Monday, December 6, 2010


If you know my little family, it is no surprise that we are pregnant with a little guy. My daughter absolutely knew she would be having a "boy". She is an amazing little child that knows what she knows. She doesn't have to think twice about it. She knows. Anyway, we have around three months to go until the little guy comes and then we will be parents of two! How crazy does that sound? I will be 26 very soon and with two children! Its been a trip to get this far. I know we all look forward and think, "where will I be in 5 years?" If I had known I would be here, I wouldn't have been as worried. I have a beautiful wife, an intelligent daughter, and a son on the way. School should be done soon (certain aspects of it) and the auto business is getting better than it was a year ago. Things seem more peachy than they did a year ago. Unfortunately, when things are peachy, things aren't as they seem. So with that being said, I plan on discussing in this post what isn't "peachy" in the good neighborhood.

The un "peachy" topic in my life has been religion. All you who know me know that I served an LDS mission in the Texas Houston East Mission and enjoyed every bit of it. Some would say that I served a successful mission and others would have the exact opposite opinion. I would say that I served the best I knew how to and that's all that matters to me. So let's dig a little deeper as to why I have an issue here. Let it be known now that I have reached a conclusion amongst all this mess, but I feel I am still not out of the rough yet. Things aren't as black and white as I once had thought they were. Black and white is the way things are taught and I found out there were more colors in there that my naked eye couldn't catch until further examination.

It all started when I arrived at the age of 14 years old and I had gained a little bit of knowledge and that started the ball rolling. I had come across a subject matter on Joseph Smith that told a story about a circumstance when Emma walked into the home and saw him kissing a young 14 year old girl that he and Emma had "adopted" as their own. I was somewhat shocked because I had always been taught that it was just Emma and Joseph. Their undying love forever! Obviously this wasn't the case. So I kind of fell away for some time and eventually found my roots again and was able to "pass" on that info. I immersed myself into the gospel "meat", or at least what I thought was "meat". By this I am meaning the deeper doctrine of the church. I learned about how to gather the information given in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon, and the Bible and really be able to tell a great story with it. I learned to do it so well on my mission that I was summoned by a lot of seminary teachers to have me teach specific topics to their students, such as the Second Coming and other apocalyptic events. I fed off of it because it was very interesting and to me I felt like I was seeing the signs all around. So I felt like my testimony had become almost impenetrable to anyone who would throw anything at me. I served in the Bible belt in Texas and came across every type of "Christian" out there. Everything from JW's to Satanist (yes I look at them as partly Christian, just the other side of the equation). I felt like I learned what I needed to know to help them see the light I had with the Gospel that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had. I was "successful" in gaining people to the understanding I had. Whether they were baptized or not was not my goal. My goal was to set as many seeds as I could and to reap the benefits of those who already had grown and came to know.

Along the journey of my mission, I found many people with intriguing stories about the church that at the time didn't seem correct in my findings. I just told myself that I would store the info in my mind for another day when I wasn't serving my mission to understand what they were pointing towards. I was always taught that in every lie, lies a truth that started it. If that makes any sense at all. The Church teaches that the "lies" about the Church were in fact truths at one time until the individual who came across it twisted the truth out of it. In some cases I can agree to that statement. There are a lot of individuals out there that have a tendency to not like anyone or anything and want only to harm others. I see those people as misfits and they should be ignored. When you look more into the info that is thrown out at the missionaries a little deeper, it is difficult to see where some of the twists had taken place. Especially when those twists look like they came from the Church themselves. I was clued into this notion when I was told to burn the "purple dragon" (we called it that because it was huge and boring with a purple cover) handbook that we as missionaries were told to use for training to become better missionaries. It didn't make a lot of sense to me, but I did as I was told and we burned it, along with the 7 discussions I started my mission with, and we encircled our efforts around the new "Preach My Gospel" manual for missionary work. When I burned that book (purple dragon) a seed was planted in me. Why was my church making me burn something that was "of value" when I arrived and then shunned later. The only thing I could think of at the time was because we all hated the book so much it would make us feel better once it was gone. Okay, so let me back up here a minute, we weren't told to "burn" the book, but we were told to "destroy" it. It is a lot of the same thinking that goes into "destroying" our garments that aren't of use anymore. Why this bothered me is because the Church is always saying that the books that come forth today are "latter-day doctrine" and should be taken as scripture. If scripture then was being "destroyed" for new scripture, why do our other "scriptures" still have a precedence today? We do have proof that some scripture are pulled from "cannon" because they are no more relevant to the "Church" as a whole. The example I have was the "Lectures on Faith" which was included in the original Doctrine and Covenants and then pulled by our Church in 1921. I am not really sure as to why, but the only conclusion as to why I don't care for it is that it supports the "trinity" that many other Christian denominations cleave to. So I believe it was pulled because it didn't support the solid doctrine that our Church follows to be true. There are many other examples, but not enough time or space to go into. I am not trying to spill everything I have studied and come to know, but merely trying to support an idea that has stemmed from all of this.

When that seed was planted in me, I decided to slowly study one topic at a time to come to know for myself how to go against those who fought against our Church. Plus, I was a priesthood leader and needed to know something for the questions that could come to me from being in the position. So what I did is I took one topic at a time and learned all that there was to know from the Church's standpoint. I felt like there was more, because of all the loose ends. The Church isn't loose in specific events that took place or even doctrines that were taught. So I went elsewhere to find more info. I first hit the professors of BYU and their findings, along with the Apologists for the Church. A little more of the story was being told with them and then I dove into the deep end and tried to find info outside of the Church. The missing pieces seem to show more light at this point and a better picture was being shown.

Something that is interesting to note: I am an auto salesman for a GMC Buick store and have become very fond of those vehicles. If I was to find out all I can about other products, I can go to the "horses mouth" and therefore learn what I can about them. But, like others know, when you go and look at a specific dealership and ask about their product, you will hear nothing negative, but always positive. Hence you lose the opposite side of the story. I could tell you that the best product on the road is the Pontiac Aztec and give you every reason why and probably sell you on it, but the reality is that it is a horrible product because of the acceptance by the public. In reality it was one of the best products out there, but the design scared people off and made it one of the biggest blunders of GM. If someone really wanted to know what the product was about, the best thing for them to do is to go to "outsiders" and take what they say as a grain of salt. If you would go to the Toyota store, they would give you all the negative, but if you go to the regular used car dealer that sells anything and everything, you might hear a better side of the story without all the fluff that the other salesman had added. This is huge in trying to find a vehicle to purchase. I study what I need to about the other products out there and I spill what I need to for a gain in my pocket. It's business. But, I will always tell the customer that I am biased towards GM because it is my livelihood and they should seek others input to get a better understanding for themselves. Normally I will get a customer back because they have a seed set on them. That seed was not a negative one, but a positive one with potential to increase in size.

With all that being said, I figured it was best to get the whole story rather than the story I had grown up with and was being told. The reason why individuals "fall astray" in the Church and end up leaving are for obvious reasons like adultery, gambles, etc. but no one ever talks about the Sunday School teacher that only wanted to be a good teacher and sound interesting to those who came to listen. He/she is the individual who wants to dig deeper and find something just a little bit more interesting than the other guy that taught it. It is what makes humans different from each other, to out do the other. So they look towards the Church info and can't find much different, and then the turn to other sources such as the discourses by Brigham Young or articles written by Bruce R McConkie. Almost everyone I have spoken to on this matter have found great info from those source and others, all church member info (most from apostles and prophets) and then everything comes crashing, the flower from the seed that was planted begins to make shape and all is revealed as to what the flower is going to be. It is hard to read those sources and not fall into a doctrine that was taught or an event that happened that the teacher had not ever heard of in prior studies. This is what brings more individuals out of the Church than the normal reasons we hear about. The fall into a story or doctrine that sparks more mystery and then puts a different light on other aspects. "Following blindly" usually pops into mind by this point because the blinders have been pulled aside and therefore the world looks different than it did. This only happens because the individuals realizes then that the root for a testimony prior had been pulled out from underneath. It almost becomes a shallow root that was easy to pull.

There is only one of two different routes to go at this time, when an individual meets this fork. It is either to be FOR the Church or AGAINST it. Some who choose the latter normally feel it is their obligation to warn the others about the info that they had come across and therefore only become bitter to an extent that the "Man behind the Curtain" was in fact just a man. It is an easier path to follow if you ask me. Believe me, I have thought of taking that path many times because it is easier to travel. The harder path is to stay FOR the Church. The reason why it is more difficult to stay with the church is because uncertainty abounds. I see this as a strength to the individual who chooses to see it as a strength. Uncertainty always leaves doubt, which fuels curiosity, which pushes an individual to find out more. Questioning everything is definitely a chore and becomes a task that is never ending for he/she that chooses to follow it. Isn't questioning something the very idea of gaining a belief in something and then eventually arriving at knowledge? We are here to gain knowledge. He/she who doesn't question is missing the very key to unlock the doors to unsurmountable opportunities.

If we look in history of any civilization throughout our tiny existence as humans, the one key that brought power to the dominating another wasn't strength by muscle or even the location as to where the civilization was from. It was knowledge. This is why the library of Alexandria was burned when Rome defeated the Greeks. They destroyed their knowledge and replaced it with the Roman rule and their knowledge. The nation with the most knowledge gains the respect and honor of the others and therefore allows for one to rule the other. If we as "children of God" wish to exemplify Him, we must choose to question and eventually arrive at Knowledge. It's a progression that we all must face and how we face it will determine how our lives are lived. If we choose to question, the power to whatever is desired is closer and at hand. Some can say this could be used for personal benefit, but in reality, everything we do is for personal benefit. We are all trying to survive better than we did yesterday. What Christ taught, I believe, was something greater than what we all do today. If we can survive "well" for ourselves and help others do the same, this is the gospel He taught. Philanthropists could be an example of what I am speaking here on an extreme scale. They have accomplished so much and therefore wish for others to gain what they have. I do feel that some of them do have it in their hearts to make others better off than they otherwise would have been because they have learned to survive "well" and want others to have that opportunity. This is the path we follow to gain "true knowledge". This is what I believe Christ wanted for all and what I also believe is the "gospel".

This brings me to my final point. When someone says "I know this Church is true" what does this exactly mean? Well for each person that is different. It could be home teaching, it could be families, it could be Jesus, it could be a lot of different topics. Those are all aspects of the Church. The Church, if we look at it from the beginning (1820 and on) has always been "changing" or molding into something better than it was before. Some find it in their ability to institute certain doctrines that may or may not have anything to do with the eternal aspect of existence for the world as a whole. Others, go along with the previous teaching and play the neutrality card to gain favor from specific groups. You can see this also in the governments of the world. It is how the game is played. I believe to this point, from what I have studied and gathered in my quest for truth, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really is two different entities rather than one.

The two entities are: The Church, and The Gospel.

The Church is by definition a body of people that gather in a building or location of some sort to worship.

The Gospel is an entity that to me is eternal and essential to our existence here and in the hereafter.

Here is an easy way to understand what I am trying to help you understand. Picture yourself about to retire, you are single, no children and ready to leave work for good to enjoy other pleasures of life. You decide to become a hermit and build a cabin in a remote location in the mountains far from any civilization. What is left when you take away everything is what? Not the church you gather at, or the people that fill it, or even the books your read from. It is the gospel that we are to live. That is what remains! It is constant and can be lived anywhere by anyone. This is what is essential in our living here on Earth. Not where Kolob is, or when Christ will come, or any other fluff that is out there. It is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost and one final step is the enduring to the end. That is all we need and it is what will get us to the end result, knowledge. I would also have to point out that Faith is the biggest step to take because it requires work. The rest follow fairly easy. It is essential to all, whether a LDS or Muslim, or even the Atheist, to know how to institute faith into their life. Faith is merely a belief in something not seen. It could be a vision of how a structure should be built, a farmer who hopes for crop, or the child who relies on the little bulb to light their room at night because of their fear of the darkness. Faith is what guides all of us, because we just don't "KNOW".

To conclude: What separates the Gospel from the Church? I don't know the answer to that question, but I hope to know one day. Every day that goes by I learn more and get closer to that answer. All I can look at is the tools I have and then I have to find out for myself. Once I find out for myself on specific directions, I can then go and help others to the point I am at now. This is something that I haven't come close to fully understanding but I hope to one day. The analogy I like to follow is that there are many paths that lead to Rome, every one of them are different, but all lead to the same destination point. Some are rough, some are smooth, and others are both with other obstacles. Each person is molded from the journey they make to get to Rome. Who we are when we arrive at the end result of Rome is determined by how we travelled the path we were given. Some feel it is their duty to tell you that London is much better than Rome. Something must be understood, we are all on a path to Rome, if we decide to go back to where we came from, we kind of become lost in our quest to find truth/knowledge or even belief. We kind of lose faith/hope in not just religion, but life as well.

So my warning to everyone at this point is this: If you are interested and can't seem to get enough of "information" keep going with it and never stop, because the ball cannot stop rolling until someone of Authority (not of this world) can stop it. If you are one who hasn't gained a thirst like some of us for "information" then I tell you to stay away from it and live your life according to your beliefs. Because if you haven't tapped into it yet, and don't have a drive to keep it going once you have tapped into it, then you are doing a disservice to yourself and your family. Yes your family, because they are a apart of of your life too. Don't develop a taste for something you intend on not pursuing. It will only be that much more difficult to stop later.

So I feel I am back on the path I need to be and moving the right direction than I did before. I feel that I can accept certain aspects that I have come across in the "Church" because the "Gospel" keeps me into it. I know some of you may think this is very petty of me to believe this way. But hey, it works and I can sleep at night. Who knows where I will be in 5 years from now? Only time will tell. As for now, I hope things continue to be "Peachy" for those who don't care for excitement. (No pun intended)