Today, my husband posted a “personalized” Santa Claus video on Facebook that we’d made and sent to our daughter. One of his friends, a staunch atheist, made this comment on the thread: “I’m telling [my son] the truth about Santa, because I don’t want to tell him a lie, besides, if he starts believing cultural mythology, who knows what he might start believing.”
I felt his comment was kind of Grinchy so I fired off a less-than-patient reply — told him that he’d “missed the point.” I immediately recognized that my comment was made in frustration — something I try to avoid, since the Internet is a mean enough place without me joining in — so I quickly deleted my response. He must have seen it anyway, though, because when I logged in again tonight I noticed that he’d added another reply: “Katie, ‘you missed the point’ is an easy thing to say. Please explain what the point is, then I’ll know.”
After some deliberation, I decided I’d answer his question (hopefully with a much gentler spirit than before). This is what I wrote:
For RMA, who doubts everything (just like me)
I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting today that I wanted to share here: Choosing Faith in the Face of Doubt.
I’ve got a really scratchy audio recording, which has a few seconds of children fussing and crying at the very beginning (and, of course, throughout — it wouldn’t be a Mormon Sacrament Meeting otherwise!). 🙂
If you can’t stand the bad audio, I also created a PDF version you can download here: Choosing Faith in the Face of Doubt.
The full text is copied and pasted below…
My relationship to Mormonism is like my marriage.
When I first married my husband, I thought he was one way. Handsome, funny, vibrant, talented, charismatic, intelligent.
And he is all of those things — and much, much more.
But the more I got to know him, the more I became acquainted with his faults. His inflexibility, his quickness to anger, his tendency to withdraw emotionally even when I need him.
It was a terrifying discovery.
Because as a young woman, idealistic and naive, I believed that love makes everything better — and that “better” means smoother, simpler, without stress or strain.
What, then, to do when I discovered that it was harder than I thought it would be? That along with the intimacy and joy, I’d be fighting through pain, frustration, anxiety, even heartache?
If it’s really right, shouldn’t it be easier than this?
Today, I simply want to affirm that my approach to the gospel can summed up by the 13th Article of Faith:
We believe in being honest, true…
This touched me on multiple levels tonight, as I realized how painful honesty can be.
Sometimes, it means sacrificing my public face in favor of acknowledging a private truth, even when it makes me look bad. At other times, it means standing up for my beliefs, even when my culture or community might reject me or my interpretation. It might require that I relinquish power, authority, or control in order for another person to be free. In almost every instance, it means being willing to let God to shine a light on injustice, cruelty, violence, hatred, bigotry, and intolerance wherever it exists — but especially in my own heart — so that I may see it for what it is, and do what I must to root it out as quickly as possible.
So after a long conversation via IM today with my charming brother-in-law Brian (warning: his site contains extensive cursing), I decided to write a post about what I believe about God.
I’ll follow it up in a few days about what I DON’T believe about God.
But let’s get the positives first. 🙂
1. I believe in God. First things first, I believe there is a God. While I think there are strong reasonable arguments for the existence of God, ultimately my belief in God has very little to do with reason. (In other words, I think my belief in God is REASONABLE, but reason is not the SOURCE of my belief.) Instead, the source of my belief is subjective personal experience with the Divine and intense spiritual longings that tell me it is so. I understand this might not be satisfying to skeptics. I don’t care. I believe for me, not them.
2. I believe in One God. In other words, I’m a monotheist.
3. I believe God is the Creator and Ruler of the Universe. Still, I think there is NO conflict between science and religion. I believe what we discover about science reveals more about God’s methods of creation and governance of the natural world as opposed to providing “proof” He doesn’t exist. The two need not be incompatible.
4. I believe in a personal God. I believe in a God who knows us INDIVIDUALLY and is concerned with us PERSONALLY.
5. I believe in a loving God. More than just a personal God, I believe in a God who loves us. This is because I have felt God’s love transform me.
6. I believe God is Good. Beyond the fact that God is personal and loving, I believe in a God who is All Good.
7. I believe God is Eternal, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Perfect, and Glorious. I don’t know exactly what all that means, but I believe it nonetheless.
8. I believe God is incomprehensible. As an extension of #7, I believe that the fact that I don’t know exactly what it all means is kind of the point. I think if a person could comprehend God, He wouldn’t be much of a God.
9. I believe Jesus Christ is God. I’m a Christian, and believe that Jesus was in fact God, who condescended to take upon Himself our sins and sorrows. I think the idea that a perfect, all-knowing, all powerful God would descend from glory to suffer with us is the most beautiful idea I’ve ever heard.
10. I believe that God wants to make us into something much more than we are. I don’t know exactly what the end result will look like, or even have the slightest clue what it entails, but I believe it’s gonna be good.
So those are the basics for me. What about you? What do you believe about God?
My family and I are in Salt Lake City right now, visiting relatives. We had a chance to hang out in Temple Square this afternoon. It was absolutely perfect–70 degrees, gentle wind, sun shining, flowers in full bloom. My two-year-old daughter loved the reflecting pool, and squealed with delight when my husband gave her six or seven pennies to toss into the glassy water. I watched her somewhat enviously. To her, the world is as clear as the reflection in that pool: she knows what love is and she knows that she has it–and she doesn’t worry much about the rest.
Something about growing up clouds the vision somehow.
As we made our way around the grounds, we stopped at the visitors centers and took in the exhibits. One stop stood out in my mind as particularly descriptive of my last six months of searching, as though it could all be wrapped up in this single experience. It was a presentation on the promise of eternal families–a message that has historically brought me peace. But today, it was difficult to know how to feel or what to think.