Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Comfort of Blind Faith

When I was around twelve years old, I made a rare trip to the emergency room.  At the end of a boy scout service project, a few of us had been attempting to skip stones across the creek whose banks we'd just spent a few hours protecting against erosion.  One of the other boys had misjudged the right moment to release his stone, so instead of glancing off the surface of the water, it careened off the back of my skull.
A few minutes later, my parents had me in the ER.

As a matter of coincidence, the doctor who sewed me up happened to live a few doors down from us.  I rode the school bus with his son.  Although I'd never seen him before, my dad recognized him and I knew the last name.  I remember feeling better when I learned that my doctor was also my neighbor.  Despite the fact that I didn't actually know the man, I felt that I was in trustworthy and capable hands simply because he lived in my neighborhood and I knew his son.

I was a kid.  I was scared.  Anything remotely familiar to me was a comfort.

As it turned out, my injury wasn't that severe anyway.  I think I only got three or four stitches.  I don't know that I learned anything from that experience at the time, but in retrospect, I think it illustrates an important point:  What brings comfort may not necessarily have any practical value.

The fact that my doctor was also my neighbor had no effect on whether or not he was capable of fixing the gash on my head.  If he'd been a complete stranger, he would have had the exact same chance of being a bad doctor.  Similarly, a religion that makes you feel better because facing a world without it is uncomfortable has no effect on whether or not that religion is true.  As I considered leaving Mormonism, staying because it was a less daunting thing to face crossed my mind many times.  But just because staying in the church would be comfortable didn't mean it had any practical value.  And as terrifying as it was to confront the possibilities that my life could have no inherent purpose and that I could be completely gone when I die, ignoring those possibilities in favor of the warm-fuzzy lie I'd been raised on wouldn't make them any less possible. By staying in the church, I'd be lying to myself and limiting my development as a person.  But at least I wouldn't have to leave my comfort zone.

Garnering the courage to leave that comfort zone and search for something that does have practical value was one of the most difficult and proudest moments of my life.  

Although it's pretty damn difficult not to resent being taught to trust the comforting lie.


  1. Your point about being comforted by familiarity is an important one.

    It's very hard to think about cuttings ties altogether with the church when you know the persecution you and your children will go through in "Zion." There's also the family disappointment. I personally believe that a very high percentage of even active members continue for the very reason you've given in your blog. I actually believe it'll all come crumbling down in the next few years/decades, possibly in our lifetimes. As people begin to think more critically and as more and more information becomes available on the internet, it'll be impossible for church leaders to shield its members anymore from its history, deceit, and wacky doctrines.

    It's crazy how Mormons are more willing to trust other Mormons (or people who say they are) and believe in the miraculous. They are taught to never question things. They have also been raised in or converted to a religion founded by a con artist. I will not go into his long list of cons since I'm sure you're aware of them. It is easy to find well-documented sources on the internet.

    Why do you think Utah is known as the Scam Capitol of the World? Utah is among the national leaders in Ponzi schemes, multi-level marketing scams, insurance fraud, mortgage frauds, securities fraud, and foreclosures, not to mention the unrelated but very high suicide and divorce rates.

    I personally know a man who invested tens of thousands of dollars in the business of a con man. He lost every cent. The sad thing is that he went to the Temple and got "confirmation" from god before making the decision to make the deal. However, that amount is minuscule compared to the amount of money he's been conned out of by the LDS Church in the form of tithing.

    1. Even way out here in the mission field, a member of my old ward who was a struggling painter got conned into getting his art on display in some New York gallery by a member who'd moved into our ward. I don't remember the details (if I ever knew them), but whatever the painter was promised never happened and the new family who had moved in moved out again very quickly. All very shady.

      Do you really think the church will fall apart in the next few decades? Don't get me wrong, I hope it will soon, but I feel like there will be enough hardcore believers brainwashing legions of new children that the church's death will be long and slow. Although I wonder when it will get so bad that the leadership won't be able to lie about the membership numbers anymore.

  2. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. I believe the mass exoduses will get larger and larger and the sizes of LDS families to be indoctrinated will continue to get smaller and smaller. You're right though, there are still a lot of hardcore members that can somehow ignore facts, reason and truth.