Book of Mormonisms

Did they really say THAT?

LDS Conference talk dissected

Posted by coventryrm on Thursday, January 3, 2008

 I am told regularly by LDS that they teach and motivate through love and not by fear and guilt.  I often scratched my head at this’ it seems to me that most conference talks have their share of  fear and guilt regardless of the title or closing sentence or paragraph. An example of what I’m talking about is found in the following talk by Russell Ballard from a conference session in October1992. The title is “The Joy of Hope” so let’s take a look.  From the title I would expect it to be a happy message of sorts.

“Living in these difficult times, brothers and sisters, requires each one of us to maintain a positive, hopeful perspective about the future. Today, more so than in the past, I am asked about the signs of the times and if I think the end of the world is near.”

While this opening paragraph seems benign at first glance, the language asks that we assume the premise that we are living in “difficult” times.  Additionally, a quote talking about the end of the world is introduced and not challenged or denied.  For most people, eschatological references induce a certain amount of fear.

“My answer is the same one that Jesus gave some two thousand years ago: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” (Mark 13:32-33.)When Jesus was asked about the sign of His coming, he said, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matt. 24:6-8; emphasis added.) Although the prophecies tell us that these things are to take place, more and more people are expressing great alarm at what appears to be an acceleration of worldwide calamity. As members of the Church, we must not forget the Savior’s admonition, “Be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass.” These are difficult times, when the forces of nature seem to be unleashing a flood of “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Recently I read a newspaper article that cited statistics from the U.S. Geological Survey indicating that earthquakes around the world are increasing in frequency and intensity. According to the article, only two major earthquakes (earthquakes measuring at least six on the Richter scale) occurred during the 1920s. In the 1930s the number increased to five, and then it decreased to four during the 1940s. But in the 1950s, nine major earthquakes occurred, followed by fifteen during the 1960s, forty-six during the 1970s, and fifty-two during the 1980s. Already almost as many major earthquakes have occurred during the 1990s as during the entire decade of the 1980s. The world is experiencing violent disorders, both physical, as well as social. Here in the United States, we are still reeling from two incredibly destructive hurricanes. People in the Philippines see no end to the devastation of the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Famine grips portions of Africa, where tragic human suffering is prevalent.

Ballard continues with statistics that support the fact that signs are pointing toward “end of days” prophecies and then asks for his listeners not to be alarmed.  He stirs up basic human fears and then tries to calm them-but why stir them up in the first place unless you are attempting to stir up those fearful emotions for a reason. 

To a lesser degree, hunger afflicts millions, even in countries that have a high standard of living.

Political unrest, warfare, and economic chaos prevail in many parts of the world, and the plagues of pornography, drug misuse, immorality, AIDS, and child abuse become more oppressive with each passing day.

This section is particularly devious and in my mind, disgusting.  Notice how Ballard groups AIDS with problems that are driven by human failings.  It is subtle, to be sure, but including this disease with a list of issues that religious people generally link with immorality suggests that LDS go along with the idea that AIDS is a curse from God or at least a consequence of immoral behavior.

The media busily satisfies an apparently insatiable appetite of audiences to witness murder, violence, nudity, sex, and profanity. Is not this the day of which Moroni spoke when he recorded: “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.” (Morm. 8:35.) And then he prophesied of conditions of the world as they are today.

Brothers and sisters, whether or not these are indeed the last days or even “the beginning of sorrows” as the Savior foretold, some of us may find our lives laden with frustration, disappointment, and sorrow. Many feel helpless to deal with the chaos that seems to prevail in the world. Others anguish over family members who are being carried downstream in a swift, raging current of weakening values and declining moral standards. Children particularly are suffering as society drifts further and further away from the commandments of God.  Many have even resigned themselves to accept the wickedness and cruelty of the world as being irreparable. They have given up hope. They have decided to quit trying to make the world a better place in which they and their families can live. They have surrendered to despair.  Admittedly we have ample reason to be deeply concerned because we see no immediate answers to the seemingly unsolvable problems confronting the human family. But regardless of this dark picture, which will ultimately get worse, we must never allow ourselves to give up hope! Moroni, having seen our day, counseled, “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope.” (Moro. 10:20.)

Okay, so here it is: even though the world is falling apart, be hopeful.  I don’t know about you but if I took the world view that Ballard has just outlined for us, I wouldn’t be feeling very hopeful.  What I might be doing, however, is holding on to this man’s words for dear life because all my fears have been aroused and he is promising me some relief. 

To all who have harbored feelings of despair and an absence of hope, I offer the words of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith:  “Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. …

 “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:34, 36), “even so am I in the midst of you” (D&C 6:32).

And here is the relief he gives: you don’t have to be scared of earthquakes, famine, or disease if, and this is the important part, if, you follow Christ. 

My message to you today, my brothers and sisters, is simply this: the Lord is in control. He knows the end from the beginning. He has given us adequate instruction that, if followed, will see us safely through any crisis. His purposes will be fulfilled, and someday we will understand the eternal reasons for all of these events. Therefore, today we must be careful to not overreact, nor should we be caught up in extreme preparations; but what we must do is keep the commandments of God and never lose hope!

In some ways I have to congratulate Ballard on his rhetorical strategy in this talk.  First, he manipulates our emotions so that we begin to feel anxious and fearful by listing the type of calamities that we fear and have even experienced, and then, he holds out the key to eradicating those fears.  But the trouble is, that by doing this, the subtext is in what is not being said.  What is not being said is: but if you don’t follow Christ, guess what, you will not only be subject to the uncontrollable and terrifying events we can see escalating all around us, but you will not have the hope of the kind of after-life you could have if you follow Christ. 

I prefer not to be manipulated by fear and my humanistic/atheistic world view is not based on fear.  I take pleasure and find inner peace in the here and now.  It is difficult for me to imagine a God who would penalize those that are his creation for creating and obtaining a piece of heaven on earth through everyday enjoyment of life.  If there is a life after this one that I would expect to take with me whatever level of self-development that I have achieved.  I can achieve more and become a better, more self-actualized person without hearing constant messages of fear running my life.  Fear and guilt, when manipulated to gain control, are destructive motivators.  But fear and guilt are the very currencies in which Religions deal.  Why?  Because the leaders of religious systems have their own fears-fear of losing power and control.

But where do we find hope in the midst of such turmoil and catastrophe? Quite simply, our one hope for spiritual safety during these turbulent times is to turn our minds and our hearts to Jesus Christ. The prophet Mormon taught: “Ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.  “Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.” (Moro. 7:41-42.) Faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, is absolutely essential for us to maintain a balanced perspective through times of trial and difficulty. Remember, nothing will occur in our lives that He does not understand. Alma taught, “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” (Alma 7:11.) Please turn to Him if you are discouraged and struggling for direction in your life. Armed with the shield of faith, we can overcome many of our daily challenges and overpower our greatest weaknesses and fears, knowing that if we do our best to keep the commandments of God, come what may, we will be all right. Of course that does not necessarily mean that we will be spared personal suffering and heartache. Righteousness has never precluded adversity.

Oh but don’t expect much for doing this because life could still suck anyway. 

But faith in the Lord Jesus Christ-real faith, whole-souled and unshakable-is a power to be reckoned with in the universe. It can be a causative force through which miracles are wrought. Or it can be a source of inner strength through which we find peace, comfort, and the courage to cope. As we put our faith and trust to work, hope is born. Hope grows out of faith and gives meaning and purpose to all that we do. It can even give us the peaceful assurance we need to live happily in a world that is ripe with iniquity, calamity, and injustice. 

So now we do get some message of hope in this life, but we still have to look at the world and those around us ripe with iniquity, calamity, and injustice – FEAR!

As the end of the Savior’s mortal ministry drew near, He offered this reassuring hope to His beloved disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.) Hope is a precious principle by which to live. However, some among us may have lost all hope because of sin and transgression. A person can become so deeply immersed in the ways of the world that he sees no way out and loses all hope. My plea to all who have fallen into this trap of the adversary is to never give up! Regardless of how desperate things may seem or how desperate they may yet become, please believe me, you can always have hope. Always. 

Without religion life will suck you will be in despair – FEAR!

Recently I had the privilege of performing the temple sealing ordinances for a wonderful family. It was a beautiful occasion, as such ceremonies almost always are. But if you had known the father of this family several years earlier, you would have understood what a miracle was taking place in the House of the Lord that day. With his permission I quote from a letter he wrote to me:  “I was born into the Church and was taught the gospel at my mother’s knee. Through her diligence and perseverance, she kindled a small ember of testimony that never left me even through some of the roughest times of my life. In my teen years Satan hit me hard. It was during the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time of great turmoil, and Satan was hard at work on me. I was taken with the practice of free drugs, free love, free fun, and the rest of the world be damned. Beginning with my first drink of alcohol, I began to slowly deteriorate. After alcohol, other drugs were that much easier to use. In order to take drugs, you must become a good liar. You learn to do whatever it takes to conceal your behavior from others.  “After many years of living this way, all my moral fiber seemed to be completely eroded away. I had a minimal amount of conscience and had sunk to the depths of despair and depression. I watched friends die from drugs and suicide. As time passed, my friends and I were exposed to the criminal justice system. In fact, many of my former friends are still in prison. Had it not been for the small flicker of testimony instilled in me by my mother when I was a child, to know that Heavenly Father could still love me, I have reservations as to whether I would even be writing this letter today.”

Now a nice story of how miserable and unhappy you will be if  you lose your testimony, I don’t know how many times I have heard LDS say if it wasn’t for the church I would be a terrible person doing drugs, committing crimes, or perhaps an alcoholic,  Hey I have news for you, there are more people out there that are NOT of LDS or any religious faith that do none of those things.  In fact  among those people that have fallen to such lifestyles there is a higher proportion that believe in God.

*Note that atheists, being a moderate proportion of the USA population (about 8-16%) are disproportionately less in the prison populations (0.21%). From a report in 1997 http://www.holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm *

Some parents might have given up hope on this prodigal son, but not this man’s mother. She continued to believe that he would find his way back to the teachings of his childhood and once again place his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. With the loving support of his family and friends, that is exactly what he did. Let me read again from his letter:

 “If there is one thing I have learned, it is that no matter how lost you feel, no matter how low you may have sunk, there can be forgiveness and peace. I learned that the further one drifts from the Lord, the harder it is to return to Him and His teachings. But once I opened my heart and called out in prayer to Heavenly Father to help me in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, I came to know the power of repentance and the blessings of obedience to God’s commandments.”

You also have to wonder would he have sunk this low if when he tried that first drink or toke had he not had such horrible feelings of guilt maybe he wouldn’t have fallen into such a state of self degradation. I have heard it said that religion is pornography’s greatest ally. 

Brothers and sisters, I wish all of you could have been with us in the temple that day to feel the joy of hope fulfilled. I am sure you would have sensed, as I did, the rekindled love for God and the sublime happiness that filled the heart of my friend’s mother as her four sons, their companions, and other family members surrounded her in the sealing room.

The Apostle Paul taught that three divine principles form a foundation upon which we can build the structure of our lives. They are faith, hope, and charity. (See 1 Cor. 13:13.) Together they give us a base of support like the legs of a three-legged stool. Each principle is significant within itself, but each also plays an important supporting role. Each is incomplete without the others. Hope helps faith develop. Likewise true faith gives birth to hope. When we begin to lose hope, we are faltering also in our measure of faith. The principles of faith and hope working together must be accompanied by charity, which is the greatest of all. According to Mormon, “charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.” (Moro. 7:47.) It is the perfect manifestation of our faith and hope.

Working together, these three eternal principles will help give us the broad eternal perspective we need to face life’s toughest challenges, including the prophesied ordeals of the last days. Real faith fosters hope for the future; it allows us to look beyond ourselves and our present cares. Fortified by hope, we are moved to demonstrate the pure love of Christ through daily acts of obedience and Christian service.

I assure you, my brothers and sisters, that our Heavenly Father is aware of us, individually and collectively. He understands the spiritual, physical, and emotional difficulties we face in the world today. In fact, they are all part of His plan for our eternal growth and development. And His promise to us is sure: “He that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome.” (D&C 63:20.)

The Savior promised that “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. … This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.” (3 Ne. 22:17.)

May we all find the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philip. 4:7), which can be found only through charity, faith, and hope.

May I leave you my testimony that I know that the Lord Jesus Christ lives. He has restored His Church to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Our assurance of eternal life rests in our love of God and the keeping of His commandments. This knowledge gives me hope and faith. May it be so with each of you, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The title and concluding remarks of this talk do appear to give hope, happiness, and joy to LDS and followers of Christ.  But the hope is given only after Ballard has used examples of calamities to arouse our fears in the first place.  Most people don’t go into General Conference full of fear and anxiety about end of world prophecies.  Ballard did a great job of stirring up these fears by warning us about the power and evil of the Big Bad Satan and then relating a scary story.  Then, only after our fears are sufficiently provoked does Ballard start to build a scaffolding of hope for us to cling.  Grab onto this scaffolding, he seems to say, and you do not have to fear.  But where is the specifics for actually creating a peaceful and content life?  We certainly know what not to do.  We don’t want our lives controlled by some harmful substance, as Ballard relates in his scary story.  But people do turn to drugs for relief and Ballard simply seems to be saying that his drug is safer and better-the drug of God.  But both types of drugs control us and take away our ability to think for ourselves.  Both drugs lead their users to deny or refute any evidence that is contrary to their own need for their particular drug. 

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13 Responses to “LDS Conference talk dissected”

  1. Jay said

    This section is particularly devious and in my mind, disgusting. Notice how Ballard groups AIDS with problems that are driven by human failings. It is subtle, to be sure, but including this disease with a list of issues that religious people generally link with immorality suggests that LDS go along with the idea that AIDS is a curse from God or at least a consequence of immoral behavior.

    I may have missed something, but I don’t see any mention of AIDS in the quote you provided from Ballard’s talk. And even if there was AIDS is spread mostly by immorality. It is a sexually transmitted disease after all. Those that are promiscuous are more likely to contract it and continue spreading it. Granted, now that it is so wide spread there are horrible casualities such as children in Africa that are born with AIDS or those that are raped by an infected person, but I don’t believe these are where the majority of AIDS cases come from. That is why there is such a push to promote condom use because it will prevent people from getting AIDS while allowing them be sexually active. If people would remain in committed relationships (even if they don’t marry) AIDS cases would drop tremendously. So although I don’t see Ballard making this point in the quote you provided (i.e. conection between AIDS and immoral behavior) I can see where such a point would be very valid.

    First, he manipulates our emotions so that we begin to feel anxious and fearful by listing the type of calamities that we fear and have even experienced, and then, he holds out the key to eradicating those fears.

    I think these kind of talks don’t really get people scared. The “end of the world” has been preached since biblical times and quite frankly, I think people are numb to it. We know that living a good life (e.g. being kind to others, being moral and ethical) is important to strive for. Telling me that Christ is coming soon really doesn’t mean anything. If it happens it happens, no one will be able to stop it. All we can do is try to live the best life we know how.

    But fear and guilt are the very currencies in which Religions deal.

    I agree that guilt is a very strong motivator for many religious people. Fear also is huge for some people, but not for others. I personally don’t have a whole lot of fear if someone tells me I’m going to hell (it happens all the time). I usually just smile nicely and say thanks for the advice. Guilt on the other hand is a strong motivator still with me, although I’m slowly learning to overcome it. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t do my Hometeaching, share the gospel with my friends or read my scriptures every day, etc. I am learning to let go of that guilt and to do things because I think they are the right thing to do. If I don’t agree with something I feel perfectly fine not doing it. I don’t let someone guilt me into it. I realize this is something you have to work at and I think a lot of religious people don’t even know it’s happening to them.

    *Note that atheists, being a moderate proportion of the USA population (about 8-16%) are disproportionately less in the prison populations (0.21%). From a report in 1997 http://www.holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm *

    I’m not saying that the statistic is true, but I’ll assume that it is. Atheists that I’ve met are usually educated people, meaning they at least have a college degree. I’d be interested in knowing what the level of education is among atheists. If my experience is representative it may be that Atheists as a whole are more highly educated and therefore responsible adults that would not be doing the things required to get put in jail.
    So I don’t think it is because they are Atheists that they avoid jail, I just think they are probably more educated as a whole.

  2. coventryrm said

    Jay
    Glad you are checking out my blog and thanks for commenting

    In regards to the AIDS statement Ballard says

    “and the plagues of pornography, drug misuse, immorality, AIDS, and child abuse become more oppressive with each passing day.”

    I would stand by my original position I think it is reprehensible to include it with the other things he is talking about it that sentence.

    My main point with the Atheist stat is that the message of we would be bad and miserable without our LDS testimony is blatantly false. I agree that a good explanation is most likely that Atheists tend to be college grads and higher educated people, but shouldn’t that tell you something? If you really look at religious faith and what it actually teaches, to hold on to myths that are unneeded and outdated.

    I would also think a counter argument to the prison stat is that we don’t know if that stat changes while in prison it wouldn’t surprise me to find out people find God in jail….

  3. Jay said

    Sorry, I missed the AIDS quote it was above where I was reading. Thanks. I do think you can make a very good argument that the AIDS epidemic is the result of immorality because of its primary mode of transmission. I don’t think this is the point he is trying to make. I really just think he is saying that AIDS is one of those horrible things we have to deal with in our modern society. I think anyone, even the most prolific philanderer, can agree with that.

    So what do you say about educated people that still choose to believe in God? What is your explanation for their belief? I think you can be educated and still hold a sincere belief in God. I also don’t think it is a bad thing.

  4. coventryrm said

    Jay

    On my home page I make the statement:

    “God myths have survived because smart people are very good at rationalizing things that they came to believe for non smart reasons”

    I believe seeking knowledge and truth is the key, I also believe we should trust our intellect above our emotions. If they are in conflict we need to set aside our emotions and truly seek knowledge and be willing to accept wherever it takes us. I posted the Carl Sagan quote because I think what he is saying is key. For example as an LDS person I was always taught and believed that my “spiritual witness” is what I should trust regardless of what any amount of evidence might say to the contrary. Smart people are able to follow this advice and rationalize just about anything they want to believe. Since we are children it has been taught to us God is good the alternative is bad. Take Ballard’s talk you say it doesn’t instill fear in you but it is still a message fraught with fear. We are subjected to this type of message from a very young age. How can we not be affected and driven by this?

    I can say for myself that once I started thinking rationally and truly being open to explore all the information and evidence available to me at first there was a lot of fear that I was just being deceived by Satan. After leaving Mormonism I still felt the need to fill some sort of God void, I knew nothing else. Over time using the principles of recognizing truth as Carl Sagan outlined “Recognizing Truth” I starting finding much more peace in knowledge and understanding that did not require me to dismiss or work through long rationalizations for things like evolution and the clearly erroneous creation myths found in the Bible and in LDS teachings such as garden of Eden first man and women in Missouri etc…

    Smart people have had to slowly discard certain things that have been taught by religion to still believe in Religion. What teachings are still left in the Bible or any set of scriptures that we still take literally or follow? Creation Stories, at best metaphorical, along with the flood, Moses, red sea, Jews wondering around in the wilderness for 40 years etc…. What lessons and stories in the scriptures still apply to us in this day and age? I would submit that we have discarded more than we have kept.

    I agree with you that a personal belief in something supernatural that helps you get through life is not in itself a bad thing, I do believe it is a crutch and should be outgrown at some point, I also believe it becomes destructive and dangerous when organized and taught as an absolute truth and used as a method to control others as is done by just about every organized religion in some way or another.

  5. queenbeenw said

    In reading through these comments I have a few things I would like to say. First, I don’t think a person lacks intelligence if they believe in God. I don’t even think that is the conclusion you must come to if you are a rational being. What I do think needs to be kept in mind is that the proofs that have been developed for God’s existence don’t hold up well to argument. I’ve never been a fan of Anselm’s ontological argument because it seems I can actually imagine things that don’t exist. I’m more inclined to go with Aquinas and The Argument from Design. For me, I just would like us to be honest about our human experience with God. It is limited and so far, not proven. Yes, I think that at this time in history, we can explain nearly all phenomena in scientific terms of some kind. On the other hand, I’m not an empiricist. I’m more of a phenomenologist. This means I’m more subjective than objective in the way I think. Therefore, I think that some people have a subjective experience of the transcendental or, if you want, God. But, I do think if you leave out interpretation (which is where we get into trouble) then you have to admit that those types of experiences are for the most part, mysterious. I suggest reading Heidegger’s little book “The Question Concerning Technology,” for a great model of how to deal with lived experience without objectifying the world or trying to squeeze it into a preconceived template of how things “are.”

  6. coventryrm said

    I agree that being a rational being doesn’t preclude you from believing in a God, Creator, A Higher Power etc… I do think that a rational human would have to rule out the prevalent God myths that still exist today. I find it interesting that the majority of society has pretty much ruled out all the other God myths that were the precursors to and most likely the inspiration for their current myth.

    I don’t claim or believe we know all, especially when it comes to the supernatural or phenomena. I do believe however that we continue to learn and understand more each day. I can’t rule out that there is some continuance of life or other realm that we have not yet discovered or understand. But I can’t rule out that we have the ability to discover and understand what it is and how it works someday either. To accept or explain away what we currently don’t know by a God myth that is so clearly flawed simply holds us back from discovering or seeking real truth.

  7. momommy said

    “that my “spiritual witness” is what I should trust regardless of what any amount of evidence might say to the contrary.”
    Something else along this vein is the mode of thinking that if something bad happens, Satan was behind it. Dude, if your car went off the road and you couldn’t make it to church it was probably just the icy road.
    Spiritual witness and warm fuzzies are different things, but people aren’t usually taught the difference, so if it ‘feels’ right they run with it rather than trying to discern the spirit.
    I didn’t get a fear vibe from this talk but that’s just me. I know so many people who stick their heads in the sand and just live in their little bubble. Sometimes those people need a wake up call. Now, whether they need that call to make them proactive about their faith or about the world at large, that would be the main difference in interpretation to me. Was it telling people to look around, acknowledge the problem, pull on your big girl panties and DO SOMETHING!? Or was it just telling people to stop sitting on the fence as “Mormons” and start really living what they believe?
    I never thought of that talk the way you presented it, thanks for giving me another perspective

  8. coventryrm said

    Momommy

    “Spiritual witness and warm fuzzies are different things, but people aren’t usually taught the difference,”

    Either way it comes to your interpretation of what that “Warm fuzzy or Spiritual Witness” means. As in my example #6 as a person of religious faith you are asked to and accept things that could not possibly be true if you take the Bible and Scriptures as the literal word of God. There are also people that have become liberal or moderate to reconcile the two. I don’t believe that the LDS believers share that same privilege when you consider all the things claimed by JS and other Mormon Prophets and Apostles to have been revealed to them by God. So my point being as an LDS that believes in the restored gospel you are already asked and must disregard much actual evidence and proofs that run contrary to what a spiritual witness of Mormonism would mean.

    I have some questions about the above difference of warm fuzzies and actual spiritual witness. Who taught you the difference? How do you know that your interpretation is the correct one? If I taught you that lightening was God’s anger and you refuted all evidence to the Contrary what is the difference? Someone 1000’s of years ago had some epiphany or unexplainable feelings or voices or whatever and described it and said that is how God talks to us. That still doesn’t make it so.

  9. momommy said

    “How do you know that your interpretation is the correct one?”
    I’ll be honest and say I don’t know if it is. But I do the very best I can to determine what I believe to be true from what I have read and studied. I don’t think I can be faulted for doing my best and trying my hardest to be good and honest. My favorite set of scriptures has always been the New Testament. I find many things in there that I believe to be wonderful and loving. But I have found others who don’t read them the same way. How do we know who IS right in that instance? Is it the person who can find more people who agree with them? How can we ever know whose interpretation is the right one?
    “Who taught you the difference?”
    Well, mostly the scriptures. I had the luxury of not being raised in the part of Mormon culture that celebrates what I call schmaltz, the sugary image of perfection upon which so many members base their belief and lives. I had to search through all the organized religions available to me and decide which, if any, I believed. I read what a witness of the spirit entailed and waited, searched, for that experience. What I meant is that I don’t confuse the happines I get from recieving a plate of cookies with a witness from the holy spirit. Not everyone makes that distinction.

  10. momommy said

    I feel that I should state that I absolutely agree with your statement about rationalization. I can personally admit that I am able to talk myself into or out of just about anything if I have the right motivation.
    I just don’t know if leaning upon our intellect instead of emotion is always the best option. The desire to give to others is many times sparked by emotion rather than logic. Can that really be seen as a bad thing?

  11. queenbeenw said

    I couldn’t agree with you more! In fact, your point is discussed in depth in a book titled “Descarte’s Error.” Descarte stated “I think, therefore I am,” but the books author points out that it is more like “I think AND feel therefore I am.” He goes on to show how important the emotional part of our brain is in making decisions. The problem is that we need to use both functions: emotion and reason, in concert with one another. The way I like to see it is like this: emotion is information. In fact, it is often our first and most immediate line of information. We feel scared, angry, happy and so on and this is information to let us know to: run away (FAST!), change friends, or to continue seeking out certain activities. What religion does is interpret your emotions for you and pretty soon you’ve lost the ability to interpret them. Plus, you don’t “feel” something is true–what you “feel” is happiness, warmth, maybe a tingle up your spine…”true” is your INTERPRETATION of those feelings. Additionally, sometimes our emotions are sparked by thoughts–some of them false–like being scared to give a speech when there is no actual danger involved–and when you challenge them you are then able to control the associated emotion which is the point of Cognitive-Behavioral psychotherapy.

  12. elemansayfasi…

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