Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Simplistic, Summary Explanation of the Word of Wisdom

For what it's worth, I view the Word of Wisdom in three ways:

1) Divinely inspired warnings about addictions that would be exploited greatly in the future and prey on the weak - which I think is spot-on.

2) General dietary counsel of the day, which can change over time - just like throughout scripture. (thus a total disregard in the temple recommend interview for consumption of meat now that freezers are nearly omnipresent and protein in available year-round in many parts of the world)

3) A cultural demarcation to "separate from the world".

I really believe the first one was inspired; the second is quite flexible; the third is no big deal for me, especially since I was born in the Church, have lived the Word of Wisdom all my life and see no real benefit from the alternative.

Monday, August 29, 2011

For Those Members Who Feel Like They Are Living in a Secret World

I am a thinker tinkerer - someone who takes things apart mentally to see how they work. My wife doesn't care how something works, as long as it works - so she doesn't spend time and effort trying to see how it's constructed. Each approach works for each of us. I don't try to get her to examine the details, and she puts up with my analytical mind. I find a way to make it work, while she allows it to work as is. Together, we make a really good pair, since we don't expect to approach anything the same way - but both of us are focused on the fact that it works in the end.

I hope that isn't painful for those who are at odds with their spouses. It's just how my wife and I are, but I think the general principle of recognizing that all of us see things a little differently is important. If all members realized that, I think there wouldn't be a need to worry about being treated differently or have "secret worlds" in which we live. We would be much more open with and protective of each other. However, that recognition is not an easy thing - and differences can be scary and insecure; hence, secret worlds.

For what it's worth, although I don't feel like I have the type of secret world I have heard others describe, I certainly don't share all of my opinions and beliefs with everyone - since I know not everyone would be able to accept them. I have certain help I can provide due to my callings over the years, but, in the performance of those callings, I have to be very careful sometimes in order to be accepted as someone who can help. I still correct people when incorrect doctrine is taught or espoused, and I still share thoughts and ideas that definitely are outside the mainstream, but I have to be very, very careful how I do so - simply given the fact that I have not represented myself in many meetings I have attended in my life.

So, in a very real sense, I do have a "secret world". In my case, however, I accept that as an unavoidable aspect of my callings, so my secret world is different than most others.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Gospel Is the Good News: A Reflection on a Tough Month

When I discuss "the Gospel" I always go back to my parsing tendency.

The "gospel" is the "good news".

It is NOT the "beat people over the head like a hellfire and damnation preacher" news. (There are those who need that type of preaching, and I have delivered that type of sermon at least once, but it is not best for everyone.)

It is the "Exercise faith; Repent continually; Be baptized; Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost; repeat ad infinitum as you endure to the end; praise Heavenly Father and Jesus that you will be redeemed despite your inability to live to a standard of perfection that otherwise would damn all to an everlasting separation from God" news.

It is the "Do all you can do, and I will make up the difference" news.


In saying this, I am not in the mercy-only-glorying, cop-out-claiming, confess-alone-and-be-saved, all-is-well-in-Zion camp. I just choose to focus on the fact that I can muddle my way through life doing the best I know how to do, struggling to change my imperfect self, without overwhelming guilt and shame - because someone bought me and paid for me and is willing to take me home.

That means a lot even in the easy months, but it means much, much more in the difficult months - when I need "good news" in a more explicit way.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Words of Normally Quiet Members Often Are the Most Profound

In his wonderful talk, "Concern for the One", Elder Wirthlin said we shouldn't value just the piccolos in our orchestra. Something to consider:

Piccolos are the most easily heard instrument in almost any orchestra, since they are pitched so high. (I view piccolos as mutant flutes - designed specifically to be heard above the other instruments.) So, we shouldn't value only those who are heard the most or the most easily. (e.g., Just because I talk a lot, doesn't mean anything I say is more valuable than something a more quiet, reticent commenter says.)

Many of the most profound things I have heard in church have come from the quiet members whose experiences make what they do share incredibly touching. There are many members from whom I would LOVE to hear more than I do, but when to comment is up to them individually. That's one reason why I enjoy Sacrament Meeting, even with the duds. The format gives me a chance to hear from those who normally don't contribute in an open discussion setting. I generally learn more from them than from an hour long class.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spirituality and Righteousness Are Not Primarily Communal, Church Pursuits

I believe the general ideas of "spirituality" and "character development" are almost indistinguishable. If we accept Jesus not just as Savior and Redeemer but also as the Master Teacher and Perfect Example, and if we envision "godhood" as a "condition" of being like God, then it makes sense to me that the entire purpose of life can be wrapped up in that goal - to become more godlike - to pursue divine character development. Therefore, identifying what that means at the most basic, practical level and pursuing it makes sense to me as the most fundamental mission of mortality.

My moment of epiphany, if you will, came when I realized that this pursuit is very, very different than church activity. I think when we decouple the two and examine each separately, it is MUCH easier to see the true benefit of each - and that is the first step toward embracing each, in my opinion. For example, "spirituality" and "righteousness" are personal pursuits, at the most basic level; church activity, on the other hand, is a communal activity.

Even that distinction alone can remove much of what I believe to be the problem associated for many with church activity - since I think many members expect church activity to be the primary vehicle for personal righteousness and/or spirituality. I just see the purpose for that activity very differently, so I am not disappointed when I am not "spiritually enlightened" in my meetings - even though often I am spiritually enlightened at Church.

I tackle spiritual enlightenment outside of church activity; I attend church for very different reasons.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Reframing" and "Pruning" in the Church: The Priesthood Ban As an Example

I read the final part of Jacob 5 (the allegory of the olive tree) as the pruning of the modern church. That's the only way that it makes sense to me. Therefore, I have no problem accepting that "the bitter fruit" is part of the Restored Church. I don't want it to be there, and I pray it gets pruned out as quickly as is humanly (and divinely) possible, but it is interesting to contemplate that the Lord doesn't do the pruning; rather, his servants (we) do it.

To me, that means that much of the process of eliminating false doctrine and simple, social stupidity depends almost entirely on how ready and willing the membership is to participate in that process. "Servants" can be read narrowly as "prophets and apostles", but it also can be read more expansively as "all who have covenanted to serve" - and, given my upbringing in orchard country, the latter makes more sense to me in the overall context of pruning.

In that light, I am completely in support of "reframing" and "pruning" issues within the Church - on both an individual level AND an institutional level. I just believe the institutional reframing has to move more slowly than the individual reframing, since the institution has to be aware of the possibility of moving too fast collectively and damaging "good branches" that might survive and produce good fruit with slower, more cautious pruning. That "awareness" can be conscious on the part of the leadership, but it also can be an issue with the leadership needing to become more aware of what needs to be pruned.

I see Pres. McKay's unsuccessful efforts to end the Priesthood ban as a sort of preparation to prune (the digging about and dunging) - working tirelessly to get the tree ready for the pruning that Pres. Kimball eventually was able to initiate formally.

In other words, I believe Pres. McKay, especially, started to "reframe" the issue for many of the leading brethren - moving it from being seen as "doctrine" to being accepted as "policy", and then Pres. Kimball took over and finished the reframing. Once it was reframed collectively, the pruning revelation followed immediately.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Simple Prayer Request

It's really intriguing how often my New Year's Resolution for the month has paralleled my actual life.  Actually, it would be more accurate to say that my life has paralleled my resolutions, as I will explain. 

I say it is intriguing, because I choose my monthly New Year's Resolutions at the beginning of the year - meaning most of them are chosen substantially before my life catches up to them and shows me why I was prompted to choose them in the first place.  I would say that each year I have been pursuing this resolution format, there have been at least two months where the resolution is so spot-on for the events of the month that I simply must conclude that my mind was inspired to structure my resolutions for the year in such a way as to be working on those specifics traits at the very time I would need most to be focused on them.

This has been one such month.

"To set my heart less upon the things of the world" has been . . . challenging . . . to say the least.  We probably have had a higher number of unique opportunities to internalize this resolution this month than at any time in the last few years.  In fact, it might not be hyperbole to say that there has been a unique combination of opportunities this month that, in a real way, has been more all-encompassing than perhaps at any other time in our lives - and it's not over yet.

In that vein, I simply want to ask anyone who reads my blog regularly (or anyone else who reads this post) to keep us in your prayers.  We are OK.  In fact, we are more than OK.  We simply need insight and clarity with regard to a few things still. 

We appreciate it greatly. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Want My Effort to Become Christ-Like to Mean Something Real

If I am going to pursue "becoming like God", I want it to mean something vital and empowering.

I want to believe it is a "real" goal, not just a platitude. I'm not 100% certain of much when it comes to the afterlife, but I at least want to believe I really am an actual child capable of becoming like my actual father.

I don't like the warped perfectionism I see in many people (including too many LDS members), but I will take it as the flip side of the wonderful emphasis on godliness that is embedded so openly in Mormon theology. I want to be striving for exaltation, not be complacent in salvation. I know that seems to be an over-simplification, but I think it's a pretty fair summary of the difference between the actual theologies of Mormonism and other Christian sects.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Often the Gospel Shines through and Overshadows the Class Members

I enjoy Sundays largely because I really have no expectations, so I am pleased by whatever good I feel and truth I learn. There are times when I don't get much out of talks and lessons, but I'm not expecting to learn anything new or be spiritually fed - so it's cool. However, often I really am inspired and taught.

For example, in Sacrament Meeting a few years ago, a young couple spoke on "Focusing on Christ and Spiritual Resolutions". It was awesome. The wife had been inactive for about 5 years; they have been married for about 2 years; the husband has been a member for 1 year; they were sealed a week before they spoke. They both talked about the process of their efforts to "come unto Christ" and the resolutions that were required to change their lives - and it was incredibly touching.

Also, I remember a time in High Priest group when a former Bishop and a former Branch President both said, essentially:


Even if I find out in the afterlife that the Church isn't true, I really like how it makes me a better person now.


Both statements were in the normal flow of conversation and only stood out to me because of other discussions in the Bloggernacle around that time. The lesson was on Christian Courage, and someone mentioned how it takes courage for those who have been persecuted in the past to risk further persecution from within the Church itself by defending others who are being mis-characterized and bad-mouthed - "like in a church meeting when someone says something bad or wrong about someone of another faith". He said, "We need to be willing to stand up for those people who aren't there to defend themselves."

I wish every week was like that (and it happens at some point most weeks at some point in my current ward), but I am encouraged that sometimes (often, in fact) the Gospel really does shine through and overpower the class.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Good, Sincere People Can and Do Exercise Unrighteous Dominion

I've said often that the thing I love most about the LDS Church is the amazing growth-producing structure for each and every member, but the fact that we deeply flawed mortals are the ones who are charged with administering that structure leads to some really bad implementation and too much unrighteous dominion. If all unrighteous dominion was imposed by "evil" or even "bad" people, that would be rather easy to handle. The problem, however, is that many good, sincere people end up exercising unrighteous dominion simply because they care and/or believe so much that they can't recognize their own actions that overstep righteous boundaries - or because they are thrust into leadership positions for which they are not prepared and are forced to learn on the job (much like a new parent who screws up with the first couple of kids before getting it right with the next two).

That's why I believe it is vital to strive to develop charity.

I know I am going to look back 40 years from now and be astounded about the ignorance of some of what I have said (and be mortified at some of what I have done), and I hope those who read what I have written publicly and know of what I have done incorrectly are charitable in their view of me despite my many mistakes. I desire that for myself, so I try very hard to give that same courtesy to others. I still have a ways to go with that effort, but I can say honestly that it has become a strength - largely because I have focused on it so carefully for so long.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Be Careful What You Ask For: or, What a Month This Has Been!!

My New Year's Resolution this month is to "set my heart less upon the things of the world".  I should have thought more about the implications of that resolution before I set it.  *grin*

Seriously, it's not been a good month, thus far, in many respects - and all of them deal at least in some way with my resolution.  It's like God said:

You want to set your heart less upon the things of the world?  OK, buckle up, 'cause when I get done with you this month, you'll have less upon which to set your heart than you ever imagined a couple of weeks ago.  

I'm not going to detail everything here, but higher than expected costs for various things aren't the biggest part of it - nor are they the hardest to handle emotionally.  Money?  That's been a trial.  Honor of the world?  Check.  Ego?  Check.  Recognition?  Check.  You name it, if it deals with this resolution, it's hit over the last couple of weeks like a personal resolution tsunami.

I still have two weeks to go this month.  I've never rescinded a New Year's Resolution since I started this effort almost four years ago, but . . . it's tempting this month.

All I can do at this point is strap myself in and hope I'm a better person somehow at the end of the month than I was at the beginning.  After all, that was the point of the whole resolution process when I started, so I probably shouldn't complain when I picked a resolution like this one. 

Any suggestions? 

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Love the Principle of Tithing, but I Don't View It As "Fire Insurance"

I believe strongly that every single person on the planet should tithe to some organization or cause, somehow - and that everyone who can't afford to tithe should do so anyway and then receive assistance from the communal pot, if that is possible. In other words, I believe in the concept of tithing and fast offerings, and I think everyone should make a conscious choice to donate to the "cause" of their conscience.

My tithing recipient is the LDS Church, and my lifetime payment of tithing and fast offerings has been a big part of my willingness to accept and not feel bad about receiving church assistance when I was unemployed for far too long and had used up all of our savings. I've been on both sides, and I really believe in it.

I believe in the principle, but I believe in it for the earthly benefits - chiefly the ability to detach from the natural (wo)man tendency to see things as "ours", help build the kingdom and truly succor those who need succoring. I don't view it as fire insurance; I think that was a justification to prompt members to start paying it when the Church desperately needed increased funds. I don't have any problem with that, and I don't begrudge that need to tie it to an eternal reward, but I don't like to look at it that way.

I prefer to see it as a way to draw closer to the type of person Jesus was and to bless the greater community in the here and now, rather than as a way to increase my chance for personal reward in an objective, measurable way.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Attending Church Should Be a Supplemental Activity to Personal Growth

I have heard many people talk about their struggles to find growth and inspiration in the Church - from those who have attended regularly and actively for many years and feel they have heard it all multiple times (that they never hear anything new) to those who have faced disillusionment and find they no longer agree with much of what they hear weekly in meetings. In a very real way, I understand both of these concerns, but I have found a way to mitigate them in my own life - by creating a personal focus of my own that I pursue as my primary spiritual objective independent of what I gain individually from church meetings. This approach has allowed me to attend meetings with the focus of helping others during those meetings - which means that anything I personally gain from them is icing on the cake.

Personally, I have chosen to do so through my New Year's Resolution process, which I chronicle in posts here each Saturday. (Anyone who is not familiar with this process, look back at the posts that I have written on Saturdays - but first read my posts on New Year's Day starting in 2008.) I have focused on internalizing the godly characteristics enumerated in the Sermon on the Mount, the aspects of charity Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and the questions asked in Alma 5. I don't know yet what my focus will be each year in the future, but I have experienced more personal growth from this focus in a few short years than I did for decades prior to starting this journey - and I intend to continue it until I die (or until I no longer am mentally able to do so).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fewer Mormons Are Extremists than Most People Assume

I had an interesting experience a few years ago.

Someone who held a highly visible calling in my stake and is seen by everyone as a rock solid believer (and who is, in every way that is important) made the following statement in response to a discussion being held in the stake center chapel between stake leadership meetings:


"I really hate it when members say, 'I know this is the only true church on the face of the earth.'"


He went on to say that he believes passionately in the Restoration of the Gospel and the Priesthood, but he is concerned that non-members and members alike will interpret that statement to mean that we believe there is no truth in other religions.

My point in sharing this experience is that this was a very visible leader (who has had some astounding spiritual experiences in his life) saying something that others who might have heard it without the follow-up explanation would interpret as critical of the Church - while many of the non-leadership members who weren't there would never guess he feels that way.

That is a long-winded way of saying that I have no idea how many of the people in my ward and stake are "extremists" (take an "all or nothing approach" to the LDS Church and the Restored Gospel) and how many are not, since those aren't things we generally discuss as topics in and of themselves. I'm fine with not having that discussion generally, since I don't want to shake anyone who is happy in their own paradigm - but literally hundreds of similar experiences in my life make me believe fewer members are extremists than perhaps most people (including many members) assume.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The REAL Elder Price: Not at all Like the Book of Mormon Musical

Rather than write my normal New Year's Resolution post today, I am going to provide links to two incredible posts about missionaries in Africa.  The articles are NOT a direct response to the Book of Mormon musical that is receiving such attention right now, but they were writen with that musical and its misrepresentation of Mormon missionaries in Africa in mind. 

The articles really are amazing.  It would be wonderful if everyone inside and outside the LDS Church could read them:

The REAL Elder Price: and the Mormon Boys - Margaret Blair Young (Meridian Magazine) 

The REAL Elder Price: Arriving in Africa - Margaret Blair Young (Meridian Magazine)

To Set My Heart Less Upon the Vain Things of the World: Looking Back on My Life and Former Expectations

This month, my New Year's Resolution is "to set my heart less upon the vain things of the world" - taken from Alma 5:53, which says:

And now my beloved brethren, I say unto you, can ye withstand these sayings; yea, can ye lay aside these things, and trample the Holy One under your feet; yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts; yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches?  

This will be a bit more reflective post than most, in the sense that I am going to be writing quite openly about my past and personal inclinations.  I hope and pray I will be able to do so in a way that will help someone who reads this post.  

I have to admit up front that this resolution is one area where I have been both naturally humble but also been forced to be humble.  I was raised poor, due to my father's amazing dedication to my mother and willingness to forsake honor and relative wealth to care for her in her need.  (See this post for an explanation of that sacrifice.)  However, that poverty never was presented to us as a burden in any way.  I wished I could have more fairly often (especially when I was dating Mama - *grin*), but I never was covetous to any significant degree.  My struggle with the concept was much more a result of my ambitions upon leaving for college - and my subsequent desires to "live up to my potential" when it came to earning a living.

I never struggled in school.  In fact, academic learning came easily to me from the time of my earliest memories.  Understanding math, especially, was a natural gift.  This led me ultimately to Harvard (my admission being influenced greatly, I know, by the fact that I was from a tiny Utah town of which none of the Admissions Officers had heard), where I became enthralled for a few years by the opportunities that lay ahead of me.  I dreamed for a while about international diplomatic work - probably in Japan, where I served my mission, or China, which always has fascinated me.  Eventually, however, I realized I really did want to be a high school teacher, so I walked away from those secondary dreams and entered my subsequent life of relative poverty.

After I left the classroom, I ended up in Educational Publishing Sales and Marketing - and I made a very good living in that arena for nearly a decade.  I had one year, in particular, that was extraordinary - but, in the end, due to an unwise investment, I lost what I had earned, changed careers and now, once again, am doing work I love immensely that does not pay very well.  The "difficulty" for me now is that I have been more than comfortable previously, and it is hard to let go of the desire to be there again.

In general, I am incredibly happy with my life, regardless of my financial circumstances - especially since I believe deeply that I am and have been exactly where I am supposed to have been and be now.  I can look back on my life thus far and see that it was FAR more important for my family to be where we have been than for me to have made a lot of money.  In other words, our location has been more important than my actual job and career path.  I have gotten jobs that took us to where we needed to be - and, in having that happen, I am learning to let go more fully of the dreams I fostered those first four years in college.  It helps tremendously that I now do work that I enjoy greatly. 

This year has deepened my understanding of the trajectory I just described - and I have come to accept more fully the idea expressed in the LDS hymn, "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go":

It may not be on the mountain height or over the stormy sea.  It may not be at the battle's front the Lord will have need of me.  But if, by a still, small voice he calls to paths that I do not know, I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine: I'll go where you want me to go.  

I was talking with Mama this week about exactly this understanding - that I have no idea where life will lead me from this moment forward, but that I am willing to accept wherever that ends up being.

I will deal more specifically with the meaning of the focus of my resolution in the posts that follow each week, but I wanted to start with this post - and an encouragement for everyone to strive to be able to accept whatever life the Lord desires of us - even if it is a life we did not expect and would not have chosen on our own.

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Truth Shall Make Me Free

We live in a post-rationalist age, when we define "truth" and "knowledge" in absolute terms. I love Nephi's definition of "true" - essentially, "it is according to my experiences and understanding, and I am not lying about it". In other words, if someone is expressing something they believe sincerely due to their own experiences, it is "true" for them.

I really like that, since it allows everyone to discover "truth" in the context of their own lives. I understand the issues involved with this view, but I think the benefits outweigh the danger - and "the truth shall make you free" resonates more fully in that context for me than in any other.

Don't get me wrong. I do believe in Absolute Truth, and I strive to understand it whenever possible. I just am not confident I see through my glass clearly enough to tell others they must reject what works for them and accept what works for me - especially when Mormonism teaches that we will be judged largely on what we do and become and how valiantly we follow the dictates of our own consciences.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doing What's Right, Even When It Makes No Sense

What would you do: teen golfer disqualifies self, gives up medal - Jay Busbee (Devil Ball Golf)

Just don't read the comments. It's disheartening.

Seriously, read the story and not the comments. Leave with a good feeling and an important lesson taught.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Seeing the Beauty in Other Religions and Denominations

I am "amazed" on a regular basis by other religions and movements - in a good and enlightening way. I think there is awesome value in them, and there is MUCH we as a church can learn from others.

I would love to see more passionate singing, more praise-centered talks, more diversity of activities for the youth, more focus on local, practical service for those not of our faith, etc. I am inspired by the Muslim dedication to prayer; I love the symbolism of Catholic mass; the meditation and focus on internal calm of Buddhism enthralls me; Confucius was an incredible prophet, imo; etc.

Comparative Religion was my favorite subject in college, specifically because I want to learn from others' perspectives. I even listened to the evangelical radio shows when I traveled in rural OH, since there almost always was something I could learn from the sermons - even those that included things that are diametrically opposed to some of the core principals that are taught in the LDS Church.

I believe Moroni's description of what comes from God as whatever inspires to do good and come to Christ includes much that can be found in other religions and denominations - especially when "coming to Christ" is understood as "becoming like Christ, even if there is no conscious understanding and acceptance of Christ". Given that belief, I love to study others and their religions and try to learn and grow from them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

There Is Room in the LDS Church for Those with Differing Opinions: The Priesthood Ban

I usually don't highlight "current" posts here - preferring to link to posts throughout the Bloggernacle that might have faded from the memories of those who read them when they first were published or missed by those who do not read as many blogs as I do.  I am making an exception today, since there were two very different posts written last week about the Priesthood ban policy. 

As those know who have read my blog over time, that policy (and all race-related policies and actions) are near and dear to my heart.  Rather than add extensive commentary here in the actual post, I simply am going to provide links to two posts with very different outlooks regarding the ban - then add a short postscript comment here. 

First, Margaret Blair Young has worked extensively with Darius Gray, the founding president of the Genesis Group - an officially sanctioned support group for African-American LDS members.  She wrote three posts for By Common Consent, the third of which I am linking here.  (To read the previous two, simply scroll down the home page at BCC and read them there.) 

"All God's Critters: Some Thoughts on the Priesthood Restriction and Differing Opinions"
(http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/07/24/all-gods-critters-some-thoughts-on-the-priesthood-restriction-and-differing-opinions-part-iii

Next, R.Gary wrote a response to Margaret's post(s). 

"LDS Prophets Tag-Teamed at BCC about the Pre-1978 Priesthood restriction"
(http://ndbf.blogspot.com/2011/07/tag-team.html

I don't want to try to summarize either post.  I much prefer to let them speak for themselves.  I only want to make one point here:

It is wrong - dead wrong - to characterize those who believe the Priesthood ban policy was not ordained but rather was allowed by God as apostate, faithless, unbelieving, etc.  (To be clear, R.Gary did not do so in his post; it was stated in a few comments in the thread that followed.)  Those who believe so are no less dedicated to the Restored Gospel and the LDS Church than those who believe the ban was God's will. 

It boggles my mind (and I mean, literally, that it is incomprehensible to me) that anyone would view Darius Gray (by association with their condemnation of Margaret's posts) as anything less than one of the most obvious examples of faith and endurance and Christ-like love we have in the LDS Church - now or in any other time of its modern existence.  Disagreeing with the origin of the ban is one thing; citing Margaret Blair Young, J. Stapley, Darius Gray or anyone else who sees this issue as we do and questioning why we bother to identify as LDS is quite another thing. 

I find it instructive that Margaret, in her post, mentions someone who disagrees with her about this issue - and speaks of him as a wonderful, faithful, loved brother in Christ.  I obviously disagree with R.Gary with regard to the question of the ban's origin, but I do believe he is a faithful member of the LDS Church.  I don't doubt that - not at all.  I respect him greatly, even as I don't agree with his view on this issue.  I appreciate that he did not question the "LDS-ness" of Margaret, J, Darius and others.

I write this post simply to show two very different ways faithful LDS members can view the ban - and to beg anyone who reads this post to refrain from the disdain and judgment that easily clouds our discussion of sensitive issues like this.