Nov 27 2009

To Err is Human

Poor Wayfaring Man

There are a lot of Mormons and former Mormons who are annoyed and upset by the way the leaders of the LDS Church treat Church members, and the way Church members treat each other. It’s easy to see a leader disrespecting, belittling, or otherwise bullying somebody (or a group of people) and condemn him as an evil, arrogant, selfish bastard. Likewise, it’s easy to see a member snubbing, gossiping, or imposing social burdens on somebody and judge him or her to be self-centered, unscrupulous, or stupid. I know I’ve done that.

I have been wondering recently, however, if jumping to that conclusion about people in the Church is really warranted. Could I be exhibiting an error in judgment? Some bias buried in my all-too-human psyche? I think it’s possible.

Okay, probable.

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Nov 11 2009

Confession: Example 1

Poor Wayfaring Man

Like every other Mormon missionary, my mission started with a stay in the Missionary Training Center (the “MTC”). I will probably have more to say about this topic in the future, but for my purposes today, I will just say that the MTC fills the same role as boot camp does for the military–it is meant to break down the new recruits and re-mold them into homogeneous parts of a mighty army. In the MTC, part of that process involves convincing the new recruits that they are sinners, and in need of repentance and reconciliation with God in order to avoid being a complete failures as missionaries.

As a new missionary, I was in the (common?) position of having never really leveled with my local bishop back home about grave sins like masturbation and/or looking at pornography. Continue reading


Oct 26 2009

On Covenanting with the Lord

Poor Wayfaring Man

The “Covenanting with the Lord” program, discussed in the previous post, is interesting to me because it puts to the test the promises of the Lord found in LDS scripture, and the beliefs of the mainstream LDS Church regarding those promises. It is anchored in the concept of testimony, relying on a person’s ability to discern the promptings of the Holy Ghost to come up with solutions to a given problem. Once a solution is found, especially if it requires divine intervention, it is presented to the Lord for ratification (and miracles).

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Oct 24 2009

My Testimonies: Example 2

Poor Wayfaring Man

I have had experiences with testimony. Lots of them. Here is Example 2:

When I was 18 years old, I realized that I was mere months away from high school graduation, and that I was expected to follow through on my lifelong plan to go on a two-year mission for the LDS Church, during which time I would work to persuade people to join the Church. I decided that I should prepare for my mission by making an effort to learn more about the Church than I had learned in Sunday school and daily seminary classes.

I found a book on my dad’s bookshelf titled Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon. Continue reading


Oct 23 2009

My Testimonies: Example 1

Poor Wayfaring Man

I have had experiences with testimony. Lots of them. Here is Example 1:

When I was a child, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I thought up the concept of reincarnation. I didn’t know it by name, and I didn’t know that anybody else had ever thought of it. What I did know is that I got a real charge out of contemplating the possibility that my soul could inhabit another body and I could live another life again after this one was over. The feeling I felt as I put the theory together in my mind was something I hadn’t felt before. It was a spine-tingling, euphoric, exciting sensation. Everything seemed to make sense at that moment, and for that moment I felt a sense of clarity, confidence, and peace about my future that overwhelmed my usual petty concerns and fears. I still remember it.

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Oct 22 2009

Testimony

Poor Wayfaring Man

Every member of the LDS Church knows the importance of developing a strong personal or “spiritual” conviction (a “testimony”) regarding certain facts surrounding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.1 A testimony is considered a gift from God, delivered to a person by the Holy Ghost, a spirit-messenger of God, who communicates through a spiritual power that manifests itself in different ways to different people, typically as difficult-to-define sensations and thoughts. Every member is expected to have a testimony of at least the following key facts:
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  1. Apostle Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I would like to say to you, that is the strength of this cause, the individual testimony that lies in the hearts of the people. The strength of this church is not in its buildings, in its chapels, in its offices, in its schools; it is not in its programs or its publications. They are important, but they are only a means to an end, and that the end is the building of the testimony – a conviction that will weather every storm and stand up to every crisis in the hearts and lives of the membership.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Area Conference Report, August 1971, Manchester, England, pp. 160-161. As quoted in┬áTestimony, pp. 8-9) []