Project Conversion

Project Conversion


Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

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The slander began about two weeks into June once people found out I would be an LDS member in July.

  • “You know Mormon is only one letter away from ‘moron’?”
  • “So you’re going to be a Mor-man…does that mean your wife will be a Mor-maid?”
  • “Plan to get a few more wives?”
  • “Why would you give those heretics the time of day?”

There are more, trust me, I just tuned them out after a certain point. On the other hand, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community tells me:

  • “We are normal people just like them. Why can’t they see that?”
  • “LDS believe in Jesus Christ and the Atonement just as other Christians do.”
  • “I’m so glad that you [Andrew] are willing to see for yourself what we are about.”
  • “Thank you for all you’re doing.”

On one side, I have popular culture and mainstream Christianity spewing judgement and casting jokes at my interaction with the LDS church. The other side is full of LDS members who eagerly (and some, desperately) want me to see their faith on their terms and without bias.

Courtesy of an artist friend who wishes to stay anonymous.

Looks like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place all month. No other month thus far has demanded so much of me. I’ve defended the LDS church on several occasions against Christian and secular friends alike and, while uncomfortable, it is almost instinctual.

But why? Why among all the other Christian sects does the LDS church get a bad wrap?

One of my best Christian pals gave me three reasons:

  1. The early leaders of the LDS church have a less-than-admirable record and questionable motives.
  2. The Christology of the faith is a far cry from any orthodoxy.
  3. Heavy proselytization makes them a great target for ridicule.

I will explore some of these areas in more detail later.

Joseph Smith himself foreshadowed the outside view of the Church after sharing his revelation with those around him:

I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.” Joseph Smith–History 1: 22

I admit that I struggle with some of LDS doctrine, but is it because these ideals do not mesh with me personally, or because of my past with Christianity? As the Buddha taught, we are beings conditioned by our past and only when we relinquish this conditioning do we free ourselves to see reality in its purity. I don’t want a month where I must constantly react to both internal and external criticism. Every time I jot down an idea for a post I think to myself “Am I writing this as a religious explorer, or as an apologist for the faith?”

Sports philosophy dictates that a good offense is the best defence, but why do I feel as if I need to defend the LDS church? Perhaps that early judgement slipped in and reset my subconsciousness for defense mode. The truth is, I feel like a veritable Paul of Tarsus: once a persecutor of the LDS church, now I am a representative for 31 days.

But this is what Project Conversion is all about! I am now in the shoes of those Elders I chased down and chastised in high school. I am now on the receiving end of the Mormon jokes. And now I must face my own reservations, my own inner critic, and shut the voices down for the sake of everyone entrusting me with their religion these 31 days. No, there is nothing wrong with constructive debate in religion, but I’m not here for the comparative religion debate. I am here to listen, to show, and to tell.

Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.” Alma, from the Book of Mormon, 1: 25

So I can claim my abode between a rock and a hard place with pride. It’s not too cozy, but home is where the heart is, after all.

Jesus taught that we should judge not, lest we be judged (Matthew 7: 1). He also taught us not to cast stones in glass houses. For those who criticize the LDS church, when was the last time your church was perfect? Funny how a religion persecuted for so long for their own heterodoxy against Judaism and the Roman theology is so quick to treat others so coldly. We are all the underdog at some point. We are all carriers of heresy at some point. LDS members are just like you in that, they do not claim perfection, they simply claim belief.

 



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Anonymous

posted July 20, 2011 at 8:50 pm


What I love about humanity is that we will always find new words and ways to express ourselves and our experiences.



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Anonymous

posted July 20, 2011 at 8:50 pm


What I love about humanity is that we will always find new words and ways to express ourselves and our experiences.



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Lowellisaac

posted July 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm


I might say it shouldn’t matter, or that it wouldn’t matter if the concept of “god” was comparable to “muse” in the public imagination. People used to believe that a “muse” was a real thing, but now it’s merely a colorful metaphor. I hope someday this will apply to “god” as well!

But the fact is, if we use the term “god” metaphorically in the context of here and now, it might be called irresponsible– because almost no one is in on the joke. Maybe an analogy would be if you decided to show enjoyment by screaming “FIRE” at the top of your lungs, and proceeded to do so in crowded movie theaters. Until this use of the term became ubiquitous, this is probably a bad idea.



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Lowellisaac

posted July 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm


I might say it shouldn’t matter, or that it wouldn’t matter if the concept of “god” was comparable to “muse” in the public imagination. People used to believe that a “muse” was a real thing, but now it’s merely a colorful metaphor. I hope someday this will apply to “god” as well!

But the fact is, if we use the term “god” metaphorically in the context of here and now, it might be called irresponsible– because almost no one is in on the joke. Maybe an analogy would be if you decided to show enjoyment by screaming “FIRE” at the top of your lungs, and proceeded to do so in crowded movie theaters. Until this use of the term became ubiquitous, this is probably a bad idea.



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Anonymous

posted July 16, 2011 at 12:44 am


Always good to hear from one of my favorite anti-theists. Thanks for joining in Lowell.

I think you are right. I’ve always found it interesting–especially this month–when folks from the mainstream side of Christianity start pointing out “strange doctrine” in the LDS faith, yet refuse to look into their own tradition in the same light. I use the term “divine inspiration” with the same ease and paralleled to “hearing from the muse.” As a fellow artist, Lowell, you know what I’m saying there.

As I stated about my experience Monday night, it could have been the divine, or it could have been my consciousness settling into clarity, either way, if we get the same result, does it matter what noun we use?



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Anonymous

posted July 16, 2011 at 12:44 am


Always good to hear from one of my favorite anti-theists. Thanks for joining in Lowell.

I think you are right. I’ve always found it interesting–especially this month–when folks from the mainstream side of Christianity start pointing out “strange doctrine” in the LDS faith, yet refuse to look into their own tradition in the same light. I use the term “divine inspiration” with the same ease and paralleled to “hearing from the muse.” As a fellow artist, Lowell, you know what I’m saying there.

As I stated about my experience Monday night, it could have been the divine, or it could have been my consciousness settling into clarity, either way, if we get the same result, does it matter what noun we use?



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Anonymous

posted July 16, 2011 at 12:36 am


To me, these issues are hair-splitting, but of course people are very defensive about their faiths. I try to help people understand one another through this project, but to be sure, there may always be a line between us spiritually. My hope and mission is that this line will one day dissolve.



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Anonymous

posted July 16, 2011 at 12:36 am


To me, these issues are hair-splitting, but of course people are very defensive about their faiths. I try to help people understand one another through this project, but to be sure, there may always be a line between us spiritually. My hope and mission is that this line will one day dissolve.



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Lowellisaac

posted July 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm


I haven’t read all the comments– but maybe I have something to add. As a firm anti-theist, I definitely think Mormonism is ripe for ridicule– as is any other belief system not based on logic and evidence. Some religions are more destructive than others, which is an important distinction to make– but in my view the key issue is the concept of absolute truth and divine inspiration, which I find intrinsically degrading to human culture– and in this respect I’d say all religions are equal. 

So, I have to admit that it does bother me when certain religions like Mormonism and Scientology are singled out as particularly absurd– in other words I’m not comfortable locking arms with people who believe in talking snakes and flying horses to take part in the jeers.

I think what might make the two belief systems I mentioned above such easy targets is simply their novelty– they were created within recent memory. As an atheist, this brings into sharp focus how all religions must be similarly created– and more are probably on the way– which I see as a point that can be made with sophisticated satire. It seems other religions enjoy undeserved respect and immunity from open laughter simply for being old; their claims are no more feasable. Maybe it’s easier (for some) to imagine incredible things happening long ago and far away, or at that beliefs somehow become less crazy and more respectable with age alone. This is the only reason I can see for other theists feeling safe enough to call the kettle black, and poke fun at Mormoninism and the like. 



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Lowellisaac

posted July 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm


I haven’t read all the comments– but maybe I have something to add. As a firm anti-theist, I definitely think Mormonism is ripe for ridicule– as is any other belief system not based on logic and evidence. Some religions are more destructive than others, which is an important distinction to make– but in my view the key issue is the concept of absolute truth and divine inspiration, which I find intrinsically degrading to human culture– and in this respect I’d say all religions are equal. 

So, I have to admit that it does bother me when certain religions like Mormonism and Scientology are singled out as particularly absurd– in other words I’m not comfortable locking arms with people who believe in talking snakes and flying horses to take part in the jeers.

I think what might make the two belief systems I mentioned above such easy targets is simply their novelty– they were created within recent memory. As an atheist, this brings into sharp focus how all religions must be similarly created– and more are probably on the way– which I see as a point that can be made with sophisticated satire. It seems other religions enjoy undeserved respect and immunity from open laughter simply for being old; their claims are no more feasable. Maybe it’s easier (for some) to imagine incredible things happening long ago and far away, or at that beliefs somehow become less crazy and more respectable with age alone. This is the only reason I can see for other theists feeling safe enough to call the kettle black, and poke fun at Mormoninism and the like. 



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Jenni

posted July 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm


I would agree that the main thing that leads mainstream christians to object to mormonism is that we have some pretty key doctrinal differences, starting with our different perception of the Trinity. Also, inherent in our “restored fulness of Christ’s gospel” teaching, we pretty much have the subtext that everybody else is wrong–and I TOTALLY get why that is offensive!!
I think that, as a general rule, if you’ve met a few mormons, you find that they are nice people. But doctrinal differences can be disconcerting at least. I have observed that the church (as an organization) has tried to speak more and more loudly about the things that we have in common with other christian groups, and to sortof hush up many of the things that make us different. Personally, I find some of those differences to be beautiful things (and why I stay with mormonism–things like the teaching of Heavenly Mother as the wife/goddess married to Heavenly Father, and also the doctrine of theosis). I suppose it’s a fine line, and no matter where one tries to stand there are bound to be people who will feel offended or say rude things. I appreciate your being genuine as you explore all these faiths. I think you are doing a great deal of good in the world with this project–just bringing awareness and friendliness across this diversity of spirituality. I hope you find some resolution for your own life in whichever path, but I thank you for sharing this project with us all. :)



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Jenni

posted July 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm


I would agree that the main thing that leads mainstream christians to object to mormonism is that we have some pretty key doctrinal differences, starting with our different perception of the Trinity. Also, inherent in our “restored fulness of Christ’s gospel” teaching, we pretty much have the subtext that everybody else is wrong–and I TOTALLY get why that is offensive!!
I think that, as a general rule, if you’ve met a few mormons, you find that they are nice people. But doctrinal differences can be disconcerting at least. I have observed that the church (as an organization) has tried to speak more and more loudly about the things that we have in common with other christian groups, and to sortof hush up many of the things that make us different. Personally, I find some of those differences to be beautiful things (and why I stay with mormonism–things like the teaching of Heavenly Mother as the wife/goddess married to Heavenly Father, and also the doctrine of theosis). I suppose it’s a fine line, and no matter where one tries to stand there are bound to be people who will feel offended or say rude things. I appreciate your being genuine as you explore all these faiths. I think you are doing a great deal of good in the world with this project–just bringing awareness and friendliness across this diversity of spirituality. I hope you find some resolution for your own life in whichever path, but I thank you for sharing this project with us all. :)



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Anonymous

posted July 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm


The ability to laugh at ourselves without being offended is a great skill.



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Anonymous

posted July 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm


The ability to laugh at ourselves without being offended is a great skill.



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ChrisH

posted July 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm


you’re doin’ great, keep it up! In reading this, I’ve realized that I live in an exceedingly tolerant and understanding environment. Even the more religiously conservative people around me at school love Mormons just for being Mormon. Sure there are occasionally a few jokes, but they are never the offensive ones… I suppose I’m just very lucky.



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ChrisH

posted July 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm


you’re doin’ great, keep it up! In reading this, I’ve realized that I live in an exceedingly tolerant and understanding environment. Even the more religiously conservative people around me at school love Mormons just for being Mormon. Sure there are occasionally a few jokes, but they are never the offensive ones… I suppose I’m just very lucky.



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Jessi

posted July 10, 2011 at 10:43 am


I feel I should share a little insight, as a life time member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Mom of 10.   My oldest child is 32 and youngest is 15.   My family life is just amazing;  full, rich and meaningful!
The teenage years are the most fun.  Through little effort on my part, just using family prayer, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and just being there, and knowing where and what they are doing:  every one of my kids (not bragging here)   are doing great.   Never a problem with drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, etc.   They are people to be admired and I am proud of all of their “good works”  especially how they live their lives in the  service of others.   This is only accomplished, because they know who they are,  what life is about, and have a meaningful relationship with the Lord. (this part, I know others of different Faiths, can and do have also).   But, where do you find teenagers who wake their Mom up at 5:00 am to drive them to early morning Seminary class, and who save their money and put all social, sports and educational goals on hold to freely serve a mission for many months wherever they are called?   (currently a daughter is sharing her greatest possesion, her testimony of the restored gospel, on the island of Leyte, in the Phillipines, speaking Cebuano.)   This is our 5th child to serve a mission.  I wish you could all share her letters of succes and wonderful spiritual experiences. She loves it.
Only people with a Heart full of JOY , because of their knowledge of the Truth want to share something so wonderful with anyone who will take the time to listen.     People should find this point to be amazing, something to be examined, not take offense at the fact that so many young people are so willing to do as God has asked them to do!!   There is nothing like it anywhere.   It is an everyday miracle right before the eyes of the world, if the people would only look!  
Also, in a nut shell, about the three topics polygamy, homosexuality, and the issue of the blacks  being denied the priesthood for a time;   Before anyone decides for himself, based on the society and times he lives in, that these topics can only be looked at ONE way,   THINK, that God just might have a different way of  thinking,  much more brilliant, than Mans’  and perhaps a good reason, for why he  does things, we just might not comprehend fully in our present state.   To dismiss the most amazing thing that would take you further in this life than anything else, because you don’t understand for  little while the reasons of a few things, is foolish!
(I see these issues very clearly, because of study and prayer).  
The Book of Mormon is the key to getting your own testimony directly from Heaven!   It is a book with a purpose and a promise, that if you study and ask, you will know for yourself.   It is the tool The Lord gives us to come to know Him and his Gospel.   The Lord is capable of taking away our sins, our addictions, and our misguided thoughts.  He makes every day a joy to live, and be part of.     His Church has the fullness of  His gospel!   All are invited to come unto Him.   He makes our burdens light and easy to bear!
Why take offense at such an offer?  There really is an opposing force that does not want you to progress.  Isn’t it interesting that some members actually miss out on finding this knowledge and Joy, when it is right under their noses,  because they are either lazy or unrepentant and certainly are selfish, seeking things of the world, they are letting themselves be deceived.  I find that very sad.



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Jessi

posted July 10, 2011 at 10:43 am


I feel I should share a little insight, as a life time member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Mom of 10.   My oldest child is 32 and youngest is 15.   My family life is just amazing;  full, rich and meaningful!
The teenage years are the most fun.  Through little effort on my part, just using family prayer, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and just being there, and knowing where and what they are doing:  every one of my kids (not bragging here)   are doing great.   Never a problem with drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, etc.   They are people to be admired and I am proud of all of their “good works”  especially how they live their lives in the  service of others.   This is only accomplished, because they know who they are,  what life is about, and have a meaningful relationship with the Lord. (this part, I know others of different Faiths, can and do have also).   But, where do you find teenagers who wake their Mom up at 5:00 am to drive them to early morning Seminary class, and who save their money and put all social, sports and educational goals on hold to freely serve a mission for many months wherever they are called?   (currently a daughter is sharing her greatest possesion, her testimony of the restored gospel, on the island of Leyte, in the Phillipines, speaking Cebuano.)   This is our 5th child to serve a mission.  I wish you could all share her letters of succes and wonderful spiritual experiences. She loves it.
Only people with a Heart full of JOY , because of their knowledge of the Truth want to share something so wonderful with anyone who will take the time to listen.     People should find this point to be amazing, something to be examined, not take offense at the fact that so many young people are so willing to do as God has asked them to do!!   There is nothing like it anywhere.   It is an everyday miracle right before the eyes of the world, if the people would only look!  
Also, in a nut shell, about the three topics polygamy, homosexuality, and the issue of the blacks  being denied the priesthood for a time;   Before anyone decides for himself, based on the society and times he lives in, that these topics can only be looked at ONE way,   THINK, that God just might have a different way of  thinking,  much more brilliant, than Mans’  and perhaps a good reason, for why he  does things, we just might not comprehend fully in our present state.   To dismiss the most amazing thing that would take you further in this life than anything else, because you don’t understand for  little while the reasons of a few things, is foolish!
(I see these issues very clearly, because of study and prayer).  
The Book of Mormon is the key to getting your own testimony directly from Heaven!   It is a book with a purpose and a promise, that if you study and ask, you will know for yourself.   It is the tool The Lord gives us to come to know Him and his Gospel.   The Lord is capable of taking away our sins, our addictions, and our misguided thoughts.  He makes every day a joy to live, and be part of.     His Church has the fullness of  His gospel!   All are invited to come unto Him.   He makes our burdens light and easy to bear!
Why take offense at such an offer?  There really is an opposing force that does not want you to progress.  Isn’t it interesting that some members actually miss out on finding this knowledge and Joy, when it is right under their noses,  because they are either lazy or unrepentant and certainly are selfish, seeking things of the world, they are letting themselves be deceived.  I find that very sad.



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Anonymous

posted July 10, 2011 at 9:52 am


I’ll let him know!



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Anonymous

posted July 10, 2011 at 9:52 am


I’ll let him know!



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Editor B

posted July 10, 2011 at 2:58 am


I just wanna say I think the original artwork is pretty cool, and I hope your artist friend is inspired to keep ‘em coming.



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Editor B

posted July 10, 2011 at 2:58 am


I just wanna say I think the original artwork is pretty cool, and I hope your artist friend is inspired to keep ‘em coming.



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Anonymous

posted July 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm


Oh don’t worry Art, the questions are just getting started. The heated stuff comes in week 3 of every month. The first two weeks are of me getting comfy enough with the faith to live day-to-day so that I can focus on those issues later.



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Anonymous

posted July 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm


Oh don’t worry Art, the questions are just getting started. The heated stuff comes in week 3 of every month. The first two weeks are of me getting comfy enough with the faith to live day-to-day so that I can focus on those issues later.



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Anonymous

posted July 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm


Very cool! Let me know when you start!



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Anonymous

posted July 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm


Very cool! Let me know when you start!



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AustinSFaux

posted July 9, 2011 at 2:45 am


I never understood why Christians feel justified in persecuting anyone who worships in the name of Christ.  I often ask myself have they not read the scriptures, Jesus even chastised the Apostles for doing this in Mark. 

“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in they name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.  But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.  For he that is not against us is on our part. (Mark 9:38-40).  

My heart hurts for humanity when we so quickly choose to ridicule, and take so long to love.  But I guess if Jesus was ridiculed for His strange new doctrines, then who are we to think such things will avoid us.  I know for me joining this church has taught me how to love, and grow in love for others.  I am very grateful for this gift, and look forward to the point in our eternal progression in which we all have the ability to love one another.  

To quote Jimi Hendrix: 
““When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”Till then I’m willing to work at loving my neighbor, rather then hating.  Who’s with me!



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AustinSFaux

posted July 9, 2011 at 2:45 am


I never understood why Christians feel justified in persecuting anyone who worships in the name of Christ.  I often ask myself have they not read the scriptures, Jesus even chastised the Apostles for doing this in Mark. 

“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in they name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.  But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.  For he that is not against us is on our part. (Mark 9:38-40).  

My heart hurts for humanity when we so quickly choose to ridicule, and take so long to love.  But I guess if Jesus was ridiculed for His strange new doctrines, then who are we to think such things will avoid us.  I know for me joining this church has taught me how to love, and grow in love for others.  I am very grateful for this gift, and look forward to the point in our eternal progression in which we all have the ability to love one another.  

To quote Jimi Hendrix: 
““When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”Till then I’m willing to work at loving my neighbor, rather then hating.  Who’s with me!



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Tonia

posted July 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm


My husband is actual the reason that I looked at my faith more critically.  He was also raised LDS and had some doubts about things and ended up leaving the faith a couple of years before I did.  It took me a while to be willing to shed the beliefs that I’d had for so long but now there’s no looking back.  I don’t have a tradition that I follow now.  I am currently under the belief that religion is just a tool to help a person achieve spirituality and that spirituality is what we are striving to find anyway.  I am loving your journey this year and my husband and I plan to do something similar ourselves in the future.  Thanks for the inspiration!



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Tonia

posted July 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm


My husband is actual the reason that I looked at my faith more critically.  He was also raised LDS and had some doubts about things and ended up leaving the faith a couple of years before I did.  It took me a while to be willing to shed the beliefs that I’d had for so long but now there’s no looking back.  I don’t have a tradition that I follow now.  I am currently under the belief that religion is just a tool to help a person achieve spirituality and that spirituality is what we are striving to find anyway.  I am loving your journey this year and my husband and I plan to do something similar ourselves in the future.  Thanks for the inspiration!



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm


Mean girls. Ha! What a fantastic analogy. And I am a fan of walking bare foot…



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm


Mean girls. Ha! What a fantastic analogy. And I am a fan of walking bare foot…



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 8:32 pm


Hey there Tina. I try and take a more biased view of each religion for the sake of the experience, however I have run across issues each month that I simply cannot ignore. These struggles, as you’ve said, are part and parcel with faith. To cast them aside is foolish and so I must do the same. There is a difference between being critical and being negative.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 8:32 pm


Hey there Tina. I try and take a more biased view of each religion for the sake of the experience, however I have run across issues each month that I simply cannot ignore. These struggles, as you’ve said, are part and parcel with faith. To cast them aside is foolish and so I must do the same. There is a difference between being critical and being negative.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 8:32 pm


Amen, or at least say it with some tact ; )



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 8:25 pm


Thank you for your honesty here, Tonia. What was the threshold to finally looking into your faith with a critical eye? Do you have a tradition you follow now?



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 8:25 pm


Thank you for your honesty here, Tonia. What was the threshold to finally looking into your faith with a critical eye? Do you have a tradition you follow now?



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Tina

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm


Hi Andrew,

This post raises many great questions!

I think what you are doing this year is hugely meaningful……and extremely difficult.To suspend our negative attitudes/judgements against any belief system is almost impossible, especially when we feel our criticisms are justified. Religions and philosophies are mix of ideas, some good and some destructive. It is imperative that we wrestle with the harmful ideas embedded in any belief system, whether religious or secular. I am curious how you are handling this aspect of your experience. Have you already posted about this?



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Tina

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm


Hi Andrew,

This post raises many great questions!

I think what you are doing this year is hugely meaningful……and extremely difficult.To suspend our negative attitudes/judgements against any belief system is almost impossible, especially when we feel our criticisms are justified. Religions and philosophies are mix of ideas, some good and some destructive. It is imperative that we wrestle with the harmful ideas embedded in any belief system, whether religious or secular. I am curious how you are handling this aspect of your experience. Have you already posted about this?



report abuse
 

Tonia

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm


I was raised in the LDS church and have practiced it most of my life.  Several months ago, I discovered some of the indisgressions in the history and after much prayer and reflection I decided to leave the faith.  That being said, I feel I have some insight into the Mormon church.  Members of the church generally love the fact that they are persecuted only because they feel that with all the persecution they must have it right because otherwise Satan wouldn’t be working so hard against them (or at least, I felt that way as a member and I know many others who felt the same).  I feel that they are persecuted because they make themselves such easy targets.  Not only do they have missionaries out trying to convert people but they are taught that every member is a missionary and so it is each person’s duty to try to convert their family and friends of other faiths.  They also believe with conviction that they have it right and that everyone else has it wrong, which causes many members to discount the beliefs of others and sometimes gives members an air of superiority, but always in a loving way.  Many of their doctrines are easy to be criticized such as polygamy (which I think is a HUGE source of persecution), which they don’t currently practice but still believe is an eternal law.  Also the origins of the church make it difficult for people to accept, it is easy to ridicule people who believe that a man translated a book similar to the Bible from golden plates that an angel took away after the translation was completed so no one can verify the story.  One final thing that I think makes people angry with the church and may cause people to look into the negative things about the church is the fact that family and friends who are not worthy members of the faith are not allowed to attend the marriage ceremony of those who desire to have an “eternal family” by being married inside the LDS temples.  Many people have been hurt by not being able to attend the marriage ceremony of a son or daughter.

I want to emphasize that I am NOT trying to criticize the Mormon church or its beliefs, I have many friends and family that I love very much who are still practicing members and I have no desire to ridicule them.  I simply wanted to share my opinion in regards your question about why the LDS church gets such a bad wrap.  It’s difficult to tell the tone of a person in writing so I just want to clarify that this is not meant to be synical at all, just an opinion.



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Tonia

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm


I was raised in the LDS church and have practiced it most of my life.  Several months ago, I discovered some of the indisgressions in the history and after much prayer and reflection I decided to leave the faith.  That being said, I feel I have some insight into the Mormon church.  Members of the church generally love the fact that they are persecuted only because they feel that with all the persecution they must have it right because otherwise Satan wouldn’t be working so hard against them (or at least, I felt that way as a member and I know many others who felt the same).  I feel that they are persecuted because they make themselves such easy targets.  Not only do they have missionaries out trying to convert people but they are taught that every member is a missionary and so it is each person’s duty to try to convert their family and friends of other faiths.  They also believe with conviction that they have it right and that everyone else has it wrong, which causes many members to discount the beliefs of others and sometimes gives members an air of superiority, but always in a loving way.  Many of their doctrines are easy to be criticized such as polygamy (which I think is a HUGE source of persecution), which they don’t currently practice but still believe is an eternal law.  Also the origins of the church make it difficult for people to accept, it is easy to ridicule people who believe that a man translated a book similar to the Bible from golden plates that an angel took away after the translation was completed so no one can verify the story.  One final thing that I think makes people angry with the church and may cause people to look into the negative things about the church is the fact that family and friends who are not worthy members of the faith are not allowed to attend the marriage ceremony of those who desire to have an “eternal family” by being married inside the LDS temples.  Many people have been hurt by not being able to attend the marriage ceremony of a son or daughter.

I want to emphasize that I am NOT trying to criticize the Mormon church or its beliefs, I have many friends and family that I love very much who are still practicing members and I have no desire to ridicule them.  I simply wanted to share my opinion in regards your question about why the LDS church gets such a bad wrap.  It’s difficult to tell the tone of a person in writing so I just want to clarify that this is not meant to be synical at all, just an opinion.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm


Enough said. Thanks!



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm


The Wal-Mart comment is probably the most profound thing I’ve heard all week. I hope you’ll be around for next month, Nancy, I’ll need your wit and wisdom.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm


The Wal-Mart comment is probably the most profound thing I’ve heard all week. I hope you’ll be around for next month, Nancy, I’ll need your wit and wisdom.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm


I can only try, and I do my best.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm


You nailed it Debi when you said that “people whose faith has a shaky foundation can not tolerate other religions.” Very true. We always fear what we don’t understand and from this misunderstanding, we envision all “others” as a threat. Ignorance is as deadly as bullets.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm


You nailed it Debi when you said that “people whose faith has a shaky foundation can not tolerate other religions.” Very true. We always fear what we don’t understand and from this misunderstanding, we envision all “others” as a threat. Ignorance is as deadly as bullets.



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Nancy Shehata

posted July 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm


I’m a Muslim and of course I don’t accept Mormon beliefs, but it’s very rude and inexcusable for people to malign you this way.  Even if we don’t agree we need to GET ALONG.  Not so hard to do.  I managed not to make jihad on anyone in front of me at the register at Wal-Mart yesterday even though they were all “infidels”, lol.  I managed to see PEOPLE and not labels.



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Nancy Shehata

posted July 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm


I’m a Muslim and of course I don’t accept Mormon beliefs, but it’s very rude and inexcusable for people to malign you this way.  Even if we don’t agree we need to GET ALONG.  Not so hard to do.  I managed not to make jihad on anyone in front of me at the register at Wal-Mart yesterday even though they were all “infidels”, lol.  I managed to see PEOPLE and not labels.



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Blackbird

posted July 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm


I completely agree. 



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Debi Dusseault

posted July 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm


I find it so sad that people that consider themselves part of a religious faith would attack those of another one so mercilessly and ignorantly.  When I grew up as a Roman Catholic, we never spoke about other religions even other Christian (Protestant) religions.  This is such a mistake and only breeds contempt for religious experiences and connections that they do not understand and are unwilling to experience or explore.  I have found that those people whose faith has a shaky foundation can not tolerate other religions.  I taught music appreciation at a university and at a Hutterite colony (they are like the Amish) here in South Dakota and found that the Hutterite students were far more open to discussing other religious ideas in the practice of music than any of my students at the university campus.  All I can say is keep up the good work keeping your mind and spirit open to other beliefs and being willing to fully experience the good and the bad that comes with it.



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Debi Dusseault

posted July 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm


I find it so sad that people that consider themselves part of a religious faith would attack those of another one so mercilessly and ignorantly.  When I grew up as a Roman Catholic, we never spoke about other religions even other Christian (Protestant) religions.  This is such a mistake and only breeds contempt for religious experiences and connections that they do not understand and are unwilling to experience or explore.  I have found that those people whose faith has a shaky foundation can not tolerate other religions.  I taught music appreciation at a university and at a Hutterite colony (they are like the Amish) here in South Dakota and found that the Hutterite students were far more open to discussing other religious ideas in the practice of music than any of my students at the university campus.  All I can say is keep up the good work keeping your mind and spirit open to other beliefs and being willing to fully experience the good and the bad that comes with it.



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Blackbird

posted July 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm


I completely agree. 



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm


I think people often forget this point, that while religions may or may not be inspired by the divine, humans are more often than not flawed carriers of the message. Because religion in general often asks us to suspend rationality for belief, I don’t see how using one religion to discredit another holds any water. On another note, I believe Project Conversion has shown a great track record for promoting understanding between faiths and ideals. My honesty in these personal matters should not be mistaken for the illusion of taking sides. The last thing the animosity within faith needs is another front.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm


I think people often forget this point, that while religions may or may not be inspired by the divine, humans are more often than not flawed carriers of the message. Because religion in general often asks us to suspend rationality for belief, I don’t see how using one religion to discredit another holds any water. On another note, I believe Project Conversion has shown a great track record for promoting understanding between faiths and ideals. My honesty in these personal matters should not be mistaken for the illusion of taking sides. The last thing the animosity within faith needs is another front.



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Blackbird

posted July 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm


While i can appreciate-and to a point understand-your Christian friend’s ideas about why Mormons are so often ridiculed, I don’t believe those justifications would hold up under scrutiny.

For example, if as your friend claimed, members of the church get a bad wrap because the early church leaders had less than stellar reputations or motives, then why don’t other Christian churches, who’s leaders also have questionable pasts, face the same?

Luther, known as the father of protestantism, was an avid anti-semitist, calling them ‘venomous’ and many many other awful names as well.  He also absolutely dispised the book of James in the bible  and referred to it as the ‘epistle of straw’.  The Southern Baptist Church was founded for the purpose of defending slavery and the idea that blacks were inferior to whites.  The mistakes and plainly evil choices of some of the past Catholic popes and other Catholic leaders are well documented through-out history.  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses were polygamists.  Etc., Etc.

Does the evidence support the idea that a checkered historical past is valid justification to ‘give a religion a bad wrap’?  Or does that only seem to apply to the LDS church and no others?  And if it only applies to the LDS church, then is the justification logical?

I don’t think I’m alone in suggesting that no, the justification obviously isn’t logical when it’s studied.

I could go on and talk about missionary work and LDS vs. mainstream Christian doctrine and whether or not those are valid justifications for the level of dislike concerning the LDS church as well, but that isn’t necessary.

I only wanted to point out that while many non-LDS Christians and atheists really do believe they have legitimate justifications for reacting more negatively to the LDS church than to other churches,  usually those justifications are not based on reality.  Often they come from a place of misinformation, misunderstanding, and plain bias.  They sound reasonable as long as they aren’t probed too deeply.  

I hope that Project Conversion will give people who otherwise are sincere and striving to truly be like Christ (or who, for atheists, truly desire to base their interactions with people on fact and not perception) the desire to move past their justifications and biases concerning the LDS church (and every other religion out there) and get more real with the true motivation behind their words and actions.

The world becomes a better, more honest place for all of us when we are able to do that.



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Blackbird

posted July 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm


While i can appreciate-and to a point understand-your Christian friend’s ideas about why Mormons are so often ridiculed, I don’t believe those justifications would hold up under scrutiny.

For example, if as your friend claimed, members of the church get a bad wrap because the early church leaders had less than stellar reputations or motives, then why don’t other Christian churches, who’s leaders also have questionable pasts, face the same?

Luther, known as the father of protestantism, was an avid anti-semitist, calling them ‘venomous’ and many many other awful names as well.  He also absolutely dispised the book of James in the bible  and referred to it as the ‘epistle of straw’.  The Southern Baptist Church was founded for the purpose of defending slavery and the idea that blacks were inferior to whites.  The mistakes and plainly evil choices of some of the past Catholic popes and other Catholic leaders are well documented through-out history.  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses were polygamists.  Etc., Etc.

Does the evidence support the idea that a checkered historical past is valid justification to ‘give a religion a bad wrap’?  Or does that only seem to apply to the LDS church and no others?  And if it only applies to the LDS church, then is the justification logical?

I don’t think I’m alone in suggesting that no, the justification obviously isn’t logical when it’s studied.

I could go on and talk about missionary work and LDS vs. mainstream Christian doctrine and whether or not those are valid justifications for the level of dislike concerning the LDS church as well, but that isn’t necessary.

I only wanted to point out that while many non-LDS Christians and atheists really do believe they have legitimate justifications for reacting more negatively to the LDS church than to other churches,  usually those justifications are not based on reality.  Often they come from a place of misinformation, misunderstanding, and plain bias.  They sound reasonable as long as they aren’t probed too deeply.  

I hope that Project Conversion will give people who otherwise are sincere and striving to truly be like Christ (or who, for atheists, truly desire to base their interactions with people on fact and not perception) the desire to move past their justifications and biases concerning the LDS church (and every other religion out there) and get more real with the true motivation behind their words and actions.

The world becomes a better, more honest place for all of us when we are able to do that.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm


The Mormaid name may be cast off as simply an endearing nickname, however it wasn’t used in such a friendly context in my case.



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Anonymous

posted July 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm


The Mormaid name may be cast off as simply an endearing nickname, however it wasn’t used in such a friendly context in my case.



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Dan Jensen

posted July 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm


I was under the impression that “Mormaid” is an insider joke. I personally have only heard it from Mormons, and I thought it was genuinely funny and endearing. In any case, I would hardly call use of the term “slander” … That said, I’ll only add that, so far as I can tell, the criticisms of non-Mormon Christians against Mormons are generally a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

To the point, you’re right, Andrew: you’re not here for the comparative religion debate. You’re here to experience the life of a Mormon in such a manner that we, your congregation, can better understand what being a Latter-Day Saint is like. Godspeed.



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Dan Jensen

posted July 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm


I was under the impression that “Mormaid” is an insider joke. I personally have only heard it from Mormons, and I thought it was genuinely funny and endearing. In any case, I would hardly call use of the term “slander” … That said, I’ll only add that, so far as I can tell, the criticisms of non-Mormon Christians against Mormons are generally a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

To the point, you’re right, Andrew: you’re not here for the comparative religion debate. You’re here to experience the life of a Mormon in such a manner that we, your congregation, can better understand what being a Latter-Day Saint is like. Godspeed.



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