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For a cult, gosh, the LDS church is doing really well. How does that work?
As I'm reading this morning about the conversion of the Lamanites, I'm seeing some of the blessings that come to them as they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm seeing some of the wonderful things I enjoy in this life. The gospel brought freedom to them. It brought them increased love and understanding for others. It made them want to do good and be good and help others. This isn't something they had desired before this time.
Hmm....Did you ever think there might be something to this? Yes, there are those who've turned away and scoff and say we're brainwashed. Did you ever consider those individual's lives and what might have made them bitter? For the most part, however, I would like to assert that LDS people try to be just like the Lamanites were becoming in Alma 23. We try to be kind. We value our freedom. We try to follow Jesus Christ, and we are grateful for the blessings that those attempts bring to our lives, which thus, make us want to do it more. Is there anything wrong with that? Does it take brainwashing to follow Jesus Christ in our society? Hmm...maybe so. Maybe you have to be changed to go against the crowd. Maybe you have to accept completely different ideals than the rest of the world embraces. Maybe you have to be just a bit different--maybe even odd.
It's so easy to listen to the scoffers and judge, but I think you'd find, if you listen to the general membership of the LDS church, that we really have no complaints. Life is good. There are ups and downs. There are hard things in every life. We endure what everyone else does, but sometimes we look at it just a bit differently from others you might know. Did you ever wonder why? Did you ever ask?
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If you believe me to be brainwashed and a member of a cult, I just wonder if maybe you've been listening to the wrong people--those who are either completely ignorant, those who have something to lose by my membership in the LDS faith (preachers, priests, etc. who are missing out on their paycheck because of me not contributing to that passed basket), or those who have been offended or somehow hurt by something that went wrong as they were members of the LDS church and have thus chosen a different way.
Do you know members of the LDS church? I know there are those who live their faith, those who live it part way, and those who don't really live it at all. I also know that it's hardly fair to judge anyone or anything by just one individual. So, I ask, do you know members of the LDS church who live their religion? If so, what kind of people are they? They may seem odd and different, but when you strip all that away, what feeling do you have about them?
You know, we often hear, "By their fruits, ye shall know them." This refers to followers of Jesus Christ. What kind of "fruits" do the members of the Church, that you know, bring forth for the most part?
I'm not sharing all of this to cram it down your throat. I'm simply urging you not to make judgments only knowing one side of the story. So often it's the outsiders point of view that judgements are made by. I'm just asking you to be careful of that.
You can take the time to read up on it all you want. I mean, seriously, I guess enough people were last night to make it Yahoo's number one, but do you ever stop to ask someone who lives it and loves it? Do all of your opinions come from people who watch from the outside? I don't think you'd do that about anything else, would you? An opinion should be created by looking at all sides, shouldn't it?
So, the things you read and hear about us being intolerant, those things are either written by outsiders (who don't get it) or by those insiders who aren't catching the vision of what being a Christian is all about. There are many ignorant members of the LDS faith; actually, we're all ignorant in one way or another, but aren't all human beings? We're just all at different places in our development. I will openly admit that I am ignorant about so many things. I have areas in life that I haven't experienced yet, and thus, haven't made up my mind about those things yet. This is a big world. There are lots of things to think about and learn from. But, I will also assert, that my bottom-line is this, I want to follow Jesus Christ--religion or no religion. I don't always succeed, but I try. In my mind, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that; on the contrary, there are so many things right with that.
So, as the LDS church seems to be at the forefront of many minds these days, I want to urge those who seek to understand us brainwashed cult followers to seek out good members of the Church. Seek out someone who is truly trying to live the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the LDS faith, and ask them what they think about things. I would also urge you not to condemn us, approach us with an open mind and see if what we say doesn't make a little bit of sense.
Clearly, at some point in my history, actually in many places in my history--my mother (Ruth Hamm), my paternal grandfather (Roscoe Hamm), and my paternal great grandparents (George and Julia Dye) and even one more generation back (Isaac Riddle), had it make sense to them. Thus I am where I am today. I strongly feel that they have allowed me to reap some wonderful benefits in my life that I don't know I would have had if I'd had to find them for myself.
If you've been intimidated to approach an LDS friend and ask questions, don't be afraid. We're open. We know what the world at large thinks of us. It doesn't matter. We're happy to share. We may not know how to verbalize all that's in our hearts, but we'll do the best we can.
If you truly want to have an opinion, don't just read what the outsiders are saying. Seek out the insiders too. I mean, really, what are you afraid of?