Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I opposed the proposition. I cannot deny twinges of conscience or whisperings of the spirit to me in the matter that led me there. How to reconcile that experience over against the leadership? Truth is a matter of the imagination.

For a considerable period of time I have believed that truth is a matter of the imagination. That idea gained traction when I first read Ursula Le Guin's
novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, wherein the opening sentences of Genly Ai read as follows:

I'LL MAKE my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust. Facts are no more solid, coherent, round, and real than pearls are. But both are sensitive.

A favorite fictional character of mine is Pi Patel, the protagonist of The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Pi openly urges those who listen to his story to choose an interpretation that serves the listener the best. The primary theme of the novel pits imagination over against factuality. Chapter 22 from the book reads as follows:

I can well imagine an atheist's last words: "White, White! L-L-Love! My God!" --- and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, useless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, "Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain," and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.

If the Book of Mormon is, as has been posited, Joseph Smith's expansion of an ancient work which built upon the works of earlier prophets to answer nagging contemporary problems, I do not feel at all constrained to apply some expansion of my own, intended just for me, especially when it comports with my inner feelings of spirit and conscience.

So after reading the official pronouncements of the church, various court cases and opinions, newspapers and magazines, and blogs and webpages galore, and after approaching my God, I selected the version that said no. What's more, my version of the story has me sticking with the culture I know best and among the people I love most, despite the fact that I understand there are other versions out there that do not comport with mine. Some of these are held by others with greater power and position. But in my imagination they are not as good a story as mine is.

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