New bishopric member seeks advice

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
NWwisdomseeker
Posts: 8
Joined: 21 Apr 2010, 06:20

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by NWwisdomseeker » 24 Apr 2010, 07:57

Cadence wrote:If you came to my house I would ask you to provide some answers on an intellectual basis. Without falling back on scripture study and prayer can you give me some definitive answers to questions I have.
What would the questions be that you would ask? As a member of a local bishopric, I don't believe I can speak for the church, so if you asked me major questions about doctrine or practice I would caveat every answer by saying that it is merely my belief or opinion. Would that be helpful? Or would your questions be more about the local community/ward?

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16728
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Apr 2010, 10:57

Fwiw, when I am asked doctrinal questions, I almost always use the "this is how I see it personally" disclaimer - and I say it with a grin - and almost everyone understands exactly what I mean. The ones who don't understand are the ones who wouldn't be asking in the first place.

It really is fascinating to me that when I say "this is how I see it personally" with an obvious grin, people really do get it. (I sometimes say, "OK, this is the Gospel of Ray you're about to hear" - and I've said that in Sunday School and Stake Leadership meetings - and, as long as I grin while I'm saying it, almost everyone understands.)

There really is FAR more acceptance of personal interpretation in LOTS of areas in the Church than many people think - as long as it's expressed in a way that is non-argumentative, non-combatative, non-aggressive, non-emotional, non-absolutist and generally meek. Notice, I used "non-..." predominantly, since it is the avoidance of appearing to want a fight and appearing to want to convince/convert that is critical.
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
Rix
Posts: 562
Joined: 20 Jul 2009, 14:29
Location: Bluffdale, UT

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by Rix » 24 Apr 2010, 11:06

NWwisdomseeker wrote:What would the questions be that you would ask?
I know I wasn't asked this, but I'll certainly give my 1.5 cents...There would only be a few questions I would ask -- "how can I, or the ward leadership help you on your spiritual journey? Are there areas in the church/ward structure that you feel you would be interested in serving others?"

Then, maybe a few statements to help focus the important issues...like, "I think all of us have questions about church history and the correct interpretation of doctrine. To me, we are a body of people that attempt to follow the teachings of the Savior, and the main teachings he gave us are to love God, and to love and serve man. Are there ways we can help you do this?

Everything else is fluff.
Überzeugungen sind oft die gefährlichsten Feinde der Wahrheit.
[Certainty (that one is correct) is often the most dangerous enemy of the
truth.] - Friedrich Nietzsche

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that. -- Joseph Campbell

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16728
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Apr 2010, 16:07

Thanks, Rix. That was wonderful.
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
Cadence
Posts: 1180
Joined: 08 Dec 2009, 21:36

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by Cadence » 25 Apr 2010, 06:45

NWwisdomseeker wrote:
Cadence wrote:If you came to my house I would ask you to provide some answers on an intellectual basis. Without falling back on scripture study and prayer can you give me some definitive answers to questions I have.
What would the questions be that you would ask? As a member of a local bishopric, I don't believe I can speak for the church, so if you asked me major questions about doctrine or practice I would caveat every answer by saying that it is merely my belief or opinion. Would that be helpful? Or would your questions be more about the local community/ward?
By biggest question is always "How do you know" You see I desperately want to know but all your methods of prayer and study never work for me. If you can give me some definitive experience beyond anecdotal or coincidental occurrences then I am interested. If not then I am afraid I must conclude your belief is fabricated.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16728
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by Curt Sunshine » 25 Apr 2010, 07:00

By biggest question is always "How do you know"
Maybe you don't.
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

NWwisdomseeker
Posts: 8
Joined: 21 Apr 2010, 06:20

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by NWwisdomseeker » 25 Apr 2010, 07:10

By biggest question is always "How do you know" You see I desperately want to know but all your methods of prayer and study never work for me. If you can give me some definitive experience beyond anecdotal or coincidental occurrences then I am interested. If not then I am afraid I must conclude your belief is fabricated.
My knowledge is only about my experience -- I know that when I live a certain way, I'm happier and I have better relationships with my wife and children and other people I encounter. That way of life is my best approximation of the "good life" intimated by scripture and other writers and thinkers, and involves concepts like personal responsibility for my belief system, tolerance, patience, love, empathy, reverence and wonder, appreciation of beauty, desire to create.

The specifics of our particular doctrinal approach (there is a God, he looks and acts thusly, Joseph Smith was a literal prophet, the LDS church is objectively the one and only vehicle for God to officially interact with man, etc.) -- these run the gamut for me from manifestations of difficult concepts rendered in language and narrative, to troubling historical facts, to a common heritage that helps us understand how we emerged as a sub-culture and helps us identify ourselves as such (for both benefit and detriment). They are not things I "know" in the same sense of knowing based on my experience. Some of them are things that I have an appreciation for, and that can help me frame my actions or thoughts, and thus are objects of "faith" for me. Some of them are things I simply struggle with, or choose to de-prioritize for the sake of making everything else work out. Like anything else in life worth working for, it's a bit of a sausage factory -- messy, unappetizing if you look too closely, but lots of potential often realized.

So my approach with members is always to limit my "testimony bearing" to things I truly know, and caveat everything else with "I believe" or "I think" or "I wonder".

NWwisdomseeker
Posts: 8
Joined: 21 Apr 2010, 06:20

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by NWwisdomseeker » 25 Apr 2010, 07:28

One other thing about "knowledge" and my role in other people's knowledge:

I don't believe it is my responsibility as an individual or as a member of a bishopric (or any other official calling) to get anyone convinced of anything. I think it is my job first to come to a state of being in which I am self-aware, and self-responsible. I need to work out my own salvation in fear and trembling, to put it in New Testament parlance.

With regard to the organization, I believe I am sometimes called to administer the programs for the benefit of the members. In this capacity, I believe I am accountable to the membership to help structure the community and its programs to maximize the possibility of benefit accruing to the membership. This is an impossible task -- you can't satisfy everyone's needs through a common program. But in general, I believe that communal effort often surpasses the capability of individuals to accomplish good things (and bad things too), and thus it is worth trying to make the programs function to help the maximum number of people.

I don't believe we should gate participation in the programs by a test of "right thinking" or even necessarily "right living". Actions are important, and I believe there are some actions that should probably disqualify someone from participation in any society, but they are rare, especially in a religious society which is built on a promise of "come unto me ... and I will give ye rest."

Were I not in a position of leadership, I would still feel a sense of need to participate and improve the society, despite its faults and the faults of its participants (including myself), as long as I am committed to being a member of that society.

None of which gives me either the right or the responsibility of trying to convince someone to believe or "know" anything in particular. It is your job to discover, develop and live by your own belief system. To the extent that you choose to participate in the society of which I am a member (or especially a leader), it is my responsibility to do what I can to insure that the society provides value to you in your quest to deepen your belief structure, to live your beliefs more fully, or whatever other benefit you believe you can derive from the society.

In its perfect state, the act of living by one's beliefs and the act of improving the society in which one chooses to be a participant, are perfectly efficient -- they are one and the same and support each other perfectly. But we don't live in that idealized state, so we are constantly working to balance the interests of one's self and one's affiliations.

Sorry for riffing on a few mixed themes here -- the basic point I wanted to make is that when I come to visit, I don't believe my objective is to get you to "know". It is to understand, encourage, find out how to improve the community, and to deliver a message of welcome and respect. It is up to you to figure out what you know and believe, and ultimately what you intend to do with that belief.

User avatar
Cadence
Posts: 1180
Joined: 08 Dec 2009, 21:36

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by Cadence » 25 Apr 2010, 16:31

NWwisdomseeker wrote:
Sorry for riffing on a few mixed themes here -- the basic point I wanted to make is that when I come to visit, I don't believe my objective is to get you to "know". It is to understand, encourage, find out how to improve the community, and to deliver a message of welcome and respect. It is up to you to figure out what you know and believe, and ultimately what you intend to do with that belief.
That would be an excellent approach. If you take the approach that you are not there to fix a problem but help facilitate their own spiritual journey then then in my mind you have the correct approach.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7158
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: New bishopric member seeks advice

Post by Heber13 » 26 Apr 2010, 10:36

Cadence wrote:
NWwisdomseeker wrote:
Sorry for riffing on a few mixed themes here -- the basic point I wanted to make is that when I come to visit, I don't believe my objective is to get you to "know". It is to understand, encourage, find out how to improve the community, and to deliver a message of welcome and respect. It is up to you to figure out what you know and believe, and ultimately what you intend to do with that belief.
That would be an excellent approach. If you take the approach that you are not there to fix a problem but help facilitate their own spiritual journey then then in my mind you have the correct approach.
I second Cadence's comments.
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."

Post Reply