Thursday, January 14, 2010

The New Start

I've been gone for a long time from this blog, I know. Well, 2009 wasn't so kind to me, but I've changed a lot of bad things and moved to a new place, and got away from a negative vibe that was haunting me. So, on with the show.

My focus lately has been on Gnostic teachings of the original Christians, the Nag Hammadi Texts, and a new interest in Astro-Theology. And I recently went back to one Sunday of Mormon Church. One Sunday in 7 years, not counting the two funerals I attended. Wasn't much difference. Except all the hugs and "we miss you's" etc. That was to be expected. The little kids I used to teach in Primary are teenagers now. I don't know how many times I recited that my oldest child was 20 now, and my youngest almost a teen. I was only there because I felt like doing something nice for my mom, who was injured and couldn't drive for the past month. But everyone there looked so hopeful, so sure that I had an epiphany and was returning to their fold. There I was, sitting in the meetings with my pentagram ring and my triquetra-hematite necklace. I didn't feel anything but awkward at all the attention. I also didn't feel shame, guilt or remorse for the decision I made to leave the church. I'm on the right path for me, and I know it.

If I were to continue attending, just to be there with mom and take her to church, there is no doubt in my mind that sooner or later, the bishop would be asking to speak with me. There is a file on me in the office. I am a Resigned former member. There was no "court of love". There was no process of excommunication in the works. I simply wrote a letter and told them to remove me from the membership list. That was November of 2002.

I jumped through all the flaming hoops they laid out for me and still they could not give me what they promised. I will have to wait till the afterlife just like everyone else. And I am not going to spend THIS life sitting in endless meetings, and feeling guilty and ashamed of myself. Does that mean I'm going to do the exact opposite? If you ask a staunch Mormon, the answer would be yes, naturally. If I'm not in church feeling guilty, what would be the exact opposite? Sitting in a bar whoring around? Joining a BDSM club and hitting the Swinger's scene? Would I naturally be smoking and drinking and doing drugs, smacking around my kids, and living with STD's?

I'm really shocked at the assumption that morality and religion go hand in hand. Is there no such thing as a moral, ethical person without the Judeo-Christian stamp? Are all non-Christians immoral and unethical people? Have we no moral compass or sense of right and wrong? Really?

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, although I don't know for sure he said it. "When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion."

What sets us apart from animals? Our sense of right and wrong. An INBORN moral compass. A gift from the Creator. The power to use logic and reason in our choices. And what does religion do? It seeks to take credit, to squash down our abilities to think for ourselves, to hand over autonomy in exchange for the promise of eternal life. We are not allowed to question, to doubt, to haggle over details, or even have hurt feelings about the way we are shuffled through like sheep. If the Brethren have decided, have chosen, and have pronounced it, then there is no more debate. The thinking has been done. It is left to those in charge, and doubting them is equal to doubting your god. Wow. No thank you. I prefer to muddle on through with my own thoughts and opinions and reason and logic. What I have discovered is that I flow through life like a river flows to the ocean. My thoughts and opinions change with the ebb and flow of life's experiences. I am not secured in a walled-in shelter. I am taking huge risks in being disappointed, in being shocked or confused. But I'm not living under a threat of eternal doom either.

Has anyone stopped to consider that we are all asleep and need to be awakened to the full knowledge and understanding of our divine nature? This is what the Gnostic Christians taught, generations before Jesus. The "resurrection" we need is not from death back to life in a literal sense. It is a transformation between ignorance and truth. Our 'resurrection' comes from gaining knowledge. The only good in this world is knowledge, and the only sin is ignorance. Yet the Mormon way would keep us all dependent upon others for all our wisdom and knowledge, and slam the door on anything that would cause us to question, to reason for ourselves, or to doubt.

If I were to have a vision, right now in this very room, of Joseph, Jesus and God, all together commanding me to take up a pen and write down their words and then go out in the world and tell everyone I know, no one would believe me. Even if it was true, it wouldn't matter. It would still be up to me to get others to believe and trust in me, in my character, and in my ability to relate the experience. If I was extremely good at charisma and charm, I could gather a small following. If I continued to claim more visions and experiences that only happened to me, and I was able to convince a few people that I had seen and spoken with Deities from heaven, it would still be balance upon the precipice of my word, my character, and my ability to convince others. There would be no magical, mystical quality about it. And it wouldn't even have to be true in order for me to accomplish it. I could do just as well with a lie as the truth. Real miracles are subject to the same fate as a lie, and I question and doubt that the Creator would use such means to convince us of anything. Is it more probable that a miracle might have occurred, or that a lie was told?

To quote Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason :

"In every point of view in which those things called miracles can be placed and considered, the reality of them is improbable, and their existence unnecessary. They would not answer any useful purpose, even if they were true; for it is more difficult to obtain belief to a miracle, than to a principle evidently moral, without any miracle. Moral principle speaks universally for itself. Miracle could be a thing of the moment, and seen but by a few; after this it requires a transfer of faith from God to man to believe a miracle upon man's report. Instead of admitting the recitals of miracles as evidence of any system of religion to be true, it should be considered as symptoms of it being fabulous. It is necessary to the full and upright character of truth that it rejects the crutch; and it is consistent with the character of fable to seek the aid that truth rejects."

So, if we want to put anything to the test, it would be a man's character. His ability to see a vision, relate it to others, and become a prophet rests on his moral character. It would not matter if the vision or miracle was true one whit. Because he was the only witness to it, then we would all have to rely upon his word. Having never met Joseph Smith personally, I would then have to rely upon accounts from others, and put my faith and trust in their character. It still would not matter if it was a lie or not. My belief would rest upon witnesses, not upon whether or not I believed such a miracle could occur at all. It is a thousand times more likely that no such miracle ever occurred. And I get that understanding from studying the character of the man who made the claim. This is why it is so upsetting to read volumes of Mormon history, to read the history of polygamy, of other "vision" claims from the same man. It's upsetting to discover just ONE lie in the story. It casts doubt upon the man. That's why there is such a movement in the church to maintain their beliefs and stand firm against any doubts. How would that be accomplished? Willful ignorance. The desire to NOT know any different. The desire to keep believing because so much time and effort has been invested in the cause and it would be TOO painful to realize it was based on a lie. Some people would rather live this way. And to me, that is the real sin. Turning down the use of the one gift our Creator gave us, the use of REASON.