The She-Bear

My senior class valedictorian tried to rip me a new one with secular logic when we were discussing a Richard Russo short story ("The Whore's Child"). When my friend saw that his disdain for religion in the context of the story did not impress me (there's a surprise), he resorted to bringing my own religious beliefs into the discussion; a cheap parlor trick that aggravated the she-bear within me. He won't be so lucky to escape with his pride intact next time.

A day or so later, one of my teachers discovered that I'm LDS. She informed me that she was LDS through most of her youth, and she laughed when she heard about my new (and first) calling as first counselor in the laurel presidency. Apparently, she served in her laurel presidency too. She explained to my friends and I that she is currently inactive, does not believe in God, and that her disdain for conformity and the enigma Joseph Smith led her to abort her own testimony.

Then she stared at me for a long time, like she had never seen me before. I finally had to provide a rebuttal to break the awkward silence. I offered a feeble explanation of how the enigmas in the Church's history a.) make it interesting, and I like it that way, and b.) do not influence the truth of the Church as it stands today, and that's the Church I joined.

President Hinckley teaches us that "the subtle reasoning of men, no matter how clever, no matter how plausible it may sound, cannot abridge the declared wisdom of God." I don't think members of the Church are the only ones who know that. If anything, that statement explains why a valedictorian, Russo's professor, and my teacher would feel so threatened by me when "all I did was pray."

I refuse to be intimidated by scholars and historians who will try to strong arm me out of the beliefs I've waited my entire life to find. I will not be bound to the notion that I must have a footnote and a tangible piece of evidence for every religious truth I claim! I would not accept a religion that could because it wouldn't be a religion.

At some point, you have to make peace with the mysticism of life. You cut the magic out of life, the raw beauty of the unknown, and your reasoning becomes a futile mess of nihilistic whining and/or logic without premise and motivation. And surprise; the number of people who aren't content with that is still a majority.

If you adamantly wish to cut religion out of your own life, far be it from me to stop you. But when you try to become the abortionist for others, that is when she-bears like me draw the line.


  1. I find it fascinating how the most anti-religious (in general or toward a specific religion) almost always base their claims on a claim of either illogic or irrationality or imperfection - without being able to look around and realize that describes everyone.

    Paradox, if you are interested, I started a personal blog a few weeks ago. Check it out sometime:

    I intend it for family and friends, so when you read this feel free to delete this comment if you don't want my blog address here.

  2. She-bear,

    You are my hero.

    There's a reason why a person's religion is referred to as their faith. (Don'tja just love the singular their?)

    In this life, if you demand that every spiritual issue be bleached white, starched firm, and ironed wrinkle-free, what you have left is too boring to wear, and after awhile, too shear to clothe you.

    That doesn't mean we abandon reason and accept anything and everything on faith. The things I know for sure allow me to accept certain things that I am less sure of -- even to hold off judgment until more knowledge is gained.

    I like how you put it even better:

    ". . . the enigmas in the Church's history a.) make it interesting, and I like it that way, and b.) do not influence the truth of the Church as it stands today, and that's the Church I joined."

  3. Pardon me commenting again, but I just ran across this:

    In light of your she-bear post, consider this quote from the Ken Jennings interview:

    "I think doubt is an essential part of faith. I don't like the absolute conviction of a lot of religious people, even when it doesn't lead them to blow up buildings or whatever. Mormons like to say "I know . . ." rather than "I believe . . ." when they testify of their faith, and I know they mean well, but the formulation rankles. It sounds complacent. Ah well, you know. That's all sorted out, then.

    "I feel like a livelier, stronger faith is the kind you have to fight for regularly. The man with a sick child in Mark chapter 9 said to Jesus, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." I feel the same way a lot of the time. My faith isn't just the one I happened to be spoon-fed as a child. By this time, it's based on a lot of very real life experiences — times when I feel the principles and organization of my church brought me closer to the divine. But it's a chaotic world out there, and sometimes you have to fight to remember those experiences amid all the other distractions."

  4. Did a bunch of comments get deleted here?

  5. ben - I never delete comments from my blog. Is there something you expected to find here?

  6. I figured it out. You have both a wordpress and a blogspot with mirrored posts. I commented at the other one.

    Here I thought I was losing my mind...


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