How the Bloggernacle Apparently Watches General Conference

Imagine a general conference that hypothetically includes a discussion between the general authorities delivering the addresses, and “the bloggernacle”  as an entity hearing them.

GA: Church members should be loyal to the church.
B: Absolutely. Church members should definitely focus on minor doubts that are only tangential to the major tenets of faith and discipleship, and use them to publicly undermine the church.

GA: What? No, that’s not at all what we said. Church members should be visibly loyal to the church, striving to be part of the mainstream body of belief and service.
B: Yes! Finally, someone came out and said it. Church members need to be encouraged in striking out on their own and forging their own path to salvation, whatever that means for them.

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Getting and Staying on the Church Train

From a wonderful October 1992 General Conference talk by Elder Glenn L. Pace, an illustration of the point I’m trying to make in today’s posts above:

It is as if we are passengers on the train of the Church, which has been moving forward gradually and methodically. Sometimes we have looked out the window and thought, “That looks kind of fun out there. This train is so restrictive.” So we have jumped off and gone and played in the woods for a while. Sooner or later we find it isn’t as much fun as Lucifer makes it appear or we get critically injured, so we work our way back to the tracks and see the train ahead. With a determined sprint we catch up to it, breathlessly wipe the perspiration from our forehead, and thank the Lord for repentance.

While on the train we can see the world and some of our own members outside laughing and having a great time. They taunt us and coax us to get off. Some throw logs and rocks on the tracks to try and derail it. Other members run alongside the tracks, and while they may never go play in the woods, they just can’t seem to get on the train. Others try to run ahead and too often take the wrong turn.

I would propose that the luxury of getting on and off the train as we please is fading. The speed of the train is increasing. The woods are getting much too dangerous, and the fog and darkness are moving in.

Although our detractors might as well “stretch forth [their] puny arm[s] to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream” (D&C 121:33) as try to derail this train, they are occasionally successful in coaxing individuals off. With all the prophecies we have seen fulfilled, what great event are we awaiting prior to saying, “Count me in”? What more do we need to see or experience before we get on the train and stay on it until we reach our destination? It is time for a spiritual revival. It is time to dig down deep within ourselves and rekindle our own light.

Politically Unprepared Mormon Virgins

The LDS Church has made another statement about illegal immigration, emphasizing their disapproval of “mass expulsion,” among other things.  I saw a news story yesterday about it and how, apparently, Church headquarters is being inundated by calls from conservative church members who are outraged by what they see as a betrayal of their principles. 

I won’t rehash what I’ve said about this before, but here’s a scripture-based illustration of my point:

In my neck of the woods, our Sunday School lesson next week will be about Jesus’s parable of the ten virgins.  In this story, ten women were going to meet their bridegroom.  Five had prepared, and five hadn’t.  When the surprise announcement was made that the hour for the wedding was at hand, the prepared five got to go in, but the other five were left with no groom but regret. 

The interpretation of this parable for Latter-day Saints has always been pretty standard: it’s meant to teach us about preparing for the Second Coming.  Since all ten women had clearly accepted the invitation to go to the wedding, they all represent members of the Lord’s church.  The sobering warning in the parable is that only about half of us–even half of those who are at least nominally on board with the Church–might be ready for the rewards we want when the final day comes. 

There are plenty of reasons why those five virgins (and many more Latter-day Saints) might be slack in their preparation for the Lord’s return, but in light of the blowback over the Church’s recent political stances, I wonder if some of those virgins might represent good people who let their faith be compromised by being offended by the Church’s positions on gay marriage and illegal immigration.

Display an American Flag on Cinco de Mayo

On May 5, 2010, in California, four high school students were disciplined by their assistant principal.  What did they do wrong?  They wore American flag apparel on Cinco de Mayo.  Some other students were offended and complained, and the young men were told to change their shirts so that racial tensions wouln’t turn violent, the administrator said. 

In interviews with reporters about the incident, at least two students at the school said that they were offended by the shirts because they felt it disrespected their Mexican heritage.  They said Cinco de Mayo was “their” holiday, and that they wouldn’t wear Mexican flags on the Fourth of July.  

Videos of students announcing that American flags are not appropriate in America on Cinco de Mayo are at 1:20 to 1:27 here and 0:55 to 1:10 here

Clearly, their language suggests that these students identify themselves as Mexicans first, and as Americans second, if at all.  That is wrong. Societies have a right to expect loyalty from those living within their nation’s borders.

Therefore, I’m calling on all of us to display the American flag this year on Cinco de Mayo: Thursday, May 5, 2011.

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Book of Moses Commentary Part I: In Praise of Adah and Zillah

[For an introduction to the Book of Moses, please read this.]

Genesis 4:19-24 tells the story of Lamech, who had “slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.”  Other Bible translations I looked at word this declaration to say that Lamech killed the young man because the young man had inflicted an injury on Lamech.  A footnote in the NIV Study Bible explains these verses as a cautionary tale about revenge. 

But where Genesis moves on to another story in the next verse, the Book of Moses continues further.  And that’s where his wives Adah and Zillah shine.

Moses 5:49-59 adds material that says that Lamech killed the young man (named Irad, this text tells us) because the young man had learned the secret oaths that Satan had taught Cain, and which Lamech had also learned, but Irad had exposed those oaths, spreading them to the general public. 

But that’s not my focus here.  What impresses me most about this story is the reaction of Lamech’s wives to his confession to them of his infernal conspiring and homicidal treachery.  Continue reading

Loyalty Despite Perceived Conflict: Avoiding Cognitive Dissonance

Utah newspapers have been reporting that the LDS Church is subtly campaigning for a “more compassionate” stance towards illegal immigrants (for example, http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695253342,00.html).  Now, this could present a problem for me as I am strongly opposed to illegal immigration.  My understanding of the legal, social, and economic issues involved convinces me that it is a harmful trend. 

If I perceive that the Church is doing something that contradicts my own opinions, I could suffer cognitive dissonance: the mental stress caused by diametrically opposed ideas coexisting in a mind.  What should I do?  Easy.  If there’s a conflict between the Church and my political principles, the Church wins.  I’m wrong and I need to change.

Why are my researched and reasoned views of this issue automatically moot?  Go back to the basics of belief: the Church is true.  The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and that means the Church is directed by living prophets today.  And if those prophets say to embrace illegals, then I’ll drive down to the border and pick up a few myself.

The word of the Church is the word of the Lord: “whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). 

Besides, I admit I’ve privately wondered how some good liberal Church members must deal with having some of their political positions refuted by doctrine.  If it’s time for this conservative to eat crow in order to keep his priorities straight, so be it.

Rejecting a Church that we know to be true, because of any personal issue: that’s the real cognitive dissonance.