Posts by Michael Gonda:

I Lost My Faith

It’s such a simple phrase.

Yet somehow, coming to grips with this reality has been a long, painstaking process.  I ignorantly thought that once I accepted this statement, the hard part would be over.  And yet paradoxically, I have been resisting coming to grips because I knew I would be facing a rough road, probably similar to what Tierza is anticipating in her last blog entry.

When losing your faith becomes reality, as a Mormon, who do you tell?  Of course, my wife is aware of the issue.  And to the extent possible, she can probably accept it even more readily than I.  But admitting this fact to other family and church associates will be a much more difficult task.  And then, as kids grow older, how do you let them in on the awful secret? More

My Tentative Compromise

I have learned through sad experience that conversations online are sometimes incredibly toxic.  If you don’t know what I mean, check out the comments section of any post on The Huffington Post, or the Salt Lake Tribune, or Meridian Magazine.  We have all fallen prey to the sense that online communication somehow allows us to be more rude than we otherwise might be.  Even using my real identity doesn’t seem to solve the problem.  So I usually refrain from even reading the comments, let alone commenting.

But someone suggested I respond to John L’s post, rather than attacking in the comments, and even though I know I am on the wrong side of this dichotomy to begin with, I thought I would take a stab at it.  Usually, as I allow a little time for my thoughts to solidify, I realize that I am not necessarily trying to argue down or discredit someone else’s position, but rather I want to simply present a differing perspective.  I left behind the notion that I have all the answers for everyone a long time ago (if 4 years counts as a long time).  So at the outset, let me give my apologies if I have been too mean-spirited in my tactics with debating online.  I really don’t take myself as seriously as I sometimes make it sound. More

Elder Callister’s Book of Mormon Bomb

Leave it to me to tear apart the easiest talk from last General Conference (GC) to be torn to shreds.  If you haven’t heard/read it, you probably shouldn’t.  Before I start picking Brother Tad apart, let me just say that I listened to a good part of GC, as I have twice a year for so many years.  I used to listen repeatedly to the talks on tape, and then on CD.  I could cite quotes from any talk.  I could tell you the order of seniority of the apostles.  I have still not forgotten many of the wonderful talks by President Hinckley.  I loved GC.

Unfortunately, I have hit a rough patch, very well characterized in the previous blog posts by Eric and Tierza.  Most of the time I feel like I have lost my confidence in the General Authorities.  They seem to be just men with more experience than I, who say cute things to make Mormons feel good about themselves (except for when they are trying to make you feel bad about yourself, to convince you to repent and use the atonement in your life). More

Who is Desensitized?

Every six months at General Conference, we hear about how the world is degenerating into more and more wickedness.  This is evident from the flood of pornography, the words people use, the way they dress and the movies and television programs people watch.  Never mind the fact that important statistics, such as murder levels, abortion rates, as well as things like teen sexual activity, actually show declines.  If people are watching Desperate Housewives, then we must be pretty close to Sodom and Gomorrah.

While I don’t think The Book of Mormon is the greatest musical ever to grace Broadway (although I still have to see the actual play), I have been voraciously devouring the soundtrack over the past few weeks.  I honestly expected that I would be turned off by the level of irreverence and profanity used in the production.  Instead I found that much, if not most of the soundtrack, gave me basically the same exhilarating feeling I may feel listening to the MoTab singing “Come Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing.” More

The Quotes That Haunt Me

I openly confess that I am by nature somewhat of a contrarian.  I like to argue just for sport.  Therefore, in a forum such as Mormon Expression, I feel a very strong pull toward playing the apologist role, since my impression is that the majority of followers of ME are non-believers in the LDS Church.  I realize that this attitude is dangerous, as people will call my motives and sincerity into question.  But I hope what I say here will come across in a sincere way.

At times, I have been accused of lacking integrity because my beliefs in the church are nuanced, and I have not just thrown up my hands and said, “it’s all a lie.”  Yet I still want to be understanding, and try my honest best to have an open dialogue with those who do not share my beliefs, whether Mormon, ex-Mormon, or never-Mormon.  While I have many doubts and questions myself, I find value in maintaining as healthy a relationship as possible with the church of my upbringing.  I have done my best to be honest with my family and leaders, and they still consider me a faithful, temple-recommend-worthy, member of the church. More

I’m Leaving the Church (Glenn Beck Said To…)

Every once in awhile, I come across a link in a totally pro-LDS publication that really blows my mind.  This morning, the stunning article came from none other than Meridian Magazine.  Usually, I get links from people I know from said magazine that talk about supporting traditional marriage, or about Joseph Smith’s great-granddaughter joining the LDS Church.  I read most of whatever comes my way, but I am well aware that Meridian Magazine is probably just as conservative as Sean Hannity or the Ensign on pretty much any matter you can think of.

However, today’s article was by Grant Hardy, and it was about The Book of Mormon and Social Justice.  Other than the fact that it came packaged with various scriptural reference from The Book of Mormon, this thing read like it came from the commentary section of the New York Times, or The Huffington Post. More

Don’t Tempt Me

I spend a lot of time at the library.  I carry around two backpacks everywhere I go full of books.  I eat my lunch at the library.  It is quite a life.  But my days as a master’s student are numbered, thank heaven.

The other day as I was doing research for my thesis, I noticed a sign on one of the library tables that said something to the effect of “Don’t tempt other people to be dishonest.  Avoid leaving your personal items unattended, including laptops, cell phones, and backpacks.”  I don’t really understand the mentality.  Is it my fault something gets stolen because I tempted someone with my possessions? More

Doing My Home Teaching

I have a confession to make.  I am a terrible home teacher.  I have several excuses why  I would love to do my duty, yet don’t.  If I lived in a different stake, maybe my temple recommend would be in jeopardy because of my delinquent attitude.  But even then, I don’t know if I would do it.

But I have on good authority that there are a number of apostates who often find themselves reading this blog, so I want to give you a home teaching message, and hopefully get my responsibility taken care of for the month of March.  Maybe it will help you get your act together and follow the prophet better.  Ready? More

Who Wants To Be A God?

Mormonism prides itself on its simplicity – that the gospel can be understood even by a small child, and that the gospel is the same wherever you go.  It gleefully points out how obvious the truths are that we believe and balks at the fact that the rest of the world just doesn’t get it because of their pride and knowledge.

But the truth is, often when these simple beliefs are held under the microscope of logical cognition, many of them start to shatter into a million pieces.  I think just about anything to do with premortal or postmortal life will usually fall into this category.  Mormons take it for granted that God has a body, that he is our literal father, and that we have a corporeal mother in heaven as well.  We are just a huge celestial family a lot like the families we are a part of here on earth.  Not only do our father and mother want us to return to live forever in never ending happiness, they want us to be gods like them, to create and populate worlds like they do for a living.  It makes perfect sense! More

Bigotry

Today I came across this ugly story about the father of the 5 Browns who was accused (and later pled guilty) of sexually   assaulting his three daughters.  I think all can agree that this type of crime is horrendous and ugly.

In a separate development, there seem to be a lot of people that feel like Mormons are generally bigoted, racist, homophobes.  These accusations have root in the church’s refusal to extend the priesthood to blacks until 1978, as well as the seemingly racist language that exists in the Book of Mormon.  Most recently the Mormon reputation has taken a hit due to its involvement with Proposition 8 in California. More

Do You Feel You Don’t Fit In?

Do you ever look around yourself and feel like no matter what you do, you are not a part of “the group?”  For me sometimes it feels like pretty much the only group I feel like I have ever been a part of is the LDS church.  There are really no other groups that have been a part of my entire life.  While I have maintained my tentative relationship with the church, it seems like I have been symbolically/psychologically jumping ship on a lot of smaller matters.

Naturally, this breaking away from what I consider the core orthodoxy of the church has left me uncomfortable and feeling like I don’t belong in the only real social group I’ve ever really known.  Yet when I look around me, I have trouble finding a direction in which to travel where I will feel more accepted or comfortable. More

Joseph Smith Movie Review, part 2

As promised, I am back to continue my review of Joseph Smith: The  Prophet of the Restoration.  If you didn’t read part 1 then you missed out on some very astute and clever observations.  However, I think between the first and second halves of the movie, the second part is even more blatantly anti-historical-fact than the first.

Let’s begin with the construction of the Kirtland temple.  This is where we arrive at a key scene where Joseph is talking to Brigham Young and telling him that the Lord has great things in store for him.  It is interesting to hear Brigham humbly admitting that he is just an “ordinary man” and Joseph responding that the Lord calls ordinary men and refines them.  I think at this point I would just like to interject a quote that kind of gives the opposite view from the idea that Joseph just considered himself an ordinary man, as he is constantly portrayed in this film. More