If not literal then what?

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Cadence
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Cadence » 10 Feb 2014, 21:35

GodisLove wrote:Cadence are you by chance an engineer? Your discussions mirror so much of what my husband says.
Not an engineer. Maybe I should have been, but I came into logic latter in life. I use to be so much into the metaphysical until it failed me time and again. Then I turned to critical thinking and it has served me much better. Hard to be disappointed when you are dealing with tangible proven theories.
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

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SilentDawning
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by SilentDawning » 11 Feb 2014, 03:58

Even myths can be inspiring.

Take, for example, movies that have embellished the lives of past heroes, or pure fiction that has won awards, like Forrest Gump, the movie. Although the story is not true, one can't come away from the movie without feeling deep appreciation for the main character's good heart and how he faces the different challenges life deals.

Or the love story you watch on TV that touches you with the love people can share, even though it's not true. You leave the movie feeling inspired to do better and to love your own spouse. These stories can motivate us and encourage us to do good.

I don't have a problem with fiction if it leads to good behavior on the part of people who are exposed to it. I do have a problem with outright claims the fiction is true, however, when people KNOW it is not.

However, its hard to know if the Bible, BoM is true on the basis of factual information -- at least, to some people. So, I let it slide, and take the spirituality and what inspiration one can get out of the stories.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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Origami
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Origami » 11 Feb 2014, 07:38

We believe the BOM to be the Word of God... That is a BIG issue for me now that I believe differently. The magic is gone out of it for me. Maybe I'm still too angry to try to find or see the value. The church holds everything about it out as coming directly from God, until caught in the lie, then they alter it to someone "speaking as a man" including the very keystone of the religion. For me the fact that the scriptures don't live up to their literal truth claims seriously devalues them and the organization that promotes them as something they are not.

Roadrunner
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Roadrunner » 11 Feb 2014, 08:18

Cadence wrote:For me when it was literal it was true, when it was not it lost its value
This is exactly my conundrum. The value I get from "believing" is that it provides me with hope and inspiration that there is something bigger and better out there. Whether or not it's large in scope (e.g. a loving Heavenly Father cares for us) or smaller in scope (parting of the Red Sea), a symbolic story loses meaning for me because I know it's not factual. It becomes a crutch, an aid, an opiate. For me at least - someone perhaps too practical. Perhaps it doesn't lose all value, but much of it.

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mom3
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by mom3 » 11 Feb 2014, 10:32

Cadence, I am really enjoying this thread. Thanks for starting it. I am learning so much. Thanks everyone for posting your honest thoughts. You have opened my understanding. :thumbup:
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Roy
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Roy » 11 Feb 2014, 10:33

I see what you guys are saying.

If not literal then much of the power is gone. I remember a quote from the Discourses on Faith attributed to JS that said something like a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things cannot create the faith necessary to stand with confidence before God.

Does the LDS church still have value to me. Yes, but I am no longer willing to make significant sacrifices on its behalf. Sacrifices that have no ROI in the here and now.

I contribute to the level of value that I receive. That is sustainable for me.

I like InquiringMind's approach:
So far it's been more of the experience of a disinterested 3rd party observer combined with a sympathy for the human condition. Instead of being obsessed with whether the Church is true or false, I've started to see church as a place where people go to respond to a call from within and to talk about ways to make sense of the world and of their experiences. Religion evolved as a way of making sense of the world and explaining the unexplainable, among other things. It's interesting to listen to people try to make sense of their experiences and and to try to weave meaning into the tapestry of their lives.
"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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turinturambar
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by turinturambar » 11 Feb 2014, 10:55

Here is my take: The majority people in Old Testament times were preliterate. With the exception of the ruling and scribal classes, nobody else could read or write. They relied on myth-making and storytelling to transmit ideas and values of their culture to the next generation. The more vivid and possibly fantastic the stories, the more likely they could be remembered and perpetuated. They lived with ways of knowing the world and the cosmos that had different underlying assumptions than our literate, pragmatic, empirical epistemology.

So where does that put us? I think the scriptures require more than just a translation into our language, but also translation into our ways of knowing and being--our empirical epistemology, our sociology, our way of transmitting knowledge, etc. So I think if we take those things literally, we miss the point. I know this isn't taught this way in the Church, however.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

(New Testament | 1 Corinthians 13:2‎)‎

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journeygirl
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by journeygirl » 11 Feb 2014, 11:40

I also believe the scriptures are exaggerated stories at best, or more likely completely made up. There are a few that I really like and get a meaning out of, like I do with other important works of fiction that I have read. I love the story of Joseph, for example. The New Testament stories of Jesus are especially powerful to me. Mostly the teachings of the sermon on the mount. It's clear that someone wrote those words, and whoever did, I think hit upon some very true and good teachings. So in my life, whenever I encounter good teachings, I accept them as such and apply them in my life.

I think it can be good from a cultural standpoint to teach some of the bible stories to my children. It's hard at church though when the stories are presented as literal without room for interpretation. (Or when my parents teach them to my children that way too. . .) I will be sure to open the possibility of seeing these stories differently with my children, but I don't know if I should do that at church with my primary class. That's where the "myths" of the bible become frustrating to me. If taken literal many of them teach of a God that seems evil to me. I don't want my kids to be confused like I was about the inconsistencies of God. I feel bad in my efforts to keep the children in my primary class from being confused too, since I don't know how far to push it with them.

Roy
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Roy » 11 Feb 2014, 13:10

journeygirl wrote:I don't want my kids to be confused like I was about the inconsistencies of God. I feel bad in my efforts to keep the children in my primary class from being confused too, since I don't know how far to push it with them.
I would much rather my kids be confused and develop answers that make sense to them individually than to be presented with one and only one version of the truth. I figure my kids are pretty smart and emotionally resilient enough to find their own internal compass.

As far as primary ... I teach 4 year olds. God loves them with all their quirks and foibles - and I tell them so. :mrgreen:
"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

Curt Sunshine
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Feb 2014, 13:13

As a history teacher at heart, I first want to second what turinturambar said. That historical foundation is important to understand - and FAR too few people understand it.
We believe the BOM to be the Word of God.


Just to say it, that doesn't say, "We must believe the Book of Mormon is a word-for-word translation of a literal history." It simply says that "we" believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God - and, to be picky but accurate, it doesn't capitalize "word", which is important only because of the Protestant use of "Word" to mean exclusive and imbued with divinity in and of itself.

Thus, Elder Holland can say, rightly, that the apostles won't ask someone to leave the Church if that person can't take the Book of Mormon as literal history - that they can accept any form of good that someone can take from it and remain in the Church. If you look at the actual quote, he doesn't even require someone to accept the "word of God" description.

I think that's an important principle. I believe the Book of Mormon to the word of God - but, while I am open to an inspired translation model (and others), I define that phrase very differently than most members do. Fine. Elder Holland won't ask me to leave over it - and I haven't heard any apostle disagree with him about that.
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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