I’m deeply touched by Harry Potter. This book series has profoundly affected my life and I have gathered many deep lessons from it.
Near the end of the final novel, Harry Potter is trying to kill his arch-nemesis Voldemort. Voldemort has his soul divided into segments called “horcruxes” which are common objects infused with magic and within which a portion of the soul has been placed to protect him from death. Harry has succeeded in destroying all of the horcruxes when,to his dismay, he discovers that indeed HE himself is the final horcrux, and he has to die in order for Voldemort to die.
Harry bravely faces his doom and is killed by Voldemort.
The next thing Harry experiences is a kind of middle-ground type afterlife. He finds himself in a white train station. He finds his old headmaster Dumbledoor there who says the following words to him:
“Harry, you wonderful boy, you brave, brave man”
It’s not easy to question fundamentals
The strange thing about questioning your own faith is that by extension you are questioning anyone else who’s had similar experience to you. When I question myself I am, by extension, questioning fifteen million Mormon’s faith (and of course all of the dead ones). Surely this is not my intention; but it is the repercussion. That’s just the way polarisation works.
That’s why it’s so much easier to question it with a neutral party who’s not invested in it being true. Then if you discover it false or true, they aren’t really bothered either way.
One of the hardest parts of questioning faith is the social pressure to remain as you are. It’s curious that if one questioned something like “Am I really interested in Astronomy?” that other people who are invested into astronomy wouldn’t have an issue with that. It is the strange, highly polar nature of religiosity.
Questioning rarely gets praised
It seems ironic that it is sincere questions of fundamentals that lead to our faith existing in the first place, yet we fear doing that again. We hope that all stopped with Joseph.
I am comforted by the story of Joseph Smith, who himself under social pressure was strong and independent in his questioning. He was a true pioneer of thought and religiosity, and eventually died for that process.
Recently I have chatted with some old mission friends who’ve fallen away from the church. Here’s a quote from one of them:
“I wrote a letter to my parents in which I gave them some reasons why I don’t believe any more. My mother responded by saying I couldn’t have caused her more hurt than I did with that letter. She told me I was tearing down that which was most sacred to her. I’ve had some pretty tough discussions with my parents. They’ve talked about how I’m raising my son to be a heathen.”
Regardless of the outcome of my journey I am glad that I questioned fundamentals. I have always been an independently thinking child. I think we should teach people how to think, not what to think. If, one day, my children decide to question their faith, I would be encouraging. If the truth really is the truth, then no-one should have any issues with sincere questioning, especially considering it is the at the very root of our faith — Joseph asked “which church is true?”.
“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
– President J. Reuben Clark –
Not all people who question are being rebellious. Not all people who question are failing to be child like. We question because we want the truth and are not afraid to ask hard, soul-wrenching questions to find it. We are humble enough to discover that we are totally wrong.
To all those who question with sincere and non-rebellious hearts: “You wonderful boy, you brave, brave man”.