I went to my first book club meeting today and it was very exciting. Actually, it felt like I was in English class again, but it was fun getting to know more people from the ward. The book we read was "The Poisenwood Bible" and I'll be honest I didn't read it (i just found out about it yesterday) but I cliffnoted it (like an English student would do) and I don't think I like it. The author wrote it as a political allegory for the US and Africa ... I'm not really sure what we did other than tried to "colonize" it but nonetheless the author writes this book trying to raise our awareness that we have done something really bad and asks the question of how are we going to live with the guilt of what we have done to this people. I said "nothing".
Growing up my mom never asked for help. Of course there were times she needed someone to watch us while she worked or something like that, but other than that she hated (and still does) asking for help. So, never really seeing people help us except by offer and my mom finally giving up and saying "Fine!", I have always thought that I need to be able to do it all myself. It also never occurred to me that people actually do need help, me included. Growing up this way, though, doesn't invite me to feel much empathy towards others who are in hard situations. I also have a husband with similar upbringing so that even when I feel sick and ask him to make something for dinner he'll say "oh, you're not really sick if you were really hungry you'd make it yourself". What a darling man! Anyway, I explain all this to say that for a long time I haven't had much sympathy towards other people. If people go hungry in another country, too bad for them they should have worked harder. If polar bears are dying, too bad they should evolve faster. If people are are losing their homes, well they should have not borrowed so much money. The synopsis of all this is simply the thought "they had it coming". (Just a side note, I had an old room mate and we weren't getting along so I decided to move out. She had had a family friend who had been sick with cancer that she continuously was worried about while at school and over Christmas break told me she had died. Keep in mind the personality I just explained to you and my response was "sorry for the loss, it's probably for the best".)
As I've surrounded myself with women who are more sympathetic, I've noticed that my attitude really needs to change because believe it or not it puts people off! There has been some family drama on my husbands side that I was getting so frustrated about because it was another "he had it coming" situation when I came across this verse in Mosiah: "Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery: therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just- But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God."
I guess I know my new years resolution now.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Through PJ (and I) learning from missionary lessons and the discussions that come after, I've learned a lot about other churches. I've talked to my sister a little bit about what I've learned, but the more I think about the things PJ and I talk about the more I'm baffled. Because I've been a member of the church all my life (well technically since 8, but we won't focus on that...) I would listen to the answers to arguments we were supposed to learn in seminary, but I thought for certain no one really had a problem with the church! Ever the optimist, I've rudely learned otherwise, especially in the past year of getting married.
Though most who read this blog don't really know my husband, PJ is wonderful. He's hard headed and logical and pushes emotions out of any discussion we will have. This is why having discussions based on faith were and continue to be hard with him. He's gotten better, but with him now being a member of the church, his dad, which PJ is completely modeled after, is now raising the arguments and discussions if ever we are in town. Now, remember my optimistic view point that surely no one would have a problem with a church? Well I've been rudely awakened.
When PJ and I first announced we were getting married, there were many mixed responses. About half were "yay I can't wait! That's so exciting!" and the other half were "What? are you serious? no we need to talk". For the month leading up to our wedding it felt like everywhere we went we had to explain why we wanted to get married. The hardest discussions were when people brought the church up saying "do you really want to raise your kids mormon?" PJ assured me not to be offended but it started raising doubt in his mind. Obviously it wasn't that big of a deal to PJ because he married me and he became one of those scary "misled" mormons.
I've asked PJ's dad why he feels like he needs to save his sons soul from the pits of hell and he's responded with many strange retorts. Some of which are that Joseph Smith was on opium and that's why he had visions. Others are "while the church isn't correct, i just think the devil has misled the members and it's my job to bring that to your attn." While talking to PJ and I about how we're a "works based church" and going into eternal progression he actually stopped us mid sentence and said "you really believe that!! Get some common sense!" Yah, surely no none would have a problem with the church right?
I think PJ thinks these talks and discussions are faith building, but for me it's painful because I'm constantly being told that I'm not a correct Christian and that have based my faith in devilish visions, that I'm still a good person, but horribly misled. The uplifting part of all this is hearing PJ break the cycle and continuously stand up for the our newly found faith and leave his father confused by quoting scripture from the Bible to uphold the gospel.
There are numerous books put out by churches and church leaders along with the "anti" anyone can find on the internet that it's goal is to have people turn away from the Mormon faith. I don't understand this, I don't understand the hate that has been harnessed towards Joseph Smith since he was 14 years old. I didn't really gain that much of a testimony of how important Joseph Smith was and all of the church heritage until my Junior year in HS when the ward there took all the youth to Navoo, Il. I wasn't pleasant on this trip, but every time I look back on my experience my testimony grows ever stronger. I know that at the heart of every faith based argument is simply the faith part, but i think that is what the hardest part of understanding all the "anti" out there. I don't think people know the magnitude of what could happen to people who read their books just to learn or "strengthen their faith". PJ's told me that if he were to deny the church like his father and other family members want him to, he would have to deny God.
In church yesterday the stress of a lot of the things PJ's father had said to us was still weighing heavily on my mind and then a speaker spoke on faith, hope and charity. He ended his talk by quoting this scripture and I'd like to do the same. "Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe."
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
With PJ's new about an hour-hour and a half away from Cornelia where we lived, of course we moved. I never realized how much I appreciated staying in one place and accumilating fun cookware and such. We moved closer to Atlanta (like maybe 20 miles or less) so now we have to get used to being city folk again. When we were in college, in our freshman class in the theatre program in which we were enrolled, there were only 13 including PJ and I. Cornelia is a very small town which just got it's first sit down chain restaurant (The Longhorns as they say) and the nearest mall was in Atlanta. So now if we drive 10 miles down the road in any direction we can find a mall and for that matter different cities. It's crazy but we're adjusting. We also moved into our new abode (PJ's grandparents basement) 2 wks ago and construction for our closet turned kitchen in the living room finally is done. Another thing you don't think you appreciate is being able to live in more than one room! I'm very thankful his grandparents went through all this to help us out though, and along with the big city atmosphere, our ward here is HUGE! There are 3 wards that meet there and it's the Stake Center... so there's def. a lot to learn!