Saturday, January 11, 2014
Reason # 17 to Stay LDS was, "Other Churches are Too Easy," and now reason # 24 is basically, the LDS Church really isn't that hard these days.
There was a time when being a good member of the Church was extremely difficult. There was a time when if you joined the Church, you had to move to Zion. And there were no planes back then. You had to walk all the way to Utah, pushing a handcart across rugged terrain.
There was a time when you were expected to live the law of consecration. You were supposed to give everything you owned to the Church, and the Church would redistribute it. You don't have to do that anymore.
There was a time when the Prophet might ask you to go on a mission and marry your wife while you were gone. That's what Joseph Smith did.
But the Church isn't like that anymore. Nobody's asking you to cross the plains.
Now, you do get asked to do a lot. Young men get asked to serve missions. It's not an easy religion to live, but it's easier than it used to be.
You really can take the religion on your own terms, to a certain extent. To a certain extent, you can be a cafeteria Mormon. You can pick which teachings you want to believe in and follow. You can choose which activities you want to participate in.
These days you can still stay LDS and not really do much at all. If you want, you can go to sacrament meeting once a week for an hour and that's it. Look around at your fellow church members. I'm sure you know some people who don't do their home teaching or visiting teaching, who decline callings, who don't pay tithing, and who don't fast on Fast Sundays. And nobody kicks them out of the Church. Everybody is welcome in the Church. There's a sign on the outside of the buildings that say, "Visitors Welcome." If visitors are welcome, then surely lukewarm members and jack Mormons are welcome. If visitors are welcome, then surely members who don't believe in all the teachings of the Church are welcome.
If you're going through a faith crisis right now, it might be a good idea to get released from your callings, sit back and just observe things. That's what I did for about a year and a half. It was kind of nice to take things easy and let other people run the church.
Whatever level of participation you're comfortable with right now, that's okay. Even if you don't do very much with your Church affiliation, you're still a Mormon. .
Some Mormons want to cast skeptics out of the Church, their communities, and their lives. Some Mormons want to shun anyone who expresses doubt about the Church's history and doctrine. However, there are so many members of the Church who want people to stay in the Church, doubts and all. There are so many members of the Church who advocate for a more inclusive, big-tent model of Mormonism.
One of these caring and understanding members of the Church is Bill Reel. I first heard him speak on a Mormon Stories podcast a long time ago.
Since his appearance on that podcast, he's started his own podcast, at http://mormondiscussionpodcast.org
Bill Reel has an interesting story. He's a convert to the Church, and he read "No Man Knows my History" by Fawn Brodie before converting. He got into a little bit of trouble with drugs as a teenager but then he cleaned up his act when he joined the Church. Then, when he was serving as Bishop, he came across troubling information about the Church on the Internet, and he had a faith crisis. He says that for about a year and a half, while serving as Bishop, he didn't believe the Church was true. But he kept going to Church, and he kept going through the motions, until eventually, somehow, his faith was rekindled. He talks more about his life on this podcast, produced by FAIR, which, as you are probably already aware, is an unofficial Mormon apologetics organization.
The leadership of the Church is aware of Bill Reel's activities. They haven't disciplined him in any way. And they haven't even removed him from his position as Bishop. Bill Reel is quick to clarify that he doesn't speak in any official capacity on behalf of the Church, but even still, his current position as Bishop gives his opinions a little more credence.
And he's brave! Bill Reel is really putting himself out there. I'm sure he's been given some grief in his personal life for his online activities. I'm sure he's received some negative comments from super orthodox members of the church.
I, on the other hand, am less brave. Maybe someday I will reveal my real identity, but until then, I will continue to write this blog under the pseudonym misterfake371.
Thank you, Bill Reel, for doing what you do. I believe God smiles at your efforts.
So my point here is that Bill Reel is a really nice guy, and he understands the struggles that some Mormons are going through. He's sympathetic with those who leave the Church. He treats people with the respect they deserve. He recognizes that everyone is on their own spiritual journey. He doesn't label questioners as apostates and he doesn't seek to silence them.
Bill Reel maintains his faith and asserts his own beliefs, putting Jesus Christ at the center of his testimony. If he can happily stay LDS, maybe you can too.
Too many people are in debt these days. Too many people don't have the knowledge or the discipline to handle money appropriately. Too many people waste their money on junk food, dining out, big houses, big cars, diamond necklaces, and tickets to Justin Bieber concerts. But what does the LDS Church teach?
Buy a modest home.
Get a good education.
Provide for yourself.
Set money aside for a rainy day.
Save your money.
Don't waste your money.
Yea, well did Jacob say, "Do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy." (2 Nephi 9: 51)
For more on what the Church teaches about money management, go to this official Church web page.
Unfortunately, too few members take this counsel seriously. In fact, Utah leads the nation in bankruptcies. Who's to blame for this shameful statistic? Um... I don't know. I guess we should blame the members for living beyond their means. I guess we should blame the parents in Zion who don't teach their children, through word and example, appropriate money management skills.
But we can't blame the leadership of the Church. They've consistently taught that we should prudently use the resources our Heavenly Father has so generously given us.
Staying LDS, in part, means continuing to live the teachings of the Church. The teaching of managing money wisely is one no one can reasonably disagree with. Isn't life better when you're financially stable?
Please take a moment to watch this video. I'll embed it here:
And if for some reason the embedded video isn't good, I'll put a link to it here, so you can watch it directly on You-Tube. Turn up the volume really loud.
It's a video of a lady singing "O Divine Redeemer" at Brigham Young University in 2012. I don't know anything about the lady, and I really don't know very much about music, except that I love it. And I just really really love this version of this song, so I wanted to share it. It's beautiful.
No, Mormonism doesn't have a monopoly on spiritually uplifting music. No, this isn't the only great performance of "O Divine Redeemer" out there. But the Church does produce a lot of really great music. And the LDS Church does have a monopoly on pregnant ladies singing "O Divine Redeemer" at BYU.
Think of all the cultural infrastructure that had to be set in place in order for this performance to occur. This lady was most likely born and raised in a big Mormon family. The lady had to be taught how to sing. The pianist had to be taught to play the piano. BYU had to be built. Large numbers of people had to faithfully pay tithing.
This performance is the tip of an iceberg, a beautiful iceberg named Mormonism. You can't separate this performance from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This performance is a natural outgrowth of a faith tradition firmly believed and lived.
Enjoy "O Divine Redeemer." Soak it in. Don't be surprised if it makes you feel like going to church.