Wednesday, February 23, 2011

JESUS CALLED, HE WANTS HIS RELIGION BACK!

I have had a little, only a little bit of time to reflect on the past few days, the angry comments by one, the sometimes angry  yet supportive comments by others. I admit, its hard for me to not feel some level of happiness in their support, whether it was moderate or strong, kind or angry. When you are in the public domain of the WWW you come face to face, electronically speaking, with those who love you and those that despise you. These past few days, at times, it has appeared as though I have been in the online presence of both. However the absolutely amazing thing is, that almost all, have been very very generous to me personally. That is indeed a validating experience, no matter how one looks at it.

Maybe that represents weakness, maybe it represents a certain feeling or level of justice, I don't know, but I do know just how humbly, and truly grateful that I am for it.

Along with posting on my Facebook group with my many friends from the exmormon or disaffected community that I have come to serve, and love these past few months (since October 2010) I also received some support from active and less active members who likely have experienced this type of harsh judgement themselves from others that seems sadly so prevalent at times in many LDS wards.

They continue in their own way to be faithful and to honor that which they believe in, often under incredibly difficult circumstances, both historically, and doctrinally. How anyone can judge them for their situation, or opinion, is simply beyond my ability to comprehend. Quite often they are faithful, beyond belief, beyond knowledge, beyond the rational.Pretty hard for me to fault that level of commitment, whether we agree on the foundational principals of the LDS faith or not.

Some have gotten to know me in my relationship with variety of active LDS community's over the past several months and some do not know me very well at all, such as Jacqueline Crockford or Vicki, both commentators who are seemingly aware of many issues pertaining to the Stoney Creek Ward and the Hamilton Stake. Sure, they might be technical outsiders to the ward, but they seem to know more closely the facts and the issues as a member of the Stake and have somewhat of an insiders view as a result. I truly valued both of their comments.

Obviously I am tremendously grateful to my friends in the Exmormon community. Its pretty amazing actually, we are a closed group as no one who is active, but non believing wants to have their 'knowledge' of doctrinal or historical issues made public, from fear of reprisal, The same is true of many exmormon's who struggle to keep family associations, and LDS family member's judgements at bay, and just quietly live their lives in fear of religious institutional attacks upon their beliefs. The funny thing is, within the variety of LDS communities and Ex-LDS communities which I am part of, the exmormons, overall are far closer and more supportive as an entire group.They almost never, have any disagreement with each other. Their firm disagreement is generally directed as a group, towards the LDS organization itself. Not the members.
I so appreciated, the many other LDS people's comments because I found most attempted to be fair to both sides in the debate. However it was clear that they found Marty's comments to be judgmental and unkind. Most of the readers of my blog would not know one of the possibly significant back-stories about Marty's situation which likely added to his concern and possibly his anger at my blog.

I don't know if he is still, for I have nothing to do with my former religious association,  but when our family left, Marty was the Stake Executive Secretary and as such had very close contact with the current Stake President who did not honor his word to me when I was called and humbly offered up my release. It was a month of so later, I believe under political pressure from  a group of saints when he changed his mind and called and told me while away on vacation with my family, that I would be released.

Is this still painful? Sure, it still hurts. Why? Maybe because even today, I have a certain amount of respect for the Stake Presidents character and I am therefore conflicted by his decision, as I know for an absolute fact that he is also.

These two situation, that with the Stake President and my early 2008 release, and Marty's current attack on my character, then apology,, have some similar aspects to be thoughtful of..

They both, eventually apologized, and to be fair, seemed sincere. However both of their apologies were 'conditional'. The SP came to our home a year or so after the release and stated that he truly felt burdened by the 'manner' in which he handled my release. Not the decision. Likely because there was much gossip and speculation that got out of control, and he did nothing to honor my character, which he knows to this day, as I know his character, to be sincere and honorable. He also realized later, far too late, that possibly not allowing myself or my wife the opportunity to defend ourselves and only interviewing our accusers, was short sighted.

Nonetheless, he did eventually apologize for the specific manner in which the release was handled and for totally ending any supportive or kind communication following my release.

I felt then and I feel now that I had personally earned more than that from him as a result of quietly supporting the release, and continuing to be extremely engaged in my service to him and my god, even after I was told.

That was NOT EASY. Many reading this blog, may feel to judge me for this or that, I would ask you to put yourself in my circumstances, to know that you had been completely honorable, to know that ecclesiastical leaders were completely informed of the photo story and had determined you worthy, and told you in no uncertain terms to "press forward" and to "discuss it with no one". Then THEY recommended your name to the new Stake President as a counselor. Most people at this point need to believe that there was more to the story, that I had committed some other sin.

The former SP was led to believe this, he called me and asked me about it saying the new SP was a good man, and "surely you must have committed some un-repentent sin more that the photo's, as I told him I had dealt with it".

All I could in tears........ on the phone was muster as a response which was very weak and unconvincing "no.......nothing.....there is nothing more".
You may or may not like me, or agree with things in my blog, but I ask you, sincerely to reason with me for a moment, so that you might better understand my conflict.

The rational mind is left believing only one of two possible outcomes, either Norm Thompson is a liar and had committed some terrible sin, and had lied to both the SP and the Apostle and somehow lowered their spiritual inspiration regarding his call.

OR

There simply is no spiritual inspiration and that they un-righteously released a good man and ruined his name for the benefit of a few loud and faithful members with the right last name or the right friendship's
Which one is it? That's up to you to decide, and to judge.

My own close relative, faced with this internal conflict, knowing my good character, decided that I had sinned, maybe committed adultery and need to humble myself and repent. Why, because years of conditioning had convinced her that her SP could not be wrong. No matter what her son-in-law or daughter had to say about the matter. It would have been easy for the SP to state, clearly on my release that it was NOT due to any sin of mine. For we know doctrinally their is no sin with the photo, we know I continued to call and set-apart people  and have temple recommend interviews, and attend meetings and dedicate new wards (Brantford) etc. etc. Obviously I was considered worthy to serve.

Doesn't this all feel like a catch 22 discussion. Either way it would appear logically that there was an error one way or another..

No big deal, just one mans reputation and his wife and family's reputation. The Church's reputation is the only thing that matters. not honor, not truth and NOT inspiration.

Why has it been so hard to let go of? Because it took so long to accept that men of good character, like the current SP would so knowingly and cruelly, put the church first, and integrity second when the chips were down and the test likely of their existence was placed before them.

His good character, is exactly the reason it is toughter for me to accept.

This specific and exacting issue, "Why do good LDS leaders push aside truth to protect the Church's image" was ultimately the reason we ended up departing.

It was a terribly difficult question for my determined stay active and faithful brain, to rationally accept. For in the end it went against everything that the good principals of the LDS church taught me to be true.

It simply could not be, if the main focus was on protecting something that was NOT true.

In the end, the true teachings and honestly of Jesus Christ convinced me that the truth must set me free from the LDS organization. Maybe the LDS church, had taught me too well, the valuable principals of integrity and honor.

Not sure if that makes sense, but it is likely the level of respect for the current SP's character that I personally had that is the reason I began to question and is the reason we eventually left!

All of these things, continue to be present in heart and mind.

The LDS Church continues to points fingers at members like me and state "You can leave the Church, but you cant leave the Church alone."

It would seem that many members of the LDS church and the organization itself, is often more than guilty of this same manner of conduct.






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8 comments:

  1. Yeah, I am giving it a honorable effort to "leave the church alone" as you are well aware. I am starting to understand that it is a childish lah lah land endeavor! I can leave the church alone brilliantly, but it won't leave me alone. Its like some sort of unwritten rule of social engagement you take on at baptism that if you leave you don't ever REALLY get left alone because so many will lovingly consider you the 1 in 99. It is outrageous! Scary! And nuts!! Surely I can stay the corse and keep trying. I've considered mental exercises where anything and all things LDS that begin around me or to me I simply trip up my brain to a default original black and white Mickey Mouse cartoon and begin to space out until the subject is changed or the person gets the hint or I am away. I LOVE YOU NORM!!

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  2. Sophia, as always, you have left me howling. I hope you are right and I am wrong. I hope you can forget about it all, in a manner that brings you peace without all of the drama that so many of us seem to need and even experience.

    If I am wrong, I will selfishly be happy because I know I will have closer communication with someone that I truly love, and admire.

    Don't give up, if anyone can do it your way....you can!

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  3. Should have been....."If YOU are wrong". Norm

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  4. I am so sorry that this happened to you and your family, Norm. It hurts my heart. All I can really say is that I'm glad it will be the Lord who judges us in heaven rather than the people on earth who say they love us.

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  5. "Why do good LDS leaders push aside truth to protect the Church's image" When I asked my Stake President if the church was going to press charges against my husband, he told me that it will never happen because the church does not want the bad PR in the news.

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  6. I am a first time reader and commenter, and I have to say that what I'm reading here sounds remarkably similar to my own experiences in the church and my dealings with them.
    I am 23 years old and was born a member. I always did my best to be a valiant member and do what I was supposed to do but I found out quickly that if you question anything, its equivalent to open rebellion in certain leaders eyes.
    I always had longer hair when I was younger, because it was "in" to have shaggy hair (never longer than 5 inches). That prevented me from blessing/passing the sacrament, collecting fast offerings, attending the temple, and even prevented me from participating on church sports teams. I was alienated because I chose to have "surfer hair" as one leader put it. This is just the tip of the iceberg however. I had a girlfriend I had been inappropriate with around the age of 17 and attempted to right myself by meeting with the bishop. I have never felt more belittled and demeaned in my entire life. He made the affair out to be 100% my fault and chastized me for taking someones virtue. As most people know, unless prosecuted, those acts usually take 2 consenting people. Instead of hearing me, and helping me on a path of repentance, I was disfellowshipped and that was basically the end of my association with the bishop. His advice was "go and read "The Miracle of Forgiveness" by Spencer W Kimball and we will talk". He shook my attempts to meet with him because this girl was one of the "Favorite Daughters" of the ward and I was basically villainized along with my family. I have only attended church once since 2004, just to make my mom happy. I have not removed my tmembership yet, but I am currently weighing the processes.
    I have been exploring on my own time and discovering my own thoughts and feelings on what God is, or may be, or if there is genuinely a God. I don't have any bad feelings toward the church, or its members, or the specific bishop who thought outcasting was better than help. I feel quite the contrary actually. My time away has taught me to be more accepting of people of other faiths and beliefs, because we are all interested in the betterment of man.
    Thanks for providing a medium we can all use to talk about what we feel about this, and thanks for sharing your experiences.

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  7. Keith, great comments. So glad you have been able to move beyond the judgement and pain so often personally destroying and sad and regularly found within any culture or community where image and pressure to comply are so prevalent and profound.

    Your comments show that no matter what one goes through, no matter what injustice, that they can use it to better themselves as a human being, or use it to allow themselves to be destroyed by it.

    Keith, it has been my most amazing pleasure to open up my heart and share these personal experiences and thoughts.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly on so many things!

    Although I learned some things within the LDS community, my time without has been given me far more choices, and therefore far more opportunity for growth and advancement.

    I wish you well, on your own journey.

    Norm

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  8. I have one more comment after reading more on your blog.

    Its so weird to think about what else lies out there once the blinders are removed. I feel like I can stop pretending that one day I can go back to church and make everything right. I feel like I can still have a successful and fulfilling life both physically and spiritually after reading things on here, as well as your story on postmormon.org. I believe that God, if he is there after we die, will judge me according to my works and not by my adherence to a religion.

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