As part of my spiritual rehabilitation, I studied several books about Abraham. Colleen bought a book called 'A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri' by John Gee. She also picked up a copy of 'Abraham in Egypt' by Hugh Nibley. I read both books more or less completely.
In all honesty, Mr. Nibley's book was very difficult to understand. I was very frustrated by the book though because it did nothing to try and prove that the characters on the remaining Joseph Smith Papyri would translate to the book of Abraham. Instead, the entire book was an extensive study purporting to prove that the story laid out in Joseph Smith's book of Abraham follows the life of Abraham, and since it follows the life of Abraham, it must be a true translation of the Papyri. This is Hugh Nibley's argument. Hugh makes some rather extensive arguments toward the point, but it seems far to complex of an argument and leaves out the simple argument that still lingers in my head. If Joseph Smith translated the Papyri, and now we have the Joseph Smith Papyri in our posession, why doesn't the Joseph Smith Papyri read the book of Abraham.
Mr. Gee's book was very straightforward. It presented many of the views of the Papyri, stating that the Church didn't actually officially support any of the views, and that members were free to support whichever view they preferred. His book did little to console me. In fact, it did more to push me farther away because of the puzzling and varied claims.
During this time, I stopped paying tithing. I didn't feel like I wanted to give money to a church that was false. My bishop became concerned with me at that point, and brought me in. He threatened to take my temple recommend away. I should have let him do so. Instead, I caved to his pressure, and the pressure coming from Colleen.
She tried her best to pull through this. From her point of view though, I could see that this would be very difficult to handle. We are taught from birth that mormons marry in the temple, and that they can have a forever family if they do so. To her, I think I was very much threatening her family. I was threatening just about everything.
The more that I tried my spiritual rehabilitation, the less that I could reconcile the teachings, history and doctrine of the church with my own personal reason. I knew that I didn't believe, and that no matter what I tried, I could force my self to believe. The conflict was too much for me, so I began to give up.
I paid tithing again, and agreed to attend church meetings. But even so, I felt like everytime I was at church, I was lying to folks there. I saw neighbors and fellow church goers, but it was difficult to look them in the eyes. It was difficult to build relationships with them anymore because I feel that relationships should be built on trust. Why would I want to build a relationship with any of them when I know too well, that they are thinking that I am something that I'm not. So I began to stop building relationships. I began to withdraw.
I began watching TV again too. I watched a lot. I don't believe in taking drugs to escape my problems, but I think that my TV watching has got to be some sort of Mormon drug. For the time I am watching it, I'm able to relieve my mind from the conflict.
Perhaps I am in total denial, much like folks on drugs... But I believe that I am not. I believe that I know who I am, and what I believe.
It is just so hard to actually come out and totally cut myself off because of the pain that will follow. But it is something that I will have to do very soon, before my bad habits take over, and I forget who I am.
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