Archive for Apostasy

A Little Background

Posted in ApostateJournal with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2008 by apostatejournal

I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and came home on fire with religious fervor. I couldn’t imagine not filling every waking hour of my life with devotion to God. I loved to teach so after some reflection I decided to become a seminary teacher. I finished all the required courses (as well as the equivalent of a master’s degree in LDS institute studies). I worked five or six hours a night to prepare lessons while student teaching. I believed I had a calling from God to share his gospel as a seminary teacher and so I put everything I had into this work. I had received a revelation telling me that this was the path I was to take in life. I had similar revelations about who to marry, and other important decisions in life and following the voice of God in my mind and heart had never led me astray.

 

My student teaching position was not ideal. My mentor was burned out and unenthusiastic. He offered no help whatsoever to me and went golfing as soon as I began teaching his class. My task was to interest the kids (during the last three weeks of high school) and teach powerful compelling lessons that would both edify and enlighten the students while still passing muster with the person who would be evaluating my teaching skills. This was no simple task. I encountered huge resistance with the students. They were so used to using the class to finish homework or play computer games that the idea of having a serious lesson was anathema to them. I worked tirelessly to make the lessons fun and exciting and it ended up being a good experience. My rating from the students was a little low but my instructor, after hearing the disastrous circumstances of my placement and observing the quality of my lessons agreed to hire me for a year of part time teaching.

 

I was elated; I had never been let down when following a revelation from the Lord. Later that summer however, he called and informed me that they were not going to have as many openings as he thought and I would not get the job he had offered. He said he would like me to student teach again and that he would find me a better placement and he felt certain that I would make a good seminary teacher. He agreed to call me to set me up with another student teaching assignment. I waited… and waited… he never called.

 

I had given everything I had to this quest and I was out of energy. I suppose if I had pursued taken the time to follow up I might have been granted another chance. However, in the back of my mind, I had a suspicion that I had been denied the job because of a conflict with my name. My father had once worked for the LDS church, and had come under suspicion of apostasy. Although he was proved innocent, he was forced out of his employment and it became obvious that he was being blocked from receiving any important callings or ever working for the church again. Deep down, I sensed that my quest for this career had met a roadblock that I would not be able to conquer. It is certainly possible that I was wrong.

 

As I continued working in the field of education and music I slipped into a deep depression. I had struggled most of my life with a powerful anxiety disorder and off and on with depression. I felt my life had lost direction and I struggled to understand how God could have called me as a seminary teacher and promised me success and then have not opened the way. If I had felt that calling continuing I would have done anything to follow that path, even face repeated failures if necessary but the fire of revelation was no longer there. I began to wonder if I was not good enough, if perhaps the Lord had withdrawn his promises to me because of my own lack of strength.

 

This depression and sense of loss of direction grew even as I began to pursue new career and returned to school for a masters degree. I held important and satisfying church callings, sometimes holding up to five callings at once. I told myself that my training in education and seminary teaching was being put to good use regardless of the outcome and tried to be satisfied. However, perhaps due to depression, I felt increasingly isolated and out of touch with god.

 

It is at this point, several years after my seminary experience, that my journey begins by revisiting that event and beginning to question my own understanding of my relationship with God. My sense of separation from God and a growing sense of cynicism bothered me. As part of my Journey I realized that I had a compelling desire to revisit the faith and culture my father had come from. I began an in depth study of Jewish religion and culture.

 

What follows are entries from my personal journals as I made this journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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