Friday, September 7, 2012

"Culturally Mormon"

This is not an anti-Mormon blog. While I am not in charge of what other contributors write, it is not my personal intention to attack the SLC-based, LDS Church. Reconciliation, to me, means loving your enemies. If you love your enemies, you always want to hear what they have to say. You're always willing to hear them out, to engage them, to try to understand. That is, “enemies” must always hold a place at the table. In fact, reconciliation means having no enemies, which I think is what Jesus was getting at—even when people try to make enemies of us. So it should go without saying that traditional, orthodox Mormons are more than welcome to join the Mormon Reconciliation Movement and share their ideas with others.

The idea for this blog and corresponding Facebook group came to me after a discussion with a friend (who is also a contributor on this blog and goes by the name ProvoJoe). The conclusion, ultimately, was that the Book of Mormon was a book about reconciliation. Many Latter-day Saints mistakenly think the Book of Mormon is about the righteous Nephites and the wicked Lamanites. It is assumed that whenever the Lamanites came around to the Nephite way of thinking, there was peace and prosperity and all sorts of good results. However, this is simply not the case, and the Book of Mormon is saying something far, far different. The Nephites were as wicked as, if not more wicked than, the Lamanites. The Lamanites had forgotten their status as a covenant people. The Nephites, however, never forgot, but were outright rebellious at times (also consider the Amalekites, Amulonites, and Zoramites). The Nephites were beset by pride cycles and more tolerant of the Gadianton Robbers. The Lamanites shared neither of these failings, but were the more stable of the two groups. If one actually reads the Book of Mormon without racial bias, things were actually at their best when the Nephites and Lamanites were reconciled and got along as one people. The Lamanites compensated for the cultural shortcomings of the Nephites, and the Nephites did likewise for the Lamanites. They were hopelessly incomplete when they were at odds with one another. In the end one group was annihilated culturally, the other literally.

I think that is the overarching message of the Book of Mormon...and why the Mormon Reconciliation Movement exists. I also think the modern-day, Utah Mormon bears many of the underlying characteristics of the ancient Nephite. We are, I would argue, hopelessly Nephite. But if we are wary of ourselves, we will adopt the Book of Mormon as our own, unique history. We, too, are beset by pride cycles that threaten to destroy us (the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was part of a modern-day pride cycle). We must heed the warnings of the Book of Mormon and learn from the Nephites’ mistakes (that’s why we have the Book of Mormon in the first place of course).

Again, this blog is not intended to tear down the LDS Church. However, it is my personal opinion that we are not, by and large, heeding those warnings. I still identify as a Mormon, but I no longer identify as a member of the Monson-headed, SLC-based Church. That is, I am a Mormon, but I disagree with the LDS Church’s interpretation of Mormonism. Furthermore, I do not believe said Church has a monopoly on Joseph's religion. The point being that Mormonism should be open to interpretation all of the time—a living, dynamic, expanding religion.

Admittedly, I have some opinions about the role the Church of Jesus Christ should be fulfilling—just bear in mind that these opinions are my own and I do not speak for the entire group. I think Mormonism can be compared, somewhat loosely, to the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece. When I think of Mormon temples, and the purpose they serve, there is a great deal of overlap between what the Eleusinian Mysteries did for the ancient Greeks, and what the Mormon Temple rituals do for modern-day Mormons. The distinction I want to point out, however, is that the Greeks also had their popular state-religion, which was flavored by the common customs and traditions and superstitions of everyday Greek culture. Mormonism has this, too, in its Utah religion.

The parallel I’m drawing here is of "Temple" Mormonism and "Cultural" Mormonism—the sacred versus the profane. Cultural Mormonism has very little resemblance to Temple Mormonism, but shares a great deal in common with your average, run-of-the-mill, christian sect. Throw in some aspects of the American Dream and the Protestant Work Ethic and a deeply conservative bent, and you’ve got modern-day, cultural Mormonism—a brand of Mormonism that I reject outright because I think the branches betrays their roots.

“Profane Mormonism” flows in the opposite direction of “Sacred Mormonism”. Sacred Mormonism really has nothing to do with the Word of Wisdom, or pioneer heritage, or wearing a white shirt to church and being clean-shaven, or keeping up appearances, or being nauseatingly nice, or the undoctrinal doctrine of self-reliance, or Jell-O, etc. Sacred Mormonism—though marvelous and unique—is trying to accomplish the same thing that all of the great religions—at their core—are trying to accomplish. Pure religion is about achieving mystical union with God but also about achieving that union with each other. It is, in a word, about reconciliation—that we may “be one,” Jesus says, “as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.”

The problem with Profane Mormonism is that when it abandoned the ideal of Zion, we gutted Mormonism of its heart; it became totally cut-off from Sacred Mormonism. Zion is the heart of Mormonism, the culmination of the gospel of Jesus Christ on Earth. Nobody really had the authority to say we should put Zion on hold indefinitely. On the contrary, the Doctrine and Covenants includes repeated warnings to those who would transgress the “everlasting order” of Zion—that they would be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption (D&C 78: 11-12, 82: 20-21, 104: 10).

We still have the temple, and many of us even attend it, but few of us comprehend it. Sacred Mormonism is not a cultural religion—bogged down with all of the traditions and customs, dogmas and creeds, and other baggage that make us appear strange and insular to “outsiders”. Sacred Mormonism, or pure Mormonism, is what I would term a meta-religion. It doesn’t have a culture, or a tradition, or a particular religious flavor. Its purpose is to tear down the barriers to reconciliation and dispel the myth of separation. WE ARE ONE. GOD IS IN US. WE ARE IN GOD. Pure Mormonism is trying to remind us of that sacred truth. And once reminded, we should live by it.

So what is a Mormon? What is his or her mission? Is it to convert people to the church in Salt Lake City? Is it to make people stop drinking coffee and tea and alcohol? I really don’t think so. If you read Don Bradley’s talk here, you will recall that Joseph Smith laid out the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism as truth, friendship, and relief. In my old ward the members were deeply preoccupied with how to convert the local Mennonite population. But we had it all wrong. We were trying to get them to trade in one religion for another. But what was the point? Rather, we should have been preoccupied with the work of reconciliation—with converting them, and ourselves, to the principles of truth, friendship, and relief. Or, in other words, reminding them of the one great truth that underlies it all. It is the truth that Jesus Christ lived and died for, and the truth that many prophets presently understand, i.e., that solemn reminder: We are one, and we ought to live as one. This is what Zion is all about. Zion, the Millennium, the Terrestrial phase—they all rest upon the ideal of reconciliation—when the “wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

The job of a Mormon is to direct others to the Tree of Life, as Lehi did in the Book of Mormon. A Mormon should not be engaged in trying to make people abandon their old religion—essentially committing cultural genocide across the globe. Brigham Young suggested that Zion would include non-Mormons. I’ll take it one further. I don’t even think Zion will be mostly Mormons. I don’t even think it will be Mormon-ish. A Mormon’s job is to be an Ephraimite. That is, his or her job is to gather others. They’re not even supposed to build Zion. They don’t know how after all. I think Jesus himself defined what a Mormon should be: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” All of the good religions lead to God (as do art, philosophy, and science); our job is to strengthen people in their religious traditions and help make their religions come alive for them (including, ironically, Mormonism). Just add salt. Our job is to make bad Buddhists good, and good Buddhists better. Or bad Atheists good, and good Atheists better, etc., etc., etc. This is why the Mormon Reconciliation Movement is a movement. It isn’t about hunkering down in Salt Lake City, building a shopping center, and declaring ourselves an ethnically and culturally unique people. It is a movement because it’s light on its feet; devoid of dogma, creed, and tradition; inclusive rather than exclusive; and wholly committed to gathering Israel. If you want to be culturally Mormon, fine, but it certainly isn’t the price of admission. “For behold the field is white already to harvest…. And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.”

As a final note, I want to say I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for what John Dehlin does. I absolutely love the Mormon Stories podcast. He espouses and promotes big tent Mormonism, which I agree with wholeheartedly. I support the “us, too” message and thrust of his work. However, the inclusiveness of the message is based on the notion of culture. That is, we are all befitting the label “Mormon” because we are all “culturally Mormon”. If that’s your religion, your heritage, then so be it. I'd like build upon John's ideas, which have inspired me. I think we should engage Mormonism in a much deeper, more profound way. I believe we should invoke the Spirit of Elijah and become true Ephraimites. The “us, too” message should extend beyond Mormon feminists, LGBT Mormons, and liberal Mormons. That is, Zion should (and will) include feminists, LGBTs, and liberals who are not members of the SLC church. It will include Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus. It will include agnostics and atheists. It will include black, white, and brown. It will include young and old, men and women, priests and priestesses. Zion’s strength is in its diversity. It is not homogenous as many Mormons believe it will be (it is not, to put it another way, about falling in line with the Nephites). “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” That is what the Mormon reconciliation is all about.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes totally fantastic. Every day of searching leads me to great definitions like this of how I feel inside me we should be living. When I stated vocally on my mission that maybe joining the church wasn't for everyone, that maybe people were happy and better staying in their own church I almost got hung. I wish I had been braver and stuck to my guns. I'm so happy to see many others that feel the way I do emerging lately. High fives all around!

  2. I posted this on facebook, but I'll throw it here too, just so people have context:

    There are a lot of things I could say here, but I don't have the bandwidth at the moment to give this the attention it deserves. I'll leave you with a few rhetorical questions, at least, though I won't commit to engaging any further responses:

    Was painting the lintel of a door a necessary part of "temple judaism" for the Israelistes in Egypt? Should Naaman have rejected Elisha's advice to wash seven times in the Jordan because it seemed non-sensical, unnecessary, and wasn't directly tied to Mosaic Law? Was clay a necessary ingredient in Jesus' miraculous ocular restoration recipe?

    My point here is that at times God asks us to do things that extend beyond what we usually see as the established gospel. The reasons for this are varied and contextual, but the consequences, both positive and negative, are no less real.

    Also, lighten up on Monson a touch. Guy's got a hard job.

    1. About using the clay...

      Not sure if where his definition is from, but it works in symbolism...Cornel West said, "Human, comes from the Latin humando, humando means burying, burial, that's where the word humanity comes from and humility comes from, being humane, because you're tied to the earth, you're down to earth, you're unpretentious, you're tied to the soil."

      That man's blindness, perhaps for him and definitely for us, represents each of us. It represents on one level, our spiritual blindness. Coming unto Jesus will change that. How? As He showed the man, that clay=earth+water was key. Nothing Christ did was unintentional or non-symbolic. All things are symbolic. Earth, is who we are, where/what we come from. Water, the living waters. When we recognize who we are, what we are and combine that with the Holy Ghost, the living waters...our blindness/the veil will no longer exist.

      That is part of the spiritual side of that event. There is a physical side as well.

  3. Here's Arkwelder's reply:

    I think you took a lot of negative out of a post that was meant to be largely positive, Kyler Ray Rasmussen. My response to your question is 'yes', but also that it doesn't hurt to ask questions. I don't put a great deal of trust in the OT. The God of the NT, BoM, D&C, PoGP, and my Patriarchal Blessing is barely present in the OT. Does God need obedience? Yes, it's required because how else would anything get done? More than at any time in my life I am trying to be receptive to the Holy Ghost and obedient to God. But my experience has been that God is a humble God, not the vengeful tyrannical one that we often see in the OT. I think God is always willing to offer an explanation if one is sought. In fact, God is often the one asking questions, challenging you, encouraging self-inquiry, etc.

  4. And with regard to Thomas Monson, you are right. I do need to lay off.

  5. I didn't necessarily mean to focus on the negative. There is a lot that is good in your post, and I respect it. A desire to remain affiliated with Mormonism while rejecting the parts that don't suit you is a noble one, and I respect you for it.

    But reconciliation isn't easy. It's hard. It requires effort and sweat, pain and sacrifice. I was pointing out a few things in your post that represent the sticking points between the ways we each approach the church. Reconciliation comes through talking those sorts of things out, not just through unchallenged respect and admiration.

    That said, I don't think it's all that easy to completely disconnect OT experiences from NT ones, or, say, pioneer Mormon experiences from modern ones. I deliberately drew examples from periods separated by centuries to demonstrate that the God of both Old and New is the same God. He just used different tools in different ways to best teach different people in complexly different situations. The principle remains the same throughout.

    The principle, by the way, wasn't simply that he requires obedience. Sometimes he expects and plans for rebellion (i.e. Adam/Eve). The principle (although a rhetorical one, in this case) is that rejecting portions of doctrine, ritual, practice, or culture based on personal opinion is a somewhat dangerous game. Yes, we could probably cut Jello out of our culture without many negative consequences, but what about the other things you mention?

    Take while shirts, for example. I don't wear white shirts very often to church, but I can recognize the reason why they're encouraged, especially for missionaries or those participating in ordinances. The church actually piloted using polo shirts for missionaries in select missions a few years back. The reason they didn't end up implementing it en masse? Because it just wasn't the same. Missionaries were no longer nearly as recognizable to others, and the missionaries themselves didn’t feel as much like missionaries. Something unique and special was lost when you took away that seemingly non-essential portion of the missionary package. Does preaching the gospel require a white shirt? No. Are white shirts serving a purpose for these missionaries, right now, in this context? Absolutely. Should we abandon and reject it simply because it's an artifact of culture? No.

  6. Noah, you are most definitely within your rights to separate yourself from mainstream Mormonism. I do believe, however, that you're taking it a slice or two too far. There are things I believe that likely wouldn't mesh well with, say, those of Elder Bednar. Yet the choice I have made is to remain connected to the mainstream community. My personal reasons for that are three-fold:

    1. Any opinions I have regarding church doctrine or practice could be completely, utterly, dead wrong. Allowing those opinions to put myself behaviorally at odds with the brethren would be presumptuous, especially when my experiences with the priesthood, church leadership, and their practical advice have been overwhelmingly positive.

    2. In rejecting what I see as "the bad", I risk throwing away the baby with the bathwater. Sure, they may say things during conference that I'm not entirely on the same page with, but the rest of the stuff they say at conference? Solid freaking gold. The apostles have a thousand times more practice living a Christ-like life than I will likely have, and they deserve respect for that. I will give them the benefit of the doubt until I see hard evidence, or receive strong personal revelation, otherwise.

    3. Cutting myself off from the mainstream church community means my capacity for charity and service is greatly reduced. Not only would I miss opportunities for spiritual growth, but my own spiritual gifts, as meager as they are, can no longer be accessed by that community. In short, everyone loses.

    Ask questions? Yep. Look for explanations? Double yep. Consciously place divisions between oneself and orthodoxy? That's a bit more iffy. These decisions aren't made in a vacuum, and will most certainly have consequences for one's spiritual and secular life. Again, that's your right, but it ain't for me.

  7. Excellent points indeed, Kyler.

    1. My question to you is this: Am I wrong? Religion serves to answer two questions, in my opinion. a) Who am I?, and b) Knowing who I am, how ought I to live? Jesus' answer to these questions was that WE are one and so WE ought to live as one. Jesus wasn't the only one to answer this way. Many prophets, past and present, have arrived at the same conclusion. In fact, I think you get similar answers in Buddhism and Hinduism. That's why I say all GOOD religion (not simply all religion) is about reconciliation. The Holy Ghost serves to facilitate this reconciliation and in fact makes it possible. Having the Gift of the Holy Ghost, I believe, means being committed to the goal of reconciliation.

    Yes, I could be wrong, but am I? If you have ever felt the Holy Ghost, then I am confident that you know I am right about this particular thing.

    My decision to break with the mainstream Church was a personal one, and I am not encouraging others to do the same. If your experience within the mainstream Church has been positive, why in a million years would you ever leave? I poked fun at the cultural aspects of Mormonism, and I suspect you mistook that for me attacking the core tenets of the religion. Nevertheless, I will submit that trying to convert others to your 'religious culture' is a gross evil, and that is precisely what the mainstream Church tries to do. I meant no hyberbole when I likened it to cultural genocide. I think the best example of this approach failing dismally is with our attempts to convert the Native Americans. If I am guilty of attacking the Church in the above article, that is without a doubt the essence of my attack. Again, if you want to be "culturally Mormon", then do it, but again, it is not the price of admission into Christ's church.

    I could give you a detailed account of where and why I disagree with Monson and the Q15, but that was not the point of my article. In fact, I stated from the outset that mainstream believing Mormons SHOULD join the Mormon Reconciliation Movement and feel welcome. If you want a compelling case against "the Brethren" from a faithful, sincere Mormon, please read Rock Waterman's blog at , because this is not the place for that.

  8. 2. You are certainly right. We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Does the good outweigh the bad? Your experience leads you to answer with a resounding 'YES!'. My experience has been markedly different than yours. The bad has grossly outweighed the good for me. My question to you is this: Do you believe in Zion? If yes, then that should be our point of connection. None of that other stuff matters. It is on that level that we are both brothers in the same church. In fact, I believe we have a great deal to share on that level. This is what is meant by "Sacred Mormonism".

    That said, you should be mindful of the ways that profane Mormonism hinders the path of sacred Mormonism. I am not going to outline all of the ways here, but I will tell you how I go about it. Jesus said we should love God and one another (which is really one commandment, imo), adding that "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." To me, that's the standard. Does a tradition or policy within the LDS Church go against the royal law of love as outlined by Jesus? If yes, then I would say you absolutely have a moral obligation to go against said practice or policy. It might surprise you how much of what you hear from the pulpit, either in Sacrament Meeting or General Conference other otherwise, is not doctrinally based. Take note that during this "Mormon Moment" many "outsiders" are talking about you. This writer ( ) had some particularly good insights: "To be a "Mormon" is mainly to buy into the longstanding traditions and values that typify Mormon society. LDS doctrine, on the other hand, with its often curious elements — is secondary to the social environment that binds members together."

    3. Again, you are right. What meager opportunities there were for service within the LDS Church are no longer available to me. The people in my ward were generally all kind, well-intentioned people, and my door is always open to them whenever they come around. I am currently a Mormon without a religious community, and that is definitely something I need to rectify. I am thinking of worshipping with the Quakers and becoming a "Quaking Mormon". My brother and others have nothing but positive things to say about the Quakers. I think members of the LDS Church are very good at taking care of their own, but it has been my experience that wards and branches are not very engaged in their local communities. The situation may be different elsewhere, but it is not the situation where I live. I would like more opportunities to serve the broader community, and so far, the LDS Church is not offering that (although the Single Adult ward occasionally volunteers at the soup kitchen).

  9. You will never receive that "strong personal revelation" you speak of until you ask for it. And you will never ask for it till you hear the spirit asking you questions as Noah pointed out that the Father does with His children. But you will never hear God's questions for you as long as you accept the "Brethren" as "a thousand times more....Christ-like life than [yourself]." You are in grave danger and this is why you throw out these subtle little warnings to others. People who are S-C-A-R-E-D have lost sight of the S-A-C-R-E-D and so they try to scare others into keeping them company even as they are surrounded by the throngs of the "mainstream" as you said.

    Well here are some scary things for you to consider...before softly bullying others into taking a less than bold approach on their personal paths. We must understand that the separation of wheat from tares does not only take place among individuals. It begins within the individual.
    When you hear the ominous warning, “Upon MY house shall it begin!,” you should take it PERSONAL. Liken the scriptures unto yourselves. Pay close attention. The wheat does not remain in the church no matter how dark things get, but is gathered out from her. The tares are those who remain faithful to and in the Church to be set ablaze in the last day.

    If you have never noticed that, perhaps its time to give it some serious thought and prayer before simply relying on the force of the group to try and quiet others for your own comfort.

  10. K.(oriho)R. asks:

    "Was painting the lintel of a door a necessary part of "temple judaism" for the Israelistes in Egypt? Should Naaman have rejected Elisha's advice to wash seven times in the Jordan because it seemed non-sensical, unnecessary, and wasn't directly tied to Mosaic Law? Was clay a necessary ingredient in Jesus' miraculous ocular restoration recipe?"

    Witness the swiftness with which he dismisses the word of Jehovah to ancient prophets and peoples and the very actions of Jesus Himself – almost as quick as he is to defend the “brethren” (who are really just a symbolic group representing K.R.’s own pride). God has been supplying Bro. Rassmussen with the answers to this question all his life. Even speaking through grade-school grammar teachers. But it takes the spirit to detect the spirit. All of us were taught about NOUNS…that they are words which represent People, Places or Things. And we were taught that only People and Places held the honorable distinction of being PROnouns. People and Place, in case you haven’t noticed form a SACRED RELATIONSHIP….and it is from that relationship that all THINGS flow. This is why Christ commands – “Seek YE (person) first THE KINGDOM of GOD (place) and all these THINGS shall be added unto you” Also in case you haven’t noticed that is what this group is about…RECONCILIATION between PEOPLE and the PLACE of ZION.

  11. Painting the lintel of a door was indeed a necessary part of “TEMPLE JUDAISM.” We are told that especially in the trying times of the last days and when tribulations hit, we must “STAND IN HOLY PLACES.” A lot of people correctly associate that passage with THE TEMPLE….but a lot of us wrongly, foolishly and pridefully associate THE TEMPLE of THE LORD with LDS structures of stone, gleaming white-washed sepulchers which are beautiful on the outside…but inside are full of dead men’s bones…to paraphrase the scriptures. HOLY PLACES obviously extends beyond those walls. No one can have a monopoly on SACRED SPACE although the MONEY CHANGERS and PRESIDING BISHOPS seem to always try very hard to do so. But “even the bishop” we are told in D&C 64, “and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead”
    36 For, verily I say that the rebellious are NOT of the blood of Ephraim, wherefore they shall be plucked out.
    37 Behold, I, the Lord, have made MY CHURCH (see D&C10 for clarification) in these last days like unto a judge sitting on a hill, or in a high place, to judge the nations.
    38 For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants (people) of Zion (place) shall judge all things pertaining to Zion.
    39 And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are NOT apostles and prophets shall be known.
    So you can see it is a pretty serious work that the Arkwelder is doing here.

    STOP BEING A NAY-MAN. Know ye not that ye are THE BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD? You already know that NAAMAN was humbled by the words of his servant and was obviously doing TEMPLE WORK (washings to be exact) when he followed Elisha’s God-inspired council. He wasn’t telling him to wear a white shirt because the Market BRANDING just wont have the same effect without it.

    And how dare we question JESUS CHRIST. So quick to accept SCIENCE if and when it supports our ideas and upholds current group think. Jesus tells us in our LDS canon that he doesn’t do things that are UNECESSARY…D&C 29:34
    Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was TEMPORAL; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.(out of clay)

    OF COURSE THE CLAY WAS NECESSARY AND PLAYED A VITAL ROLE IN THE HEALING RITUAL JESUS PERFORMED AT THAT MOMENT. Just because you and I have a severly limited understanding of the sacred science of alchemy does not mean that we can not TRUST and TAKE THE LORD AT HIS WORD…so that we may also FEEL the SPIRIT IN ALL THE ELEMENTS of the earth. CLAY INCLUDED, for it is CLAY which is used to build the TRUE TABERNACLE of the LORD.

  12. Regarding Elder Chantdown: Not sure if trolling. Forgive me if I confine my comments to responding Noah's points.

    With you 100% on the paragraph marked #1. And a bunch of other stuff. We definitely agree on more things than we disagree on.

    Everyone needs to make decisions based on their own experiences. I completely understand and respect your decisions, especially since I have no place interpreting your experiences for you. I can only relate my own.

    I'd like to see anybody convert anybody else to a religious tradition while avoiding the transmission of one's culture. It cannot be done. I think the church does a respectable job of keeping intact the culture of those they convert, at least compared to prior attempts (i.e. Protestantism and Catholicism)

    I'm not at all surprised with how much I disagree with what comes from the pulpit. I have no illusions about how much of what the apostles say is them speaking from their own experience and opinion. Despite that, I believe they're called into those positions at a given time so that whatever they have to say can bring others to Christ.

    Can Profane Mormonism hinder the Sacred? Yep. That doesn't mean that the church in general has lost its divine mandate or authority. Understanding that one can coexist with the other can be a bit of a balancing act, but it's an important one, and, more importantly, one that I believe aligns more closely with the nature of truth in general. Messy, complex, and absolutely maddening.

    I'm sorry the church has failed you as a community. I wish it didn't have to be that way. Ideally, all of us would be working together to make sure that such failures didn't happen. We should be more involved in the community, at the ward level at least. At a church-wide level, I don't think that's a valid criticism.

    Then again, all this is just smoke and mirrors for the real reason I don't want you to leave the church:

    If all the sane people go away, I won't have any friends to hang out with on Sundays.

  13. "I'd like to see anybody convert anybody else to a religious tradition while avoiding the transmission of one's culture."

    I certainly agree with you that it cannot be done, nor should it be. I appreciate Gordon B. Hinckley's invitation to "Bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it." However, given that the Church seems to embrace and aggressively promote its cultural traditions--mingling them with doctrine in various Sunday School manuals--I don't think Hinckley's words have been all that well-applied. The Church has practiced something more akin to cultural and religious imperialism with its missionary program.

    I think Judaism is a good example where culture, of preserving identity, is everything. I have watched with sadness as the LDS Church has become all culture, all observance, and no drive. To put it another way, I don't begrudge Mormons their identity (their pioneer heritage, their word of wisdom, their poor artistic sensibility), but this cultural tradition should not be confused with the church of Christ. It hasn't occurred to us that we should convert others to the latter but not the former, because to many Mormons, Church and tradition are one and the same. It's a mistake, and furthermore, a difficult, uphill battle.

    "I believe they're called into those positions at a given time so that whatever they have to say can bring others to Christ."

    Much that we get from the Q15 is vapid, tedious, and sentimental. At it's worst, it descends into outright fear-mongering. That isn't to say there aren't some absolute gems though. I will be the last one argue that these are bad men. However, they are what they are: A group predominately of businessmen and lawyers doing the best they can. However, the way we parrot their talks with cultlike adoration is disturbing and wrong.

  14. "Understanding that one can coexist with the other can be a bit of a balancing act, but it's an important one, and, more importantly, one that I believe aligns more closely with the nature of truth in general. Messy, complex, and absolutely maddening."

    The profane hinders the sacred because we fail to draw a distinction between the two. The word of Wisdom is a perfect example. According to the profane, it is the definitive, in vs. out, cultural marker. According tot he sacred, it holds its proper place as a mere guideline. Which Word of Wisdom do you follow? The cultural one that bans coffee, tea, cigarettes, marijuana, all alcoholic beverages, and maybe even Coca-Cola? Or the actual one that expressly allows beer and "wholesome herbs", and asks us to eat meat sparingly? When the bishop or stake president is conducting a temple recommend interview and asks you about the WoW, to which one do you think he's referring.

    "At a church-wide level, I don't think that's a valid criticism."

    Sadly, I think it is a valid criticism. I have only anecdotal evidence because the Church doesn't release numbers regarding its charitable or humanitarian work. A Facebook friend and former bishop said this to me, and it confirms what I already suspected:

    "I have personal experience with church charity and publicizing and how they go hand in hand. I was on a board in a large city seeking to build a state of the art homeless center. Other religions were giving a ton of money like 200K plus and I inquired as to whether our church could give some $ since there were about 100,000 members in that city. Contacted the church and they first told me never to put them in that position again (they would tell me when they would and not the other way around) and secondly, they would donate 10K but that they had to have the PR people in that city from the church advertise the giving. So while others on the board gave 20 times that amount and had no PR we had a special luncheon, news people, a check donated and all kinds of press. Even had a letter sent to all members in the city advertising what we did. THis showed how awesome we are. For those losers Salvation Army, Catholics relief service gave far more and did not get an ounce of publicity. I was so proud sitting on that board knowing others that the luncheon gave a ton more but only we got a real bang for our buck."

  15. You're vastly overstating the whole cultural imperialism thing.

    Speak for yourself when it comes to "all observance, no drive". Glad you think you can see so clearly into other people's hearts and spiritual lives.

    It's true that conference talks are rarely intellectually stimulating, but really, would that make them more true or inspired if they were?

    I have a pretty solid testimony of the WoW, both for it's practical individual benefits, and the community effect of molding a peculiar people. As long as it effectively does those things, I don't care what they have down in the handbook. I think this is where we differ the most. A lot of the little bits of culture you see as getting in the way of the sacred, I see as a purposeful part of it.

    That story is the biggest hunk of hearsay I've ever come across. I wouldn't go throwing that around as confirming anything.

  16. KR, this conversation is making me tired all over, but especially in my brain...and my big toe. My big toe is just...really, really tired...and a little numb. I think it might be diabetes, but it also might be, you know, the fact that we disagree. Can't we discuss the things we agree on? Can't we agree, for example, that some of the quorum of the twelve apostles are bald, but some are not? Or that some of them wear glasses, but some don't? I leave you with this YT video, which I think is fitting:

  17. K.R. you were speaking in such a nice tone for a second there. But now its clear you can barely resist speaking with a bullying tone directly to The Arkwelder. You will take ancient prophecy and not consider it long as it seems to or can be perverted to fit your world view, which in fact is just that a WORLD view...dictated by WORLD LEADERS...Religious Leaders included...and as far as world views go, its a severely limited and small one that you got goin there. You would try to dissuade your brother to disregard what he hears and sees and most of all feels. Interesting how K is one letter from J and R one letter from S. And like Joshua Speed in his correspondence with Abe Lincoln, you try to get your friend to "crucify" his "feelings"...telling him to slow down and lighten up while you bear down on his comments only because the truth contained in them makes you feel uncomfortable. You really ought to thank your friend for stirring up such feelings and recognize that this is what friends in Christ do.

    You don't want harder evidence...there is not harder evidence with which you will one day have to come to grips than the testimony of the Holy Spirit. But numbers would not sway you in your WORLD BLINDNESS, now would it?

  18. Petronas Twin Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

    · 88 floors tall (1,483 feet)

    · Total square feet: 4,252,000

    · Total Cost: $1.6 billion, or $376/square foot

    Sears Tower – Chicago, Illinois:

    · 1,451 feet tall

    · Total Cost: $150 million ($645.3 million in 2009 dollars, or $142/square foot)

    · Total Square Feet: 4,560,000

    Burj Khalifa – Dubai, United Arab Emirates:

    · 2,717 feet tall (tallest manmade building ever built)

    · Total Cost: $1.5 billion, or $450/square foot

    · Total Square Feet: 3,331,100

    City Center – Las Vegas, Nevada:

    · Total size: 76 acres (1,560,500 square meters, or 16,797,000 square feet)

    · Total cost: $11 billion, or $655 per square foot.

    City Creek Center – Salt Lake City, Utah:

    · Total size: 20 acres – 2.5 city blocks (81,000 square meters) .

    · Total residential units: 700 (to house approximately 1,200 people, or 1.4% of the total size of the Bin Zayed project).

    · Total retail space: 2,274,000 square feet

    · Total (estimated) cost: $6.0 billion (or 84.5% of the total cost of the Bin Zayed project). ~$,3000 per square foot

    (Going off of the Church's own over-all office space listing at 1.6 million square feet.)

  19. How did I miss all this tomfoolery?! Dang it!!!

    I think that there has to be some middle ground. I think the church does a ton of harm in the world, and I don't think that there is any harm in asking questions in the least. In fact, I would not have any reservation in telling the First President right now that they need to stop teaching false doctrine in every single Old Testament/Pearl of Great Price manual, and pull those dang timelines out that show a timeline of the 4000 years before Christ's birth. They are not doctrine; they are poor interpretation of scripture and fly in the face of science and reason. Furthermore, the church has made it clear that the official policy is that there is no policy on evolution. I would not have any concerns bringing that up to a general authority at any level.

    What we ARE asked to refrain from is "criticizing" the leadership. In other words, keep it in a civil manner. Dont act like a bully or a douchebag, because that isn't productive and it just hurts people's feelings. The church should be governed and participated in with love and respect. I can't imagine the Saviour ever trying to correct someone who has questions with a "just shut up and do what I say!" He would lovingly, patiently answer every question, and bless them in every way he could. In that sense, I don't think that the LDS Church has done much better than any other religion, especially if you look at a case-by-case, ground level basis.

    Even if you believe that the LDS Church is a divinely founded church, that doesn't change the fact that fallible human beings run the church. In that sense, the doctrines may be closer to divine truth, but the organization itself is just as prone to bad decision making. Unfortunately, the policy or culture aspects of the church over time have become accepted as doctrine, and looked down upon when varied from. During my time in the Philippines on a mission, I lost investigators because they couldn't afford white shirts. That is an American policy that has no place in the middle of a poverty filled jungle. It is harming the work of the Lord in many areas of the world. And all that is is a simple piece of culture that has carried over.

    My point is that it's not black and white. Not ever. If Arkwelder left the church because it was more harmful than helpful, I applaud him. It's pretty clear that he is internalizing the essential truths, and I'm sure if the opportunity arose to come back and have a positive worship experience he would do it in a heartbeat. From what I've seen, he's more in a "Dang it, Mormonism! Smartten up! I want to love you." type of relationship. I can relate. I haven't been harmed enough by Mormonism to require leaving, and so I try and fix it from the inside. Both approaches are equally valid. Honestly, I kinda wish we could all just have a big ward of all the cool guys and have super deep intellectual discussions in classes. If I have to hear another Sunday School lesson read verbatim from the manual, I'm going to punch a kitten. I swear it.

    1. "criticizing" would be obsessing over details like time-lines in manuals. To “act like a bully or a douchebag” is to create manuals and handbooks and then judge the people out of them. To preach your own gospel or the gospel of the gringos or any conglomerate of ideas as the “fullness” and then force it on others. I can't imagine the Saviour ever trying to correct someone who has questions with a "just shut up and do what I say!" but I don’t even have to imagine to hear the “brethren” say to those who have questions that they must repent of their evil questioning and do as they are told because “the thinking has been done for them.”

      If we are preaching against unrighteous dominion we should not worry about who gets offended. When the Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Know ye not that ye offended them?” he was like, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.”

      I know where you are coming from when you lament that you “lost investigators because they couldn't afford white shirts.” And I wholeheartedly agree that, “That is an American policy”. But the thing about being on a mission for the church is that we don’t realize that WE ARE AN AMERICAN POLICY…and we end up inadvertently policing (pushing policy) no matter how pure our intentions. I can see from your comments today that you feel that policy had no place in the area you were. But may I ask if YOU wore a white shirt in that so-called “poverty filled jungle”? Im not condemning…I did it too. I am encouraging growth and taking the opportunity to speak outloud, but nonetheless to my own mind and heart, of a “more excellent way”. To me one is not being and can not be accurately portrayed as a “douchebag” or even “mean”, who points out the more severe side of things like that. Does it sound harsh if you say what is 100% fact and share the Church’s response to Filipino saints upon requesting coffins to burry their dead in? Which was “Go to your local Catholic Church.” See the corporation is not even the church of Christ. It has no feelings so why do we have to act like we need to spare its feelings??

      Have you ever had the chance to live in the Philippines just as a human? It is a very wonderful experience. I used to “kinda wish we could all just have a big ward of all the cool guys and have super deep intellectual discussions in classes.” But those are phases. We can see in all seriousness that the “cool guys ward” would only result in further DIVISION. When it comes to RECONCILIATION, what I pray is that we can all recall a memory that is much deeper. Memories of a different time, which as you rightfully point out, was well over 6000 years ago…and that we may incorporate the balance of Zion which seemed lost, into a living Zion here and now. But yeah as far as that feeling of mutual support and of intellectual stimulation is necessary and a valid desire. God seems to be providing it through groups like this one. But inasmuch as that becomes mental masturbation, it just succeeds in creating at most, another group…isolated from all the rest. Were all growing…so lets not stop growing EVER.

    2. Ezekiel, suffer the kittens. Anonymous, that was electrifying. More later.

    3. Don't want to turn this into a debate on evolution, but I do want to use it as an example. Suppose the Church did have an official policy on it. What then? Would you feel bound by it? Would you feel compelled to change your worldview to accommodate it? Membership in the church of Christ means a testimony of Jesus' life and message, and a commitment to living your life in a way befitting that testimony. Membership in the Mormon Church means you have a testimony of the revelations and prophetic vision of Joseph Smith. Membership in the church based in SLC means, I suppose, that you uphold the General Authorities, past and present, as prophets and apostles, etc., called of God. Nevertheless, no matter what your persuasion, nobody has any right to dictate to you your beliefs and opinions, nor should you ever give anyone that privilege. As far as the "when the prophet speaks, the thinking is done" statement, the words might as well have been uttered by Lucifer himself. It is definitely worth noting that George Albert Smith, president of the Church at the time, denounced that statement, countering that "I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way." So given these very words by George Albert Smith--who I'll add was a wise and honest man of integrity and passion--even if the Church did have an official policy on evolution, would it really make a difference to you? Even as a faithful, practicing Mormon, George Albert Smith seemed to think one was entitled to his or her own beliefs and opinions--even if they differed from his own.

    4. Should probably offer a source on that quote:

    5. I think the church would have to offer a pretty compelling revelation for me to buy it. I think its fair to expect that of the Lord's messengers. What I mean is that if the church simply came out saying that evolution is false, I would expect their alternative explanation. I wouldn't feel bound to it just because they said so, though; I would take it to the Lord and wrestle with this new revelation the same way I have had to do with multiple other problematic policies and "doctrines." If they simple came out and said "evolution is false, end of story," I would be furious. Honestly, I would probably leave the church, because it would be a clear indication that the church was in the business of throwing out claims without any reason for it. I can't imagine that ever happening though. They teach evolution on BYU Campus, so its clearly a non-issue for the church. The church leaders seem to be less concerned with expressing their opinions on topics they don't understand, and its becoming clear that the idea that "prophets can speak and prophesy about things that aren't related to their own expertise" doesn't apply when they're expressing their own opinion.

      As for Anonymous, I think my words were taken to an extreme I wasn't intending. :) I completely understand the ridiculous clusterbork that is the organizational church makes things difficult to manage. I often wonder if the manuals are approved without a thorough review and critiquing process. "You know the gospel, right? Here, right a manual." I, quite frankly, don't like them at all. A church as large as this one is going to lead to tons of inconsistencies and general communication problems. I've really come to understand the purpose of the church as a guide and aide in the journey to developing a relationship with God on a personal level.

      Religion and the gospel boils down to that one-on-one relationship with God. Where does the LDS Church lie in relation to that relationship? I don't know. It seems that some people think of the church as the mediator between us and the Savior, but that doesn't make sense, does it? So we need a mediator with the mediator? I think of them more like those sweet game guide manuals that you can buy. You know, when Diablo 3 comes out, and you can buy the sweet book by BradyGames, where they have all the maps and everything? They've been working with the developers and know the game inside and out. In the end, you're still relying on their ability to portray useful information, and you're hoping that the information applies to some situations that the book writers never thought of. My metaphor is falling apart here, but you get the idea.

    6. My argument is that even if the Church had a position on evolution, do they really have the right to dictate to you what to think and feel? I'm arguing that nobody reserves that right, and nobody should offer anybody that privilege. There is no moral basis for it. It is in fact immoral for both parties.

      Suppose I actually thought President Monson was a prophet (not only in title, but also in function). If I trusted the man, I might take his views on evolution very seriously. I would spend a great deal of time researching and contemplating his point of view, but I would not take his opinion for granted as true because he was one of the Lord's Anointed. If President Monson is a prophet, he will have to convince me--with something beyond merely replacing the last guy because he was the senior member of the group. Believe it or not, some of them have convinced me. David O. Mckay, for example, I believe was a prophet. Not because he inherited the prophetic mantle from someone else, but simply because he could talk the talk and walk the walk.

      The Church does have a problem as it pertains to evolution. Only 20% of members of the LDS Church believe in evolution, putting us somewhere with the Jehovah's Witnesses. BYU may teach evolution, and I'm grateful they do, but the rest of the membership is harboring a strong anti-intellectual, anti-science stance, and there's no excuse for it.

      The problem, I believe, is that even though the prophet says, "I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do," we are still, in this very instance, waiting for the prophet to permit us to think for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with the prophet said; however, the authoritarian, top-down nature is still to blame. Joseph Smith was a kind of Prometheus. He brought a little democracy to the religious establishment. Yet you will be reminded again and again today that the Church is not a democracy.

    7. "I often wonder if the manuals are approved without a thorough review and critiquing process."

      It isn't the quality of the manuals that bothers me. It's the fact that they exist at all. For those who can't teach from the scriptures (and the heart), don't ask them to teach. For those who can, let them teach!

      "It seems that some people think of the church as the mediator between us and the Savior, but that doesn't make sense, does it? So we need a mediator with the mediator?"

      The aforementioned Sunday School manuals are also "mediators" between you and the scriptures, the perfect example of "scriptures mingled with the philosophies of men" (second only to the Ensign).

      I think that your metaphor of Sunday School manuals being like video game manuals is a good one, in that they're both largely useless.

      And no, I don't think the Mediator needs mediators. We are so wrapped up in this idea that Church is where we go to be pushed around and told what to do and think. Actually, the point of church is to act as a gathering place for those committed to the life and message of Jesus Christ--to share spiritual experience and support and edify one another and speak as moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Given the scripted nature of our Church meetings, this is exactly what we don't do. Instead, we are left with a counterfeit--a dried out husk of the real thing.

      Granted, it appears as though the Holy Ghost may be present, yet he's scared off by the faintest sign of disagreement.

  20. Who the crap told your investigators they needed white shirts? All the bishops I knew would have given the white shirts off their backs before the investigator had a chance to feel uncomfortable.

    But, then again, that's Hawaii.

  21. “If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.”

    JS is the friggen man.

  22. Thanks for clarifying KR. I failed to note that George Albert Smith was quoting Joseph Smith.

  23. "Who the crap told your investigators they needed white shirts? All the bishops I knew would have given the white shirts off their backs before the investigator had a chance to feel uncomfortable.

    But, then again, that's Hawaii."


    Nice tone of shock, "What who made them feel like they needed white shirts?" followed immediately by holding up as sweet and Christ-like some general grouping of bishops, hypothetical actions. "They would have given the white shirts off their backs before the investigator had a chance to feel uncomfortable." So these bishops imaginary goodness would extend so far as to include going through the personal discomfort and "impropriety" (tongue in cheek) of sitting through the church meeting with no shirt on for the sake of the very special investigating guest? Somehow I would think the investigator might feel doubly uncomfortable in this kind of awkwardness produced by the situation I am imagining here. But hey, as long as were going with "vain imaginings" why don't I just imagine a "great and spacious" church where the bishops always have an extra white shirt on them at all times.

    Come one man, white shirts and ties? That aint Hawaii. Kanaka Maoli, THATS Hawaii! Were trying to talk about Reconciliation not

  24. I don't express myself or write as good as other people do. I agree with a lot of what has been said. I have complained/stated/griped for years that LDS people (mainly in the USA and Western countries) have lost their way. Members go through the motions of being LDS but don't live it. I also get frustrated with leaders from the First Presidency on down. Where I live (small Arizona town) people get called to "important" positions in the Ward and Stake because of who they know/who they're friends with. The letter of the law rules. I have seen very little spirit of the law and there are a heck of a lot of people who have left the church or are inactive because of arrogant leaders who have no empathy and wouldn't know the "Spirit" if it hit them. I could tell you stories of what has happened to my family, what has gone on in my ward and you would not believe it and think I am making it up. But I still attend church hoping that my faith and truly living the teachings of God are being recognized in the Heavens as opposed to those who are high up in the church but don't live God's teachings (in a small town it is easy to know how people live their lives) Thanks for an interesting blog. Good luck.

  25. Hey, JR. I've been listening to a guy named Max Skousen (brother of Cleon Skousen, but nothing like him). He said the law (as in, of the scriptures) was essentially in place to ultimately break our hearts. That is, at some point we're supposed to feel that sense of defeat over the impossibility of living the law. After that you forget the law and simply live by the law of love. That is, we stop struggling and simply go with the flow. The utter dysfunctionality we see in the Church may arise out of its failure to implement the law and for the members to live it. However, according to Max Skousen, the whole thing is designed to fail. Not sure how I feel about it, but it's something to think about.

  26. "That story is the biggest hunk of hearsay I've ever come across. I wouldn't go throwing that around as confirming anything."


    Just curious but how is that story any more hearsay than the foundation for your entire belief system? Forgive me if I am wrong but it seems to me, by your rational, that the fact that the story is now in print and conveyed to you by a relative/friend/acquaintance or stranger, that it is now true no matter how many generations have passed it down before it reached you ears.

    Are you more likely to believe that Noah built an arc and provided for his family and over 9 million species that walk and crawl on the earth or that Jack climbed the bean stalk and encountered a giant?

    Can you please lay out the criteria for when anecdotal evidence ceases to be hearsay and becomes truth? Perhaps if the story was told in a different light? Maybe if it was the Catholic church that was pushing for a PR bonanza and the Mormon bishop who sat charitably in the corner? Would you be less likely to dismiss it so easily then? What if it was told to you by a GA or even Mr. Monson himself?

  27. @The Arkwelder

    I am glad to see you are on the path you are on. You remind me of myself when I first got off my mission. It was very clear to me that the church wasn’t what I was reading it should be in the scriptures and I chose to distance myself from it when I got home. I decided just to go to church and sit in the back and listen. Study on my own but not accept any calling. I even kept paying my tithing. It wasn’t till many years later that I eventually arrived at where I am now but that is another topic for another day.

    Being curious as I am I just find it interesting that you seem so keen on reconciling something that you believe to have some universal truth at its foundation which just happens to be rooted in “Sacred Mormonism” as you put it, and that it applies to all nations, creeds, colors and belief systems. I find it hard to believe, if you trust that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he really talked to God, that you can think that the so called Zion would include Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims or any person from any other religious belief system no matter how good their intentions. If you trust the personal account of Joseph Smith and his first vision he quotes Jesus as saying that, “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight.” Strong words! Do you think that God will allow abominations into his utopia? Or are Jesus’ words through his prophet not the “Sacred Mormonism” you’re thinking of?
    I hope I wasn’t unfounded when I referred to Zion as a utopia. There is an interesting fact about that word though. The greeks have two different meanings for that word. Eu-topos, meaning the good place, and ou-topos meaning the place that can never be. I wonder which category your Zion falls into?

    It just seems to me that at the core of it you are trying to reconcile the beliefs of your parents, which were handed down to you and hardwired into your brain as a child, with the obvious discrepancies in the world today. You talk about not having your beliefs forced on you by any man but ask yourself why you believe in any version of a perfect Mormonism in the first place? Where does your original notion of a God come from? Is he/she based in the god of the old/new testament with all of the rape, genocide, baby killing and fire and brimstone thrown out? Or do you see yourself believing in something more like a Hindu god or maybe something a little more like Thor?

    Can you imagine a time where you stop pretending that anyone knows more than you do about the nature and creation of the universe and start living in the best way you know how, trying to benefit society as a whole so that everyone around you is better for having known you? You may very well try to build this Zion as you call it, but why does it have to be built because of what some guy a long time ago claimed that some all-powerful creature said we were supposed to?

    Again I want to say I think you’re thought process on this topic is in the right place. But just ask yourself is there any evidence that can be presented to you to get you to think differently then you currently do? If not, where can the conversation go from here? Also keep in mind when presenting your argument to the Profain Mormon Mainstream in SLC, that it is very difficult to reason people out of beliefs that aren’t based on reason.

  28. This is LDSDPer--

    I've tried to follow the comments, and I know I'm a 'newbie', both to this blog and to the Mormon blog world; I've never been involved in the LDS blog world--

    I discovered Waterman's blog from a post he made on DP--(hence, LDSDPer); I had long found myself more comfortable in the agnostic/anything but Christian, including Hindus, Jews, and Muslims and a Bhuddist or two/non-corporate Christian world of Daily Paul--

    and, yes, I am an LDS libertarian (mostly)--

    definitely not the typical Democrat or Republican--Mormon or otherwise . . .

    but this isn't about (necessarily) politics, and I can be very happy not discussing politics--

    this is about Zion--

    I appreciate what you have to say about Zion.

    I can easily ignore comments made about Thomas S. Monson, because I am trying to sort out my own feelings about the unknown (personally) but highly public figures of church leaders--they are both well-known and unknown, and I have put Monson (and others) on a back burner, there to simmer until I figure out what to do with them--

    while understanding that what *I* do with them means very little to them--LOL!

    I am what some might call a born-again Mormon with no desire to leave the Mormon church community (my focus is on Jesus Christ) who, thanks to Waterman and others, has rediscovered Joseph Smith and might be on the road towards reconciling myself to him again, after having 'dumped' him somewhat, because of the mainstream views on his personal life--which I am now questioning--

    For about 2 decades I pretty much left Joseph Smith alone, while appreciating the Book of Mormon for its Christian perspective.

    Zion, yes. I have read a few of the responses, and I don't think that the response Joseph Smith got from God the Father and Jesus Christ with regards to the 'creeds' being 'abominations'--

    is negated by a desire to find all that is good and virtuous in every religion, because I can see that abominations have crept in and will creep in to every organization or 'creed'--

    there are none that are not corrupted, including LDS-'ness'--

    so I really appreciate the writing about the cultural (profane) and the spiritual (sacred/temple)--

    I have not left the Mormon church, but the Mormon church has left me (very literally), and if I say more I might identify myself. No, I am not in any public process of being denounced by the church; it's something much more innocent/simple than that, but still something that is very challenging for me--

    Just trust me when I say that all my desires to be involved with the church have been hampered by circumstances beyond my control--

    and this has given me a perspective that is at once valuable and unique and painful--

  29. DPer again--continued from above; I've written too much for one post--*blush*

    So, thank you for the hope. I am hoping that this blog might help one of my adult children, as well.

    And my husband (yes, I'm female and quite 'old')-- :)

    I look forward to going back and reading your other articles.

    Because of my experience in finding commonality with other Christians (those who are not warmongers), Bhuddists, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims . . .--

    (did I leave anyone out?)--

    I can appreciate what you have to write--

    unfortunately and really sadly, with the exception of a few people whom I deem to be mortal angels, most LDS simply aren't on my page--

    I have made the attempt to reach out and find commonality, but I find that most of them have a perspective that is very narrow, distrustful of other religions and embracing of all that is 'green jello' in the LDS religion--

    good people, but not people with whom I can commune, and this is written by someone who has been 'active' for an entire lifetime; I served a mission, graduated from BYU, held callings, married in the temple (and remain married to an amazing and open-minded man)--

    and now I do find myself without a community or with a very scraggly community of a few people who remember that I am still alive--

    When I see how many young people are awakening to the idea that Zion must be: 1) an individual, not a corporate or organizational, goal and 2) something brought by and through and in and with Jesus Christ--

    and His purest teachings . . .

    I feel great hope, especially since I have at least one child who has been completely rejected by the 'church' and has found acceptance in another Christian religion--

    I pray for those who have reached out to him, and I can see the hand of God in what they are doing for my 'child' (an adult)--

    So, thanks--

    I have nothing academic to add--