Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10. Turn The Page

I’ve mostly come to terms with all of the changes that have happened in my life the past few years. It honestly has been very enlightening and gut-wrenching at the same time. One additional change that I don’t think I have mentioned yet, is that I’ve evidently tried to purge my life of additional sources of conflict. I used to be a regular listener of talk radio. I found that I rarely consider it an option any longer and seem to have slipped into being apolitical compared to what I was. During my reinvestigation of the church, I found I was listening to podcast after podcast of all things LDS trying to determine what underlying truth there may be. On a few occasions, I listened to talk radio on my way home from work and I got myself worked up to the point where I had to turn it off. I just no longer wanted that in my life.
I also found that I didn’t have a lot in the hobby department to fall back on. The last decade was reading and debating and learning religion and other ideas. How in the world had I missed out on some of those things that I enjoy? That isn’t to say that I didn’t get things. I bought a nice TV. A nice stereo (but not nearly as loud as the one it replaced) and PS3 rounded out some of my entertainment options. I did watch a lot of movies. I became interested in Bollywood because I like the costumes and Indian culture as a whole. Still, the majority of my time seemed a bit obsessed about religion. I figure it was my striving to find order and structure amidst the chaos that I really found mentally. I spent nights staring at the walls at night trying to figure out the bigger things in life. Little did I realize that those things I was wrestling with were really just my own internal war.
I have lots of books. Even the religious ones still hold some interest to me, but it is greatly reduced. On a trip to Utah I stopped at the Krishna temple there in Spanish Fork. I picked up a few t-shirts for Tracy and some books for me. The ones I purchased were small books that combined were called “Krishna” which spoke on some of the highlights of the gods’ life. At one point in my struggles I was reading a section in the book where it spoke about Krishna having multiple incarnations along with his wife and they numbered about 15000 different households. I tossed the book away from me because of it’s pure ridiculousness. I didn’t want to believe in a ridiculous religion. I wanted a religion that was rational, that made sense, not just internally, but within the world. I learned a lot about what I was looking for that night. I’m sorry if I put it in those terms, but that is what I felt.
So I am trying to build up interest in those things that I was interested in before the internet overtook my learning. I have two volumes of Sherlock Holmes that my Mother In Law gave me as a gift, and several hundred other books I inherited when she passed on.  I have books of essays, history, railroading and military interest. I want to become a better writer so I started to read letters from the best writers, Thomas Jefferson and perhaps some Shakespeare. This world is filled with interesting things and interesting people. There is no end to what I can learn. I hope this isn’t just self directed. I want to become closer to the people that matter to me, engage them in thought and find out what they enjoy, and what makes life enjoyable. I want to travel a bit more, spend time with Tracy and do those things that I loved about her when we first wed.
It really is a wonderful life, one that doesn’t have to be filled with endless self-judging and engaged in meaningless contemplation. I want to do, dream, love and fill and be filled with happiness. It has been a rough ten years. I want it to change and I want to change myself.
As part of this introductory section on my own journey, I’ve taken lyrics, scriptures as titles. I’m not sure if I’ll continue to do that, but I do find that rather fun to do. I called this last piece, “Turn The Page” which is a recurring theme in some of Rush’s music. They actually have a song entitled “Turn The Page” and I found it very comforting while preparing to go to BYU, right off my mission. I had to move on from that pain, hurt and confusion that I felt and turn the page to the next part of my life. I feel that once again I have to do that so the song is once again appropriate, although for a different reason.
Truth is after all a moving target
Hairs to split, and pieces that don’t fit.
How can anybody be enlightened?
Truth is, after all, so poorly lit.
It’s just the age
It’s just a stage
We disengage
We turn the page

1 comment:

  1. DB,

    I don’t know if you still read the comments on this blog, but I was recently directed over here by your posts on Mormondiscussions and I thought I would give it a try. I’m a former Mormon myself, left the church about 5 years ago (was employed by BYU at the time which is a story in itself). My wife and children however remain staunchly LDS. Unlike apparently many exmormons, somehow I have retained belief in Christianity (Catholic). In your posts you discuss problems with the idea of the atonement. If you don’t mind, I would like to share some thoughts on the subject. Since leaving the church my own views have changed somewhat. I apologize if I’m being intrusive or proselytizing here, please delete if inappropriate

    The way I look at it is that God was not compelled to save us in this particular way. There is no cosmic law above God that forced God to sacrifice Jesus for our sins. No eternal law of justice like the Book of Mormon teaches (which is more like the penal substitution view of the atonement; the Christus Victor view is more ancient). The key to the atonement isn’t just that Jesus suffers horribly; rather it is that Jesus, despite it all, keeps loving to the end. Sin and hate never overcome love.

    The atonement is more than just what occurred in the garden or on the cross. It encompasses the entire life of Jesus. Rather than just announcing our forgiveness and salvation from the sky, God chose to make it visible in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And traditionally Christianity has seen the Incarnation - God becoming man - as itself being part of human redemption. God becoming one of us unites the divine nature to our human nature and gives us the opportunity to share in God's own divine life. This is sometimes called the sacramental vision: that since we are embodied beings, God chooses to communicate spiritual realities to us by visible, tangible things. That would include washing away sins by baptism with water, participating in Jesus' divinity by eating his flesh and drinking his blood in the bread and wine, the conquering of death by Jesus physically dying and then rising again. In this sense the whole person of Jesus is the ‘sacrament' or visible sign of our redemption. God, being omnipotent, doesn’t have to do things this way, but God chooses to do it this way for our benefit. Would we really be better off if God chose to redeem us simply with a word from on high, without becoming one of us, without himself suffering and dying as one of us? You write about emotional response to the idea of the atonement. How many millions of Christians throughout the centuries have drawn comfort and strength from Christ crucified? How many lives have been transformed from the challenge “take up your cross and follow Me”? Would a simple “God forgives you” or “God loves you” carry the same weight as “God with us” literally in the person of Jesus? Again, I think the atonement makes more sense when we think of it as God choosing to redeem us in this particular way, by entering into the broken world he created, by offering up as one of us a life of perfect love even as he was brutally tortured and killed, and finally by defeating death itself. Far from being incoherent, “Christ crucified” can create an inexhaustible well of meaning for believing Christians.

    God therefore chooses to tie our salvation – our sharing in God’s own life - to the life of the one human being who is himself already fully God and fully man. God chooses to tie our forgiveness to the one who forgave even as they drove the nails through his hands. God chooses to tie our new life to the one whom the tomb could not hold. So when we look for these things in our own lives, God wants us to turn our gaze constantly back to Jesus. When I seek forgiveness for the wrongs I commit against others, what example do I confront? Is this really a bad strategy on God’s part?

    If you are willing to read another book on the atonement I would recommend Death on a Friday Afternoon by Richard John Neuhaus



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