prisonchaplain

Conversion stories that go deeper

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It's a cultural thing.  Church General Authorities always have formal names, almost always with a middle initial.  I think because we have Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith and Joseph F. Smith as prophets, you need to distinguish, and it's become a standard.  So when someone says Thomas Monson, it's a huge cultural red flag that you aren't a card carrying member, and it really can be jarring to the ear.  You gotta have that S, or it just sounds funny. (by the way, there are tons of tell-tale signs like this in Mormondom, but I ain't giving away all our secrets).

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12 hours ago, bytebear said:

... So when someone says Thomas Monson, it's a huge cultural red flag that you aren't a card carrying member...

I always found it funny when he told stories from his childhood where he referred to himself as "Little Tommie Monson".

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On 10/1/2016 at 2:09 PM, prisonchaplain said:

However, to the extent that is comfortable on an internet forum, it would help to hear about the struggles over doctrine, over close ones who are still in the former religions who feel betrayed, etc.

I think such struggles are common to the adjustments having to be made by anyone separating from their former group, and entail various personal  intellectual and emotional dynamics with the social dynamics taking place for that person. An understanding of these might be arrived at through books, classes, seminars, etc. on the subject of psycho-social adjustment.

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I think we can agree that how an individual is referenced says more about the person making the reference than it does the person being referenced.  How a bishop is referred by name often differs greatly from ward members, close friends, family members and spouse.

I tend to believe this also applies to the type of relationship (conversion to) that an individual has to G-d.  I often wonder about individuals that say they have a personal relationship with G-d and insist that all their references (including their personal references) to him be formal?   I grew up with great respect and honor for my earthly Father but seldom did I ever address him with a formal name or title but rather used personal references that reflected our relationship – even in a public formal setting.

My wife quickly adjusted to personal references to my parents – but I never was able to comfortably use personal names and titles with my in-law parents.   There are a number of settings that I experience a similar discomfort with how other address my Father in heaven and my older brother that is the first heir of my heavenly family.  The scripture condemns what it calls a vane reference to G-d – I believe this condemnation includes those that assume a relationship with G-d that has not actually been cultivated and established.

 

The Traveler

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Iggy, I happened to know that when an Apostle's full name is used on the net, they get advised a post or something is written about them.  I was trying to be respectful and limit the notices.

Edited by UtahTexan

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16 minutes ago, UtahTexan said:

Iggy, I happened to know that when an Apostle's full name is used on the net, they get advised a post or something is written about them.  I was trying to be respectful and limit the notices.

Oh wow, I never knew that! If I say "I liked and admired Robert Hales speech at General Conference" on my blog, he'll somehow get that information? 

I am NOT challenging you, just surprised. I think it's cool! 

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4 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

Oh wow, I never knew that! If I say "I liked and admired Robert Hales speech at General Conference" on my blog, he'll somehow get that information? 

I am NOT challenging you, just surprised. I think it's cool! 

Not sure ALL the Apostles do that...but I know some do.  So, since I learned that, I have tried very hard to be respectful and limit the times I mention them.

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10 minutes ago, UtahTexan said:

Not sure ALL the Apostles do that...but I know some do.  

Very cool! I'm certain they are all busy. Do they have a staff to assist them? Again, not an insult to you or them. Just a question. 

Edited by MormonGator

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6 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

Very cool! I'm certain they are all busy. Do they have a staff to assist them? Again, not an insult to you or them. Just a question. 

No clue.  I am not taking your posts as insults.

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On 10/1/2016 at 9:14 PM, Carborendum said:

As an "almost" life-long Mormon, I don't think I'd qualify. 

Even Born In The Covenant members who generally get baptized at the age of 8 will at some point in their later life will have a conversion story, or in Other Words they will experience a Testimony of Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was introduced to the LDS church when I was 9 years old. I didn't get baptized until I was 14. At the age of 18 I left the church because I was shaken to my core by the malicious gossiping of a group of *Righteous* BIC Ladies in the RS. Thirty years later I re-activated myself. The Holy Ghost spoke to me, not only in a 'still soft voice', but also in a shout of "Listen to me will ya" voice, accompanied with a bop on the side of the head.

Nearly five years later, after I had divorced Hubby #1 and married active LDS Hubby #2 and faced with the real possibility that Hubby #2 would pass on from hidden chemical dangers that he had been exposed to - THAT is when my testimony of the Gospel was true. That is when I knew beyond all earthly knowledge that the LDS church was THE church of Jesus Christ. There wasn't a single thing I could do to save my husband. I knew better than to make a plea bargain with God. So I put my everything into the Lord's hands. Yes I was angry - I had just found this man, I loved him nearly as much as I loved the Lord. It was the Lord Himself who guided us together. Now, after only 3.5 months He was going to take him from me???? NOT fair. I don't want this. BUT it is Your will, so give me the strength and the knowledge to accept Your will.

Husband pulled through with LOTS of prayers and the best specialist in the US. That strength I prayed for - I really thought it would be for me to have when Hubby passed away. To 'gird up my loins' with to carry on. Well, it really was so that I would be able to deal with Hubby's weakness from the medical treatments that kept him alive. AND a few months later to have the physical, mental and SPIRITUAL strength to take care of his mother who had Alzheimer's and who was in a very unhealthy situation.

So, just because you get baptized into the LDS church, that does not necessarily mean that you will have a conversion to the faith. Or have a testimony of the truth of the gospel. I have met BIC active to this day members who do not have a testimony or conversion to the church. My second oldest niece is one of them. My heart hurts, my soul mourns her decision to leave the church and to never teach her four children any more about the church. She will not allow them to go to church even though they want to. Even though they don't share her reasons for leaving. The three oldest are teenagers, the youngest was 7 when she and her husband left the church. I pray for the children. Every two weeks I submit their names to the Temple prayer list.

Edited by Iggy

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16 hours ago, UtahTexan said:

Iggy, I happened to know that when an Apostle's full name is used on the net, they get advised a post or something is written about them.  I was trying to be respectful and limit the notices.

Well, since I edited the post, it now will be known that the resident non-LDS MormonHub.com moderator spoke well of an Apostle's conference presentation.  :)

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8 hours ago, Iggy said:

Even Born In The Covenant members who generally get baptized at the age of 8 will at some point in their later life will have a conversion story, or in Other Words they will experience a Testimony of Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'm aware.  But I was deferring to PC's sensibilities (or at least my perception of them) by staying that was probably not his intent.  Some of the statements in the OP seem to point to this interpretation of his intent.

Edited by Guest

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On 10/1/2016 at 1:09 PM, prisonchaplain said:

So, what I would appreciate reading are posts from those who have converted from another faith.  

I grew up Catholic with Episcopalian (like Anglican Episcopalian, Queen's birthday celebrating, Charles I for sainthood, Episcopalian) parents. I had Catholic and Baptist relatives. I did 12 yrs in Catholic school and at one time considered being a nun - as in asking my parents to let me enter a novitiate when I was in high school. Long story short, over time I developed issues with the role of women in the Church and Original Sin. When my son was born, there was no way I could accept that he had Original Sin. So, I looked around for something else. If you know anything about pre-Vatican II Catholics, we were raised to distrust and pretty much dislike Protestantism. I couldn't see myself as a Protestant and entered Reform Judaism because I felt it was a direct connection to Catholicism. I found a congregation with a female rabbi and lived as a secular Jew for years. When my husband died, not one person in the synagogue came to visit me or call me, not even the Rabbi, though I had been converted in that congregation, attended faithfully for years and my son went to Hebrew School for a year. It was easy to drift away from attending, tho I still felt Jewish in my head.

OK, so this sounds really superficial, but fast forward years later and I find myself in Iowa, living close to 'Mormon Trek Blvd.' and the Handcart Park. One summer I decided to learn about Mormons and began reading and visiting the Park. The more I read, the more I found appealing - no Original Sin, respect for women (sending women back east to become doctors, etc.), respect for the family and males (I had a son, after all), no Trinity, and living a clean life. I wanted something that was more than just church on Sunday. I learned about Conference, and, a little fearfully, watched one. I always pictured Protestants as full of fire and brimstone and telling people they were going to hell. I was so surprised to find Conference open and warm and loving. It was a great introduction to the Church. About a week after, missionaries knocked on my door! I just wanted to learn more about Mormons, but those missionaries thought they were giving me lessons. : )  No one is more surprised than I am that I got baptized. You've seen my posts over the years. You can trace my thoughts and struggles with it all here on the site. 

If tomorrow Joseph Smith was proved to be a fake, I'd still want to belong to the Church. I don't think I will ever be a Utah perfect Mormon, but they've trusted me to teach RS and give talks. I have an article on information transfer by lay people in the Church that has been downloaded around 500 times. I want to be a Sister missionary when I retire. I'm very happy with the way things went. even tho I complain here a lot and will probably never be considered a 'sweet spirit.' I'm not a big pray-er, my first thoughts are not to run to the bishop with problems, but I hope I'm Mormon enough.

My mother is fine with all this. She's just happy I'm going to church, she doesn't care which one.

Edited by dahlia

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On 10/7/2016 at 4:21 AM, prisonchaplain said:

Well, since I edited the post, it now will be known that the resident non-LDS MormonHub.com moderator spoke well of an Apostle's conference presentation.  :)

PC I don't read all your posts, but in the many that I do read, you always seem to speak well of whatever it is you are speaking about. 

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On 10/4/2016 at 6:00 PM, bytebear said:

It's a cultural thing.  Church General Authorities always have formal names, almost always with a middle initial.  I think because we have Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith and Joseph F. Smith as prophets, you need to distinguish, and it's become a standard.  So when someone says Thomas Monson, it's a huge cultural red flag that you aren't a card carrying member, and it really can be jarring to the ear.  You gotta have that S, or it just sounds funny. (by the way, there are tons of tell-tale signs like this in Mormondom, but I ain't giving away all our secrets).

I assume one might want to call it cultural; although, if you have read the following statement from "The Unwritten Order of Things" by President Boyd K. Packer, "It bothers me to see on a sacrament meeting program that Liz and Bill and Dave will participate. Ought it not be Elizabeth and William and David? It bothers me more to be asked to sustain Buck or Butch or Chuck to the high council. I just say, Can't we have the full names on that important record? There is a formality, a dignity, that we are losing--and it is at great cost. There is something to what Paul said about doing things "decently and in order. (emphasis added)

"Well, there is so much I want to tell you about the unwritten order of things, but then these are things that you must learn for yourself. If we could only put you in the circumstance where you begin to observe, begin to get that training, then you will know how the Church is to operate and why it operates that way. You will find that it conforms to the principles which are outlined in the scriptures. If you will just "treasure up in your minds continually the words of life," the Lord will bless you and give "you in the very hour" what you should say and what you should do (D&C 84:85). Learn about this great pattern--the teachings that come to us from just watching and participating."

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On 10/2/2016 at 2:41 PM, askandanswer said:

Thanks for this Spamlds its a great post but I dare to disagree with Zil - its too short! You left me hanging. Please finish it off by telling us how the Lord introduced you to the Book of Mormon and the Church and how to received an answer regarding the veracity of Joseph Smith's testimony and of the divinity of the Book of Mormon.

I hope I haven't already used up too much forum space with my previous post, but I'll try to give you a shorter synopsis of the "mechanics" of my conversion.  

I was about to turn 19 and I worked at on the shipping dock of a big factory.  It was my first job out of high school.  As I said earlier, I had drifted away from Christianity and had an interest in eastern religions.  One day I was assigned to work at a different loading dock location with a guy I later found out was LDS.  I didn't know anything about the Mormons and I relished the opportunity to ask some questions.  I thought the answers he had were interesting.  As I mentioned earlier, one of my chief objections to Calvinism specifically and Christianity in general were the notions of predestination, free will, and what happens to people who die without a knowledge of the gospel.  The teachings of the Church about the gospel being preached by Jesus in the spirit world were surprising to me.  It just seemed so fair!  I always figured that God would have a way that would be fair to those who didn't have a shot in this life.

The guy offered me a copy of the Book of Mormon.  I accepted his invitation to read it and he brought be a copy the next day at work.  This was on a Friday.  

At day's end, I was waiting on my ride and I began to peruse the pamphlets that he gave me along with the book.  I read them in this order: Joseph Smith's TestimonyThe Plan of Salvation, and Read the Book of Mormon, It Can Change Your Life.  I remember being strongly impressed at the earnestness of Joseph Smith's account.  It was clear that he wanted to present an extraordinary experience in a sober, direct manner without sensationalizing it.  I reserved judgment because I thought the guy could have just been delusional or something, but I kept an open mind.  I felt that, if he were so, it would become manifest in the stuff he had written.  A was also impressed about the angelic visitations of Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John.  It made the connection about the keys of the kingdom and authority that I had believed to be lacking.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Plan of Salvation.  It was the most reasonable Christian explanation of those topics I had ever read.  I was, up to that time, more Hindu/Buddhist in my thinking, believing in Karma, reincarnation, etc.  I also appreciated the selections from the Book of Mormon in the last pamphlet because it gave me some insight into what I'd be reading about, and it contained the critical reference to Moroni's promise.

Moroni's promise struck me profoundly.  Everyone had previously answered my questions either with just Bible verses (which people interpreted differently) or with a claim that one needed to just believe without question.  The promise of a personal revelation was unprecedented.  NOBODY had the cojones to say that before!  I have to say that I was somewhat astounded by that.  The guy had essentially said that, if you read this and ask if it's true, you can ask God with the expectation that you'll get an answer.  

I took the Book of Mormon home and began to read it.  I read it most of Friday night and most of the day on Saturday.  There were certain things that challenged me.  I think they are placed there by God to dissuade those who are unwilling or too biased to get past them.  The killing of Laban by Nephi bothered me, but I had read enough of the Bible to know that God had ordered Joshua to kill men, women, and children in conquering some cities in the Promised Land.  There was the ingrained prejudice that the Bible could not be "added to," but Nephi's arguments about God adding to his own word made sense to me.  The dark skin thing about the Lamanites was a bit troubling, too.  I was the product of a liberal 1970s education at the time and that was a little worrisome.  Then I considered that a book written thousands of years ago might not share the same views on race that our more "enlightened" times would.  An ancient record that had a more "politically correct" presentation might be even more suspect, I thought.

By Sunday afternoon, I came to realize that I really couldn't find any flaws in what I had read up to that point.  I was near the end of 2nd Nephi or thereabouts.  I realized that, much like Joseph Smith, I was too young and unacquainted with "men and things" to figure it out on my own.  Moroni's promise was still hanging out there so I decided to make the attempt.  I had only really prayed one other time in my life where I felt that I had received an answer.  I mustered up the same degree of sincerity and faith that I had exercised at that time.  I understood that you couldn't be trifling with God.  You can't fake him out or play him.  He knows if you're for real or not.  There's no sense it trying to be insincere about faith.  So when I prayed, it was kind of like KIng Lamoni's prayer: "God, if there is a God, and you're God..."  I resolved that I would accept whatever answer came.  I think that was the key to me getting the answer I did.  I knew that, if this would be true, it would require a commitment.  I would have to do what God directed.  If it was true, I'd have to commit my life's path to that truth.

When I prayed, I didn't immediately feel anything.  I prayed for several minutes and then stopped.  I resolved, "Well, I'll just keep on reading then.  Maybe I'll find out later after I've read more."  Within minutes, a warm glow enveloped me.  I can't really describe it, but I went from not knowing to knowing.  I marveled that there were people holed up in caves in the HImalayas, meditating, trying to find truth and there it was in my hand.  I had found it.  (I had actually thought about going to India to find a guru, but a book I read told me that, when you're ready, the guru comes to you.)  I didn't realize my "guru" would be a 19 year-old Mormon guy.

I have to mention that there was a logical "domino effect" that sort of rewired my understanding.  The answer was that the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph Smith indeed saw God.  That led me to conclude that God indeed did exist and that Jesus Christ was his Son.  That was a big hurdle.  In a moment, with this exciting new information, I had to consciously decide that I would accept Jesus Christ as my Redeemer.  I thought, "Dang, I'm a Christian, now!"  That realization made me determine that I truly had some things to put aside in my life and repent of them.  The the flood included, the need to be baptized, priesthood authority, keys of the kingdom, revelation, apostasy, restoration, and a million more things.  All this seemed to happen in just a fraction of a second.  It was exhilarating!

I went back to work on Monday and around lunch time the guy came and asked me what I thought of the Book of Mormon.  I told him that I though it was true and asked if I had to be baptized or something to follow through.  I could have pushed him off the loading dock with a feather!  He asked how I knew and I tried to explain to him what I had felt.  He responded, "That's the Holy Ghost!"  When he said that, I felt it all over again.  I learned in that moment how the Spirit speaks.  

I had not met a missionary or even been to a Church meeting at that time so he hooked me up with some elders to take the discussions.  I went through all seven discussions in three days.  The next week was the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra.  I gladly went along on the 14-hour trip from Virginia to upstate New York to experience it.  I can't tell you how great it felt to be an unbaptized investigator walking around those Church sites.  Everyone was so friendly and for two days, if felt like the heavens were opened to me.  There was so much I didn't know and new information came pouring in like Niagara Falls.

For example, we'd been on the road about 4 hours, leaving after work on a Friday evening.  I'm in the car devouring, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, by LeGrand Richards.  Somebody said something about the Prophet, and I asked if he meant Joseph Smith.  He said, "No, Spencer W. KImball--the current prophet."  Imagine my excitement to find out in that moment that the Church still had a prophet and 12 apostles leading it!  Then about 10 minutes later, we pass the Washington Temple.  You can imagine how mind-blowing that was and the discussions about baptism for the dead.  The whole weekend was like that.  

I was baptized the next weekend.  It was an amazing experience.  I left for a mission 20 months later.  When I came back from my mission, I had been a full-time missionary longer than I had been a member before my mission!  It was a great experience and I grew a lot in my testimony.  Shortly thereafter, I met my wife-to-be and we married.  Now we've been together 33 years.  We have five kids, and very soon our 10th grandchild will be born.  We've had many adventures and many trials.  I have never regretted my decision to join the Church and I still enjoy teaching the gospel today.  

Edited by spamlds
added a paragraph

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On 10/9/2016 at 0:31 AM, spamlds said:

... I have never regretted my decision to join the Church and I still enjoy teaching the gospel today.  

This is a great story, Spamlds. Where are you in OK?  I lived in Norman for a year. 

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