Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

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doug
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by doug » 12 Apr 2011, 14:04

HiJolly wrote:So you think that the guy shouldn't have sacrificed as he did for four years so that he could go to the temple? Or are you saying the sacrifice was a valid expression of faith and values, but Pres. Monson shouldn't have 'highlighted' the story, thus officially sanctioning such freewill choices?
While this was not directed at me, I'll chime in with an affirmative on both points. Of course it's not my place to put a value on the sacrifices and experiences of others, but if I had sacrificed four years of life with my family for a trip to the temple, I'd have been pretty miffed.

Regarding the continuous relating of 'faith promoting' anecdotes, I grow tired of hearing them. While they may have value in and of themselves, they are often so extravagant or even ridiculous that their application is limited. But the membership, upon hearing them, apparently feel an obligation to emulate these in their lives, as if the ultimate goal is to live a fantasy life made up of one faith-promoting story after another. Well, so-and-so left his family for FOUR YEARS so that he could take his family to the temple. The least I can do is (insert extravagant and possibly unnecessary sacrifice here). Or more often, they won't do it and will simply feel guilty as the reality of their lives slowly diverges from the fantasy one. I think it's unhealthy. Ours is a culture of anecdotes and quotations. Blech.
The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. -- Mark Twain

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HiJolly
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by HiJolly » 12 Apr 2011, 14:54

DevilsAdvocate wrote:
HiJolly wrote:
cwald wrote:So, I like the comments so far, but what about my second question. You know, when I heard that story about the guy who left his family for four years to save money to take his fam to the temple, I thought, sure, this is perhaps a faith promoting story to some LDS members. But to me, it was sad and just another example of unnecessary sacrifice and unrealistic expectations the church places on the members (I put that in just for you DA :smile: ) It was not faith promoting to me in the least.

Why do you think it was unnecessary? or unrealistic? Why was it not faith promoting to you? These questions are rhetorical, your answer to them is valuable only to yourself, internally. They are extremely worth time & effort in meditation and pondering within yourself. Why do others feel otherwise? Could it have a spiritual component, rather than a logical or "convenience of living in the USofA" one?
The reason it is unnecessary and unrealistic in my opinion is because it looks to me like the Church doesn't really have the knowledge and power they claim they do to ever be able to deliver on some of their promises.
Ok, if you don't believe God inspired Joseph to 'restore' the Church(and a boat-load of other stuff), then that makes sense. But many LDS *do* so believe. For them, it can easily make sense. And I know from my own experience that having that belief, and acting and sacrificing for that belief, can and does result in powerful spiritual experiences. For me, that check was paid in full. So while these sacrifices can be characterized as 'unnecessary' or 'unrealistic' by some, they can still bring to the individual of faith a powerful, life-changing encounter with God. And I'm not even talking about the endowment, here. That's a whole 'nother level of pay-off, for me.

So if someone and their family is willing to sacrifice something that another person is not, is it unreasonable that they each get the varying, even polar results their mindset and level of commitment has produced? I think not. And neither should second-guess or look down on the other.
DevilsAdvocate wrote:In other words, their mouth has written checks that can't ever be cashed as far as we know.

Well, yeah. Good qualification there. I'd say there's a lot we don't know.
DevilsAdvocate wrote:They are basically saying that being obedient Mormons is the only path to salvation and the only way to have an eternal family and the temple ordinances and covenants are a big part of these exclusive claims. Sure there is the whole spirit world contingency plan but I don't think most TBMs would want to count on that; they want some assurance that they are already righteous and sure enough the Church is ready to issue them a TR as long as they agree to believe and do exactly what they are told.

There is a lot of personal satisfaction in certainty, yes. And while I don't personally believe the Church is correct in all its exclusivity claims, nevertheless I *do* believe that the Gospel as taught in the Church and in the temple can lead the membership into a beautiful discipleship of love, hope, charity, and faith. As Eckartshausen's Cloud Over the Sanctuary beautifully explains, the exoteric Church is only the introductory point into the internal or esoteric Church of the Firstborn. One should never mistake the one for the other, even if others around us do.
DevilsAdvocate wrote:Sure it might be a very meaningful experience for some members to go to the temple similar to the way it is a meaningful experience for some people to climb mountains when they don't really need to.

Let us definitively determine whether it's needed or not. Shall we? *Can* we?
DevilsAdvocate wrote:However, what if this man in Thomas S. Monson's story that worked for several years away from his family to be able to afford to take them all to the temple mostly did all this simply because he believed all the Church's promises but then it turns out that the afterlife is significantly different than the way the Church says or maybe this life is all there is?

I guarantee that "the afterlife is significantly different" from what the Church teaches. In many ways. And if this life is all there is, then shouldn't we decide to enjoy it and relish it and be happy? How are we doing that when we place our judgements upon others who sacrifice in ways that we feel is foolish? Does that really mean that *they* are foolish, or that *we* are? Don't they have that right, to seek for, to find, happiness?

If they find it in a way that makes no sense whatever to us, is that a problem? Why so?
DevilsAdvocate wrote:In that case, I don't see how you can realistically view this extreme sacrifice as much of anything but mostly pointless, tragic, unreasonable, and unnecessary.

I don't think that's the only valid viewpoint possible, obviously.
DevilsAdvocate wrote:For the record, I don't have a problem with them building more temples in places like the Amazon so members there don't have to travel as far to get to a temple anymore but what I don't understand at all is the need for at least 5 different temples in Salt Lake and Davis County alone. I really doubt the overall attendance has gone up that much from when they only had the Salt Lake, Ogden, Provo, and Jordan River temples to serve the entire Wasatch Front.

The volume of members going through is incredible. I lived in the Jordan River district until the Oquirrh Mountain temple was built - and it was way too crowded. Not only that, but think of the blessing for the added temple workers. Being immersed in it as they are, the possibility for them to actually see the 'hidden' light is greatly enhanced. The cloud upon the sanctuary parts and reveals that light which cannot be expressed by mortal tongue.
DevilsAdvocate wrote:It looks almost like they are trying to force feed members/investigators the idea of temples as some kind of marketing campaign. I don't really mean that as any kind of cynical bottom-line money making scheme but simply that they think this is one thing that Mormonism has to offer that makes it different from other sects so they want to emphasize this as a major selling point but personally I think they've gone overboard with this and they should probably tone it down with some of the temple hype before it comes back to bite them.

Mormonism is the *only* Christian church I know of that has a built-in mystery school(the temple) associated with it. It is and will bite the Church, certainly, someday. I think it's only a matter of time before the temple and how it came to be and what it involves becomes well known, despite obfuscation and deceptive books such as the recent one by Matthew Brown. What a disapointment *that* was. I don't think any temple attending Mormon can fully explain it without getting dangerously close to violating their temple covenants. (added later: ok, nobody I know of can "fully explain" it -- at all.)


HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

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cwald
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by cwald » 12 Apr 2011, 15:31

Wow.

Where to begin? I guess all I will say is everyone on this board is welcome their opinion.

If a guy forsaking his duty to his family, and giving up four years of his life away from his wife and kids, just so he can earn MONEY so he can go and get his endowment at a temple, that could just as easily be performed in a "dedicated" basement of a Stake Center, is considered a faith promoting story by most members - than I am in the wrong church.
  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

doug
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by doug » 12 Apr 2011, 15:34

cwald wrote: ...then I am in the wrong church.
You may be on to something.
The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. -- Mark Twain

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cwald
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by cwald » 12 Apr 2011, 15:42

doug wrote:
cwald wrote: ...then I am in the wrong church.
You may be on to something.
Yep. And it does disturb me.
  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

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 Apr 2011, 16:28

Let me just say that we are walking a very slippery slope when we ask others to honor our different choices, beliefs and sacrifices (and even, hopefully, value them) if we aren't willing to do the same for their sincere, deeply held choices, beliefs and sacrifices.

Some here might not agree with the example of sacrifice cited, but it absolutely might have (and almost surely did) mean a LOT to the people who performed it - and I am willing to bet that it actually did bring the family closer together **because it meant the world to them**. If we can't understand that different things work for different people and really do produce wonderful people in that process, we are standing on very, very thin ice when we bemoan others' inability to understand and accept us and what works for us.

For the record, I absolutely LOVE the temple for what I get from it. I understand completely why not everyone does, and I don't begrudge their not loving it as I do, but there is an elemental problem if I comdemn what works for them (not attending) just because it doesn't work for me or because I might not understand totally why it works for them.

Nobody has to love the temple to be Mormon - or even love it to hold an active recommend and attend it periodically. However, I am really uncomfortable blasting the sincere sacrifices of others whose dedication to SOMETHING that was important to them probably exceeds my own dedication to what is important to me - and remembering that comparison is important to me, even if I have to sacrifice greatly in a way to remember it.
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

doug
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by doug » 12 Apr 2011, 17:11

Ray Degraw wrote: Some here might not agree with the example of sacrifice cited, but it absolutely might have (and almost surely did) mean a LOT to the people who performed it.
I don't think anyone is arguing that that particular family made a bad choice. At least I haven't, though my personal opinion is that maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. It's a story. I don't know these people. It might not even be a true story for all I know. Speaking for myself, my problem is that since this was presented at GC, this anecdote now sets the standard. No difficulty, up to and including the physical separation of my family for four years, is a good excuse for not getting my butt to the temple. Of course that wasn't stated explicitly, but we all know how this works.
The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. -- Mark Twain

GBSmith
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by GBSmith » 12 Apr 2011, 17:49

"HiJolly
Being immersed in it as they are, the possibility for them to actually see the 'hidden' light is greatly enhanced. The cloud upon the sanctuary parts and reveals that light which cannot be expressed by mortal tongue.
Sorry, but you lost me there. Experiences that people describe in the temple seem to have as much to do with their state of mind and level of expectation than where. T. Edgar Lyon once said that the experiences in Kirtland may have had something to do with prolonged fasting followed by beer. Maybe the temple is a "thin place" but as far as a light that cannot be expressed by mortal tongue, I don't know. When I went through the temple for the first time in 1964, the officiator was Mr. Miles, my 9th grade science teacher who used to routinely shake the crap out of anyone who made trouble in his class. It comes to mind whenever I go. Maybe that's why I've not been able to see the 'hidden light' that you mention. It's what we make of it and not so much what it is. IMHO

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HiJolly
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by HiJolly » 12 Apr 2011, 17:55

doug wrote:Speaking for myself, my problem is that since this was presented at GC, this anecdote now sets the standard.

But we all know that the story is not 'standard', or it never would have been mentioned. We know it is *exceptional*, meaning, a drastic exception from what most people do. So I sincerely hope no one takes it as a new standard of some sort - how sad that would be! I think only the uptight trying-too-hard people are going to make that mistake. I find that those who try too hard are living frankly miserable lives, and are quite hard to live with --- both the ones with literal faith, and the ones who question faith. There's a couple in my own family like that ---- nice, but not so much really...
doug wrote:No difficulty, up to and including the physical separation of my family for four years, is a good excuse for not getting my butt to the temple. Of course that wasn't stated explicitly, but we all know how this works.
You may be right but I sincerely hope not. What a sad thing!


HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

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HiJolly
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by HiJolly » 12 Apr 2011, 17:59

GBSmith wrote:"HiJolly
Being immersed in it as they are, the possibility for them to actually see the 'hidden' light is greatly enhanced. The cloud upon the sanctuary parts and reveals that light which cannot be expressed by mortal tongue.
Sorry, but you lost me there. Experiences that people describe in the temple seem to have as much to do with their state of mind and level of expectation than where. T. Edgar Lyon once said that the experiences in Kirtland may have had something to do with prolonged fasting followed by beer. Maybe the temple is a "thin place" but as far as a light that cannot be expressed by mortal tongue, I don't know. When I went through the temple for the first time in 1964, the officiator was Mr. Miles, my 9th grade science teacher who used to routinely shake the crap out of anyone who made trouble in his class. It comes to mind whenever I go. Maybe that's why I've not been able to see the 'hidden light' that you mention. It's what we make of it and not so much what it is. IMHO
I think there's a LOT of truth to that, GBSmith. Really.

I have literally seen the light while in the temple, and I know it was because of my state of mind (and a few other things, but sadly, not beer). :twisted:

My studies of the human mind (brain, etc), combined with my personal, anecdotal experiences have settled the issue for me. Subjectivity is required for spiritual life.


HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

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