This is not really a personal blog, it’s a political one. However, I believe that my religious and personal beliefs have profound influence on my political stance. I think that such can be healthy and beneficial, and is a useful grounding of my opinions. My religious beliefs are flexible, politically, and more pragmatic than ideological. Others of my faith might disagree, and that’s okay.
In mentioning my political leanings, specifically, I find that I enjoy and find useful careful analytical discussion of issues, picking them apart to understand them better. I find myself more easily using a sort of Marxist Humanist reasoning process for that reason. However, I use that as a tool– as a means to an end. I generally come to fairly pragmatic ends that are very moderate, perhaps even Libertarian in nature. I find it fairly easy to have discussions with a number of friends: Liberal, Democratic, Anarchist, Communist, Republican, Libertarian, and generally Conservative– it doesn’t seem to matter, I usually can find some kind of common ground. However, to emphasize, my positioning and dialogue are still influenced by my religious and philosophical beliefs.
My beliefs are extensive, and rooted in personal experience and thoughtful deliberation. I grew up in a Mormon household, living in the New York and Los Angeles areas until I was about eight years old. Before I turned eight, my parents moved to the Provo, Utah, a college town and a very suburbian area. I was baptized at the age of eight, in accordance with my parent’s wishes. I may have only had a vague conception of what I was committing to, but I wasn’t afraid of it or worried about it, nor do I remember being unconcerned or dismissive of it’s importance. I remember feeling like I took it seriously (or as seriously as a young ADHD boy could).
As I turned 12, I began to wonder if it was all true. What was true, and what wasn’t? What did I really know for myself? Mostly, I wondered if God really did exist. At many points, I thought that maybe God didn’t exist. This was deeply frightening. I told myself that maybe I couldn’t know, or at least that I couldn’t know right then. I decided that believing God existed made me happy, and it gave me confidence and faith in myself, therefore, it must be a good thing, whether or not God actually existed. I struggled against many temptations to ignore morality and God for several years, and as far as I know, my parents were quite unaware of most of my struggles in both heart and mind.
When I was 17, I was given some spiritual guidance in a blessing that affirmed to me many things that I had come to know gradually. I knew then that certain things were real and true. I knew God lived. I knew that I could talk to him, and that he would hear me. I knew that in hearing me, he would respond. I knew that his Son was Jesus Christ, and that through Jesus Christ, I could have my imperfections improved, my sins forgiven, and my nature changed for the better. This was not to say that I thought myself an unworthy and awful creature of vileness, but rather that I knew that on my own, I could only do so much, and that time and again I would do things that I would regret.
After high school, I prepared for an LDS mission, but struggled with whether it was really my choice to go. I felt pressured by my mother. To be fair, this pressure wasn’t always unwelcome. Indeed, in general, my mother’s consistence and insistent discipline have always been one of my greatest sources of strength, and they continue to inspire me today. However, in this instance, I felt I needed to make this decision to serve the Lord myself. I fought my mother, and I believe I made her wonder whether I wanted to serve a mission at all. I loved her deeply, but needed space to make my own decision.
Sometime after I turned 19, my mother told me that it was time for me to move out. By this time, I had become more settled on serving my mission. I had decided. My mother gave me a choice. Move out and support myself, or go on a mission and she and my dad would help me pay for it. (LDS missions are not only voluntary, but financed on an individual basis. The average cost of a mission when I went, in 2004-2006, was about $10,000. Most prospective missionaries are encouraged to save up for this, as well as college, while in high school.)
I submitted my paperwork in preparation to go… …wherever the church sent me. I served in Washington Kennewick, in the northwest of the United States. Kennewick sits on the Columbia river, and is part of an urban area composed of three cities, aptly named the ‘Tri-cities’. On my mission I had many experiences that I cannot aptly describe to anyone who has not had those same experiences. I’ve tried before, but I always get the feeling that as I share some of my stories, those listening can’t quite identify. I can simply say, you must experience it for yourself.
My faith has undergone numerous trials that I won’t describe here, but I will tell you that the Lord has promised us all answers. In James 1:5-6 it says,
In the Book of Mormon, another book of scripture that the LDS faith adheres to, Moroni 10:4-5 says, ”
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest the gtruthof it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that, as Joseph Smith said,
“…the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
I know that Joseph Smith saw he said he saw. I know that he talked with God, and that God the Father, and his son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and talked with him. I know that God loves us all.
If you want to know more, the LDS church has two websites, and I am on Facebook: