Saturday, April 1

Responding to a commenter

Renae commented on a previous post:

I find your new-found passion and love for the Catholic Church admirable. That joy is something every soul seeks and finds residence.

I'm not sure what kind of a place the Mormon Church had in your heart or what place it has now, but please, in your enthusiasm, don't degrade/disrespect something thought by others to be sacred, holy, and profound. I have spent quite a bit of time sitting in front of the tabernacle of Catholic churches, but all my profound spiritual experiences tell me the Mormon church is true. I would never intentionally say anything to disrespect or degrade that which is held so dear by so many. (Although, I'm sure I do it unintentionally plenty.)

May God only continue to bless you and bring you closer to him.

Thank you for your comment, Renae. You brought up a very good question - what place does the Mormon church have in my heart?

I guess to start, I should tell you how I originally fell away. Now, I lost my testimony the first time in the church at 21. I was in a bookstore and picked up an anti-Mormon book. I realized the minute I read it why the Prophet and leaders of the church strongly discourage members from reading them. They contain truth and fiction in varying amounts, but they are very persuasive. The thing I remember at that moment is that it was the first time in my life that it occurred to me that there was a possibility that the Church was not what it said it was, and that it was false. Before that moment, it had never even crossed my mind that the church of my youth was anything other than what it said it was.

Once that testimony was shattered, I never could quite get it back the way it was. Oh, I tried, boy howdy did I try. But it was such a struggle, for years thinking, "If only I paid perfect tithing, if only I went to the temple more, if only I prayed more, if only I read the scriptures more, if only I fulfilled my callings more, if only I beared my testimony more, I would be given a witness of Christ." But it never came.

So to get back to the original question, what place does the Mormon church have in my heart? Well, I think in some small way I will always have the Mormon culture in my heart. I can tell you right now it would be easier for me to walk into a new-to-me Mormon church and go through the services than to go to a Catholic Mass in a church I've never attended before. My mother is still Mormon, as are many members of my family. I love the Mormon people profoundly. Many of the Mormon people are truly good people, who give genuinely and who are kind.

BUT ... when I was Mormon, I found that many times my kindness had an ulterior motives. I found that I was kind to non-members in hopes that they would see what a good person I was and would want to join the church. I would fellowship inactives and treat them with great kindness, but only up to a point. I would always have in the back of my mind that I would hope that my influence would help them to join the Church. I've heard that type of action called "love bombing" before.

Looking back on it, I realize that I never hoped that people would find Christ, or find the solace of being embraced by the loving arms of God. I found that I hoped that they would become baptized and become a Mormon. Christ didn't have anything to do with it at all.

I remember coming back to the Mormon church in 1998, when I was 27, after a very long absense. I had hit rock bottom and knew I had to make some changes in my life. I did not like the person I had become. I was very sinful and self-centered. And I was lonely. In my weakness and vulnerability, I went back to the comfort I knew as a child. Something odd I found though is that throughout my time as a re-activated Mormon, I was either treated like a "special spirit" (for you Catholics, that translates to "good personality") in the Singles Ward, and as a pet project for the Relief Society in the Family ward I attended.

I was always sad, because I was never "love bombed" when I fell away. I wasn't expecting it, I was hoping I wouldn't get it, but I was honestly a little surprised that in the 5 years I've been away from the Church, I've received one phone call. No visits, no e-mails, no lovingly baked cookies on my doorstep. Nada.

So, in a nutshell, I have always and will always love Mormon people. The culture has some points which are admirable. But I also have found many documented facts which show Joseph Smith deceived people and was not who he claimed to be. I also, with gratitude from others who have done much research on the matter, have found many inconsistancies in the Book of Mormon that do not match the Bible, or even current Mormon teachings. It also saddens me greatly that the Mormon people continue to spend hundreds and thousands of hours every year doing work for the dead when there are living people who are hungry and needy all around us. Almost every act of charity I saw in the Mormon church (Bishop's storehouse, etc.) was done for Mormons, by Mormons, unless it was included in a "love bomb" meant to convert people.

And more than anything, I pray for Mormons to investigate outside of the church about the history of Joseph Smith. I'm not talking Ed Dekker, or even the Tanners. There are places where people have done research, people with great investment in the church, who have found the truth and decided to share it with people.


At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Renae said...

I've read some anti-Mormon material and have had some things brought to light that I would have dismissed as false if it wasn't shown through sources that they were indeed facts. Usually, however, the tone of the literature and the flat out lies and deceitfulness ruins any truth I might be able to pull out.
I can understand how you see ulterior motives in "Mormon kindness." Truly, so much pressure is placed on certain actions that many people do them because they feel it is what they are supposed to do, not because they want to do it for themselves unable to resist because the light of Christ is bursting from them. I personally do things because I want to grow, come closer to Christ, and bring others closer to Him too. I think my kindness is most evident in what I do that isn't expected of me, but it can also be found in fulfilling what is.
I would be lieing if I said I didn't want people to join the Mormon church. I get excited when the possibility arises. It is because I want them to be Mormon, but I want them to be Mormon because I want them to have the joy and happiness that Christ brings into my life through the Mormon church.
Recently my ward has had several baptisms. Last fast and testimony meeting each one got up and talked about the new-found joy, happiness, and direction in his life. They talked about how they couldn't stop smiling and all their friends were wondering what was different. It's that kind of conversion I yearn for; the kind where they join because they have truly come to know and love Christ.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Sister Mary Hasta said...

I know we all have our own testimonies, and sometimes they're subtle, however in your case, I'm pretty safe in saying it's the opposite. :D If I may make a suggestion, dialog is all well and good, conversing with people about the joy that you have found in Catholicisim is excellent. But people do not react well to being told straight up they are wrong.

Take a tactic from the church you left. I sat throught eighteen sessions with Sister Missionaries when I was younger. In those eighteen sessions, they never once told me that I was in the wrong church, oh, no. They provided me with information about the Mormon Church, asked me to read it, and then asked me what I felt about it. They weren't ready for some of my answers ("I read the entire Book of Mormon this week. There's only two women in it, one's horribly evil and the other doesn't have a name!") or some of my challenges ("Have you ever tried praying the Rosary?") but they never, ever, never told me I went to the wrong church. They asked about my life, invited me to ward and stake events, and kept giving me more information.

It's all about building a relationship of trust. Most people are brought into any religious practice through experiences with one individual.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a dir. of religious ed. in a Catholic parish in North Carolina. I would be interested to know some books you DO regard as simply truthful about Mormons, as I occasionally get questions about LDS from parishioners. Jim McCullough, Our Lady of Grace Church, Greensboro, NC

At 4:46 PM, Blogger Cynthia E. Bagley said...

hi.. I found your blog interesting. I won't join the Catholic faith, but I do believe that member's kindess usually hides an ulterior motive. I was born Mormon. I am not involved with the church now. I am happy to see that you have found something that brings you joy.

Unfortunately, I have many close family members who are members of the LDS faith and they do NOT seem happy to me. :-)

At 2:24 AM, Anonymous mike said...

what helped me escape mormonism is when i realized that deception was encouraged under the disguise of "line upon line,precept upon precept." the missionaries will not discuss hardcore LDS doctrines because multiple gods and polygamy don't lure many people in. the church likes to pretend that polygamy is a dead issue from the 19th century, but the truth is the only reason it's not practised today is federal law. polygamy is still the method in the next life that a man and his WIVES will populate their own worlds. this is doctrine that is learned in the temple and never discussed by the elders(missionaries) with prospective converts. would the true church have to use semantics and deception to win converts??? i think not...instead i think of all the martyrs who died preaching the complete gospel of jesus christ including that priest in turkey. bless you in your journey..mike

At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met a man raised Mormon but left the group as a teenager. I asked him why. He said "Elephants in North America. Any one who says (Smith) that elephants were in North American is lying... what else might he be lying about?"
Funny at the time, but it speaks volumes.
(Of course, when he became a Christian, the idea of multiple gods, and actually BEING a god, (what happened to the 1st commandment?)really seemed wonky to him. Of all the 'missionaries' who have come to my door, not one of them told me that my husband and I could actually have our own planet someday as gods. They know they wouldn't attract members with that.
The TRUTH shall set you free!

At 6:52 AM, Blogger jumpboot said...

Happiness can be found anywhere, in any church, if you're truly seeking it.
After 29 years as a member of the LDS faith, I was finally able to step back, remove the blinders, and take an honest and objective look at the Mormon church and it's origins.
I'm still in the "recovery" process of Mormonism, but my happiness has only increased since accepting what I consider to be the truth about Joseph Smith and the BOM. I'm no longer burdered with all the guilt that comes with church membership and I feel like I've reclaimed the true nature of my spirituality.
The bottom line is, my personal salvation is not dependant on a testimony of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, but rather in Jesus Christ.
Good luck to all of you in your quest for the truth.


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