GenCon14: The Power of the Text Itself

The power of the text itself
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By GA Joey

 

Any-child, after a few short years being on Earth, hopefully, in the responsible hands of parents who have helped him through much sacrifice to feed, bathe, sleep, teach and nurture their nature from day to day, one day begins to be aware of the fact that everything he is involved in, has up to this point, never been questioned as to its origin of existence and purpose. 

The inner eye begins to open…the spirit within begins to stir! Up until that moment, the questions of Common-child were plentiful about any and everything no doubt, taking for granted in his or her childlike lack of discrimination, that ‘that’s just the way things are’. The questions that come of these maturing moments- ‘But, what if…?’, ‘How come…?’ and ‘Why?’ begin to open the imagination to further interrogation, and further questions of deepening complexity. Every-child of course has his or her choice to take on these questions and search for them, or simply just shrug and move on to kick the waiting ball on the field. Some-child takes the que and pursues these things as part of their intellectual, spiritual psyche whilst Another-child takes the spark for what it seems to him- just a spark, not the beginning of a massive fire that never ceases to burn.

Questions are asked to no one in particular- though many gurus abound, at the drop of a hat, to convince the novice sojourner that the answers are in their guru-domain exclusively. These may come in forms of teachers, family, professionals and, in the case of the religiously inclined- priestcraft…umm, priesthood ‘holders’. But in reality, if reality does in fact exist, each one of these supposed authorities are still Any-child & Every-child themselves, either assuring themselves that after their interrogations they have sincerely come to the right and only conclusion, or, that their opinions can be used to sucker the gullible, those who are a hop, skip and a step behind them. 

In this inaugural speech of mine, I would like to take a different approach from the others who have, very successfully, preceded my pedestrian offering. Of course, I might get roundly boo-ed and banned from ever returning, as has been done in some high places due to unorthodox swagger towards authority and tradition, and possibly because of turning up my amp up all the way to eleven (the handbook says so. So there. Ask your My-Way-or-the High-Way-Council-man, if you don’t believe me…) And so, I present here a sketch of This-child (very similar to myself, and every bit as handsome) and some key moments from a journey as to why this author has taken the Book of Mormon to be THE document, the standard to which all other documents regarding the truth of things about God are to be measured. In other words, this is how I groove- my interpretation of the notes, rhythms and harmonizations of the song I have chosen to play. 

When you consider the breadth of cultures, myths, legends, written documents from ancient times and archeological structures that have over-clocked themselves and left us bewildered as to their origins and purpose- Puma Punku or Mohenjo Daro, anyone?- it isn’t an easy task to convince oneself that THIS –> (.) or perhaps THAT –>(‘) is the starting point in the ridiculously complex maze we humans have before us to unravel. The depth is simply astounding. And this is limiting ourselves to just this one world or planet, amongst the uncountable.  

We haven’t the slightest clue as to the true, unending, creative power and magnificence of He who condescended below all things, below His very creations. We are barely scratching the surface of the scratch on the surface’s scratch. Who am I, or any of us, whether layman or lawyer, school dropout or scholar, pew-dweller or university religion proph-essor, to say with absolute certainty that everything outside of our OWN immediate sacred texts, are anything but. The Catholic gave the world its Bible, compresses an incomprehensible limitless God down to the strict equivilent of a tiny collection of surviving manuscripts the Romans and co-conspirators didn’t burn. And, heaven forbid, not a single manuscript more, you heretics! The Protestants hate the Catholics and their conspiring ways- who can blame them when the Vatican guards their secret combinations like a KFC recipe- but also never question the limited validity of its canonisation- even though some dudes in silks gave a decree of such, sometime in the last couple of thousand years, along with a head of a church who cut off the heads of his wives in rebellion to the authority of the silks fashioned by the best Italian tailors. The Protestants barely questioned the Bible they hold as infallible. No witnesses. No original manuscripts. No matter. Orson Pratt’s comparison of the Bible to the Book of Mormon, found here on this website somewhere, puts that picture in perspective way better than I could do, obviously…although he didn’t cut off the heads of his wives (though Brigham could provide a loophole for such in D&C 132, if he had). 

Of course, these attitudes aren’t just exclusive to the Christian world. The Muslim world, as one example amongst many, has the same decree- believe this and only this, or else! You dare question and we’ll treat your head like an English queen’s head, circa 16 Century CE.

After sounding critical of the above, what if they all do happen to have some truth in them? As slaves to the traditions of our fathers, it seems to be exactly what may define a stiff-necked people- our inability to break the chains that bind us. Said James Brown:

Alone…you’ll find me
Too weak to break the chains that bind me
I need no shackles to remind me
I’m just a prisoner, don’t let me be a prisoner

For one command I stand and wait now
From one who’s master of my fate now
I can’t escape for it’s too late now
I’m just a prisoner, don’t let be a prisoner…

As Daymon has shown thoroughly, even the miraculous Book of Mormon is read almost exclusively, through the lens of the Biblical traditions, shoving the Book of Mormon to rhythm guitar in the background instead of the one out the front playing the screaming solos. Hence, even if the Vedas of India, the Qu’ran, the Nordic texts, the Aboriginal legends of Everywhere, the mythology of ancient Greece, the Sumerian and Etruscan tablets…and the new-found connections between the Japanese-Hebrew religion, feasts and alphabet, to name a tiny fraction of the available ‘truth’ amongst hundreds and thousands of cultures, where one begins to find the pure truth is purely incidental. However, a willingness to break these chains of tradition and conveniences, where one might end up is monumental. And, when finally face to face with the pure truth, then perhaps, shoulder to shoulder with those to whom the same sacred truth is elemental.

So, why the Book of Mormon for me, a nobody, just like you, in the midst of this very confusing maze? Because of the promise in Helaman 5:12, that’s why. Which, by the way, though as a Catholic I had never read or heard of, applied to me directly when I finally did read it. At least, that’s the way, a rather prophetic manner, I imagine this scripture, and who’s to say I’m not right? Certainly not you, as who’s to say you are? Certainly not me.

Let’s have a look at what the text says:

 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

As a Catholic, spending holidays at a Baptist summer camp, growing up in a country which spawned probably more religions than most, hence immersed in Hinduism, but surrounded by fanatics in a pre-dominant Islamic neighbourhood, where Jewish families were our neighbours…and, just around the corner from Mother Teresa’s, where I was lucky enough to watch her ply her awe-inspiring, zero-profit foundation (no corporate lawyers needed, my apologies in advance to Elder Dallin Hoax), how on earth does the unheard-of Book of Mormon come into this muddled sound of a dozen radio stations being played at once?? 

Fast-ward a few years, like Nephi I find myself on a Promised Land, and missionaries from the beautifully named ‘Church of Jesus Christ of LDS’ hand a book over, after my amp-on-eleven attracts them from three blocks down. The book gets thrown in the backyard shed, coz ‘I ain’t touchin’ that!’- Catholics, like Mormons and everyone else religious it seems, are proudly superstitious, despite common sense standing against these stupefying non-sensical beliefs, time and time again. Years pass, and the Book re-enters through a new friend- an inactive, rough and tumble soul, with all the scars to prove it. After a period of months harassing the friend for his traitor-like behaviour leaving the poor, rich Catholic church for the rich, poor LDS, the patient (though not necessarily always correct) answers have such an astonishing degree of faith in this Book’s ability to lead one to the real Jesus, that the light begins to make its appearance. This comes at a time when an unprecedented storm is brewing in this author’s life, a multitude of weaknesses manifest themselves to their fullest, and a heart is slowly breaking, a result in this case due to one’s own pride, foolishness and mortal behaviour, but which, joyfully, according to Ether 12:27 was given for the very purposes that soon followed…though the fruits would only begin to sweeten much, much later on. Maybe not even yet.

Realizing the Book’s claims were astounding- Jesus visited another people? On a continent that wasn’t even known to have existed at the meridian of time…or so they have been telling us?!…in all that religious voodoo mist, I had NEVER heard that one, but what joy if He did!- and that His words from another source, from a different part of the world, was on earth, the interest was piqued immensely. But, I still refused to read the Book. For five years it rotted away…the pearl cast before the swine, indeed.

 

Finally one night, those words in Helaman (unread as yet) took on life. After finally pondering that this may not be just a common coincidence, one Saturday night in winter, a broken heart knelt down, asking for a sign real enough to convince that the Book was real, and contained the truth of this Jesus, and had truly made its appearance to be actually be opened and read. The staff of the Shepherd seeking to rescue the one.

The dream, as real that very night in the mid-90’s as it is today, had an opening scene of tremendous tumult- a cyclone or hurricane in the immediate air. Cars sliding down the street, roofs flying off, trees uprooting themselves, a darkness everywhere. I left the house in confusion, wondering why I would brave a storm I could barely consider surviving, let alone walk upright against. The entire place was a ghost-town, not a soul existed. All symbolic, no doubt, of the state of the soul who felt alone in this strange sojourn we call life, and the storm that had brewed of late. Above the racket, and the below the mayhem, came a confounding sound of rustling pages…an unmistakeable sound of paper. It couldn’t be!! On the kerb, standing majestically, with the pages calling attention, yet the spine strong and absolutely unaffected by time and space, nor of the mighty winds, the shafts of the whirlwind all around, was a Book, it’s foundation solid as rock. 

Failing a few mystifying attempts to grab ahold of the Book- you know the nature of dreams…run! You want to, but you can’t for some reason!- frustration led to a desperate look around for a helping hand, one insane enough to be braving the storm, and of course, one most unlikely to be found in a town all but abandoned in it’s Armageddon moment of desolation. But sure enough, from a hundred yards or so in the misty darkness came a man, a smile of utter peace, also unaffected in any way, shape or form by this calamity- maybe it was just MY calamity? He walked over, picked up the Book and as I saw its front cover I jumped back with shock. 

It was- The.Book.Of.Mormon. 

He smiled with incredible love and patience as I instantly declared a Mormon I’d never be! He wasn’t interested in what seemed to him to be of inconsequence, and smiled at the immaturity. He assured that all people were the same, Mormons or otherwise, and immediately moved forward to tell me what was happening, far more important than any talk of ‘Mormons’- that the Book was sent as a direct answer from the Lord to my prayer that night, and he was here- a messenger, I suppose?- to tell me about it and show me what it was about. After a great many moments of showing me various pages, he closed the Book. Still unsure, perhaps shocked, but now knowing I just had to read it, I tentatively put my hand forth and asked him for it. He gently smiled and said the Book was to remain in dreams…and I would get one when I awoke. 

And just like that I awoke. My pulse racing, heavy sweat on my cold body, electricity in the air! I had not just dreamt a dream, I lived it and as far as I was concerned, I was simply back in another dimension. The rough and tumble brought me a copy amidst his sobs on hearing the dream, assuring me he always knew the Lord had given him the call to find sheep just as lost as he himself was. Over the years, it turned out to be so.

The months that followed were more surreal than the dream. More astounding than the dream, was the power of the text itself. It broke down the heart whilst causing it to soar at the same time! Sleep was unnecessary, as was food and most other things. The text was ALIVE. It spoke with so much power, convincing every little cell that they were dancing with the dynamics that their composer intended from the foundations of the world, so to speak. Amidst the broken heart, the joy was never fuller! Strange stuff, indeed. The song was in key of C Sharp, and I did see thus! The prescription was finally here, even though it would take many years to take the medicine as directed in its own words…after another awakening. Another story for another day, though.

With the Book of Mormon, I had finally began to know about the God of my childhood in purity, He who was taught to me in so many confounding ways, revealed in clarity, as much as I needed: the MED, or Minimum Effective Dose- this is just what I had needed! In the few decades of mortal life, and the struggles to simply deal with the evil that is sufficient thereof, who had the resources to tick off a list of Pharisaical do’s and don’t? The Gospel of Jesus according to the Book of Mormon is what I longed for, and received. The Bible started to get clearer, and those things that didn’t add up was thrown in the pile of men’s conniving ways…after all, Nephi said they’d do that to the Book of the Lamb.

The Book of Mormon was it. I didn’t feel the need to embrace a church! Definitely not a culture of suit and ties, traditions of fathers…(and many mothers, all married to a few fathers over the Rockies)! 

With the Book of Mormon, He promised HE would heal me if I repented of my unbelief! And all He asked for was not to trust in the arm of flesh, but in Him alone. Jesus. The Eternal God. His mercy and grace, was and IS suffucient, for all I could do was nothing much anyway. Just live your life in charity, turn to me and I’ll make you into my very own flesh and blood. After all, He made me, He gave me those weaknesses and like a caring parent, He would clean up the mess that I was in…much like a baby relies on her parents to clean and care. All He wanted was my love for Him, to remove my unbelief and He would heal me! My healed soul would manifest His love through works and through loving His other creations who are just like me, treating them with dignity and kindness, regardless of ‘black and white, male or female’…especially the low and broken least of my brethren, instead of the high and mighty rising yeast of The Brethren in downtown SLC and their off-cuts strewn around the world of ‘authority’.

I felt strangely out of place amongst these lovely people, most seemingly loaded with temporal goodies and shiny new cars, who talked all about business and careers, real estate and being a Chosen Generation (and no doubt they are correct- having chosen themselves to be the Chosen ones), who all professed their love to a church, its American Pope and leaders, and repeatedly an unhealthy elevation of the one who brought the Book forth, placing him on a mantle as high as Jesus Himself, at times. 

Confused as ever, having hated the priestcraft authority of the Roman church, I didn’t understand the fuss about my neat and somewhat comely clothes, though they did match my 3-day-slightly unshaven mug, I guess. Nor the obligations and exact classrooms I was supposed to be in, for exactly 3 hours and no less, with no freedom to move as my spirit felt free to. The obsession with this Temple, where hushed tones almost guaranteed that all therein meet the Saviour on any given day of the week, and its stringent ‘one-year’ conditions was foreign to my sense of spiritual freedom. Just as weird was this apparent need to be, or to marry, an ‘RM’. The same ‘free-agency’ exercised by those who expounded the many ins and out of LDS-ism during those pre-baptism discussions, was seemingly exorcised in the same nano-second. A mission? All secretive about that Temple, where the uninitiated would go in without a single clue of what was going to happen? I felt like a patient going into a clinic to get a thorn-prick taken out, and suddenly finding an oxygen mask around my face, signing a disclaimer in case of death due to anaesthesia, (a high percentage it turns out to be, according to the ‘Google Apostasy’)…and costing a fortune that I couldn’t afford in the first place.  What happened to this faith, which Moroni belaboured about in 7:37…since no miracles were evident in our age, were those who were reading the Book bringing to pass his very words?

Did these folks even read the same Book I had been poring over with a whole lot of faith, (and very little works admittedly?) Was I allowing Jesus’ name to just be on the lips without Him actually healing my inner vessel? What the hell was I getting into?! 

But that’s another song, one in the key of B Sharp: An LDS Awakening…

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20 thoughts on “GenCon14: The Power of the Text Itself

  1. Phil says:

    “If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? Good God, we also would be happy if we had no books and such books that make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us.”
    –Franz Kafka

  2. sfort says:

    Absolutely amazingly written. The prose was excellent. It’s in the words. Your questions need to be asked by everyone to get them out of their fog. Nicely done.

  3. Tiani says:

    Very Beautiful. We had a stake conference not too long ago, wherein a couple of people spoke who were very recent converts. They spoke with the tongue of angels, each very different individuals, but each relaying an amazing life’s journey that led them to the gospel of the True and Living God. I can’t help but think of it because they were so sure they had joined a community that fully shared and rejoiced in this new Life. One in particular compared it to the death she found in the Catholic Church that had so many beautiful symbols, but no Life therein. Neither person is in my ward, and I haven’t seen them since (it’s been about a year), but I can’t help but wonder if they aren’t completely befuddled now. I’ve been feeling their pain every time I’m reminded of it. Our conference about 6 months ago had a visit from an unbelievably pompous GA, talking about “hastening the work,” “you’re either in or you’re out,” and “the proof of the hastening is in the 85K strong missionary force,” etc., etc. I keep thinking, “Yes, there’s a hastening alright,” but I’m not sure that word means what you think it means — I’m not sure you have any idea of the real hastening taking place. (In all fairness, people in the Church do experience this Life, and many GAs do feel it and get a gimpse of it from time to time . . . but they try to hold onto to it and claim it, and protect it. Yet, it’s so much bigger, brighter, more amazing, free-flowing, and glorious than they seem to think.) Glad there are people who let their bewilderment transform into greater clarity, and hence more life and creation, instead of more death and lost hope.

    1. Chuck says:

      Tiani,

      Your description of the recent converts caught my attention, being a so-call “convert” myself. You speak of them as ones at the end of a journey, finding themselves somewhere. This is how I would have described my own experiences. I contrast this with a talk given this last Sunday in my own ward, where a recently returned missionary, speaking that day in the sacrament meeting, spoke to us of new converts as those just starting on a journey, as those having NOT arrived anywhere yet (I’m now thinking of the unfortunately named “Old Ship Zion” at this point), and so needing constant watching, fellowship, and “guidance” as we all travel to somewhere (nowhere?). And I was befuddled. Did this young man really believe what he was saying? Does he think folks are sitting around, awaiting missionaries to come to give them Yet Another Believe System(TM) that they can call their “faith”, their “testimony”? Is no one aware of the kind of journey a person typically has already been on which leads them to even begin to listen to stories of messengers from heaven, or of a New Book? The convert’s story of their journeyings is always something interesting to hear, even though some try to couch them in terms they have been taught as being correct. They often tell a story not unlike mine, but which, like mine over the past 40 years, seems to get co-opted as evidence for something else, other than simply as the story of a person looking to understand.

      Your point regarding the taking possession of that which is not theirs to possess is apt, too. A great description. In or out? Okay, I can be out…or in. Doesn’t seem to make any real difference, from what I can tell, following this line of thought.

      Thank you, GA Joey, for sharing your story. The BoM as lead guitar was fun, and made sense of the image of Angus at the top, which surprised me at first.

      1. pmccombs says:

        Chuck, you make a good point.

        I guess there are different kinds of converts, though, because there are different kinds of destinations. I could understand your returned missionary speaker, for instance, if the conversion to Mormon___ were something like the immigrant whose destination is a whole country. There is a lot of latitude there; room still to travel and time to settle who knows where.

        That’s not the sort of destination the Official Church provides though, is it? Their converts are coming to a very precise thing; it’s all been worked out. It’s like the traveler whose destination is a hotel room or a theme park. Nobody goes there to settle; we visit for the awe and the spectacle. And the distraction. After a short time though, we’ve seen all there is to see. It’s just a loop of samey things over and over again, so the visit has to end lest the mind descend into terminal boredom.

        I suspect the speaker in your sacrament meeting was using “journey” as one might use it, for example, to describe one’s “journey” through insanity. The constant mental conditioning needed in order to convince oneself that turds really are the best kind of food, or that an amusement park would be a great place to live Forever, or that one has in fact never attended a boring sacrament meeting, could be called (perhaps) a kind of journey.

      2. Tiani says:

        Thanks, Chuck. I’m hesitant to label it as the end of a journey, and certainly not as the beginning of a journey, but as an invigorating, “incidental, monumental and elemental” part of the journey. But yes, it’s quite condescending and flawed for us to assume we have a wrapped package to deliver to people who have “nothing” otherwise — primarily seeing the “value” of it in the wrappings, no need to look inside. ” . . . seems to get co-opted as evidence for something else.” Yes, that’s what I’m starting to see more and more. And Daymon and others have seen it for a lot longer. No, in or out doesn’t make any real difference, but because it’s being forced as such a difference, and defined in specific terms, it’s getting harder and harder to pick “in.”

  4. Ryan W says:

    This points out something I have been thinking about as of late. If I want to share the Book of Mormon with my non-LDS friends or those that have left the church, they would immediately assume that I want them to join the church and become a Mormon. Heck, I want to share it with my member friends, but they already “read” it. I guess in a way the church has become a stumbling block to the BOM. The church is good at getting the BOM “out there,” but then quickly snuffs any excitement one may get from reading it, because if the BOM is true then the church must be true too (whatever “the church” means).

    1. Tiani says:

      I know what you mean. I’ve decided I’m going to be open with people I share it with, so that they understand exactly where I’m coming from, and that they don’t need to pay any attention to italicized headings, introductory “co-opting,” etc., and that I have no motive whatsoever in trying to get them to assimilate into an institution.

      1. DJL says:

        Or instead of sharing the text, live the words… the ones which were “likened” to us: the sermon given by the Lord at Bountiful. I suspect that there may be a lot of baggage with a book, even one as powerful as the Book of Mormon. You’ll scare people off if you say, “No, it’s not saying what you think it is!” because people are now dubious of anyone who claims they have an inspired reading. (Or else they worship them)

        Eventually, I think we’ll make the connection in the book (come to know the “truth of these things”), but until then I believe the only way to give it power is to make the words come alive “in very deed.”

  5. Toni says:

    Thank you for writing the post. You got me thinking in a little different way than I normally think. You made sense. You made me want to get closer to Christ. I was almost startled at the power in your description of reading the Book of Mormon and the power in your dream vision. I already knew the Book of Mormon could stand alone, but your words hit me with a strength I had not experienced before.

  6. Adrian says:

    Standing on the Rock that rocks. Who would have thought the Lord would do it through this book, out of all the books? Small and simple things are the tools of the unlikely God. Thank you for causing my soul to sing.

  7. Tiani says:

    Agreed, DJL. No real life or purpose in “knowing.” That’s “consuming it upon our lusts,” though I’m guilty. “Being” is the purpose and power of the Book. (Of course, one could define “real knowing” as “being.”)

  8. TigranMetz says:

    Great article GA Joey! I love your unique writing style as well as your message. It really resonated with me as someone who is travelling on a similar journey, albeit inversely to yours vis-a-vis Mormonism. The idea that your individual path hasn’t fit in the institutional cookie cutter box of the Catholic institution or the LDS institution speaks to me on a deep level.

    I grew up Mormon, fell away briefly during my late teens/early 20s, and came back towards the end of college. I give the church a large amount of credit for helping me mature considerably upon my return. I also believe (paradoxically, considering my present beliefs) that my service as a missionary was exactly what God wanted for me at the time. I am currently on the back end of a “dark night of the soul” period of my life and I realize that my path to God is no longer synonymous with Mormonism. It’s amazing to me how many different paths to God there are and that a path for one is not necessarily a path for all. Godspeed brother!

  9. GA Joey says:

    I had no idea this writing would touch anyone, and I was about to delete it as I wrote it with a severe migraine and extremely little sleep.
    On a whim, I decided to bite the bullet and just send it in and I’m touched by the comments on a very deep level.
    Thank you friends for your thoughtful words and to Daymon for the opportunity.

    GA Joey

  10. Cumorah Crackpot says:

    LDS awakening = The more fundy the more awaken

    Hel 5:12 that christ, that devil, that foundation, those devil shafts beating upon you are all lol!

    lemuel should be murmuring, you are a disgrace to the name.

  11. Tom says:

    GA Joey,

    You and I could sit down and talk for hours I think because we’ve come to the same place of belief albeit from polar opposite ends which brought us to the same exact belief and understanding. I too have met Him in a similar way that you did, and I KNOW the great value of that book despite all the issues of the man that brought it forward. Even that plays into the mystery we have to unravel doesn’t it!
    Your description of what’s become of the church is incredibly apropos and like you noted with that carefully worded title about Jesus in your post (Jesus who is the Father and the Son), if the church paid any attention at all to the Jesus of the Book of Mormon rather than the Jesus of the D&C they might begin to appreciate this magnificent God we worship. They might be surprised to learn that that the Jesus of the Book of Mormon and the Jesus of Isaiah and the other prophets match perfectly too!

    I found a link to your post over at Weepingforzion.com in the comments section and I’m so grateful to find another person who can see the forest for the trees. There’s a growing community of similar believers over there at WFZ who know the Book of Mormon is everything and who also know the church is what you described it as. It’s been a strange phenomenon the past 10 years to see people awaken to figure out that the church is not what they thought it was, and sadly most of those people throw out the Book of Mormon when they learn the truth of our history and the failings of Joseph Smith, and they fail to see the majesty of that book because they never really let its true message get inside of them.
    Feel free to email me if you’d like to begin a dialogue. I assume you’ll have access to my email account.

    Tom

  12. Dustin says:

    When I first truly read the Book of Mormon I was coming out of years of darkness. The words were mana to my soul, the book was alive and I ate it as fast as possible. My life changed forever, and the spirit prompted me to make changes that even my devout family didn’t quite understand.

    But I had to overcome so much soon, and so much doubt. I had read so much anti-Mormon literature in college, but the power of the spirit answered my questions in ways I never thought possible.

    The Lord built up my faith and reassured my faith as the first step in my journey I needed the church, the church served me and still does because it is what I make of it, and I know it’s where the Lord wants me. When I struggled with so much doubt, I asked God one night, OK so the Book of Mormon is true but how do I know this is still your church? I had read Mormon and I was struck that the descript ions of an apostate church described what I was seeing.

    That night I awoke with a great deal of anxiety. Something bad had happened or was about to happen. I was freaking out, I saw bright flashes in my mind. I went and checked on my grandma up stairs. I checked the doors to make sure they were locked. I felt strong spiritual promptings that something was amiss.

    I went back to my room said a prayer and the feeling eventually subsided.

    The next morning I awoke and the radio alarm began playing the news. The top local story was that during the same time I was having those promptings, my local stake center was being arsoned.

    The peculiarity of that situation unfolding on the night I asked for a confirmation that this was still his church solidified I’m my mind that the church was true. In hindsight I can see that it meant that was where I needed to be and that his spirit still presided in that place. I believe it still does.

    Coming back, i needed to have faith in everything. I had a black or white view of things, it was either all good or all bad. But thankfully time, spiritually maturity and lots of study has helped me to understand that faith is not in institutions or in men, but in god. I am thankful to understand that the spirit is the true tutor and that over time what I learn expands and is expounded. Despite what major problems may exist in the church, I still find myself being uplifted when I listen to conference. I still feel the spirit at church, and still enjoy the community that exists, even though I cringe when people talk about the church being true or teach principles that I now realize do not line up with the teachings of the book of Mormon. I get sad when I hear people try to express faith in men or tell me to place my faith in a man.

    I now hold all teachings against the book of Mormon, i read and interpret the bible through the lens of that book and realize that this is the most accurate views on how God acts.

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