Where Will You Go?
The Twitter hashtag #wherewillyougo recently caught my attention. The tweets were in response to a talk from the October 2016 LDS General Conference by M. Russell Ballard which was entitled To Whom Shall We Go? The talk is directed to those who are “faltering in [their] faith.” Its central question is this:
If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do?
My response to that question is encapsulated perfectly in the picture above.
The Truman Show is about a man who has unknowingly lived his entire life on a TV show. Everything Truman believes about his reality is a lie. When he encounters evidence that his life is a lie, Truman takes a boat to the border of his little world and finds the staircase pictured above. At the top of the stairs is a door that opens to the real world.
As Truman is about to walk through the door, the TV show’s creator tries to get him to stay.
CHRISTOF: Listen to me, Truman. There’s no more truth out there than there is in the world I created for you. The same lies. The same deceit. But in my world, you have nothing to fear. I know you better than you know yourself.
TRUMAN: You never had a camera in my head.
CHRISTOF: You’re afraid. That’s why you can’t leave.
When talking to the members of the church standing at the top of the staircase staring into the doorway, like Christof, Ballard’s tactic is fear. Each question Ballard asks is an attempt to persuade people not to leave by making them afraid.
- “Where will you go to find others who share your belief in personal, loving Heavenly Parents, who teach us how to return to Their eternal presence?” Aren’t you afraid you won’t go to heaven?
- “Where will you go to be taught about a Savior who is your best friend…?” Aren’t you afraid you will miss him?
- “Where will you go to learn more about Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal happiness and peace …?” Aren’t you afraid you won’t find happiness or know peace?
- “Remember, the plan of salvation gives mortal life meaning, purpose, and direction.” Aren’t you afraid your life will be meaningless?
- “Where will you go to find […] men and women who are deeply committed to serving the Lord by serving you and your family?”Aren’t you afraid of losing all your friends?
- “Where will you go to find living prophets and apostles, who are called by God to give you another resource for counsel, understanding, comfort, and inspiration for the challenges of our day?” Aren’t you afraid you won’t have direction or know what to do?
- “Where will you go to find people who live by a prescribed set of values and standards that you share and want to pass along to your children and grandchildren?” Aren’t you afraid your children will turn into lying, stealing, murdering cannibals, or worse … gay?
I don’t know how those questions worked on those who are still Mormon and are “faltering in [their] faith.” I don’t know how those questions would have affected me when I was still a member. I only know how I feel now.
As one who has stood at the top of those stairs, as one who has walked through that door, I can only tell you this: fear is a horrible reason to make any decision.
What’s on the other side of the door? For me, it’s a place where I no longer pretend to know things I do not know, where I follow evidence and facts, where I get to decide the meaning of my life and define its purpose. A place where logic, reason, happiness and love determine my path, where I am free to be an ally. A place where service is born of love, not obligation. A place where I will teach my children right from wrong without fear of hell, where they can learn to think for themselves.
So, where will I go? What will I do? I will walk through that door.
And, “in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.”