Quote of the Day

“Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.” –William S. Burroughs

I don’t think most Mormons understand the desperation that drove us to leave the church. Essentially, the core of Mormon faith is the “testimony,” which rests on the idea that, if you pray to know if the church’s claims are true, you will have some sort of good feeling or spiritual impression that confirms the truth of the church.

Desperation comes only when you realize that your testimony conflicts with the facts. For example, you “know” the Book of Mormon is true because you have that good, warm, peaceful feeling when you pray about it, but then you discover that the text is a mess: anachronisms, translation errors, obvious plagiarism, and so on.

Many of us, when first confronted with this “cognitive dissonance,” chose initially to “shelve” the troubling stuff and just keep on believing. I’ve mentioned how my shelf collapsed of its own weight, but I haven’t explained just how devastating it was. Burroughs rightly describes it as “desperation.” I’ve known people who literally wanted to end their lives when they discovered that Mormonism isn’t true.

I remember vividly the day that I went with my wife to the bishop for help in salvaging my destroyed faith. I lay on my bed for a good hour, sobbing uncontrollably, feeling as if everything in my life had been lost.

But it wasn’t the end of the world, just the impetus for “drastic change.” My life is not perfect, but confronting what isn’t true and moving beyond it has really been a “blessing” in my life.

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4 Responses to Quote of the Day

  1. Ray Agostini says:

    I remember vividly the day that I went with my wife to the bishop for help in salvaging my destroyed faith. I lay on my bed for a good hour, sobbing uncontrollably, feeling as if everything in my life had been lost.

    Runtu, when your blog is the first item I check in my daily forum/blogroll rundown, you’re on to something. You have a good mixture of spirituality and criticism here, and I think, the potential to be a real bridge between Mormons and ex-Mormons. Be independent, and keep thinking independently. That’s what blogging is about. Speak your thoughts and seek approval from no-one, and don’t lose that kindness touch (something I will never attain).

    As for your above statement, been there, done that – over 20 years ago. So long it’s like the pains of a bitter divorce long-forgotten and ill-remembered. The “Papllion experience” has made my life, eventually, much richer. You no longer have to think about what you “should” believe, pro or con.

    “Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.” –William S. Burroughs

    No one need leave “everything” behind, in my opinion. I like Emerson’s quote, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”.

    Best wishes to you.

  2. runtu says:

    I don’t think you have to leave everything behind, either. But you do have to be willing to do so, I think.

  3. Ray Agostini says:

    Perhaps leave the junk behind, Runtu. Mormons are still good people, generally speaking, and you should know, since you’re still one. Mormons who seek the truth are being more true to the ideals of Mormonism than anyone else.

  4. runtu says:

    Agreed, Ray. Most of the Mormons I know are wonderful people, and I have nothing but respect for them.

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