My main issues

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My main issues

Post by LookingHard » 18 Jan 2017, 21:53

I have been wanting to distill my main issues with the church - more for myself. I don't know if I would call this "final", but after sitting on it a day or two, this does feel like it is hitting all the points that I feel are important for me.

As I have said many times, most of my issues (maybe it is all) seem to focus on the church leadership. That probably says something about me - maybe how I used to lean on them for advice and guidance and feel really burned by them.

So here it goes. And on a side note, I am probably going to take a bit of a hiatus. I need to try and figure out how to untighten my rubber band a bit. Work sure isn't helping on that!
My main issues

Don't feel God in the LDS church.
It is that simple. I do feel what I think is God and often, but I never feel it when listening to top church leaders, listening to correlated lessons, nor have I ever once felt anything but really weird while in the temple. I do feel what I think is God when I help someone in real need and when I just contemplate.

Lack of Honesty by top church leaders
I feel the top church leaders, past and present, have and continue today to lie not be "fully truthful." The essays are one example. They feel to me like their sole purpose is to surrender ground that is already lost. They then frame the issue in a way that a member can feel they are at the bottom of the issue (which I would argue they are not) and then the member can say, "that didn't bother me (much)" and never actually go study the details for themselves. Some of the footnotes are cherry picking things out of context and in some cases actually in context the quotes say the opposite of what is said in the essay. It feels to me that the essays are also a way to have plausible deniability in the future when accused of covering up by saying, "we put it out there, but I guess you just didn't look/study enough" (but buried them in a web site and not really mention them). After more than 2 years after they started being released I asked in High Priests group meeting and NOT ONE person knew about them.

Lack of any Revelations
I can't see any revelations from top leaders in my lifetime, so what is the purpose of having a prophet if in my lifetime they don't give me any meaningful revelations for my time? There is a "revelation" given in 1978 with the priesthood and temple ban, but the essays claim that the ban was a policy. Policy does not require revelation to change it. I have heard what could be considered prophecy be made, but none of it seems to have come to pass.

Ever-changing doctrine
The top leadership continue to pound that the gospel/church teachings are never changing. The more I dig into history I have to say that I find VERY different teachings that have come and gone (this into to the top leaders not being truthful). I have lost trust in them as someone I can believe in what they say. I don't consider these leaders evil, just no more led by God than anybody else. I do feel they are more than willing to "lie for the lord" and believe the ends (supporting the church) justify the means. Which flows into my next issue.

Lack of Faith in God by church leaders
I don't feel the top leaders act in a way that they truly believe that God is powerful and at the head. Hence the need to "lie for the lord" since he isn't powerful enough to handle things himself and we need to help him because his message and his spirit are not strong enough to stand for themselves. I grew up where I remember being constantly told that basically "if you open an anti-Mormon book, you will lose the spirit and you will be in the snare of the devil" Trying to use logic with this, I can't come to any other conclusion than anti-Mormon books and Satan are more powerful than God and scripture. We constantly teach that people need to read the Book of Mormon and if they pray about it God will tell them it is true. But if someone reads a book that is critical of the church, Satan will have a hold on them. Which implies that a person's salvation depends on the right book getting to them first.

Top church leaders not fulfilling roles
I see many, many in the church really struggling with church history, church policy on gays, etc. The people that are hurting the most are those that are "all in the church" for most all their life. They are looking for answers. What they generally get is "do more of the same" and "don't trust everything you read." Those are not answers. Then I hear Elder Ballard in a talk say to a struggling young man (paraphrasing), "Write all your questions and bring them to me and I will answer them, but first read the Book of Mormon." When the young man returned he stated after reading the Book of Mormon he had no more questions. I won't go into what someone is supposed to do if they read the Book of Mormon and still have questions, but instead focus on how Elder Ballard says he has answers. If he is an apostle and he has answers to questions that a LOT of church members have and are really struggling with, WHY IS HE NOT SHARING THOSE ANSWERS?

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Re: My main issues

Post by nibbler » 19 Jan 2017, 06:27

I fear that if I reply to some of your points that I'd feel like I was trying to talk you out of them, which is 100% not the case. When dealing with common issues that people have with the church people often defend the church out of reflex. The problem is that we can unconsciously invalidate a person's concerns in the process. In other words we often default to "my beliefs are under attack" which blinds us to "here is someone that is hurting." I certainly don't want to do that.

I believe some people truly need leaders. Perhaps god is far too ethereal, immaterial, or unreachable and something more tangible like a person can help them in their spiritual journey. In this case that something tangible is a leader, a relatable human being, something that says audible words. Here's the kicker... I believe that some people truly do not need leaders, there may even be some people that need to not have a leader.

We put quite a bit of emphasis on our leaders at church, so what do you do if you are the type that no longer needs a leader to guide you along in your spiritual journey? Or person that needs to not have a leader? Or a person that needs leaders that aren't recognized as such by the church? It presents a challenge.

I've borrowed from DW's approach. The meat of it is: not everything a church leader says is relevant to me so I can safely ignore it. Orthodox members do it all the time, maybe without even realizing it. Let's say there's a talk on porn during general conference. I know, big stretch. If porn isn't a problem for someone they tune out a talk that's about overcoming a porn addiction. A talk on what to do when you doubt? I don't doubt, so I'm not concerned, I tune it out. So if church leaders aren't doing it for you the tune it out umbrella can expand to cover more and more things.

I wouldn't go around your local ward advertising how little or how much you are tuning leaders out though, it can make people... antsy. It can be hard when (disclaimer: every ward is different but this has been my experience) so much of our 3 hour block is giving deference to the leaders. Seriously, it's bad. Someone should probably do something about that... but some people's connection to the divine goes through leaders, so it's a tough issue.

I may run my mouth some more later about some of the specific things you brought up.

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Re: My main issues

Post by LookingHard » 19 Jan 2017, 07:36

Good advice Nibbler.

My point was not so much asking for advice, it was mainly for ME to get clear with myself what the core issues were. Isn't "ID'ing the problem is the first step?" It was hard not to create a list that would go on for pages and pages (polygamy, treatment of women, treatment of gays, .......................)

And some of your points about "just ignore what you don't like/agree with" is good and appropriate for "StayLDS", but I am struggling with "should I spend much of my time listening to them at all?" Thinking about this does make me consider if where I am at is not "StayLDS" - hence the reason I am going to back away (real soon, but not today "-) ).

Thanks Nibbler. I do appreciate the words and thoughts. Your a good cookie!

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Re: My main issues

Post by nibbler » 19 Jan 2017, 07:53

Perhaps this should be addressed in a separate thread but:
LookingHard wrote:I do feel they are more than willing to "lie for the lord" and believe the ends (supporting the church) justify the means.
A parable from the Lotus Sutra, somewhere buried in chapter 3. Summary (cribbed):

A rich man had a very large house. The house had only one entrance, and the timber of which it was made had dried out thoroughly over the years. One day the house caught fire, and the rich man's many children, heedless of the fire, continued to play in the house. Their father called to them from outside that the house was afire and that they would perish in the flames if they did not come out. The children, not knowing the meaning of 'fire' or 'perish,' continued to play as before. The man called out once more, 'Come out children, and I will give you ox-drawn carriages, deer-drawn carriages, and goat-drawn carriages!' Tempted by the desire for new playthings, the children left the burning house, only to find ox-drawn carriages [the best type] awaiting them.

And some quotes from the Sutra:
At that time, the children each climbed into a great cart and had an unprecedented experience, one beyond their original expectations. O Śāriputra! What do you think about this? This affluent man gave to his children equally a large cart decorated with precious treasures. Has he deceived them or not?

Śāriputra replied: No Bhagavat! The affluent man only tried to help his children escape from the disastrous fire. He saved their lives and did not deceive them. This is by no means a deception. Why? Because by saving their lives they obtained marvelous toys. Moreover, they were saved from the burning house by skillful means.

O Bhagavat! If this affluent man had not given them even the smallest cart, it still would not have been a deception. Why is this? Because this affluent man thought before:

I will help my children escape with skillful means. This is why it was not a deception. How much more so, since the affluent man, knowing that he had immeasurable wealth and wanting to benefit them equally, gave each of his children a large [ox]cart.
And goes on for 10+ pages expounding on the idea and explaining the analogies drawn. We can each come up with our own meaning. Does the house of dried timbers that is on fire represent hell? the church? mortality? Does the rich man represent an apostle (have you seen their paystubs? :shock: ;))? a critic of the church? deity?

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Re: My main issues

Post by nibbler » 19 Jan 2017, 07:59

LookingHard wrote:It was hard not to create a list that would go on for pages and pages...
I hear you. The CHI - Vol 1 goes on for almost 200 pages before they gave up listing all the reasons. :twisted: :twisted:
LookingHard wrote:And some of your points about "just ignore what you don't like/agree with" is good and appropriate for "StayLDS", but I am struggling with "should I spend much of my time listening to them at all?"
I'm experimenting with a "let the message find me" approach.

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Re: My main issues

Post by Ann » 19 Jan 2017, 09:58

LH, In spite of this being "StayLDS," I love the lack of possessiveness and respect for individual will here. When someone says, We would miss you, it never means, Don't go.

Do you see yourself looking for a new fixed-location church, or still attending and functioning in your ward. Not trying to pin you down, just curious. If you don't know or don't want to say, please ignore.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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Re: My main issues

Post by DarkJedi » 19 Jan 2017, 10:51

I think it's good for us to put down in writing what it is exactly (or at least what we perceive at that time) is bothering us, even if it's only for us individually. I've done this myself before, and the list does change over time not necessarily because I am no longer bothered by some things but because I think I get better at identifying the root causes.

I think many of us here have many or all of the issues on the list, some probably have more and most probably have some different ones. As you say, volumes could probably be written.

I do agree the church could do much better at connecting with God more in Sunday meetings. I usually don't "feel the Spirit" on Sundays, either. I will caveat that with the idea that I don't feel the Spirit much anyway, even when I'm doing the praying, reading the scriptures, etc. And some of it may have to do with turning off emotion at church and other times so that if I do feel the Spirit I know it's the Spirit and not just me (that may seem counterintuitive, and I can't say whether it really works or not).

I don't want to sound like an apologetic here, but I'm not actually sure the essays are meant to answer all of our questions. I think they do work for some, and agree that they are widely unknown and unreferenced. For others I think they can lay the groundwork for further study and further light and truth - but you have to go find that yourself. I think they may be partly intended for that purpose.

I likewise don't see any new revelations or light and knowledge coming from our leadership. The argument could be made that we already have all we need, and I wouldn't dispute that - but as you say, why then do we need a prophet? I'm not sure we do until and unless at some point there is something new. I don't believe our leaders receive any more revelation than any one else (including some outside the church). I don't believe any of them have personally seen Christ and I don't believe they have sit downs with Him in the temple. They are in essence (in my view) just regular guys with administrative responsibilities trying to do the best they can. I believe they are more like parrots (and scribes and Pharisees) than they are purposeful liars. And I believe there are some members (and probably non-members) who have far greater understanding of the gospel itself than some of them.

I have honestly not heard it taught that church teachings do not change, only that the gospel doesn't change. That could be a matter of where I live, or it could be as Nibbler points out - I hear what I want to hear. I sometimes look at my wife's notes or hear her talking to our adult children about particular talks and wonder if we were watching/listening to the same thing. It is obvious church teachings change, and it annoys me to no end when people "add to" real gospel doctrine. Granted, my definition of doctrine is very narrow, probably much more limited than the average member's. That said, a measuring stick I use for what is real gospel doctrine has to do with whether it has changed from the Bible. Hence, things that are only found in the Book of Mormon (and not the Bible) or the Pearl of Great Price or that only come from "modern prophets" are not doctrine in my view. I believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon do both contain the fullness of the gospel - along with lots of other stuff that should not be confused with gospel doctrine.

To your last point, I'm not sure if they're doing their jobs or not. I'm not sure their job is to answer our questions, although I understand why people think so (mostly because leaders imply it). I really think it's up to us to find our own answers, to figure out what the gospel (and likewise doctrine) really is, to develop our own relationships with God independent of the church. Unlike some other churches, I don't think the church actually sees itself as an intermediary between individuals and God and I don't think that's what Joseph Smith believed or taught. That's what I take from Nibbler's first comment - listen to what you hear and don't worry about what everyone else thinks they hear. God actually might be telling you something completely different than what he is telling them and that's perfectly OK.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: My main issues

Post by hawkgrrrl » 19 Jan 2017, 12:46

Most of my issues (maybe all of them?) similarly boil down to a bucket I'll call "Arm of Flesh." I really don't know the point of leaders, other than to preserve and run the organization. They are so biased by their own cultural assumptions and life experiences that I'm not sure they provide something I can't get far better more directly through personal revelation anyway. I can allow for faults, but on a fundamental level, I'm not sure they are relevant to me or my life and certainly they can get in the way of understanding the gospel. E. Oaks talked a lot about the man vs. the mantle in a talk he did in Singapore, and I appreciated what he was saying. He said the man is always dwarfed by the mantle, always inadequate to the task (another reason to give women a crack at bat, but I digress :). While I love that idea, I guess I question the value of the mantle in general to me as an individual Christian. If leaders are taking my eye off the prize which is Christ's teachings and becoming a better person, then maybe I just need to ignore them. Easier said than done when the church itself is one big ring-kissing machine. I see too many members abdicating their own moral reasoning to church leaders, which seems like a serious failing on their part, but I guess people always do that. It's a normal human failing for a long of people.

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Re: My main issues

Post by Heber13 » 19 Jan 2017, 17:19

LookingHard wrote:My point was not so much asking for advice, it was mainly for ME to get clear with myself what the core issues were. Isn't "ID'ing the problem is the first step?" It was hard not to create a list that would go on for pages and pages (polygamy, treatment of women, treatment of gays, .......................)
I appreciate you sharing parts of your journey and how you go through it. I don't know what words of advice I have, only that I understand your feelings and respect you...I think you are on your path and doing well as you struggle and wrestle with the Lord on things. You are doing exactly what God wants you to do to grow.

The only quote that rings in my ears as I read through your thoughts is the following from CS Lewis I have quoted many times on this forum:
If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellent; ... the truth we need most is hidden precisely in the doctrines you least like and least understand. - CS Lewis
When you come to some peace about the church leaders, what they do and say, and why they do and say the things they do...I think you will find some reward. And probably find the next items on those pages and pages of issues that are part of your journey. There are no easy answers for things in this life. If there was...someone would have written a book, explained it all, and be done. No...we have to come to understanding as much as possible by our own experiences...and then make a choice on how we will move forward with faith realizing we will never be able to see things as they are, except through a glass darkly. But that is ok. We need not live in fear of the unknown or unexplainable. We can find joy and purpose despite it.

You make many good contributions here. It doesn't matter if you believe the church or the church leaders. It matters what kind of person you become.
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."

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Re: My main issues

Post by GBSmith » 19 Jan 2017, 23:34

For me it comes down to whether the core beliefs stand up to scrutiny and by that I mean the "church is true"/restoration stuff and is it enough just to be there with people I love and appreciate. If you can't go along with the first then the second has to be a pretty powerful incentive especially if you have to go to some lengths to stay under the radar about your beliefs. Hard choices.

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