Friday, November 7, 2008

Why I Love My Religion

I've been questioning. I've been doubting. I've felt anger. I've felt sadness. And as I have explored my issues with my faith, I realize that I haven't painted many of my fellow LDS brothers and sisters in the best light. I've decided that you are adults, you read my blog, you know I vent, and that we all have our issues. However, I would be greatly saddened if you, by any means, thought that the few people I may discuss are by any means the norm.

There are so many reasons WHY I love my religion. And I want to share a few of them with each of you. It has been a singular experience to grow up in a faith that probably remains one of the most misunderstood religions in the world. I've been condemned and spit upon (literally!!) and hated and mocked because I am a "Mormon". It amazes me how the false beliefs surrounding my religion keep propagating across the country, and people still look with a weary eye towards the LDS Mecca of Utah.

So, let's clear a few things up. I'd like to address some of the major questions I've been asked.

1. Are LDS people Christian??? Ok, if you have had this question, can I ask why? The name of the church is "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints". We worship Jesus, we end our prayers in the name of Jesus, we teach Jesus from the bible..WE LOVE Jesus. And yet, even when I say this, people still doubt. I do NOT get this one.

2. How many wives does your dad have? (followed by cocky laughter) Um, what in the world? Yeah, I guess the church will never escape its long ago history with Polygamy, but it ended. It's over. It's done with. Got it??  As a member, I've done extensive research as to WHY the church implemented polygamy at the time, I won't go into here, but if you are interested in knowing, let me know. But, for a LONG time now, no polygamy has been practiced. Yes, there are some crazy extremist that may try to associate themselves with our church, but they just AREN'T a part of it. So, any questions? Don't ask a mormon this, it's rude, it's ignorant, it's offensive. Just know that they are NOT! Got it?

3. LDS people MUST have lots of BABIES. This isn't true. Now, it is true that the family is the center of the church and it is REALLY important and kids are good. But NO ONE forces people to have children. God doesn't get mad at you if you don't. It's not a law, it's a stereotype, just like many faiths, LDS families come in all shapes and sizes.

4. We promise not to convert you!!! Yes, while the LDS church has distinct missionaries across the world, they, by no means, seek to convert everyone who they meet. You don't need to worry about them, just treat them like regular people. The thing is, like you in your faith, it IS good to share ideas. And when you find extreme joy in something, it's natural to want to share it. But by no means will friendships formed with LDS people be based on your willingness to listen to their religion.

5. You don't want some alcohol??? Yes. LDS people don't drink (and they would rather be called LDS than Mormon) Funny, when I used to tell people that I didn't drink...they would naturallly mock..."are you like a Mormon or something?" And yes, I am. When they found this out, they would usually give me a hard time about it. They would make sheep noises and joke around and try to pressure the drinking.  Now that I actually tried drinking and feel like it's just not my scene, so I say I just don't like it, or it isn't healthy for my body, and nobody bats an eyelash. Funny how you do things in the name of "health" it's fine. But do it in the name of "religion" and you're a lemming.

Hmmm...I am trying to think of other questions. Do you guys have any? Can you members of the church think of a time when you were wrongfully stereotyped?

Now, the church, to me, has SO much good. I might not be able to blog about it all here, so I'll just mention a few. I will quote from a fellow LDS member:

1. Spirituality. The LDS Church provides a forum for nurturing spirituality. Humans innately crave a sense of mystery, wonder, and spirituality. Without it, they often cease to feel motivated to continue striving for truth, beauty, justice and excellence. I acknowledge that neither religion generally, nor Mormonism specifically, holds a monopoly on spirituality. But in my experience, the LDS Church is one viable place to find spiritual experiences

2. Community. The LDS Church provides community. Strong social bonds are irreplaceable for healthy living, and a well-functioning LDS ward does an amazingly good job at helping large groups of people build meaningful, enduring relationships in a relatively short period of time. .

3. Family. It is THE most important thing!

4. Clean living. The LDS Church serves as a strong advocate for clean living, family focus, and Christlike community service. I acknowledge that the church doesn't always live up to the standards it sets -- but in my experience, sincere, devout Mormons are consistently identified worldwide as living generally honorable, compassionate, respectable lives. At their core, in spite of all their idiosyncrasies, Mormons are good people. Myself and many others, have benefited tremendously by our association with them.

5. Much of the doctrine. For many, Mormon-specific doctrines -- like the ideas of eternal families are some of the most beautiful existing in religious theology today.


Wouldn't it be nice if all the bias, all the preconceived notions, all the hatred and misunderstandings could just fall away and we could each just see each other in a spirit of love and acceptance. Yeah, that sounds like heaven to me.

Here is a short video clip that had a big time affect on me as a young girl growing up! Enjoy.


HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Thank you for posting this. I think there is a tremendous amount of "misinformation" out there about LDS, especially in parts of the country where there simply aren't many LDS people. And, as we've said before, ignorance breeds suspicion, breeds mistrust... and on and on.

And that video was lovely. Loved it. Don't you love Jesus??!! Oh my, do I love Jesus. Can't wait to fling my arms around him and hug him. (Have you read "The Shack" by the way? I know we touched on this before.... It's certainly not a Pulitzer prize winning work of fiction, but it's a beautiful book nonetheless, and definitely worth reading.)

Anyway, thanks again for posting this. :-)

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

That was a beautiful post. We have a lot of LDS families on the side of the island where I teach. They are grounded, sincere and a joy to teach. The studnets and parents who are more narrow minded and judgemental tend to be the evangelicals.

Olivia said...

Your blog never ends to surprise me. I enjoyed this post. I think my family's experience has been different since we don't fit the mold or the expectations of what "Mormons" are like. Since we're both converts, we both had to come to terms with the church's past with polygamy. Both of our families are still uneasy about our beliefs, but I've noticed that the more time that goes by and the more they watch us, the more comfortable they become. And I am so grateful to raise Anjali with these beliefs. Things I never had as a child, like family prayer, are now so central to her daily life. She's obsessed with nursery, and talks about it all week. We finally hung up pictures, and she automatically recognized the picture of Christ and started talking about him. And while she doesn't get the whole picture yet, she calls him her friend, which I love. I do know that many of the best things in my life are there as a direct result of the choice I made almost elevan years ago to get baptized, and it's something I never forget. I've also been blessed with many friends from different faiths that I can talk with comfortably and compare religions without anyone "bashing" which is in itself a great blessing. One of my best friends is muslim, and it's funny how excited we both get when we find similarities in our beliefs, be them ever so small...I think a lot of the tension in the world would be gone if more people took the time to look at how we're all similiar instead of focusing on differences.

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said...

Yeah, I agree with Olivia. I think it would be fun to read a book all about the similarites of each religion. Not the differences...but the similarities. Does anyone know of one out there?

D'Arcy said...

HWHL--exactly. And yes, I do love Jesus.

PHHT: it is always so lovely when you stop by! Thank you!

Olivia--your blog and ideas and openmindedness and just everything about you never stops to surprise me. I love learning about similarities. I've study the five pillars of Faith in Islam, and I have a hard time finding things I DON'T agree with. Most relgions have the same roots, and that should make the world seem like a safer place, not a scarier place.

Jenn--there has to be a book about that! There is a book about everything. I'll do some searching.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
Absolutely the world would shine if we let go of making negatives out of our differences or beliefs, and instead celebrate them.
I think in your Journey here, or in my interpetation since I have been reading at your place here, that you do, and bless you. You question but do not judge, and in my view, that is the problem I often see in organized religions, the judgement. Isn't it easier to accept and love as you write? I hope so.
I have come to a relationship with God through Nature, and it is what is to me, and it has made my life better, calmer, a better man. It is just what has worked for me.
Kia ora D'Arcy, please keep questioning, as it makes a great place for us to think, debate, and grow.

jomama said...

hey, great post d'arcy,
and as for the book about similarities in religions, there is one that i used in my "gospel and world religions" class at byu that i LOVED and still consult to this day. it's called Religions of the World by Spencer J. Palmer, Roger R. Keller, Doug Sull Choi & James A. Toronto. it's available through different sellers on amazon and i think also the byu bookstore website. it of course comes from an lds perspective and goes through the major world religions and shows what they have in common with the lds church. all done in a very respectful, intelligent way. i highly recommend it, esp. to someone coming from an lds background.
as for a book from a neutral background, a good one is huston smith's The World's Religions, a very basic survey. in the back there's a part about the relationship between different religions. it just has a small part on what religions have in common though, maybe d'arcy can find something better, a whole book on the subject!

G said...

oh d'arcy, that was refreshing and beautiful. sometimes I feel not very charitable towards the church and it's members and really need a shake up to remind me of the good, and that lemming behavior goes both ways.

thank you for your wonderful example.

D'Arcy said...

jo..that world religions book is a really good, I have it myself.

G--it's hard, isn't it? Sometimes I go around bashing everything with my skeptical hammer that I forget so many good things I learned from my faith. I've got a long way to go yet.

Sugar said...

My daughter has several friends that belong to the LDS church in our town. I often joke with them that we have more kids in our family than they do in theirs.

I love that family is so important to LDS. I'm bummed that it's thought of uniquely as a "mormon thing" sometimes. Many of my friends and I have four or more kids. We homeschool. We bring each other meals when we are sick. And we almost always get asked, Are you Mormon? Nope... but we are all Christian. You know what? I even know some Catholics like us... weird, huh? ;)