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Mormon Discussion: 336: Sacred Experiences and Religious Context

Today I share with the audience my top 6 spiritual experiences that have occurred in my life. In telling these experiences, I recognize there will be voices on both sides who think they know better than me what they mean or how I should interpret them.  But I share them and often give other contextual details into my life as they surrounded these events.  I hope in this episode you might enjoy getting to know me better but that you also sense just how strong spiritual experiences can be and yet once faced with spirituality and where and when it occurs, be able to untangle it from the religious constructs of the system in which you experienced these spiritual moments.


8 thoughts on “Mormon Discussion: 336: Sacred Experiences and Religious Context”

  1. Thanks for finally sharing. While I would call the experiences spiritual, as many people understand that, they seem more emotional. You had experiences of elevated emotion. But I would not call them supernatural in the sense that you had real time in the present concious encounters. How to explain? When I was 16 I was reading the scriptures. For some reason, they leaped out of my hands and hit the wall on the other side of the room, as if I had thrown them. When I got up to get them I was thrust down to the floor. I then saw a mini tornado, for want of a better description, that looked like dense thick black soot (one reason I subsequently years later couldn’t watch Lost). It moved onto my chest and then thrust me to the floor. I fought it. It felt like a strong magnet. It then disappeared and I ran out of the house and headed straight for the chapel because it was the only “safe” place i knew. People brushed it off. Never took drugs or drank. I was awake as day. To top it off, it’s happened a few times since, usually when I’m trying to pray, get closer to God etc. Whatever it is, it seems content when I abandon spiritual principles and am mean and un-christlike, which is my norm. I also experienced an instantaneous healing – in a matter of seconds – after 7 years of chronic pain and fatigue – during a sacrament meeting in which I can only describe as Pentecostal like. Everything glowed bright amber and i felt my body quickening. The healing was so profound i lost weight, from 200 to 160, in two months because I regained so much vitality. Finally I do not think we discount other people’s experiences. Many mormons believe Joan of Arc and Francis of Assissi had real encounters with God. I do.

  2. Why would God wake you up at 3 a.m. just so you could pray for sister Brown? This leaves a lot of unanswered questions in my mind. Why did God need you to pray for her? Could he not heal her or take care of her needs without enough people praying for her well-being? Now if he woke you up at 3 in the morning and you felt impressed to drive to their house and you discovered it was on fire and you were able to wake them up and save them, then there might be something to that, but if all you were required to do was get on your knees and pray for her I’m not sure I understand how that could be considered a spiritual experience. I’m not being critical of you it just opens up all kinds of questions that I have about my own personal experiences.

    If God’s hands are tied unless enough people pray for the benefit of others then how does that explain God being omnipotent?

    TBM’s will explain that as a “tender Mercy” for you. God was just letting you know that he existed in the life of one of your word members.

    What members of the church don’t like to talk about is when they’re spiritual impressions don’t come true. You rarely hear about members talking about blessings of being healed that didn’t come about. Well it just wasn’t God’s will. or the one that I can never wrap my head around “you just didn’t have enough faith”. When I asked them how you know you have enough faith? Or how do you measure faith? I get the reply “well if you have to ask that question then you just don’t know”. I’ve never received a concrete answer as to how much faith is enough faith. If you push the issue than the subject quickly changes.

    I found my keys. Tender Mercy. Proof that God exists. Now the fact that I was the last person who had my keys and I eventually through reasoning determined where they were doesn’t matter. God is great. Children are dying in hospitals around the world, but God loves me because I found my keys.

    Bias confirmation.

  3. Bill – I love what you do and your approach to reason and critical thinking. I admire that you seem to try to keep an open mind and give a voice to both sides. I’m learning to do that myself.

    I have never had experiences like you describe in the church or out. I don’t believe in god magic or miracles in the religious sense. I am curious though now, with everything you have gone through on your faith journey. What do you make of these experiences? Do you hold on to a belief in God because of them?

  4. Thanks for sharing your spiritual experiences. For a long time I have struggled with many church issues. I felt like on one hand, I had spiritual experiences confirming the truth of the church and on the other hand, overwhelming scientific and historical evidence that the church is false. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.
    My wife on the other hand has had no spiritual experiences in the church. She instead has had a great number of “spiritual experiences” – healings, casting out spirits, etc with her clients and none of her experiences have anything to do with religion. In fact many of her Mormon clients will say afterwards “what just happened?” I have had priesthood blessings and they didn’t do any good. I have one session with you and I know this presence is gone. How it that possible?”

  5. Bill, have you read “The Believing Brain” by Michael Shermer? While it didn’t explain all of my spiritual experiences, it did make sense of 90% of them.

  6. In the first experience you had, the vision of your future family, did the vision correctly show you the number of children you would have? Their gender? If so, did you tell these details to your wife or anyone else before your children were born?

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