My Slide-Rule Analogy

For the discussion of spirituality -- from LDS and non-LDS sources
Post Reply
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 2252
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 14:44

My Slide-Rule Analogy

Post by Orson » 08 Sep 2009, 15:28

Last night I dreamt that I was being questioned by a family member about my beliefs: “Do you believe the church is led by revelation through the authority of God, or do you see it as the work of man?” I found that I couldn’t honestly answer to either extreme, I had to say “both!”

I found myself waking to an understanding that my relationship to the church is not one of revering a complete, whole, perfected and static thing that I simply learn and take nourishment from. I see the church more as a living organism, one in which I am a part of – much like a cell “living” in a finger or an arm. I am a part of the church as much as it’s a part of me and my world.

I also recall how Bushman said we all accept the church selectively. We can’t help it. There is always one area of doctrine that speaks the loudest to us individually – some thing that we hold on to tighter than the rest.

So I have come to see this “work of God” or “work of man” dynamic as operating on a type of scale. I don’t think there is anyone in the church who will put their personal interpretation as 100% onto one extreme or the other – we are all somewhere in between. Granted I have had times where I may have said “it’s probably 99.9 % man”, but still – even with .1% inspired workings in the church, it has that element of revelation in the mix.

My point is I think it’s a shame when members feel they don’t fit in because their personal slide-rule is not above 80% revelation – or any arbitrary number that they think is the “acceptable” level of belief in the church. As far as I’m concerned as long as they haven’t pulled the slide completely out of the rule, and burned it (impossibility but I’m going with it) then they have a place in the church right next to everyone else.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

Posts: 389
Joined: 19 Jul 2009, 15:44

Re: My Slide-Rule Theory

Post by Poppyseed » 08 Sep 2009, 15:32

I couldn't agree more. I mean who says we have to all have the same understanding before we worship together. I think I have always liked this about the mormon church philosophy though I have not seen it in practice as much as I would like.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16677
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My Slide-Rule Theory

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 Sep 2009, 18:02

Great analogy. Thanks!
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
Posts: 45
Joined: 28 Jul 2009, 20:46

Re: My Slide-Rule Analogy

Post by borninit » 08 Sep 2009, 18:37

You make a great point and a great analogy.
I spent a year and a half in the EQ Presidency as 2nd C and I wanted to see the "revelation" flow from us. The Pres. said that he would not have called me as a counselor with him and was very surprised when he got confirmation that it was me. OK, so I was called of God. I don't think we were full of the spirit or anything. We prayed to know how to do the HT list and prayed before we did visits and stuff. I'm not sure that we had the spirit with us all of the time. We went through the HT list pretty quick and assigned people where there was openings, if people weren't willing to be home taught and who to put with who depending of who the stronger home teachers were. I don't know if we were led by God in all of this... I don't know, maybe the Pres was.

It may seem that we did things without the spirit or revelation, but we were worthy of it. I know that in my personal life I look back on stuff and realize that God and Holy Ghost promptings were there, almost on a steady basis. I have always been protected and I know that others are too. It's not just me.

Now, to my point. We did the best that we could relying on the light that we had, and we prayed for more light and to do the right thing. We did not walk around in a spiritual blanket ( our own urim and thummum) during our calling, we were left to work out things the best that we could. I'm sure that we fell short all of the time. Who cares? We did the best we could. Other church leaders do the best they can relying on the light they have received and they always pray for more light and what to do. God does not answer every request, but the spirit teaches us things and we dictate our actions according to what we have learned. (Imperfectly.)

Your slide rule analogy is correct. I think the percentages could be different, I wouldn't say by how much, but I also believe the Lord is very much involved in our lives and the lives in the church. I see no reason to cry foul at the leadership, especially when we regular members suck so freaking bad at doing our part. :shock: Most of us live lives of no faith, that's a far cry from those leaders who try to rely on it, albeit imperfectly.

Crud, I might not be on topic again. :?
I used to say, "My mission is to reveal a person's true identity to themselves so they can finally deal with it." Now I'm a much nicer person. I can take being threatened with physical harm only so many times.

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 3518
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 16:27

Re: My Slide-Rule Theory

Post by hawkgrrrl » 08 Sep 2009, 19:23

I love the analogy, and I think there's great risk for many in swinging from one end (we assume the church is 100% God's creation) to the other (it's 100% human creation). Maybe like a marriage, it's simultaneously 100% both (like a marriage is 100% each spouse's responsibility). Maybe it's 100% human, and that's 100% God's design, that all churches be 100% human and appeal to different types of people in the unique and different ways that fill their personal needs.

User avatar
Posts: 7152
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: My Slide-Rule Analogy

Post by Heber13 » 09 Sep 2009, 15:53

I really like that analogy. I think Bushman allows for it to be a personal thing with multiple avenues for revelation and interpretation, which I think is a mature way to look at it. As he stated, those that are rigid with black and white (or only 100% or 0% "all-or-nothing") mentality are doomed for a shock when historical facts surface.

Paradoxes are bound to impact individuals differently on a slide-rule perspective.

I see so much good in the church, and so much success with its growth and influence in the world, I cannot see that it is 0% revelation and 100% man-made. Yet, I think because God requires faith, I not longer accept it is 100% revelation where prophets are empty tablets and God dictates through them.

Revelation does occur, and the men and women are conduits and their personal properties (characteristics) do influence that revelation in how it is delivered (like borninit's EQ experiences) and also how it is interpreted by them and others.

I also think revelation occurs outside the church. God loves all His children. I think I'm currently at about a 85% slide-rule measure, and it does seem to slide up and down from time to time. (85% is pretty good in my mind).

Thanks for sharing, Orson.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

User avatar
Posts: 44
Joined: 16 Apr 2009, 18:24
Location: Midwest

Re: My Slide-Rule Analogy

Post by professionalmom » 09 Sep 2009, 17:15

Nothing of substance to add. Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this post and thinking of the slide rule will help keep me from slipping into "black and white" mode.
"The path that is best for you is the path that keeps the best of you in play."

User avatar
Brian Johnston
Site Admin
Posts: 3499
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 06:17
Location: Washington DC

Re: My Slide-Rule Analogy

Post by Brian Johnston » 10 Sep 2009, 08:16

I think we are all in creation that is 100% God, and it is filled with our experience being 100% human.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

Posts: 389
Joined: 19 Jul 2009, 15:44

Re: My Slide-Rule Analogy

Post by Poppyseed » 10 Sep 2009, 08:46

professionalmom wrote:Nothing of substance to add. Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this post and thinking of the slide rule will help keep me from slipping into "black and white" mode.
Thank you for saying this. Black and white thinking is what gets people in trouble with regards to the law and spirit......and perhaps even misunderstanding God.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

Post Reply