Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

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Willhewonder
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Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by Willhewonder » 22 Oct 2017, 20:46

Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

What's the hurry? I am feeling pushed around, hurried and coerced, and maybe towards a place I don't want to go. I mentioned some of these thoughts in a comment to a different thread recently, but I am really feeling it now, almost angrily. I feel like I made a contract with the Universe, that I have accepted delays and change orders, and now when I am trying to call in some of my payoffs, the Universe is reneging on the terms. I feel like the only way to enforce the contract is to personally force the outcomes I want rather than wait for the Universe to pay up. I fought hard to hold up my end of the contract and now I have to fight hard to get the payoff? Double jeopardy! Foul! No fair! And, if the Universe really does pay up, what will the payoff be? I'm beginning to lose faith that it will be one that I really want.

Some background. So growing up I bought into the concept that if we tried to do what's right, we would be rewarded and everything would be all right. Things would work out like they were supposed to. I grew up in a Mormon family, and even if my folks split up, they both shared the same perspective, at least as far as I could tell. I grew up in the 60's, and we watched shows like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, My Three Sons, Leave it to Beaver, and Mr. Ed, etc. I suppose these shows contributed greatly to my world view, modified by what I learned in Primary. So "everything would be all right" meant I would grow up and go to college, get a good job, marry a pretty woman, have some cute cooperative kids, and take fun and leisurely vacations and have nice little adventures that wrapped up conveniently without stringing on and on and complicating life. And there would be barbecues by the lake.

Of course, there were wrinkles and problems caused by people not following the script, the bad people. But overcoming the problems and the bad people without too much trouble provided the adventures that made up the happy stories of our lives, which stories after all might end up as the source for future TV shows.

So I think this is how the idea of the contract with the Universe started. So, OK, be a good boy, fulfill the contract and reap the benefits. Then came the first change order. In the third grade, My Mom had a talk with me about my grades. She was a single mom, we didn't have much money. She knew I didn't like garden chores, but If I didn't get better grades, the only way I'd get a better job than ditch digging would be to get a scholarship to college. Wow. I had to get good grades because my parents got a divorce. There was a change order to the contract, and it wasn't my fault. But no good grades, no good life. So I got good grades.

I was a good Scout (even if the prospect initially terrified me), a good student, a good Aaronic priesthood holder, although I could see that, ominously, when they changed
ward teaching to home teaching, it wasn't going to fade away and disappear like I hoped it would. I did get a scholarship, and after a year at college I went on a mission. Everybody in my town went on a mission, unless they had abandoned all hope for the good life. So, I went even though I was terrified. I kind of hoped the 2nd coming would come before I had to go, and at one time my seminary class in a poll voted that it would come soon, but by then, I knew with the same kind of knowledge about the future of home teaching that the 2nd coming would not save me from having to go on a mission. So I went. I tried to be a good missionary, but I lived for the p-days, which in those days were quite liberal. I called my missionary journal something like A Hundred and Four P-Days. They were great P-days. And I did a lot of good things in between. In my interview with the mission president at the end of my mission, he said I should get married within six months of going home. How could I possibly do that I wondered?

It took me 10 months. So, a little change order on my part, but just a little one, right? Then a big change order over 15 years into my marriage and 4 kids. An unfaithful wife that ran off with her boyfriend. I became Mr. Mom and got a divorce. Remarriage after three years. OK, a nice bonus with DW and her lovely children, but every possible opposition and attack for over twenty years. Huge change order. When was the contract going to pay off?

Not yet. The kids were finally on their own, but now a diagnosis of an incurable disease. At least the retirement contract with the company paid off, but immediately huge callings in the ward for both of us, and redrawn ward boundaries encompassing the largest part of our town's other side of the tracks. Years of helping people who never should have been baptized, who take and take and never give anything. Who don't even try. Who could probably be found guilty of fraud and abuse of the Church welfare system. Why does it go on and on? Foul already! breach of contract!

Maybe it's time to enforce the contract myself?

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dande48
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Re: Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by dande48 » 22 Oct 2017, 21:39

Hi Will,

I've loved your comments, and appreciate you sharing. I really feel for you; it's been a tough life.

There are a few New Testament stories that stood out to me, that I really believe in. In Jesus' parables he spoke of to men, who went to the temple to pray. The first went to the front , lifted his head and thanked God that he was not like other men; that he gave tithes of all he had, and kept the commandments. And the second stood at the back, and wouldn't so much as lift up his eyes, and said, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner". And Jesus went on to say that this second man went away more justified than the first. Why? Christ says that whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and whosoever abases himself shall be exalted.

It's a paradox, isn't it? But here is how I understand it. The first man believed he had a contract with God (or the universe). He had done many great things, gave to a cause greater than himself, kept his contracts, didn't commit adultry. He felt blessed, and entitled to his blessings. But what contract did God (or the universe) make with the man? None, you see. So the man wasn't justified. The second man, however, recognized that he had no contract with the Almighty God. He admitted he should've been better, and failed. He was not entitled to mercy; all blessings from God (or the univese) are a gift. By recognizing he had no contract, the man was more justified than the righteous.
Alan Watts wrote:Faith is not clinging, but letting go.
In the beatitudes, Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth". I take that to mean, the earth right now. It is those who recognize that they "aren't all that", that they aren't entitled, that they have no contract, who are capable of inheriting the earth. Those who feel entitled or deserving, don't recieve it. Those who work, work, work, work for the purpose of inheriting the earth, don't recieve it. All that happens, is they carry on from want to want, desire to desire, until at last they end up as dead as any other human who ever lived. Only those who recognize that they don't deserve it, that they can never deserve it, or be "good enough", actually inherit the earth. It is only those who recognize the gift for what it is, can truly have it.

One more thought. I'm not saying there aren't blessings in living a virtuous life. There is, much more than people realize. Because I believe that God is one with the Universe. And I believe we are to be one with God. And in acting with kindness towards each other, or trying to temper our passions, we are helping God, yes. But that is just another way of saying we are simply helping ourselves, because we are one with God and one the world around us. Whether there is a life after this one, I don't think it really matters. There is no contract. "Now go to. Dress this garden, take good care of it, be happy and have joy therein."
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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Beefster
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Re: Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by Beefster » 22 Oct 2017, 22:43

Willhewonder wrote:
22 Oct 2017, 20:46
he said I should get married within six months of going home.
Man. I would be an utter failure in the eyes of your mission president. I've been home just over 3 years now. No luck.

I really appreciate dande's perspective on exalting/abasing. I really want to get away from the whole quasi-karma philosophy of "choosing the right leads to good things happening." I don't think it works like that and we set ourselves up for disappointment when we expect life to go well because we make good choices. Sure you avoid a lot of the heartache that comes with many poor choices, but that's only a small part of why following God's commandments is a good idea.

Bad things happen to good people because bad things happen to everybody. God does not intervene all that often IMO. The purpose of the gospel is not to secure better outcomes for ourselves but to secure peace despite the outcome. God still blesses us far more than we truly deserve, though I feel most of his blessings are deep within our souls rather than extrinsic rewards.

In essence, life sucks. It has always sucked and always will suck. Jesus allows us to see past the suck.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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Willhewonder
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Re: Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by Willhewonder » 23 Oct 2017, 08:13

Dande48, Thanks for your comments. For some reason, the Book of Job pops into mind as I read them. Not because I compare my troubles to Job's; I have not lost so much. And to some extent, that which I have lost has been restored, but not the time to enjoy it. But to compare myself to people in your parable, what I am saying is if I felt the way the first man in the temple felt, I wouldn't have a comment, I would have arrived at my happiness. But I don't. Rather I feel like the man who has done all he did, and am not happy with my lot. I don't feel rewarded. I don't feel like the second man either, although I wonder what he would think if he was informed that he had now hit the jackpot for his long suffering and could look forward to an eternity of home teaching people who did not want to be home taught! No, I want to start enjoying the payoff to my contract before I die and it's too late to do the earthly things I have anticipated for so long. And so how do I go from where I'm at to where I want to be in the least amount of time and with the least loss of face in the Church? I guess that's what I should have said. Wow, suddenly the word, HYPOCRITE pops into mind! I'll need to think about that! Maybe after the venting subsides a little.

Beefster (sorry about the initial misspelling): I think you are far better off for waiting until you are sure to marry than doing what I did. The only good thing that I can think of that came from my hurry was that I don't think I would otherwise be with DW now.
Last edited by Willhewonder on 27 Oct 2017, 05:43, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by nibbler » 23 Oct 2017, 08:18

I can't add much to what has already been said. I will say that I've had enough experiences to learn for myself that the just-world hypothesis and the prosperity gospel aren't worth holding on to.
You can't just have your characters announce how they feel... that makes me feel ANGRY!
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Roy
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Re: Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by Roy » 23 Oct 2017, 11:54

nibbler wrote:
23 Oct 2017, 08:18
I can't add much to what has already been said. I will say that I've had enough experiences to learn for myself that the just-world hypothesis and the prosperity gospel aren't worth holding on to.
Very much agree. This was the catalyst for my faith crisis. I had a certain expectations of how God would bless me. When our daughter was stillborn it caused me to re-examine the contract. What exactly did God promise me? What I found was that many things are promised - but there are loopholes in the terms and conditions that are so large as to invalidate any sense of confidence in the contract.
:evil: "You are guaranteed great blessings ... But if the blessings do not materialize it might have been because you were not meticulous enough in keeping your end of the bargain. Or maybe it was that the blessings are coming but the timeline is unspecified. They will arrive eventually. Or maybe it was that the exact nature of the blessings was never clearly defined. You woke up this morning, your heart beats and your lungs take in air. Consider that a blessing. Contract fulfilled!" :evil:
Ok. Sometimes the church teachings operate as a security blanket to give our lives meaning, purpose, and to hold nihilism at bay. Now what?

I suggest that meaning, purpose, and holding nihilism at bay are still worthwhile pursuits. Maybe some church teachings can be repurposed in your life to better fit your needs.

Service is good. Keep serving. But I suggest a self evaluation as to how you could serve in a way that would be more fulfilling. Look for something that might coincide with your talents and interests. Serving in the right capacity might be its own reward.

You are not alone. Many of us struggle with these same sorts of issues. We all walk imperfectly and share a few concepts that have helped in our own journeys.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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dande48
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Re: Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by dande48 » 23 Oct 2017, 19:36

Willhewonder wrote:
23 Oct 2017, 08:13
Dande48, Thanks for your comments. For some reason, the Book of Job pops into mind as I read them. Not because I compare my troubles to Job's; I have not lost so much. And to some extent, that which I have lost has been restored, but not the time to enjoy it. But to compare myself to people in your parable, what I am saying is if I felt the way the first man in the temple felt, I wouldn't have a comment, I would have arrived at my happiness. But I don't. Rather I feel like the man who has done all he did, and am not happy with my lot. I don't feel rewarded. I don't feel like the second man either, although I wonder what he would think if he was informed that he had now hit the jackpot for his long suffering and could look forward to an eternity of home teaching people who did not want to be home taught! No, I want to start enjoying the payoff to my contract before I die and it's too late to do the earthly things I have anticipated for so long. And so how do I go from where I'm at to where I want to be in the least amount of time and with the least loss of face in the Church? I guess that's what I should have said. Wow, suddenly the word, HYPOCRITE pops into mind! I'll need to think about that! Maybe after the venting subsides a little.
I think the comparison I was going for, is that many members of the Church feel like they are the first man. I know I have been in his shoes, feeling that I'm righteous, done good; that I am entitled to what I have and more, because of the swell person I am. And then the shoe drops; I followed the steps, checked off the boxes, expected the promised results and they didn't come. It's the future of the first man. I had no contract with God; just men, claiming authority to act on His behalf. As Roy put it in his devilish quote, there are too many caviates, too much fine print, if there ever were a contract to begin with. The second man, is the future of the first man once he recognizes how futile it is; there never was a contract. Nothing is guaranteed, and everthing is a gift. Maybe that's the greatest blessing of all.

I don't know if there's a life after this; but I don't think there's any promise. But if there is a life after this one, and we are assigned kingdoms of glory, I can't see my life being much different regardless of where I go. I will want to spend my time in good company, surrounded by friends and family; I want to better know those around me, and expand my horizons. I want to learn and innovate and create; we are so close to creating AI, cracking the genetic code, simulating universes... give me an eternity in a terrestrial world, and my limits will be infinite. But if this life is all we get, I'll take it anyways. :)
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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Willhewonder
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Re: Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by Willhewonder » 30 Oct 2017, 03:45

These are good comments and I appreciate what has been said. I'm going to take some time mulling them over, now that I'm in a calmer more reflective mood. I think I've seen other threads and comments about the prosperity gospel and I want to review some of those. Thanks for your support.

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Willhewonder
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Re: Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by Willhewonder » 29 Jul 2018, 19:05

So, after waiting for a little more life to pass by, seeing a little more of the state of the world, thinking on your replies and reflecting on the long view, I feel a little sheepish about my rant. I was not and probably still am not nearly grateful enough for the tremendous opportunities I have and have had. Dare I say blessings? So maybe I am just a pretty spoiled and entitled person. I think probably so. So thanks for being gentle with me.

At the same time, I have been thinking about the prosperity gospel and the many promises made to us in the Scriptures and in Church talks. Also about motivations for doing things. And about us. Are we just born caring (righteous) or not? What virtue is there in learning to care? Is trying to become more caring a form of believing in the prosperity gospel? If there is no element of prosperity seeking in our quest, and we don't feel like being good for the sake of being good, what will happen for the greater good? For our personal good? Is being good the reward? Rolling this around a bit.

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dande48
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Re: Anniversary Posting: Progression: What's the Hurry, and Do I Really Want To Go to Heaven?

Post by dande48 » 29 Jul 2018, 20:41

I think the prosperity of the community and the prosperity of the individual are two different things. For one, the individual dies, while the community carries on long after they are gone. There are also certain blessings that can only be had on an individual basis, such as innder-peace, gratitude, serenity. The individual is a lot more subject to luck (health, wealth, etc). On the other hand, the prosperity of the community has its own blessings. Outer-peace, security, friendship, fulfilment. It's dependant on the selfless contribuion and agency of many people, and is more difficult to achieve, but is still worth striving for. Both types of prosperity are interdependant, as a prosperous society will can bring prosperity to the individual and visa versa. Every little contribution counts.
Willhewonder wrote:
29 Jul 2018, 19:05
Are we just born caring (righteous) or not?
It's like a muscle. Some people are born with a greater predisposition to care, but everyone has to work at it. And the more you work at it, the better you become.
Willhewonder wrote:
29 Jul 2018, 19:05
What virtue is there in learning to care?
Selflessness, humility, charity, perserverance, faith... just to name a few.
Willhewonder wrote:
29 Jul 2018, 19:05
Is trying to become more caring a form of believing in the prosperity gospel?
When I think "prosperity gospel" I think of recieving blessings unrelated to the commandment you are keeping. For example, paying tithing prevents your home from being burned down (I heard this one a couple of times). I think that's silly. But if we're talking cause and effect relationships, or "improving your odds", the prosperity gospel is very real.
Willhewonder wrote:
29 Jul 2018, 19:05
If there is no element of prosperity seeking in our quest, and we don't feel like being good for the sake of being good, what will happen for the greater good? For our personal good? Is being good the reward?
What purpose have you chosen for your life?
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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