Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Am I expecting too much?

Last night, I had a great conversation with my brother and his wife about my parents. I told my brother about the conversation that I had with my parents about a week ago. Here is what my conversation with my parents was about.

If I have not mentioned it before, my parents moved to Arizona; my dad’s health was struggling in Utah and they needed to be in a warmer climate. Well since the Mormon Church had their conference at the beginning of October, I have been curious about whether the controversy that followed was big enough for my parents to notice. Here in Utah, many people were outraged about the statements of Boyd K. Packer and the subsequent changes in print that the church made. Was it just a Utah thing or did anyone outside of the state of Utah notice?

As I was chatting with my parents, curiosity got the best of me and I had to ask them about it. I asked if they had heard any of the news about the controversy and protests that happened after conference. They said that they had not heard anything about it. I filled them in about what the issues were. They said that they had watched conference and had not noticed anything out of the ordinary with the talks. As my mom said about Packer, “He was just speaking for the Lord.” My dad went on to talk about the anti-Mormons that he so deeply despises. They also asked if I am going to church or believe in god now. I explained that I am not going to church and I am not sure whether there is a god or not. I am okay with saying I do not know for sure. Our conversation ended shortly afterward and everything was fine.

So I related this story to my brother and we had a good conversation about the results. We were fascinated with the idea that my parents had not noticed anything different about conference. The leaders were speaking for the Lord and nothing else mattered. Outside of the state of Utah, hardly anyone noticed that some leader of the Mormon Church had said anything out of the ordinary that would have upset anyone. As I have said before, outside of the state of Utah, the Mormon Church is very inconsequential and insignificant, hardly noticed by anyone.

I explained that I feel like my relationship with my parents seems so unresolved because they will not even acknowledge any of the issues that I bring up about the church. My brother, who is three years younger than me, had some good advice about this. He said that since our parents are in their senior years, it might be too much to ask of them to consider that the church may not be true. They have lived their entire lives devoted to this church and the thought for them of realizing that their efforts may have been in vain may be too much to ask.

This is sad to me that my parents may be afraid to investigate anything at all because they might be afraid of what they find. They have looked a little bit at the issues, but they do want to look any further. They love the church and have very strong testimonies, but it is not unheard of for people like this to lose their testimonies once they discover the truth. Imagine being in your 70s and investigating the troubling issues with the church and finding your testimony disintegrating before your very eyes. Think of the heartache that would be felt after realizing that you had spent your entire life devoted to a church that is a fraud, and there is no doubt, the Mormon Church is a fraud, no truer than any other church on this earth.

After talking to my brother, I came to the realization that I may be asking too much of my parents. I really cannot expect them to question their devotion to a religion that they have lived for their entire lives. They will remain strong followers of the church to the day they die and I just need to come to terms that they will never accept the decision that I have made to leave. The issues that I have with the church are items that they will never entertain with study or prayer the way that I have. I have questioned my life, my beliefs, and everything that I was taught since I was born. I have the luxury of being able to live the rest of my life the way that I want now and not having to look at my entire life as a waste of devotion to a false religion. I love my parents and I will work on respecting their choice of believing in this church even though I so desperately desire for them to see the truth and come to terms with it instead of running away in fear.


  1. Bowie, you articulated perfectly the dilemma I find myself in. Thank you.

  2. Knowing your parents as I do I think that the more you push the more they dig in their heels and hold to their belief even more. I know that you want at least an acknowledgement from them that your issues are valid even if they don’t bother them but I don’t think you’ll ever get that. They will never give you justification for leaving the church. I know that’s hard but I don’t think it will change.

  3. "This is sad to me that my parents may be afraid to investigate anything at all because they might be afraid of what they find."

    Sadly, I've seen this behavior in fundamentalist Protestants as well. Some people prefer the comfort of ignorance over the discord of reality.

    "Think of the heartache that would be felt after realizing that you had spent your entire life devoted to a church that is a fraud..."

    You hit the nail on the head. Many Mormons (and fundamentalist Protestants) don't want any cracks to form in the foundation of their lives. It would require too much heartache and effort to construct a new foundation, especially at an advanced age.

    It's so tragic to see people cling to an illusion rather than experience reality in all its messy, complicated richness.