I wrote this as an excersize for a class I don't remember what the assignment was. I the current version jason is 12 when he goes to HomeWorld, so this would need alot of adaptation for them teaching him at that age. Gloria would be in the room also, and might enter the discussion. If they had several discussions, Jonathan might also participate. THey would talk about HomeWorld colony which they have both visited,
the missionaries would try to talk to Jason as a child first, and be very perplexed at how he spoke as an adult accademically far above their level.
They began with the story of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s first vision; how Joseph Smith, wanting to know which church to join, went to the woods to pray after reading James (list chapter and verse) in the Bible. There Joseph saw God the Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost bore witness. “What do you think, Jason?” asked Elder Hanson, when his companion finished recounting the tale. “I have read the Bible as well as several other ancient religious texts. Fascinating mythologies.” “The Bible is mythology?” Jason nodded “ There are many different interpretations of the Bible. It has been used to justify many terrible things, as well as good things. Books of wisdom can inspire a man like Joseph Smith to seek a spiritual experience. People in many cultures receive such revelations, start new religions or revolutionized old ones on the basis of these experiences. Must have been a very apt vision since the movement he started still thrives. I’m looking forward to learning more about it.” “Good. Do you believe in God, Jason?” “Many cultures believe in powerful supernatural beings which guide or control the natural world and the affairs of humans. Each religious system works within it’s cultural context to explain things which are not otherwise explainable or controlible within the science and technology of that culture. The God of the Bible works well for many.” “So you do believe in God?” “Limiting oneself to a single doctrine is like putting blinders on a horse to prevent it from being distracted by things irrelevant to the path it must travel. For many people that makes it a very practical and respectable choice. Most people do not need to be objective.” “You think believing in God is like wearing blinders? You don’t think you can believe in God and still be objective?”
“As an anthropologist, I must remain objective. I cannot limit myself to any one doctrine. They are each true within their cultural framework. For you, Elder Anderson and Elder Hanson, your God exists and has the powers you attribute to Him. I respect that. I would like to learn more of Him.”
Elder Anderson smiled. “So, you believe that God exists for me but not for you? Do we live in separate worlds? Does every person who has a slightly different doctrine live in a completely different world?”
“No, I suppose not. There are different ways of looking at the same world and different ways to describe it. You say things happen because of God, who is personified, and you pray to him for protection. In D’zeron, for example, Destiny is an eternal unchangeable map of the universe in which time reveals the place of everything. It is not a personified entity. It’s a bit like the Wyrd in old English poetry. You cannot control the will of God any more than a person who lives in D’zeron can control Destiny, But if you obey him you will have a better life and a better afterlife?”
“That’s True, Jason. We don’t control His will for us. He is unchangeable and eternal. Heavenly Father knows what is best for us, so if we keep his commandments, He will bless us.”
“Just as the people of D’zeron know their lives and afterlifes will be good if they follow the limits of destiny, which are defined by their culture. In fact, I suspect the moral codes dictated by the social order of D’zeron bear some resemblance to your “God’s Will.” It doesn’t matter if you call it God or destiny; what matters is that you strive to do what is right according to the doctrines of your own culture.”
“the doctrine of your culture?” The missionaries prayed for wisdom, and for words. So many things in what this young intellectual said could lead to productive discussion, help him receive a testimony and feel the Spirit. Yet there were things that seemed like dangerous word-traps which could tie them up for hours in a pointless argument. Which point should they pursue?
Elder Hanson spoke up “When I say “God exists” You believe that what I say is my expression of something which truly exists. So you believe that God exists, right?
“Yes, in a manor of speaking.” Jason acknowledged “He exists for you”
“God lives and answers my prayers.” He persisted, pleased to see Jason nodding, “You believe God will answer my prayers, right?
Jason met his eyes, replying confidently: “I do not doubt that God will answer your prayers.”
“Then, will He not answer your prayers also?”
Jason considered this. “I would not pray to Him unless I believed in Him and understood His will. It would be dishonest to do so. He could not answer my prayers unless I believed in Him, and prayed to Him. Theretically, if I did, He would answer my prayers, if they were according to His will. The better I understood His will, the better able I would be to pray for things He wanted to give me. I believe that you know Him, and will ask Him for the things He wants to give you”
Elder Anderson stared in amazement. This boy, who looked about 12 though he claimed to be 15, seemed to have a deep understanding of the principle of prayer. yet he didn’t believe in God. What words could reach through the interwoven maze of words he constructed around himself and touch his soul? “If I prayed for you, Jason, and my prayer was in accordance with His will, would God answer my prayer, and bless you with what I asked Him to bless you with?” the words rushed out unbidden, as if he were speaking in tongues.
Jason felt a sudden strange tingling all over and a sort of vertigo, as if some greater power had taken hold of his world and shaken it. He shivered visibly, rubbing his eyes trying to clear his thoughts. The missionary noticed his discomfort
“How are you feeling, Jason?” asked Elder Hanson
Jason shook his head: “I don’t know. Confused I suppose. I’m realizing my thoughts on this subject are not fully formed. I can’t answer your question honestly.”
“Why not?” asked Elder Anderson
“I’m not sure. I know that your God answers your prayers when they are according to His will. But” He paused, he shook his head again, and squinted questioningly at the missionary “why would you pray for me? What would you ask for me? How could you know His will for me? You don’t know me.”
The missionary grinned, feeling sure he had been inspired to ask that strange question. “Let me tell you about our Heavenly Father, and what His will is for all of his children”
Jason quietly nodded consent, and the missionary discussion continued.
They explained the 3 members of the Godhead, pointing out that the strange feeling Jason had earlier when he realized he didn’t fully understand was the Holy Ghost testifying to him. They explained that each person feels it in a different way, just as Jason had said each culture explains the unknown things of the world in a different way.
Jason wanted to protest that there was no way they could know this. I would say ‘how can you know this?’ and he would reply ‘The Spirit tells me it is true. Do you not feel the truth of it also?’ and I could not deny it.” He felt the truth of it. It scared him. Really scared him. He frowned broodingly. Was truth a feeling? Something one couldn’t find in thought, but could feel and know?
“Ok, go on.” he said numbly, confusion and panic rising within him but still wanting to know more. “Tell me what The Heavenly Father wants for his children”
The missionary sensed Jason’s discomfort, though the Spirit was strong and he was sure Jason could feel it. He momentarily felt he shouldn’t continue, but now that Jason had asked exactly the question he had wanted to answer, he couldn’t think of a reason to stop, other than an uneasy feeling, so he forged forward disregarding his doubts.
“Heavenly Father loves us, Jason. He wants us to be happy…” began Elder Anderson.
Tears came to Jason’s eyes, and he wiped them away. He was a scientist, an anthropologist, planning to live and work among LDS people. His first field study and his first time away from his parents and his home. How would he stay objective in an unknown world if their message touched him so profoundly here in his own living room? He had hoped talking to these missionaries would make him less afraid about his field study; help him be familiar with the doctrine which was the basis of their culture.
Suddenly he was terrified. Everything he had taken for granted all his life would be called into question on this field study. Objectivity, the basic tenant of his doctrine, had failed him.
Jason stood abruptly. “Thank you for coming, I’ve heard enough. I need to think about this. I’ll call you tomorrow. Maybe we can talk again another night.”
Surprised and disappointed, the missionary persisted “I’m sorry if we have upset you Jason; can we leave you with a prayer?”
“No!“ his voice was harsh and desperate, slightly panicked, holding back tears. He was barely listening as the Missionaries moved to the door with further apologies, promising to call him the next day.
He shut the door behind them, and immersed himself passionately in a study of early American flint knapping technologies. He kept his thoughts as far away as he possibly could from the Heavenly Father who loved him, and the missionary who wanted to pray for him.
Normally, when something upset Jason, he cried. He faced his feelings openly. He did not fear his fear, his love or his sadness. He owned it all as a part of himself. But this new thing, he feared this. These tears he would not welcome and would not face.
At age 15, there had been one thing Jason Scott-Harris truly held sacred. Objectivity. And he had determined right then, with out a shadow of a doubt, that he would not choose to feel this strange new thing. He would not consider the possibility of a Spirit who spoke to him in tingling and Dizzyness, A Father in Heaven who loved him and sent his only Son to bring him home. When Jason was 15 he shut that door behind those missionaries, locked it, and cast aside the key.