This is a long story about yesterday, my first day out of the closet as an apostate. I'm emotionally exhausted and haven't even told my mother yet. I'm not sure if what I'm feeling is peace, melancholy, or depression. Hell, it might even be the feeling of being possessed by Satan! I'm just acting out a decision I made several weeks ago. Trying to recall why I even started this process is blurry. As I go through these actions I sometimes feel that I am watching myself from the outside. A small part of me wonders if that is because it's Satan who is controlling me as he promised me in the temple he would.
My wife and I decided about 5 weeks ago to leave the church. We wanted to wait until after my sister-in-law's temple wedding to make it public, not wanting to distract from their big event. Two days ago they got back from their honeymoon and had their reception.
I decided that I wanted to verbally announce to a group of members that I wanted out, and that I wanted to tell the leadership of our branch, in their own building, what I really believe. I was (until yesterday after their weekly meeting) a member of the Priesthood Executive Committee (PEC). I decided that the PEC meeting would be the best place to tell. I wanted to tell verbally like this because in the church I've taught things to these people that I honestly don't believe. I'm trying to develop my integrity muscle, and I thought being honest to people to whom I have lied, in the place where I lied to them, would be a good growth experience.
Or maybe I did it because I'm a masochist.
The only ones in the meeting were the EQ president, the branch president (BP), and the two full-time missionaries (FTM's). I arrived 20 minutes late wearing blue jeans, tennis shoes, a polo shirt, and a crew cut. The branch president welcomed me home as if the reason I hadn't been to church in 6 weeks was because I was out of town. I doubt he really believed I was out of town for that long, but he was trying to help me maintain appearances.
I immediately said I have something I wanted to announce: I don't believe the church is true. The BP stood up and yelled "What?!" in unbelief when I made that statement. I began to explain what I believed, and several times the BP said that he and I should talk about this privately, and I maintained that no, I want to talk about it publicly. He kept interrupting me to let me know that he knew it really is true, and used logic so poor I doubt I could even create a dialog with a straw-man Mormon with arguments so bad.
Here are the highlights (I swear I'm not making any of this up):
BP: The Book of Mormon must be true because the Bible proves it is. I gave a talk on it with the scriptural references *FROM THE BIBLE* that *PROVE* it.
RA (recent apostate, i.e. yours truly): I don't believe the Bible either.
BP: Do you believe in God?
BP: I'm glad you believe in God. If there is a God, then he must have an organization on this earth. I'll believe the church isn't true when you can show me another church that is truer.
RA: Why does God have to have an organization on this earth?
BP: I was raised in the Catholic Church and left it, my friends, my family, and my heritage to become a Mormon because I *KNOW* that it's true.
RA: I was raised Mormon and am leaving it, my friends, et. al. because I believe it's false.
BP: Could you write a 600-year history of Tibet? That's what JS did! The BOM *MUST* be true!
RA: It's a nice story, but there really isn't any evidence that correlates the BOM with actual events.
BP: If the BOM isn't true, where could the Indians possibly have come from?
RA: Geneticists say with confidence that the blood of Native Americans is Asian, *NOT* Semitic.
BP: You need to talk to the Stake President. He is the most spiritual man I know. In this area. He was supposed to be here 40 minutes ago.
RA: If he shows up he can join our discussion.
BP: Which would you rather have happen: Go through life having left the church, die, and find out that it's true, or stay in the church, go through life, and find out that it's true.
RA: I'd rather go through life living according to what *I* really believe and what *MY* conscience tells me, regardless of whether the church is true or not.
BP: But you've been to the *TEMPLE*! How could you explain something so marvelous and wonderful as the temple if the church isn't true?
RA: I don't know, I haven't been through the Free Mason degrees.
BP: Well I have! I've been through all of them! I *AM* a Free Mason! You may have seen me wear my pin, but I don't wear it anymore because I'm an *INACTIVE* Free Mason. Let me tell you this: Free masonry is totally different. [I wanted to interrupt and say, "You're right. The temple ceremony doesn't have blood oaths or the five points of fellowship. They are totally different" but that comment was so irreverent I didn't dare.] They don't have the *PRIESTHOOD*. And I'll tell you something else: They got their ceremony from the *TEMPLE OF SOLOMON*. It was *GOD* who showed them how to build that temple.
And I'll tell you another thing! Ever since Freemasonry was integrated by allowing blacks to join the Freemasons, Freemasonry has been on the decline and it's going to eventually completely fall away now that it's integrated. And I'll tell you another thing....
EQP: [interrupting] let's just leave the freemasons out of this.
RA: [standing up] Thank you for sharing your feelings with me. Here is a letter for you [handing BP my exit letter. I start going around the room shaking everyone's hand. When I get to the FTM's, who were twitching and looking at their shoes this whole time, I said] And of course you two are still invited to our home for dinner Friday.
FTM #1: Good. That's what I was worried about [and he laughs a very nervous laugh].
[That was the majority of the dialog. He also preached at me for several long stretches about different things including a contemporary of Brigham Young who thought BY was an a**hole but told BY that he knew the church was true and wouldn't leave the church based upon his hatred of BY. Ironically, I found that story of someone doing what he believed to be right despite relationships with members of the church to be comforting in the decision I had made. The conversation lasted about 35 minutes.]
Then I left. Sacrament meeting was about to begin so the church was filling up. I didn't want to face anymore people. I was mentally exhausted and beat up. I kept my cool and told the truth. I felt like I was watching myself from outside of me, handing the letter, and walking out the back door to avoid seeing or being seen by any members. I felt melancholy. I was kind of sad, very sober, sincere, and open.
Here is the content of my handwritten exit letter. The original was written on July 4th but I edited it yesterday.
July 26, 1998
It is with mixed emotions that we announce our decision to resign our memberships to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are happy and at peace with ourselves because we are now being honest about our personal convictions, and are sad at the hurt this decision will cause some friends and loved ones.
The decision is the result of years of introspection and prayer. The reasons we decided to resign from the church are:
1- After being members of the church for a combined 38 years, reading the Book of Mormon 15 times, seriously praying about the church for most of that time, and making a real effort over this length of time to live the way that a good Mormon boy and girl should, neither of us can look in the mirror and honestly say that we believe the church is true.
2- We find no more spirituality within the church than without it. In other words, even if we didn't believe the church was "true" with a capital "T" but still found a high level of spirituality within it, we'd probably retain our memberships. Unfortunately, we find church participation more spirit draining than enhancing.
3- Our own life missions as we interpret them aren't in harmony with the missions of the church. Because we don't believe the church is particularly true or spiritual, we are incapable of enthusiastically and sincerely doing missionary work. Because we think the church is false, we believe redemption work for the dead is ineffectual. We would consider being members of a "mutual improvement club," but the church's vision of a perfected saint is different than our own vision of the way we need to be improving ourselves.
We made this decision on our own and aren't planning on affiliating with any other church or religious organization at this time. We are aware of the serious nature of this decision from the standpoint of LDS dogma. We say with complete honesty and sincerity that we wanted the results of our prayers to lead us to strong belief and faith in the church, but it led us to the opposite. We now feel it is imperative to be honest with ourselves and with others and follow the dictates of our own consciences.
Because we haven't done anything seriously wrong, it wouldn't be appropriate to use the word "excommunicate" in conjunction with this request. Simply remove our names from the membership records.
Thank you for your attention to this request.
Roger David Loomis
[wife's name and signature]
Our home teacher came by later without an appointment and said he missed us at church and asked why we weren't there. He is a really nice guy, but it is also quite clear that he probably wouldn't have come by if he weren't assigned to us. I now find having an assigned friend quite annoying. He left a message several days ago, which included how much he wanted to visit us because he is committed to getting 100%. I didn't return the call, which explains his uninvited visit.
We think he had heard about our decision but was playing dumb. We explained that we quit because we don't believe it and don't like it. He didn't preach or try to change our mind. He said he admired us for making a difficult decision that we believed was right. He said he hoped it would make us happy. He prayed for us and left.
The really hard call was later that night. A FTM that was serving in our branch last fall heard about our decision from one of his missionary friends who attended the PEC meeting. He tried to get permission from the mission president to call us, but couldn't get in touch with him immediately and couldn't wait, so called. He was crying. He talked my wife and me for over an hour.
You all talk about people who consider themselves your leaders laying on guilt. That's nothing compared to someone who considers you to be his mentor laying on guilt. He said that the 2 people from his whole mission who have really helped him in his struggles as a missionary were his mission president and I. He talked about some spiritual experiences we had together. He talked about all of the advice I'd given him (even after leaving our area, he frequently called for advice or a pep talk or just to chat). Things that I had told him had formed a big part of his self-identity.
The advice I had given him wasn't about the veracity of the church, but rather about how to get along with others and have the guts to do what you believe was right. I don't retract any of it. In his mind my advice about how to get along with a mission companion was tied to the divinity of the work. I tried to explain that I was still the same guy, only now being a little more honest about what I believe. It crushed him. I felt guilty for being close to him, guilty for having implied by my actions that I believed it was true, and guilty for now leaving.
He and I both have had real, spiritual experiences in the church. I tried to explain that I believe in God, and that I believe that God doesn't care which church you belong to, and that he doesn't even care if you belong to a church or not. I said he doesn't even care if you believe in him or not. I said that I believe God doesn't care about church, he cares about the way you live your life, and that he values nothing more than honesty and integrity, especially to self. Developing my integrity muscle is my personal prime directive. I said the Mormon Church works for some people and if it works for someone that's fine. But I really don't believe that it is everything that it claims to be, and that it doesn't work for my wife or myself.
I pointed out that, even though I didn't know the specifics of his spiritual experiences, that I bet they happened when he was selflessly serving others or being as honest with himself and others. I said I bet that the spiritual experiences, although real, weren't directly about the truthfulness of LDS specific doctrine or LDS history. I tried to validate the real service he was trying to perform. He was honestly sacrificing for what he believed. Even though his efforts to serve others might be misguided, they are efforts to serve others nonetheless. That is commendable. Still crying he said that he couldn't stop loving my family or me and that we'd always be friends. I told him to always do what he believed to be right. I assured him that if I were to recognize a manifestation from God that the church really is true that I'd humbly go back. He said he felt a little better.
I felt good about being honest, but I rocked this poor kid's world. He's a good kid and doing so hurts. I guess this is an example of the harm that can be done by someone staying in the church who really doesn't believe it. I guess it will be a growing experience for both of us. It really hurts.
That is day one. I did what I believed I needed to. I feel beat up. Words of encouragement would be appreciated.
LETTER 2 (July 28, 1998)
Thanks for letting me know that I'm not alone and that it really is ok to make my own decisions based upon my own beliefs. I was anxious to make a quick, clean break out of fear I would otherwise be sucked back in. I feel much more relaxed and confident about my decision today than I did yesterday.
Jes' [from the exmormon e-mail group] comments struck me quite powerfully because my father, a Quaker, spoke at my farewell without compromising his own beliefs as Jes [spoke at her son's farewell] did without compromising hers. I now understand my own story and the forces that made me stay in the church so long. My appreciation for this group just got a little deeper.
What follows turns into my story for all that are interested.
Jes thoughtfully shared:
"When my son went on his mission---he wanted his active, valiant mother back...I had left the church unofficially about six years before. I wanted to let him know that I valued his free agency in deciding to serve and that he could count on me. I gave a funny and moving talk at his farewell and my sister and I sang a song we used to sing together when I was active as he had asked us to do. He knew that he counted most to me and that I could abide with him as long as no one tried to make me believe what I could not. The spirit was thick there that day---several people said it was the best sacrament meeting they had had in that ward for a long time..."
That sounds a lot like my own mission farewell. I never heard that chapel so silent as it was when my Quaker dad gave his talk right before mine in my farewell.
I grew up in a part member family in Sandy, UT. It was incredible how unblessed, guilty, and alone my siblings and I felt because we obviously weren't valiant enough in the previous life to be born under the covenant. We felt that way despite our parents having a great relationship with each other, one I've always believed was better than most of the LDS marriages that I saw. I guess you would call my parents "multi-layered." It seems like all I heard about in church was the absolute essentiality of being married in the temple and how superior eternal families are to mortal families. I thought I was the only one of my siblings who felt so bad about this cursed family, where we were invited to the party but not allowed to eat the cake. After we had all grown up my sister mentioned the guilt, and in unison the other 3 children excitedly proclaimed "You felt that way TOO! I thought I was the only one!"
I admire my father and the way he gracefully handled a very difficult family life he found himself in. I know that I have caused him a lot of pain, but he always loved us and was honest with us. I remember one Sunday night when I was a young teenager, perhaps 14. The subject of religion came up and out of the frustration and guilt the church had instilled in me I lashed out at him about how I knew the church was true and that he needed to join it. I promised him that if he were to read the BOM and sincerely pray about it, God would tell him it was true. He calmly and coolly answered that he had read it and prayed about it, but didn't receive an answer. I was ashamed of him. My own father was either a liar, insincere, or had a heart that's insensitive to the spirit. He responded to my questions with complete sincerity, and when I told him I knew it was true he calmly said, "Good for you." It wasn't going the way I was taught that it would. He was obviously in a lot of pain. At the time I thought it was because he was denying the truth. His entire family was standing around him in a circle, ganging up on him because he was committing the crime of being sincere about his beliefs. And I was the spokesman at the wise old age of 14.
He certainly didn't deserve it, but he did ask for it. After all, he did consent to allow my mother to raise us in the church. And he did take a job in Utah when I was young. I was only doing what I had been trained (read brainwashed) to do. But looking back I still feel bad about it.
The first time I left the church I was 16. My decision was a clear one. Sacrament meetings were unspiritual. The dominant topic of the priest's quorum was the church basketball league. The church basketball league was the most un-Christ-like organization I'd ever been exposed to. The whole thing seemed to be a big social club. Furthermore we were studying church history in seminary, and even the seminary version of church history wasn't flattering. I remember having all sorts of questions that I myself came up with from Mormon sources that no one could answer (damn, I wish I could remember what the issues were that I saw then). I didn't want to be a part of this--I decided it wasn't for me. I left.
All of the sudden my mother, siblings, neighbors and friends all ganged up on me. They wanted me back in. The topic of the PQ meetings turned from basketball to reactivating Roger. The hypocrisy of these people was flabbergasting. Every force in the universe seemed to have been pulling me back. I don't remember my dad defending me. Perhaps that was because I had always been so unwilling to develop a relationship with him because he wasn't a member. Isn't that ironic?
As I recall, nobody had any good answers to my questions. Nobody congratulated me for thinking for myself and being the only member of the damn PQ that actually thought about whether or not the church was actually true. The only thing they cared about was that they wanted me in, dead or alive (dead or alive refering symbolically to my emotional health, sincerity, integrity &c.)
How I wish Jes was my mother then! Or that I had a friend or two like you all who valued sincerity more than conformity. My own mother kept telling me "Well what about all the testimonies you've heard. What about brother this and bishop that. What about stake patriarch whatever (who I knew quite well because we'd been home teaching companions for almost 2 years). You can't tell me that HE doesn't KNOW that it's true!" She clearly communicated to me that what I believed and felt isn't important and shouldn't be the basis for how I live. I needed to base my life on the beliefs of these other faithful church members. My beliefs and feelings wouldn't be valid until they were identical to the beliefs, feelings, and knowledge of these faithful people my mother admired.
It's funny looking back at it. Most kid's are taught to base their testimonies on their parent's until they realize that resistance is irrelevant and succumb to the morg [Mormon Church], thereby gaining their own testimonies. I was still required to believe based on others, but the beliefs I was told to believe were contrary to the beliefs of my own father.
After a few months, I did go back to church just to get these people off my back. I didn't believe it and didn't pretend to. That was ok with them. They never asked and I never told. They just wanted me there. They knew what they were doing--I was soon assimilated. It was mainly because of a really good seminary teacher. He motivated me to read the BOM 3 times in 9 months. He was spiritual and a Mormon. I decided that if it was possible for him to be spiritual and Mormon it might be possible for me. I realized life would be much easier if I believed the way everyone wanted me to, so I worked as creatively as I could to justify the church in order to relieve myself of my own cognitive dissonance. (side note: I heard that this seminary teacher who I found to be so spiritual was fired a couple of years latter for teaching false doctrine.)
Even after being assimilated, I continued to scoff at the idea of going on a mission--I somehow knew what missions were really like. After all, my companions would be the same peers who only wanted to talk about basketball back at the PQ, so how spiritual, productive, &c. could a mission be? The no-mission position really got tough as I approached 19. Everyone at college asked when I was turning in my papers, I said I wasn't going, they told me like a broken record "the prophet said every young man..." and I said "I'm not going anyway."
Then one day I had that same question proposed to me from my EQ president from the student ward. Our chat was by the elevator on the ground floor at Mountain View Tower in Logan. Rather than going into what the prophet said, he asked me why not, and then listened. He then said "Wow, that's a tough situation. It will take a lot of fasting and prayer for you to determine what God wants you to do."
Someone listened to me! My opinion was valid! Maybe God wanted me to go, maybe he didn't. I could ask him and get my own answer! I reasoned that God did in fact want me to go, so I decided that very day to go. This was a big irony. I was convinced to go on a mission because a radical Mormon said that I could make my own decision rather than reminding me that I was commanded to go by the prophet.
My father tried to talk me out of it. He asked me why I wanted to do it. He pressured me to wait until after I'd graduated from college. I said no. He said at least finish my general ed. I said no. Then he asked, "this is really your own decision, isn't it?" When I told him that it was what I believed I should do, he became my biggest supporter. He was the first person in my life who was glad I made my own decision when it was a tough one, even though it didn't agree with his own beliefs. He supported me in my mission and financed the wretched event. He talked at my farewell. I think this was true unconditional love. Why does that have to be so rare? Man, it felt good to be unconditionally loved.
That was when I forgave my father for not being a Mormon, and allowed myself to be his friend. We've had a great, growing relationship ever since. I haven't told him yet that I left the church. He'll be happy and will feel vindicated in his own beliefs. He'll be thrilled one of his offspring is on his side in family debates. I'll have a beer with him when I go to Utah for Thanksgiving. I know that more than being happy about what the decision is, he will be happy I made my own decision when it was a tough one.
As I write this I'm at the point of tears because I do and will have one real supporter in my family as I go forward with my own convictions. I also have my wife on my side. I know that many of my readers don't have the same luxury. I am so thankful for you all supporting me! It's perhaps the biggest irony in my tale: 15 years ago I felt my father's religious convictions were a curse in my life. Now I realize that they are a huge blessing.
To quote my dear friend Ladybug, "Damn, I am blessed!"
So anyway Jes, I thank you for sharing your story and feelings with me; it was the catalyst to some insights into my own life that I consider profound. I think you and I can relate well to each other. Who knows, perhaps even your son will outgrow the church. I was very active for 8 years after finishing my mission, and then I handed in my letter before I was released from being branch mission leader. Whether your son leaves or not, he is lucky to have you, and lucky to realize it.
RECAPITULATION (August 2, 1998)
So, how did I reach my decision to leave? I read my first "Anti-Mormon" book at the age of 18, 2 years after I made my unsuccessful attempt to leave the church. I was blown away by some of the accusations it made. I went to the Logan Institute library and looked up the references. I looked up the scriptures. I marked my own thoughts in the margin of the book. I concluded that the book was 95% pigeon crap. As for the other 5%, I certainly wasn't going to follow the guidelines of such an insidious book, the opposite course seemed more reasonable, so I went stronger into the church.
It's hard coming up with a really strong, logical, and convincing argument against the church. There really aren't a lot of things that must be true for the church to be "true." Prophets don't always have to speak as prophets. Doctrines don't always have to make sense or stay the same. History doesn't have to always be pretty. Members and leaders don't have to be perfect. As a member, I got pretty good at defending the church against its enemies. If a member can come up with a way, even a very unlikely way, that it "could" be true, he wins. The anti-Mormon on the other hand has to prove that it can't be true under any circumstances. That is very hard to do. Because Mormons readily admit that their leaders and scriptures are neither inerrant nor infallible, there really isn't a lot that you can stick to them, in my humble opinion.
One's belief in the divinity of the Mormon Church must be based upon a witness from God that it really is true. In my mind, I confounded every anti-Mormon I talked with, and always left the discussions with an adrenaline rush and renewed confidence in the strength of my position. It seems that people who argued with me about the church trying to prove to me that it wasn't true really did their own cause a disservice. I was so busy coming up with logical slip-holes in their theories that I neglected looking into my own soul and pondering if I ever really had a witness from God that it was true.
For the last few years I have been pondering why I can't get enthusiastic about my church responsibilities. I wanted to be a great member, let my light shine before mankind. I was sick of being lukewarm. So why did I procrastinate going home teaching? Why did I resent being asked to pray at church? Why did it seem impossible to really and honestly "magnify" my callings on a consistent basis? Why did I resist baring my testimony? Why was I a terrible member missionary? Why didn't I enthusiastically and with abandon share God's message with everyone around me who wasn't blessed with my special knowledge? Why did I feel embarrassed to admit to new acquaintances that I was a member? Why was it seemingly impossible to do something so simple as getting to church on time?
Very suddenly it hit me that the reason I was so unenthusiastic about serving in church was because deep down, I didn't believe it was true. It was amazing how hard it was to admit that to myself. I had always assumed that underneath my own doubts, it really was true, but I just hadn't developed my own testimony yet. I always had faith that the testimony would come if I would just work on it.
The prospect of the church not being true was remarkably frightening. It's comforting to know where you came from, why you're here, and where you're going. It's comforting to have your whole life mapped out from when your blessed in sacrament meeting as a baby to when you either die after serving missions in retirement or are twinkled in the millenium, which ever comes first. It's comforting to believe what those around you believe and want you to believe. You want to believe. But why did you so easily get the answers in Primary while the great philosophers of the ages never did? It's simple. Because you are special. You were chosen before you were born. Everyone wants to believe they're special. But you realize that they aren't special, only you and your Mormon siblings are because you were born into the church. But why were you so uniquely blessed? Because you were valiant in the pre-mortal realm. It's a nice fantasy.
However, I had to face reality. After having graduated from seminary, reading the Book of Mormon 10 times, serving a mission, being married in the temple, and praying daily for nearly 21 years since my baptism, I deserved to "know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is true." But I didn't know it was. Deep down I didn't even believe that it was. But I wanted to. I really wanted to believe.
I realized that living a lie was not only causing me to be unenthusiastic about the church. Lying to myself about my fundamental beliefs was also draining energy and enthusiasm out of the rest of my life. It made it difficult to speak to anyone about anything with conviction. I believe it was compromising my health. It was even sabotaging my relationship with my wife. It suddenly became clear that it was time to cut my losses. I had done my best. If the church was true I deserved to have had the Holy Ghost make me believe. But he didn't.
I certainly wasn't perfect in my years in the church. But I know if somehow, someway, God condemns me for this decision I will be able to look him in the eye and say I did my best, and that when I left I was being honest. I did everything to gain a testimony that the church told me to do, but God didn't reveal the veracity of the church to me in a way that I was able to recognize.
I had a very comforting dream the night I decided it was time to leave. I dreamed that I was on Sesame Street having a meeting on the sidewalk with Big Bird, Snuffelupagus, and a couple other Sesame Street characters. We decided that we no longer needed to continue to participate in Sesame Street, neither as actors, characters, or viewers. We had no hard feelings. We were still friends. We had simply out grown it. It was time to move on. We shook hands and went our separate ways.
The symbolism was obvious. Sesame Street is a good show for kids. It teaches them letters, numbers, and words like cooperation. However, it isn't reality, although toddlers watching it might imagine that it is. In my dream, Sesame Street was symbolic of the church, and the Sesame Street characters and myself were symbolic of different roles that I play in the church. When I was talking about morals in church I was teaching. When I was baring my testimony I was acting. When I was passively listening in church I was watching.
The dream taught me that just as I had outgrown Sesame Street as a child, I have outgrown the church as an adult. Both the church and the TV show served me well and taught me things I will always benefit from. I don't want to harbor any hard feelings. I really was doing my best, as I believe those around me who influenced me to stay as long as I did were. I regret nothing.
The dream taught me that my sub-conscience mind recognizes that it really is time to move on.
This used to be the scary part, but now it is the fun part. I've rejected Mormonism, so what do I now believe? How will I live my life? Which aspects of the Mormon lifestyle will I continue to live, and which will I abandon? It is invigorating to have the authority in my own life to decide for myself.
I can think so much clearer now that I'm being more honest with myself. Although I never believed that I could reject the church because of its history and doctrine, I can now say life makes a lot more sense to me if you classify the Mormonism as another man-made religion.
I still believe that the Mormon religion is a viable lifestyle for some people. I do however reject mass-produced spirituality. The church gives a recipe of how to be spiritual which includes such things as reading scriptures, praying, having family home evening, obeying commandments, magnifying callings, and attending meetings. If you do each task at the prescribed level the recipe promises to return happiness, spirituality, peace, and eternal life. Not only do I reject the spirituality recipe that Mormons propone, I categorically reject the existence of any mass-produced, one-size-fits-all spirituality recipe. People are different with different needs, talents, gifts, intelligences and missions. And that is wonderful. I don't want you to believe what I do and live the life that I'm trying to live. However, I would highly recommend that you learn to be totally honest with yourself about what you really believe. Being honest with oneself isn't easy, but in my experience it leads to incredibly liberating feelings and peace.
So what do I believe? I believe in God, but I certainly am not a Christian. By Christian I mean one who believes that faith in Christ will be judged favorably and that lack of faith will be condemned by God. My concept of God is that he wants us to enjoy being alive. He wants us to learn to be honest with ourselves. He wants us to learn to truly unconditionally love each other. He wants us to be creative. He wants us to grow. I seriously doubt He is conceited. It then follows in my mind that He really doesn't care if we believe in Him or not. I think I'd categorize myself as a humanist. I'm not sure, because I haven't gotten around to studying much of that. But I'm excited to. I'm excited to live the rest of my life being totally honest with myself and others, and to continue to discover for myself "why am I here."