Let's assume, that for a moment, that the Book of Mormon is historically accurate. One of the most important piece of Latter Day revelations is the story of Lehi's vision. In his vision, Lehi sees several things that are of great importance. An inventory of the most important symbolic representations includes the following:
(1) A tree filled with white fruit, symbolizing the love of God.
(2) A straight and narrow path, leading to salvation.
(3) An iron rod, representing the scriptures and what they command us to do.
(4) A great building, showing the pride of the world.
(5) A dark mist, representing the Adversary.
In his vision, Lehi also sees his family. Some of them are saved; others are not. When I read this story, as I was receiving my lessons from the missionaries, I was touched by the compassion that Lehi had for his sons Laman and Lemuel.
It is intriguing to me how this story from Nephi is used as a means of the Church to insure obedience from the first day. As I recall, the lesson is structured to draw attention to the theme of obedience. If we do not follow the path, we are forever damned. Furthermore, the iron rod is what guides is on the path. It is like a railing for us to grip along the path. If we don't let go of it, we will be led to where we are supposed to be.
Further examination if the vision reveals an important fact about the signs and symbols that are given to us, the "milk before meat," that we are supposed to hear. The tree, the path, the rod...they only symbolize things that are in the real world. The people in the story are the only "real" things that are directly present in the real world.
This is why, as a convert, I left the Church. When I stepped into a ward in Utah, I did not "conform" or align to what was expected as a member of the Church. I hate it when an organization of people has a very high set of ideals, and then members fail to follow through themselves. Everyone is of concern to God and sometimes members for get that. There was a member of our ward who was disabled. He blessed the Sacrament every day, helped set up for our Sunday lessons. He wanted nothing more than to be happy, follow the teachings of the Church, and to be married in the temple and have salvation. One day, I overheard him telling someone of a girl he liked. He had called her and asked her to dinner. She could have said, "Person X, I am not interested in a date with you, but I am willing to be your friend." Instead, he said that she asked him to "never contact him again and to leave her alone."
I resent it when people say that I left because I "got offended." I gave up a lot of relationships and friendships in my life to become a citizen of Zion. This summer, my uncle, one of the familial relationships that I didn't have the time to rekindle, passed away. That is something, that in this life, I cannot get back. When someone disagrees over a political or doctrinal issue, that does not suddenly make them an apostate or assuredly damn them. It just means that they have feelings and that they are reacting based upon what their feelings and experiences tell them to do.
I try to not be bitter about my experience with the Church. There are some immensely good people in it. I would not have applied to graduate school in Utah if I were not a member of the Church. In fact, some of the best people in my life are still members of the Church. It's the people and how we treat one another that are important, not some distant, dogmatic beliefs that may or may not make us worthy to someday stand in the presence of the Father.
I also resent it when people say that I had no real testimony. How would they have enough information to make that knee jerk reaction. I left the Church because I became more educated on what reallyhappened, on hoe the diliberately re-wrote hidtory to their benefit, and final but not least, thier mind controll.
I also am not bitter about anything as far as people go. Mormons are some of the nicest people around. The social clickisness, the "I am better than the others" is so offensive. I still have friends that were my companions on my mission. Thank oodness for email. One of my old companions and his family as well as mine returned to our Catholic Church. I have great friends that are still LDS. But I'll never drive past one without a "burning in the stomach" over the games theu played. No one will ever insult my intelligence like this ever again. They did not even bother to say thank you and leavesome money on the niht stand when they were finished. To the day I die if anyone wants to leave I will sit down right then and there and help them write the letter and even mail it myself.
If we are good to each other, play good in the sandbox of life, respect nd appreciate outr differences, we are more fortunate than most. I say this humbly in the name of Ronald McDonald.
There are definite dominant messages (both overt and covert) of "obey", "follow", and "conform".
The structure and patterns seems corporate in nature; the hand-shaking, the "levels" of heaven, the dress code, sparkling grins, and tell me the general leaders don't look like business executives!
It sort of reminds me of Amway, if you do well, you get promoted to the next level, etc.
The "moral" issues seem more about surface issues (no coffee, tea, bad words) than about actual human well-being.
Not so much attention on the less fortunate in developing countries, as their circumstances are, of course, result of their choice.
Solidarity and social justice are are less of a concern (as Glenn Beck has pointed out; Glenn Beck vs. Social Justice http://abcnews.go.com/WN/glenn-beck-social-justice-christians-rage-... )
They are too busy becoming gods.
I hold solidarity and human dignity as primary values, so I can't, in good conscience, belong to that particular group.