If I were to use the term, “crisis of faith,” that moment happened in the late 1980’s when I began to resent some of the tactics of motivation commonly used in my ward … including my own tactics as one of the leaders..
As the H.P.G.L. I was “Brother Vinegar” whose tools of fear, shame and guilt were all worn, tarnished and dented in places from over use.
The awakening occured after a few incidents strung together within a time frame that brought my spiritual thinking to a point of outright guilt and anger.
The flash point was the day I stumbled across the Sonja Johnson auto-bio (From Housewife to Heretic) in the library, checked it out and hid it under my coat so no local members who might be in the library wouldn’t see it.
Took it home and read it in one evening … couldn’t put it down until I had finished. I was exceedingly angry about how she had been treated and saw in how she described her stake and ward leaders, the very behavior in my own stake and ward.
The crisis was on, escalating into a major mental volcanic explosion within days.
Requested removal of my name in 1991 but had no success until 1999.
Scarified by fear-mongered doctrines, I expected – as per LDS theology and gossip – that famous “stupor of thought” from D&C 9 along with all those scriptural references to the Holy Ghost withdrawing and the “Amen to the Priesthood of that man!” kind of canonized rhetoric.
Never happened …
No stupor, no amen’s to any feelings of spiritual power, and no abandonment by the Holy Spirit.
The promptings by which I had habitually practiced my religion and which had assured me of the presence of Divinity in myself and my life continued without interruption.
There was no end of faith-promoting prompts but an end of the literal-minded and doctrinaire teachings that are still utilized by misguided leadership to remove our proprietorship of our own spirituality and require us to follow all the brethren down a path where they will never be able to deliver the goods.
Leaving the Church helped me retake ownership of that mis-appropriated spirituality.
Then, feeling like a wandering prodigal orphan, I sought spirit solace in every other venue you can imagine. Many venues including New Age concepts, Zen concepts, Gnostiscism, even joining and participating in a local Episcopal Parish … all had merit and all included experiences with no less prompting and guidance than that of my years of attempting Mormon priesthood practice with quiet desperation.
It took the powerful sensitivity and perception of my wife, Lietta, to point out that I had in essence orphaned myself from the trust and confidence factor of my previous Mormon life.
In that prior life of membership, I had forgotten who I was and what I was and only remembered who and what I THOUGHT I was.
The story of her baptism and my rebaptism has been written elsewhere and can be discussed another time. However, in recapturing my cultural and heritage-based identity, I’ve come to recapture also a greater trust and confidence in the spiritual promise of Section 121 absent any need to agree with the true churchiness of it all.
No prompting or spirit has EVER – in prior life or newly reborn life in the Church – witnessed to me of the truthiness of it all for the coorelated chapel church.
However, the life changing sense that was in reality the life-affirming sense has returned in greater force … because Lietta has encouraged me to let that light so shine.
I still have my own privacy as a temple for my innermost communion with Divinity – and that is a very special and personal place.
Equally special and personal is the communion between husband and wife that is so much more open, less orthodox and more personally designed, sustained and nourished by a couple who need no building, no rite, and no priesthood to authorize our eternity together.
How do we know?
… the Spirit tells us so.