Why I will always consider myself a Mormon

19 12 2012

In my other posts I think I sort of assume that my readers know that I belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints but just in case you didn’t know, now you do. Now, as I said before, I now consider myself an atheist and I no longer actively participate in the Mormon church. That said, I think the church will always be a part of my life in one way or another and I’m okay with that. Here’s why:

I am who I am in large part because of the Mormon church and my participation in it.

  • I was born and raised in the Mormon church in a pretty devout family.
  • My ancestors came to Western Canada because of the Mormon church. I’m glad I’m Canadian.
  • My morals have and will likely always have a strong foundation in the Judeo-Christian ethics instilled in me by the Mormon church.
  • I still consider the teachings of Jesus Christ to be good rules to live by (and I still try to be “Christ-like”).
  • I have made a lot of good friends and known a lot of great people because of the Mormon church.
  • The people of the Mormon church have always treated me with respect and dignity. I believe such people also deserve my respect.
  • Many of the people who have been most influential for good in my life have been other Mormons. There are many leaders and friends who have helped shape me into what I am today (and I consider that a good thing).
  • Part of my appreciation for other cultures and my love of traveling I owe to serving a mission for the Mormon church.
  • I speak Spanish because of my mission.
  • I owe my work ethic and sense of responsibility in large part to the things I learned on my mission and in the Mormon church generally.
  • I became interested in psychology because of the experiences I had on my mission. Now I’m a psych grad student!
  • I still love giving service to others and helping where I can, even if I don’t do it as often as I could.
  • And there’s certainly more, as well.

In short, I owe a lot to the Mormon church.

To be fair, the church was definitely not the only source of good things in my life. My morals and attitudes have also been shaped by a wide variety of experiences in other areas of life. I have met many, many good people who are not affiliated with the Mormon church and who have taught and inspired me for good. My motivations for volunteering and giving service were always due to a variety of factors and not just religious ones. But my point is that I have a lot of Mormon in me and I’m not trying to rub it out now that I’m a non-believer. I’m just different now. I have added to what I once knew and who I once was and I think I’m better for it.

Also, my story is not everyone’s story. On this spiritual journey of mine I have met many people who have had very negative experiences with the church. It makes me very grateful that my own experience was so positive. I may believe differently now but I readily acknowledge the vast good that the Mormon church has done in my life. A lesson I learned from a Mormon leader that has stuck with me is that if you look for the good in something, you will find it and the same goes for the bad. As long as the Mormon church keeps doing good things, I will try to look for it. But, I also like that my new spiritual vantage point allows me to acknowledge and address the negative as well, rather than just ignoring it.

In sum, the Mormon church has been a part of my life for nearly 30 years and in that time it has provided me with many good opportunities to learn and grow as a person and meet good people and do good things. Those good things will always be a part of me. Even though my beliefs are different now and I probably won’t ever identify myself as Mormon again, I know that there will always be a little Mormon in me – and that’s alright with me.

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3 responses

20 12 2012
Dad

Peter, I can no more extract Mormonism from my life than I can extract my last name, and Mickey has always said that my “upbringing” in a faith-based family gave me many of the qualities that he adores in me. However…

I don’t need to go into the details in this thread, but just don’t be too quick to gloss over the immeasurable harm done by any one-path-to-God religion; and I know you don’t. When you grant to a faith the right to determine who the “others” are, you end up with zero-sum thinking and “just wars” where abortion doctors get killed by zealots and initiatives like Prop 8 destroy families, instead of strengthen them.

‘Nuff said.

20 12 2012
Peter

Dad, I mentioned in the post that if you look for the good, you’ll find it, and if you look for the bad, you’ll find it, too. I saw enough bad in religion that leaving seemed like the right choice for me. But I also still see a lot of good and never want to stop seeing the good. The whole idea that “my ideology is superior to yours and the world would be a better place if everyone believed as I do” is just another form of zero sum thinking that leads to hostility and conflict. The objective truth about ‘what’s harming who’ doesn’t really matter much in that sense. If you can’t appreciate and accept a diversity of beliefs then there’s no hope for peace and compromise. I think that goes for everybody.

22 12 2012
Fred

You’re a good man Peter. I wish you the best in all of your endeavors and you know you’re always welcome in our home.

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