Lori Brkman’s article excerpted below is this weekend’s recommended reading and among those writings that are “everything I wish I had said.”
To lose one’s unquestioning acceptance of the LDS narrative regarding true-church history, true-church prophetic calling, true-church authority and a true-church loyalty that requires a suspending of disbelief is not the religious disaster both doubters and true-believing Mormons think it might be.
When the Levee Breaks – Lori Burkman
For me personally, I had exhausted the correlated resources approved by the church education system and that was the reason my unanswered questions were piling up; this led to the breaking point for my personal levee. It was at this point in time that I stepped out of correlation and entered objective study. Since I believed the church was true, I also believed I shouldn’t fear studying further and learning more.
…When the levee breaks, you can feel the rushing water remove the firm ground from under your feet. The layout of the whole world becomes altered by the pulsing, riveting swell. As the waters push by, you can see everything you knew about your future slip into a void of unknown. This will more than likely be one of the times in your life that you will feel the most isolated and alone. There might be sleepless nights, anxiety, depression, fear, and a period grieving. It is incredibly common to feel like there isn’t a single person that you can turn to; either to confide in or to ask for advice. In reality, your life and faith will never be the same again. No matter what, even if the levee is rebuilt–the terrain upon which your Mormonism was founded will never return to its virgin state. This doesn’t mean that we all leave the church, it simply means that we won’t ever be the same Mormons that we once were.
I’ve written elsewhere about our Home Teacher (who is on the high council) almost demanding that I offer with my thoughts despite my expression of “just-happy-to-be-here-nothing-to-contribute” protestations.
I told him he could read everything I believed by Googling “Arthur Ruger and Abide With Me” on the same line. The HT’er was having none of it and challenged me again to share my thoughts immediately.
So I did …
But unlike my sweetheart, I got caught up emotionally in the testimony I wanted to bear. I don’t believe I quaked and my voice didn’t shake, but the longer I spoke the more intensely I wanted to say stuff.
In the end, I told them about my being re-baptized only in order to psychologically reclaim my cultural identity. I had not come back as a repentant I-see-the-light-now returning prodigal son.
And these other matters:
I do not believe nor accept the majority of the LDS faith narratives …
I do not believe there were ever golden plates …
I know that Joseph dictated the Book of Mormon under a muse-influence while looking at a so-called seer stone in a hat …
I know the Church has acknowledged publicly and on the official web site that he had used the seer stone …
I know the seer stone was nothing more than a rock he found and was nothing special …
I know that Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine and the earliest Roman church fathers created out of their own religious imagination the mental/spiritual constructs of original sin, natural man being evil and born that way, the need for a redeemer and the atonement of Christ.
I know that none of those notions are real and all of them were imagined realities created out of whole cloth.
I know that I do not need a redeemer
I know that Jesus Christ did not die for my sins
I know that the Plan of Salvation is bogus
I know that natural man is not an enemy to god
Then … all worked up … and feeling inwardly trembling but also like I’d just come out of the “secret-thinking closet” … I thought I’d stare them down.
I have to laugh …
The High Councilor ( and he’s not a lawyer, but a physician) rephrased and summarized what I had just said
“So, correct me if I get this wrong, but you’re saying that you do not believe most of the things the Church teaches (in it’s faith narrative) and that those things are not the reason you have a testimony or why you are attending church. Your testimony is not based on those things at all, but other things important to you?”
He accepted that I have some sort of testimony, as does Lietta. However, our testimonies are obviously not the “one true and faithful testimony” that gets worshiped monthly on Open-Mike Sunday Meeting. And here I thought my honesty would knock him on his testimony butt but he seemed unfazed.
Again Lori Burkman:
We are permanently altered and must rebuild in the flood plain, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
But what does rebuilding look like? Well, that is different for everyone.
Some people leave the church
Some people gain a deeper, nuanced faith in Mormonism
Some people no longer believe the truth claims, but are able to own Mormonism as their tribe and remain important members of the Mormon community