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Why I became a Mormon, part 2

Posted by nebula0 on October 17, 2008

When I left off I had agreed to meet with the missionaries, but I had no intention of doing so with the possibility of conversion. It was in the interest of learning alone and I made that clear to the pair of sisters I met with. We probably got together ten times, and went throug hte fourth discussion. For those who don’t know, missionaries go through a series of six discussions with potential converts, the six being reserved for those who have agreed to baptism. It used to be that missionaries would memorize these discussions and try to go through them word for word, but recently they have been allowed to paraphrase things in their own words. While I met with these sisters I started doing studying on my own, starting of course, with the internet. It was there that I met up with the barage of anti Mormon sites as well as apologetic sites such as Fair, FARMS, Mormon Fortress and others. I enjoyed meeting with the sisters but as some point felt there was no more I wished to learn. As I became increasingly exposed to Mormon theology and ritual I felt as though I were in a Twilight Zone episode, it was all so strange and they acted as if it were just as ordinary as their peanut butter.

So, when the sisters were transferred and I was to meet with a pair of elders I staged a grand exit from the scene with a debate. By the time the debate was over I was outnumbered 5 to 1 as we were meeting in the local Institute and there were plenty of instructors and other young Mormons around. I had a great time. I don’t remember what my points were so I can’t evaluate if they were real zingers or not.

That was it for a year. In the meantime, my experiences never left me and I think in large part because I found Mormonism so odd I felt compelled to continue to learn about it. I read through the Book of Mormon as well as re-read the Bible as well as kept up my learning from the internet. I kept thinking about my experience with the sister missionaries and how fun it was to have those meetings to look forward to. I thought about how nice the Mormons seemed. And, I felt that urge to pray harder than ever.

When I came back to the Institute I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing. Part of me was just unbearably curious. I thought about doing a sort of anthropological experiment to really get a sense for what it’s like to be a convert’s shoes. Part of me wanted to sincerely join the community. Either way I walked into the Institute and asked to see a pair of missionaries and as we went through the discussions I decided that I wanted to be baptized. That sense of inner conflict remained with me straight through the baptism.

That inner conflict is extremely common with converts. When potential converts are interviewed and asked why they are involved in a new religious community prior to conversion they almost always respond that they are simply spending time with their new friends. After the conversion they reinterpret their motivations, all along they were actually really interested in the religion. My conflict was such that I kept the baptism quiet from my family though I told my work friends about it- who by the way, though it was odd. They were all of the extreme skeptical type. I was worried about what my parents would think and since I wasn’t even sure why I was doing it exactly I thought it prudent to downplay it until at least I knew what it was all about.

You may all be wondering about my experiences during this time (especially if you are a Mormon). The missionaries taught me to interpret feelings of peace as the spirit and feelings of disquiet as the workings of Lucifer. I didn’t really buy it but I went along with it. During this odd period I felt very compelled and allured by the Mormon religion itself. I thought it was endlessly fascinating. I felt compelled by the seemingly happy Mormon people, though I wasn’t able to really befriend any. But I was afraid to make any real concrete commitments mentally. I was afraid of feeling foolish. Despite my reservations I did feel compelled along by an unknown force.

All this leads up to my baptismal experience which was my first notable spiritual experience in Mormonism (besides those ‘peaceful feelings’ I had reservations as interpreting as the Spirit). That is coming up.


6 Responses to “Why I became a Mormon, part 2”

  1. Geoff J said

    Interesting stuff. I look forward to more of the story.

    Just a quick question: Is your name on the records of the church still or did you ask to have it removed when you decided Mormonism wasn’t right for you after all? (Just curious)

  2. nebula0 said

    Thanks. My name is still on the records.

  3. nebula0 said

    Why do you ask?

  4. Seth R. said

    Expect a porch visit and some slightly over-baked cookies from your home teachers soon.

  5. nebula0 said

    lol. I would be deeply disturbed if someone could figure out my identity that easily.

  6. Chante said

    My partner and I stumbled over here different web address and thought I might as well check things out.
    I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking at
    your web page for a second time.

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