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Faith of my Father, part 1

November 21, 2008

My father and I have a good relationship. I guess I don’t want people psychoanalyzing me with crackpot theories. He was in the army, so he was often at work late or overseas (sometimes, he took the entire family too, so we lived in Canada and Korea for a bit, but we never went to cool military locations like Germany). He was still involved, and when he retired, of course my siblings and I spent a lot more time with him. Sure, he sometimes seems cold (it’s kinda depressing when you tell someone about your day and all they say is “So?”), but definitely, I cannot relate to my friends who say they hate their parents. If I had to say my parents were terrible, so-so, or awesome, I’d definitely put them in the awesome category (don’t tell them that!).

Since high school and entering college, I’ve earned more respect for him (but don’t tell him that!) As I’ve matured, he’s shared with me some of the tips and secrets of adulthood (yikes, I’m not an adult! I’m just 18 and away from home for a majority of the year.) We have somewhat similar personalities…we are both frugal, practical, principled (or maybe just stubborn), sociable-but-not-extroverted (although I’m more introverted by far, but at least he can understand, unlike my mother), and good teachers (that’s what others say — not me).

I can’t say, though…that he would be my role model. Even though I recognize that he has great advice on a lot of issues, where we disagree is a wretched axe-wound.

My dad is an unwavering believer. In something. Anything, maybe. I’m not.

My dad isn’t necessarily a standard true blue Mormon. He was a convert to the church, feeling that it was better than all of the many churches and religions he tried growing up (that’s a great Joseph Smith-esque faith promoting story). His family didn’t necessarily take well to the news that he would become one of the Mormons (fortunately, this was at least a couple of years after the 1978 revelation, so perhaps he avoided that bullet?), but this didn’t split the family (we have other issues to attribute to that.)

My dad recognizes that he disagrees with a lot of things about the church. Not to say he’s a New Order Mormon, but he recognizes definitely that the organization and people must sometimes be bypassed to get to the core message.

I guess all of this would be fine, but as I said before, he is an unwavering believer. He has true faith. The way he puts it: there’s just something out there…some power that’s more than coincidence…he calls it God, the priesthood, etc., His is actually a liberal philosophy…he recognizes that as he has read about other religions and great philosophers, he can see that other people than just the saints have accessed this power. So, he doesn’t necessarily believe the church has a “monopoly” on the spirit. (This leads him to also dabble in some things that might be considered heresy; some of my dad’s beliefs are out there.) He’s Mormon, though, because he believes this is one of the closest things to the right path that we have.

Whatever the case is, he is a believer. He has faith, through and through. And what pains me is that this seems to hurt him often, even while he praises his blessings. His trusting nature allows him to have faith in things he should not have faith in. It was very interesting for me to find out that Utah and Mormons in general are apparently very susceptible to scams and Pyramid schemes, because relating that to my father, it makes so much sense. My father does not appear “naive” or necessarily “optimistic,” but he is not a skeptic like I tend to be.

Don’t crucify me. I’m not necessarily saying that the church is a scam or a Pyramid scheme (…should I put a “yet” here?) I’m just saying…isn’t it odd that the same tool of faith and the same mechanism by which we confirm it…can lead to unfortunate decisions? Dad feels a gut feeling…a burning in his bosom…and he pursues. Even things that ought not be pursued. He then evaluates that when his gut feeling was right, that is a sign that the spirit and God are true, but when his gut feeling was wrong (seems like a lot of times, in my opinion), he was just being tested. Or maybe he failed to do what was necessary.

It is scary to think that we are so similar when he has faults like those. But fortunately, I’ve been spared of these deficiences so far.

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From → Dad Talk

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