Feeling Truth

Two nights ago, I sat in a small auditorium waiting for my daughter to perform in her end-of-the-school year dance program. I don’t know much about dance. If the dancer’s movements are in sync with the music I’m satisfied.

My daughter’s group finally strolled onto the stage and began their routine. As they began dancing I noticed a smile grow across the face of my daughter. She was in her element, beaming ear-to-ear. As the rest of the girls stood back, Anna came to the front of the stage and performed while the spotlight shined on her face. She twirled, spun and floated across the stage and then faded back in with the rest of her group.

I felt a surge of pride inside my chest. But it was more than just pride. I felt immense joy watching my daughter do something she loves. Although I didn’t understand every technique or action she performed, I was moved to tears as the routine ended.

I’ve thought about this experience for a couple of days now and compare it the feelings I had when I was active in a church where I was told that feelings can confirm the truth of anything. Have questions about the Book of Mormon? Pray and ask god and he’ll tell you it’s true through a feeling. The same goes for any question I might have. Or so I was taught.

I spent two years in Germany as a missionary challenging people to join my church because they felt “good” when we visited their homes. I manipulated their feelings for my own benefit. Any feeling an investigator had, I attributed to the spirit confirming the truth of our message.

While in Germany, I studied many aspects of the church that I hadn’t been taught before. The story of god commanding Abraham to kill his son, Isaac, disturbed me. What kind of god would do that? I discovered that early Mormon prophets practiced polygamy, several taking as many as 50 wives, some as young as 14-years old. I wrote my grandfather and asked him to help me understand. I prayed that I might understand the reasons behind these actions that seemed cruel and immoral to me. But I never received an answer. If anything, pondering my concerns only made me more depressed and confused. There’s little patience inside a church that claims to be the only true church on the face of the earth.

What does all this have to do with watching my daughter dance?

Well, I no longer believe that feelings confirm truth. The good feelings I had while attending church or the temple were no different than those I had while watching my daughter dance. I feel good listening to my spouse play the piano or while skiing down the mountain with my son at my side. Good music, a play or even a good movie can bring feelings of joy. But those feelings don’t mean what I’m doing or hearing is true anymore than having a good feeling while reading the Book of Mormon means it’s true.

Today, I don’t dismiss my feelings, but I’m aware of what they represent and what they don’t. I no longer attempt to justify the behavior of early Mormon prophets or worry about why a god would command a father to kill his son or why this same god would flood the earth, killing every man, woman and child.

With a wonderful spouse and five kids, I appreciate opportunities to share in their passions and feel of their love and warm spirit. I’m thrilled when they are willing to share their talents with me.

Maybe the “truth” lies in those small moments.

May the Search Set You Free

Our garage door was acting up today. I know very little about them, but I know how to Google for answers. This lead me to a YouTube video of a man discussing a few popular problems, including how to recalibrate the door sensors. I followed his instructions, and had the door working within 10 minutes.

When I blew a main fuse on our Honda Odyssey, a Google search took me to forum where a Honda owner described the same problem I was having. A mechanic responded on the forum, and mentioned which two fuses to inspect. I had checked one fuse but neglected to check the other. Sure enough, the second fuse was dead. A $4 fuse later, the van was running.

This is the magic of the internet. I don’t have to be a mechanic or electrician to make basic repairs. Knowledge is power, especially when it’s a search away.

When I began researching the early history of the LDS church, I was stunned at the amount of information available to anyone with the curiosity to search and to learn from it. A lot of this information did not sync with what I had been taught by church leaders.

For example, I was aware that Brigham Young practiced polygamy. But I had no idea that the prophet Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and polyandry. Those are details I wish I had known earlier.

This information is available to anyone. It’s not hidden in a mountain cave or behind a firewall. You can choose to disgard it, but you can no longer say it’s impossible to know.

Just as I no longer have to immediately call a mechanic, I no longer have to take the word of ecclesiastical leaders when it comes to church history. Today, I get to determine when I’m ready for the truth rather than allow someone else to determine that for me.

Google is to the LDS church as the Gutenberg printing press and Martin Luther were to Catholicism.

May the truth set you free.