13 November 2008

Breaking Point...

I just don't know how to do it anymore... how to stay IN.

How can I continue in this church? I'm beginning to understand more and more why others cut their losses and redefine their concept of happiness. It's coming to that more and more every day for me...

My former friends are being cut one by one. Over and over. They send me emails without thinking, that are like pouring vinegar and salt on my open wounds and I choke with pain, tell them to f*ck off, and thus ends our friendship. Or as mentioned before, they try and defend something they haven't even bothered to study or learn about...

And then this. An email my aunt sent this morning. She doesn't know about me, so I can't be super angry about it, but really...it just makes me dig deeper into myself to try and find the broken pieces and the parts that are dead. Am I past feeling?
"From: Ben Hansen Subject: L.A. Temple

"As additional information for those who missed the news, Mormons have been targeted by the gay community in California as having been the main impetus behind the passing of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in the state. Although the population of the state voted on the passing of the constitutional amendment, I will proudly agree that most of footwork was carried out by us. It's funny that our opposition knows where the credit is due, but that's another topic for another day. In light of the gay community's frustration in the passing of the proposition, our temple came under attack. I was at the Los Angeles Temple assisting in the security efforts and it was quite an experience. Our temple is safe and no damage was done on the grounds. It was a sight I never expected to see. At one point we had let in about 20 police vehicles through the gates because they were afraid their vehicles would be damaged as civilian cars were being vandalized. I removed the Utah plates from my truck just so I could drive through the mess and park blocks away. My roommate and I traveled on foot after we had changed out of our dress shirts and ties so as not to be targeted.

"Two full squads of LAPD in riot gear set up their base inside the temple grounds while SWAT vehicles and hundreds of officers followed the crowds run up Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards. I've heard that the crowd was estimated to be over 2,500. When I arrived, all of the gates were shut and a small group of members had to remain outside the grounds as the direction was to turn away others who had come to assist. After about a half an hour two sister missionaries ran up the drive to the East gate. I would have made more jokes with them, asking them trivia questions to prove they were LDS before opening the gate, but they were obviously nervous and had left on their name tags as they wandered the streets. When the crowd turned back towards the temple from West Hollywood, we opened the gate to those members still outside so they would not be trapped in the crowd. The officers inside the temple grounds made a line on the front lawn by the fence. At one point, with 7 news and police helicopters overhead, the crowd began to climb the fence and it looked like there was going to be a lot of trouble. We had it seemed a good forth of a Polynesian ward there so it could have gotten very interesting very fast.

"With lines of motorcycle cops with sirens wailing up and down the street with the latest outbreak, helicopters continually circling with spotlights cutting through the sky, and the crowd roaring being led my megaphones shouting every synonym they could think of that went along with "evil"...it almost seemed like the very end was at hand. My dad called me every few minutes to give me updates from live news through the Internet because we did not have TVs and the police did not even seem to be informed on the movement of the crowd up and down the streets. I relayed these updates directly to the head of temple security so we could anticipate when to be ready. My friend and I joked about what would happen if we were caught in the middle of the crowd rushing up the lawn. We decided that because we were still single without much luck in finding wives, it might be to our advantage to go without a fight and die as a martyrs. If I remember correctly, that's a free ticket to the Celestial kingdom and I'm sure there's plenty of girls there to chose from without the dramas of dating.

"While I was there, I was not aware of anyone actually breaching the fence, but we were asked to move far across the parking lot as they were anticipating the need to shoot tear gas canisters. I never thought I would see the day when police officers would sit perched on the spire of our temple as lookouts. All of this happened at about 7:30 pm. It should be remembered that most likely many of the law enforcement were not in favor of our stance on Proposition 8, but nevertheless, the men and women were there doing their duty and protecting our property. For that we are grateful. And yes, there was an incident with some of our members who had gone to remove the protest signs from the front fence. One of the protesters did initiate physical contact with one of our sisters so the details are uncertain as to whether the response was fully justified. The lesson to be learned is that it's important to anticipate and avoid such confrontational situations. Remember the world is watching our reaction and the media is everywhere. In the end, when we keep our cool, the video footage speaks the truth regarding which side is really intolerant and appears hateful when we simply do not respond or do so in a loving and controlled manner.

"In all the commotion, I had the chance to sit alone by the side of one of the fountains and take in all that was happening. It may seem strange to say, but despite the adrenaline rushing in my blood ready for the next incident or next bit of news from my dad; I felt a tremendous peace. It came over me in a wave as I looked up at the spire topped with Angel Moroni. I can testify that I felt the presence of others protecting the temple tonight..those we could not physically see. I would even go as far to say that I felt the presence of someone personally related to me who was there for my safety. We were not alone. We were protected and our Father in Heaven is mindful of our efforts and willingness to withstand persecution. As I later read a quote from Brigham Young, it made more sense why this did not have to be a fearful experience- exciting yes, in a urgency sense, but very clarifying as we were able to glimpse into things as the really are, truth as is really exists, the adversary's war as it really is raging. I wish everyone of you reading this could have been there just to be reminded as I was how real this war is. The great sadness is that so many of our brothers and sisters are unknowing participants, manipulated and deceived by the grand scheme of it all. The issues may be presented as complex, but the adversary's agenda was as clear as day. Be prepared friends and family, it's bound to get much worse before it gets better, but take council from a prophet:

"'You that have not passed thro’ the trials and persecutions, and drivings with this people from the beginning, but have only read them, or heard some of them related, may think how awful they were to endure, and wonder that the saints survived them at all.—The thought of it makes your heart sink within you, your brain reel, and your body tremble, and you are ready to exclaim, "I could not have endured it." I have been in the heat of it, and never felt better in all my life; I never felt the peace and power of the Almighty more copiously poured upon me than in the keenest part of our trials. They appeared nothing to me.' ( Deseret News Weekly, 24 Aug. 1854, 83). (L. Aldin Porter, ‘"But We Heeded Them Not",’ Ensign, Aug 1998, 6) -Brigham Young

They are doing it.

They are using this as the fuel for their self-righteous fires of indignation. We are being persecuted by the evil ones. We are standing strong against Satan and his forces.

Well, I'm vomiting all over my floor right now, and it's mixed with my tears. And maybe soon, my blood.

This ripping, this tearing, no one can endure it...I must choose a side, but when I did that, I came back to the middle.
"I wish everyone of you reading this could have been there just to be reminded as I was how real this war is."
This is war, remember? Us vs. them. There's no love, no reconciliation, no way to continue without lying and being false. I DON'T SEE HOW.

When I read this, I didn't have any spiritual experience. I didn't feel warm and fuzzy about the souls from the other side protecting the temple from the evil vermin that I know I am.

I felt sick to my stomach. As usual.

I haven't cried this hard for this long in more than a year. Why? Why does the pain and hatred continue? I want to to just be...


1 comment:

Scott said...

You're going to have Sarah worried again. :)

I've read that nice little short story that your aunt sent you. I think it's a nice little piece of fiction that will probably make it into Deseret Book's next compilation of inspirational stories, but I've read enough first-hand accounts from the LA temple protest to know that the author enjoys hyperbole even more than you do. :)

Have you read John Gustav-Wrathall's A Gay Mormon's Testimony from the April 2006 Sunstone magazine? Even if you have, I'd suggest re-reading it. Here's the part that your post made me think of:

"IN AUGUST 1986, in order to survive, I became an exile... leaving the Church was one of the most frightening decisions I have ever made.

"And yet, deep in my heart, where I had been taught since childhood to hear it, the still, small voice of God whispered: “Go with my blessing. I am with you now, and I will be with you always. I have a work for you—and while you are accomplishing it, I will take care of your family, and I will take care of you. So go without fear.” So I went.

"...I never would have dreamed, even for a moment, that that still, small voice could prompt me
to leave the Church. It was a terrible, Abrahamic leap of faith—following the voice of God in doing what I never believed God could command me to do. At the time, my parents told me I must be confused: it must be the voice of Satan. But now, more than ever, I am convinced the Spirit was leading me. And now the same voice has led me back."

John blogs now at Young Stranger. He's not officially a member of the Church--he's married to his longtime partner--but he attends meetings regularly and has a stronger testimony than many of the "stalwart faithful" that I know.

I'm not the Spirit. Listen to the Spirit before you listen to me. But if I had any advice for you it would be: Go. Take your testimony of the Gospel and of the Savior and even of Christ's Church with you, but leave the organization of the church, at least long enough to find some peace. When you're rock-solid-certain that you know who you are and that God loves you and has a place for you--certain enough that you can endure whatever pain you might have to weather--then you can come back, and bring the peace you've found with you, and be happy.

The Gospel is true. The Church, as the Kingdom of God on earth, is true. But the church as an earthly organization is run by men who, though they are good and righteous and hold priesthood keys that entitle them to inspiration and revelation, still lead and govern with their minds and are still susceptible to being mislead by personal biases. And the church as an earthly organization is full of members who, though they are good and try to be righteous, often let their attempts at righteousness turn into self-righteousness and narrow-mindedness.

Get out. Leave the church. Leave the war. Become Switzerland. Become neutral. Find peace. Be happy. Heavenly Father will still love you. The Savior will still be your mediator. The Holy Ghost will still guide you.

Or... ignore everything I've said and do what the Spirit tells you to do. That will bring you more happiness than the most well-intended advice (from me or from anyone else) ever could.