Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

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Nathan
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Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by Nathan » 27 May 2010, 16:30

I "backed into" my beliefs that allow me to identify with many of the opinions stated in this forum. My traditional LDS upbringing and zealous service in and out of the Church are always in tension with my rigorous academic life and formal ministry. As much as I value reason and the common context it provides for discussing truth, discovering good, and making sense of suffering--it is always limited in delivering on its grand promises. As I continue to wrestle and live with the questions born of a faithful doubt, I do so on the stage of serving others. My most satisfying points in life are those where I encounter God in the doing, WHILE (or even BEFORE) I encounter him in the thinking. It's often not a linear, first-A-then-B, development either. But I have discovered that when I am serving others on a daily basis, especially in a context of faith, that as much as my life resembles a Kierkegaardian-leap-of-faith (in light of historical evidences, etc.) I frequently enjoy his Peace. As a Latter-day Saint, Army Chaplain, the first to attend seminary and serve as an assistant pastor in a Protestant Church, and one who taught world religions and worked closely with leaders of other denominations and traditions prior to my current ministry, I regularly and publicly proclaim I am a better Latter-day Saint because of my meaningful relationships with those outside the Church. In fact, I more often experience a kinship with those out of the Church. I have only recently been able to articulate where I stand in relationship to other Christians, even though I have been practicing varying degrees of this stance for ten years now: my membership in the "Restored Church" does not preclude my service in the traditional Christian Church. A similar statement could be made of other traditions/religions. Clearly my profession is somewhat unique, but my gut tells me my experience is relevant, if not informative to many in this forum--just as your unique experiences can inform my faith or leaning into life. My life is a composite experience of the Comforter calling me outside my comfort zone. And "doing" when my "thinking" tells me there's little basis for it is discomforting, but it often gives way to an expanded sense-of-self. I'm wondering if any of you would care to put some flesh on these bones--provide some everyday examples of how serving others provides insight and perspective? Or perhaps someone might challenge this line of thinking?
Last edited by Nathan on 27 May 2010, 23:28, edited 1 time in total.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 27 May 2010, 19:19

Just as a quick note, I absolutely LOVE this statement:
My membership in the "Restored Church" does not preclude my service in the traditional Christian Church.
Amen, brother Nathan. Amen.

I also believe that it's much better to do than to believe.
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

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cwald
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Re: Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by cwald » 27 May 2010, 20:48

I'm got to think about your question about service for a bit before I answer. But in the meantime I empathize with this thought.
...I am a better Latter-day Saint because of my meaningful relationships with those outside the Church. In fact, I more often experience a kinship with those out of the Church.
Yep. I hear ya. I certainly get what you're saying. ALL of my close friends at this time are NOT LDS. None. I find that I'm much more comfortable with my non member aquaintances and I really enjoy talking and discussing the "important" issues of life with them. I'm "scared" to really open up and discuss philosophy, issues and religion with my LDS friends/family because of past bad experiences, so I've moved on and made close friends outside of the church.

PS - Welcome to StayLDS.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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SamBee
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Re: Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by SamBee » 28 May 2010, 01:46

Stupid question, how do you deal with the Trinity and the Temple - these both seem like pretty major areas of difference, which can't just be airbrushed out.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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bridget_night
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Re: Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by bridget_night » 28 May 2010, 07:24

Hi Nathan,

Welcome to the group! I see you are in Stuttgard Germany. "Sprechen Sie ein bischen Deutsch"? I was born in Berlin and served a mission in Austria. You might want to read my story in my intro, but I have experienced God leading me to other faiths from time to time for my own growth and for the non-members growth. It really helps you to see what you really do believe and that there are so many wonderful inspired people in all religions. My dad served in the German army during WWII. He was a convert to the church and loved the gospel. One time he went to a small church in Germany where the minister invited all the soldiers to come to the podium and share what the beliefs of their own denominations were. When my dad got up and told about the Mormons for about a half hour, everyone asked him to speak longer because they enjoyed it so much. He ended up speaking 3 hours and he said the spirit was so strong. Whenever my dad met someone of another faith he would try to find common ground with them. One Baptist was kind of rude to him, but my dad said, "Oh you are a Baptist. I love Baptists and what they teach about emersion. Until we come to a complete unity of faith (probably at the second coming), I think we should look for commonalities and serve each other rather than all the differences. When others ask about the differences, we can share why we believe or have them. You do have such a special position. When my oldest son was in Army bootcamp, he loved going to hear the chaplin there. He admitted there were no atheists in fox holes and started praying again.

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Nathan
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Re: Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by Nathan » 28 May 2010, 08:21

SamBee wrote:Stupid question, how do you deal with the Trinity and the Temple - these both seem like pretty major areas of difference, which can't just be airbrushed out.
Sam, I'm not sure I follow your question--though I very much want to. Are these two separate concerns--the trinity and the temple? Or is this one concern, where both subjects are related? I certainly understand the major questions with regard to the nature of God (trinity, godhead, etc.), but it's a pretty broad topic. I'm guessing maybe when you mention the temple you are thinking about origins of temple worship, and maybe this is where a discussion on the nature of God would come in. Elaborate on your question so I know I'm going in the right direction, and I'll happily answer in detail. Either way, I'm shooting for my life to be a masterpiece--airbrushing is not an option.

Standing by.

Nathan

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Re: Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 May 2010, 08:25

Nathan, I thnk Sam meant to ask how you handle those types of topics (where significant differences exist) in your roles as chaplain and assistant pastor in a Protestant church. At least, that's how I read the question.
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

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Nathan
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Re: Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by Nathan » 28 May 2010, 08:52

bridget_night wrote: I see you are in Stuttgard Germany. "Sprechen Sie ein bischen Deutsch"? I was born in Berlin and served a mission in Austria.


I don't speak much German. I served my mission in the Philippines (90-92). But I served a two-year enlistment in the Army here in Germany prior to my mission. I love the German people and their culture--though they are a little broken in ways. This is such a beautiful country.
bridget_night wrote: You might want to read my story in my intro, but I have experienced God leading me to other faiths from time to time for my own growth and for the non-members growth. It really helps you to see what you really do believe and that there are so many wonderful inspired people in all religions. My dad served in the German army during WWII. He was a convert to the church and loved the gospel. One time he went to a small church in Germany where the minister invited all the soldiers to come to the podium and share what the beliefs of their own denominations were. When my dad got up and told about the Mormons for about a half hour, everyone asked him to speak longer because they enjoyed it so much. He ended up speaking 3 hours and he said the spirit was so strong. Whenever my dad met someone of another faith he would try to find common ground with them. One Baptist was kind of rude to him, but my dad said, "Oh you are a Baptist.


This is a meaningful story; I trust you're passing it along to your family.

bridget_night wrote: I love Baptists and what they teach about emersion. Until we come to a complete unity of faith (probably at the second coming), I think we should look for commonalities and serve each other rather than all the differences. When others ask about the differences, we can share why we believe or have them.


If I understand you correctly, this is a very important principle: beginning with commonalities is critical. You know, the mission cliche:' we should build on common beliefs. However, sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring real differences precludes ones ability to be vulnerable and enter into genuine relationship with others. I strive to be recognized as a peace maker, but I refuse to sit around and sign "Kumbaya".
bridget_night wrote: You do have such a special position. When my oldest son was in Army bootcamp, he loved going to hear the chaplin there.


Thank you. It is a blessing to be a chaplain. My wife and I were both set apart by Elder Oaks as full-time, non-proselyting missionaries when I became a chaplain. We don't have to wait to retire to serve a mission, but we are prevented from formal missionary work, allowing us to focus on ministry and service as a mission for the common good.
bridget_night wrote: He admitted there were no atheists in fox holes and started praying again.
I sense you had the best of intentions when relaying this maxim, but I must tell you it isn't accurate. Although the crisis of faith when confronted with one's mortality causes many would-be atheists to return to the faith of their youth, there are plenty in combat who honorably stare into the abyss. My first favorite theologian--Ludwig Feuerbach--is an atheist. It must also be acknowledged that even the Book of Mormon portrays some of its atheists in unexpected sympathy.

Thanks again, Bridget.

Nathan

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 May 2010, 08:54

I also should be acknowledged that the BofM contradicts the "no atheists in foxholes" stereotype.
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

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bridget_night
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Re: Challenging Prioritization: "Do" while we "Think"

Post by bridget_night » 28 May 2010, 09:07

I did not realize that (about atheists etc.). Learn something new everyday.

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