Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Capacity for Truth

You'll notice that while I dig my soapbox, I've never gotten up on the "I have the truth and you don't and I love the truth and only seek out the truth" one. Mostly because while I believe strongly in certain things and will stand firm, I also feel strongly that I know nothing.

I also have certain things I very subtly and unconsciously desperately attempt to avoid.

Example: I don't talk about Christ much, and when I do, I talk about him in a way that doesn't recognize him as a divine character, fictional or real, a prophet, good man, whatever. I like the philosophies he embodies as a whatever, but that's where it ends. I don't necessarily equate the philosophy with the alleged philosopher.

I don't get this.

I'm afraid to make any certain conclusions about god, yes, but moreso about Christ. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I've never ever recognized him as God as my father does--even from childhood I never "got" the Trinity thing. And maybe it's that and also because I've been taught from day one that he's the dude that's gonna save me, and there's a part of me, that part of me that refuses to declare any truth, that wants to play on the safe side.

However, as a person who has "sought truth" both in joining and leaving the LDS church, I haven't looked for evidences against Christ. You won't see any evidence of me looking through the internet or books or speaking with many people about why they believe Christ is either not the son of god or simply never existed.

...except for once or twice regarding the Jewish perspective, but I assure you, my mind goes on half-power if it doesn't turn off completely. I was scared then because "it is only through Christ that you can be saved" but I don't know why I am scared now.

I think I'm reaching a point of comfort where I'll soon be able to walk into that scary closet and figure things out for myself. I just don't get what's so fucking scary about god or christ being fictional things. The Invention of Lying movie says it's a matter of comfort, and dammit. I want my blankie.

I am also still at the point where I know some incredibly smart people who have searched and scoured and still believe. There is that capacity--I just don't know if it's for truth or self-delusion/preservation because it is too scary to not believe.

I don't want to judge my critically thinking, compassionate believer friends because they believe. I don't ever want to. But I'm afraid I will if I find too much evidence to the contrary.

I don't entirely understand what it is to have strong friendships where there are strong disagreements with fundamental things. I've one friend right now who lives down the street. She is LDS but has a mouth on her. She's anti-social too. She's hilarious, and she's very compassionate about my disbelief and what it means to leave. But we both understand that we cannot discuss abortion or gay rights. Two very hot topics. This can be hard, because I feel strongly about both and feel largely silenced. She can go to church on a weekly basis or call up a friend and bitch.

But it's a maturity thing. I had to ask myself, and I'm sure she did too, if it was enough to not be friends. So far, it's not. I do hate those awkward moments, though.

I also know everyone has their limits. It may not be spiritual/religious limit for accepting or finding truth, but also political. I shut off my mind at times, and I've learned that's a HUGE red flag either that I am wrong, could be wrong, or simply don't understand enough. And I'm not always willing to check it out.

It may be an unwillingness to acknowledge a truth about a loved one. Eric has a family member who recently came out. He brings his boyfriend home and they play footsies in front of everyone but his grandmother insists on saying things like "aren't they nice friends?"

Or an unwillingness to admit a spouse is being unfaithful. Or abusive.

Or that a relationship/marriage might be in trouble.

That your son or daughter is dangerously into drugs or otherwise in trouble.

A refusal to fully admit to the truth of the entirety of your sexuality.

That a friend isn't really a good friend.

That something might piss you off but if it were the other way around, you'd totally act that way.


It goes on and on, and so I feel really uncomfortable ever talking about my capacity for accepting truth when in reality, I'm just as bad--if not worse. Just in different areas.


  1. i firmly believe that, the more we seek out truth, the less we know. that's why i have little respect for dogmatic people on any place along the spectrum. while i'm a believer, i've had some pretty honest conversations with some of my seminary friends and admitted that my personal theology is "i don't know." but i also believe that my god, my christ, is okay with that.

    i have friends who believe radically different things from me, perhaps evidenced through our friendship, lisa--but also through my relationships with conservatives, atheists, republicans, hindus, muslims... the list goes on. but when you get rid of the idea that you have to convert someone to a line of thinking, the major points of difference become minor. they become curiosity points, areas where you get to know people in a richer, fuller way.

    and i will say this: i fully believe that this kind of relationship is christlike, which is in opposition to a fundamentalist viewpoint, to a modern evangelical viewpoint. but i don't believe that the way i live or engage friendships interferes with my faith at all. and i don't think anyone serious about their faith, someone who is seriously at peace with their faith despite any doubts, would feel that genuine, authentic friendship was in conflict with their own faith.

    i will always be a friend to you, hope we will always have a friendship, no matter where we might diverge in beliefs.

  2. One of my all-time favorite scriptures is Ecclesiastes 1:18: "In much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow."


  3. Sometimes the only honest answer is, "I don't know." Discovering the truth of that answer and the fact that my lack of knowledge was OKAY brought me a lot of peace. The reality is, Lisa, NO ONE KNOWS. Lots of people believe and that's cool. Really, it is. But no one knows.

    I love these quotes from Thomas Paine's Age of Reason:

    "A thing which everybody is required to believe requires that the proof and evidence of it should be equal to all, and universal."

    "But it is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe."

  4. Jessica: I love you. Lots. I think I have excellent reason, too. <3 Thank you.

    Rob: I hope you saw that I posted that scripture on FB tonight. I only took it down because I get all self-conscious when I think I post too much. Either way, yesyesyes.

    CD: Thanks for those quotes. I totally agree. Belief and knowledge are two totally different things. It's hard to reconcile the two, which I still continue to try to do (sometimes). For whatever masochistic reason.

  5. Hi Lisa,

    At your request, I read this post. Wonderful! I can't claim to KNOW much of anything (much less of religion) if knowledge is defined as cold, hard fact. I am playing with the idea that truth is fluid. The fact is, I have to make decisions anyway. I have to make decisions when I don't know a damn thing. So I rely on my sensibilities and beliefs. Problem is, there is a conflict right now between what makes sense and what I believe. So, I have to decide which one to follow. I have to ask, which one is true? Agony.



  6. Every so often I find myself pondering on if I ever could become an active Mormon again. After the mental hopscotch over the rocks of reason and deciding I would never get so wrapped up in callings to spend so much time away from family and about 20 other stipulations, this post reminded me of another. There is NO WAY I could attend on Fast Sunday. To hear the phrase "I know" repeated with such flippancy would make my ears bleed.

  7. And you mentioned the movie The Invention of Lying. I don't know if you've seen Ricky Gervais' stand up about the bible and evolution but it is frakin hilarious.