I admired your posts, when, I believe, you were well aware of the problems. It wasn't just the Book of Abraham that sent you spiraling. You made some very good arguments as to why one should still remain a faithful Mormon, in spite of the difficulties, problems and challenges. I wish I had access to those posts now. They are gone, but still embedded in my memory, because you were prodding me to think much more about my own opposition.
Then all of a sudden, I see this aggressive Kevin Graham.
Nothing you ever did as a critic, ever inspired me as much as what you did as an apologist.
Ray, there were some arguments I made during the waning phases of my faith that were designed to justify belief despite the evidence. That you were inspired by them only indicates your desire to maintain belief despite the evidence as well. For example I forwarded an argument that the Book of Mormon could be fiction, and still be "true." Others appreciated my position and I was even asked to publish on this theory. But the way I was treated by Bill Hamblin on that issue, for example, made it clear to me that this was not a position that would ever be acceptable. There was simply no room for such neo-orthodoxy in the Church.
I look at so many members who engage in the same kind of mental gymnastics just to maintain status in the Church. Just to give you an example I just returned from Utah after attending my niece's wedding reception. She was sealed in the Salt Lake City temple. Her parents have been members all their lives and they've been living in Utah for more than twenty years after moving from Brazil. While staying at their home, I realized the father, who is "temple worthy," drinks decaffeinated coffee and puts alcohol in the food he cooks.
He rationalizes that the cooking kills the alcohol and that the reason coffee is forbidden in the Church is due to the caffeine. When I, the lowly apostate, tried to explain to him that caffeine has absolutely nothing to do with the word of wisdom, he flipped out on me. He kept saying "for me it is the caffeine." To which I would respond, but "for the Church it is the coffee." He then said "you're like so many members of the Church who take little things and twist them with to be like they want." He was obviously projecting since that is precisely what he was doing.
I dropped the matter after a few minutes because he was becoming enraged and I was supposed to be celebrating my 10th anniversary. The reason he was acting that way was obvious. He didn't want to come to gripes with the fact that he was deceiving himself and the Church for so many years. What I was telling him pissed him off. I wasn't "inspiring" him, even though what I said was 100% accurate.
So you see, it doesn't matter if you feel inspired by what I said because your feelings are driven by your own predetermined desires of what you want to be true. So when I was an apologist trying to justify belief in a false belief system, you liked that because you too were trying to justify your own belief and participation in Mormonism.
But the fact is I was kidding myself the whole time just like others like Darth J. I stopped trying to juggle so many untenable apologetic arguments and gave in to my God-given ability to reason. I don't know why this is hard for you to understand. The fact that you don't like where my path of following the evidence has taken me, is irrelevant. It doesn't make me a bigot just because it pisses you off. Calling me names and bringing up stuff from years ago only reflects poorly on you. I am a much, much better person than I was ten years ago when I was spitting fire trying to justify intellectual belief in Mormonism.
I had two wonderful conversations with Brian Hauglid and David Bokovoy last week and they both understood this perfectly well. They aren't inclined to hold apostasy against the person, unlike people such as you and Dan Peterson, because they understand our position that, if we are wrong, then we have no one else to blame but God since he is the one who gave us a brain and the capacity to reason. They do not fault us for that and you shouldn't either.
If you want to belief Mormonism is in some way "true," then I have absolutely no problem with that. As I told these guys last week, the Church does a wonderful service for some people. But it is also responsible for screwing up others. If people find happiness in the Church, then as far as I am concerned, more power to them. How does that make me a bigot?
As I explained to them, what I feel obligated to do is make sure people who are tinkering with the idea of converting to Mormonism, have a better understanding of what it is they're getting into. As an educator by trade I feel obligated to see that people make informed decisions with their eyes wide open. People like Dan Peterson hide truths from people because he wants them to reach a certain conclusion. That's not me.
People born and raised in the Church, they are the responsibility of their parents. I don't go out and try to convert Mormon kids. Even when they come at be with full force and try to reconvert me back to Mormonism, I never bring up the troubling issues of the Church because I don't want to be responsible for any loss of faith they encounter. Going through that process can be devastating to folks raised in the Church. My wife's brother from Brazil is a bishop, and she kept trying to get me to debate him on things like the Book of Abraham. I refused. This guy clearly knows nothing about even the basics, and I didn't want to make him feel stupid in front of the family. They already worship this guy just because he is a bishop and he is eating up that role while they treat him as if he is so much more "spiritual" than the rest of us. He is always asked to do the prayer, to answer gospel related questions, etc. But I know that there is nothing I could say to him that would make a difference because the Church has become such a huge part of his life and identity. It defines who he is, his purpose in life, etc. Whether it is based on actual truth claims becomes largely beside the point for people like him. They don't want to know the truth just like my wife's uncle didn't want to know the truth about the Word of Wisdom.
At any rate, I hope one day you'll consider the possibility that I'm not quite the monster you and Dan Peterson have constructed from exaggerated or even false inferences. Just because I do not make you feel warm inside when I post my arguments, shouldn't mean I'm a bigot.