The PBS Newshour is running a series of columns on faith this week. The following is an excerpt of the conversion story of Cort McMurray, a member of the LDS Church and current seminary teacher living in Houston.
He tells of his family converting to the Church during his childhood and his participation in, but skepticism toward a church that he didn’t choose. Until it slowly and surely chose him.
When you’re a teenager, you go [to church] because there are girls and cookouts and basketball on Wednesday nights, the social connections far more important than principles or doctrines. Soon, social connections aren’t enough. There are other organizations, other girls, other places to play basketball, easier places, places that don’t require any of Mormonism’s heavy lifting. You either slip away, or you find a reason to stay. You find your faith.
That is what happened to me. I cannot explain it. It took time. It took solitude and prayer, and what came was subtle, almost imperceptible. There was no flood of extraterrestrial light, no supernatural manifestation, no celestial extravaganza exploding like fireworks across my brain. There was stillness, and peace. Doubt didn’t disappear, not completely, but as Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz writes, along with the doubt there was also “right beside me, close enough to touch them, definite, indisputable things.” I have spent the better part of my life collecting slivers of surety, seeking God, and finding him in whispers and in shadows, in the kindness of loved ones and the courage of strangers, in the warm reassurance that comes when, like the Apostle Peter, I swallow my fear, my lingering doubt, and say, “I know.”
This is not an easy thing for others to accept. Faith is a little like potato salad, or Thanksgiving dressing: everyone has a favorite recipe; everyone is convinced that their recipe is the only way to do it properly; and everyone is horrified by the absolute mess everybody else makes of it. Some of my siblings have drifted away from Mormonism. My mother’s family remains, with few exceptions, staunchly Roman Catholic, and looks at our four-decade foray into Mormonism with some degree of bemusement. Even my wife, who traces her ancestry back to the earliest days of Mormonism and is a card-carrying member of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (think Daughters of the American Revolution, with oxcarts and calico instead of petticoats and powdered wigs) has a family tree peppered with the “fallen away.” Mormonism isn’t to everyone’s taste.
Faith is not threatened by other recipes. Faith understands that you can’t force feed your spiritual experiences to others, and they can’t force feed you: real faith, lasting faith, isn’t threatened by differing voices. Real faith is respectful. Real faith is tolerant. And real faith is unafraid to embrace all that brings light and truth and love to a tired and careworn world.
To read the entire article on PBSNewshour, click here.