How did we get this way? When did it become so important to bypass this life, forget about actually living it, and start worrying about making the next one so spectacular??? This is purely a rhetorical question--most of us could answer it without even having to think about it.
I talked with my dad last night and he mentioned something that really struck me. He said at one point "What concerns me is that one of us IS wrong (referring to the difference in our views on religion), and that person's really screwed." At that moment I was able to see clearly just how scared he was for me.
I can appreciate those types of feelings. I remember worrying myself sick about my kids, wondering if they would ever stray from the path of the gospel. I remember thinking to myself I just needed to work harder to set a good example for them, have regular FHE, attend the temple more often, never lose my temper with them, etc., etc., etc. It was truly terrifying for me because I knew I couldn't be as perfect as my kids needed me to be so that they could get the full grasp of the importance of obedience to the gospel.
I explained to my dad that the way I see it, it isn't so much about one set of beliefs being the only road to anywhere, and that worrying about one of us being screwed is a just waste of the worrier's time. He took it rather gracefully considering he really was worried about me getting a red hot sunburn after this life is over. I told him that I wish he could understand how peaceful and content (barring my frequent episodes of rage over the church using its members) I am with my life as it is.
The church is so effective in creating a strangle hold on its members. Do the leaders realize how they are literally RUINING mothers' and fathers' lives with worry and guilt? The part of me that still has hope in humanity wants to say ,"No. No one would actively do that to another person." But the realistic side of me can only sneer and say, "Of course they know. They know exactly what they're doing. It's about power, money, and greed. There's no misdirected love, no consideration or caring on the part of the leaders for their members."
I remember encountering an old friend that had left the church. At some point he said to me something along the lines of "It doesn't matter what path each individual chooses to find god. They all lead to god." I remember thinking, "What the hell are you thinking? Of course that's not true. Are you blind? Have you forgotten everything you've learned???" That was the TBM me speaking. It was impossible for me to appreciate how true his statement really was. Do I believe in god anymore? Not really, but I can see where any actively chosen path really can lead to happiness. I can appreciate that now. I just hope my dad can get to that point of understanding, too.