Thursday, August 12, 2004

Leaving the Church

I have a tough time with this one, especially over the last few days.

Not long ago, a friend of mine was visiting Tal Bachman’s website, where his bio announced that he had made the difficult decision to leave the Church. He had read evidence that had convinced him that Joseph Smith was a fraud, that the Church is not true.

This hit me for a number of reasons.

First of all, I always admired Tal. His music and his seeming commitment to the gospel was a light to me. It was exciting to see someone that represented morality and spirituality making it in the music world where sleaze seems to be predominant.

But this goes to show just how important it is not to base your faith or your testimony on someone else. If the core of my faith was “Tal (or “My dad” or “whoever”) says it’s true, so it must be”, then I’m in big trouble when that person recants, or even lapses in choices.

I mean, many have fallen away due to sin, never leaving their faith, but feeling they can no longer practice it. Others fall away because they perceive some flaw in the core beliefs. Some fall away because of sin, and justify it by “discovering” a perceived flaw in the core beliefs.

Which leads me to the second reason it hit me:

Several years ago, a neighbor of mine went through this process. He found a lot of anti-church websites and eventually fell prey to their rhetoric. It was pretty ugly. He left the church, and joined another denomination, and eventually became one of the Temple Square street preachers that harass the temple and conference goers. Soon, his wife, who was trying to hold on to her family, ended up filing for divorce. The oldest son went on a mission, and struggled through all that while trying to preach the gospel. The youngest son still struggles, as do they all, but so far, all of the children of the family have remained faithful.

As I spoke with the family, it was revealed to me that before the breakdown, there was years and years of misdeeds on the part of the father. Lots of steps down the wrong roads that eventually led to the final snap.

It’s sad to me to see. It makes me realize just how precious my own testimony is, and how fragile it can be if I don’t constantly nurture it.

It gives new meaning to the phrase, “Ask and ye shall receive. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” We usually interpret that to be referring to obtaining spiritual witnesses. But it also applies to darkness. Whatever you ask for, you’ll receive. Whatever you seek, you will find.

MRKH
http://markhansenmusic.com




4 comments:

  1. This was sad to read.

    However, I was amused at the how his website bio tells the story:

    "He continued to write songs and play a leading role in the local Mormon Church...As a virtual elder in the local congregation - a Sunday school teacher, no less"

    Um...right. A virtual elder. An no less than a Sunday School teacher. Obviously written by a non-member.

    Anyhow, I still wish him the best of luck in his career and hope that despite a loss of testimony that he continues to write and produce music that is as clean as he did in the past.

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  2. Maybe they do things idfferently on Salt Spring Island, but in our ward, the Sunday School teacher is not much of a leader.

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  3. This is disappointing. I was just musing to my husband the other day that I wondered Tal was a member when we heard a song on the radio.

    I have to say I'm not surprised. The entertainment industry seems to have a negative effect. SheDaisy comes to mind. When you cater to a secular audience, eventually you will probably cave to secular demands.

    After I had been a member for a couple of years, I found several anti sites and questioned my decision. I even visited with a pastor about it at a mega-church that I used to attend. But I counterbalanced this reading with questions to my bishop, to the institute director and with a lot of prayer and scripture study. Eventually I concluded that God was not the author of confusion and that other churches had given me confusion whereas the teachings of the LDS church were pretty clear. I considered the difference between the Spirit I felt when I took the discussions versus the feelings I had reading this anti stuff. It was not the same. I have to believe if the anti stuff was true, I would have felt the Spirit of happiness. As it was not that kind of feeling, I know who was the perpetrator of it and it wasn't the Spirit. Know what I mean?

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  4. Having gone through the same process as Tal I would like to say that those that are still in the church can never understand the process and it's implications. I left the church after my mission. I was working for Deseret Book at the time and read just about everything in the store that pertained to church history. These were all books that can still, if in print be purchased at Deseret Book. As I read I found that I could no longer reconcile the discrepencies in church history and doctrine that I very easily found in those books. After much study and even more dismay I left the church. For those that believe this is incomprehensible. A believer would say that I let my intelect get the better of me or that I wanted to justify a lifestyle that would not jive with the church. I don't believe that the first is true and I know that the second was not true. I simply found that what I had been taught about the church and its history was not the truth. Those websites that have been mentioned in other posts on this topic are not, for the most part misleading. Nothing has been taken out of context as is commonly asserted. The facts are the facts. The facts as the relate to mormon history have been hidden or deemphasised by the church. Anyone who looks into the history of even the translation of the Book of Mormon will find that Joseph did not translate the plates as the church teaches. This is just one example of the misrepresentaion of the facts. I do not blame the church for making the story of the translation universal in its details but I can tell you after reading the diary entries of those that were ther for the process that he used a peep stone placed in a hat and never had the plates in the same room. These are just the facts as they were recorded by very devoted followers of Joseph. They had no ax to grind. They loved the man and recorded what they had they had seen and been a party to. I am a 5th generation mormon on both sides of my family. I know what you are all thinking as you read this. I have been there. I served an honorable mission and held all the callings that a young man could hold. I know all the answers to the questions that are raised in investigating the history of the church. What I found was that the church was not true. It has many great aspects to it but its history tells a story of a founder that although well meaning (i think)was not honest about the experiences that compelled him to start the church. I also know that the curch encourages members not to read anything that is not faith promoting. I would say to that "what are you hiding?". I know that the answer to the question of reading stuff that does not promote the church is that it can't help you in the long run. I say, the mind is a terrible thing to waste and my mind led me to a different conclusion than many of you. To all of you that find yourself questioning, go out on a limb and study the church. It will be hard to come to terms with but "the truth will set you free. (no I am not religious) I just like the quote.

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