I love to ponder, learn, share, and discuss.  I love when people challenge my beliefs in a way that stretches me to seek more deeply for understanding and helps me gain a greater vision of the possibilities and the truth.

I have always been this way and I know it is part of why I discovered the gospel of Jesus Christ and joined His Church.  If I did not desire truth and was not willing to change my mind about things, even things I deeply clung to, I would not be a member of the Church and I would not have the life I live today.

So, I appreciate when people share ideas and challenge each others’ understanding.  I think it is so valuable and so important.  I believe it to be necessary to truly become a Zion people.

Yet, there are some dangers that we need to keep in mind and be aware of:

1.  In looking at things intellectually we can sometimes lose the power of the simple, profound truths.

2.  In critically examining our own lives and ideas we can easily stray to criticizing and condemning others.

3.  This can lead to our own brand of self-righteousness.

4.  When we typify members of the Church in our thought and speech we are creating “-ites.”  As we exalt the -ites we identify ourselves with and put down the -ites we consider “others,” we are building walls that separate us from one another and greatly diminish our power to influence each other for good.

I have seen this happen to me.  I come from a very different world than many of my peers here in this Provo/BYU world.  As a convert I have a different culture than the norm deeply ingrained in me.  I treasure the perspective I have because of my variety of experience in culture and crowd.  I am proud of where I come from and who I am–as I would hope we would all feel.

I transferred from UC Berkeley to BYU while I was on my mission.  (I had joined the Church after my first year at Cal. ) Talk about the CULTURE SHOCK of a lifetime.  Even greater than from California to Portugal perhaps because I wasn’t so prepared for the differences.

I will write later about some of my experiences and the struggles I had and still have with the adjustment from regular person to Mormon and Northern California to Utah.  My worlds clashed and it’s still hard to figure out who I really am sometimes.

But what I want to share right now is that I have seen my tendency to judge and criticize a culture that is foreign to me.  I was enchanted by the differences in culture I experienced when I lived in South America and also in Portugal on my mission.  I treasured the people I met for who they were and rejoiced in the variety of God’s children.

Then I came to Utah to go to BYU.  I had the expectations of a convert of only a few years and of a very newly returned missionary.  My idealistic assumptions didn’t take long to come crashing down upon me.  It hurt.  It was disappointing.  It was confusing.  Probably mostly because I just wasn’t prepared for it and it caught me off guard.

I felt alone and different and wondered often who I really was.  In my insecurity and confusion I learned to condemn that which I wasn’t used to.  I handled the disillusionment by judging and criticizing a culture that was different from my own.  I created -ites in my mind and looked somewhat hopelessly to find my own -ites in this new world.

My point for now: Can we find a way to look at ourselves closely and honestly and yet not create -ites and not become self-righteous, even in our disdain for those we consider self-righteous?  Is there a way to humbly approach the truth without mocking each other?

Can we look at things and think carefully and critically and yet not stray from the simple gospel truths that bring joy and are a foundation for all truth?  Can we develop our intellect and yet keep our hearts involved in our search for truth?

Can we be confident in that which we have learned and yet still always feel and know that God knows more and trust Him wholeheartedly, even when we don’t understand?

Can we strive to understand and yet lean not unto our own understanding?

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