Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Being Farther Along than the Church - and the Nature of Proper Pruning

"Farther along than the church" - Steve Evans (By Common Consent)

 Normally, I would link to a past post from someone else on a Tuesday or Thursday, but I want to do so now in order to give the proper foundation to a couple of comments I made about the nature of pruning in an organizational setting.  This post is focused on those comments, but I wanted to provide a link to the post that prompted for my comments below.  I want, especially to highlight two things from those comments, so I will bold those things. 

I think of the allegory of the olive vineyard in Jacob 5 and the idea that there will be bitter fruit that will need to be pruned right up to the very end – and I see that bitter fruit as corruptions or lack of pure knowledge that causes beliefs in the Church that don’t match what God would grow if he micromanaged everything solely to preserve pure, eternal doctrine. In other words, I see corrupted understanding existing naturally as a result of the human nature of the membership (including myself) – and the need to prune imperfect understanding according to the strength of the root, even if that means experiencing long-suffering as a result of recognizing some bitter fruit and not being able to remove it completely through radical surgery.

The issue for me, personally, is trying to make sure I am attempting to prune along with the Master of the Vineyard as he works incrementally and cautiously – even if I personally think a more vigorous pruning wouldn’t kill the tree. If I’m going to make a mistake, I think it ought to be on the side of the type of patience Jacob 5 describes as being the Master’s focus.  

Btw, fwiw, Elder Oaks’ talk [April 2014 General Conference] is a major move forward – although it stops short of what many people would like. It took me four weeks in the youth Sunday School class I teach to go through it this month (since the topic this month is the Priesthood), averaging only six paragraphs per lesson. I am MUCH more concerned about so many members not understanding and accepting what is said in that talk than about any perceived lessening of fathers and husbands.
I also see intense irony in not accepting what Elder Oaks said in that talk (or what is said in the Proclamation) and clinging to former understanding and then criticizing someone else for wanting more than what Elder Oaks and/or the Proclamation was able to give. One wants less; one wants more. Both are natural and unavoidable for anyone who does not give up all agency and will and thoughtful consideration and personal accountability. When one side says, “You are rejecting the words of the prophets and apostles,” while simultaneously dismissing, diminishing or not accepting different words of those same prophets and apostles . . .

Perhaps, in some ways, relative to some issues, all of us are both behind and ahead of “the church”. Perhaps, part of the pruning is allowing ourselves to be pruned and not insisting on being only a pruner – and performing the pruning we feel we must do with the same approach we hope is used in pruning us.