If not literal then what?

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Origami
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Origami » 11 Feb 2014, 15:33

Curtis wrote: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.
Go reread his 2009 Safety For The Soul conference address, that talk makes a very very different statement about the BOM than the one you are quoting from him. I am not suggesting that he advocates anyone leave the church, but he absolutely doubles down on the fact that the BOM came about in the exact way JS said and is what JS claimed it to be.

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2 ... l?lang=eng

I hear what you are saying Curtis, but your position is not the position the church teaches or advocates, IMO.

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Cadence
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If not literal then what?

Post by Cadence » 11 Feb 2014, 17:22

Roadrunner wrote:
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.
I am there with you because I look around and wonder how a literal belief contributes to pushing us forward as a church or even as a species. If I take the more nuance inspirational fiction approach I can apply this meaning or that to a story and maybe get some comfort, but my believing it is inspiration does not change the reality that it probably is just my brain wandering about. I actually believe we need to move beyond the metaphysical and to start to approach things rationally. It will be better for the human race going forward. We need to get rid of the crutch because our leg is not really broken.
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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mom3
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by mom3 » 11 Feb 2014, 17:28

I hear what you are saying Curtis, but your position is not the position the church teaches or advocates, IMO.
Origami - Your point is good. One thing I like is having as many of those various quotes in my pocket. When a discussion, talk, lesson comes up - you can use them and it validates whichever point you want. Yes it can be conflicting, but that's the story of Adam & Eve all over again, conflicting choices. It is a challenge because the majority of members have chosen theirs and have no interest in another one, but we who don't have such a conviction, have every peaceful right to attend, participate, etc. We don't even have to believe the Book of Mormon to get a temple recommend.

My husbands answer when someone asks "Do you believe the Book of Mormon to be true?" He points to a copy of it and says, "Yes, there it is - The Book of Mormon." No more needs to be said. Now if the other guy wants to push - the answers become different. But the book is real. It does exist. End of story.
"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

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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Feb 2014, 17:53

Origami, I never said or implied that Elder Holland believes anything but the traditional view. He believes passionately what he believes, and I am fine with that.

I said he said there is room in the Church for those who see it differently than he does. That is a very important statement, and we ought to have it available for people who don't get 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

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Origami
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Origami » 11 Feb 2014, 18:04

Curtis,

I agree it is nice to have those kinds of statements to use as support for something other than belief in the traditional literal truth position that is predominant in the church.

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Origami
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Origami » 11 Feb 2014, 18:11

Lots of food for thought in this thread for me. I appreciate the comments everyone had made here.

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Cadence
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Cadence » 11 Feb 2014, 21:21

Curtis wrote:Origami, I never said or implied that Elder Holland believes anything but the traditional view. He believes passionately what he believes, and I am fine with that.

I said he said there is room in the Church for those who see it differently than he does. That is a very important statement, and we ought to have it available for people who don't get it.
I think there is room in the church for the unorthodox if we make room ourselves. It is not going to be given freely.

Curtis you make many fine remarks about how you make things work and that is great for you. But really you are way off of what the mainstream church says. Your comments in my HP group would cause heart failure. You would be branded an apostate. But I suppose it is best to keep up the fight if you want things to change.
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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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Feb 2014, 23:06

Cadence, exactly where in this thread have I claimed the mainstream church believes the heterodox things I believe? I think the point of labeling them as personal and heterodox is to avoid that claim - and I often add, "if I had a chance to talk with them personally and explain what I mean," when talking about things I think most members believe that aren't quite orthodox. Often, it's just that they have never heard something expressed in "acceptable" terms by someone they respect as fully active and believing; some times, they don't agree, but, in those situations, they generally smile and let it pass.

For example, just this past Sunday in the HP lesson about the Atonement, I mentioned that I love to hear different interpretations of Biblical stories, including the Garden of Eden (since that topic had come up in the lesson). I then explained that my current favorite interpretation was that the story refers to the decisions we made in the pre-existence - and I mentioned the multiple similarities between the Garden narrative and the War in Heaven narrative. The lesson moved on without any discussion about my comment, largely because few if any of the people in the group had ever thought about it, didn't believe it or didn't care enough to argue, but I can make comments like that because they know, respect, trust and like me and my delivery method - and, after almost two years in the ward, they are used to it by now.

In that light, one thing I do whenever I move is blend in or make non-disputable comments for long enough to let people get to know me as an individual. I laugh with them, clean the building with them, etc. I even wear a white shirt and suit every week for the first few months. There is no way I would make some of the comments I make now in the first few weeks after starting to attend a new ward. That would be stupid, politically and socially - and I try hard not to be stupid at church. ;)

I am confident I could share Elder Holland's quote about accepting people in the Church who don't interpret the Book of Mormon literally in the vast majority of wards and branches without causing heart attacks, if I had lived in them for any decent length of time - and it would help that, in this case, I would be quoting an apostle in doing so. A softly worded reference to an apostle helps a lot in situations like that. Of course, I've had 40 years of practice expressing heterodox opinions, so I've gotten pretty good at it by now.
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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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 12 Feb 2014, 08:17

Cadence wrote:When I was a believer especially when I was young I believed everything literally. Adam and Eve lived in the garden. Noah built an ark. Moses parted the Red Sea The stripling warriors really never lost a man. Then I became aware of science and critical thinking. I realized none of these things really happened. I lost my belief in the literal nature of the scriptures...So if not literal then what? If we take the literalness out of the story what do we have left? We have just stories. They may teach a lesson or maybe even inspire you but how can they be any more valuable than that? How can we chart a course on that?...I know many turn to mythology when their shelf collapses and the have to face the fact none of these things they were taught actually happened. I guess I can not make that leap. If I were living long ago and I needed mythology to explain things perhaps, but today we have something called the scientific method that takes care of that...For me when it was literal it was true, when it was not it lost its value
In the case of the Bible, at least some of it did happen. For example, it sounds like King Nebuchadnezzar really did destroy Jerusalem and the temple and took many Jews captive into Babylon in 587 BC. Also I see little reason to doubt that Jesus was crucified or that Paul was convinced he was still alive after this. Sure skeptics can suppose that Paul was mistaken for whatever reason but personally I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt as much as possible. To me, not having to take everything literally as a package deal mostly makes things better and more interesting overall.

Instead of feeling obligated to believe all this at the same time and make excuses for things that sound highly questionable mostly because everyone else does and because of the idea that it supposedly came from God now I feel free to judge for myself and believe whatever makes sense to me on a case-by-case basis. Many questions people care about the most especially regarding politics, morality, philosophy, religion, etc. are never going to be answered to everyone's satisfaction by raw facts and data but instead mostly depend on judgment calls and what people value the most in a personal and subjective way.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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Orson
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Re: If not literal then what?

Post by Orson » 12 Feb 2014, 08:24

I appreciate the question, it makes me think deeply about where I've been and where I am. I enjoy trying to find my value in everything that is taught, strictly literal interpretations seem so shallow and even empty.

Yes we should use plenty of sound logic to make sense of the world.
Cadence wrote:It also begs the question why God supposedly has to use fabricated stories to make a point. He could have just told us straight up how things work.
To me the "straight up" lessons fall a little flat. Yes they are fine for some applications, math problems etc. but when we move into judgment lessons and how to apply personal values and ideals in life a parable can teach volumes more. I would much rather learn about a model that I can reexamine as my knowledge and experience grows, something that I can always find new meanings in as I revisit with new perspectives.

I will agree literal lessons make obedience focused points more compelling, but when we move toward a goal of Love, personal discovery, self-motivation, and growth in knowledge and wisdom then the less literal and more encompassing lessons (the type that Jesus taught) are the ones that can hit a home run.

Maybe the point is a literal lesson lets someone else chart a course that we can follow, while a figurative lesson can help us chart our own course. If we are to grow into godly attributes which one should we eventually embrace? The stages of faith fill a purpose, as we let go of our feelings of certainty we have an opportunity to grasp something greater.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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