Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mormon-to-Orthodox converts: Josh.

This week I have the pleasure of sharing with you Josh's answers to my interview questions. Josh's conversion story is a very interesting one that took him through various faith traditions. I hope you enjoy what he has to share.

MtO: Where did you grow up? Were you and your family active in the LDS faith? 
How many generations of your family have been LDS?

Josh: Brigham City, Utah... My family has been active LDS since it's inception. My fathers family were with the Smiths and Company back in upstate New York, they were frustrated with the denominationals, being in the epicenter of "the burnt over" region of New York... My mothers side joined with the LDS troop in Navoo... I am directly related to Lorenzo Snow (and just about everyone in northern Utah with the last name of -son... Neilson, Anderson, Larson, Christiansen... Our family was one of the 7 families sent by Brigham Young to norther Utah to settle what is now Brigham City.

Did you serve a mission?

I did not serve a mission, but all of my friends and neighbors did. We moved from "behind the Zion Curtain" when I was still in High School, and we relocated to the Oregon Coast where LDS' are a minority.We moved to 4 Square/Lutheran/Baptist country.

Did you marry in an LDS temple?

No, but my parents, grand parents, greats and all the like married/sealed in the temple. I did A LOT of baptisms for the dead in SLC as a teenager, collected the tithe (house to house, with a bell) fast'n'testimony, home teaching, and seminary classes while a freshman, but that is my extant of my LDS service.

 Did you leave the LDS faith before or after learning about Orthodox Christianity? If before, have you been an adherent of any other faith traditions along the way? Did you ever consider any of the other so-called apostolic faiths (Roman/ Eastern Catholicism, Oriental Orthodoxy)? If so, why did you ultimately choose Eastern Orthodox Christianity?

I left LDS and went directly into the Occult/New Age. From there I went, seriously, into Rastafarianism. This is where I picked up my Bible for the first time and studied, albeit through the lens of natty dred, I turned vegetarian, made my own clothes, and lived in the woods in an old Hippie Commune. The hippies led me to Zen and then to Penchant Lama Buddhism. From the baobab tree I turned to charismatic holy rollin' snake handlin' Christianity. I mellowed out from that madness when I couldn't lie to myself any longer. Then I was a great proponent of the gospel according to my own liking and bent the scriptures to suit my needs... from there I, and to my shame, went to "2 seed line Christian Identity" and thought I finally found a home. Christian Identity was just sooo subversive I had to be right. Then when I saw that compassion was overlooked because of race, I became disillusioned for good, or so I thought. I met some "liturgical" Christias and started going to an Anglican Church. At the same time I was meeting and talking to 2 Muslim brothers who wooed me strongly in the Zim Zam spring. Islam made a lot of damn sense. The world had it wrong and Muhammad came to set the record straight. But history was my ally and I couldn't stomach the Kabba for long. I started going to an Anglican Seminary and felt a little tug into the clergy, but alas I think I liked the Idea of it more than the reality. I moved and as there was no Anglican church to attend I went to Rome. I went to mass as often as I could (high Latin mass) but ALWAYS felt empty afterwards. Like, what the hell? I had travelled the worlds religions... where are you?

How did you find out about Orthodox Christianity?

I learned about Orthodoxy in seminary, and at first was atracted to the Maronites and Copts.

What are the main factors that drew you to Orthodox Christianity?

What drew me to Orthodoxy first and foremost was the community. When I saw for the first time families sitting on the floor during the Gospel Homily, and wives resting their heads on their husbands chest, children cuddling up on the rugs under the candle light, I thought that THIS... THIS is what it's all about, community. Damn the rules and theologies. Finally, Jesus in community, with us. I had come home.

What are the main differences or changes you have seen in your life since becoming an Orthodox Christian?

The main change? I have learned to freaking relax and not worry so much. I have found rest. The liturgy is a deep cleansing breath. I don't have to fret about getting it right all the time.

What is one thing about the Orthodox Christian faith, or your own personal conversion to Orthodoxy, that you would like LDS people to know?

What I would tell my LDS family, frends, and neighbors is never stop wondering. Keep seeking the heart of all things. Truth will find you.

Do you have a favorite saint? If so, why is she/ he your favorite?

I favor John the Forerunner. As an Anglican and RC we shared the same birthday/feast day and as a whole we have been simpatico. I have, and probably will again, say something that will get my head cut off. In Islam John the Baptist is revered, in Christian Identity he is a hallmark of the out cast. I see my Icon of John and it comforts me; it is a deep emotional connection, a yearning almost.

No comments:

Post a Comment