A few weeks ago, my Mormon congregation paid our annual visit to the Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles. It’s a tradition I’ve participated in every year since moving to LA; we visit their congregation in the summer, and they come to ours in the fall.
I will admit I was nervous the first time I went. Inglewood, CA is basically the polar opposite of my hometown of Provo, Utah, and I just didn’t know exactly how it would go down. But upon attending that first Sunday, I was struck by how familiar it felt; what seemed foreign at first glance turned out to be a similar atmosphere of love, devotion, and faith.
I am always touched by how welcome I feel at the Baptist Church. Someone gives an opening prayer and thanks God for the friendship between our faiths. Then we take a twenty-minute break to walk around and greet each other. We hug and smile and shake hands, even though we don’t know each other from Adam. It couldn’t be more different from the polite, demure Mormon congregation I have attended my whole life.
Then the music starts. They have a full choir backed by a piano and a guitar and drums. Drums! At church!! Only someone who has grown up with Mormon hymns can understand how exciting that is.
We shout praises and yell Hallelujah, and I feel it in my bones.
For me, attending the Baptist church is a deeply spiritual experience. And this last time it got me thinking.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend about religion. He asked me if I thought God was Mormon. After a moment of thinking about it, I startled myself when I answered no.
I don’t think God is a Mormon; I think God is truth.
I believe you can find God’s truth in myriad places—a Mormon church and a Baptist congregation are just two of them.
The problem is, truth is a tricky subject these days. We have more information available than ever, and yet so many of us still struggle with basic questions about life.
Unfortunately, I don’t think information always equals truth.
There are a lot of voices shouting at us constantly, and it takes a lot of effort to sift through them to get to the truth. Take, for example, something as simple as reading the news. If you want the truth, you have to read the same story from three separate sources — whatever pieces match up are probably somewhere close to the truth. Then we have movies and media, which would have us believe that true love comes in the form of a sparkly vampire who stands over your bed and watches you sleep. And then there are those blasted advertisers—don’t even get me started on them!
We live in a time when everything is sensationalized, and more frustratingly, polarized. I might be alone in this, but I personally detest feeling like the truth is so often obscured. It leaves me frustrated, skeptical, and jaded.
It is precisely for this reason that I like being Mormon; I crave an undiluted source of truth.