only one true church

There was a Mormon boy in my class this last quarter. I didn't find out until close to the end of the quarter when my teacher mentioned it to me.

On one hand, I was surprised because he had not said anything to me about being Mormon even though I often make references to having be raised Mormon when talking about my work. On the other hand, when I saw him on the first day of class I thought 'that kid looks like a BYU student' so in that sense I wasn't particularly surprised.

After I learned he was Mormon, I approached him one day, curious to talk about it. I said, 'did you know I was raised Mormon?' he said he did. I asked why he had never mentioned having been Mormon to me, and he said something about how it was something I was still dealing with so.... I am not entirely sure what he would have said after the 'so' but I get the jist of what he was saying. I guess I hadn't been as clear as I had thought when discussing my Mormon past to my class that he would think it was something I was still 'going through' rather than something i had gone through.

He then preceded to bare his testimony to me. Which was kind of weird, but also fine and kind of interesting. He spoke about an idea I heard on occasion while still Lds about how there can only be one true church and that it must be either Mormonism or Catholicism. (this comes from something a Catholic Bishop once said to...I think it was a general authority? He said something like: 'You Mormon's don't realize how strong your position is......) Catholicism because it came from the time of Jesus directly, and Mormonism because it claims to be a restoration of what Jesus established.

This is an extremely ethnocentric idea full of many bizarre and false assumptions.

1) Why must there only be one true church? it isn't as if religions are mutually exclusive. I think Mormonism is a good metaphor for how one can see world religions. Mormonism has many prophets, but they all come from the same god teaching the same message.(more or less. I think the differences between what Gordon B Hinckley taught versus what Brigham Young taught are far greater than the differences between the teachings of Jesus and Buddha.) Just like how an Lds person need not only recognize one of their prophets and discard all the others, one doesn't need to only recognize one religious founder(and thus the religion they founded) and discard the others, because they message is the same.

2) Even if there were true that there were only one true church, there is no reason to assume it must be Christian.

3) Even if there could only be one true church, and even if it had to be Christian, Catholicism isn't the only church with lines to the time of Jesus, nor is Mormonism the only church which claims to be a restoration of Jesus' original Church.
There is the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Western Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church etc. etc. etc. All these religions have ties back to the time of Christ equally as valid as the Catholic church's. And the amount of Church's which claim to be a restoration of what Christ originally established number in, if not the hundreds then the thousands. In the United States alone there are several hundred.

I didn't mention any of this to my fellow student at the time. I didn't really care to get into it at that moment and sometimes when people seem so eager and sincere in saying something it is hard to have the heart to explain why what they are saying is dumb.


ROXY MARJ said...

chris. a few things.
1. DUDE... you write A LOT!!! Are you an english major? 2. Why do you live in Utah? 3. What school was/is that you had this conversation with your classmate? 4. religion is so interesting. :)
have a good one!

Vincent said...

The phrase "one true church" is like a portal into a world of shadows and ruins, in which there is nothing but opinionated falsity. You wouldn't want to go there.

Unless of course you, as speaker or listener, are a member of the One True Church, in which case it is clear, shining, unambiguous, relevant and connected to reality.

J McO (change later) said...

Mr. Allman/Almond/Pompeii,

Hi. I'm a friend of Marissa's. I've been reading your blog for some time now -- I probably just found the link from hers or Adrienne's. You don't seem like the kind of person who'd think it was weird that someone you don't know is a regular reader of your writing, so I make no apologies for that. I will, however, apologize for the fact that this is going to be awfully long.

I wanted to say that I think you have some of the most thoughtful, insightful musings I've come across on the mighty internets. Even to me, an active and believing member of the LDS Church, I find posts like this one interesting (not the kind of "interesting" that people use as a euphemism for "weird", I mean truly interesting) to read and I appreciate your perspective.

I find you to be a person who's at peace with his existence. There's an air of your interest in Eastern philosophy in much of what you write, and it's a very positive thing.

One entry you wrote not long ago got me thinking and, in conjunction with something that happened just before Christmas, contributed to an epiphany that I hope stays with me. You told of how you called the court office while running late due to weather and mentioned that the judge seemed to have much less mercy on the old woman who had no cell phone with which she could've called in late. I agree that the judge probably was a jerk.

So my computer got a virus, I bought an external hard drive, I had a couple HP guys walk me through restoring my system, the first of whom was actually not licensed to try the risky method he recommended and did not call back to finish the process as he'd promised... so it took about four days, 8 hours on the phone and several long, scary spells of oh-no-everything-is-lost before everything was luckily restored.

What I realized was that I found it hard to be kind to others or optimistic about life when I thought my files were lost. Granted, there was a lot of important stuff on my hard drive. I thought, though, of the judge who wasn't understanding of the old woman because of a circumstance she probably couldn't control. I thought about this for hours and ended up realizing that I've not been very consistent with my treatment of people and that circumstance often dictates my mood.

I want to thank you for (unwittingly) contributing to this realization I had and being an example of a person who isn't unkind to people even when indignant/down-on-his-luck/etc. Maybe I'll meet you through Mars/Marissa someday soon.

James McOmber

Chris Almond said...

1)I am not an english major, i just have a lot on my mind, i suppose.

2)I do not live in utah.

3) the school i attend is called 'The Evergreen State College' it is a radical college like yours, The New School. We don't get grades or have majors. we only take one class at a time and it is 16 credits.

Chris Almond said...

hey buddy.

Chris Almond said...

@james McOmber
hi james. i have heard your name mentioned a few times before from marissa while telling stories of events and things and so i asked who you were and she told me.
thank you very much for the kind comment. i was happy i was able to inadvertently help you come to an epiphany. i hope it is able to last. i know it epiphanies can be tricky in their fleetingness. i will add your blog to the list of blogs i follow. i am amazed how different you look,in photos, with your jaw straightened.
i noticed on your list of favorites books you had the hugh nibley bio. i had the author of that as a teacher when i briefly attended Uvsc while in between schools. i really liked him a lot.

ART said...

I thought we all believed that all religions had truth, or is that all religions have a little truth, and we just have all of it...

Vincent said...

We have all the truth. religions merely reflect a little of our truth.