||[12 Dec 2010|11:43pm]
Just got off the phone with my older sister. She had an interesting question for me... is there anything anybody could have done to help prevent me from leaving the church?
Apparently there is a family in her ward (husband, wife, 18 year old son, 14 year old daughter) who is having a rough time. The husband and wife converted 20 years ago, but more recently the husband has left the church. He eventually "got into his son's head" (is how my sister put it), and he left the church as well, also dropping out of school and doing drugs (of course, right, since he left the church?). The daughter is hanging on, but apparently just barely, and even the wife is about ready to give up.
The young woman's leader in the ward is trying to work with the daughter, but has no experience with a family member leaving the church, so asked my sister, who called to talk to me about it.
Yeah, I think I ended up upsetting her...
But her initial question, as I said, was: could anybody have done anything to keep me in the church? I thought about it, and the only answer I could really come up with was - and I said this with complete politeness - if I had gotten better answers to my questions. I acknowledged that the bishop and missionaries and my parents did their best to provide me with good answers... but I don't have to tell any of you here that there comes a point where the answers start to feel like excuses, until you are finally hit with "we can't understand the mysteries of God's will." Faith is the answer.
So the conversation went from here, and I was trying not to get too intense about things, because I didn't want to upset my sister. I knew it would only upset her if I started rattling off all the reasons I left the church: the hypocrisies, the fucked-up historical stuff (blacks & the priesthood, Mountain Meadows, etc.), changing doctrine (God is now not taught to have literally had sex with Mary). But some of the stuff came out, because she did call asking for information... And she stayed cool on the phone, but I know my sister, and I think I shook her.
One thing that irked me was her reminding me about the prevalence of anti-Mormon stuff on the internet. ("It's as easy to find as porn, just a click and you're there.") And of course, all the anti stuff is lies and exaggerations, blah blah blah. This always upsets me, because I did something apparently unprecedented: whenever I encountered something "anti," something that shocked or shook me, I verified it. When I learned about the Mountain Meadows Massacre through a fucking movie trailer, I talked to my parents about it. When I read about the Kinderhook Plates, I went to my parents 10-volume "History of the Church," and there it was, the story of Joseph and the Kinderhook Plates... except that the book omitted the part about them being fake.
She also asked if I saw myself ever possibly returning to the church, even if it's the tiniest sliver of a chance. My initial answer is, of course, hell no, but I wanted to be objective, so I thought about it for a moment. Then I said, "No. The church has a lot to explain and a lot of fessing up to do." That shocked her, and she asked what would need fessing up. I knew my list would upset her, so I prefaced by saying that it was all stuff she would probably roll her eyes at or something, and she decided she didn't want to hear.
Anyway. Sorry this was so long. It was just a really weird conversation and I had to talk about it. My wife's in bed, so I've just been stewing.
It was an interesting question, though, and it actually made me stop and think about it seriously: could anyone have done anything to keep me in the church?
What about for any of you?