September 8, 2006

The Pit and the Pendulum

"Very suddenly there came back to my soul motion and sound -- the tumultuous motion of the heart, and in my ears the sound of its beating. Then a pause in which all is blank. Then again sound, and motion, and touch, a tingling sensation pervading my frame. Then the mere consciousness of existence, without thought, a condition which lasted long. Then, very suddenly, THOUGHT, and shuddering terror, and earnest endeavour to comprehend my true state. Then a strong desire to lapse into insensibility. Then a rushing revival of soul and a successful effort to move."
Edgar Allen Poe
The Pit and the Pendulum

I was told this week by someone close to me that it seems like I've gone from one extreme to another in a very short period of time regarding my thoughts toward the a pendulum swinging. I guess it seems strange to others that I could go from such a "strong testimony" to not believing in such a short period of time.

This may be true. It was early this year that I was adamant in my feeling that I needed to get myself to the temple. I was so certain that this was what I was supposed to be doing. I "knew" that it was right. I convinced my sister to prepare herself if she wanted to go through the temple with me, because I was at the point where I needed to go, with or without her. I believe my words were, "I've never felt more driven than I do right now to go to the temple. I KNOW it's where I'm supposed to go, with every fiber of my being." Of course we always felt like it'd be better if we went through together for the first time, especially since we both had some hesitation over the unknown aspects of the temple experience, and we also had the common bond of being married to non-member men, and being the only active siblings out of 7 in our family. We were each other's support group in the gospel. So she and I prepared and we started the temple prep class. We only made it to one class, back in May or June I think, and then we were so busy and I cancelled a few times because I wasn't in the mood to add yet another meeting to my Sundays....

My point is, I was as righteous as I've ever been, up until the very moment that I found the information on the internet that led me to know that the church is not true. So if that seems like I've gone from one extreme to another....well, of course I have. It makes sense. I don't think one has to be in a non-righteous state of mind to find out truth. It can happen at anytime, to anyone. I am still the same person I was before I knew; I'm still "righteous." The truth I found was shocking and hard to swallow, and it was so big that I couldn't just ignore it and hope it would go away. I'm dealing with it the best I know how.

I talk about the church a lot, and much of what I say is negative. Right now it seems like I can say nothing good about it anymore. I don't necessarily feel like it's ALL bad, but much of what I allowed myself to feel was OK during my time in the church really wasn't, and I can see that now since my perception has changed. Now I'm looking at it objectively for the first time, without the bias that it's true no matter what, and I find many things lacking. Things that always bugged me but I never allowed myself to dwell on have come to the fore, and it seems like they spill out of me with no order or reason. But it's how I feel, and I'm glad I can throw my feelings out here on my blog. Soon I will also post some of my thoughts and memories that are good, as there are probably many things in the church that helped shape me into the person I am today.

I am no longer willing to dedicate my entire life and all my limited spare time to something that is based on falsehoods and one guy's sham. It just doesn't seem like the sensible thing for me to do. I'd rather raise my kids without religion than raise them in the church until they are adults, and thereby risk having them go through this same journey of disillusionment. It hurts. At the same time, I've never felt happier about who I am or where I'm headed.


Mark Osler said...


Almost everyone I know who has depth and richness has gone through something like what you are facing. It's the crucible, but in the end you will come out as something full formed and defined.

La said...

Geez, your words just brought my experience rushing back to me. There was a time when me and my sister (who exited simultaneously) could not shut up about the church. Much to the chagrin of everyone around us.

This is a phase. If you have positive feelings regarding the church at all, they'll become forefront eventually. (ooh this is stirring a blog post in my mind!)

Blogging has been super effective for me to gracefully transition the grieving/mourning stages. I'm glad you're around... You'll see many brighter days ahead, I guarantee it! ;)

Mark Osler said...

Thanks for you post back on my blog--

That is a disturbing photo. One of the really disturbing things about it is that she, in a slightly different context, might be seen as the epitome of beauty in our society-- the gaunt look, the hang of the clothes-- but she is in fact a starving child in the dust bowl.

In class, the point is to show the need for engagement-- to be able to look at the real tragedy in a legal case, and deal with it, instead of averting our eyes and only dealing with the superficialities.

Bull said...

It's funny how as a member you perceive all of the goodness at church as being evidence of its truth. Now I see it as the goodness of the members that survives despite the inherent falseness of the church. I also find that I can find much of that goodness elsewhere without having to swallow the lies.

Mark Osler said...


I think the Mona Lisa piece, which is basically Duchamp defacing a postcard, confused the students a lot, too-- they probably wondered why that was on there.

The idea for the whole thing came from a lecture at the Met by John Paoletti on Robert Rauschenberg. In the course of that lecture he talked about how much that Duchamp image has been used by other artists-- it has been pretty influential in the way artists think about art.

The point being, I though it was just stupid, but it turns out that regardless of my first impression, I needed to know about it to understand about Rauschenberg and others. The broad lesson is about dismissing things as meaningless without considering how others see it.

In class, I called on a student who knew the great pun about the painting. Duchamp wrote "L.H.O.O.Q." at the bottom. In English, of course, it sounds like "look," but if you say the letters in French (taking slang into account) it sounds like "She has a hot ass."

Which, I suppose, made the point about engagement.

Anonymous said...

Take you spare time and do what you want to do with it, and not the dictates of the church. Life is so much better now that I don't worry about what my HT, calling, or some other stupid assignment.

You're on a great journey SML, take control of it and make your own and grow like you have never have before.

Anonymous said...

Damn, I forgot to "preview" my comment.

Just one of many said...

We all struggle are not alone :)

Sister Mary Lisa said...

You are all so very kind. I appreciate your thoughtful words a lot.

Jesus' boy said...

Hi Mary Lisa - my websites on mormonism are the following - - and -

i am shocked to see you believe you are righteous - the bible says there is not 1 righteous no not one - apart from the Lord Jesus Christ we can never be righteous in the sight of Almighty God.


Sister Mary Lisa said...

JB, to clarify: I guess in calling myself "as righteous as I'd ever been" I meant that I was following "God's Plan" as the LDS church teaches it to the letter. I was paying tithing, preparing to go to the temple, attending church weekly, serving in a calling, visiting teaching all my ladies monthly, trying to live the golden rule, repenting of my shortcomings, all of it. I do not consider myself perfect like people believe Jesus is. I'm just stating I was as far into the Mormon religion as I could be when suddenly I was disillusioned to the point of knowing it was no longer true as it claims.

Simeon's Peep Stone said...

SML, No need to defend yourself from this prick trying to push another brand of christianity on you. He's trying to burst your bubble and make you feel like shit just like the morg did. Most of this religious bullshit is the same, just packaged differently.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Simeon, thank you for your kind words and wisdom. It takes a lot more than the words of Jesus' Boy to make me feel like shit. I don't think I was defending myself so much as explaining to him what I meant by righteousness. I'm also under no fear of converting to any other religious mindframe at the present time. It'll be a miracle if I don't end up agnostic or atheistic after this journey!

heathersworldaz said...

I am very suprized at your shock of something you heard about the temple. I am an endowed member (baptized at 16 - inactive for years and came back to the church at 27) My husband is not active but is not anti at all, he supports our family and goes with us. My confussion is what you would even find shocking about the temple. I have looked up others veiws on the internet...anti...and I kind of, well it is just sad. Everything that is thought of as strange, seems to be distorted and taken out of context. It is obvious they were not in a place as far as their beliefs to be in tune to how special and grounding it is to why we are really here. Trust me I have been from on extreem to the other, in the end I can not deny my belief that the lds church is the fullness of truth. Please do not get me wrong, I do not expect everyone to feel the same way as I. Just as I highly look up to my husbands gift of being a spiritual person (without him being converted). I really feel strongly that when a major spiritual milestone is about to happen (as taking out your endowments) every single angle the advisary can take to lead you in a different direction, he will take. I look back, not realizing when it was taking place, before I went through the temple 6 years ago. There were events that pushed the very limits of my beliefs. Even feelings that I had never had - dark - made me really want to give up on life and even my marriage. I kept thinking why, why would you allow this to happen, I am doing whats right arn't I? After taking a leap of faith and even trusting in the experience of others I decided to follow through. I would never have it any other way. That experience allowed me to see first hand the power satan can have in influencing our thoughts and placing stumbling blocks in the road to growth. After I had attended the temple all the doubts, fears, and negativity toward life disapeared. I know that there is a special blessing and protection from making covenants in the temple...and remaining faithful. Everyone is on their own path, but I would definatly go talk to your bishop about your concerns, doubts, and not keep on serving in primary under false pretences. You owe it to yourself to be honest with those around you, you would feel better and your guilt would lift. Even if you find that the gospel is not true for you. Having one foot in and one foot out does not allow you to move foward in any direction. I hope you are able to just let everyone know how you really feel and what you are not seeing as truth. Either way you win. Best wishes for you in finding peace in your heart where ever that lies.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Hi heathersworldaz~

I'm not sure why you feel that I've been shocked about something I heard about the temple. The truth I found that was shocking and hard to swallow has to do with many things:
1. Joseph Smith marrying himself to wives of men he sent out on missions in the early days of the church (while they were still married), as well as 14 year old Helen Mar Kimball (whose family he promised celestial glory if they'd give her to him). He was really sneaky in keeping the other wives from Emma and that smacks of someone actually cheating on his wife. Not impressive to me.
2. Joseph Smith giving the priesthood to a black man, Elijah Abel, who was made a Seventy, but then when Brigham Young became the prophet this was rescinded and he proclaimed that blacks could not receive the priesthood by God's command. Brigham Young was a terrible racist and he also said horrible things about women. See the Journal of Discourses. They finally got the priesthood in 1978.
3. The fact that Joseph Smith used a peepstone inside his hat to "translate" the plates that weren't inside the hat during translation. There are multiple statements made by his scribes at that time who swore this is how he did it sometimes. Why aren't we taught that in church?? Why are there paintings done with him sitting there with the plates out and open in front of JS and his scribes? It NEVER happened that way, yet the church wants you to believe that. Why, unless they had something to hide?
4. The DNA study that was done on the Native Americans that shows over 95% of them originated in Asia, totally different from what the Book of Mormon would testify to.
5. The Word of Wisdom is an issue that can prevent me from attending the temple (if I chose not to follow it) yet Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other apostles and leaders didn't follow it. Why not?

These are only a few of my discoveries that led me to decide that Joseph Smith actually made it up and swindled a lot of good people out of their money and wives. I know that is hard for a true believing Mormon to hear, since I was one too when I first heard it. I was shocked. I am not shocked by the temple, though. I WAS shocked that the church insists that I get written permission from my nonmember husband if I want to attend the temple. I'm not sure why you thought I was shocked about the temple endowment or whatever. I just don't see trying to go to the temple now if I don't believe the church is actually God's true church.

You wrote "You owe it to yourself to be honest with those around you, you would feel better and your guilt would lift." I have no guilt, and I resent that you assume I do. The first time I tried to talk to a friend at church I was immediately sent a letter that I am being influenced by Satan, or that I'm in Satan's grasp. I am not, but I don't care if you think I am or not. I am not deceiving anyone by helping my sisters in primary, not any more than the leaders of our church deceive us by teaching that Joseph Smith was a stellar example of righteousness and virtue.