HTML clipboard When I was thirty-two years old, my hard work began to pay off. Chief Operating Officer of a start-up software company, a brand new 5,000 square foot dream house nestled in Utah’s Wasatch mountain range; these were my rewards. Working full time, while helping to raise four children and completing two college degrees was tough, but worth the sacrifice. At least that’s what I would tell myself when my kids hugged and kissed me goodbye at the airport terminal each week. “Daddy has to go to work sweetie,” I remember telling my three-year-old daughter, as tears rolled down her face. “I will see you again in a few days and then we can play. I promise.”
Strapped in her car seat, she struggled to maintain eye contact with me as my wife pulled away from the curb at the drop-off zone. This scene seemed to occur so often with each of my children that I had become calloused to any emotions. Great at rationalizing, I reasoned that my children were proud of the career that I had built. Business executives have to travel, not only for meetings and trade shows, but also for training seminars. My children understood that travel was a necessary part of a successful career, I remember telling myself.
One weekend my family and I were driving together across town to run errands. As we passed the airport, my daughter yelled out from her car seat, “Mommy! That’s where Daddy works!” Suddenly it hit me. My little girl’s love is unconditional. Whether I am a high flying executive or someone who works at the airport, it makes no difference to her. What matters is that I love and spend time with her. It is a simple concept, but a major change in perspective.
We lived in a predominantly Mormon community near Brigham Young University, where the topic of religion was discussed daily. As the only non-Mormon family in the area, the neighbors seemed eager to meet the outsiders. Before we moved in, our real estate agent informed everyone at the local Ward that we were from Washington DC and that I worked as a consultant for NASA. News travels fast in a Latter Day Saint community. By the time we moved in, it was rumored that I was a Mormon Bishop and a former astronaut! Everyone and everything in Utah is somehow tied to the LDS Church. It’s quite an amazing culture in many ways. If you are Mormon, living in Salt Lake City is like being Catholic and living in the Vatican, or being Jewish and living in Jerusalem. It doesn’t get any better. However, if you are non-Mormon, the pressure to convert is endless, and for many, exhausting. I didn’t mind it though. Actually, I welcomed the debate. I remember thinking that if I could convince just one Mormon to question their beliefs, then I would have succeeded in liberating a mind. Of course I felt this way about all religions, not just Mormonism.
With this challenge, I began to study the Bible, searching for ammunition. For nearly a year I discussed religion during the day and studied the Bible and other religious texts at night. This was not the first time I had read the Bible. In the past I had skimmed through various passages looking for flawed logic, or possibly contradictions. Since Mormons believe the Book of Mormon is inspired scripture which complements the Bible, I decided that my best strategy was to uncover contradictions between both doctrines. For the sake of argument, I took the premise that the Bible was in fact true, therefore I made an effort to read and memorize its main points and key messages. It was the first time I had intimately researched and cross-referenced specific Biblical passages. I also found great online resources, such as Ravi Zacharias’ International Ministry. Through the online lectures of Ravi, I was introduced to the world of Apologetics, or the use of logic and reason to answer spiritual questions.
What a great concept, I thought! Ravi’s style of religious inquiry was exactly what I had been looking for. What better ammunition to throw at my Mormon friends than a perfectly constructed intellectual argument?
Contributed by John R. Maculley, Jr.: [email protected] John is a new Christian, having converted from Atheism in February 2005, one week before his 33rd birthday. He has spent his life studying philosophy and searching for truth in cultures throughout the world. He is currently working on his first book, entitled: “Searching for the Source”, which outlines the mental process an Atheist goes through when considering spirituality.
(To access the entire “Truth’s Witness” devotional series, please click here.)