Stung by the Bees; Why it’s hard to help the Disaffected

Following up on John Dehlin’s feelings on how the Bushman interview has progressed so far, Bushman discusses why it’s hard to help the disaffected.

Dehlin, “Now, about this episode, after four hours of interviews with me, it was clear that Dr. Bushman felt as though, in his words, I’d gotten the best out of him.  Once we realized it was time to wrap up, there were a few final thoughts that Dr. Bushman wanted to share with my listeners, so the first part of this episode represents his final thoughts about the interview, and the challenges of dealing with tough Mormon history in general.  The last part of the interview however represents something that was very important to me.  After drilling down so deep in the controversy of Joseph Smith’s life, I didn’t feel comfortable ending on a negative and controversial note.  So I asked Dr. Bushman to share with us a story or two that would encapsulate his view and even testimony of Joseph Smith the Prophet, after a lifetime of studying the both the man and the prophet.  This segment ends with that story and those expressions by Dr. Bushman.  As a final request, if you end up appreciating, finding value, or even experiencing renewed faith because of this interview with Dr. Bushman, please take the time to send me an email at mormon stories at gmail dot com addressed to Dr. Bushman, and I will make sure he receives the email.

Since Dr. Bushman is quite likely to receive some grief simply for coming on Mormon Stories Podcast, given our open format and our willingness to explore all sides of an issue, I would really appreciate it if the listeners of mine who felt inspired or appreciative of the interview would take the time to let Dr. Bushman know how much his scholarship and faith have meant to them.  And who knows?  Maybe we can even convince him to complete the series when the time is right, of course.  And now without any further ado, on with the final segment of my five part interview with Dr. Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith:  Rough Stone Rolling.  Your story, today on Mormon Stories.

[intro music plays]

Bushman, “So all of that got me to thinking about the whole business of responding to Grant Palmer or other of these people who write attacks on Joseph Smith.  I keep trying to figure out why it is I can’t really respond.  It’s never satisfying.  It always seems partial and ineffective.  And the image that came to my mind is someone being attacked by a swarm of bees and being stung all over all at once, so I come up and say what can I do for you?

They say, ‘I’ve been stung by all these bees’, so I go to one of the bee stings, and I try to take out the stinger and I try to administer some ointment and it gets better a little bit, but it still kind of hurts.  Now I say, do you feel better?  Well no, I’ve got all these other bee stings and it’s so difficult to sort of go back one by one and pick off each one of these little problems and satisfy them, because it usually ends up as being not completely satisfying. It’s always sort of in the middle, like in this case.  Well you can say well, that definitely discounts the witnesses altogether so far as I’m concerned, or you can say well I can see they were witnessing to something that was very powerful, something that persuaded them so we still have to take the witnesses seriously.  So the result is not clean cut, and you don’t really feel you’ve answered it, you’ve just sort of moderated the problem.  So those are a couple thoughts I had, I have some others, but do you want to jump in and say something in response?”

JD, “No, I just have to tell you how good of a sport you’ve been because yeah, it is overwhelming, and it’s overwhelming to be as you know and you’ve acknowledged, it’s also overwhelming to be on the end of the bee stings, and to not–because sometimes when someone stumbles on to this stuff they’re accused of adultery or their accused of kicking against the pricks or disobedience.  But it’s usually, you know people don’t fall into this because they care too little.  It seems like the ones who take the time to actually study the history, most often they are motivated because they care so much, and that’s what makes those bee stings so painful is that I didn’t ask, and I just have to tell you that people that sent me feedback on your interview so far, I’ve had one lady actually tell me that she’s now believing in Joseph Smith again after years of disbelief just from hearing your testimony. So I just want to say that it is overwhelming for you and for anyone to try to respond to the critics and it’s also a sad situation because it’s overwhelming for a lot of the people who are struggling with it, but to try and fight off those bees and to try and help with the stings, it may not solve all the problems, but I don’t know, to extend the analogy, sometimes I feel like it’s better than to leaving the person to be eaten by the bees, and that’s sort of the spirit with which I was hoping to have the conversation, but I know it’s not clean, it’s not precise, it’s messy, but I think you’ve done a marvelous job in helping me and many of my listeners.

Because who will stand up and try and answer these question?  Most of the feedback I’ve gotten is well, isn’t that–‘oh they solved my problems.’  It’s like I’m inspired by the fact that someone’s willing to stand up, take the questions in an unscripted, uncontrolled forum and take the heat, because that shows a courage and a conviction that this is something worth fighting for versus like on a Sunday morning political talk show trying to not answer the question or dodge the question or avoid even having to go answer the question.  So I just can’t say enough how courageous and helpful for many of us your time just so far has been.”

Bushman, “Well let me say something about that group that we seem to be conjuring up here with people who have encountered a lot of problems.  They’re disturbed, maybe don’t quite what they believe anymore.  Maybe they’re angry and want to dump the prophet entirely.

It’s very easy to feel in a situation like that that you’re outside the Church, that you’ve somehow marginalized yourself.  You may even get excommunicated or people cast aspersions on your sincerity or your morality or all sort of other things.  One way or another you feel like you’re not in the church anymore. I for one don’t believe that.  I think Mormonism is not just home teaching and bishopric meeting, it’s all these individual souls wrestling with the scriptures, with God, with their own souls trying to find out what’s right and true, and doing that in sort of this overall Mormon context.  I think people who are struggling may be obsessed with these questions to a certain extent, are showing us a kind of worship and devotion that is deeply Mormon. I mean who is more committed to the Prophet Joseph Smith than Dan Vogel?

Think of the millions of hours that he’s spent with very little reward. On the prophet’s documents, on his life, and even though we think of him as an antagonist, probably an atheist when it comes to religion, still he is engaged to Joseph Smith. There’s a kind of devotion there that I for one think has to be respected.  So while the institutional Church may have to protect itself and cut these people off and label them as agnostics, I think looking at it from God’s point of view, there are a lot of these people are really struggling souls.  Some may be really evil, some may really be trying to harm and destroy, but I think there are a lot that are just trying to find out what they think is right.  So I hope none of them feel like they’re outside of Mormonism. They can’t be outside of Mormonism as long as they think about Joseph Smith.  That puts them inside of the Mormon cultural boundaries, and that is of great importance.”

JD, “Yeah, I’m sure that Dan Vogel and others and many of the people who feel that those people have been unduly picked upon will feel will really appreciate those words.”

Bushman, “I had one other thing to say that I’d like to hear discussed, and you’ve referred to it so I have the nerve to bring it up. I’m just wondering.  I think it would be good to have a discussion inside your group of what happens to a person sort of morally and spiritually after they’ve gone through one of these combats over Joseph Smith and the gospel?

You know we had this one image that I’m sure is true in lots of instances of people who kind of begin to let up on the standards, they don’t pay tithing anymore, and then they may take a glass of wine, and they may smoke a little bit and maybe have a few brief affairs or what have you. Not that they’re becoming demons, but you just sort of a slackening.  That moral rigor that is required of Mormons and upheld by the sense this is God’s purpose and will.  Once that’s relaxed, you know everything kind of relaxes.  I don’t know whether it ends up that people stop praying or stop thinking of God or not, but that’s one course that I can see people following as a result of this disruption.

But there’ another course that I’ve seen in certain people I’ve known which is quite different. Not so much, I am not thinking so much of moral standards, because I don’t have any evidence of how that works, but spiritually.  These people begin to feel like of all the things they learned in the Church, the thing that really registers and seems true and lasting is Christ.  It’s the sacrifice of Christ and the promise of forgiveness, and the belief that Heavenly Father is working with his pitiful children to try to bring them along in some way, and Christ becomes very big.  I know that there are a lot of these ex-Mormons for Jesus for whom that’s natural, but I’ve seen it even with more intellectual types that sort of stand on the margins of the Church, and they carpet the general authorities and this and that, but they still see Christ as of great importance to them.  And these people I think probably pray I don’t know that for a fact, but they have deep spiritual Christian yearnings that still govern their lives.  So I’d be just curious to have your people discuss what happens to those who have been beaten up by some of this historical evidence.”

JD, “Yeah.  That’s a great topic, and I have some great anecdotal experiences and I definitely think it runs the gamut.  I think for many the initial reaction is to just loosen up on the standards, and frankly I’ve met far many unhappy people who have decided to throw it all away, than I have people who have found more joy than they had when they were in.  So I for one am a huge advocate of praying, or maintaining membership, of attending and not throwing anything away. I even know of a guy who couldn’t feel good about paying tithing, but he couldn’t feel good about not paying tithing, so he instead picked his five favorite charities and taking that 10% and reallocating it because he couldn’t let go the Law of Tithing even though he was still struggling with the church.  But that’s a great question.  That’s a really great question.


16 comments on “Stung by the Bees; Why it’s hard to help the Disaffected

  1. The laying on of hands is symbolic of divine touch.  Joseph was touched by God.  This touch prepairs a mortal body to receive revelation ( not just inspiration) in many forms allowing him to be personally tutored by the divine.  The touch itself is both an energy and a knowledge download.  This is what makes a great Prophet.  The touch energy dissipates over years but he is contagious while he still has it, so some sensitive people who are near him will experience spiritual gifts from his proximity or touch.  This explains many of the spiritual experiences of the early saints and why there is less of it seen today.  While the power of this energy is lost over time the knowledge remains with the Prophet and must be taught to others so that it is not lost too.  Joseph ordained (touched) others who ordained (touched) others etc. until the original energy that prepares one’s body to receive revelation was effectively lost.  As a result the current church retains the authority for but not the power of revelation which is why and how important revelation ceased! There is no evidence of any of Joseph’s successors having been personally touched and tutored by God so they probably do not know how to explain the bee stings.  Enlightenment in the eastern sense is the process by which a mortal becomes whole, complete and spiritually connected to others and the divine.  Joseph was enlightened but he was much more than that, he was a great Prophet and great Prophets are shamans.  The difference is shaman are spirit healers who are conversant with the spirit world.  This knowledge would have been necessary for his welding link mission here.  Shaman go through what Joseph went through, his life with all of it’s oddities is easily explained by shamanism.  God’s way are not our ways and shamanic initiation is God’s way!  It seems illogical to us and it would have seemed that way to Joseph too as he was going through it but  in retrospect he would have come to understand the meaning of the lessons.  Much of the oddities and loose ends has to do with killing his ego.  We often joke that we prayed for patience so God sent us trying situations!  Well, we all fear loss of credibility so God commanded Joseph as he does shaman to do things that unknowingly would bring on a loss of credibility!  This was repeated until his skin thickened to the point that he would talk about angels and golden plates etc.  The bee stings are easily explained by Joseph’s shamanic initiation.

  2. One more thing. The sting is caused by the church’s reaction and non-reaction to the oddities in Joseph’s life not the oddities themselves. By not being honest and upfront about them the church lays land mines of betrail for members to trip over in their ernest search for truth.

  3. No one loses a testimony because of problems they think they find with church history, any of the policies of the church, or any statements of past and/or present church leaders. They may lose their belief, but not a testimony. The testimony would already be gone.

    A testimony goes when one disavows the validity of the spiritual experience, the validity of the communication from the Holy Ghost. That direct communication from the Holy Ghost is the only way that anyone can obtain a testimony of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel or of the truthfulness of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

    We can only look at history “through a glass darkly” as Paul stated in his first epistle to the Corinthians. But we can know of a certainty of some things through the Light of Christ and more especially, via the Holy Ghost. Once we eschew those avenues to the truth, we are left to the vagaries of our own supposed knowledge and imperfect reason. That is where all of the bees stings come from.

    That may be a black and white way of looking at things and may be derided by some. Yet, the Holy Ghost is the medium God has provided for us to obtain a testimony the truthfulness of the Gospel. Not the scriptures, not the prophets, and not history.


  4. Glenn,
    There is a difference between one’s testimony of the gospel and their testimony of the church. Their testimony of the gospel may remain for the reasons you stated while their testimony of the church is shattered.

  5. The testimony of the restored Gospel and that of Joseph Smith as a prophet and that of the Book of Mormon are inextricably intertwined. A testimony of such, based upon the communion from the Holy Ghost will not be shattered. A belief, based upon study and/or teachings/speeches of various men may well be shattered by negative things learned from history or policies and/or doctrines that do not sit well with one’s evolving world view. A true testimony is not based upon anything but the communion from the Holy Ghost. It is only when a person drifts away from reliance on the Holy Ghost to bear witness to the truth of such things that they can lose their belief in the restoration of the Gospel, of Joseph Smith (or any other president of the Church) as a prophet, and of the Book of Mormon as being a divinely translated Word of God.

    The witness of the Holy Ghost is what provides the anchor for members of the Church to study evolution, ancient American history, archaeology, etc. without losing their faith, their testimonies. Of course there are some who do lose their beliefs.

    But it is such a faith, a testimony, that would bolster Heber J. Grant:
    “In 1929, Heber J. Grant (former President of the Church) told the story of a man with a doctorate who had ridiculed him for believing in the Book of Mormon. That learned man cited the mention of cement work as an obvious lie “because the people in that early age knew nothing about cement.” President Grant, who was a young man at the time of that conversation, said:”

    “That does not affect my faith one particle. I read the Book of Mormon prayerfully and supplicated God for a testimony in my heart and soul of the divinity of it, and I have accepted it and believe it with all my heart.” I also said to him, “If my children do not find cement houses, I expect that my grandchildren will.” He said, “Well, what is the good of talking with a fool like that?” (April 1929 Conference Report, p. 128 ff.)”


  6. Well we actually agree on many of these technicalities except today’s church is quite a separate entity from the Prophet Joseph and today’s prophets are junior prophet administrators by comparison to him. The point you are attempting to obliterate by walk around is; unfortunately the church and whoever that implies is not above ignoring, covering up, using spin, creating false impressions and even lying for Christ! In short the church willfully deceives and given who and what it professes to be, this incongruent behavior when suddenly brought to the conscious attention of some members feels very much like betrayal, because that is exactly what it is!

  7. I was very active all of my fairly long life, and getting out of Mormonism was the best thing I ever did. I have continued to maintain my spiritual attitudes about life, only now I feel more liberated, more honest about my spiritual quests and desires, although by Mormon church textbook standards I am an apostate. Such an ugly word and label! I am a CHRISTIAN, and more so now than I have ever felt when I was an active, practicing Mormon. The labels and perceptions by TBMs of what people end up being after they get out of Mormonism are only reflections of their own insecurities and delusions about their so-called “one, true church”. They can’t see the forest for the trees, but once you are out of Mormonism, you truly marvel how you could have once believed what and how you did and why. Now, Mormonism for me is just a sociological curiosity and pastime.

    That fact that Bushman thinks people let up on standards or stop believing in Christ when they leave the LDS church is laughable. Sure, there are those who do, but IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LEAVING MORMONISM. It’s just who those individuals are regardless. And mentioning drinking wine or smoking or not paying tithing in the same sentence as having affairs demonstrates how ridiculous people like Bushman and TMMs are. My non-Mormon family members drink wine and some of them smoke and they certainly don’t pay tithing to the Mormon church, BUT they certainly don’t go out cheating on their spouses. Drinking wine is sinful?! Jesus drank wine (no, I highly doubt it was ‘grape juice’). The fact that the Mormon church forbids drinking wine in any amount or for any occasion and equates doing so as a lack of morality, worthiness, and spirituality if one does so (in moderation with good judgement at meal time or at social gatherings, etc.) is further evidence of how ridiculous Mormonism is. And Joseph Smith (and his cronies) drank wine right up to the night before he was shot dead.

    If you were to take a standard size piece of notebook paper as a representation (all that white space) of the total population within all of the myriads of cultures in the entire world, Mormonism would be but a dot on that piece of paper. And yet when you are indoctrinated by the LDS church since childhood it’s as if you think the other way around is more the case. Out of all of the billions of people in the world and all of the various societies and organizations, Mormonism is but a speck on the landscape. Get over yourselves TBMs! I hate to burst your delusional bubble, but you are not the ‘chosen people’ or the the nicest, or the most spiritual, or most religious, or worthy people in the world (that, I have learned for myself since I have gotten out).

    Hopefully, though, the Mormon church and the attitudes of its adherents will morph into something a lot better than what it is currently.

  8. Cali, I think you are not reading the whole bushman quote. Bushman talks about two groups of people. From what you have said here, it seems to me you fit in the second category (ex ~ mormons for Jesus).

    One thing that I find interesting id that some choose atheism, while others choose other forms of christianity. Why? I must admit that I think if I lost my testimony, that christianity had many similar problems with credibility. For example, were the peasant apostles any more reliable witnesses that David whitmer? I don’t think so. Do if I reject whitmer, I might reject peter for his inconsistent Testimony and bad temper. I would probably become atheist.

    On the other hand, I like certain doctrines, such as exaltation or theosis. The Greek orthodox church would be appealing to me. The RLDS church would be appealing to me if I wanted to maintain an unorthodox view of it, and still keep other unique Mormon doctrines.

    So the interesting question to me (and I think bushman was getting at) is why do some choose atheism, while others choose protestant christianity? Obviously it is an individual decision, but I think it would be interesting to see why some choose either way.

  9. Okay, I see your point and perhaps I was a bit harsh in my comments about Bushman.

    I didn’t so much leave Mormonism as it left me. Like a lot of people, I have my story, and had my ups and downs and issues while I was an involved, TBM, but in the final analysis some of the major polices (or doctrines) along with a lot of the attitudes of almost all of the leadership (local and general) and members was very deletritrious to my overall social, spiritual and mental well-being. I know that reading this you can get the impression that perhaps I am some kind of odd ball type, but I asure you that for the most part I was regarded by many members as a respected family man, leader and member. However when the ‘cacca hit the fan’ in a major way durring a particular event in my life, I was shunned, marginialized, ostricized and left earnestly groping for answers all to no avail or satisfaction even from the highest ranks of authority of the LDS church. In essence, my worth (and chances for Salvation) as a long-time practicing and contributing member counted for nothing when at the time it should have counted the most. It was at this time that the true face of Mormonism started to really reveal itself. I wondered: If the Mormon church is the true church why wasn’t it there for me in my most dire hour of need, let alone being the locus for contempt against me and despair with regard to my salvation? I started to realize that the Mormon church’s social and religious dynamics are no different than any other church or organization. Sure, many of the doctrines are unique in Christendom and indeed I did benefit by adopting many of it tenets, but after I started investigating other belief systems (Christian and non-Christian) I was amazed at how wonderfully unique and useful these teachings were and how they up-lifted me. And the people therein seemed far less narrow-minded, racist, sanctimonious, and judgemental. Still, once bitten, twice shy, i.e., I will never give my heart and soul to another ‘organization’ again — never.

    So, where did this leave me? It left me standing existentially naked, but being naked I could begin to see who I really was by nature and perhaps nurture. In the end I concluded that I am a Christian; I believe in Christ; He is my Savior and Redeemer; He is the only one at whose feet I will kneel and worship. And everyone else, according to their individual merit and contributions to the world, I acknowledge with gracious gratitude (and sometimes even with marvel as for certain things some people can and have done). However, I will never esteem anyone as being the gatekeepers for my personal salvation. I do not believe, as Brigham Young stated, that I have to get permission from Joseph Smith Jr. to gain entrance into Heaven. I will gain entrance through the grace of my Savior, Jesus the Christ.

    So herein lies the rub: People become atheists (or whatever) after they leave Mormonism because they always were atheist by nature and perhaps nurture to some degree. It’s only after they come to realize that Mormonism is replete with ‘problems’ of credibility and function do they finally stand existentially naked for the first time and *see themselves who they truly are*. And some are Saints, some are Ain’ts, and some Complaints (as the saying goes). Hence, they “choose” the path according to WHO THEY ALWAYS HAVE BEEN BUT NEVER BEFORE REALIZED IT. Trying to figure out why some people are theists or atheists (again, mostly by nature, I think) is like tying to figure out why some people’s favorite color is blue while for others it’s green. It has nothing to do with having been a Mormon. It also has something to do with: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Unless you are comfortable with not caring whether you are being fooled (keeping your head in the sand), or you are compelled to stay on the ‘payroll’ because there aren’t any other options.

    My thoughts.

  10. Interesting thoughts Cali. I think there is something to be said for how someone exits Mormonism. For some (like you), it isn’t so much a doctrinal/historical issue so much as a social issue. Some people are shunned, excommunicated, or whatever, and feel mistreated. I believe it is these types of folks that are more open to embracing another form of Christianity (the ex-Mormons for Jesus crowd.) I feel sorry for the mistreatment suffered by people like you, and I wish it didn’t happen, but if you feel better outside of the church, then I support you in that decision.

    However, some others still perplex me. Since Bushman has talked about Grant Palmer in general (though not specific) terms, I must say that I find people like Palmer perplexing to me. Palmer details many of the problems with Joseph: Kinderhook Plates, First Vision discrepancies, Witness problems, etc. Now I know that Palmer didn’t want to leave the church; like you, the Church essentially left him. However, I find Palmer a bit of a contradiction. If a person like him is going to take issue with Joseph over these issues, why don’t the same rules apply to Christianity? I mean really, if you’re going to go for “secular” answers and throw out the gold plates and First Vision and all the stuff with Mormonism, then why don’t you be consistent and throw out the fantastic tales of Moses and the 10 Commandments, or the Virgin birth, or the Resurrection? I mean isn’t is more likely that Jesus was an illegitimate child of Mary than the Son of God? Aren’t all these problems we see with Joseph Smith problems with Christianity as well? Yet Palmer claims Christ is Divine. Palmer just strikes me as an anomaly, and I can’t figure him out.

    For me, the people I just don’t understand are the people that attack the Church on historical grounds, yet feel that Christianity (and Judaism) are on more solid footing.

    My take is that many of these things have to be taken on faith. Joseph, Jesus, and Moses can’t be scientifically proven (and there is a lot of science that tries to disprove them, and I’ve discussed them here on the blog), so I have a hard time understanding why science/historical oriented individuals don’t seem to look at the evidence for/against Jesus in the same way they look at evidence for/against Mormonism.

    Like I said, if I’m going to take a science/historical approach to Joseph Smith, and if I’m going to reject Joseph Smith, then I’m going to reject Jesus and Moses on those same grounds.

    On the other hand, if my issue with the church is that they treated me badly, but I still believe in many of the core doctrines, then I think I could be quite comfortable in an RLDS or Greek Orthodox tradition. Or, like you, perhaps I would worship Christ in an individual way outside of any organization.

    While I find a lot to be desired from my Sunday School, priesthood, and sacrament meetings, I love the theology of the church, and I’m happy to stay put where I am. The bloggernacle provides me the stimulation I crave in Sunday School. Once again, I feel badly that some church leaders force people like you out.

  11. I don’t think Palmer is really all that much of an enigma. I think Palmer, like me, had been ‘Mormonized’ his whole life, but unlike me perhaps has a thicker skin in dealing with leaders who wanted to throw him under the bus. Maybe he even has some good, true friendships in his ward, (unlike me); maybe he has key family members who are TBMs and he doesn’t want to totally disconnect from them. In fact, two of my children are still active but that’s a non-issue for me; I wish them well — in fact I encourage them to stay in the church so long as it works for them and their young families, but that’s as far as I care about it. If some of my grand kids end up getting married in an LDS temple and I won’t be allowed to attend, then fine “Okay, I’ll see you at the reception.” As I mentioned before, I think Palmer, like me, is just a ‘believer in Christ’ for some innate reason. In fact I could still see myself as a church-attending member (as opposed to being a ‘church-believing’ member) if I, or my wife had some social or other viable reasons to attend, but neither of us do. Or, perhaps Palmer, like John Dehlin, thinks of Mormonism as his tribe, his people, who he is to the bone because he has come from a long line of Mormons (unlike me). Maybe he’d just feel sort of lost without being a Mormon on the books and doesn’t have any other alternative options.

    As for the question as to why believe in Jesus, (more so than Moses and other biblical personalities) and not that of JS is because Jesus has touched my very soul in some profound ways (one time very much so and unexpectedly when I was in Jerusalem), but not so with JS even though I have been to the Palmyra pageant, the sacred grove, etc many times. I’ve never had a moving JS experience, although I liked and still do like reading many things in the Book of Mormon and some parts of the PoGP and D&C. Also, perhaps the vast differences in the historical time-line between Jesus and JS add to the ‘mystique’ of Jesus. We know far more about the life of JS than Jesus and so that familiarity (knowledge by way of the shear amount of historical records) can lead to more criticism and suspicions towards and about JS. Even though I have read many books presenting diverse views with regard to the divinity of Jesus (Bart Ehrman, Robert Funk’s The Jesus Seminar, etc), in the end I remain an affirmative Christian. Christ is “my people” not Mormons. Hence when you ask: “I mean isn’t is more likely that Jesus was an illegitimate child of Mary than the Son of God?” I can honestly say, “Yeah, sure I can understand why a lot of people would think this way — even me, but Jesus is buried too deep within the vitality of my psyche to believe that He was not uniquely devine. It’s like “My country right or wrong, like my mother drunk or sober.” He’s my Savior just as much as my mother is my mother and my country my country. Again, why? Because of my innate nature and perhaps nurture (experiences).

    It’s ironic that the Internet has given people like yourself the stimulation you need (or desire) to help you “stay put”, but at the same time the Internet has led many people to ‘get out’. But if Mormonism works for you for whatever reasons like apparently it does for two of my children, then I am happy for all of you. I just don’t think it’s all that great of a mystery why some people leave while others stay. And to tell you my truth, it may not matter all that much to God so long as you are walking on a path that leads you to the way of light and love for all of mankind, i.e., the pure love of Christ. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

    Just my thoughts, and my apologies for going on far to long.

  12. Cali, I’ve enjoyed hearing your perspective. While you’ve had spiritual experiences with Jesus in Jerusalem, the same can be said for many Mormons with Joseph Smith at the Sacred Grove, or even myself in Nauvoo. Spiritual experiences are personal.

    I think if one is inclined to look at historical/scientific evidence, then historically/scientifically, there is little reason to believe in Jesus. If we’re going to look at Jesus from a spiritual perspective, then it is just as valid to look at Joseph/Book of Mormon spiritually. Of course, everyone must follow the spirit as it speaks to them.

  13. My wife’s family have all left the church. They have become atheist. They were blind sided by information that they hadn’t come across before so were unprepared to be able to adapt and move on from there.

    There reasoning is that of all the belief systems they have investigated the Lds church is the most comprehensive. So if it is false then everything else is false . The only fall back position is Atheism.

    My brother left the Lds church and became agnostic. Basically to protect his children. His basic reasoning was those who are with out law are not judged by the law.

    my wife and I stay because we have realized that we can adapt and that we can adapt the gospel to our own needs. The Lord said work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. So that is what we are doing. If we get ostracized or isolated because of our non TBM beliefs so be it.

    No one is going to stop me from getting back to God.

  14. […] Stung by Bees; Why it’s hard to help the Disaffected […]

  15. If I read several factually-based books on why religion/Christianity/Mormondom were factually false/wrong and atheism/agnosticism was correct, then I would most likely start to drift that direction, regardless of their partial/complete accuracy. The perception of truth is driven mostly by belief/desires–not facts, but we are all victims to the claimed “facts” esp when they get repeated over and over. I mean, pharaohs are buried in the pyramids, Cortez and his men single-handedly defeated the Incas, and the Flood wasnt possible because there isnt enough water in the earth to cover it. These are all myths of course (LMGTFY).

    Also recall that few who write about mormondom are unbiased, even if they do not “interpret” they still create a story from the “facts” they choose, and testimony is often unreliable in the end. To sum it up, there is no “history,” only “historians.”
    So you either get a glowing version, or a “mormonism is false” version, but I have rarely read a well-thought out piece that wasnt clearly on on side or the other, so in the end, maybe you can ignore it all, because we cant even tell if OJ was a murderer or not (12 Angry Men is a good watch too).

    Overall, I find that the rate of creation of negative materials/comments on all religion today is growing fast (corresponding closely to wealth growth), and it will likely take the front seat in the next few decades, unless we have a major reset. Religion is eroding. The average person increasingly does not need it (like marriage). But EVERY other institution (Pew) in America is losing trust as well. Seems like the empire is in decline–who will survive…

    P.S. “People become atheists (or whatever) after they leave Mormonism because they always were atheist by nature and perhaps nurture to some degree” – recommended to avoid making such statements about the morality of others, since that was not my experience 🙂

  16. […] But he told me why he quit. He said, “When I interview with you, it feels like I’m being stung by bees, and you swat one bee and then another bee stings you.” The way I interpreted it. He […]

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