Saturday, April 6, 2013


Warning: The following may be offensive to Mormon eyes.

Truth. Mormons love truth. They claim to be the only church that has all of it. They encourage the pursuit of it.

Fundamentally, I don't care about religious "truth" (and I apologize, but let's just pretend that all of my references to truth are in parenthese because I consider it to be a concept that is debatable, especially in areas like religion, philosophy, politics, etc.). I don't intend to pursue "truth" or a testimony of it, because I don't think it matters. Who cares what is "true"? I just care about what works for my life. This makes me a pretty bad Mormon. Given the Mormon obsession with truth, this kind of attitude is verging on wicked.

There are a few reasons that I don't care to pursue truth.

First, if there is a God and if there is a life after this one and if our status in that life is based on a judgment by said God, I just can't bring myself to believe that that judgment is going to be based on whether or not we knew what was true about the foundations of the earth or what comes after this life or whatever else this elusive "truth" encapsulates. I hope that judment has to do with how we treated each other and what kind of people we were . And since lots of different beliefs about what is true can lead to that good behavior and can nurture good hearts, I just don't think it matters.

Secondly, I think that the pursuit of truth can be a major barrier to action. Insisting that truth exists compels some people (usually the most honest and sincere ones) to search for it and search for it and ultimately require themselves to find it before they can commit to a set of principles. The pursuit of truth can also drive otherwise happy and satisfied people away from good principles. It makes me sad (and okay, sometimes it makes me laugh) to hear of Mormons talking themselves out of church activity because of some random historical inconsistency in the Book of Mormon, or because of some artifact found or not found in Central America. Those people obviously feel that a church needs to be "true", through and through, in order for them to participate in and benefit from it. And that's too bad.

Third, insisting on the existence of truth is divisive. It builds barriers and makes people think they have special authority or rights or whatever, just because they "possess" it. Mormons are obviously a peaceful people, but look at the potential for harm that comes with some versions of truth and the people who consider themselves privileged enough to possess it. On a less dramataic scale, it can make people exclusive. Why do they exclude? Because they possess truth and the "others" do not. They feel superior because they have apparently found the truth. Then there's the opposite of exclusion--the compulsion to convince everyone else that you have found the truth. You're so fortunate to possess it that you have to go tell everyone else and get them to accept the same thing. Again, a divisive practice.

Fourth, I don't care about the pursuit of truth because at my core, I am agnostic. I don't believe that anyone can really know any of these things. And I just don't accept what are fundamentally emotional experiences as evidence of anything but the fact that someone loves and cares about what they are reading or thinking about or doing. I'm happy that they love it! But, for me, it doesn't mean anything beyond that. Since I don't believe that anyone can really know "truth", particularly as it pertains to religious questions, why would I spend my time looking for it or trying to verify or disprove various claims to it? Doesn't seem like a good use of time.

Ultimately, I'm a pragmatist. I don't care what is true, I care about what works. Mormonism makes me happy, it has the potential to make me a better person and to strengthen my family, so I intend to participate in it. But I do so as a choice, because I believe that religion is just that: a choice. You can't prove (or disprove) it with history, science, your feelings, or the Holy Ghost. You just choose to believe it or you choose not to. Period.

I can no longer require myself to believe the Church's doctrine in order to to participate in and benefit from its organization and programs. On a practical level, this approach is tricky. How do you sing hymns, or pray, or read scriptures if you fundamentally don't believe the content? That's where my hope testimony comes in.

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