to ask him to avenge the murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith; this was present from 1845 to 1919 and has many misinterpretations both in and outside the Church. Anybody who has read, say, Ann Eliza Webb Dee Young Denning‘s autobiography , cannot take seriously the thought that Mormons run all over the place killing anyone who disagree (for the lazy: her autobiography was a scathing indictment of polygamy).

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Posted in History, Mormonism, Politics, Religion, Society
2 comments on “About faith crises
  1. harry says:

    Well. i cannot but wonder the wisdom of the words you use- I not mean of the wisdom of religion,or faith you are talk about- since I haven’t any such as religion. Instead I wonder the words you are gained- wasn’t there a word at first, and then the word turned to religion, mater of fact, the words and oratoria have beet the greatest inventio of human being with which he have made up politicks and religion to be forming the world to the state as it is to-day

    • Velska says:

      I wasn’t trying to impress anyone with my vocabulary or language; English has become a “native” language to me, so much so that a lot of time, when I speak/write Finnish I try to translate my thought process from English. The thought is a bit weird to myself, admittedly. But for the last forty years, about 85% of my reading and writing has been in English, and quite a bit of my speaking, too. You remember, I wrote “poetry” in English when I was fourteen or something. I feel a little embarrassed about it now. Would you believe, though, that I remember a lot of what I wrote? ;)

      Also, yes, I inserted religion into the subject, because to me, the subject is a little touchy. I was bullied by staff members during my military service, because I said I’m not a member of the Lutheran Church, and thus, according to our constitution, shouldn’t be forced to participate in Lutheran services. We’ve also had to fight for our kids’ right to choose whether or not they’d have to participate in the Lutheran classes in school. I don’t believe Dale Carnegie, by the way. He only looks short term in his How to win friends and influence people I bloody well didn’t make many friends when I influenced them…

      So anyway, I did try to make the idea as generally applicable as possible, in order to make those, who don’t want religion force fed to them, wouldn’t have to. But back to language. So we know for a fact, that we humans have most likely the most complex language of any creature. There are birds, mammals and even reptiles, that communicate with each other; vegetation can also communicate, probably a low-frequency electronic signalling in the soil, with the roots coming very close to each other, and they use electronic imbalance to facilitate osmosis, anyway.

      But language is like any other invention we have access to, just a tool. We must decide how we use it. Many use language to create a false sense of reality, hope, fear, whatever it is they want; they do this by lying. Politicians are at the very pinnacle of this false sense of reality. Like Nazis knew, every dictator/authoritarian asshole/et.c. knew, that the general public deals with such a level of intelligence, that to them, reality is created by tabloid headlines and other very “loud” lies that are repeated ad infinitum. Hermann Goering said, that the more outrageous the lie, the more likely people are to believe it. But the secret is in repeating the lie often enough and loud enough, and they’ll buy it.

      Look at “Little England” for example, that is suddenly deathly afraid of immigrants, who suck resources from “true Britons” and it doesn’t make any difference to those idiots, that economists have debunked the idea time and time again: Immigrants by and large benefit the receiving end by having a more positive “balance” when you count the taxes they pay, the new jobs they create by just being there, using money. Now, I’m not the one who bows down to money and kiss the feet of the billionaires, no. But I have studied economics, and well, that’s what the politicians should be listening. Because the little guy needs a little money, too. We just cannot depend on “charity” from the rich people.

      We have the whole freaking human history to show, that the rich do not give nearly enough to charity to prevent people from dying of hunger. I could name lots of countries that have bunches of billionaires, and still people die, because they’re too poor to buy nutritious food… (USA comes to mind; India; pretty soon Britain shall be there, too)

      Thanks for commenting. Freedom is something, that I can get nostalgic about with my grandchildren, when they’re a little older. :) We don’t have any. Some asshole in the GCHQ and/or NSA has all of this saved in their servers, and actually I would sound pretty rebellious to them. I bloody hope so! :D

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