Wednesday, February 12, 2014

# 25: Five New Essays from the Church

The Church is releasing five new essays about religion, and publishing them on the Newsroom portion of their official website.  It looks like these five essays will help folks like me stay in the Church.

The first one is called, Why Religion Matters: The Longing Within, and it talks about the universal appeal that religion has.  I recommend reading it.  Here's a link to it.

Notice that the Church is not saying (in their official press releases, anyway) that the LDS Church is the one true Church on the Earth with exclusive priesthood authority.  Notice that the Church is not claiming to have a monopoly on spiritual truth.

Notice that the essay begins with a quote from Reverend Samuel Rodriguez.  I don't know who that is, but the title "Reverend" lets us know that he is a non-Mormon spiritual leader.  Now take a look at the notes at the bottom of the essay.  It quotes a Reverend, a Rabbi, the Bible, a philosopher named Ludwig Wittgenstein, some scholar publishing in the "Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion," and then a few other people.  What's interesting about the people quoted for this essay?  Not a single one of them are members of the LDS Church.

What does all this quoting of non-member religious leaders and scholars communicate?  It communicates that the LDS Church is trying to situate itself as a good religion among many good religions.  It communicates that the LDS Church considers itself to have a lot to learn from inter-faith dialogue.  It communicates that the Church is breaking down the wall between Zion and Babylon, between the Chosen People and The Rest of the World.  Instead, the Church is becoming a little more open to all the wonderful things out there in the world.  

My favorite line from this first essay is "religion and the spirituality it inspires... connects us to the moral foundations that undergird the best of our shared humanity."

So, the authors of this essay assert that there are moral foundations to society, and that religion, in a mysterious way, connects us to those moral foundations.

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