Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Intolerance: Who Is to Blame in the Case of Mormonism?

I think intolerance generally is subject most powerfully to three things:

1) Individual personality, including genetics - I know some members of the same families who are at about every point on the tolerance scale, so it's not just upbringing.

2) Upbringing - Visiting the sins of the fathers upon the heads of the children to three or four generations is a practical statement, imo, of how long upbringing generally can and does affect children.

3) Cultural domination and/or isolation - When both are combined, it is very easy to slip into an us vs. them mentality - ESPECIALLY when there actually is a real history of persecution and reviling.
Mormons really are "hated and/or condemned" broadly in some places. Some of it is brought on by our own beliefs and actions; some of it is fueled purely by bigotry; some is taught and inculcated from the earliest ages.

I'm saddened by that, but I'm more saddened when Mormons hate and/or condemn others - and I've seen that, as well.

Finally, defensiveness almost never helps. A good sense of humor has worked best for me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

What Kind of Person Can Be LDS?

I have good friends and family who are literalists, so they are LDS - since that overall paradigm fits into Mormonism and the LDS Church. (in their minds)

I have good friends and family who are "figurative-ists", so they are LDS - since that overall paradigm fits into Mormonism and the LDS Church. (in their minds)

I have good friends and family who are a combination of literalist and figurative-ist, so they are LDS - since the overall paradigm fits into Mormonism and the LDS Church. (in their minds)

I'm not sure how to classify myself properly when talking of literalist and figurative-ist. I'm dead center in the middle with some issues, just inside the edges on some, just outside the edges on lots and WAY out there in space on some others - and the "seriousness" or "importance" of the issue isn't much of a determining factor in where I am with relation to the box. I believe what I believe, and I'm really hard to categorize.  So, I am LDS - since that overall paradigm fits into Mormonism and the LDS Church. (in my mind) 
I have a friend who put it this way in an online discussion a few years ago:
Whether I stay LDS or not is MY decision. If I can feel I "belong" in the LDS Church, ain't nobody gonna convince me otherwise. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Diabetes and the Federal Deficit

This is not a religious post, but I thought the comparison of deficit spending to controlling diabetes was brilliant when I read it initially.  My second son was diagnosed with Type I Juvenile Diabetes in 8th Grade, so it was particularly poignant for me.

By the Numbers: Sorting Out Equality When the Debt Expands - Fire Tag (Wheat & Tares)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why I Love and Honor Joseph Smith - and Emma

All of us are both saints and sinners. It's that internal paradox that is inherent in ALL of us that I think is most critical to understanding not only Joseph Smith but also each other.

For example, when I tell someone that the key to finding peace is within herself, I'm not saying that she is the problem - or that nobody else played a part of her current situation - or anything else like that. I'm simply saying that the first step toward peace and happiness is to realize that there are at least two (and often many more than two) ways to view anyone and interpret anything - and peace relies often on being able to let go of one's former view and realize that SHE, HERSELF, INDEPENDENT OF OTHERS has the ability to choose which view (*or views*) she will accept as "legitimate" or "true".

The following is my own opinion, but it highlights why I am at peace with Joseph on an intellectual level - personally:

Was Joseph a ego-maniac? Sure, at times.

Was Joseph incredibly humble? Sure, at times.

Was Joseph a liar? Sure, at times.

Was Joseph honest to a fault? Sure, at times. 

Was Joseph an opportunist? Sure, at times.

Was Joseph charitable and giving? Sure, at times.

Was Joseph a loyal friend - sometimes to a fault? Sure, at times (usually). 

Was Joseph both incredibly tender and hot-tempered? Sure, usually and at times.

Was Joseph inspired? Sure, fairly regularly.

Was Joseph a fallen mortal? Sure, at all times.

Was Joseph a prophet? Sure, and he acted properly as one most of the time.

I've studied enough of him to see him as an incredibly complex person - a saint and a sinner - with the heavenly and hellish fighting inside him. He's me on steroids - so I honor the saint on steroids (the Prophet) and intentionally refuse to judge the sinner on steroids (the man). He usually was not on those steroids, however, and I really have come to love the steroid-less man - and Emma, who stayed with him through the entire roller-coaster ride.

I have a hard time explaining how much I admire that woman.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jesus Does Not Sit on an Unreachable Pedestal

One of the things I love MOST about "pure Mormonism" is that it actually doesn't put Jesus on an unreachable pedestal.

Seriously, if you think about it, the whole idea that we should strive to be Christ-like and that our ultimate ideal is to become like God really destroys the conceptual "gulf of separation" that exists in the rest of Christianity - and even in most of the rest of religion at large. When I look at "having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof", it is exactly this idea (clinging to an unreachable, unattainable God) that I see as its center.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Zion Is Unity Despite Differences: A Practical Example

I shared the following definition previously in a short post about Zion: 

Zion is unity despite differences.  

The following experience from my past illustrates this principle:

In one ward I attended long ago, two Gospel Doctrine classes were created - to accommodate the more liberal members and lower the tension in Gospel Doctrine. It was a fiasco, as it only served to polarize the ward officially along ideological lines.

The second class was disbanded, and, instead, various special classes were held - with an intentional mix of perspectives and a direct, clear mandate to listen to all viewpoints and seek to understand the topics as fully as possible. (Elder Wirthlin's analogy of the orchestra would be perfect, but it wasn't around that long ago.) That approach worked amazingly well, as it kind of forced people with different views to listen to each other in a smaller, more controlled environment.

It changed the ward significantly and was a piece of the effort that unified that ward in wonderful ways.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spiritual Gifts Are Among Us Still

I know a man from whom I heard the following firsthand - at the time it occurred:

When he was called as Bishop, he was overwhelmed by the idea of that calling - especially since he had not been attending his own ward regularly for some time and didn't know lots of the members very well. One night, before he was sustained and before he attended any type of administrative meetings, he had a vision/dream in which a former leader of the ward came to him and told him lots of things that would help in his calling - especially about specific individuals.

I was in attendance when this man was presented to the ward and sustained. One of his counselors spoke briefly (a man who had been in ward leadership positions for a few years) and mentioned that he knew the new Bishop was inspired because in their first meeting together the new Bishop had shared his experience with him (including some of the information he had been told in his vision). The counselor said that he was astonished at how insightful and accurate the information was - including things that he recognized as true but had never stopped and considered or realized until that moment.

Spiritual gifts are among us still, but we talk about them FAR less openly than in the past.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Strong Need to Be Charitable Toward the Weak - in All Areas of Differing Strength

There is no way to know, unless someone explains, why someone follows the Word of Wisdom - whether it is out of strength or weakness - charity or necessity. I believe deeply that those who are strong in an area should exhibit that strength in meekness by not offending or risking harm to the weak - in areas that the strong don't see as critical to their eternal salvation.

I use the Word of Wisdom and the Sabbath as prime examples - and I am willing to bet that many members know they could be "responsible social drinkers" but don't drink socially in order to support the communal standard and avoid creating an environment in which the weak would become alcoholics or simply drink to excess. I believe anyone who follows the Word of Wisdom out of a sense of concern for the weak is exhibiting charity - and those who fight the Word of Wisdom SIMPLY because it is inconsequential to them are not being charitable in this regard.

I could say the exact same thing about taking an R-rated movie to a house where the people there abstain from watching such movies -- or serving pork to your Muslim friends -- or refusing to take off your shoes in the house of Japanese friends who follow that custom -- or serving Coke and Pepsi at a ward party in some units -- or wearing a french-cut bikini to a ward pool party -- or insisting on watching porn at almost any religious gathering - ad infinitum. I believe it is the responsibility of the strong to prove their strength by not flaunting it in front of the weak - no matter the level of their commitment to any religious organization. (I also will add that if someone can't do this with regard to a particular issue, perhaps they aren't as strong in that area as they believe.)

In the Bible, Paul urges members to establish their own moral compass internally - but then he says to respect the moral compasses that those around them have established, as well. Notice, he said that it is the responsibility of those who would partake to abstain with those who would abstain - not that those who would abstain should partake with those who would partake. That is an important distinction in Paul's words - that the strong need to sacrifce for the weak, not the other way around.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Being Born Again Can Be a Quick Experience or a Lengthy Process

Just for consideration, to start this post:

Being born takes 9 months for us - and that's 10% of our lives before we are baptized.

As with most things, I try hard not to trivialize or reject how others feel the Spirit / experience God. Just as not all have all spiritual gifts given to them, I'm totally fine with not all having a sudden, spiritual rebirth - and I'm totally fine with accepting a more gradual "change of nature" (which really is the root meaning of "re-birth" in all our scriptures) as a real re-birth for many.  

As a parser, there is nothing in the original Biblical statement that all must be "born again" that demands it happen in a spontaneous, instantaneous manner. There also is nothing in the pentacostal experience of the early disciples (recorded in the Book of Acts) that assures me that it was a true "re-birth" experience for anyone. Finally, in looking at the "re-birth" experience in the Book of Mormon when King Benjamin spoke to his people and they felt no more desire to sin, it is apparent from the following narrative that the experience didn't "take" with some of the people. It wasn't long before many of them were sliding back to their previous ways. I think we are influenced heavily by the interpretations of others concerning the term "born again" - and I don't believe that those interpretations have to be Truth.

Frankly, I know WAY too many people (most outside the LDS Church and a few inside it) who have felt an over-whelming experience they have termed a re-birth who subsequently have slipped back into their old lives to believe that "becoming a new creature in Christ" has to happen immediately - that a more gradual "becoming" can't constitute being born again in a real and powerful way. In saying that, I'm not trying to diminish or dismiss the sudden and obvious re-births that do occur and last; I'm just saying I think the ultimate result of being born again isn't encapsulated in those types of experiences for me and many others.

Perhaps I would summarize my view in the following manner: 

"To some is given to be born again in an intense, 'immediate' experience, while to others is given to be born again through a steady, 'gestational' experience."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Valuing Inspiration as Legitimate Revelation

I think, personally, that God inspires and gives revelation to MANY outside the LDS Church - and I don't think that's inconsistent at all with our scriptures, history and fundamental principles. I'm also of the opinion that MUCH of what we call revelation really isn't different in nature than MUCH of what we call inspiration. I believe in instances of revelation that are more clearly divine communication than general inspiration, both for prophets and also in my own life, but, in general, I believe we place way too high an importance on what I might call "radical and obvious revelation" - especially when there is so tiny an amount of it recorded even in our canonized scriptures.

If we really stop and think about it, most of what we call revelation could be termed "visions" or "dreams" or such - and dismissed easily by those who don't believe in such things. Certainly, that is the case with Joseph in Egypt, Ezekial, Paul, Joseph Smith, Jacob's ladder, Wilford Woodruff, Spencer W. Kimball, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Muhammed, Nephi - and even Jesus, of Nazareth. I'm not saying that to disparage revelation in any way - but it does point to the heart of this post.

I don't think there's a thing I'm "missing" by being LDS - mostly because I believe I can and do tap into everything that is available to anyone else anywhere else - and more. (especially since I can study almost anything I want to study and remain firmly within the LDS Church) I really do believe there is something "extra" in the cosmology of Mormonism that is missing elsewhere - and I really do value that "something" as a source of inspiration and revelation. In other words, I believe both inspiration and revelation are available to all - but I also believe they both are more accessible generally within Mormonism than elsewhere.

I don't say that lightly, and I don't say it condescendingly - but I also think the very fact that I am writing this post and acknowledging the possibility of "receiving" personal inspiration and revelation (in the manner in which I am writing about it) is more instructive than most people realize.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In Case You Need to Smile (and Cry for Joy) Today: Just a Sweet, Sweet Article

6-year-old cancer patient gets a hug from Kate, Duchess of Cambridge - Lylah M. Alphonse (Shine)
I came across this article back in 2011 when it first was published.  To get the full effect of the article, click on each of the pictures that are included - especially the last one, which is of a letter the girl, Diamond, wrote to Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. 

I post mostly religious-themed things here, but I want to pass along a chance to smile and, perhaps, shed a tear or two at the innocence and beauty of the world through the eyes of a child.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What's Best for ME Isn't Always What's Best for US

When I graduated from college, I interviewed for a job that, through a very clear answer to a direct prayer, I thought I would be offered. I knew it was the best job available for me - and it was. However, I was not offered the job - and I was grateful quite quickly in short-term hindsight. When I questioned why my answer had been SO clear (that the job was the best one for me) and yet I had not been offered the job, I was able to understand that the job would not have been best for my family - and the answer I had received was the correct answer to the question I asked. ("Is this the best job for me?")

The issue was that I was more than "me" at that point; I was part of "us".

I had a wife and three children. Looking back on the job I was offered later, it was perfectly clear that we were where we needed to be at the time - even though that job lasted FAR more briefly than I had anticipated. You see, we discovered one of my sons had a speech issue that could have caused major problems - but the mother of two of my students happened to be a renowned specialist in that exact area. She worked with him free of charge as an expression of thanks for what I was doing for her children.

What is the "miraculous" or "necessary" part of this?

This is the same child who was told in his baby blessing, for no apparent reason, that none of the physical trials he would face in life would have the power to derail him from his appointed mission in life - and the job that was best for ME would have derailed him in a significant way. My job at that point, and every job I've had since then, primarily was not about me as an individual; it was about me as an individual AND husband and father and associate and friend.

My life hasn't turned out anything like I thought it would while I was attending Harvard. My grandiose dreams from those years lie dead on the floor of my life - but I wouldn't trade my life for those dreams or anything else. I've created my life, and it is a joyful life - but it's only a joyful life because I'm committed to making it so in the context of my entire, full, complete life that includes my family, my community and my church.

Would I be more invigorated or more enlightened or anything else like that if I left my family or my community or my church? On a purely individual level, sure - I can see that possibility. I don't think I'd be happier, though - because I've created the life I want and love. I also don't know of anything I can experience outside of my faith that I can't experience inside my faith - at least nothing that I want to experience that would compromise my full life.

Name something you might want to do and ask yourself:

Can I do this without compromising my full life - and without harming those I love?

If the answer is, "Yes" - then do it. If the answer is, "No" - then ask yourself why not. If you can't articulate a good reason, then consider doing it. If you can, then don't do it.

I know that might appear simplistic, but I really believe there is MUCH we don't do that is fine to do - and there is MUCH that is pursued in the name of personal enlightenment that should not be pursued at a particular time by particular individuals in their particular circumstances.

Many of those things might be fine for others, but I'm not living others' lives. I'm living mine - which, in a very important way, is "ours".

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Gift of Healing vs. Priesthood Blessings

The first gift of the Spirit I want to examine this month is the gift of healing. I want to look specifically at the difference between that gift and formal Priesthood blessings - largely because I believe they are conflated too often by too many church members. I don't want to complicate it any more than is necessary, but I also want to make sure I articulate something clearly as a result of how I address this topic.

The gift of healing is listed as a spiritual gift, but I believe it can be manifested in two very different ways:

1) as a "gift of the Spirit" that someone has received that appears to be an actual "ability", if you will;

2) as a situational gift given in particular cases when a healing occurs independent of the gift of the Spirit described above.

The first gift is one that I have seen in a few people in my life.  These people are "natural healers" - people who can exercise a gift and heal as a direct result of that personal gift.  Sometimes, this is manifested through advice and counsel that is more "insightful" than "medical" - cases where the gift might appear to be more of a case of "discernment" than of traditional healing; other times, this is manifested through a traditional healing that often includes some sort of "laying on of hands" - usually not in a formal manner, like what we see in formal Priesthood blessings, but rather through some sort of physical contact.  Everyone with whom I have spoken who has this type of gift can't remember a moment when they received it; rather, "To (them was) given the gift of healing" - and they have had that gift for as long as they can remember being aware of it.  

Importantly, these people can be male or female, and they can be inside or outside any particular religion or denomination.  They even can be agnostic or atheist, although that is rarer in my own experience.  This is because, generally, these people see it as a "gift" and not as an "ability" - meaning they see it as something given not obtained.  They believe in a giver in most cases. 

The second manifestation is one that I personally have experienced as I participate in Priesthood Blessings, but, in my case, I don't see it as a "gift of the Spirit" that is constant and "mine", if you will.

I have been the voice in hundreds of blessings in my life.  The vast majority have been blessings of comfort and counsel, rather than obvious healing - but, occasionally, I have been present when healing occurred.  It was obvious and undeniable, and it was a wonderful thing.  (I also have been involved when counsel was given that included information that simply was not known to the person who was the voice in the blessing, including me on more than one occasion.  This post focuses on instances of healing, but I need to acknowledge those times when physical healing does not occur but emotional healing does - through the revelation of information within the context of counsel and/or comfort.  This type of healing is real and powerful - and I believe it is undervalued and even dismissed too often in our modern culture with our modern skepticism.) 

I have come to see Priesthood blessings as an opportunity for God to heal through non-healers - through people who do not have the "gift of healing" as a constant, natural gift.  There are lots of other things that can happen within Priesthood blessings.  They can be a conduit for healing, but they also (and more often, in my own experience) can be a conduit for counsel, comfort, insight, love, communal support and many other things.  They are a format to "bless" - and that, by nature, is much broader than healing.  Healing blessings are a subset of Priesthood blessings, and I think it's important to remember that relationship - if for no other reason than that a failure to remember it leads to the disappearance of all of the other purposes for Priesthood blessings and the expectation of healing whenever a Priesthood blessing is administered.  That is not an inconsequential or trivial thing. 

I don't go into any formal Priesthood blessing expecting to be able to speak words of healing.  I would like to be able to have those words come to me, but it is not a requirement in any way in my own mind.  I go into Priesthood blessings praying for insight into what the person needs to hear and experience; I clear my mind right before I begin speaking the words of the actual blessing portion of the ordinance; I say whatever comes into my mind.  As I am voicing the blessing, I don't think; at that moment, I simply speak.

In the vast majority of cases in my life, what I have spoken was indistinguishable from "mortal" counsel, encouragement, comfort, etc.  There was no obvious connection to the divine in the words themselves, so I can't say with intellectual certainty that they were the words of God and not my own words.  They might have been divinely inspired (and, again, in some instances, the source of the words I have spoken has been unmistakably divine), but they might not have been; they might have been nothing more than my own thoughts, desires, insights, advice, etc.  I'm totally fine with that, since I believe God expects us to do a lot of things without his direct involvement, but I'm fine with it also because I believe the Holy Ghost can inspire us in ways that are not obvious - in times when what we think are our own thoughts and words actually are God speaking to and through us in non-obvious, non-dramatic ways.  I don't always know the original source of my words, but that doesn't bother me in the slightest.  I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in all the other, non-healing aspects of Priesthood blessings, so I'm not disappointed when healing doesn't occur. 

To make this point from a historical perspective, Oliver Cowdery was told that God had spoken to him in his mind and in his heart - but Oliver didn't understand that it was God speaking at the time.  He assumed those thoughts and feelings were his own at the time.  It only was after God pointed out to him a particular experience and told him that what he thought and felt had come from God that Oliver understood that experience more fully - in hindsight.

I believe God has done that with me, and, while that adds a degree of complexity to my life (since I'm not certain always whether something came from God or if it just came from me), I appreciate the principle that inspiration really can be indistinguishable sometimes from our own thoughts and feelings - that, in a very real way, we as individuals can be the source of God's inspiration simply as a function of the people we are and are becoming - that, in a very real way, "ye are gods" and "I am a child of God" - and that the implications of that belief are so much greater and expansive than we often realize.   

Finally, I want to reiterate that the gift of healing, as a gift of the Spirit, is not limited to men who perform Priesthood blessings.  If I were to count the people I have known who possessed the gift of healing as described at the beginning of this post, my own experience says that there are at least as many women who possess it as there are men - even within the LDS Church.  However, I believe our conflation of the two types of healing available in the Church has created a situation where the first manifestation has been "delegitimized" in the minds of too many members - that they can't see or accept a woman performing such a healing without seeing it as a counterfeit threat to Priesthood blessings.  I think that is a shame - as would be anything else that denies or diminishes recognition of and respect for any gift of the spirit. 

Women can be conduits of healing in the LDS Church, if they have this particular gift of the Spirit - and they also can be conduits of comfort, counsel, insight, love, communal support and many other important things.  They might not be able to exercise the Priesthood in formal ways and by explicit invocation currently, but I believe strongly in things like Mother's Blessings and other similar constructs that don't invoke specific Priesthood authority.  I believe deeply in Priesthood blessings, especially given my own experiences participating in them, but I also am troubled by what I believe to be our improper focus on them to the exclusion of other forms of "blessings" and the consequence of that too narrow focus.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Church Membership Growth and Activity Rate Analyses

First, a disclaimer:

This is not an "all is well in Zion" post.  Anyone who reads my blog regularly should understand that, but I want to make it clear at the outset for anyone who is not a regular reader.  However, sometimes, a little perspective is necessary when criticisms just aren't balanced by reality.  This post simply is my attempt to provide a little bit of that type of balance.

A number of points about organizational theory and annual growth rates:

1) I have heard some members offer doom and gloom assessments based on annual percentage growth rates. NEVER, and I mean never, use annual percentage growth stats to disparage growth in an organization that is over a few decades old and has been growing steadily throughout its existence. It simply is not a good statistical method. When the LDS Church went from 6 members to 100 members in less than a month, its membership grew over 1600% - meaning over 20,000% annually. It's all been downhill from there - based on annual percentage growth.

2) The philosophy of baptisms has changed in the last decade or so - and we now are SOLIDLY in a "baptize with caution" mode. If you doubt that, read "Preach My Gospel" carefully - and listen to one of the talks from the General Conference a couple of years ago. One of the apostles said in crystal clear terms that the Church will ALWAYS be a tiny minority of the world. (Can't remember which one. Help anyone?) I am convinced this is believed deeply by "The Brethren" and was stated to try to squash the runaway "fastest growing church in the world" and "next Catholicism" hyperbole that was so prevalent a while ago.

3) Successful newly formed organizations always position themselves in opposition to the established alternatives. They have to do so to gain any traction. As they become an "established option", they must re-position themselves accordingly in order to continue to thrive. For example, Microsoft used to be the innovative new kid attacking the system; now they are the system. The same can be said of AT&T, Intel, GE, P&G and MANY more organizations. The LDS Church is no different from an organizational standpoint. Explosive growth works in the beginning; it usually is catastrophic (literally) for more mature organizations.

4) For mature organizations, "controlled growth" is critical to avoid ultimate splintering and siphoning off of talent and leadership - and the LDS Church has been practicing controlled growth for at least ten years now, and, in some areas of deepest concern, for quite a bit longer than that.

There is more I could say, but, lastly, I also have done some sample comparisons with other religions. There isn't ANY other denomination that has a significantly higher activity rate than the LDS Church - and most of them don't even try to report their own rate. When you add that to the FAR more rigorous commitments required by the LDS Church than most other denominations to be considered "active" . . . and when you consider what the typical activity rate was throughout major periods of the first 100 years of the Church's existence . . . Things don't look nearly as bleak as the critics paint them.

I'm not alarmed at a 30%-40% activity rate from a very practical perspective, even as I wish deeply that it was higher. It's easy to criticize in isolation, but when viewed broadly and comparatively, it's quite astonishing that it's so high.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Thoughts on the One-Year Waiting Period for Temple Sealings of Non-Temple Marriages

In my opinion, the waiting period that exists in countries that honor temple sealings as legitimate marriages grew out of an understandable desire to make sure of three things:

1) Unmarried couples who found out they were pregnant couldn't get married in the temple. That is more of a "punishment" mode, but I understand totally the idea of a "grace period" for repentance ("change of priority" in this case) to occur.

2) People who had no real testimony and commitment to the Church and/or the Gospel couldn't convert then get married in the temple immediately just to please a potential spouse. That is more of a "slow down the hormones" mode, and I understand that idea completely and have no problem with it whatsoever.

3) New converts couldn't make the covenants that are central to the ceremony without adequate time to understand them properly. That's more of a "protection" mode, and I also understand that idea and have no problem with it whatsoever.

I have no real issues with those general concepts and concerns, but I agree with many who believe that these restrictions shouldn't play a role in situations where otherwise worthy, mature and knowledgeable members are involved. I would love to see the rules relaxed to allow for a reasonable time frame between a civil marriage first and a temple sealing next anywhere in the world - say, a week or even a month to give time to travel to a temple, since that time frame is necessary in some situations. I also would love to see an open allowance (or even encouragement) of a civil ceremony following a temple sealing, if the desired emphasis needs to remain on the sealing being the "primary and original" ceremony. I understand that concern, and I have no real problem with it - but I also see no problem in a civil ceremony that does not imply in any way that the previous temple sealing was not "valid" as a marriage.

We allow couples to "renew their vows" without much concern, even if that is a bit unorthodox within Mormonism. Doing so a few days or weeks after the sealing, especially in order to include non-member family in a ceremony in which they can participate, really isn't any different at its core than doing it after 20 or 50 years.

Finally, since many countries require a civil ceremony to certify that a marriage is accepted by the government (and don't accept a temple sealing as acceptable on its own), and since members in those countries are allowed to marry civilly and then be sealed in the temple as quickly as is possible following the civil ceremony, I would have no problem allowing those same arrangements to apply in the United States - and anywhere else the waiting period currently exists. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Strength (and weakness) of Living in the Moment: Repentance

One of my strengths (and in a way one of my weaknesses) is that I don't spend much time worrying about the past and the future. 

I think it's a great strength in many ways, particularly when it comes to statements like "time is measured only unto man" and "with God, all things are present". I wouldn't change that characteristic about myself - except in situations where long-term planning is beneficial to the here and now. I am getting better at that, but there still is room for improvement - for "repentance".

The greatest aspect of living in the present is probably that I don't spend time and energy worrying about what might happen but never does. I do consider all the possible outcomes when there is something I need to consider - but, once that is done, I let go and deal only with what actually happens.

I get that from my mother, to some degree - and she gets it from her schizophrenia, ironically. She can't worry about the future without damaging results, so my dad shields her from everything that might cause worry - so she can "live completely in the present".

Living in the present but thinking appropriately about the future is a bit of a paradox - and those who don't see a need to repent (to change) also, in their own way, are "living in the present" and not worrying about the future. I know my tendency is similar to that, which is why I am grateful to have been raised in a home and church and culture that actually does emphasize repentance. 

It's a fine line, and it's one I'm working on understanding better.