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Former  Member Of Jewish Faith


This Stuff Is Too Brilliant

By Richard Cohen

I grew up Jewish. My family was not observant religiously, in fact, my parents didn't even believe in God. But I did; until the day after my father suddenly died.

I was just turning thirteen, and I stood in my room and angrily said out loud, "There couldn't be a God if he would do this to me: Take away my Dad forever !"

For the next seven years, I struggled on and off with depression, and I was a bitter atheist. During my second year of college, I started feeling that life was essentially meaningless; that it consisted of little more than each day's mundane and boring tasks.

I had a friend who'd taken a course in which they'd speculated about the meaning of life, so I started thinking, "If I could figure out what life is all about, at least I will have done something worthwhile."

I spent months pondering, but the more I thought, the more confused I became. One day my Mom told me that my cousin had joined the Mormon Church. I knew nothing regarding it (other than a picture in my mind of Brigham Young and covered wagons, probably from some 1940's Tyrone Power movie I'd seen on TV as a kid).

A few days later my cousin called, and invited me for dinner for the upcoming Saturday. There, I met some of her Mormon friends, who I liked, and the missionaries.

That Saturday evening my cousin invited me for Sunday brunch (I was becoming popular !). After brunch the group told me they were going to church; "Why don't you come along ?" asked the guy I liked the best.

When I hesitated, he said, "C'mon, you've got nothing better to do !" That being true, I decided to go. I wanted the Truth: I didn't care where I found it, I felt that if it existed anywhere, I'd be able to recognize it.

I began the missionary lessons. Often I would ask very deep questions, and the ward member who sat in on the discussions would urge me to keep it simple. But I knew that if there was even one question the missionaries didn't have an answer for, I'd be out the door immediately.

Every question I asked was answered satisfactorily and usually very satisfyingly, and at the end of the lessons I said to myself, "This stuff is too brilliant for anyone to have made up---it must be true." I was baptized, and thirty-some years later, I've had many experiences of a sacred nature, which have validated my initial belief.





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