Friday, November 26, 2010

A new and important study of religion in America has, among other things, a good deal to say about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Recently published under the title American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, the sociological study was conducted by scholars Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell and yields valuable insight to the nature and social effects of American religion. Drawing from in-depth new surveys, the study’s authors affirm that in many respects, religion in America exerts a healthy influence upon American society — one that typically promotes generosity, trust, neighborliness, and civic engagement. And while Mormons are a relatively small component of American society, the study data reveals that they play a conspicuous part in American religious life.

Among the study’s findings related to Latter-day Saints are the following:

*Mormons are among the most devout religious groups in the country.
The American Grace study assessed a composite measure of “religiosity” that measured individuals’ levels of religious observance, the strength of their religious convictions about God and their faith, and the degree to which they feel their religion is personally important. As a group, Mormons registered a high level of “religiosity” (American Grace, 23-24).

*Mormons are among those most likely to keep their childhood faith as adults.
In an age of American religion where people often depart from the religion of their upbringing and where switching between religions is becoming more common, the study indicates that individuals raised as Latter-day Saints are among those most likely to keep their faith (137-138).

*Mormons are unusually giving.
Among the study’s larger conclusions is the fact that, in general, religion in America contributes to civic virtue, altruism, and good neighborliness. Study data, meanwhile, indicate that collectively Mormons are among the most charitable of Americans with their means and time, both in religious and nonreligious causes (452).

*Mormons are relatively friendly to other religious groups.
The study also reports that Mormons are among those most friendly toward those of other faiths. Relatively speaking, the United States has not been the scene of deep religious conflicts; it is and has been a place of remarkable religious tolerance and pluralism. Nevertheless, the study’s authors point out that Americans are divided by religion, and hence, American society is susceptible to religious discord. Indeed, American religious (and nonreligious) groups have various feelings about one another. While data suggest that Mormons are among those viewed least positively by many American religious groups, they themselves hold relatively positive views toward members of other faiths, including those outside of Christianity (505-508).

*Mormons are among the most likely to believe that one true religion exists, but also that those outside their faith can attain salvation or reach “heaven.”
The scholars behind the study conclude that while many American religions make claims to being exclusively “true,” few religionists in the United States actually believe that “one true religion” exists. Of all American faiths, Mormons are most likely to affirm that there is a “true” faith (546). However, in what might seem a paradox to those unfamiliar with Mormonism, study data also indicate that while many Mormons believe that there is a “true” religion, Mormons are also the most convinced of any group that those outside their faith — including non-Christians — can “go to heaven” or gain salvation (535-537). While this belief is general among American believers, it is, according to the study, strongest among Latter-day Saints.

Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010).

The Temple is My Solace

"But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come."  ~ Doctrine & Covenants 59:23

"In that spirit I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership. It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of--and carry--a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families.

"Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing" (Ensign, November 1994, p. 8).
~ Howard W. Hunter

A Prophet Said it....very well...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My New Life

It's been almost a year since my last post. 
In this last year I have been closer to my Heavenly Father, I think, than at any other time in my life. 
I have been constantly on my knees in prayer and supplication.
He has guided me to this, my new life.

How desperate is a woman who would leave her home, her family, her friends, her job, her reputation in the community she spent decades grooming?  How miserable must she be?  How much anguish can one person take within her body, mind and soul?

That was my ride each day, to new heights of ignominy, embarrassment and humiliation.  I prayed, "Father, what should I do?" 
Each day he sent the Holy Ghost to strengthen me and lead me, seemingly by the hand, to find even more reasons to be aghast with my husband's behavior(s). 
I needed a kick in the head.  He was giving it to me.  I was naive.  He helped me see the light in the situation. 

Despair, misery and anguish are all emotions perpetrated by the adversary.  These are all sentiments that presented themselves to me in the past year as I discovered my husband's dirty little secrets.  At times, I was all-consumed with these negative feelings.
"What could I have done differently?"  "How could I have changed his actions?" were questions I constantly kept asking myself.  Alas, a person suffering from addictive behaviors deserves the credit himself.

Blame was something I had to take off my plate.  I slowly came to this realization, with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  "Father, I can't do this anymore.  Please help me?!"
Help came in the form of our Savior and Redeemer.  He already went through what I was going through.  He was the antidote to all the shame and bewilderment.

After a priesthood blessing, I realized my decision to get a divorce and move to be near my children, to remove myself from my home, in a state where I lived my whole life, was the right thing to do.  The blessing confirmed it--mightily! 

I have learned that the reason why these incidents happened to me, meaning the finding of secrets, was because "God will not be mocked."  (D&C 63:58)
I feel blameless because I have helped in revealing what was happening that was making a mockery of my God and my whole belief system.

The opposite of despair is hope. The opposite of misery is joy.  The opposite of anguish is contentment. 

These opposites are what faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ brought to me as I now seek my new life. 
I'm away from the abuser, so I have hope in Christ that I will find my way. 
I am joyful because I can now stand on my own two feet and be my own me.  (see Psalm 35:9)
I am content each day as I awaken and realize that it is a new day in my new life and I make of it what I can, with the help of my Heavenly Father, who loves me. 

Now...on to healing.

1 Nephi 1: 1, 3

...therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.