Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Trust In Man (Part 2)

Author's note: The following post is part of a series dealing with my experiences in the Jeffrey Lundgren cult and what I learned from those experiences. My hope is that my story will teach others the importance of listening to the voice of God within for their answers. Peace. cse

Questioning My Intuition

Working with someone you instictively don't like is hard. Working with someone who intimidates you is even harder. You have to be strong enough to hold your own, all the while maintaining a certain maturity and professionalism. This is what defined my relationship with Jeff Lundgren the first few weeks of my summer job as "historic interpreter" at the Kirtland Temple in beautiful northeastern Ohio. Jeff certainly had an imposing presence. My intuition was throwing out all sorts of warning signals at me about Jeff, and I could feel that Jeff didn't really like me much either.

The church we both attended, The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now called the Community of Christ), was at a crossroads. It was 1985, and the church had just decided to allow women to be called to priesthood responsibilities during its world conference the previous year. This caused a huge rift in the church. The more conservative among us, who usually took a more literal interpretation of scripture, sided with the apostle Paul, who said women should not rule in the churches. The more liberal among us went with the belief that women are very spiritual creatures and not allowing them to serve in priesthood capacities limits us all. Many people were leaving the church over the issue. Jeff was squarely in the conservative camp. I was definitely with the liberals.

While working with Jeff was not exactly easy, I tried to be professional. I did my best to focus on learning what I needed to know about the history of the building and helping out in the visitor center gift shop. I made sure to stay well away from the topic of women in the priesthood when Jeff or his wife Alice were around. Mostly, I worked to keep conversation with Jeff to a minimum. I figured the issue of women in the priesthood was not the only one we disagreed on. Disliking arguments, I tend not to bring up controversial issues. Avoiding Jeff seemed like a good approach to this nineteen-year-old.

Then one day, after working at the Temple for a few weeks, I was alone in the entrance to the visitors center waiting for the next guests who wanted a tour. Jeff walked in from the back. Seeing we were alone, Jeff approached me and said, "I know there is a lot we don't agree on, but I hope this won't keep us from having a good working relationship."

I always considered myself to be open-minded, and his statement touched me--at least the reasoning part of me. While my intuitive vibes were still cautionary, my mind thought, "Maybe I've misjudged him." I decided at that very moment to be a little more open to Jeff and what he had to say. "After all," my mind reasoned. "Anyone who can make that sort of statement can't be all bad."

That was my first mistake.

This story is continued at:

*(For more information on this incident, one of the best books written is Prophet of Death. the Mormon Blood-Atonement Killings by Pete Earley. It's very detailed and uncomfortably graphic, but he did his research well. Earley gets to the heart of why Jeff and his followers acted as they did, without bias. Also, A&E did a segment of their show American Justice on this topic: American Justice: The Cult Murders.)

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