Sunday, May 8, 2011

What Is The Church?

At the end of my last post I promised a continuation in which I would offer some suggestions for those devoted Later-day Saints who are no longer finding fulfillment in our own Sunday meetings. And I still intend to do that before this month is over.  Part two of Reinventing Your Sundays is still rattling around in my brain awaiting the moment when I actually sit down to type it out.

But today, my friend over at the blog Zomarah has just posted a piece that I think is essential reading, and certainly a prerequisite to what I will soon be presenting.  So rather than expose you to more of my own extended blatherings as I was about to do, I'm highly, highly, highly recommending you click on the link below and read his short masterpiece.

Only when we have returned to an understanding of what the church of Christ truly is (and was understood to be at the time of Joseph Smith), can we recognize how far we have drifted from our beginnings, and perhaps begin the move toward reforming our services at the local level. 

Here's that link:

What Is The Church?

37 comments:

zo-ma-rah said...

Hahaha. And here I was waiting to see your post. My first thought was, "Hey, his post has the same name as mine!" Well thanks for the nice stuff you've said. I don't know if masterpiece is the word I would use. I was thinking something more along the lines of rambling.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh no, my friend. This is certainly a masterpiece. You have a knack for saying exactly what I want to say, but WITHOUT rambling on for page after page.

Your contribution to the discussion (as always)will go a long way toward awakening others as to the damage we've done to ourselves by converting an egalitarian religious society into a top-down micro-managed institution.

Dave P. said...

One man's ramble could well be another man's Rosetta Stone. But I know how you feel since I feel I tend to ramble in a lot of my replies, but I credit it to inspiration as the words or the topic just keep coming to mind as I write.

zo-ma-rah said...

For me it is when the words come easy that I feel inspired. When I have to hammer out something then I have doubt that it is inspired.

Rock, I started writing my post last night after chatting with you. I reread it this morning to catch errors and make minor changes.

It's crazy I can just write something like that in such a short time.

HOmer said...

Dave:

You flatter yourself. I like some of the things you say, but even when I write I don't automatically credit every word/idea that comes to mind as divine and in need of putting it to paper.

If I may, there are times you (and I, and Rock, and Zo, and everyone else) ramble at the expense of succinctness. ;)

Homer said...

P.S. That is one of the scariest pictures of Christ I've ever seen. Downright frightening.

zo-ma-rah said...

Ramblings are my speciality.

I await the day when Christ will come again and quickly be ushered into the church Office Building. There He will doff His red robe that is a symbol of His atonement. He will then don a dull grey or black business suit with an equally dull tie. His hair will be trimmed to within Church standards and His beard removed. Then we will all gather to the Conference Center where, as Matthew 26:29 states, He will drink water anew with us.

Dave P. said...

Actually my case is much like zo-ma-rah's, sometimes they just flow and sometimes I just have to hammer 'em out.

But in the case of being inspired I can definitely both liken it to the Joseph Smith quote on inspiration flowing into the mind and the fact that I remember sayings from classes/lectures/encounters years ago without consciously thinking of them is where I can definitely give credit.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

What's so scary about a smiling Jesus, Homer?

Dave P. said...

I'd guess that Homer and I feel the same way: We're not used to seeing sincere, loving smiles in the church so we don't quite know how to react.

zo-ma-rah said...

Disclaimer: Smiling Jesus is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or its subsidiaries.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ha ha, good one, Zo.

On that subject, I think all the epic movies we've all seen with a Jesus pronouncing with serious intent have left us with a skewed view of him. He was very charismatic, and when he said things about it being easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven, I think lines like that got a laugh from the audience. Likewise about the beam in your neigbor's eye.

Jesus taught often in amusing visuals. He was a very likeable guy, probably the most likeable in all of history. We deserve to stop reading him as dry and portentous.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

You want to see a scary Jesus? Look here:

http://amyswacina.blogspot.com/2007/08/what-does-your-jesus-look-like.html

Or this one, where he seems to be laughing TOO hard at something:

http://creepyjesuspics.tumblr.com/tagged/laughing

Or this one, of Jesus spanking a child WITH HER PANTS PULLED DOWN. (And no,it was not meant as a joke):

http://www.flutterby.com/images/other0000/JesusSpanking.jpg

zo-ma-rah said...

Yeah that last one is scary. He looks more like pervert Jesus staring at her butt and wiggling his hand.

Creeeeepppyyy.

HOmer said...

It's creepy because of the smile. I have no problem with an exuberant Jesus (as opposed to the LDS's overly solemn one), just don't make him look freakish and with a really queer beard. Dude didn't trim his beard to fit into our society, nor did he sport the puffy 70s hairdo...

The picture of Jesus spanking that child isn't quite so creepy as the message it's sending to those reading that page...

Anonymous said...

So I got assimilated this weekend. The new Young Men's president in announcing my move from secretary to second counselor and assistant Scoutmaster asked, "Do you own a white shirt?"

Part of me says fight, but I like the guy, the ward and the calling, and given that we're going on a rotating lesson schedule, it's my only chance to sneak the Gospel into the meetinghouse. I probably like the things I'll gain more than I hate the white shirt and tie. Then again, I'm also good at lying to myself...

-Anthony Bennett

Dave P. said...

Anthony,

I'd suggest placing the burden on your YM president: Ask him to prove to you via the scriptures where a white shirt and tie are required by the Lord to serve in a calling.

In the meantime, please remember 2 Nephi 26:22

And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.

Our good friend zo-ma-rah was the first person to interpret the flaxen cord as our modern day necktie. This is especially prevalent given that, in chapters 26-29 Nephi isn't talking about outside organizations, he's talking about the modern day corporate church! It is the "most great and abominable" of the churches he saw in vision back in 1 Nephi 11-14 and these chapters (along with Mormon 8) explain why.

zo-ma-rah said...

Actually I think I got the flaxen cord idea from Weeping for Zion.

As far as the white shirt Anthony I agree with Dave P. Ask him where the scriptures say a person must where a white shirt and tie to serve in a calling. Also the scripture might be good where it says the Lord does not look on the outward appearance.

But if you don't want to go the confrontational route there are alternatives. Before my wife and I were married she made a shirt for me. She's from the Philippines and it is based on their "Tagalog Barong" But basically it's a white shirt that you don't tuck in. The one she made has a collar like a normal dress shirt but you're not supposed to wear a tie with it.

Recently I also had her make a blue one but with a mandarin collar. Unfortunately it shrunk and I'm back to the white one. She's going to make another white one for me with a mandarin collar.

I could ask her how much she would charge to make one. Then if you're interested you could send me your measurements and she could make one for you. Since my wife is from the Philippines she charges less than other tailoring services, but still does great work.

Anyway now that I've sufficiently plugged my wife's business all over Rock's blog. Sorry Rock, but hey if you need something done to clothing wise just give us a holla. Not a holler but a holla.

Tom said...

I should add... that, in discussing the CHI statement, parlay that into a discussion on IF it's only "recommended" for the Sacrament, and IF the Sacrament is more important than, say, YM meetings, then let's not elevate it to a "commandment" unnecessarily.

Know your [opponent]. Address them in a manner that they will both (a) understand and (b) sympathize with. I think that's a HUGE part of what Abinadi (and others did) when they "knew the thoughts" of those people with whom they were conversing/teaching. They understood where they were coming from and could both relate and combat those ideas.

Tom said...

Alright, I can't get my response to post, so I'll remove the hyperlink:

http://www.weepingforzion.com/?p=23

That's at least one of the references to "flaxen cord" over at WFZ... and a good post, to boot.

Tom said...

Now, back to the comment that should have preceded the last two:

I would not have a discussion where I state "show me in the scriptures ... " unless it was absolutely necessary. I've found it just turns people off and hardens them. Use their own material against them, especially when available. LDS are much more likely to agree with something "modern" than something found in the OT or NT or wherever else. You have to know those you're talking with and know how they're respond.

As such, I'd open up the CHI and make a parallel between what is "recommended" for Sacrament meeting versus what is required, i.e., for Young Mens. This from Handbook 2 (20.4):

Those who bless and pass the sacrament should dress modestly and be well groomed and clean. Clothing or jewelry should not call attention to itself or distract members during the sacrament. Ties and white shirts are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate. Nor should it be required that all be alike in dress and appearance.

If it's not required for the passing/blessing of the Sacrament, let's not make it out to be too much of an issue. It's a "cultural" assumption based on prior teachings. Fortunately, it's been updated in the newest CHI. Could they have gone further? Certainly, but I'll take what I can get. Leave out any other disagreements you have with that paragraph (I have a couple) and focus on the clothing recommendations... then move on to scriptures if/when needed.

I think part of what make Abinadi and others so apt to "know the thoughts" of others was an intimate understanding of how they operated. Knowing their concerns, beliefs and dogmas. If you approach a conversation from their point of view, and use things they would readily believe and deem "authoritative," then it's that much easier.

Too often we complicate the discussion by making members feel "strangely touchy" because we make a conversation controversial... we make it controversial by being unable to know how to discuss things and approach the situation from a non-confrontational point of view.

…Many have noted the strong tendency of Latter-day Saints to avoid making waves. They seem strangely touchy on controversial issues. This begets an extreme lack of candor among the saints, which in turn is supported by a new doctrine according to which we have a Prophet at our head who relieves us of all responsibility for seeking knowledge beyond a certain point, making decisions or taking action on our own. From this it follows that one must never question a manual or Lesson Book, even though it may swarm with errors and evasions. But obedience, the first step in enlightenment, is not the last. (Hugh Nibley, “Endowment History,” June 1986, unpublished manuscript, p. 74-75.)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zomarah, I don't mind you plugging your wife's talents; you guys can use this forum to sell anything you want, there's no rules here.

You actually got me thinking I'd kind of like one of those Phillipino shirts, if it's not too expensive. I'm an extra large. What'll it cost?

I have seen many of our Asian brothers wearing shirts that fit that description to church around here, sans tie. When I was a lad in Hawaii, it was perfectly normal to wear Aloha Shirts and thongs to church. We kids hardly ever wore actual shoes either to church or school. I think the bishopric and others were dressed a lot more casually then than now. I do remember the missionaries wearing white shirts and ties, and that made them look a bit out of place in church, as they were the most formal dressers there.

Dave P. said...

That quote makes a very excellent point, Tom. Members do not know their religion because they're content with simply doing what they're told. Thus they don't search the scriptures or seek knowledge to in order to learn what they actually believe in.

I saw a comment over on the Salt Lake Trib site on this same topic wherein the poster said that Mormons make for lousy debaters because they can only answer with, "I know the church is true!" without actually explaining why. This kind of ignorance is what the leadership revels in for one reason: It makes it that much easier to manipulate people!

Steven Lester said...

Speaking of not wanting to discuss stuff, I just got back from Salt Lake where I was visiting an old friend. During one of our talks I began to speak about some of the things I've learned on this site, but the discussion never went anywhere because his reply was that he really didn't care about any of that. He didn't care that Brigham was the author of so much wrong stuff or that the Church is little more than just a Corporation run by business men. None of that mattered. He actually said to me that he knew the Church was true, although he wondered why he never heard from the Lord anymore, although my friend was and is as conscious and serious a follower as any good member could be. We then began to talk about the cows and apple trees that we were passing at that moment. Please note that I've known this guy for 30 years. Utah is beautiful when it is all green and the cows looked quite healthy. If only they knew their eventual fate.

whitehusky said...

I'm tired of hearing what some Mormons call "Church" doctrine. They say that it's "Church" doctrine that Jesus Christ became God. Yes, *became.* Out of one side of their mouths they will admit he is Jehovah, then out of the next side of their mouth they'll spew all kinds of Darwinian Mormonism. Let me tell you, we don't have a church is Jesus Christ is anything other but the Almighty God. Our faith is dead, our prayers are dead, our church is dead. Don't they get it?

Emily A. W. said...

That was a good read. Thanks for sharing.

doyle_megan said...

I think people tend to elevate themselves above the Lord. Thus, the church becomes about institutionalizing things instead of following the Spirit. Don't get me wrong. I think we need structure, such as an opening and closing prayer and hymns. What we need more of, however, is humility, so that we can be receptive to the Holy Ghost.

ldsapostasy said...

I think the Church is whoever repents. I think this true Church crosses institutional boundaries, and overlaps more than one denomination. I think it includes Mormons, ex-mormons, and others.

At some point in time, all members of Christ's church must partake of the ordinances by those holding authority. But if they are denied the privilege by a corrupt priesthood, or are cast out, or simply haven't found it yet, the Lord isn't going to doom them to hell.

whitehusky said...

I agree that the church consists of those who repent and come unto the Lord. There are many of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are not part of the LDS Church. By that same token, some of the members of the LDS Church are not true followers of Christ. They are the tares among the wheat.

Steve said...

It seems some comments, which I added through RSS, are not showing on the website.

Anonymous said...

This is all crazy, good. Crazy because I'm going out of my mind trying to get to the path that Jesus is on. I can't beleive how far I (we)have strayed. And good because it taist so good to see things more clearly. Thanks for all the great comments. I don't fully agree with all that is said but I have surly been feed. I'm still looking for a picture of Jesus I like. Have't found one yet.

Rock Waterman said...

Steve, tell me which topic you were trying to post under and I'll see if they're in my mailbox. (There are too many for me to search without knowing which topics.) I don't see anything with your name under this one ("What Is The Church?")

Also, if you're concerned your response here will drop off, you can email me directly at rockwaterman@gmail.com

The Blogspot system SAYS they've corrected the glitch, but who knows?

Anonymous said...

Rock = I think I reposted. Steve

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TruthSeeker said...

I LOVE that picture of Jesus! WHY??! During my last Near Death Experience, I was amazed at His brilliant smile! The Christ was well built and extremely handsome!

I had watched movies about The Christ for years, always depicting Him as "wimpy" or underfed and certainly not smiling! When He beckoned to me to come to the Tree of Life, I was stunned by how beautiful His smile, body and even His hair were! The love He exuded was much like this picture- except there was much more light. Much like this picture, but without the dark hair and "Tan"? He beckoned to me exactly like this picture!

Thank you Rock, for giving me a picture to go with my experience of Christ. I am sorry for those who find this picture "creepy". I hope that you recognize Jesus when you see Him...Just sayin'! :)

Anonymous said...

Picture of Jesus worth checking out:
http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/51266/20140516/image-of-jesus-in-heaven-is-for-real-painted-by-god-taught-young-girl-akiane.htm

Kjell