Sunday, June 8, 2014

Uncomfortable God

Previously: Vengeance And The Latter-Day Saint

These are interesting times to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Untold thousands of faithful, believing members are now becoming disillusioned with Church leadership.  This disconnect between the membership and those at the top is fueled by the growing observation that the teachings of Christ are not always reflected in the words and actions of some who purport to be His representatives.

Recently, on a Mormon-themed Facebook page, a frustrated member gave voice to her concerns, and the response was nothing short of phenomenal. If a cheering standing ovation could be translated to the printed word, that would be the best way to describe the reaction of those who read her remarkable words.  Her essay has already been shared far and wide, because her concerns are the concerns of many other devoted latter-day Saints who see their Church being virtually stolen out from under them; transformed into something alarmingly different than it was in the beginning -indeed, different even than in recent memory. The author has graciously permitted me to share her words here, so I present them now as this month's Guest Post.

As I and others have discovered, some in leadership positions within the modern LDS Church have not reacted kindly to those lowly members who have drawn attention to the dichotomy between the Church today and the one founded through Joseph Smith.  Since not everyone is in a position to endure the very real persecution that can result when reporting reality within this community, I am omitting the real name of the author and just calling her "Cate."  I look forward to reading your reactions in the comment section below.
  -Rock Waterman

                                                    Uncomfortable God
                                                                                                     By Cate

Last April 5th, I gathered around the television with my family to watch General Conference. As active, temple recommend holding members of the church, it’s what we do every April and October. It’s not just a weekend off for me. I’ve actually had a love affair with General Conference since I was a child sitting in a darkened chapel, taking copious notes in spiral bound notebooks I could barely see to write on. The outpouring of powerful emotions and positive messages filled me with a special kind of pride in belonging to the church. My church.

It’s been years since I had to drive across town and spend two solid days in “Sunday clothes” to enjoy conference weekend. With the decades have come the wisdom that every talk isn’t meant for me, that every speaker won’t speak to the particulars of my place along the path of life, and that some Church leaders will misspeak to the degree that talks have to be edited after delivery prior to being printed in Church magazines. Some talks have even been rerecorded, the modified audiovisual presentations supplanting the original. For the most part, I’m just fine with that. The general leadership of the Church, for all the adulation they receive from adoring church members, are fallible human beings. I don’t expect their talks to be perfect.

But I also don’t expect their talks to be dripping with sarcasm and condescension; nor do I expect, with all the very real issues plaguing humanity, for them to target men of straw.  Sadly that’s what I heard this past April 5th.

To put it mildly, I was disappointed by Elder Holland's talk, "The Cost – and Blessings – of Discipleship".  As I listened to Elder Holland, normally a conference favorite, I was taken by how angry and sarcastic his tone was. I was saddened by how targeted his words seemed at certain groups within the church who are grappling with tough issues. Loaded words like "advocacy," "patriarchal," "provincial," and "bigoted" sprinkled throughout the talk seemed to point squarely at families who lobby for civil rights for their gay children, women who struggle with the hierarchical inequity in Church structure, and people like me, who see love -known in the scriptures as charity- as a divine power which never faileth.

Elder Holland came across as angry and condescending. Part of my takeaway,  I'm sure, results from the fact that I've dealt with an increasing number of church members recently who take my pleas for tolerance and compassion as "condoning sin" rather than an invitation to win through charity rather than compulsion.

As I listened to Elder Holland, I had the sinking feeling that his words would catalyze the most judgmental voices in the church, promoting a spirit of division and justifying intolerance. This intuition has been validated numerous times in the two months since the conference, both in church classes and online, as I’ve heard church members define faithfulness to God not in terms of what we stand for, but primarily in terms of what we stand against. President Uchtdorf’s big tent vision, which allows for imperfect members who grapple with complex issues, was instantly replaced with a dogmatic return to lockstep religiosity.

As I write this, I am aware that Elder Holland may not have meant his talk for me. He may have intended to condemn “the world” using the popular ‘us vs. them’ paradigm promulgated by religious leaders ad infinitum. The problem is that when you paint stark black and white lines like he did, those of us who have fought our way through life’s gray are going to feel the brush strokes.

Contrary to cultural mythos, it’s not because we are guilty and hate hard truths. It’s because, as was the case with Job, we’ve lived lives of hard truth and we’ve experienced the complexities of mortality firsthand. We’ve seen beneath the superficial skin of simple dichotomies and have felt the blood of our belief pour from us like water from a sword pierced side. In those forsaken moments, we found God, not a comfortable hand-drawn caricature designed to make us feel superior to others, but a fierce and loving God who demands every last shred of who we are until we are left with no alternative than to cry out “It is finished.”

There is a cost of discipleship. I know it. I’ve paid it. I pay it every single day. And having traversed my own wine press, however incomparable to that of my exemplar, I found a God who was radically more interested in my ability to love my neighbor in spite of his or her fallen state than to draw lines which exclude. I found a God whose love is transformative and whose love, when manifest through me, is a corrective force needing little, if any, accompanying condemnation.  Precisely because I found that God, I found Elder Holland’s words a harsh and demoralizing oversimplification of what I and so many others have experienced:
"Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.
"Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes—and this seems the greatest irony of all—these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of 'comfortable' God. Really? It was He who said not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart. Does that sound like 'comfortable' doctrine, easy on the ear and popular down at the village love-in?"
As I heard these words, intoned with such condescension, I was left to wonder, "Who are these people Elder Holland is referring to?"  I don't know them. I see people around me who are desperate to make this world a better place, myself included. People who refuse to hate others for their sins, often in contrast to the examples they have seen in the church.

I see people who want to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned with more than a plate of cookies and a warm casserole, all while their Church leaders pray over the opening of law offices, dedicate banks, build shopping malls, cater to wealthy elk hunters, and buy up the state of FloridaI see good people frustrated with being called to repentance by an institution which acts in ways that are sometimes baffling when compared to the words and life of Christ. I see a corporation that has built up a culture through correlated texts and copyrighted media which prioritizes unthinking conformity over true discipleship.

If Church leaders think we are dancing around Woodstock looking for flowers to put in our hair, they are precisely what Elder Holland denies - hopelessly out of touch. Contrary to the insinuation that we, who proclaim an answer in love, seek a comfortable god, I’m disgusted that my Church makes membership so damned comfortable.

Other churches in my town don't own malls. They run soup kitchens. They don't just sponsor BSA troops, they hold AA meetings. These churches help felons find jobs, sponsor immigrants and help their members adopt children from war torn nations. Churches in my city have homeless ministries, outreach programs for the elderly and impoverished, and their women gather to pour out their hearts in prayer for the suffering that goes on around the world. They actively fight against human trafficking, they consciously support ethical trade and are aware of the price paid by third world workers to support a first world lifestyle. They speak against injustice, proclaim peace, and create welcoming environments for people who "sin differently."

They do these things week after week, year after year.

At my church, 90% of what we do is incestuous service; we make dinners for each other, we visit the sick within our own congregations, we go to the temple for our own families. On occasion, we have a community service "project" or the Relief Society makes prescribed hygiene and newborn kits from downloadable patterns available on the Church website. We rarely see the faces of those who most need our service. As a congregation, we are so insulated. So aloof. So free to simply donate money as we plan our next family vacation, shop for a new "modest" dress, or call a plastic surgeon to schedule a mommy makeover.

Is the Church doing significant good in the world's poorest spots? Among inmates? With victims of domestic abuse? I'll have to take the Newsroom’s word for it. Even BYU T.V.’s between conference session media blitz on world affairs shows birthday celebrations and temple dedications, seemingly  prioritizing those events over our emergency response project/PR endeavors. We need hands that help every day. Not just after a storm. But every single day because the world is broken every single day. Because even in our own church, LDS children, a sickening number of them, go to bed hungry every single day.

I assure you, my walk through the gray complexities of life has made me terribly uncomfortable.

And yet we spend so much time on "sin management" at church. We spend so much time instilling fear in the dangers of interacting with the world Christ was sent to save that we have created a religion that only plays defense, as if followers of Christ could live out their faith pointing fingers at their enemies from inside a bunker.

No wonder our people have such problems with porn, divorce, abuse, vanity, and personal sins. We are so busy measuring the borders of our own garments that we can’t see past our own cloaks. For that matter, we have set such a low bar for discipleship that our good people are hopelessly underwhelmed by the dogma of white shirts and multiple piercings and our mediocre members are celebrating the self-mastery of 75% home teaching and being able to efficiently regurgitate an assigned General Conference talk from the pulpit, when invited to speak in sacrament meeting every few years.

We are pitifully uninspired. So yes. Let’s talk about a comfortable God. One who looks on approvingly while we grow in wealth as God’s children in Sudan go hungry.
         

Maybe this is why Brigham Young warned of the dangers of affluence.

Further, that village love-in, it's pretty damn hard to organize. You know why? Because it's easier to whisper gossip about a "sinner" than to take her hand and sit down together at a meal as fellow mortal pilgrims. It's easier to kick out a gay child and denounce his "choice" than to relearn how to love him and subsequently acknowledge the worth of the people he brings into your life. It’s easier to exclude than it is to live with the humble recognition that God can and does work in the lives of all people, even when they don't live the standards found within For the Strength of Youth.

And those are the kinds of behaviors justified among our people when you sarcastically dis-empower central godly attributes like love, the power which effectuated the atonement and which never fails. It’s what happens when you relegate mercy, gentleness, and the faith that God knows what He's doing in each of our lives to a hippie mantra. It’s what happens when you speak as if life and the Spirit are less effective teachers than pulpit pounding brimstone. The love-in for that uncomfortable God is awfully hard to organize in a culture that says we prefer our children dead than defiled.

And you know something else? That village love-in isn't the orgy you're imagining.

It's a feast. And a lot of people who've been invited are too busy doing meaningless church work to fit it into their schedule.

Or maybe they are too 'ritually pure' to sit beside the unwashed and unwanted who are being called out of the pews by the loving, forgiving, merciful voice of Jesus the Christ. I'll tell you this – a lot of folks are missing out as they travel the dusty Jericho road on their trek back and forth to church meetings and temple worship while ignoring the bleeding and broken. They are ever hastening the work of recruitment and never coming face to face with Christ in the least of these. And yet they are wondering why the fonts are dry.

How will it be, I wonder, when we reach the great beyond ready to celebrate with ancestors whose saving ordinances we’ve performed only to find ourselves instead viewing, gathered to Abraham’s bosom, a long line of those who sat outside our gates, ignored, from whom we must first plead and obtain forgiveness? Are we so myopic that we believe God applauds our ritual performances while the world outside the temple walls groans in desperate need of our attention? Oh how my God makes me increasingly uncomfortable.

I have seen the Church move in fits and starts toward more engagement with the world outside. Toward healing the world instead of just trying to fill pews. Certainly, I have seen individual members follow Christ into the lives of social lepers and the rejects. I know I am not alone in feeling the disquieting discomfort of a God who tenderly invites, “Come follow me.”

But I also know that most of that divine work is done outside the structure of the very Church which requires all our time, talents, and energy. I wonder when the institution of the Church will stop filing legal briefs and follow her members into the dusty streets of this world to touch and be touched by the broken and unclean? Perhaps the surge of power from hem to hand would heal us all.

My God calls me out into the streets. He leaves me restless with the ache to heal and be healed. It is a throbbing, relentless discomfort that compels me to do His bidding. And when I heed His call, lives are changed. They are transformed without the need for formalized discussions or new member checklists. They are changed because the good news is just that good.

The gospel doesn't spread by force -certainly not by forced discussion. It spreads by fascination.

And most of our people, having been fed a steady diet of pre-digested milk, are pathetically nonchalant. Starved for a gospel rich in transformative unity with God, they are uninspired by the lackluster offering of platitudes and proscriptions. They are wandering toward agnosticism, atheism, and other churches, not because they are unable to believe, but because the anemic offerings of their church experience have convinced them that God is not present at our self-congratulatory "historic" meetings or in our proclamations drafted by legal teams, however well they poll.

The slow but steady pioneer trail leading out through the chapel doors ought to be noticeable. But if it isn't, just wait a generation.

Those of us who remain seated due to inertia or in the hopes that the vibrant church we've read about in the increasingly available unvarnished tales of our father's faith are talking about things that matter. Things more pertinent to God than promoting modesty to four-year-olds in a Church magazine, things more awe-inspiring than a God who can only conjure warm fuzzies as a witness, things more restorative than endless hours in the pews. And our children are listening. Our children will have no memory of an uncorrelated church. They will see only another religious institution, patting itself on the back in the tradition of Pharisee forebears. A religion proclaiming its chosenness from within its insulated walls.

But you know what? There is good news. In fact, there is great news. This feast, our village love-in, it isn't ending any time soon. Its attendance is growing as more and more frustrated church members across all Christendom relinquish the bondage of certainty and embrace the hope and mystery that is the incomprehensible love of God. It swells with every realization that all men are our brothers and that being chosen is a call to action not an award for merit or the election of a lucky birth. The seats at the feast fill steadily as God fills us with faith in our fellowmen and empathy born of the solidarity of mortal sojourn and we are unified in the Eucharist of abandoning the fear that God will stop loving us "if".

Yes, there is good news indeed. Good news about the feast. And I have it on the only authority that matters - He's saving you a seat.

Postscript: Even though I was disheartened by Elder Holland’s talk, I continue to love this man and recognize the challenging position he holds as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. I cannot not love him. My uncomfortable God does not allow it.

                                                                     *****
A Note From Rock About Commenting:Again, I must remind my readers that all comments posting on this blog only as "Anonymous" will be deleted. I hate doing it, so please abide by this rule and spare me the angst.

I respect all reader's wishes to post anonymously, and you may continue to do so as long as at the beginning and/or end of your comment you use some type of unique identifier so that others can tell you from the hundreds of others who tend to post as "Anonymous." With so many commenting under the name "Anonymous," the conversations have become increasingly difficult to follow.  It has also become obvious that some of those posting anonymously are often among the most uncivil; rather than engage in intelligent arguments, some of these people tend to get quarrelsome.  A civil argument advances the dialogue; petty and immature attacks on other's views do not.

Please note that if you are concerned about your privacy, the drop-down feature that reads "Name/URL" already keeps you completely anonymous.  All you have to do is place whatever username you wish to go by in the "Name" box and ignore the URL part.

Those with Google, Yahoo, Wordpress, and other accounts can choose to post under those accounts, which helps to lead others to your own blog if you have one.

710 comments:

1 – 200 of 710   Newer›   Newest»
Savid Wills said...

That was just brilliant. This prophetess has neatly summed up the main problem I see with the institutional church and its corporate orientation. And in the process made me uncomfortable.

Denver Snuffer said...

If I owned the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the first thing I would do is retrofit every LDS chapel worldwide with men's and women's showers. Then I'd invite the homeless to come to our chapels and bathe, get a warm meal, and sleep in our gymnasiums on church provided cots. We would focus on the least among us. Conversion would be only a by-product of others "seeing our good works and giving thanks to our Father who is in heaven" as the Lord taught.

I can't think of anything what would teach the church's members about the Lord's priority more than this kind of a program.

Bless "Cate." But, Rock, what's up with not allowing anonymous comments to an anonymous blog?

lysander said...

wow. I was just struck by how we, and most especially I, fall short

37andholding said...

AMEN AGAIN!
This brought tears and a comfort that tells me we're not alone.
Bless you Rock and Cate and your comment Denver. ;)

Rob said...

What a spot on post.

Keth said...

This was so good. This is exactly what I was trying to explain to my bishop today. I feel that we focus so much on things that are so insignificant than how we treat and serve others. Thank you for this.

nobody said...

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice a week, I give 10% of all that I possess.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful unto me a sinner. I tell you this man returned to his home justified more so than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

"Though in the outward Church below
Both wheat and tares together grow,
Ere long will Jesus weed the crop
And pluck the tares in anger up . . .

We seem alike when here we meet;
Strangers may think we are all wheat;
But to the Lord's all-searching eyes,
Each heart appears without disguise.

The tares are spared for various ends,
Some for the sake of praying friends,
Others the Lord against their will,
Employs, his counsels to fulfill.

But though they grow so tall and strong,
His plan will not require them long;
In harvest, when he saves his own,
The tares shall into hell be thrown."

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven"
The problem is that the"tares" all believe they are the wheat!

nobody said...

"I was back in Kirtland, Ohio, and thought I would take a walk out by myself, and view my old farm, which I found grown up with weeds and brambles, and altogether bearing evidence of neglect and want of culture. I went into the barn, which I found without floor or doors, with the weather - boarding off, and was altogether in keeping with the farm.

While I viewed the desolation around me, and was contemplating how it might be recovered from the curse upon it, there came rushing into the barn a company of furious men, who commenced to pick a quarrel with me.

The leader of the party ordered me to leave the barn and farm, stating it was none of mine, and that I must give up all hope of ever possessing it.

I told him the farm was given me by the Church, and although I had not had any use of it for some time back, still I had not sold it, and according to righteous principles it belonged to me or the Church.

He then grew furious and began to rail upon me, and threaten me, and said it never did belong to me nor to the Church.

I then told him that I did not think it worth contending about, that I had no desire to live upon it in its present state, and if he thought he had a better right I would not quarrel with him about it but leave; but my assurance that I would not trouble him at present did not seem to satisfy him, as he seemed determined to quarrel with me, and threatened me with destruction of my body.

While he was thus engaged, pouring out his bitter words upon me, a rabble rushed in and nearly filled the barn, drew out their knives, and began to quarrel among themselves for the premises, and for a moment forgot me, at which time I took the opportunity to walk out of the barn about up to my ankles in mud.

When I was a little distance from the barn, I heard them screeching and screaming in a very distressed manner, as it appeared they had engaged in a general fight with their knives. While they were thus engaged, the dream or vision ended."

Let the Tares have their Desolate Farm

Anonymous said...

I'm bookmarking this one - does she have anything else written you could link us to? I would love to read more.

mw

Anonymous said...

make sure you click on all of the links she provided. there is some fascinating stuff there.

mw

Anonymous said...

Denver - you can post anonymously - you just have to pick a pseudonym and stick with it. I think that is fair. Otherwise to back and forth on the comments gets impossible to follow

mw

lemuel said...

I didn't think Denver read blogs...

Dr. Seuss said...

People can be whomever they want to be here. I think I will also be "Denver Snuffer", or perhaps I will even choose to be Brigham Young!

Frederick said...

Outstanding article Cate. Rock, thank you for posting it. I am seriously having a difficult time holding charitable feelings towards the lds church right now.

I have been actively participating in other denominations lately and realize that they really do serve the poor and needy in our community. It is a joy to worship along side people who reach out to the poor among us. It is a joy to worship along side people who are not convinced that they are God's chosen people and have something that no other church in the world has.

I only wish I could find something positive to say about the LDS church as of late. Nothing comes to mind right now.

engaged19times said...

Ugh, I am not inspired by that. Especially that last sentence where she says she loves jeffrey holland or some such sentimental twaddle. And "Cate" do u actually know jeffrey holland? How do u love someone u dont know? BTW, I cant with elder holland. I hate it when he talks and he gets that spittle sound in his mouth.

Zo-ma-rah said...

I completely agree with you Denver. In fact if I owned the Corporation I would make a lot of changes to make it Christ-like and a positive force in the world.

Actually, I have a plan on how the corporation of the President could be taken over. So if anyone would like to see some real beneficial change in the Church I could sure use the support.

Also Rock and Denver I hope you wouldn't mind serving in some servantship position when that day comes.

Linda M said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!! Thanks for posting this Rock!

And Denver - your comment about modifying the chapels to help those in need - THANK YOU!!! I can tell you I'd also certainly spend "the Lord's sacred funds" much differently - but then I'm a single mom who knows what this end of the stick feels like, not a multi-billion dollar corporation concerned with the bottom line. ;-)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Denver,
Here in Sacramento I have the opportunity of assisting in cooking and serving at a church downtown that sets aside one Friday a month to feed the homeless. Other churches pick up the baton on other nights. Beginning about three years ago, several denominations began a program to allow homeless people to sleep in their buildings during the winter cold spells.

I suppose if one were to ask why we LDS don't participate in such Christian endeavors, we'd be told it has something to do with insurance.

That's the difference between a real church and a corporation; a church would take its cue from Jesus Christ, while a corporation follows the counsel of its attorneys.

As for why I discourage the use of "Anonymous": the commenter "Nobody" explained it well. For some time nearly everyone posted as Anonymous; I guess it was the easy option. But then as others attempted to respond to something another had said, it was impossible to know who was responding to who.

Especially when one Anonymouses were involved in a prolonged conversation with each other. It had to stop.

Anyone can still remain anonymous here. They just can't post as "Anonymous."


By the way, readers, if you haven't seen Denver's latest post on D&C 27, it'll make your jaw drop at how cavalierly some of the early LDS leaders would put words into the Lord's mouth without a second thought. See here:

http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2014/06/history-of-d-section-27.html

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zomarah,
I have no desire to take over the Corporation of the President, and I'm pretty sure Denver has no interest either. I'll be content to stand on the sidelines and watch that counterfeit implode on its own.

I am intrigued by your proposal, though. Will you be posting details on your blog?

BK said...

The proof of righteousness, in people or a church has always been 'Charity', the pure love of Christ. It's the only sure way to discern true disciples of Christ.

How men and leaders honor, respect and take care of women, and the fatherless and widows and the least among us, says everything.

The Church and it's leaders reveal they are not true or disciples of Christ when they preach and practice contrary to Christ's teachings, including taking sacred tithes that Christ meant for the needy and use it on themselves and to grow their corporation instead.

True disciples of Christ don't ask for one penny from the poor or fatherless or widows, nor would they take advantage of them and live off them, but they would work to support themselves.

Tithing was mean't 'for' the poor, not to be 'from' the poor.

The Church would never do Denver's great idea because that would mean they'd have to actually follow Christ and use tithing money for the poor, and thus not get to build their big and spacious and impressive temples, churches & other buildings anymore to woo the world.

Besides, the scriptures teach that 'building and attending' big and spacious temples and churches is all in vain anyway and avails them nothing, if the members and leaders do not visit, comfort, help and take care of the needy & fatherless to the best of their ability and use all the tithes for them.

There would probably be 'no more poor among us', at least in the Church, if the leaders would just direct the tithing money to where Christ said it should go.

flightoffancy said...

It's like she read my mind, and exposed the content of my heart.....it's nice to know I'm not alone.

amateurparent said...

I have been griping over the last few years that we spend so much time declaring that the church is true ... And very little time actually doing anything Christ-like outside of our isolated ward communities.

It is much more effective to go and do and BE a force for good in the world.

It is time for "A little less talk .. And a lot more action."

Kevin said...

You're becoming quite the curator of exceptional essays, Rock. In Cate's piece you've brought us another gem. Thank you for magnifying these voices by sharing them with us. In a plan of salvation predicated on agency, clear, thoughtful and especially loving voices are so very precious.

It gave me the creeps today in our Gospel Doctrine class when a friendly, well-read former bishop raised his hand and somewhat smugly accused the world of seeking after 'comfortable gods, smooth gods'. I'd give him high marks for mimicing Elder Holland but low marks for adding anything of substance to the conversation. To his credit he left out the phrase about picking marigolds.

By contrast I'm drawn to Denver's radically fresh suggestions and the quiet, direct manner in which he shares them. The gospel of Christ is a vision of work in the name of love and love in the name of work centered in individual human beings. Yes, it's a pity the corporate church is drifting away from the vision but we're still empowered by the grace of Jesus Christ to lift those we can and sacrifice quietly and spontaneously on behalf of our fellow travelers. Yes, a corporation seems to be co-opting the kingdom of God out from under us but God will see us through to Zion one act of kindness at a time.

Jared Almond said...

"My God calls me out into the streets. He leaves me restless with the ache to heal and be healed. It is a throbbing, relentless discomfort that compels me to do His bidding. And when I heed His call, lives are changed. They are transformed without the need for formalized discussions or new member checklists. They are changed because the good news is just that good. 


Powerful words. Thank you "Cate" for your example in how you have described how worshiping and serving should be one and the same.

TST said...

I really enjoyed this piece and it struck hard. Recently relocated to Utah from my home of Texas and in the last year have been drawn to several blogs including this one, Rock, one of my favs. The LDS culture here in Utah is borderline unbearable and I am seeking righteous relief from it all. I firmly believe I have been led to this new found glory of truth in this community of disaffected members who see the tell tale signs before us coming out of SLC. Thank you and God bless us all in our current paths.

Veracity said...

What does it mean to sustain our leaders?

AnneMarie said...

This woman hit the nail on the head! I love it!

BK said...

Veracity,

God does not want us to sustain leaders who are not called by him or who are not righteous, as I believe the case is with LDS leaders.

Even with leaders called by God, like Christ's apostles were, he would still want us to help others see when they are teaching wrong or leading us astray, for they always do to some degree, for no one is perfect, except Christ.

Robin Hood said...

A note for Denver Snuffer: we are the church, it is not the Corporation. Therefore, as the church (ecclesia - congregation of believers) why don't you start by opening up your home for the homeless to bathe and get a hot meal? You claim it would be the first thing you would do, so what's stopping you?
Many seem so eager to condemn the church for not doing this or that, when in reality they are condemning themselves because we are the church. If you feel something is wrong get off your backside and put it right for crying out loud! Why wait for a Corporation to tell you what to do! After all, do our scriptures not encourage us to be "anxiously engaged in a good cause".

Am I the only one here who does not recognise the church (ecclesia) Cate describes? Am I the only one who thinks Elder Holland's talk was timely and right on the button? The two paragraphs of his talk that Cate quoted are excellent in my view and sum up the precarious position we, as disciples of Christ, find ourselves in as we face-down this world of deception.

When I consider Cate's words, and particularly her tone, I am reminded of a little gem I once read as a young man which has served me well; "Any fool can criticise, and most fools do".

Anonymous said...

Robin hood....you are right about the fact the "we" are the church and we should be doing what we can to serve others. However, if you do a bit of research you will find that indeed it is named "The Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And I highly doubt you really know what Denver Snuffer does or does not do-How do you know he hasn't opened up his home to help the homeless? Since you point out how we are supposed to be anxiously engaged in a good cause...are you opening your home to the homeless?? Or are you just going to judge without merit and tell others to get off their backsides to do it or "to put it right"?? Just because he brings up an exceptionally worth-while idea for the corporation/church to get involved in-yet you judge him based on what you think he doesn't do.. You are free to your opinion as much as anyone else is to theirs!
I doubt you are the only one to see things the way you do and that is fine, just as it is fine that many people, including myself, do see things the way Cate does. She has a magnificent way of telling things exactly the way they Are!
I also believe your tone says much about you too. I apologize if I have judged in any way! May the Lord bless you and yours and everyone.

Maid Marian

Anonymous said...

engaged19times, I do not know Elder Holland personally. Neither do I know any children suffering in Sudan. I don't know all inmates. All widows. All victims of abuse. But I know that the love of God which has been made plain to me and which, on good days, is made plain to others through me, requires that I love them all. The postscript was not "sentimental twaddle" for me. While my audiences are much smaller, I do know quite well the vulnerability of being a regular public speaker. I know too well what it is like to be scrutinized and discussed. We all say things that could have come out much better. More importantly, what kind of Christ follower would I be if my charity and compassion reached across the globe to strangers and yet couldn't make it to the pulpit of my own church? - Cate

Anonymous said...

Robin Hood,
Thank you for adding to the conversation. I completely agree with your "be the change" attitude and have made consistent efforts at doing just that.

Where we disagree, I believe, is in the notion that my personal obligation to follow Christ relieves the institution of the Church from its burden to do likewise.

I also agree with your maxim that any fool can criticize. In my house we say, "Anyone can point out the problem, it takes a genius to come up with a solution." Unfortunately, I am in no position to provide solutions to the general leadership of the church. As a woman, there is precious little I can do (with the exception of marrying into certain families) to put myself within reach members of the church's general leadership. A letter from the First Presidency which has been read from the pulpit numerous times already assures me that my correspondence will be returned to my local leaders without response, possibly even unopened.

So, rather than allowing you to fall prey to your own maxim, I invite you to post some suggestions of how we might better communicate with church leaders our feelings of frustration ("we" being those of us who sadly do recognize the church described above).

Thanks,
Cate

engaged19times said...

Cate, I am a nobody and u shouldnt take what piddly old me says too seriously;) However, I happen to believe the LDS Church is a cult, a very sophisticated cult. One of the telltale signs is that followers think leaders have extraordinary spiritual gifts. For someone to write all that and then at the bottom tack on, Oh but I love jeffrey holland makes me want to vom.

engaged19times said...

Also, Cate, re: ur comment about how silly it is that some church magazine was teaching 4 yr olds about modesty. It makes me think ur one of those mormon women who loves to dress way too sexy and have ur garments ringing out the bottom of ur dress oR the top of ur too low cut top. I lurve how mormon gals lately love to get all up in arms about how silly modesty lessons are, yet they dont bat an eye at leader worship. Whilst dressing too sexy considering they r endowed.

Martina Luther said...

I'm glad to see that Mormons are waking up. Unfortunately this kind of discussion doesn't happen in church. I'm supposed to speak in Sacrament this Sunday. This post gave me some good ideas for my talk. Question to all. If you had to speak in church what would you say?

37andholding said...

Martin,

"Jesus said, come follow me. " amen.

Short and sweet! ;)

Friar Tuck said...

@Robin Hood:

I completely agree with you, and I was wondering if anyone was going to offer an opposing viewpoint to the article.

Many, many, many people criticize church leaders, the "church" organization, whatever one wants to call it. However, I feel that few people consider the results of their criticism. Suppose all this complaining led to the demise of the organization, then what? Of course there are those that feel that a mutiny is justified and that the corrupt organization must be brought to it's knees. I wonder what will really happen in the ensuing power vacuum?

If people think it is everyone on his own, and his relationship with Christ, what about the ordinances of the church? What about temple work? We are taught that endowments and sealings are necessary for exaltation. If the organization of the church is destroyed, who has the authority to carry on these vital functions.

Rock has stated that he will stand by and watch the counterfeit fall. Rock, have you given any thought to what will happen next?

LeShel said...

Thank you Cate and Rock! Thank you, Thank you

Friar Tuck said...

@Cate:

Cate, I tell my kids to not quit a job before they have another one lined up before hand. Do you honestly think that your indictments of the church will change the leaders? It seems that you are burning bridges without a plan "B".

I think you will agree that your complaints will not change leadership, but may very well contribute to the overall unrest and downfall of the church. What then? Do you start your own church? Is a formal church organization unnecessary? What about the Lord's house being a house of order? Has not God given us a blueprint in the D+C for dealing with grievances, or is it better to strike out on our own?

Joanne Hanks said...

As a former member of the Church who used to feel as you, I just have to add a comment. I was always interested in helping others, even those who were not members. I worked for the Church as an interior designer for the Temples. I graduated from BYU. I married a returned missionary. I was submissive and compliant - even to the point of following my husband into a splinter group and out of the Church. We practiced polygamy. I was so charitable I thought I was doing these other women a great and noble service by sharing my righteous husband. We studied Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and emulated them. Reality of the manipulation and emotional abuse of the lifestyle of polygamy set in after 5 years of "bliss" and I now realize that the early church leaders were not pure and altruistic. It has been a difficult and humbling realization that I had been taught to believe in many concepts that were not kind or fair or loving or even made sense. I have shared my story in a short book. The title is eye-catching and certainly not tame. But I wanted to get the attention of all those who are complacent where they are in the Church. My name is Joanne Hanks and my book title is "It's Not About The Sex, My A**. Polygamy, as many other practices within the Church, were and are about power and control and money. That's my experience.

Anonymous said...

Friar Tuck,

You are thinking inside a box that has been designed for you by those who feel compelled to believe (or benefit from the belief) that everyone who dissents is lost or wants to start their own church.

Free your mind.

Dissent is often the truest form of loyalty. I desperately want the church to be everything I was taught. Most of the disaffected LDS I encounter are more like heartbroken lovers than bitter ex-wives. We don't want to see the church crumble. We want to see it be THE church. An organization which claims to be the one, true church is going to have to live up to that description in deed, not just in word.

So while I appreciate your warning, I am far too in love with my faith to stay silent.

My words, however passionate, are neither intended to, nor could they ever, bring God's work to a halt. To suggest such is ridiculous at best. If the church falls, it will be for the same reason it has fallen in every other dispensation - it stopped being the church.

Further, President Lee referred to much of what we do organizationally in the church as "scaffolding". The new handbooks (2010) are clear that the church is to build individuals and the family not the inverse. Scaffolding is a temporary structure designed to be removed, Friar Tuck. How and when that happens won't be impacted by a thousand words on a blog. - Cate

Rob said...

While I agree there are leadership problems, I think your claim of thousands leaving the church because of disillusionment with those leaders is incomplete.

I left the church because of the scriptures, and I am not alone. The church wasn't a perfect institution in the days of Joseph Smith that has since been corrupted, it is a fraud that was too potent and has since been main-streamed.

I don't wish to attempt to convert you, but merely wish to highlight that literally millions have left the church, and disagreement with leadership is a relatively small segment of that.

Watch John Dehlin's presentation on why people leave the church. Note that the Book of Abraham is a significant factor.

Friar Tuck said...

@Cate:

Dissent is fine, that is why you have a vote at church meetings. The D+C further outlines the mechanism to be used when there are disagreements in the church.

The dirty laundry of the church is best handled "in house". If you have misgivings and complaints, take them to the leaders, that is what Christ has taught.

I can't imagine a non-member reading your comments and wanting to join the church. You seem to minimize the impact of your comments.

LDSDPer said...

hmmm, well--


@Cate and Rock,

I liked what I read. I have felt the same way. Fifteen and a half years ago I learned that my life would become more and more cloistered, until I would no longer be able to be 'in the world'--

(even 'in church')

I had a good marriage (all the stuff, the mission, the temple, the college degrees, both my husband and me)

and we had worked hard with some special children. But it had been pretty much our family and the church. I didn't really see outside it, because I had the typical:

America is superior; poor people did something to get that way--

I dabbled in other ideas; I read things like Moore Lappe's Green Revolution and how 'third world' countries were impoverished by the corporations of the 'first world'--

as early as the 1600s.

America being 'better' and poor people being 'righteously tried' was shrugged off into:

what can *I* do about all this suffering anyway; I'm only one person.


Well, then, I had a spiritual experience that was not 'comfortable' at all.

In fact, it wasn't anything like what I had been taught. But in spite of it all, God/Jesus saved me from what I felt at the time was my mortal end, not to mention spiritual destruction.

And I was a really 'nice' little Mormon housewife who dressed very modestly and homeschooled by children.

I was awakened in every way.

And I knew I had to do 'something'. I was only one person, but I could 'save' one person.

God told me who to save and where that person would be and gave me the tools, and my husband and I used every penny we had and borrowed from funds we would never replenish and have to pay back for decades.

We were in our late 40s/early 50s then.

We did it. With very few exceptions (I weep for the people who were good and kind and had hearts, and I weep for those who were not and did not)--

most of the LDS in our community did everything they could to make our mission/journey to save someone not easier but more difficult.

Perhaps it was ignorance, but I choose to believe these people had been enculturated to believe that American LDS were superior and that God would take care of the poor people 'in the end' and tampering with that plan was asking for trouble.

I could go into more detail, but I would prefer not to expose us too much--

alms. Well, no, it's not that, it's just that--

I realize now how little I ever did, in spite of a mission, etc.

I was such a free loader in God's kingdom; oh, my--

and the shame is still keen.

As my life becomes more limited, I have someone in my life who needed someone with a limited life.

I can't express to you the joy and heartache that comes from reaching out of the comfortable.

But the persecution, even subtle, is still there. I will write a book on it after Jesus comes.

People thought we were crazy. We've had no support, financial or otherwise, beyond some tender moral support from one family member now deceased and another, still living.

Satan does not like it when we do uncomfortable things in following Jesus.

And some of his best helpers are 'active' LDS.

Ha; we're still 'active'--

I as much as someone who lives the way I do can be.

(health)

LDSDPer said...

Joanne Hanks,

You are my new hero.

What courage. I hope you feel the love of Jesus in your life now.

LDSDPer said...

@those who think that people who open their hearts about these things:


Well, I'm a Book of Mormon without the Bible being nailed to it member. Yes, I'm using someone else's ideas. Thanks, someone else. He knows who he is.

I question the P of GP and have reservations about much of the D&C (because it disappeared for years and got patched and taped and who knows what else)


So, if it's not in the Book of Mormon, I pretty much don't think about it.

Engaged, I, too, have a hard time with the 'loving' that goes on of church leaders, but I got Cate, loud and clear. If she can't have charity for the man she mentioned, then what good is her helping the poor and sick and hungry going to do? So, I got Cate--

but I have a hard time 'loving' people I don't know. I do pray for the children of the world who are suffering, all the time. I don't know them, but God does. And I hope my prayers will help, because I can do precious little. What I do for those unknown babies, I do. It's a drop in the bucket, but it's done with my whole heart.



So, back to those who think Rock and Cate and *I* (ha!) are going to destroy the church by saying what we think needs to be fixed--

D&C 112:25. It might help to read the verse before and the verse after.

Before I began to fear that Brigham Young had 'tampered' (mild words) with the D&C I practically had it memorized. I was the TBM's TBM.

So, if *you* assume that 'my house' is this church--

then God is in charge, and no human hand can hurt whatever his house means--

he'll do whatever it takes. He might be mad; He might be very mad, and some of us might be feeling that anger even now and watching every little thing.

I don't pretend or want to tell church leaders what to do.

I think they are in a terrible bondage, and my heart goes out to them.

I'm not sure if they are good or bad, but, frankly, I don't think it's my business.

But the fact is that one person cannot do as much as an entire church to help the poor, the homeless, the hungry.

When people come together, they can ALWAYS do more, and the church has access to huge amounts of money--

so if a person notes that--

they are destroying a church that it has been prophesied--

"upon my house shall it begin"

?

When I still read the D&C a lot I saw a lot of things about watching for signs--

I think that is all many are doing.

I'm not calling for the destruction of the church. I have enough to do to stay alive.

Please understand that this is not 'either or'--

some of *us* see the ludicrousness of our situation (and know only Jesus can save us)--

and find it very hard not to talk to others about it-

all that money and . . .

where is it going?

So, let God deal with everyone. I know He'll deal with me; He has before.

And those of us who are very isolated and have been persecuted by 'our own'--

can go slightly mad if we don't have somewhere to discuss it.

Thanks for the indulgence. Robin, I like you. But someday we're going to have to talk about Ireland. *wink*

Not now. No strength for it. Ireland is big to talk about.

:)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LDSDPer said...

@anonymous 9:05

you need to pick a 'name'. It does not have to be your name. My name (LDSDPer) says nothing about me, except my political beliefs and that I am LDS, which is a lot, I suppose.

Nobody is denying that people serve quietly every day.

But our wards and stakes are not set up, as many other churches are, to reach out to the poor in our communities.

Yes, the welfare system is very broken. I've heard horror stories. My husband spent Sunday mornings in welfare meeting for many years. He's heard horror stories of people having their RVs paid for by church help--

and now the church is going the other way and not helping truly hungry people, because there was so much abuse in the past.

My husband wrote out a check, weeping, as a stake finance clerk, to pay for an RV of a wealthy family who were 'struggling' (yes, there was unemployment, but people close to them didn't want to see them humiliated, so the toys were paid for)--

now bishops are so careful that many who are hungry and can't work or can't find work are literally turned away.

Nobody denies that LDS individuals (and sometimes, as Cate did mention, wards and stakes)--

do service.

Not at all. People are concerned about what the church is doing with the money *it* has.

Cate is not going to lead anyone out of the church. She may help a few stay 'in'.

We have a very dear friend who is almost 1800 miles away for whom we do a prison ministry. My husband is his power of attorney.

He goes to his prison branch every week. He reads the Ensign and has read the scriptures over and over and over again.

He's in on a false sentence, and it's not pretty. He's got 12 years left. Nothing about it makes sense. It's a long, very sad story. His mother is impoverished. My husband recommends he focuses on the Book of Mormon, and that brings him more clarity than anything now.

He lives in a heavily LDS community, and nobody has ever come to see him, but his former childhood bishop, from 300 miles away, and his crippled mother and her sister.

We are 'it'. And I'm very limited. But we are it. Every week a letter. Presents of food (have you seen the food that you can send to inmates; it is horrible, but we pay for it, so he has something)--

regularly, for birthday, Christmas, etc.

Letters to his lawyer.

Nobody from that area has ever come to see him. I've called his branch president, who is very kind--

but nobody comes to see our friend, who is very alone. His wife (they had no children) left him when he was put into prison.

I know there are mortal angels. I've met quite a few of them.

But the 'church' can do better than that (for our friend).

I guess *they* (out there in LDS-land) figure he has us, and we are enough?

I don't know. I don't feel like enough.

:(

LDSDPer said...

@anyone--

the post I did at 9:04

is disjointed in some places--

if you care, you can ask me about it; I can't edit.

I've been sick, and I find that sometimes I have gaps--

Thank you for being patient.

LDSDPer said...

@anonymous 9:05

What you said about being related to Holland made me chuckle.

How many on here do you think don't have thick Mormon ancestry or married into it, if they didn't?

Remember when Jesus told the Pharisess that he could raise up stones to be the 'seed' of Abraham?

Matthew 3:9.

I don't think God cares. I know I don't anymore. The ancestors I care about are those who had pure hearts and helping hands, not those who were in a particular wagon train or who baptized a particular 'patriarch'.

But if you don't understand this, maybe you don't.

engaged19times said...

Joanne Hanks-Read ur book excerpt describing ur husband and "sister" wife doing the deed loudly so u could hear it. Ugh. I could just scream. And yet, the LDS church just goes right on teaching seminary kids we will live polygamy in the celestial kingdom. Doesnt the church realize that teaching causes/justifies polygamy in a lot of these ppl's minds?? I love that title, its not about the sex my a$$!!

Tobias said...

We learn in the D&C that eventually the Lord will set things right through 'one mighty and strong'. Until then we all get to choose what the pattern of a corporation dressed as a church means to us. While it is not a reason for me to part ways with the Church™ it does demand much study and pondering of me. Thus I appreciate everyone who contributes to this conversation regardless if our views align or not.

Since I resonate to your post, Cate, I'm delighted to see you continuing the conversation here in comments land. It is a conversation worth having.

Anonymous said...

Cate - are you in Utah? I'm in a ward in a different country and we are sometimes a little confused at some of the stuff we hear about coming out if Utah. There is a much different view of the church there than elsewhere. It seems that the vacuum skews issues differently. There seems to be a pressure to live an outward expression of the gospel, and that that is more important than inward conversion or outward expressions of charity. We work in partnership with other churches to create large scale service to our town. 95% of my interactions are with non LDS. we look for and participate in many service opportunities. I do agree our buildings should be used more, but that is more to do with a lay ministry (no paid clergy to be there to run things during the weekdays). Maybe now that we have passed the dangers of the early church days (extermination orders and prosecution) we should disseminate, not gather to one place!

But you have reminded me to continue to quietly serve those who need it, and remember that it is not the person who is well who is need of a physician. I love Beth Moore's quote that the people sitting with us in our churches should look very different from us - people to whom life has been rough and need the healing balm of the Saviour.

Ta

Listrynne said...

I find it interesting that when someone posts a comment about how the Church *is* helping, people can't wait to shoot it down with stories about the church buying RV's for someone, etc. I live in SE Idaho and I like to think of it as "Lesser Mormonville". We don't have as high a concentration as Utah, and I think that gives me a little better perspective, especially considering I grew up in Utah and was miserable. It was hard being a frugal family in a "keep up with the Jones" neighborhood.
Here, we have a men's shelter next to the DI, with transitional housing across the street. I worked at the DI with many non-LDS people. I have many non-LDS friends. When my mom was in the RS Presidency here, she was always working with the non-LDS in our ward boundaries that needed food or other help.
I was too young to pay as much attention in Utah, but here in SE Idaho I have seen nothing but love and assistance to EVERYONE, regardless of which church they go to. Maybe someone got missed, but it is *our* job as NEIGHBORS to know who lives next to us and what they like and notice when they need something. (I think there was a talk or two in the last few years about this.) If they need more help than we can give, we should talk to the ward welfare coordinator.
The Church is a legal corporation to protect us. If you look at most of your local churches, they have committees and treasurers to make sure the right things get done with the money donated. Because the Church is global, it needs a bigger organisation. I wonder if anyone knows how many frivolous lawsuits are brought against the Church every year. If the Church wasn't organised the way it is, how much money do you think would be wasted fighting them off or losing? That money can instead go to all the humanitarian efforts that it does now.
Maybe some things do need to change, but it's not just at the top levels. We need to pay more attention to those around us too. Notice when they're hungry, or their kids don't have new clothes, or they just need a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on. Then DO something instead of whining on the internet that people aren't helping. You don't have to wait for your ward to help either. Instead of a book club, start an old fashioned sewing circle to help people. They weren't just social events, they were to help the community come together to help each other. Someone would say, "so-and-so needs clothes for her son, does anyone have any hand-me-downs?" etc. It's not hard, but it might cut down on your internet time.

LDS Bob said...

I believe the author "Cate" is unaware of the great good the LDS Church does domestically and worldwide. The deeds are not trumpeted to the world because they are done as Christ would have us do. Every week, as part of my church calling, I help local people with food orders (active members, inactive members, and even non-members). I cut checks for utility bills, rent, and mortgages. I help transient people find shelter and cut checks to local shelters for their care. All of this is done behind the closed door of the LDS Bishop's office and the clerk's office. Where I live, we cut these checks several times a week.
In addition to the monetary help given, we minister on Sunday and throughout the week in the homes of members and non-member alike. This ministering is worth so much more than any bill being paid. We visit the hospital to minister to the sick, we visit the homes of the elderly that cannot get themselves to the church building. We minister to any who will let us in their homes.
You allude to there being something wrong with us ministering and helping those in our congregation or ward boundaries, but with so much need in the world, we have to start somewhere. The organization of the church is wonderful as it provides a way for us to systematically find those in need.
I have also been in foreign countries when the "cookie-cutter" humanitarian aid arrives. People are excited to receive this care and it is helpful. It is real and it is happening all around the world.
The assets of the corporation you are so weary of help fund these endeavors. The area I live could hardly support the amount of bills and food we give away freely with just the donations of the local congregation. It is the supplementation of the entire church, including the assets gained from being self sufficient, that help the needy in my little part of the world.
In the end, this ill-informed blogpost does little to help others. It damages faith and tears down a truly charitable organization. Those that have been blessed by this charity or those that have been privy to be part of the real work of the church know the good it really does bring.
With that said, the charity Christ truly brought to people was the gospel. It was not material goods. He gave them hope through the truth of His Father. At the end of the day, that's what the leaders of this church do. The apostles preach the gospel of Christ and call repentance, as is their calling.
I hope those seeking truth will find it and that this blogpost does not deter the openhearted.

Momo said...

"Most of the disaffected LDS I encounter are more like heartbroken lovers than bitter ex-wives. We don't want to see the church crumble. We want to see it be THE church."

Cate, most of the disaffected I encounter realize that it's not about what they want the church to be, but rather, what the church is.

What is the church? Well, it claims to be the one true church on the earth with a prophet that will never lead the church astray. That is the standard by which I measure the church. Personally, I don't believe that the church is what it claims to be.

Rob said...

These comments are intense!

Cate, I don't know any members in Sudan, but I do know a lot of them in Zimbabwe. I personally traveled by bus from one corner of the country to another, met hundreds of active LDS moms, spoke with them face to face, and held over 700 of their toddlers in my arms as we weighed and measured them.

I've spoken to 7 district/stake presidents, and several more bishops/branch presidents there who were kind enough to let us come by and see if we could assess the level of malnutrition there and do something about it.

Would you be surprised to know that most of those good people can't even afford soap? Food? Running water? They are ashamed at their poverty, but it is us who ought to be ashamed. The bishops/branch presidents, and most of the stake presidents there (and I expect elsewhere in the less-privileged world) could wipe the floor with our pious hypocrisy. They regularly give their membership the shirts off their back, because their budgets from SLC are around $150/month for a full-sized ward, while (in Zim at least), food costs are equal to the US. Think about that next time you see brother Jones getting $2500/month to pay his mortgage on that house he can't seem to afford.

It is interesting to note that all the worthy examples of doing good by the LDS church are actually the actions of individuals, not the corporation. The only thing of merit the corporation has done is spent a very small percentage of a fund donated to by members specifically for helping others on the poor. That is hardly worth bragging about.

To the guy who said: "If people think it is everyone on his own, and his relationship with Christ, what about the ordinances of the church? What about temple work? We are taught that endowments and sealings are necessary for exaltation. If the organization of the church is destroyed, who has the authority to carry on these vital functions."

1) How did Jesus feel about the authority of the Pharisees?
2) "Are necessary for exaltation..." yes, BY et al has taught that, but is it true? What is salvation, if not Christ telling you that you are saved. How many active mormons have had that experience? How many from other faiths? How many excommunicated members?
3) Are you honestly arguing that Christ can't do his own work? That he needs megamalls and ad-infinitum temples?

Finally, read church history. You will find that almost all of what is considered sacrosanct in the LDS church is the tradition of men, and is very different from what God revealed through Joseph. That includes family history work, temples, missionary work, gathering, garments, tithing, and even the word of wisdom.

Rob said...

Finally, I will say the only righteous position the church can take right now, given the deviation from God's word and severing of the connection with heaven, is to humbly admit that we are no better than the Catholics, consider ourselves fools before God, cut out the heirarchy of the church, humble ourselves in sackcloth and ashes, ask God to forgive us and speak to us, and, in the meantime ACTUALLY DO WHAT HE HAS TOLD US TO DO:

1) Seek him.
2) Care for the poor.

One person who does this will actually encounter God faster than 1000 GAs driving around their Toyota Avalons and regurgitating false traditions of men.

Tobias said...

Rob, either you're off your nut, brother, or like Cate, Daymon, Denver and Rock, you're way ahead of your time. I'm intrigued that apparently many more people than just me are becoming more loyal to Jesus Christ while at the same time becoming increasingly wary of the business colossus the Church™ has become. Imagine the good you could do in Sudan by selling just one of the Avalons from the leaders' elite fleet!

LDSDPer said...

@Lystrynne--

I am not "people". I am the person who said that my husband wrote out a check for a monthly payment an RV (not just one month)--

and that was in Idaho.

I do believe that Idaho might be better than Utah.

About 17 years later a very close loved one of ours who was unable to find employment and had small children was told by a bishop (in the same community in Idaho), "I'm sorry; we can't help you anymore; you are able-boded."

You can direct your cricitisms of what I wrote to *me*, LDSDPer.

I am trying to remain anonymous and yet still 'share' things I think might help people.

Nobody on here, except Rock, knows what state I live in, though I have mentioned that it is not near the intermountain west.

I have tried very hard to give no identifying information, but I have always tried to say enough so that if people have hearts to feel--

they can see what sorts of things those of *us* who walk outside comfort zones to help can end up experiencing, sometimes persecution from fellow members.

If it offends you that I brought that and the RV payments up--

please tell *me*. In spite of my anonymous name, I am a real person.

I dare not say more, or I will be thought of as snarky--

but I tell you that I think your tone was snarky.

I won't respond to you anymore, unless you 'face' *me*, LDSDPer.

And there is one thing that I think a few people on here will understand.

It is no longer my mission to 'lie for the Lord'.

Brigham Young did it and accused Joseph Smith of having done it, but it can't be proven that he did.

It's all according to Brigham's word, and he contradicted himself all the time.

I was released from 'lying for the Lord' years ago--

when I was told that when the Spirit prompted when I met a non-member of the church that I could bear testimony of Jesus Christ and share the Book of Mormon and not try to 'get' anyone to join the church.

Most LDS assume that *we* have PR; we have to 'make' the church 'look good'.

If you're still reading, some of us believe that has done more damage than good.

There is no commandment anywhere in the scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon) to lie for the Lord.

There is no commandment to have public relations firms make things 'look good'--

in fact, Mormon was pretty hard on us.

If *you*, Lystrynne, not 'people'--

want to be upset at someone who was critical of *our* church--

then read the Book of Mormon. You'll find plenty. But those men aren't here for you to disparage.



Anonymous said...

@Anonymous at 9:05,
Perhaps I am out of touch. We all only have our own experiences to use as a gauge. I have been in ward councils. I do know the good we do for each other. That isn't the subject of the blog post, though that is clearly what folks feel most defensive about.

@Ta,

I'm glad you are having a good experience. I have heard the church is very different outside the Mormon corridor. I can't speak to that. What I can speak to is my level of discomfort with buying Ipads for missionaries while people in this world drink dirty water and go hungry. And so on.

@Listrynne,
It is good to hear stories of service. Thank you. You bring up some interesting points about liability and frivolous lawsuits. Why do you think the church is the target of such actions?

@LDS Bob,
I didn't say anything about being weary of contributing money to the church. You seem to have read more into the post than I wrote. We could spend days (or longer) talking in circles about whether the gospel of charity Christ taught during His mortal ministry is a reference only to the forgiveness of sin or whether it includes the the command to create a kingdom with no poor among us, but there are countless scholarly tomes which have covered that ground already.

Neither did I indicate that there was anything wrong with serving within our own congregation. Not once. What I said was that the bulk of our service was within our own community. Do you disagree? Do you think there is room for improvement or is all well?

- Cate

LDSDPer said...

@LDS Bob,

you are very blessed to live in a place where people are so lovingly served. Good for you; good for your bishop (if you are not him)--

they will be blessed; you will be blessed.

I have said before that there are mortal angels, and I believe it--

But I think you should know that this blog has kept one young person who is dear to me "in the church".

Rock has discussed this before. He has asked those who accuse him of 'destroying faith' (whatever that means)--

to tell him who has left the church because of his blog, but they can't. They just 'splutter' at him.

You have a good heart, and the part of the picture you see is a blessedly tender one, but you can't see the entire picture.

Faith means so many different things. Read about it in the Book of Mormon.

The bottom line is that *we* have been called, as individuals, as ostensibly as a church, to follow Jesus.

Not to make the church look good.

It doesn't have to look good; it has to BE good.

But, some of us have given up on the local unit as a way to serve much beyong a few trivial things--

I can tell you about my attempt to serve one specific homeless man who was attending a "Sunday Supper" our ward was hosting.

And the fiasco that it caused. I was quiet. I was gentle. I just stated what I wanted to do, and one RSP member completely lost her control. Yes, she wasn't very stable, and I felt terrible.

Finally, I went to the bishop, who said, "just quietly do it; leave the RSP'cy out of it."

I had been asked to do something else I could not do--

but the thing that would help that one man I could do (resources, ability)--

and she had called *me*--

it was such a mess.

I've been afraid to 'go there' again--

and my family is absolutely stuffed full of RSPs, PPs, bishops, stake presidents and stake presidency members--

One of my close family members (not immediate, but very beloved) has a RSP who has a little ward ministry for reaching out to the homeless in their community. It is far from us and far from the intermountain west; I am isolated from the only sibling who is on my 'page'.

Some RS presidents are courageous, very courageous.

I won't say where that is. I have said, before, 'there are mortal angels'.

I know there are.

And some of them are LDS. :)

But I don't want to 'blow-up' the good the LDS do over those who don't have the Book of Mormon and really have more light.

BK said...

Amen Rob.

Robin Hood & Friar Tuck,

We only see what we are willing to see. Only those who are unafraid of the truth will see or find it.

Of course the Church does some good things, that is always how false prophets & Satan works, they puts on sheep's clothing and say all the right things but do the opposite, or just enough good things to be seen of men, but then keep the bulk of tithing for themselves and to grow their empire.

I know alot of fatherless and none are being taken care of by the Church, they are all struggling and suffering, while the Church ignores them or gives them a demoralizing hastle for asking for a bag of groceries.

And you are right, we can and should do something then just point out the problems. We can start to obey Christ (he never said to give our tithing to church leaders anyway) and give all our tithes and offering directly to the needy around us, so we know for sure it gets to them, and thus we won't lose our salvation for supporting false prophets (as JS warned we would if we follow false prophets) and who use it on themselves and their pet projects while they ignore most of the fatherless, widows and poor among them.

We can't just believe whatever the LDS Church says or whatever their scriptures say. We must 'prove all things and persons', whether they are true disciples & prophets of God or not, giving us true scriptures that don't contradict Christ.

I believe we must decide who we are going to follow, Christ or the LDS Church, for they preaching and practice completely opposite each other.

And we don't have to find another Church to join, there doesn't have to be a true church on the earth (and probably hasn't been since Christ), for we have Christ's Gospel in it's entirety in the NT, it was never lost, and we have all the Priesthood power we want straight from God if we are righteous.

LDSDPer said...

blah--

those with the Book of Mormon can have more light, I meant.

And, hence, more condemnation if they 'sin' against the light.

So, I hope, Joseph Smith said in the D&C. I think Joseph actually said that.

LDSDPer said...

@Rob,

You are doing what I wish with all my heart I could do. We are the little people, but we feel gratitude to you.

I didn't know. It's awkward, isn't it?

When you try to stay completely anonymous, because you know you want heavenly blessings (or no blessings at all; you just want to follow Jesus)--

and then you end up feeling you have to tell people things.

It's hard to keep some of the things *we* do quiet.

"Where were you, Rob?" "Oh, I was in Zimbabwe."

"What a vacation."

"yeah"--

in our case; it was similar; it was obvious; we couldn't keep our 'alms' (though that is not what we perceived it as being) unspoken.

Unless you're doing something evil, it's hard to 'hide' people. LOL!

Nick said...

The Lord's disciples are commanded to not suffer anyone to partake of the Lord's sacrament unworthily. Those who do so and do not repent are not to be numbered among his people. But even those who do not repent should not be cast out but should be welcomed to church and invited to repent and return to full fellowship.

All this the Christ explains in 3 Nephi 18:26-32

One should conclude that (1) the Lord has a standard of righteousness (2) he charges those he has chosen to be his judges on earth of righteousness and (3) the Lord is ever merciful and invites all to repent and return to him and be his worthy followers.

Serving the poor is certainly one of Christ's many commands. But it not the only one and a church that only provided service would not be one living the fullness of the Gospel.

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, he turned his eyes again upon the disciples whom he had chosen, and said unto them:

Behold verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you another commandment, and then I must go unto my Father that I may fulfil other commandments which he hath given me.

And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;

For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.

Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.

But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.

Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.




Annalea said...

Cate: I’m not sure I can tell you how much your piece means to me. Your writing reached into my heart and gave words to feelings I’ve struggled with. Your imagery struck home so deeply—and your struggles resonate deeply with me. As my husband and I read your article, there were often low gasps or whistles at what you had written.

Thank you.

(Those words are so wimpy, compared to how I feel. lol I hope you get the idea.)

Annalea said...

To the person who said we have no paid clergy to run a program to offer food & shelter in our buildings: we currently have a glut of missionaries with nothing to do but pester members. This would be a wonderful use of their time.

Rob said...

Nick,
Ironic you should bring that up. I hope you aren't insinuating that the church is too busy doing God's judgment to keep the first and second commandments (remember King Benjamin says the second commandment is how we implement the first).

Let's go down the line:
1) The church not only allows children and visitors to take the sacrament, but encourages it.
2) The LDS sacrament is one of many ordinances that have been changed without revelation. Changes include: Not kneeling as a congregation, not eating till filled, not drinking from a common cup, drinking water instead of wine although wine, and having priests administer the sacrament even though elders are present. Interestingly, the elder who blessed the sacrament used to offer up one of the signs from the temple at the "altar" (sacrament table).

Note that not one of these changes have occurred due to revelation. For instance, Pres. Jos. Fielding Smith said we don't kneel because it is more convenient, the common cup thing ended out of fear of the flu in 1917, and the priests bless the sacrament to give them something to do, since you can't exactly have little kids doing the things God says for them to do in D&C.

If we are going to pretend we are too busy keeping God's other commandments to keep his two great commandments, let's at least actually keep SOME commandment, and not just "the tradition of the Elders," which Jesus seems to not like too much judging by the flogging in the temple, flipping the tables, and harsh language he used towards those who did so in the NT.

Matthew said...

Without the context of seeing what spawned this post, I have to say that Cate's words seem suspicious to me. There are a thousand jumping-off points one could use to complain about how the Church doesn't take care of the poor and needy (a *very* valid issue) or how it might inspire greater Christ-like charity (another *very* valid issue) or how members might show more individual love to others (yet another *very* valid issue), but why use Elder Holland's talk that condemns immorality? Why complain about his use of the words "patriarchal" and "bigoted" and "village love-in"? Why describe it as angry and condescending? Why reference (somewhat positively) gay marriage and Ordain Women and then include herself in the same category as them?

Either Cate is misconstruing Elder Holland's words or she's purposefully twisting them to use as a springboard for her own points. The resulting conflation of themes results in darkness and confusion. Consequently, I didn't get a lot of light or truth from this post.

With more context, my opinion might change. I hope Cate isn't tying to conflate real Christian charity with a socially progressive ideology which denies God and Christ. But the difficulty with anonymous postings is that there can never be more context.

Annalea said...

Rob: Hear, hear! Thank you for sharing your experience in Africa. When I try to tell people that LDS children are starving, or try to get support for Liahona Children's, I'm laughed off, shrugged off, dismissed, etc. So many don’t believe that it’s possible, because the Church(TM) has so much money to throw at building projects and real estate deals, surely it must have all of that taken care of. Or, worse yet, they believe that the Lord has a purpose for those children starving, and that because His ways are higher than our ways, this evil is okay and somehow the will of God. Thank you for offering a first hand witness. Thank you.

Rob said...

Annalea,
OR maybe we could do what God instructed in D&C and pay the bishops for their time. After all, their job is the temporal welfare of the Saints. If we fired the first quorum of 70 from their lifetime retirement positions, I'm sure that would free up enough dough to make it work. Besides, last time I checked there are thousands upon thousands of brethren in the church who have no problem being a bishop without pay.

Are you (not you Annalea, anyone who says the church doesn't ahve the resources to care for the poor) telling me that the Bishop's youth chat, PEC, and every other prescribed meeting where we assign spies to nag the less active is more important than actually helping people?

Annalea said...

To all those who are pointing fingers at Cate, whose comments clearly show you believe that the good works the Church(TM) currently has on its resumé exonerate it from the failure to do all it can, I say—purposefully and knowing full well what it mens—fie, FIE!

We are taught the Law of the Harvest in scripture . . . by their fruits ye SHALL know them. Starvation, illness, homelessness, these are not the fruits of the Spirit. They are the fruit of Lucifer's dominion--and we as the ecclesia are called to bring the Kingdom of God to earth and cast him out!

Up until I learned about the Liahona Children’s Foundation, and read the stories of the founders and those who volunteer in it, (including Rob's), I could tell myself that the Church(TM) was doing all that it could to help the world. The Worldwide News Report between conference sessions told me so, didn't it? The Church(TM) was doing so much that it had to have the members pitch in to divert funds to feeding the hungry, providing health care, disaster response, digging wells and building homes in desperately poor places. I saw reports on all of those things, read the list of service missions available, and used to feel all warm & fuzzy inside at the thought of all the good “my” church was doing.

But once I knew there were faithful, tithe-paying members whose children wasted away before their eyes, once I knew that the church expected these people to tithe funds that stole some of the little food their children could have, the fact that the Church(TM) had sunk billions of dollars into dead things—concrete, glass, spectacles and frivolities—took on a different aspect. It blew unimaginable amounts of money on luxury while children starved. Families I know have needed help from the church, and had been refused . . . but in our country—our extravagantly wealthy country—I told myself that help can often be had from others. I could tell myself the Lord had a purpose in the cruelty of those leaders, when I learned new friends of ours had gone without food for three days so their children could eat. Surely there was someone else, a church member, a family member, who was supposed to help them, but didn’t. But in countries where poverty is so widespread that help simply isn’t to be had locally, I had no such recourse. I could no longer make excuses.

And it broke my heart.

Even if the church *only* adopted the same program the Liahona Children's Foundation uses, for a reasonable estimate of the cost of City Creek (4 billion) the church could CURE the malnutrition of the 90,000 hungry LDS children for 2,600+ years.

That's more than two and a half MILLENNIA.

As a mother, an aunt, as a HUMAN BEING, I cannot understand why this is seen as okay . . . why building malls, and buying up huge acreages, and doing all of this STUFF the Church(TM) does is okay. Didn't Jesus say that it's better to be tossed into deep water sporting a concrete necklace than to even offend a child? How about having the blood of thousands of children on your hands because you allowed them to starve?

There is NO excuse for it.

None.

The fruits are so painfully, heart-wrenchingly clear. The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enough and to spare, thousands of times over, to eradicate hunger and poverty amongst its members, and in a great deal of the world. But it doesn't.

It doesn’t.

You cannot explain that away. You cannot justify it. You cannot convince me, and many others, that all is well in this corrupt mess, so full of rationalizations, that many somehow manage to consider Zion.

It is wrong, and I will not accept it.

CMS said...

So, SO good. YES YES YES.

I have left the church for exactly those reasons, and mourne her on occasion, but yes, I absolutely love this post. Especially:

I see good people frustrated with being called to repentance by an institution which acts in ways that are sometimes baffling when compared to the words and life of Christ. I see a corporation that has built up a culture through correlated texts and copyrighted media which prioritizes unthinking conformity over true discipleship.

If Church leaders think we are dancing around Woodstock looking for flowers to put in our hair, they are precisely what Elder Holland denies - hopelessly out of touch. Contrary to the insinuation that we, who proclaim an answer in love, seek a comfortable god, I’m disgusted that my Church makes membership so damned comfortable.

Other churches in my town don't own malls. They run soup kitchens. They don't just sponsor BSA troops, they hold AA meetings. These churches help felons find jobs, sponsor immigrants and help their members adopt children from war torn nations. Churches in my city have homeless ministries, outreach programs for the elderly and impoverished, and their women gather to pour out their hearts in prayer for the suffering that goes on around the world. They actively fight against human trafficking, they consciously support ethical trade and are aware of the price paid by third world workers to support a first world lifestyle. They speak against injustice, proclaim peace, and create welcoming environments for people who "sin differently."

They do these things week after week, year after year.

At my church, 90% of what we do is incestuous service; we make dinners for each other, we visit the sick within our own congregations, we go to the temple for our own families. On occasion, we have a community service "project" or the Relief Society makes prescribed hygiene and newborn kits from downloadable patterns available on the Church website. We rarely see the faces of those who most need our service. As a congregation, we are so insulated. So aloof. So free to simply donate money as we plan our next family vacation, shop for a new "modest" dress, or call a plastic surgeon to schedule a mommy makeover.

Greg S said...

When our 'leaders' follow this counsel given by the Lord Himself:
Luke 18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: SELL ALL THAT THOU HAST, AND DISTRIBUTE UNTO THE POOR, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
then they will be worth listening to.

Amassing a large, diverse portfolio and billions of fiat slave dollars has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

LDS Bob said...

@Cate
I think it's great that you're responding to the comments on your blog.
Perhaps I did read more into it than you intended and perhaps I just misread your tone. It is always difficult to convey tone in a short essay.
I don't think you said anything about not giving to the church, but you did imply you were weary of the way the church spent their money, ie land, malls, etc. I am saying that even those things help the work go forward.
We could have a very robust discussion about what Christ has asked us to do and wherever that discussion took us, it would undoubtedly include many more things than just caring for the poor. The church, or the kingdom of God, is set up to provide all of those needs.
I don't think you said there was anything wrong with serving our own communities, but you definitely alluded to the lack of action in certain foreign areas somehow showed a fault in the church. I wanted to point out that serving in our own communities is the very best way to follow Christ. It's also another reason why it's so paramount to spread the gospel to these other countries so we can establish the kingdom and adequately serve more of God's children.
I believe it's ok to question how tithing is spent and what is the best way to serve others. Discussions like these help us be more like Christ. Is all well in Zion? To a great extent, there is much more good than discontent. There are many corners of the kingdom doing amazing things. Could local leaders be trained better? Absolutely. Could an open discussion allow for different needs to be met? Perhaps. I think the reason I'm writing is that your tone seemed far to critical for a church that does much good around the world.

Annalea said...

Rob, I totally agree. I would far prefer we go back to bishop being a lifetime calling, either totally or partially supported by the membership.

We'd eliminate SO many issues that current bishops have. Bishops would, out of necessity, discover they MUST find Jesus Christ, for themselves, or utterly fail and be destroyed. There would be no "faking it until you're released", no working in their own strength, as is happening in my ward (and wreaking horrendous havoc).

There would be far more motivation for meaningful training for bishops, as well.

I've done some scriptural study on the support of the servants of the Lord vs. priestcraft, and I think the Church(TM)'s teachings on those two issues is absolutely backward.

Listrynne said...

@LDSDPer
When I said “people” I wasn’t meaning just you, it’s just that you had shared the only specific example so far. I’m not offended at you bringing it up, I’m upset that things like that happen. I just wanted to make sure that people know there is more. And I’m sorry, I was a little snarky. I think I get angry because, in the world in general, people expect “the organisation”, whatever it is, to help people so they don’t have to. The problem with that, as many people have mentioned, is that *we* are the Church. When we expect “the organisation" to take care of our neighbors and those around the world, we don’t take that responsibility on ourselves. Thinking about this today has made me realize that I have a little of this attitude too. We see it on tv all the time, “give $20 and help this child” so we give and feel like we’ve done our job and can get back to real life.
I’m not sure what you mean about the Church and PR. I see and hear messages produced by the Church, but they’re always about building the family or helping people through the DI and other humanitarian services, unless they’re a direct response to something going on that needs to be addressed. I don’t see those as PR so much as trying to help the world, because there is so much tearing us down and sometimes that’s the only way people can find help.
@Cate
You asked why the Church is targeted for liability and frivolous lawsuits. It’s probably because Satan wants to tear down anything God builds. Even in the early days there were false claims made to try and stop Joseph Smith. Why would that have stopped now, when our legal system has made it so easy to file a frivolous suit and get attention from the media? Look at what happens to McDonalds and so many other large, well known entities. I also remember that at different times we were allowed to do some things at youth activities that later we weren’t, because someone, somewhere, had been stupid, gotten hurt, and ruined all our fun with a law suit. The more Satan can distract the Church from God’s work, and the more barriers he can raise through legal or societal means, the happier he will be. The Church may be God’s Kingdom, but while it is on Earth, separated from the Kingdom of Heaven, it has to follow Earth’s laws, the same as it says in the 12th Article of Faith. Imagine what would happen if we could get rid of the parts of the Church Corporation dedicated to fighting those lawsuits? All that money and those people could get down to helping people directly.

Anonymous said...

@Matthew,

Since I wrote it, I can tell you exactly what spawned the post and no, it wasn't a political agenda. I am not associated with OW. I have never marched in a Pride parade nor have I advocated for homosexual unions. So, you'd be hard pressed (though you had no way of knowing this) to lump me in with any of the groups I mentioned in the post.

The point of the post is that my experiences with God have made me so uncomfortable with what we continue to allow to exist in this world while we are busy wagging fingers and patting our own backs. And yes, we do that. The point is that we have become so consumed with issues that resolve themselves when our lives are focused on the two great commandments. Do you know how difficult it is to cheat on a spouse when you see him or her through the lens of true charity? Do you know how hard it is to lie, cheat, steal when you see in other the image of God?

Love is a far more powerful motivator than fear or shame.

It is precisely because My God has made me so uncomfortable that I am compelled to treat others with tolerance, patience, compassion, and charity - especially those who are different from me and who are not of my tribe. Isn't that the message of the Good Samaritan? Isn't the message also that sometimes it's the people we esteem as our enemies who are the better representatives of Christ?
-Cate

Corbin said...

Dear Cate,

That was totally awesome!!! To paraphrase Jesus, "Madam, I perceive that thou art a prophetess."

To others such as Robin Hood, I am coming to recognize a growing portion of saints (such as Terryl Givens) who recognize failings in the church but then lay the blame at the feet of the members; that it is the members who should do something about the problems.

This attitude fails to recognize the obvious fact that this is a top-down organization whose leaders control in detail what is or is not done at the local level.

For example, should Ordain Women ask church leaders to pray about the issue of women being ordained to the priesthood?

Or should they just start ordaining women and set the example from the ground up?

I think we can guess how that would go over . . .

It is just this sort of pointed observation that is needed by the church leadership from its members to burst the bubble of the "yes-men" who surround them and insulate them from any meaningful discussions regarding church issues.

And it is just this sort of pointed observation that Jesus made to the religious leaders in his day.

Anonymous said...

@LDSBob,

Thanks for returning to reply. I am not convinced that there needs to be a difference between serving in our own congregations and serving the community at large but that's a long discussion which addresses issues many of which could be handled locally.

And that's really not the central point of the post.

But let's talk about the tone of this piece. Better, let me tell you what I hope came through. If it didn't perhaps you can read it anew after reading this comment and see it then. (If not, we'll just have to shake hands and agree that our ears are out of tune.:))

I hope you heard the wounded, piercing cry of a lover who feels abandoned. I hope you heard the disappointment and disillusion that has ripped me in two over the past few years as God has whispered to me and as I have found that in following Him, I am drifting further from the birthplace of my faith. I hope you felt that stinging, burning in the back of your throat, that searing lump formed as you try with everything in you not to cry out bitterly.

What I hope you did not hear was silence. Because that would be me giving up.

It's so easy to paint others as enemies of the church when they speak hard words and criticism. (Not that you are - I'm just being introspective here) But I am one of so many people I know who just feel broken by our church experience and hurt that the relationship we prized turned out to be different than we imagined.

So I apologize if my tone offended you, LDSBob, because even though we've never met, I love you. I see the image of God when I read your words and imagine you somewhere reading mine. I know you are a real individual and I won't write off your concerns about the post.

I hope that from where you sit, you can "see" me, too. I hope that you can hear the anguish I feel as I struggle with the bitter cup placed before me. And I hope that even when we don't agree, we can at least, understand.
- Cate

Kwin Peterson said...

I feel the need to draw attention to two statements in the introduction to this post that reflect a fundamental misunderstanding:

1. "...some who purport to be His representatives..." No one in a leadership position chooses themselves to be in that position (Hebrews 5:4). While individual members can purport things about their piety, behavior, beliefs, etc. leadership is established by calling and common consent; no one is a purported leader.

2. "...devoted latter-day Saints who see their Church..." No member can claim that the church is theirs; it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (3 Nephi 27:8).

BK said...

Some keep making excuses for the Church, saying there are other things it needs to do then help the poor.

But what could possibly be more important for the Church then helping the poor?

If it was you & your children starving would you want church leaders to buy themselves cars, homes and food before feeding children?

Nothing in the Church comes before taking care of 'all' the poor in and out of the Church.

Christ taught that even praying or going to church or anything else we might do is all totally in vain and does nothing for us if we don't 1st take care of the poor.

The scriptures teach that the main reason to even 'have' a church or religion is to teach us how to take care of the needy 1st and foremost, starting with the needy in our own families.

Nothing comes before visiting and taking care of the needy, not praying, not studying scriptures, not building or attending churches or temples, not giving talks, not doing missionary work, not professing, not moving mountains, not listening to prophets or leaders, not taking the sacrament, etc. for all those things only mean anything 'IF' we have Charity and thus 'no more poor among us' cause we have done our duty to them.

We should not be giving our money to church leaders, Christ never taught that. Men taught that. We must follow Christ before any man, and Christ told us to give to the poor ourselves.

When we give money to fallible leaders (who almost always use it unrighteously) we are not only accountable for how the poor are neglected, but we feel like our part in helping the poor is done and we tend to forget about it, cause our extra money is gone and we don't watch to make sure the leaders actually use all our tithing for the poor.

But when 'we' have to take the responsibility to look around for the needy and distribute our tithing ourselves, then we feel much more involved and really start caring and loving others and making sure the poor really get helped. It changes our lives and really makes us Christlike when we deliver our tithes ourselves.

LDS leaders have proved over and over that they are not trustworthy to take care of the poor and the fatherless, nor handle our tithes and offerings, just in the fact that these able bodied men pocket some of that money themselves, even living high on the hog with it and that they use most of it to build their empire instead of God's kingdom, and that they have the gall to ask the poor to support their lavish life style, all while millions of women and children suffer.

No true man or prophet or disciple of Christ would get in line for money before a woman or child, if he was able-bodied to work and support himself or even if he wasn't, he would only take a cent after all women and children have been taken care of.

I agree with Greg, that until the church leaders sell all they and the church has and gives it to the poor, I will not trust or listen to them or believe they even believe in Christ, let alone are his disciples.

Church leaders have to prove to us they are righteous and Christlike and have Charity, before we should ever trust or support them or think they follow Christ.

I see the opposite of charity in them, I see them supporting and doing the vilest of evils, all the while pretending to be righteous, pretending to do some good things for show and pretending to know or believe in Christ, when I believe they are totally false prophets and have been since at least Brigham Young, really just wolves in sheep's clothing.

Make we awake to our awful situation and deception and instead follow Christ and not men.


Annalea said...

Kwin, of COURSE it's "our" church . . . just as my body is the body that belongs to my right hand, or my ear, or my leg. "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine," as the Song of Solomon says.

Common consent is dead. A dissenting vote has no meaningful impact on the church. Succession is a legal affair, and in the case of leadership positions "beneath" that of the president of the church, I'm seeing a pattern of patronage and the good ol' boys system that's disheartening, to say the least. (In my stake, in a friends' stake in Montana, and another friends' stake in Missouri. It's everywhere.) But whether or not a calling is extended by revelation from God, those who purport themselves to be our leaders (because they proclaim their authority, their keys, and the right to preside) are not acting as they should.

lemuel said...

Hey guys, this whole post has been in vain. Turns out, we do a great job taking care of the poor

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/followers-of-christ?lang=eng&query=poor

Most Christians give to the poor and the needy, as Jesus taught. In following this teaching of our Savior, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members excel. Our members make generous contributions to charities and give personal service and other gifts to the poor and needy. In addition, our members fast for two meals each month and donate at least the cost of these meals as a fast offering, which our bishops and branch presidents use to help our needy members. Our fasting to help the hungry is an act of charity and, when done with pure intent, is a spiritual feast.

Less well known is our Church’s global humanitarian service. Using funds donated by generous members, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends food, clothing, and other essentials to relieve the suffering of adults and children all over the world. These humanitarian donations, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in the last decade, are made without any consideration of religion, race, or nationality.

Our massive relief effort following the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami provided $13 million in cash and relief supplies. In addition, more than 31,000 Church-sponsored volunteers gave more than 600,000 hours of service. Our humanitarian assistance to the victims of Hurricane Sandy in the eastern United States included large donations of various resources, plus almost 300,000 hours of service in cleanup efforts by about 28,000 Church members. Among many other examples last year, we provided 300,000 pounds (136,000 kg) of clothing and shoes for the refugees in the African nation of Chad. During the last quarter century we have assisted nearly 30 million people in 179 countries. Truly, the people called “Mormons” know how to give to the poor and needy.

Petrowsky said...

That conference talk, "The Cost And Blessings Of Discipleship" by Apostle Jeff Holland, was a beautiful reminder that we should defend Christ and His teachings with courtesy and compassion. Now constructive criticism can be useful as we should always look to where we ought to improve, nobody is perfect here. My concern about this thread though is how many comments were made that the "church" or the "corporation" ought to be doing more Christlike service. I believe it is up to each individual to do more. Each community is different. Don't wait for "big brother" to do more when you yourself can make a difference. Anyone who thought Elder Holland's speech to be severe will very much more be insulted by Christ's own words in the Gospels of the New Testament since Christ's own words are equally given to instruct us toward a courageous and moral stand. Be happy people and not so eager to be offended where no offence is intended.

Edwin Wilde said...

I loved this article.
I have read the comments.
I really wish I could get to know LDSDPer better. I think she would be a great influence in so many peoples lives.

I want everyone to know that I agree with the article, but I want to play the Devil's advocate here for a moment and suggest some food for thought that I would love to get feedback on.

For those of you who say that a man of prophet of God would never step in front of a line to receive sustenance when women and children's lives were on the line I would like you to go back and read the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. My point in bringing that up is to suggest that we should be careful about denying the power enacted on our behalf when we in faith pay tithing to God. Even when a widow pays tithing to God. A widow with children giving of her last morsel that could sustain her and her child's life; instead acting in faith believing that even regardless of whether the man is or is not a prophet of God: God knows your faith. He is not blind nor deaf and He is acutely aware of the sacrifices made by the widows. -Please do not take this in defense of the Church, nor am I suggesting that it is okay for the members or leaders of the Church to deny those in need. I'm only bringing up something that I believe everyone should consider when it's stated that it is in complete opposition to the will of God for us to make sacrifices on the scale of putting your life or the life of your children at risk to sacrifice for God.

Secondly, as I read my scriptures, Judas Iscariot is the one who accused Christ of a misuse of funds that could and should (Judas' opinion) be given to the poor instead of wasting it on ordinance/s. In this he was rebuked by our Savior by saying: you have the poor always with you; but me you have not always.
This seems to demonstrate that there is a balance that needs to be found in how the Church should give to the poor and how it should give to disseminating ordinances.
This is in contrast to the rich young man who came to Christ asking what more he needed to do to get into heaven and was told that he should sell all that he had and give all of the proceeds to the poor.
Is not the separating factor between these two incidents found in that the young man was an individual who had not the requirement imposed upon him to disseminate ordinances and the Apostles of the Lord who did? If so, is the Church obligated to balance the degree to which they pay for buildings (temples and Church Building) and giving to welfare causes?

Kevin said...

BK, surely there is a special spot for you in Zion, that higher law where we are not content until those around us are cared for and content.

Usually the phrase, 'speaking truth to power' refers to political leaders; I hear you using it effectively with religious leaders as well.

Annalea said...

lemuel, did you see the longest of my earlier comments? It addresses exactly the point you are trying to make . . .

Friar Tuck said...

@Rob 11:08 AM:

Congratulations, Rob...you are the only complainer that I have ever seen that has actually suggested a course of action. I may not agree with you completely, but you are really the only honest critic of the church I have ever seen.

It seem that you, and you alone understand that it is futile to condemn the church without a course of action to fill the vacuum. You have just won a great deal of respect and admiration from me.

I have tried (in vain) for a very, very long time to nail Rock down on exactly what his agenda is, and now Cate.

You sir, are amazing!

Anonymous said...

@ lemuel

Thanks for the link. It's a perfect example of the service I mentioned in the post that occurs after tragedies.

@Petrowsky
Thanks for adding your voice to the discussion. To clarify, I don't think Elder Holland's talk was "severe".

Denouncing the behavior of others is not really a difficult "moral stand" to make. People who aren't LDS do it on the internet all the time. :) Millions of people have spoken up for or against gay marriage, for example. People have voted their beliefs on the matter. A moral stand which is _uncomfortable_ costs something more than condemning others or holding to a set of personal beliefs.

That is the point of the post. The real discomfort in following Christ comes from dining with prostitutes while you are judged by religious leaders and touching lepers when it is a clear violation of the law.

I'm not suggesting the church asks too much of us. As I indicated in the post, it asks far too little.

As for Christ's severity in the NT, well His harsh remarks were uniformly directed at church leaders and teachers of the law. Those who claimed authority and preached a gospel they didn't live. Still, in Matthew 23, he encouraged His followers to heed the teachings those who sit in "Moses' seat" even if theirs was a 'do what I say not what I do' instruction. I share this only to indicate that Christ's harsh words have context.

-Cate

Anonymous said...

Friar Tuck,

What would you like nailed down? I have my hammer at the ready. :)

- Cate

lemuel said...

@Annalea:

What's crazy is that the FP and Q12 may actually think we are doing a great job taking care of the poor among us. I imagine they rely on COB middle manager yes-men to give them information about this kind of stuff, and who are the middle managers to tell the brethren that they're not doing everything perfectly. They're definitely not reading apostate blogs like these, and we know that information is supposed to only be disseminated from the leaders to the members, not the other way around:

http://www.zionsbest.com/face.html

Anonymous said...

@ Edwin,

Wonderful questions! Welcome to the land of gray. The balance is what is missing.

If General Authorities were leaving a never ending supply of food in the empty cupboards for the price of a cake of oil and flour, we could solve world hunger. However, according to Rob's comments, members paying tithing are going without basic necessities. So until we get Elijah back, I think we're going to have to come up with an alternate plan.

As for your second scriptural reference, I think I'd make the argument that Jesus was a unique case and that He was under no delusions about what would be done with the money. Given the parable of goats and sheep in Matthew 25, the sermons on the mount and plain, the words of King Benjamin, it think it's clear what the rule is and which stories are exceptions.

I would never argue for child sacrifice based on the binding of Isaac.

(And then you have the whole discussion on Biblical translation and whether the gospels are historical or liturgical... I mean we could really deconstruct if we were so inclined, couldn't we?)

- Cate ;)



Friar Tuck said...

@Cate:

Just want you to answer the original questions I posed to you.

Tobias said...

Lemuel, I find no fault in the linked passage you refer to--if you're referring to a regular corporation. Many corporations inspire their employees to good works of sacrifice and generosity. I'd be proud to be counted among any of the relief projects and humanitarian efforts listed on the church web page.

But for a corporation calling itself a church that by some estimates brings in several billion dollars a year in donations and investments, crowing that you've spent several hundred million dollars over a decade--seems to be damning yourself with faint praise.

lemuel said...

@ Tobias:

There's a reason some folks talk in absolute dollar amounts instead of percentages.

I think next time I go in to tithing settlement I'll be crowing about the total amount I've given to the Church in my lifetime instead of the percent of my income I'm giving...

Nick said...

I generally enjoy reading Rock as well as Snuffer. They often write profoundly of "True Religion". But this time I am not enlightened. Cate's criticism's are trite and selfish.

Elder Holland spoke the truth. The gospel of Christ and the commandments of God offend the world. Those who dare not offend the world must ask themselves. What does offend me?

Criticisms of church Charity are especially misguided. Who here is without sin? Yet you judge the church as being sinful? Careful my friends, lest you follow an evil spirit.

The Corporate church is an easy target. It operates in a world of mammon. Personally I don't know how else it could operate. Such is the world we live in. Yet beyond the church office buildings and church operations is a vibrant faith. I see it and experience it every week.

I see missionaries fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant serving and blessing all on the earth they encounter. I see members giving time and money to free those in bondage (member and non-member alike) and to inviting them to partake of the gifts of Christ. I see leaders giving much of their time and talents to strengthen their congregations.

But these people are not perfect. Church members are not perfect. And the human family is not perfect.

Criticizing and passing judgment is easy. That is what the Pharisees did. Nothing Christ did was good enough for them and time and again they found fault where none existed.

Even Christ's disciples struggled with what he demanded. But his true disciples recognized that only HE provided true salvation. Likewise one must ask, if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not good enough then what is? And if you want the church to change is complaining the way to do it? Or, as Christ taught, is not the solution for disciples to let their own light shine so that they can bring glory to God?

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
...
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.


~John chapter 6

Anonymous said...

@ Friar Tuck,

This is a response to your questions from the 7:30 am post June 9th.

FT: Do you honestly think that your indictments of the church will change the leaders?

Cate: Honestly, I see my words as more of a desperate plea than an indictment but to your question, no I don't think my words can change anyone. Only a spiritual conviction can do that. But the scriptures are full of people who had a message to share and had no idea of the impact of the message they were compelled to share. The fact that I cannot predict specific results does not relieve me of the burden to speak. Like Jeremiah, I find "His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." (Jeremiah 20:9)

FT: I think you will agree that your complaints will not change leadership, but may very well contribute to the overall unrest and downfall of the church. What then?

Cate: First, I don't accept your premise. If I am mistaken, a loon voice crying from the wilderness (as opposed to a lone voice), I will be disregarded, derided, mocked and put swiftly in my place. Such is the way of fringe crazies. So the only way my words contribute to anything is if they resonate with people who have a similar experience. If there are enough people with whom my words resonate, it's indicative of a problem that needs correction.

FT: Do you start your own church?

Cate: No. There is no need.

FT: Is a formal church organization unnecessary?

Cate: Well, yes and no. The formal church and its rituals and structure are preparatory, in my opinion, scaffolding which ultimately comes down. Even so, they are a necessary vehicle. 2 Nephi 25:27 is where I think we have a problem. The Nephites taught their children of Christ even while they kept the law of Moses. We all know 2 Ne. 25:26, right? It's in verse 27 that we don't do the best job in my opinion (YMMV). We don't teach the "deadness of the law." We don't teach that all the rituals, the ordinances, the types, and the lesser laws are mere shadows of something greater which was summarized in Moses 7 (back before mankind fell so far that they had to begin again). God said men were given two commandments, "Love one another and choose me." Christ reiterated the same during His mortal ministry. Everything points to this. Even the law that parts the veil is the law of consecration. The law that brings us face to face with God has everything to with the unity we are to have with others. Astounding. We are not there yet. We may never be there in a telestial world. Certainly consecration is no telestial law. And so yes, there is a need for a formalized church, in my opinion.

FT:What about the Lord's house being a house of order?

Cate: Dissent is not disorder. The scriptures are full of individuals who were led outside the "unwritten order of things". Many prophets in Jerusalem were taken into bondage. Lehi was advised to flee. Moses called 70 men to the tabernacle. Two heard a higher call and were praised. The Canaanite woman was told specifically by the Lord that His mission was not to her. She questioned God Himself and was blessed for it. So unless I'm missing your point, and I may be, I don't believe that writing a blog post about my concerns is a violation of any order, unwritten or otherwise. I have not attempted to exercise priesthood or claim an office to which I have not been called.
(cont'd below)

Anonymous said...

(cont'd response to Friar Tuck's questions)


FT: Has not God given us a blueprint in the D+C for dealing with grievances, or is it better to strike out on our own?

Cate: Yes, there are procedures for dealing with grievances in the church. Unfortunately, the culture of the church, in my experience, endorses an infallibility doctrine, in practice if not in theory. This rarely allows for faithful dissent. I"m not sure why that would lead me to strike out on my own.

I'm going to let you in on a secret, Friar Tuck. I didn't leave my marriage when times got tough and I'm not abandoning my covenants to the church either. But neither will I close my eyes to imperfections just be cause my husband shines up like a new penny.

- Cate

Kathryn said...

I have been reading this blog as well as several others for several months. For some reason I have been drawn to blogs and discussions that provide the "Meat" that I have been craving for some time. I have enjoyed the open discussions and have learned so much. Thank you Rock and others.

I love the Gospel and love the scriptures. I value the opportunity to enter the Temple. I enjoy the fellowship, especially the sisters in my RS. And as far as the organization is concerned... I’m not going any where. I’m here to stay. Even with the warts in the organization, there is too much evidence, both spiritual and physical that the gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught in the Book of Mormon and unaltered teachings are true for me to throw the baby out with the bath water.



Like Cate, I have treasured watching Conference twice a year have gained much, but the “Meat” is too far and in between talks. And, I have concerns!

In the last several months I have been doing a lot of soul searching about the direction the Church leadership is going and my inability to support areas I feel most uncomfortable about. Physically and doctrinally. (I’m a little late in catching on.)

As many of you have expressed, I too have been disgruntled by the "Corporate" leadership and the milk toast “Correlation” material of the Church. The "Mall" has been a source of disaffection in my heart since it opened. After reading Cate's post and becoming aware of other business ventures, the choices the leadership has made in these areas doesn’t sit well with me.

However, I'm not in a position to understand their choices. I would like to think that their choices have been condoned by the Lord for the purpose of quickly raising funds to spread His gospel throughout the world, even though I'm not convinced these methods are really how the Lord would do things.

In the long run, I have confidence that the Lord will handle any misuse of funds and outlandish behavior of His leaders in His own time and in His own way.

Kathryn said...

Again, Cate's well written post expressed many of my own feelings as have many of the other posts I have read on blogs in the last few months. Repeatedly, I have cause to ponder about my own behavior and where I put my attention.

I have rested in the shelter of the programs of the Church that have allowed me to donate and serve. My discipleship has been one of convenience, as I have waited for the "compassionate service sheet" to be passed around at RS. I frequently sign up to take a salad into a member of the ward that is in temporary need. Then I wait for a new assignment.

It has been pretty easy to up the ante, by adding a few more dollars to my fast offering envelope which has been conveniently delivered to my door. (No effort on my part.)



In March, after reading D&C Sec.105 about establishing Zion, I have felt the urgency to “step up to the plate” to be obedient to the “real” important things and to look deeper into the way I can be kinder, and more supportive to the real needs of others around me.... starting with my own family members who I have self-righteously judged. I don’t have to step out my door very far to see there are people in my neighborhood that have been by-passed or shied away from because they are not active or are not members, or don’t quite meet the image of main stream members. That is not saying that I won’t step further out in the community or the world to give assistance or support. One step at a time in my new found awareness that I don’t need the organization to direct my compassion. 



I have tried to eliminated the word “Service” from my thinking and vocabulary. That word has become “Brownie Point” or “Reward” based to me. Instead, I’m trying to sincerely duplicate circumstances and feelings of others and respond accordingly with out the expectations of “blessings.” However, old mind habits are hard to break.



My point in sharing all this is: We can express what we would do if we were Church leadership by offering critical points of view and do nothing or we can get off our duff and do something about it. This “Army of Saints” can undercut all of the Corporate nonsense and really make a difference to the one and the one hundred.

As I have read, many of you are already doing it, and I’m proud to join a concerned group (even if we whine) who are making a difference in the lives of those that need kindness, compassion, physical help and compensation, aside from what the Church offers.



I recognize I am individually responsible for my own relationship with the Lord, which has nothing to do with the “Organization.” Asking Him what “I” personally should be doing is the real key to fellowship in the kingdom and then having the strength of character to do it.





Taylor Hartley said...

I’ve been reading a lot of these kinds of posts lately, thanks in large part to a family member and friend. I appreciate the critical thinking and constructive criticism that come out of them by different authors.

Cate points out a lot of deficiencies in “the Church.” I’ve always thought of “church” as the hospital for sinners. It should be. The problem is our hospital is run by sinners, too. The Lord wants it that way. He can do His perfect work with imperfect instruments. Perhaps Elder Holland went too far. Perhaps we, as sinners, who sin differently, are “too apt to murmur and find fault, when any advice is given,” as Joseph Smith would say. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 200.

To the critical thinkers of the Church, I pray that you’ll remember that criticism is like salt. A little bit goes a long way. Too much salt has the same damaging effect on flavor and health as too much criticism does to constructiveness.

To those who rightly point out error, I hope you’ll not forget to give credit where credit is due—sufficient credit. I suggest about a 5 to 1 ratio: five compliments to one criticism. It’s too easy to intelligently point out flaws and accidentally send a stronger message than you intended—a message that says there is not enough good in Christ’s Church—HIS CHURCH—not my Church—which means you should abandon it instead of praying that Christ will heal it and instead of asking Him how you can help Him do this, if it’s His will that you do.

I believe Christ’s atonement covers institutions as much as individuals. For example, I believe Christ has mercifully forgiven a lot if not all of what churches did in the dark ages that are still around today because we see so much goodness in their churches and creeds. President David O. McKay said, “All churches and all creeds contain some good which lead toward the kingdom of our Father; but to become a citizen of that kingdom everyone must conform to the requirements made by the King….marked out by Jesus Christ, the Lord.” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, p. 195. I would say Christ’s Church is included in the statement, “All churches” and so are Elder Holland’s remarks in “all creeds.”

In that spirit, I echo President Wilford Woodruff’s words: “Never, in fact, attack any one’s religion [even our own--(my addition)]….Be willing to let every man enjoy his own religion….In no way can we better convince the world of their truth than in showing in our acts and dealings with one another and with mankind the elevating effect they have upon us.” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, p. 96.

So, critical thinkers, show us the elevating effect the world’s truth, Christ’s truth, has on you. Convince us with love because “‘[c]harity never faileth.’ (1 Cor. 13:8.) Never! Charity, applied long enough, never fails to work its miracle either in the individual, in us, in both of us, or in others around the individual.” Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, p.265

engaged19times said...

When I told my nonmember engineer husband about the 2 Billion the mormon church spent on amall, the first thing he said was, "That kinda money could have helped a small impoverished country." But what does he know, right mormons? We havent been saved in ur saving ordinances in ur fancy buildings! Pride urselves on how saved u all are whilst 3 year old zimbabwean children are lucky to weigh 22 pounds!

BK said...

Taylor,

If the Church is not true and it's leaders are false prophets leading the people astray, as I believe they are, then we cannot warn people enough to wake up and see all the deception and errors and evil.

Abinadi and even Christ did not mince words when they had to speak up against evil in the false churches of their day.

It is not charity to remain quiet or go along with the falsehoods and deceptions and evils of false prophets.

In fact it's our divine duty to help each other awake to our awful situation in the Church.

When a house (or church) is on fire and people's lives (or eternal lives) are at stake, pleasant talk is not enough.

Even Christ (and even Joseph Smith) continually warned us to beware of them, and to try to wake each other up so they also don't lose their salvation because they fell for them.

BK said...

Nick,

We have been commanded to judge righteously and discern truth from error and right from wrong and devils from saints, even in Churches.

We will lose our salvation if we are not willing to judge churches or leaders, or if we can't judge them correctly.

So yes, it's risky to judge, but Christ commanded us to make sure that the church we attend and the religious leaders we follow are really his true disciples or not, for if we are deceived it can cost us our eternal life.

BK said...

Edwin,

I don't believe the 2 examples you used are relative to what I was talking about.

1st, assuming it's a true story (which is a big 'if', since the Bible is riddled with error and false stories) Elijah was apparently a true prophet, who I'm sure was not in the habit of selfishly getting in front of women and children or asking the poor to support him so he didn't have to work, like today's false prophets do in the Church. Asking for a meal while away from home in your travels is fine, but not being willing to support yourself and family is altogether different.

But God asked him to give the widow a test, and she passed it and received the blessing, according to the story.

But we know that such stories or blessings for the righteous are not the norm, but rare, if it happens at all, for even the most righteous of widows throughout the world, even though they give their last mite to charity, usually have to suffer and go hungry because wicked men and false prophets do not come to their aid.

Even the BoM teaches that the righteous are usually made to suffer because of the wicked. God does not usually intervene and save them or do miracles, even if he did in the case of the widow.

And if widows are deceived to give their last mite to false prophets, like today, then God may withhold the blessing also, for he may want the lack of blessings and hunger to hopefully cause the widow to question why and wake up and see her error in giving her money for the poor to wicked men.

And Judas was clearly 'wrong' in his judgement, for the Savior was right and the Savior was talking about himself when he said they would not always have him there.

While it is the opposite with those who are criticizing the church, for they 'are right' in their judgement and the church leaders are wrong, thinking they should spend money on what they do.

For the church leaders are not the Savior but are actually those the Savior was talking to when he commanded them to give their all to the poor.

Equating church leaders with the Savior couldn't be farther from the truth imo. They have to prove themselves worthy of such a level 1st.

BK said...

Lemuel,

The members are mostly good, for though they may be deceived to give tithing to untrustworthy and false leaders, they still do it with the right spirit, sadly trusting the leaders to help the poor for them.

But not so with the leaders. The leaders are refusing to follow Christ and use 'all' the tithes and offerings for the poor, til there are no more poor among them.

The Church only seems as good as it is because it's members are so good, the trouble comes with what the 'leaders' are doing.



engaged19times said...

Piggybacking off BK, I sincerely hope all y'all folks over 50 arent still payin ur tithing to the mormon celebrities. If ur 35 and u still want to throw away ur money, fine. U have time to grow a brain and recover from financial stupidity. I have a feeling this alleged Jesus isnt coming anytime soon like u have all been taught by the mormon church. Just a feeling!

Veracity said...

When it comes to people who are: homeless, hungry, mentally ill, emotionally unstable, etc., we can put band aids on their problems, or we can help them in some kind of permanent way.

There are two ways to make permanent and dramatic changes in other peoples lives.
1. We can heal them with faith. God knows all of us and how to help us with our problems. God might not choose to help a person because their trails are for their profit and learning. I think that is rarely the reason for not healing people.
2. We can learn about root cause and effect and the methods for eliminating the root causes of problems. This knowledge can come from academic sources or from God.

Either way, truly helping other people is rare. We do not have power in our priesthood. We are powerless. Why? What can we do about it?

37andholding said...

I say let's wake up and see the truth and follow the only one qualified to ask to be followed. We really put too much responsibility on the 'leaders'. If we didn't follow them, they wouldn't have anyone to lead. Problem solved.

Matt said...

Though I do see where you're coming from, this makes me feel as if I cannot be a truly Christ-like person as well as an active Latter-Day Saint. It's probably not your intention to make me feel like that, but hopefully it is understandable how it does so. I'd like to think that I am trying to serve God and do good to others, even when that sometimes takes the form of official church service.

David Fife said...

Amazing post, "Cate". Your comment about "The slow but steady pioneer trail leading out through the chapel doors ought to be noticeable. But if it isn't, just wait a generation."

The above statement is true in my east side SLC neighborhood. Our children see attending church as pure drudgery. None of them want to serve missions. They see the church as well meaning, but meaningless.

It’s been years since I read something that touched me this deeply.

Thanks again "Cate" and Rock for posting this.

Robin Hood said...

Nick,
Amen brother!
You have put it so much better than I could.
When I read Cate's article and many (though not all) of the posts on here, I am forced to concur with the late Gordon B. Hinckley when he said "Surely this is the age and the time of the gifted pickle-sucker".

Maria said...

As I began to read this post I felt a kinship. I have felt for a long time that although the general populous of the church seems willing to accept that leaders at the branch- and ward- level--maybe even stake-level--are fallible, that we are expected to believe, support and sustain 100% of our church-wide leaders' words or we are apostate. I was also bolstered by many of the responses posted here...I feel less alone.

Part-way through Cate's post, however, I felt myself becoming saddened, as I perceived her tone to become as harsh and judgmental, even as sarcastic in places, as she accused Elder Holland if being. I do see the value of sharing our opinions in public forums such as this, in an effort to reach out and to feel less alone while helping others feel the same. But humility is key. It is key when learning, when teaching, and when living. I feel that Cate's message loses something in its effectiveness--at least for me--because at some point it felt very much as if it ceased to be delivered with love.

I do feel that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and that the gospel should be personified in the way we actively love and reach out to others--not just within our church and families, not just to those who share our beliefs, not just with those we find easy to love--but everyone...including church leaders we see as fallible and wrong. I'm sorry, Cate, because although it seems as if your intentions are good, you may have lost people along the way as you began to take on the traits you were so offended by. I believe you love Elser Holland because I believe you are sincere, not because you showed your love in your words and by sharing your message the way you did.

The gospel is perfect. Church members aren't. How we choose to love that gospel is our choice. That's how God wants it. I choose to take what is inspiring from Elder Holland's talk, pray about what is not, and incorporate what I learn. I've done the same with Cate's message. And for me when there is grey, it boils down to the two Great Commandments: to love God first, and to love His children second. More often than not I learn that in doing the one, I am also doing the other.

Thank you, Rock and Cate!

Matthew said...

Cate,

Thank you for your response. I appreciate the clarifier.

I think you have some very good points that should be heard. As I stated earlier, I think that using Elder Holland's talk about immorality to emphasize your own points was a terrible choice. It needlessly diluted your message and made it sound similar to the humanistic, progressive, largely atheistic/agnostic movement he condemns.

I'm still unsure how you feel his words were condemnatory of you and those like you as well. I think you erect a false dichotomy by claiming that he was condemning those who believe love is a "divine power that never faileth"--but I'm sure you have your personal reasons for feeling that way.

God bless you, and good luck in the future.

Aigerim said...

Cate: do you have a child who is gay?

Anonymous said...

@ Aigerim,

No.

- Cate

Freder said...

In DC 1 the Lord says not to trust in the arm of flesh (or counsel each other):

19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/1.19?lang=eng#18

I think this means that you should not put your trust in any man, church leader or not, over God. we like to think that they speak for God so they are not "the arm of flesh."

But history and modern experience shows that is not the case.

Thank goodness for the scriptures. They pass the test of time. They are reviewed and commented on. They don't change (much). They are endorsed by God.

Men speaking, even after agreeing through counsel, may get things wrong, very wrong. And often it takes a long time to properly digest what they said. That's why it's not wise to just take what they said, adopt it as truth, and do it. That would be puting your trust in the arms of flesh.

And when the members no longer think, scrutinize, and discuss with each other what was said, then their ability to discern falsehood and error atrophy. Then they are in a terrible state where all sort of problems can arise: gullible members being misled, bad leaders get promoted, pride and arrogance, wealth and praise, silencing of critics, etc.

So I believe it is encumbent as a follower of Christ to not accept or following anything or anyone that teaches contrary to what Christ said. This does not jive with what church leaders have said. Christ did not say that the prophet couldn't lead us astray. The prophet said that.

If you try to reconcile everything the leaders have said about themselves in the past 150 years, you are going to face serious contradictions and cognitive dissonance. If you accept that Christ is the teacher and what he says trumps what prophets do and say when their is conflict, then it makes more sense. And I think part of the test is to see if we will follow Christ even if the Corporate Church says you should do something contrary.

That's why we're so lucky to have the scriptures and we get to pray directly to God. The more man inserts himself between you and God by controlling how you worship or spent your time or interpret doctrine, the more problems are created and the more people do mean, crazy things, or at least ignore and tolerate them.

Freder said...

We have put leaders on such a high pedestal that it really can bother us when they do things wrong.

I you think that the Lord chose Israel just because. Just because he chose a group of people to demonstrate his love, his power, and chose that particular group to have continuity over the ages of his involvement over time, then they aren't some sort of super-special group. They are just the group the Lord chose.

I you think of the leaders as just the men the Lord chose to have the keys...then they just have the keys. That's it. It doesn't make them rock stars. They are just members the Lord has chosen. They aren't any closer to God than you or me (necessarily). Where much is given much is required, so they have to really watch themselves. But they're not better than any other member. I don't think members really believe this. Man are called but few are chosen. Having prominence or status here doesn't mean anything.

Imagine if Jeffrey Holland literally had keys just like a janitor or security guard. The security guard is not worshipped, but he has to let you in and out. Not everything he says is right, even if he says it is, and even if he throws a little hissy fit.

We are the Lord's, not the apostles. They get to make decisions at a high level and they have keys, but we've inflated that to mean they are almost god-like. Start thinking of the apostles or security guards and see how much easier the gospel becomes.

Anonymous said...

@ Matthew,
@ Maria,

Thanks for your kind words and criticism. I really do appreciate it. The best way to counter anger is with charity, I think we all know and recognize that.

@ Maria specifically,
What you describe feeling as you read the post was similar to what I felt as I heard Elder Holland's talk. The difference is that my words won't be enshrined in the ever growing body of doctrinal statements. 3-5 million active LDS won't take my words as divine utterance. And I am right here - taking your criticism, hearing your frustration with what I've written, and responding (I hope with humility and in a spirit of reconciliation.)

Who among us gets to sit across from church leaders and talk to them about the impact of their words?

Even typing that question, I recognize that many church members would condemn my audacity just for asking it. We want charity extended to our church leaders but believe (in practice) that they are above accountability. The change in church financial disclosure is a perfect example.

How does one dialogue with far removed leaders in a culture so authoritarian that even suggesting dialogue might be warranted is grounds for shouts of "apostate"?

- Cate

engaged19times said...

Well Cate there ya go. Its a cult. It wont change b/c thats how cults operate. Fear mongering, having a special corner on all truth, belief that leaders have extraordinary powers. What of thesecult descriptions does not apply to mormonism?

Nick said...

@ Cate,

When you read the Book of Mormon what do you feel when you read the preaching of Jacob in 2 Nephi 9 or of Alma in Alma 5? Do you take offense at their words? Is their language too "black and white" and lacking "gray"?

Is not the calling of a prophet to call people to repentance. Repentance from what? Is sin & iniquity real or is it just something we imagine. Does the world shun sin or does it shun those who preach against it?

What are your thoughts when you read Helaman 13:26? Do you consider that Samuel may be speaking to you as well as to all of us?

"For as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him;"

Thank you

LDSDPer said...

Ha--

I'm coming back with nothing to say to any specific person--

I'm not feeling very articulate right now.

So, I might need help, if anyone wants to help me.

I remember that talk by Elder Holland right now. I could not listen to it, after he talked about the sister missionary who had potatoes spit at her.

I had to stop. There was something highly disturbing about it.

Not because it's disturbing to have potatoes spit at you, though that's bad enough.

I wasn't sure what point he was trying to make.

But I felt that, somehow, he was trying to reach those young people (I used to be one) who like the feeling of being "me against 'the world',"--

who like to think of themselves as chosen, as special, as more righteous than those around them.

When I was very young I lived in a place where there were very few non-LDS. I used to 'like' being persecuted, because I could hold it up as a badge--

"look at me; I'm being persecuted; I must be doing something right."

I realize now how wrong-headed, wrong-hearted that was. And, yet, Elder Holland fed into it.

He is encouraging that. We all have horrible experiences on our missions; there are some nasty people 'out there'.

But to make a bad experience with someone who is obviously angry about life and unstable a . . .


badge of honor . . .

feels dishonest to me. And contrived.

That's why I stopped listening. It reminded me of the person I am trying not to be anymore. The "me (righteous) versus everyone else (the unrighteous)"--

I have one child in particular who would be vulnerable to that attitude and is fighting it, sees it in other young people in church and knows it is wrong--

but Elder Holland told youth to celebrate that self-righteousness and that by being persecuted they could remain righteous?

I read it just now. I don't understand it. I don't understand what he is trying to teach or say. I felt that he was trying to get an emotional response, so as to obtain or insure the loyalty of youth.

Defending the truth. Defending the faith. It is nowhere in the scriptures. Jesus never said it. He said, "follow me."

I was so confused by what Holland meant, even his words about marigolds.

What was he saying? What did he mean? What did he want?

.

An Amateur Contemplator said...

Cate,

Thank you for sharing your faith and your passion for Christ-like service and love. I agree with so much of what you said. I would like to suggest three ideas, though, that might differ from your views.

First, Elder Holland may not have said what you have portrayed him to be saying. Often we impose our predisposition onto the words that others say. Rather, we should listen carefully to understand they ideas they actually meant to convey. I don't know what Elder Holland intended, but his words can be heard differently then you have understood them. Early in his talk he said:

"With admiration and encouragement for everyone who will need to remain steadfast in these latter days, I say to all and especially the youth of the Church that if you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part."

It seems to me that you have done just what he was describing. You have endured questions of others about your own faith. You have defended your faith in an eloquent manner. It seems to me that Elder Holland may have been speaking of, and to, you. In fact, in the part of his talk that you quoted, I see him encouraging you to help wake up your fellow church members, and the organization itself, to not sit back and revel in a comfortable God. I think he knew who was in the audience and I think that is the audience he was addressing. He may even have been directing his comments to those in the bureaucracy of the church to do better.

Second, there is quite a lot of variation in the experience people have with the church across geography, culture, country, etc. In addition, even just comparing two wards in the same general area, I have seen wide variation in the quality of experience ward members are having. Many of the comments on this post seem to generalize about what the church looks like from where they see it. All of the comments are likely correct for their local experience, but may not apply to all other localities.

One final comment. Denver, and others, have suggested that Zion will be built when zion-like people gather together. It is not the city that will make the people zion-like. Rather, the zion-like people will make the city Zion. It is easy to get frustrated with a large institution. But, the institution will not make us Christ-like. We become Christ-like and spread that to others. If enough members of a ward become like Christ, the ward becomes truly Christian. The institution provides buildings to meet in, Temples in which to perform ordinances that describe a path back to God, infrastructure for disseminating food and clothing, etc. All of that is of worth if it facilitates the transformation of fallen beings into children of Christ.

The documentary "I Am" concludes with the observation that the answer to the question, "What is wrong with the world?" is "I am". The solution is not for each person to solve the world's problems. Rather, it is for each person to lift those around them. When enough people do that, it will spread throughout the world and transform the world. I can definitely love and serve better. Thank you for the encouragement.

LDSDPer said...

The talk left me, after I finally read it, trying not to gag at the potato part--

confused. Feeling terribly out of touch with everyone who 'got' it.

Can someone explain to me what this man intended, besides telling young people to be proud of being persecuted?

The problem is, you see, that some of the worst persecutors are *our* very righteous brothers and sisters--

who quietly leave out the poorer young people from activities--

who tell their children that they will meet someone "appropriate" at BYU (there is nobody here, when a few poor, but very good kids, are 'here')--

all the unspoken languages that push people out who are not 'quite enough like us, who have large homes and nice cars and enough money to send children on missions and to BYU.'

I doubt Elder Holland has seen that kind of persecution.

Instead he is encouraging kids who already feel good about themselves to feel better about themselves over some mashed potatoes.

Where was Jesus in that talk?

You know, I am learning that Jesus doesn't need to be defended.

I need Him. I'm not even sure He needs me. But I need Him. And, if he needs me at all, He doesn't need me to be a self-satisfied prig who thinks she is better than people who aren't members of her church.

Help me here, someone. Is there anyone who really understood that talk?

It was all so vague.

I felt I should not listen to it. I was told by the Spirit, beforehand, not to, but I'm still in the habit of thinking that no conference talk could ever 'hurt' me, but I am slow to learn.

Slow to follow the Spirit.

Thanks, Edwin, but that's embarrassing. :)

Elijah was cool; I am not sure if the parallel is completely true. There was only one bite left. It wasn't much of a choice, but I think she was hoping and surely she was trying to have faith and maybe even follow the Spirit.

Judas. Jesus knew what he was; I don't think it had anything to do with the poor. Jesus was calling Judas out, who did not care about the poor at all, but his own political agenda, and he was not being honest. Jesus knew that

Anonymous said...

@ Nick,

Nick, I don't have a problem with moral absolutes, in the book of Mormon or in General Conference. I believe there are genuine rights and wrongs. I believe they can be spoken without reducing charity, the defining attribute of God, to the equivalent of earning parental affection.

More to the point of the blog post, I believe we elevate some moral absolutes at the expense of others. We see this when parents of a gay child are so disappointed in his choices that they kick him out of the house. We see this when one spouse leaves another over a faith crisis. We see it when people withhold assistance from a loved one because he might use the money for alcohol.

The NT is plain about how souls are brought to Christ - we love Him because He first loved us. Elsewhere, we're told He atoned for us while we were yet enemies. So often we rebuke without demonstrating that we our love is stronger than the cords of death. That kind of rebuke almost always falls on deaf ears. Brigham Young said that you could put on the head of a pin the number of souls preached into heaven by hellfire.

(And I realize very well that some of you feel my post falls into the hellfire category.)

Ultimately, I believe, as I stated in the blog post that people are drawn to a higher way of living by becoming fascinated with and inspired by gospel. And that the gospel is about laws much higher than many of the things which take up our time and attention at church.

- Cate

sfort said...

I sum up the entire comment list, having read them all...too much time

1) Entire opposites of either spectrum provide their own valid and invalid defense
2) The scriptures declare how to be Christ like, but everyone thinks that the other is not following
3) Though verbose, everyone wants to get out their inner most feelings
4) Thus sayeth the Lord will not come from within the confines of the Church, even though they are trying their best to live what they feel they believe
5)Baptism of fire is missing, since there is so much variation in what is correct
6) The best anyone can do is to seriously study and poder the scripture and call upon God to guide them in their path
7) Everyone is entitled to their own unique journey. Condemning such will only come back to the condemner
8) People are waking up seemingly hoping for leadership, the lack thereof causing division amongst the people
9) Everyone wants others to think their comments are what the Lord believes
10) Good luck to everyone. My hope is that all will find peace. The Apostle Paul prophesied of these times and they are upon us.

Anonymous said...

@ Amatuer Contemplator,

Thank you for adding your thoughts. I'll be contemplating those for a while.

- Cate

Anonymous said...

@sfort,

You could put that at the end of just about every blog in the bloggernacle. You should put it on a t-shirt. :)

-Cate

LDSDPer said...

oh, and about the O.T. story.

I do like the story of Elijah, because he sounded like a righteous man, to some extent--

although I am not really sure that humans should test other humans' faith.

Not sure on that one.

But I, also, like BK, highly question the authenticity of the O.T.

I like a LOT of it, but I think it's been used to justify evil.

As for the N.T., I used to love it, until I realized it had been nailed over the Book of Mormon.

BK and I are both followers of Jesus (or want to be, try to be)--

We both served missions. Her life went one way; mine went another.

I don't like how she has been treated. At all. By the church, by the culture, etc.

And I respect her choice to leave the church.

But one of us (me, LDSDPer) follows Jesus with the Book of Mormon (Joseph Smith did have at least that one true mission; there may have been more, but I am sure of the Book of Mormon)--

and the other chooses the New Testament to follow Jesus.

It's kind of 'funny', in a way, not 'ha, ha', but--

just interesting. :)

But BK will admit that she is a missionary for people not to remain in the church, and, while I don't try to keep people in the church, I try to support those who are trying to stay in.

That's pretty much of the mission statement of mine, with the difference between that of BK and me.

I hope this helps.

I'm a Book of Mormon Mormon.

I want to follow Jesus.

I don't go much past that anymore.

I do still have a TR. In fact, I have a brand new one. I decided not to get worked up over answering the questions, because I don't know if the men asking them know what they mean, and one of them is a very good man, and the other might be; he was willing to interview me under unusual circumstances (my husband had to be there). I was lucky to get to the interview(s), so--

As for the whole "true to the faith" thing, I was encouraged as a young person to be self-righteous. I went to MIA and sang all the songs about being true, but I didn't learn very much about Jesus, at all.

My self-righteous ego was fed by leaders and by my mother--

I was not encouraged to see non-members as humans. I feel very sad about that now.

I was a budding hypocrtite/pharisee, and it was encouraged.

I am not sure when I began to wake up, but I'm glad I did--

I am in my 60s now, and I was a teen in the 60s, and I know a few people my age who still think we, as a people, are 'special'.

I think Elder Holland fed that in people to whom it might not be healthy.

And maybe discouraged a few who are really humble, but realize they aren't the 'golden' boy or girl.



LDSDPer said...

@sfort,

Two things you say are troubling me--

They don't 'feel' right--

"the scriptures declare how to be Christlike, but everyone thinks that the other is not following."

This is true of everyone to some extent. But I really don't have time to worry about how others choose to follow Jesus. Or to judge them for what I don't even know they are doing (good or bad)But, if someone I love is persecuted by a member of the church (just because or for a number of reasons, all which point to unrighteousness)--

do I deny it is happening? Do I tell my loved one to deny it? The Book of Mormon writers did put that in, the the members of the church even persecuted the poor (or meek, and there are meek people around)--

how did they learn about that, if people didn't tell them, and if they didn't listen. Someone was watching--

and was concerned. Pretending that persecution within the church isn't happening doesn't feel honest, especially when it's in the Book of Mormon--

As for how much one person does to help another, I think that's a very personal thing.

And then--

Everyone wants others to think their comments are what the Lord believes.

I have no idea what "the Lord" (Jesus? Heavenly Father?) believes.

I didn't know there was anyone who did.

I would feel foolish pretending to know what He believes.

I just hope He won't give up on me.

When I try to tell the truth (cautiously even on here) about what has happened to my family in the church (I think Rock and his wife might know the story, poor Rock and his wife)--

Nobody wants to hear it.

So when somebody like Elder Holland gets up and says such incomprehensible (to me) things--

about 'what on earth was he really trying to say'--

I just can't relate to it--

I have asked anyone to help me understand what he was saying.

But nobody will. *You* can say I am out of touch. I do read the Book of Mormon a lot these days.

But what the man said made no sense to me--

LDSDPer said...

Right now I am in the middle of a 'battle', and I'm not sure where it is going--

to keep a special needs child going to church. Someone 'well-meaning' is doing a very good job of pushing this 'child' (who is pure and innocent in every possible way)--

out. There has been some real panic; there have been pleas (to me) to help, to stave this thing off. I'm not strong; I am in very poor health. But I am the one to whom 'everyone' in my family turns. My husband offers support; he will pray. He will stand firm behind me. But this kind of thing is not his 'thing'.

It's something that would be incomprehensible to most people 'out there in Mormon land'--

but the Book of Mormon speaks very much of it.

If I could give more detail, it might blow people away, but it would make it clear. But I won't give more. I feel that I am already too easily identified, if someone in my community might happen on this blog (fat chance, but)

There is nervous anticipation as another Sunday approaches. The days in between are seen as 'safe' days--

This is a young person from a highly unusual background (at least in the church; sadly, there are plenty of young people with this background outside the church; well, actually, no that isn't true; there are children without food who are LDS; what am I thinking?)--

and that talk by Holland was not comprehended at all by this pure-hearted 'child' (not a child, but a child)--

It was one of those 'draw pictures while the man talks, and I don't understand him' experiences.

When I try to protect one of my special needs children from this type of well-meaning person--

(who is really very dangerous)--

everyone to whom I appeal defends the well-meaning person, because that well-meaning person has a well-defined family and well-defined, comfortable to everyone else values.

I truly fear that the time will come when the special needs person will just say, "I can't go back; it's too scary there."

Does this make more sense?

We're all coming from different places here, indeed.

And, yes, peace. Peace. Above all, except the Love of Jesus Christ--

peace.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mia said...

Hear, hear. This was so timely - and so beautifully articulated. Thank you for taking the time to express things which so many of us have been feeling for so long. The only note I will make is in regards to Elder Holland's talk. If I remember correctly, Elder Holland said that his talk was directed towards full-time missionaries in the church. As a recently returned missionary, I understand how discomfiting the talk probably was for normal members of the church and how necessary it was for 18 year old boys who have no problem finding people who want to join the church without making important changes in their lives. Missionaries have a very hard time balancing being completely loving and Christlike, and teaching people the Gospel. Elder Holland's talk probably should have been given in a different forum. But thank you again for your beautiful essay. It was a privilege and a pleasure to read.

Norton Nowlin said...

It would seem that, like Christian Science, Scientology, the Unification Church, the Vatican empire, and all of the other opulent denominations, a lot of money has gone into building these infrastructures, and, even if they are totally heretical to the true biblical doctrines of Jesus Christ, they can't afford to admit their sinful ways, disassemble their organizations, and worship Jesus in the very simple way that he prescribed in the New Testament. They are too proud and rich to give it up.

What would the millions of true-blue lay Mormons do if the prophet, and apostles, of the Mormon publicly admitted that they was not really called of God, and that Joseph Smith was a charlatan and deceiver? They would "stand all amazed" at their deception. Some would, of course, accuse the apostles and prophets of false doctrine and keep on going, reorganizing, like the Communities of Christ. I hope, however, that a good many of those Mormons would burn their temple garments, get down on their knees, and pray to the Father, in the name of the Savior Jesus, to forgive them for worshipping false gods.

LDSDPer said...

I just looked up the King Follett discourse, in which I had had no previous interest--

There is another side, anonymous 9:44--

what you believe is a very private matter--

but telling others what to believe can be problematic--

but I want to point you to another possible answer--

Joseph Smith was killed less than two months after this sermon was delivered and:

President Joseph Smith delivered the following discourse before about twenty thousand Saints at the April conference of the Church, 1844, being the funeral sermon of Elder King Follett. Reported by Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, Thomas Bullock and William Clayton. This discourse was first published in the Times and Seasons of August 15, 1844:

At least three of those men had very good reason to 'doctor' what they recorded. They went on to be the Utah patriarchs.

Each person who chooses to believe that the 'church' in Nauvoo was one great, big happy family--

and everyone was on Joseph Smith's page--

is open to deception, I believe.

Who can now say whether Joseph Smith even gave this sermon?

Why do we trust those four men?

There is nothing in the Book of Mormon that says, "as man is God once was; as God is, man can become."

You're accusing the wrong book--

and you're believing those who want you to believe that everything those who were still alive after Joseph Smith was murdered were telling the truth about everything he said and did.

That is a logical mistake, if not a religious one.

But I think it's a religious one, indeed.

Believing in Jesus Christ is the single most important thing any human who has heard His Name can do--

but the Book of Mormon leads directly to Him.

You 'nail' the Bible onto the Book of Mormon, and you come up with confusion.

I think BK is right. Either stick with the Bible or with the Book of Mormon, but putting them together is a huge mistake.

I choose the Book of Mormon.

I don't doubt Joseph Smith made mistakes. I even think he allowed other men to 'lead him astray'--

so as to give them enough rope to hang themselves. And they did hang themselves.

I think Ezekiel 14 and Joseph's words about it speak to this.

It was published in August of 1944, two months after he had been murdered, and some time after Samuel had 'died', and William had been excommunicated. Did everyone else remember, word for word, what Joseph had said in that speech.

How could they?

Just offering a different perspective.

There has been a lot of debate about whether Samuel, also, was murdered (poison).

Nobody knows, yet.

BK said...

Freder,

I enjoyed your post. But I just wanted to say that even the scriptures are not infallible or without many major errors.

For the scriptures were just written by very fallible men, probably often unrighteous men.

We have to discern truth from error in the Bible, BoM, D&C, etc., for they are all teach both truth and falsehoods. Much of them are probably not even true scripture anyway or written by true prophets, but we can still learn things from them like any good religious books out there, if we have discernment.

And as you said, we must only believe and follow teachings or men or scripture, that are in harmony with Christ and his teachings.

Norton Nowlin said...

Remember Paul Dunn and his lies to promote LDS faith? Liars, according to the New Testament, will not get to heaven. Mormons preach this, too. The only religion where the god, or deity, encourages the people to lie and deceive is Islam. Paul Dunn, a GA, was deemphasized by the Mormon Church. Very little was said about his deceptions.

When Gordon Hinckley, in his official capacity as a Mormon prophet, was deceived by murderer Mark Hoffman, little was said about it. When the Joseph Smith Papyri were correctly translated, in 1969, by the mentor of Hugh Nibley, Egyptologist Dr. Klaus Baer, and it was discovered that the Book of Abraham was a fabrication by Joseph Smith, the LDS Church said little about it. Most of the members don't even know about the King Follett Discourse. Lesson 21 of the 1984 Melchizadek Priesthood Study Guide was devoted to the principles of the King Follett Discourse, without even mentioning the original 1844 discourse.

How much deception will the rank-and-file Mormon Church permit before the whole organization crumbles because it was built on the sand of lies, not the rock of truth?

How will Mormon apologists deal with the indignation of Mormons to what they heard and felt in Jeff Holland's conference speech? It will be interesting find out what happens.

BK said...

LDSDPer,

You make a great point in that we can't assume that the King Follett Discorse' is correct or all from Joseph, for we can't trust those men who published it, for I don't believe they were righteous honest men, far from.

As for the BoM & Bible, I believe both books teach many things in harmony with Christ, and a person can take valuable things from both, I don't think one has to choose one or the other.

We all have many books on our shelves that all teach both 'truth and error' in them, the BoM and the Bible are no different and have something in them both of value for all Christians, as well as both teaching things contrary to Christ that we must beware of and not fall for.


Norton Nowlin said...

As I said, go to Lesson 21 in the 1984 "Melchizadek Priesthood Study Guide" and compare what is printed in the lesson, as "commandments," with the King Follett Discourse. There is no doubt that the King Follett Discourse was given by Joseph Smith in 1844 during General Conference. It was recorded by four recorders, two of which recorded discourses given by Brigham Young, which were printed in the "Journal of Discourses."

I was in the Church, officially, for 40 years, but I met my road to Damascus in 2000, and tried to work on the inside to get people to see the heresies of Mormonism. In 2013, I had my name removed from the records of the Church. Now, like the Apostle Paul, I know only Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

The King Follett Discourse is not officially mentioned when its principles are repeated again and again in LDS "Gospel Essentials" manuals and Melchizadek Priesthood Manuals. Thisd is for the reason of plausible deniability. Yet, this silly! If you repeat the Ten Commandments in other publications without mentioning that they came from the Ten Commandments, how stupid do you have to be to not realize that they are from the law given to Moses, the Ten Commandments?

BK said...

Norton,

Unfortunately, I believe most LDS will put up with quite alot of error and deception, for I don't believe most of them are really in the Church to 'follow Christ', or they would see and reject the obvious errors and falsehoods contrary to his teachings that are taught and done in the Church.

It seems to me that most LDS just want or need to blindly be part of it's social club, no matter what kind of vile teachings or deception it's leader's promote.

Most LDS seem to be as the scriptures say, 'lukewarm' (willing to blindly go along with just about anything they are told to).

Most do not seem to be either 'hot or cold' and able to think and judge for themselves about anything.

Norton Nowlin said...

If you are as old as I am, 62, and have sat through over a thousand elders' quorum, high priests, and seventies group meetings on Sunday, can you honestly admit that the topic of the Mormon god being an exalted resurrected man was not discussed and extolled? Didn't you ever hear, and agree with, the principle that you were one day going to become a god, with a capital G, to form your own earth, and to produce a savior? Isn't this what is stated in the Mormon temple?

Honesty is a virtue, and I had to be completely honest with myself before I could see the error of my ways.

BK said...

"...a lot of money has gone into building these infrastructures, and, even if they are totally heretical to the true biblical doctrines of Jesus Christ, they can't afford to admit their sinful ways, disassemble their organizations, and worship Jesus in the very simple way that he prescribed in the New Testament. They are too proud and rich to give it up.

What would the millions of true-blue lay Mormons do if the prophet, and apostles, of the Mormon publicly admitted that they was not really called of God, and that Joseph Smith was a charlatan and deceiver? They would "stand all amazed" at their deception. Some would, of course, accuse the apostles and prophets of false doctrine and keep on going, reorganizing, like the Communities of Christ. I hope, however, that a good many of those Mormons would burn their temple garments, get down on their knees, and pray to the Father, in the name of the Savior Jesus, to forgive them for worshipping false gods."


Amen Norton! Great points.

Nick said...

@ Cate

I can only suppose you have a different copy of Elder Holland's talk as I am not reading into it what you seem to have found.

What is the substance of the talk that bothers you? Is it that Elder Holland counseled members to defend moral standards? Do you disagree with this counsel? Do you disagree that discipleship demands we forsake sin and that we never advocate for it?

You talk about "loaded" words. Elder Holland used the words "patriarchal," "provincial," and "bigoted" to describe how critics describe the Lord's servants. Is this not what critics say about church leaders? Are you yourself not now leveling this criticism against Elder Holland? Are you aware of the irony?

You say you used to enjoy Elder Holland but this time he offended you. He was too "black and white" He was not understanding of your burdens. And you say because of this offense you are justified in characterizing Elder Holland as angry and insincere and in criticizing the Church as uncharitable.

Are you not being uncharitable? If personally offended - even when no offense was intended - could you not "turn the other cheek"? Or does this Christian teaching not apply to you in this situation?

Those who criticize the Church's philanthropy are like the Pharisees who issue demands that can never be satisfied. On the one hand those efforts are criticized for being insufficient. But when the Church does draw attention to the extent of its efforts the critics cry foul! That the Church is acting contrary to Christ's teaching to "not do alms to be seen of men". So which is it? To silently do good works and be accused of not doing enough or to broadcast them and be accused as self-serving?

Elder Holland concluded with this counsel:

Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them.

If you feel this is unsatisfactory counsel please indulge this forum with the clarity you claim to have.

Thank you

Norton Nowlin said...

BK,
Why would a reasonable person want to worship another Jesus, when the way is so plain that a fool, though a wayfaring need not err their in? You're talking about mostly college educated men and women, like Fawn Brodie, a niece of David O. McKay. Fawn wasn't afraid of speaking her mind, and she spoke, and wrote, the truth about Mormonism. Her book about Joseph Smith caused a lot of reasonable people to turn-away from Mormonism.

Don't the majority of Mormons want to be in heaven in Jesus, instead of in hell with Satan? Oh, I forgot. Mormons only believe that the sons of perdition will go to hell. Everyone goes to a heaven. Only Mormons get to go to "the" heaven.

Norton Nowlin said...

Let end this discussion by saying the following. The "Book of Mormon," and the "1833 Book of Commandments, refer to a much different God than the god mentioned in the "Doctrine and Covenants," the King Follett Discourse, and the Book of Abraham. That's the main reason David Whitmer left the Mormon Church to start another church. He saw the contradictions between the Book of Mormon/1833 Book of Commandments with what Joseph Smith said and wrote in, and after, 1835. The God described in the Book of Mormon is totally different than the god described by Smith in the King Follett Discourse.

The reasonable person can see these blatant contradictions, which Jeff Holland can't mitigate in his generic appeal for Mormon understanding and conciliation.

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LDSDPer said...

@Norton,

You're all 'black and white'.

All those 'guys' were either good and true, or all of those 'guys' were bad and false.


I believe the church was hijacked/ambushed shortly after Joseph Smith brought forth the Book of Mormon.

I believe that God has allowed all of this, because nobody was really aware of what the true purpose of the Book of Mormon was anyway.

"They" were all caught up in being 'great and wonderful and chosen.'

It's still a problem.

Norton's words below:

There is no doubt that the King Follett Discourse was given by Joseph Smith in 1844 during General Conference. It was recorded by four recorders, two of which recorded discourses given by Brigham Young, which were printed in the "Journal of Discourses."

Yes, there is doubt, Norton. Brigham and his peers were meant to test the Mormons who had not done anything they were asked to do.

Most people are divided into two 'camps':

There are anti-Mormons or ex-Mormons and TBMs in the first 'camp':

--They believe that the church is all about being 'right' from the beginning and never veering. Joseph Smith and men since him have said that is not the case. Some were better than others. I am highly wary of Brigham Young.

Some reject it; some stake their lives on it.

Then there is the second camp:

--it got hijacked completely.

There are both anti, ex and 'active' Mormons in that group, as well.

The anti and ex-Mormons believe that it needs just to be thrown away; those who are still 'in' the church are wary of everything; pray over everything, test everything by the standard of Jesus and His original commandments (whether found in the Book of Mormon or New Testament. Though I used to read the New Testament, I am refraining at the moment; I think I should give the Book of Mormon a chance, or why am I a Mormon; I don't 'hate' the NT at all; I think the gospels are lovely--but it stands the test of 'time' just as poorly, if not moreso, than the Book of Mormon.)

Some of us can see that the church is a vehicle, broken down, barely moving, but still capable of doing good--
just be careful with it.

Others want to throw it away. I'm not in the throw away category.

Anonymous said...

@ Nick,
I invite you to direct me to the place where I said I had special clarity.

What I have said, which is on the blog post for all to see is that (1) I was aware that the talk may not have been directed at me, (2) that my takeaway from the talk was colored by other experiences, (3) that his talk "seemed" directed at certain groups within the church grappling with tough issues.

Further, I said (excerpting from the blog) that "I had the sinking feeling that his words would catalyze the most judgmental voices in the church, promoting a spirit of division and justifying intolerance."

My objections are clearly outlined in the post, namely that " President Uchtdorf’s big tent vision, which allows for imperfect members who grapple with complex issues, was instantly replaced with a dogmatic return to lockstep religiosity."

So, no. I'm not bothered by a call to hold certain moral standards. This question has been asked and answered already in the comments, specifically in a response to you which was already provided. No. I don't disagree with the counsel to stand for something, I think the blog makes that clear. My disappointment is that we often stand for small things while bigger things burden the world.
Neither do I reject that we should defend the principles of the gospel.

You have intimated that we read different conference talks. Perhaps you read a different blog.

I say this because it seems that you are trying to paint stark lines, placing standing for the gospel and deeper institutional involvement in the world on opposite sides of the spectrum. I reject that dichotomy. I see these as part and parcel of the same discipleship. What I reject is standing for those things which are cheap substitutes for the gospel. Things I mentioned earlier like divorcing a spouse in faith crisis or kicking out a gay child rather than learning to love as Christ did, "while we are yet enemies."

Elder Holland, to be clear did not encourage that smallness directly and I doubt he would encourage it period. But I didn't intone that He would. I wrote that "I had the sinking feeling that his words would catalyze the most judgmental voices in the church, promoting a spirit of division and justifying intolerance." I have seen that play out.

Regarding "critics": I've repeatedly stated in the comments that all dissent is not disloyalty. So while you again attempt to draw stark lines classifying critics and supporters, I again reject the dichotomy.

Re "used to enjoy Elder Holland...: Again you are reading more into what I wrote than exists therein. I said Elder Holland was normally a conference favorite. I still enjoy his talks and anticipate enjoying his upcoming talks.

Re describing Elder Holland as "angry and insincere": I never used the word insincere. Not a single time. I believe he is sincere. I've probably said more stark things that Elder Holland did in this talk and believed every word of them. I did use the word "angry" because that is how Elder Holland sounded. If you disagree on his tone, I'm fine with that. I can honor your interpretation without being disagreeable, Nick.

Re: Whether I'm being uncharitable:
Have you read the comments? I've acknowledged repeatedly that my tone was harsh and charity is always the better recourse. We can always turn the other cheek and I am never above the directive to do so. I took pains in the article to make it as impersonal as possible while still addressing the concerns that welled up in me. In fact, other than prefacing the post with the explanation of what prompted my feelings to pour out onto the page, I don't really reference Elder Holland and I added a postscript (which may have added to confusion), so that it would be clear this wasn't personal but a reaction to a certain mindset I have seen and experienced in the church. One that I hate to see reinforced, even unintentionally.

(cont'd below due to comment length limitations)

LDSDPer said...

I'm in the 'watch and see what happens and stay very close to Jesus' category--

but not 'black and white'--

there actually have been a few good Mormons. I'm not sure I can count myself as one, but I don't go around telling other people they've made terrible mistakes.

I try to show the different 'schools' of thought.

No, I'm not a RLDS. I don't belong to any of those churches. I actually am a member of the LDS church. It is a very uneasy relationship. But not with Jesus.

Jesus. I know about Him.

As to not doubting that that talk was given by Joseph Smith, you are completely swallowing the 'line' I told you about. How do you trust those 'recorders'?

You don't think there have been conspiracies in history before, in all religions?

That is one of the reasons I believe the Book of Mormon is so valuable, but many LDS like to call those of us who believe that evil people have been conspiring in every institution, religion, government, etc.--

from the dawn of time--

nuts.

I prefer almonds.

Norton, I don't have to believe you, but your argument that "there is no doubt" won't hold up anywhere.

*We* have no idea how much was fabricated/falsified.

*We* do know the Book of Mormon has some integrity because the woman Brigham despised wouldn't give Brigham the Book of Mormon to tamper with. (Emma)

There may have been some tampering before 1830--

but probably not very much.

Not as many serpents had entered the 'flock' (or wolves) by then.

But enter they did.

Have you ever wondered why the entire Smith 'clan' was decimated? Why is nobody suspicious of that?

Imperfect they all were, as all of *us* are--

but something is not right about that.

You don't have to believe me; I am sure you won't. But I want to make certain that those who still want to believe in the original mission of Joseph Smith (how far did it extend; I don't know)--

have another way to view things.

They don't have to swallow the TBM/anti-Mormon, ex-Mormon arguments that it is 'all or nothing.

And, for what it is worth, though Joseph never said it was the most correct book--

I think there is still a lot of wisdom in the D&C. I don't know how much Brigham and his peer (or, ahem, followers) tampered with it.

But the part about how even the very elect shall be deceived and that the church is under condemnation, etc.--

those parts need to be heeded.

Deception is not just common in religion; it is common throughout the world and in every culture.

Anonymous said...

(cont'd response to Nick)

Re "those who criticize the church's philanthropy...":
Again you are using a dichotomy that remains to be seen. I could just as easily say those who defend the Church's philanthropy are like money changers in the temple, upset that the tables have been overturned. I do understand your point, however, that the church is in a no-win situation. I will concede that there will always be critics. What's heartbreaking is how much of the criticism is coming from active members like myself. People who are struggling to understand the church culture and corporatism. Having defended the church for years, I admit to feeling no small amount of disillusion at the struggle to defend a culture for which I find no defense.

Abraham Lincoln once said "Alcohol has many defenders but no defense." I feel that way about the church in some respects. Somethings we do, as I said in the blog, leave me baffled. You know who I never feel the need to defend? God. Jesus Christ. The power and principles of atonement. The Plan and path to Salvation. I am calm as a Summer's morn when they re attacked and reviled because I know that truth will bear out. It doesn't need to be attended by a bodyguard of, well, anything. Yes some will call good evil, others will call evil good. But the truth will always find a way, just as charity never fails.

As for the church's course in regards to doing what is right quietly versus advertising it, this is another false dichotomy. The Savior healed people and asked them not to tell others but they could not be restrained from sharing their joy. When the blind man was healed and the woman with an issue of blood was made whole, they needed no ad campaign. The good that was done was evident to all they met. The healing was so reality could not be denied. This is why when the Baptist's disciples asked whether Jesus was the Christ, He could say simply, "Go and tell John what you see and hear." The good news is self-evident when we are actually living the gospel.

Re the following quote:
Elder Holland concluded with this counsel:
Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them.

That was lovely thanks for sharing it.

- Cate

LDSDPer said...

@Cate, I'm glad you've come on here. You're not making me look so bad (I'm the original lengthy poster, and I embarrass myself a lot)--

But I want you to know I think you are brilliant and make a lot of sense. You are also very articulate, something I am having a hard time being right now. *grin*

I really am not sure you have time, Cate. You've got a lot you're trying to manage here, and I'm just a housebound, old sick woman. But I meant it when I said that I didn't understand Elder Holland's talk, and I am seriously wondering what is wrong with me. Conference talks, generally, have become more and more incomprehensible to me, as I have gotten older. I did all the institute, BYU graduate thing--I did the mission, and these guys speak a different language to me now.

I think it would be really nice if people just got up, read a segment from the Book of Mormon and sat down.

Or why are we Mormons? But I'm odd. Sickness and isolation can do that.

@Norton,

So you've decided to close the discussion.

Well, well. You've a young person, Norton. Very young yet. *hee, hee*

LDSDPer said...

oh, and Cate--

PLEASE don't stop. I am hanging on your words in the middle of defending the Book of Mormon.

:)

LDSDPer said...

@Norton--

David Whitmer was cool. So was Oliver Cowdery. I have some real reservations about Sidney Rigdon.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 11:30 and Anon 12:16

Yes, the church has an addiction recovery program and in some places, Prison outreach.

Neither of those programs, in my experience (I have experience with both), are open to the public nor do we do "outreach", so much as people are encouraged by their bishops to attend when a problem is apparent.

As wonderful as these callings/ programs are, they are not comparable to what many other, smaller, less wealthy churches do on a regular basis for complete strangers. With a lay ministry, we can only do so much. The question then becomes, to which endeavors should we devote the bulk of our resources?

- Cate

LDSDPer said...

defending.

NO!!!!!!

Why should I defend the Book of Mormon?!!!!!!

Ah, I SLIPPED!

mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa--

doesn't need defending--

just sometimes needs to be have all the stuff that has covered it up taken away--

so much stuff nailed to it--

sorry--

defense--

bad word--

Minerals Liberia said...

Alan, Don't we all wish to be something more than we are.....go and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I am ready...are you?

Much thanks for calling us out.

Sean said...

i miss my church dearly. I miss the songs, and fellowship. I miss the faith that instilled in me as a child and young man serving a mission.

But Cate so eloquently describes both my disillusionment from and disheartening at the Corporation of the LDS Church. I can't even bring myself to include the Savior's name in their title. It is NOT the Church of my Savior.

So now, me and my house, we will walk the dusty trails, following our heart, our conscience, and the Spirit in seeking solace and healing with those we meet on our journey.

Sincerely,
A Gay Son of God

jm said...

"With admiration and encouragement for everyone who will need to remain steadfast in these latter days, I say to all and especially the youth of the Church that if you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part."

The above is from Holland's talk. I heard this again two Sundays ago, when it was read in Elder's Quorum. It struck me in a strange way. Are we supposed to endure abuse because we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Or are we supposed to endure abuse because we are disciples of Christ? And really, here in the States, what abuse are we enduring as Mormons? Our fellow Christians of other denominations are being put to death for Christ in other parts of the world...

BK said...

LDSDPer,

Do I understand you correctly, that you believe the LDS Church is just like and equal to the RLDS or FLDS Churches, or any other break off after Joseph died, none with any real authority or right to carry on Joseph's Church but since they have the BoM, though they are all both good and bad, you feel they are maybe better choices then other Christian Churches because they have the BoM, even if the church may not live by it?

Do you believe that one can be a member of any of those break off churches (LDS, RLDS, FLDS, etc.) and ignore the bad in their church but just be good people and follow the BoM and all will be well?

Do you believe that God doesn't really care what Church people belong to or support, whether they are Catholic, Baptist, LDS, RLDS, FLDS, etc.?

Do you believe all Christian religions are basically the same to God, just so they either have the NT or the BoM?

Do you think Joseph was wrong then when he taught and where the BoM teaches that we will lose our salvation if we fall for false churches and false prophets and false doctrines?

Wouldn't it be safer then and a good idea to stay away from, especially keep our children away, from any church that has false prophets or false doctrine or especially allows and supports serious sins like adultery to go on? Lest we or they fall for them?

I don't judge a church, book, leader or person by the 'good' they do, but by the 'bad' they do or say or support. For we have been warned that even evil people do alot of good in order to look good and fool others.

It's not the 'good' that makes a church true or good it's the absence of false prophets, false doctrines and evils.

For no amount of good can make up for serious sin or serious deceptions.

Joseph taught that false prophets say and do almost the exact same things that true prophets do (that means they do and teach alot of good things.) they just add a little falsehood in that few notice, but because of the good things they do, Joseph warned that most people fall for them and support them.

Though I do think the Savior and Joseph Smith were both very black and white, (teaching that without Charity we are nothing and won't gain eternal life) though Christ loved everyone, I see people in 3 categories,

1. 'Righteous People' - those very rare people with Charity, who prove they are Christ's true disciples and are not deceived to go along with evil, for they live strictly by the teachings of Christ, not men.

2. 'Good Honest Kind People' - who keep the 10 commandments and have minor faults but are deceived by false prophets to support and go along with evil, cause they don't really have Charity or study, know or live by Christ's teachings, they really follow men or prophets before Christ.

3. 'Unrighteous People' - who are usually very nice and do alot of good things and service most of the time, but then commit serious sins.


me said...

@Norton
I see what you are saying and how seeing the inconsistencies would cause one to not see how the books and King Follett sermon could be referring to the same God but I think scriptures are layered. Meaning I have noticed how the meaning of scriptures have changed for me as I have studied/pondered/prayed and sought for more understanding. As I have come to have a better understanding of the characteristics of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, I do see how they are referring to the same God.
I do believe Joseph Smith tried to explain to people about God and he also mentions the difficulty he had doing that:here is one quote: “I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen [see D&C 121:40] and another:"If I revealed all that has been made known to me, scarcely a man on this stand would stay with me.' and 'Brethren, if I were to tell you all I know of the kingdom of God, I do know that you would rise up and kill me."
I do believe he knew far more than anyone would give him credit for.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cate, you followed accusing Brother Holland of arguing against men of straw with your own parade of straw men in your blog post.
Sincerely,
Greg D.

Joshua Henricksen said...

This article raised a question in my soul: Who are we to criticize the Lord, His Church, or those whom He has called? Perhaps this "deviation" from the "good-ole-days" is not so much a problem with the church, but with those who look at it with an increasingly tainted lens as the enemy of us all gains greater control over the children of men.

Don't forget that this life is a TEST! A test that is designed to push us and help us learn what we must learn by the One who knows us perfectly. Tests, by nature, push us and are uncomfortable. What's more is this test isn't just designed to test our knowledge, but our character - another matter entirely. Facts are easily regurgitate-able. Character cannot be faked, especially to a Being who knows us perfectly.

Often these tests come through trials, afflictions, and all the "unfair-ities" that the infernal realms and those that serve them can throw at us. Although He is not the source of suffering and pain, He DOES ALLOW IT to show us how broken and hurt we are. All the unfairness in the world is a part of the greater and far grander design of God.

I am not naive. I am not just a blind follower, doing whatever I am told without question. Quite the opposite, actually. I deal on a personal level with some of the issues talked about in this article. I know the hurt and fear I experience comes because I lack understanding of the trial's purpose. I know that the fear comes when I depart from my God toward a path that He has forbidden - NOT because He wants to put me into a box, but because He knows that the path is made up of briers and thorns that will poke, prod and hurt; thorns tipped in poison which is designed to make me feel that I know more than the Being who created me and that I am perfectly fine, when in actuality I am rotting from the inside out.

In such a state, I would be uncomfortable. That does NOT mean, however, that I then blame my discomfort on the Lord or his chosen Prophets. As I stated earlier, my discomfort came from my actions and lack of faith, not from the doctrines of the gospel and the explanations thereof that fall from the Prophet's (and therefore CHRIST'S) lips (D&C1:38).

Petrowsky said...

I figure the talk was one clearly to teach "love one another" even if the going gets tough. A good recap of the talk is found:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865600290/Elder-Jeffrey-R-Holland-The-Cost-2-and-Blessings-2-of-Discipleship.html

A little pure love and a lot of devotion to Christ is what we need.

Friar Tuck said...

@Cate:

Cate, I will say this...I do not agree with all you say, but you are a gifted writer and a delightful person. I wish you all the best.

LDSDPer said...

@BK,

I think we've had this discussion before. I've made it clear that I don't criticize your choices.

Organizations mean very little to me, but I believe I was meant to be born 'in the church' (whatever that means, and it IS fuzzy)--

And I have been told to remain.

I have thought very little about the differences of similarities of the original Mormon churches and their break-offs; it matters very little to me.

But I think it is good that Emma had a copy of the Book of Mormon, and some RLDS scholars led me to question Joseph's polygamy.

My father was a scientist and a brilliant man, and he said, "truth is truth, wherever found, on Christian or on heathen ground."

I just don't collectivize. We've talked about that. But I'm not sure you understand what I am saying, or maybe it doesn't matter to you. That's fine.

I believe, actually, BK, that one person can be told to be a Catholic, another a Jew, another a Muslim, another a Baptist, another a Mormon, etc.--

I believe God knows where each person is needed for his/her optimum growth and where each person can do the most good, or the most harm (to be tested)--

I don't think we can see what He can see at all--

and I'm just not into the 'detail' as much as you are.

I'm seeking truth at this point, and I've had some reason to be concerned about anything that might have originated with Sidney Rigdon or might have been touched by Brigham Young.

I think they hijacked the original church, but Father and Jesus knew it would happen, and it's all a big test for all of *us*.

But I think I've said this before.

I thought I told you that I think it's great you aren't in the church anymore, and I'm sorry for how you've been treated by the church, but I am beginning to wonder what you want me to say.

I can only say what I believe. God is huge. Enormous. And He's big enough to take care of everyone. It may take millions of years, but He knows what to do.

I guess I'm not as negative as you are, but Cate speaks to me, very much.

I think corporations are evil. That is the only blanket statement I will make.

I just know any exceptions, and, unlike others, I don't think the church has to be a corporation.

But I am beginning to understand that generally those with a particular set of political beliefs will see religion differently, and very few believe, politically, as I do.

I am not a neo-conservative, and I am not a progressive.

I really don't know what you want us to discuss. I think we've gone over it before. :)

I think it's a crime how you have been treated in the church.

A crime.

LDSDPer said...

don't know any exceptions (about corporations being evil)

sorry for the bloopers--

LDSDPer said...

Joshua,

I'm not being sarcastic when I say this, but there are those who believe we are not to criticize anyone--

including the governments of the world, including the U.S. government (which I believe is quite evil)--

I think those people are just a lot more Christlike than I am.

I don't think that being critical of some of the church programs is the same as being critical of God, though.

I really do keep God separate from the church--

but I believe that God uses evil people to do His work, of all strange things, and He uses people who aren't that Christlike to test His most humble people--

He just uses everything and everyone, and He will sort it out.

What you said in the last part of your post really made sense to me.

HE will sort it all out.

But I can't keep my mouth shut when I see abuse, whether in the government or in the church (any church)--

BK said...

Joshua,

You are assuming (as you've just chosen to believe) that the leaders of the LDS Church are called by God and that he backs them and that they are following Christ. None of which is true in my opinion when you 'prove all things' and not just blindly accept what they tell you.

And who are we to judge or criticize them or warn others about them? Christ commanded us to, and he told us how to judge true prophets from false ones. And in doing so we can see that the Church leaders are not following Christ, nor do they have charity, nor were they called by God nor do they have any authority or keys from him, nor are they even righteous or honest.

It appears you have followed blindly and have not researched and studied how Brigham Young took over the church, by vote and then by prideful power and persuasion, not by revelation or calling from God.

And it wasn't the whole church who followed him either, just a part of the Church Joseph started. Many or most members refused to follow Brigham out west back then because they thought of him like we think of Warren Jeffs today.

It appears you aren't aware how Joseph Smith taught completely contrary to BY and today's church, and from what is written by and of Joseph, he almost surely was about to excommunicate BY and other apostles for whoredoms like polygamy, but died before he could do it. And afterwards BY was not going to ex himself of course.

Why would you ever believe such a man could be righteous, let alone continue the Church with God's or Joseph's blessings?

What about the RLDS Church, it was founded by an Apostle and many former members also, and was just another break off of Joseph's original church like the LDS church is. There was no difference, except # of members which means nothing.

It appears you have just assumed and believed what Brigham Young and the leaders up to today have told you, without proving it to be true and doing your own homework.

And we don't prove things by warm fuzzies (for people in all religions get the same warm fuzzies about their religion as LDS do and think it's God too)

But we prove people, prophets and churches by the words of Christ, which proves the LDS Church is false for it is not following Christ. That at least is very clear.

I know 6 year olds who know and understand Christ's teachings better then any LDS leader I know does. But then most just make excuses for the church saying that somehow Christ's words aren't valid today. And most buy it cause it's easier.

Gary Hunt said...

Joshua Henricksen,

With all due respect you need to re-read D&C 1:38, study it carefully and try to understand what it is really saying.



BK said...

LDSDPer,

I appreciate your concern, sympathy and added voice about how I and all women are treated in the Church.

But I was just sincerely trying to understand where you were coming from. I try to do that with people in conversation. If you would rather not answer those questions then I understand. I tried to make them as clear as I could.

I guess I just don't understand why you put so much store in a book written or published by a man, that you don't agree with his other teachings.

For I wouldn't follow anyone who I didn't agree with or someone who I thought taught false doctrine, so it's just perplexing to me.

You also say you believe in and follow Christ, yet even He warned about falling for false churches and false prophets, especially in the BoM. So I was just wondering why his warnings don't concern you more?

When you say God might tell people to be in just any church, I have a hard time with that, because I believe God and Christ would always tell people the same things.

I don't believe God commands people to beware of and stay away from false prophets and then in the next breath tells them to join their false churches and give them their money, time and children.

I guess I just thought you were willing to discuss these things because you continue to post about them, but we can again agree to disagree if you'd like.

But thanks for your agreement on some very vital issues.

La Bruja Kozmica said...

2 years ago, after living in Utah for 8 years I decided to abandon the church. And as I was reading this article I couldn't help but crying, because these are the exactly same reasons why I decided to walk away from the Church of JesusChrist and the Latter Day Saints. I was remembering right now, while I'm in the train, those beautiful days in my mission in the North of Mexico when the joy of leaving my life behind to truly serve others will fill my heart. I remember those days because is when I experience with such an intensity the beauty and simplicity of the beautiful gospel of JesusChrist, helping those who were in need, I loved that people, and I still keep them in my heart. Remember helping the ones with alcoholism and droug abuse problems and trying to help them because I was myself an alcoholic and droug addict once. I tried to help those with homosexuality issues because I know deeply in my heart we are all equal, and if through the atonement I received forgiveness for my mistakes, who I am to judge others?. And when I came to Utah everything change and however the fact of seeing injustice and hypocrisy in the church I try for several years to remain firm on my faith because of the transformation I experienced in my mission, however the dissapointment that I was experiencing because of all these things mentioned here brought me to the realization that I was not happy anymore at the church, so I leaved. However I cannot denied that the gospel is truth, I just can't! But I'm certain of one thing, that the beautiful gospel that I once embrace with all my soul it is not at the Church anymore, at least not here in Utah where I have found so many discrepancies and injustice among the leaders and church members. I'm nobody to judge, I have been in dark places thru my life, but I cannot and I will not stand for an institution that doesn't do what it proclaims, my integrity doesn't allow me that. I have found joy out of the church because one doesn't need to be religious in order to do good. l don't need to be lds to love and to try everyday to make this a better world because I find happiness in serving my brothers and sisters. I just wanted to share my experience, hope it might help someone out there. And Cate, thank you for sharing these words.

Anonymous said...

Mis Don Quixote .... Poppycock ! Fabulous writer though.

Tom said...

Wow. Just wow. I loved Elder Holland's talk and still do. I think the writer of this article missed the entire message in the talk. Elder Holland is WITH you, not against. There are a lot of people in the world who profess a religion they call Christianity that does not require any action. He isn't talking about churches that have soup kitchens and homeless shelters. He is talking about churches that bring people in on Sunday (or another day) and teach them that they are accepted in their sins and give them a happy song and gentle fluffy messages and collect cash to enrich the pastor.

Elder Holland is encouraging us to do more, to serve our fellow man. He is telling us not to be spiritually empty.

It is true that the church has investments and intellectual and real properties. We do have legal people to maintain our ownership rights. The Church started this in the middle of the 19th century with a goal to allow members who lived far from civilized areas to have some comforts. In our day there are tax reasons that make it difficult for the Church to divest but we have been gradually working out those issues.

It is also true that members are prone to insular habits. This came from being persecuted. Sometimes we feel comfortable sticking together. The leadership of the Church has been telling us to stop doing that for decades.

I think "Cate" is kicking against pricks without cause.

37andholding said...

La Bruja Kozmica
There it is in a nutshell!
That, is the reason there are commenters who don't understand the problems here in SLC versus the religion in other parts of the country and world. It IS different when you get to the center of the crap. It smells pretty strong! For all of you who aren't in the middle, it's real! I'm here and I see it.
It's the individual people that count. But those close to the epicenter are tainted. One has to be aware and fight the toxins.

37andholding said...

La Bruja , what you said was what I referred to as being in a nut shell. ;)

37andholding said...

Tom, you're wrong!
Holland wasn't speaking to us about OTHER religious people, else why would be be speaking to the LDS? it's like saying that the Book of Mormon is for everyone else except us! That's reaching!

37andholding said...

And Tom, if anyone is kicking against the pricks, the pricks are still pricks!

Okay, so maybe that's not what is meant in the scriptures, but it's what I mean!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Tom, your cavalier acceptance of the Church's business enterprises as being justified in providing 19th century members some meager comforts was not an attitude shared by Brigham Young, Jr:

“There is too much time given to Corporations, stocks, bonds, policies, etc. by our leaders to please me,” he wrote in his diary, “We are in all kinds of business interests. Even the members of the Twelve represent businesses which are jealous of each other and almost ready to fight each other.”

There is arguably a place for farms, canneries, ranches, orchards, and other holdings in any church, but I don't think the Lord approves of His apostles spending their time managing banks, oil companies, and huge shopping centers in a church that carries His name.

LDSDPer said...

Oh, BK, who said I accept false prophets and false churches?

There is falsehood everywhere, not just in churches. Everywhere. Until you pick up and walk off this planet with its falseness everywhere, I can say the same about you. You had better not belong to anything. You had better not support anything, because evil in in everything the world has control over, and the world has control over everything.
I've said this before. This is becoming wearying.

You continue to insist that anyone who remains 'in the church' is false. Is evil. Has been deceived.

I don't believe that, and that is where we can't seem to discuss things.

Do you not remember my saying those things? Do you just have on line of thought that you continue to say over and over again? Perhaps *we* all do; perhaps I do. Mine is respect for the beliefs of others. Yours is insistence that only those who believe as you do have not been false and are not evil. How far will you go if you feel you are around evil people? Will you feel you need to punish them somehow? How far will you go?

You are a strident missionary for people leaving the church.

BK, I don't believe it is my job or my right to convince anyone to stay or leave.

I don't know why you are so convinced that, until you have everyone agree to leave, agree with you that being 'in the church' means they are untrue--

or deceived--

you have, somehow, not done your 'job'.

I don't know why you think I don't believe in the things Joseph Smith taught. I believe in them up to a point, up to the point where I can trust that he was actually speaking and not being falsely recorded by false brethren.

But I believe you are beginning to say untrue things about me. I believe you are putting words in my 'mouth'. Why? What do you hope to accomplish? Is this Christlike behavior? Is bullying people about religion Christlike? Is telling people they are doing evil, because they are in a particular church Christlike? You keep saying, "Jesus said . . ."--

show us the verses where He says we are evil for being part of a particular culture. He judges each person by his/her heart, not by their membership. Humble Jews were loved by Him. The Pharisees had chosen, as a group, to deny Him. There is a difference. He didn't wave His Hand and say, "if you remain a Jew, you are evil." No, he called those evil who did evil deeds, not according to their membership in anything. But you can't seem to see that. It's easier to put a label on a person and write them off or on because of that label.

That is what fanatics do. If someone is a Muslim, they are automatically bad. If someone is a Mormon, they are automatically supporting evil. How can you paint things with such a broad brush?

You say you are wary of the Book of Mormon (where I am not), but that I don't believe Joseph Smith taught true things.

I don't accept anything or anyone completely without reservation.

But the Book of Mormon is different to me.

You can believe what you want about it, but I am starting to feel that you are twisting my words to where nothing I say means anything any more. To what purpose is that?

I want to say: what do you want from me?

I think you may be going too far in telling other people how to live and what to believe.

Agency is powerfully important to me, as it should be to anyone who seeks the truth.

Please do not tell me I don't believe in Jesus Christ. That I don't believe He is my Savior. That I haven't experienced Him. I have, and you have no right to tell me that I haven't.

You can't know what other people have experienced, and you're crossing a line to assume that people believe certain things in a certain, exact way, because you do.

My entire life is based upon trying to follow Jesus Christ. If you can't believe that, because I am still 'in' the church, then at least have the kindness not to harass me about it.

LDSDPer said...

You don't know what any other person's relationship with God/Jesus is.

It isn't your right to know.

I have shared some things, but you continue to act offended by the fact that I am still in the church.

I am beginning to feel frustrated. I have tried to relate to you. But, BK, you are somewhat impossible.

You want to talk to people, and then you just want to insult them.

I won't be insulted anymore. If you want to believe that it is because I am untrue or have been deceived that I am still in the church, even though I have deep, deep concerns about the church, then think yourself the only one who is not, and be content.

But it is not true, and there will come a time when you will know it. You may even regret having pushed others so hard in your zeal to convince people that the church is completely corrupt and anyone who gets within a few feet of it is in jeopardy.

I have said that I believe corporations are evil; why is that not enough?

Well, I'm not here on earth to please you, and, frankly, I see you as being very much like some of the 'in the church' LDS women I know. So rule bound that they can't allow for differences in others. Judging for a word. No, you are not that different from several women in my ward who are not very kind to those they see as different from themselves. Women (not men) who have made things harder for some of my special ones. You may be heading into the very ditch you warn others to stay out of.

By thinking that, if you stay out of the church, you are, somehow, safe--

you may be headed right towards something just as bad.

I am not sure what you are trying to accomplish. But Jesus didn't do that. He did not push.

And you don't have a monopoly on understanding Him, and you have no right to judge what others' relationships with Him are or are not.

You tell people on here all the time that they have been blinded. Well, perhaps you need to look at yourself. Maybe you need to step back and stop telling other people what to believe and stop trying to pinhole them.

We don't share the same perspective. I highly appreciated it when you said that you had had experiences that had shown you the love of God.

I used that as a bridge, because, I, too, have, BK.

But you don't want to reach out to anyone. You obviously do not want friends, if they have been 'stained' by being current members. Avoid anyone different. Do you walk around Muslims, Bhuddists and Hindus, too?

I can't deny the experiences I have had with Jesus, and you have no right to tell me that I haven't had them. If you want to call them something else, fine. But you may be judging unrighteously.

The idea that only you can know the truth--

that you say whether someone has had experiences with God or not--

is bordering on spiritually unhealthy.

You don't speak for Jesus. I don't speak for Him. But I know what I know, and your saying I don't is . . .

actually prideful. Sherem told Jacob that he was deluded to think Christ would come. Are you telling me I am deluded to believe that I know what Jesus wants for me? Maybe anti-Christs are those who bully people and say they cannot know Jesus.

But then you discount the Book of Mormon. What you say is very confusing.

If you want to be enemies, then I guess I have no choice but to give you what you want and stop trying to talk to you. I care about people on the internet, my mistake.

Obviously, you don't want anyone to care about you.

You just want to lambast people for staying in the church.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I've read some comments here from folks who say we should be providing Christian service to others on our own, and not wait for the Church to give us instruction.

That goes without saying, of course. But there are many acts of service that are more effective when performed as a community of believers, but when that community attempts to act outside the "proper channels" their efforts are blocked by the corporate Church.

Imagine, for instance, if members of my ward here in Sacramento decided they would like to hold a rummage sale in the cultural hall to raise money so that a week or two later they could host an event at the ward building to feed the hungry.

The members would be capable of providing the goods for sale, making community announcements, and raising the funds themselves. We already have tables, chairs, and a kitchen to prepare and cook the food, and teenage boys and girls willing to serve.

The problem is that this local community of believers don't have the autonomy to pull this off. They would have to get approval from Salt Lake, and that approval would not be forthcoming because what these members want to do is not an official program of "the Church."

That's the problem that results when "the church," a community of believers representing the body of Christ has been transformed into "The Church(TM)," a corporate body that has taken control of the brand known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jesus has told us in D&C 10:67 what the definition of His church is. He says it is "all who repent and come unto me."

Yet in countless comments above, I see members referring to the Church as if it consists of that group of managers and administrators headquartered in Salt Lake, and from whom we are expected to appeal for instruction.

Someone insisted that this isn't OUR church, it is the Lord's. But that isn't quite correct. There are TWO possesives in the name of our church. It is The Church of Jesus Christ, AND it is the Church of the Latter-day Saints.

It is His church AND it is OUR church. It is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, NOT the Church of Jesus Christ of the Leadership Saints.

Until we take back our autonomy from those who behave as though they own the brand to the church, we will never be effective ambassadors of Christ.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

It's worth noting that in the very next verse after Jesus defines His church, he provides a very stern caution to those who would represent His church as anything other than the definition he just provided:

"Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is NOT of my church." (D&C 10:68)

If I were one of you folks who is constantly referring to the general authorities in Salt Lake as "the Church," and advocating that others kowtow to their every whim, I might start thinking about repenting of that false notion.

That is, if you expect the Savior to count you as a member of His church, and not some other.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Friar Tuck,
You misquoted me and misconstrued the intent of my words. You said, "Rock has stated that he will stand by and watch the counterfeit fall." That's not exactly how I put it. Your version implies that I will have a hand in its collapse. I won't.

My actual statement was in response to whether I would be interested in taking over the corporation. I answered that I would not, but that "I'll be content to stand on the sidelines and watch that counterfeit implode on its own."

But never mind. You followed by asking, "Rock, have you given any thought to what will happen next?"

Of course I have. But the context of your question implies that we NEED that counterfeit in place or the church itself will fall.

When the counterfeit implodes, as it will eventually once a sufficient number of Saints stop following the Hierarchy and instead turn to Christ (or if and when The One Mighty and Strong returns to set his house in order), the church itself will not be adversely affected.

The church does not require a counterfeit to prop it up in order for the church to survive. The false Church will simply lose influence. The Kingdom will continue to roll forth as always.

At least that's what I glean from my reading of the scriptures.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Friar Tuck,
You have repeated the same assertion above as you constantly did a couple of months back when posting as "AW," saying you keep trying to nail down my agenda, but that I won't give you an answer.

This in spite of my constant references to former articles I've written which were provided to help you ascertain where I'm coming from.

I'll try again by saying that Cate's detailed responses to your questions above (June 9th at 7:57) perfectly crystallize my own thinking.

But if you require something more concise, my "agenda" can be summed up simply in the words of Peter and the other early apostles when they said, "We ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)

I trust now that you won't continue to pester me with this question that has already been asked and answered over and over.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I've seen a handful of comments above that have taken Cate to task as if she rejected every single word Jeffrey Holland spoke in his talk.

Just because she singled out a couple of paragraphs does not mean she disagreed with everything else the man said. Yet I read comments valiantly defending portions of Elder Holland's speech that Cate never took issue with.

I wonder why it is some people can't stay on point? There's no need to come to Holland's defense regarding things he was right about. Cate was responding to specific things he said within that talk that she felt he was wrong about. All that other stuff some of you have latched onto in his defense are areas she never addressed.

If you want to take issue with her, take issue with her on the parts of the talk she brought up in her essay. Don't build a straw man argument on top of a straw man argument.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Joshua Henricksen,

You have fallen victim to one of the myths prevalent in the church, the one where D&C 1:38 is frequently quoted to imply that whenever the presidents of the church open their mouths to speak, they are speaking with the voice of God.

Gary Hunt has suggested you look that verse over carefully until you recognize the error of that assumption. I'll go further and recommend you read the entire revelation.

It does not appear that when the Lord made reference there to his "servants" that he had in mind future presidents of the Church. Indeed, it's apparent to me that those "servants" referred to did not even include Joseph Smith, but angelic messengers such as Moroni; and possibly ancient prophets such as Ezekial, Hosea, and Isaiah who had prophesied of things that had not yet come to pass.

But not Joseph Smith or any of his successors.

Context is everything, and we Mormons are as proficient in taking scriptures out of context to support false assumptions as any Baptist I've ever known.

Veracity said...

I feel inspired to provide a voice of warning. There may be someone out there who needs to read this now. You know who you are.

Please be advised that whatever you tell your Bishop is not strictly confidential. They might not discuss some things with other people, but there are many exceptions written into the handbook for Bishops. What you tell them might be discussed with SP, High Counsel, Bishops Counselors, and other Bishops to name a few. There are specific reasons they should share confidential information with these people but they don’t always follow the rules. They sometimes go beyond the guidelines detailing when and with whom they should share confidential information. In general, they don’t have the training and professionalism to keep confidential information confidential. These are guys in your neighborhood who are volunteering their time for several years. They are not professional Bishops.

Due to a lack of sense of propriety, I have witnessed Bishops and Stake Presidents make matters much worse for people I know . I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.

I know this might put some people in a pickle. They want to confess, or discuss something personal, but they cannot trust their leaders to keep confidential matters to themselves. If you can, use a psychologist or a social worker. I have heard of some members going to a Catholic Priest. I know this does not help when you feel like you need to talk with someone with the proper authority. As you make your decision, please keep the reality of the situation in mind. In the end, please, please get the help you need from someone.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Amateur Contemplator,
I appreciate your mention of the documentary film, "I Am." Connie and I saw that film during its brief exposure in its theatrical release, and just the other day I rented it from Netflix so we can see it again.

For those unfamiliar with this excellent film, it was made by a one-time director of some of Jim Carrey's more well-known movies. After a bicycle accident that nearly killed him, the author documents his spiritual awakening and search for that which is of real importance in life. It's well worth seeing.

I don't know how many copies Neflix has on hand, but I'll be returning ours day after tomorrow, so get in line.

Anonymous said...

I have read the Book of Mormon, and the bible several times. I am always struck with the literal and metaphorical "black and white" of the text that speaks over and over again about the righteous falling into sin, still believing themselves to be righteous. As a young child I would ask myself, how could you not know you were fallen? How could you not see yourself letting God down, diminishing and disregarding the example of Jesus Christ. The heros and protagonists of these texts (for lack of better description) were always the dismissed ones, the overlooked for their lack of conventional religion. They were scorned for their non conformity. And yet we walk among the blind now. Those who cannot see themselves as the persecuters, those who scorn, judge, and overlook. My heart is so deeply broken for these blinded by the comfort of conformity for its own sake, rather than unity for the sake of all. If these books have taught me anything, it's that those people, the comfortably blind, cannot and will not see themselves as the ones who have betrayed the confidence of God. They cannot and will not be shamed until God Himself shows them the error if their ways.

- Broken Hearted.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Let me add my own voice to the solid advice Veracity just offered above.

These are dangerous times to confide in a bishop, and it's almost a sure thing that whatever you confide to your bishop may be discussed in a Sunday morning meeting with representatives of all the auxiliaries down to and including the primary president. At the very least, one or both members of the bishopric will also be informed, as well as the Stake President.

Many bishops realize that its not appropriate to discuss your problems with their wives, but some have been known to do so. If your bishop's wife is a notorious gossip, look out.

More than that, we have been falsely taught that confession to the bishop is a necessary part of repentance.

That only holds true in relatively rare circumstances. I recommend you read this analysis of The Law of Confession before the next time you're tempted to go in and spill your guts:

http://ldsanarchy.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/the-law-governing-confession/

The saddest thing about all this is that it's helpful to have someone to tell your problems to. But in the current atmosphere in the LDS church, you never know when the words you speak in confidence because you hoped you'd get some sympathetic counsel will be used against you down the road.

Kevin said...

La Bruja Kozmica, I hope you feel you're among friends and allies here. You inspire me. My heart goes out to you in your great distress over your experiences. Do continue in faith and loyalty to Jesus Christ and your desire to make the world a better place. Surely God will be with you to do more marvelous things.

Inspire said...

Rock,
You said, "t's worth noting that in the very next verse after Jesus defines His church, he provides a very stern caution to those who would represent His church as anything other than the definition he just provided:

'Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is NOT of my church.' (D&C 10:68)"

Might I suggest a different (or supplemental) reading to your take on D&C 10. As you are well aware (and as Denver Snuffer recently pointed out), there were changes aplenty to the D&C, so that often a misinterpretation of the original message is difficult to arrive at. In this case, D&C 10 was written without punctuation, which was added later. But if you look at that whole section of scripture, I think it gives us another way of seeing exactly what His "doctrine" is.

Here is the text:
"And I will show unto this people that I had other sheep, and that they were a branch of the house of Jacob; And I will bring to light their marvelous works, which they did in my name; Yea, and I will also bring to light my gospel which was ministered unto them, and, behold, they shall not deny that which you have received, but they shall build it up, and shall bring to light the true points of my doctrine, yea, and the only doctrine which is in me.

And this I do that I may establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention; yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them.

Therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery; For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts; Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely. Behold, this is my doctrine.

Whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church."

If I may, let me paraphrase what I believe the Lord is saying:
"I will show this people (the early Saints) my other sheep, and bring to light their works and the gospel I administered to them. They will not deny what you have received and will add onto it and show the true (or maybe higher) points of doctrine. I do this so you'll stop arguing about my doctrine and erring in your understanding. Here is the mystery revealed. My doctrine is that if you are so inclined, you may partake of the waters of life freely. Those who believe this are considered my 'church.' Those who say it is anything beyond this are not my church, because they are against me."

I won't go into a doctrinal dissertation, but it is amazing the difference one dash can make if reading a little snippet of text. Yet if the whole thing is read together, that dash becomes out of place and the reader is given other options of interpretation.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Inspire,
Thanks for shining more light on that section.

Veracity said...

Allen Rock Waterman,

Thanks for adding your two cents on the subject of confidentiality and the Bishops. (Actually, your words are worth much, much more than two cents.)

I also liked the link you provided. It is interesting to see how differently we handle things compared to what the Lord himself instructed us to do.

For anyone interested in what I am referring to, here is the link again:

http://ldsanarchy.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/the-law-governing-confession/

Thanks!!!

BK said...

Veracity,

Your counsel is very wise. I have experienced the same thing over and over and have found all Bishops I've shared things with to be completely untrustworthy and did not keep confidences.

Heavenly Father had to keep warning me over and over to stop talking to them before I gave us hope that I would ever find a righteous Bishop.

Thus, I believe it's the same with most all leaders of the Church, I believe they all are untrustworthy, just because of what they are willing to support and go along with. For they have to be 'yes men' and ignore or be silent about many things that are wrong in order to keep their callings. Very few leaders are willing to stand for right if it means losing their positions.

But more importantly, I have come to realize that Christ never intended us to confess to church leaders anyway, but that our repentance should between us and God only, no matter what sins we commit.

It has been men, leaders of the church, who have taught that people should confess to them, for it gives them power over us, and thus they pridefully assume they have the right to excommunicate people from the Church, when actually all the leaders themselves have been doing things just as bad as anyone they are casting out.

So yes, I agree, we should not be confessing to or even discussing our problems with church leaders or anyone, but take our troubles and repentance to God alone and then he will give us all the answers, peace and forgiveness we need.

BK said...

La Bruja Kozmica,

I commend you for what you have done. I believe you have made a wise choice.

It's hard for everyone to come to realize and accept that just because the Gospel is true, that doesn't mean the church is or it's leaders. It can be hard to separate the 2.

But we can definitely find just as much or far more truth, joy, light and happiness out of the Church as in it.

I know I have found much more joy and light and truth outside the Church then I ever did in it. I kept feeling frustration, confusion and darkness as I attended Church and listened to it's leaders and watched what they did.

But now I only listen to and follow Christ and not men anymore. I don't attend Church anymore or allow it to have anymore influence in my life and the darkness is gone and my joy & hope is unbound and everything finally makes sense.

For the vital thing is that we are truly following Christ, not that we are a member of any particular church.

SmithFamily said...

I like what Cate had to say. It made me uncomfortable.

A few years ago our family of then almost 4 children was financially destitute. We had sold everything we owned, car included. We had no hope of digging out of our desperate situation.

I finally convinced my husband to at least confide in the bishop our struggles. He told us to come back when we were desperate. We never went back. We turned, I am sad to say to the government programs available. We depended on the government to help us through our trials, we didn't know what else to do. Then we felt we had to hide our struggles because we weren't righteous enough to be prosperous.

I was so tortured at church, feeling that even the bishop had rejected us.

We did pray relentlessly to god for deliverance. After all the scriptures teach us that god is mighty to save. God lovingly and painfully rebuked us by opening our minds. He told us to trust him and he could help us, but we had to quit trusting the government. So we did, we stepped out into the unknown and god gave us a miracle. A source of income that could bless anyone, with any skill set, almost overnight.

God is mighty to save and I promised him at that time I would be his witness!

My husband has set about teaching anyone he can this miracle god gave us, inviting them all to trust god council with him, and see if he doesn't want to bless them.

It has been so exhilarating to give people hope, to tell them god loves them dispite their circumstances. You are not your circumstances, was my motto.

We even attempted to share with our bishop our willingness to help anyone in the ward struggling financially. No response, I suppose it would seem risky to a church used to doing things in a correlated way :).

But my message is that God is mighty to save, trust him, no matter your struggle, even if you feel the church has rejected your struggle, God will not reject you.

He may not be a smooth God, but he is a loving God.

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