The Culture of the Gospel

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SilentDawning
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The Culture of the Gospel

Post by SilentDawning » 18 May 2017, 06:05

Interesting article by DHO on how existing cultures in nations and families need to give way to Gospel culture. He cites examples from Africa, both praising aspects of their culture, and calling out specific practices as that are not in harmony with the gospel (such as paying a price for a bride that delays marriage and encourages sexual activity outside marriage).

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/03/the- ... e?lang=eng

One section stood out for me personally:
Some other cultural practices or traditions that may conflict with gospel culture are weddings and funerals. I ask you not to make plans in connection with weddings and funerals that would cause you to go deeply into debt. Avoid extensive travel and expensive feasts. Excessive debt will weaken or prevent your ability to pay tithing, to attend the temple, and to send your children on missions. Make plans that will strengthen—not weaken—your future Church activity.
three things. One, the one-year waiting period puts many couples in a position where they and their families need to fly to Britain or other places where you can have a civil and temple marriage on the same day. So, this policy encourages couples who don't want to leave their non-member family out of the experience to engage in excessive travel. But of course, the egocentric nature of the policy seems to completely ignore the interests and long term effects of excluding non-member family from the marriage experience in North America.

Second, his last sentence...
Make plans that will strengthen—not weaken—your future Church activity.
This bothers me. It's not about your church activity -- it's about the happiness of your life. This means your family life, your personal life, your leisure time, your mental health, your professional life, your comfort level when financial calamity strikes, etcetera. Why does it have to be about the church all the time?????? Happiness is the object and design of our whole EXISTENCE, not church activity as the epicenter of happiness.

Third this quote:
As we seek to establish the Church in Africa and other nations, we must have third- and fourth-generation faithful Latter-day Saint families in our leadership and membership. Faithful Latter-day Saints who move to another country weaken the Church in their homeland. Of course the Church does not forbid its members from moving from one place to another to better themselves, but it has been many years since the Church has encouraged such emigration.
When I read this I thought of my own state -- am I on the fringe because I am a first generation Mormon? Does DHO"s statement entrench the culture that third and fourth generation Mormons are somehow superior in their commitment or leadership eligibility than people who are new to the church??? Sounds like he is entrenching some negative values I have heard about in other parts of the world, particularly Utah and Alberta.

Also, troublesome for me is that again, he seems to imply that you should live in the place that best serves the church. But life in certain African countries is not pleasant. Given an opportunity to emigrate to America, or other places, for some African families, it could be a blessing. To boil the decision down to what is best for the church, again, sacrifices personal happiness on the alter of church egocentrism.

Some of the other things he "questions" in other cultures (a soft word for what he is saying) seem to address brutal or unfair practices (such as men in certain cultures thinking woman are servants around the house while the men do nothing). These seems to make a certain amount of sense from a North American and humanistic perspective.

But the three items I mentioned above got to me...

Does his article seem to weight church interests more heavily than what might be good for individual members?
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- 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."

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dande48
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by dande48 » 18 May 2017, 10:00

From the viewpoint of Elder Oaks, it is impossible to be as righteous as you can be (and therefore, as happy as you can be), without absolute activity in the Church. From his viewpoint, there is no difference between the Church's welfare, and the welfare of the entire human race. However, fitting into the unorthodox, "StayLDS" community, most of us have realized it's not so cut and dry. The Church does not always bring us happiness, and the Church leadership does not always act in our best interest (even if that's their intent).

The Church often teaches that there are three primary reasons why people "do good":
1. Because they love God
2. Out of a sense of duty
3. Out of fear of punishment/want for rewards

Many have speculated that without religion, chaos ensues.
"In truth, there never was any remarkable lawgiver amongst any people who did not resort to divine authority, as otherwise his laws would not have been accepted by the people; for there are many good laws, the importance of which is known to be the sagacious lawgiver, but the reasons for which are not sufficiently evident to enable him to persuade others to submit to them; and therefore do wise men, for the purpose of removing this difficulty, resort to divine authority."- Machiavelli
"If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him"- Volaire
Being a mild agnostic, I have come to discover that there are many reasons for doing "good" that fall outside the scope of religion. Nietzsche didn't drink because he considered it a narcotic which dulls the mind, and saps the will. I avoid debt like the plague because it causes undue stress and obligation. I stay away from pornography out of respect for my wife, to bridle my sexual tentencies, and because I disdain the exploitation of women. I believe that every commandment worth following is "good", not because God declared it so, but because it is inherently good.

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nibbler
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by nibbler » 18 May 2017, 10:36

Disclaimer: we are all human and prone to error, all rooted in our perspectives.

What is the culture of the gospel? Church culture? :lol:
Some other cultural practices or traditions that may conflict with gospel culture are weddings and funerals. I ask you not to make plans in connection with weddings and funerals that would cause you to go deeply into debt. Avoid extensive travel and expensive feasts. Excessive debt will weaken or prevent your ability to pay tithing, to attend the temple, and to send your children on missions. Make plans that will strengthen—not weaken—your future Church activity.
As my grandmother would often say, "awlawdhamercy!"

Excessive debt will weaken or prevent you from...
...obtaining financial security.
...experiencing peace of mind.
...your ability to absorb unforeseen issues that often arise in life.

...your ability to pay tithing.
The time to relax is when you don't have time for it. - Sydney J. Harris

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DarkJedi
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by DarkJedi » 18 May 2017, 12:30

While reading that article, which I would not normally have read, I came up with the same question as Nibbler. What the heck is "gospel culture?" I've heard of (and witnessed and been a part of) church culture before, and I see that some (many) parts of that culture will not work everywhere and at the same time is a bit different depending on where you are. Gospel Culture? I have no idea what he's talking about. There are commandments and theology and doctrine and there is "living the gospel" (all of which are open to some interpretation) but I don't believe there is a gospel culture per se. Were there a gospel culture it would need to be shared among other churches as well.
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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mom3
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by mom3 » 18 May 2017, 12:51

Ick - That's all.
"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

DoubtingTom
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by DoubtingTom » 18 May 2017, 13:14

This is laughable. There is no such thing as gospel culture - only church culture. And to assume that all other cultures should subsume to the church's culture is offensive to those cultures. The reason he wants multi-generational families in leadership positions is because over generations in the church personal or ethnic culture gradually gets replaced with church culture. But we all know how problematic and how wrong church culture can be to the point of neglecting the core values of the real gospel.

This is why the church has a hard time growing in places where America is not seen as "saviors to the world" and an even harder time in places that are antagonistic towards the U.S. "You want to me to replace my culture with that? Ummm, no thanks"

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mom3
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by mom3 » 18 May 2017, 14:17

The Multigenerational family model is like your doctor setting a weight loss goal for you. It may be a good thing and life sustaining, but your not going to change your eating habits because the doctor said so.


This article was released in 2012. In the past four months I have heard more TBM leaders/families with siblings, children, etc. who have left the church. Our Stake RS President has an agnostic and antagonist daughter who left, likewise her 2nd counselor has daughter whose left. Our RS President has the same. Our Gospel Doctrine teacher, a Relief Society teacher, a former Bishop. The list goes on. Everyone of those people just failed the objective - at least as DHO presents it.

To me the Culture of the Gospel is Love. It's tough. It doesn't fit a mold.

The world was not meant to be Utah.
"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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Heber13
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by Heber13 » 19 May 2017, 10:23

SilentDawning wrote:
18 May 2017, 06:05
specific practices as that are not in harmony with the gospel (such as paying a price for a bride that delays marriage and encourages sexual activity outside marriage).
...so...when Johnny Lingo paid 8 cows for Mahonna (rescuing her from a dad dad that yells..."Mahonna, you ugly! Come here!")...would the church think that is more the true culture to pay for wives without having sex outside marriage???? :?
SilentDawning wrote:
18 May 2017, 06:05
It's not about your church activity -- it's about the happiness of your life. This means your family life, your personal life, your leisure time, your mental health, your professional life, your comfort level when financial calamity strikes, etcetera. Why does it have to be about the church all the time?????? Happiness is the object and design of our whole EXISTENCE, not church activity as the epicenter of happiness.
I think these are pretty good questions, SD. I just can understand that many in the church see that following the prophet is the way to get that personal happiness, that through church activity, members grow to understand how to live gospel principles that help them find the happiness they are seeking, and that makes for financial, family, mental and all areas of life to be in balance. It is just how they see it.

They see the church as the vehicle to get them to that destination, and so they talk about it that way. They aren't necessarily wrong.

But I have the same frustrations you seem to be expressing...it can seem to resort to "church activity" is all that matters...as in...church activity will translate to happiness, instead of living the gospel will translate to happiness.

All I know is...I was fully active in the church when hell broke lose in my life...so... do all those things about church really matter?

People can become too hyperfocused on the wrong things, and perspectives get out of whack, and they can promise too much out of church activity.

I share the frustration. Even while I cling to the idea that church can help families. Just in more toned down ways...not so hyperbolic.

Activity in mormon church doesn't give guarantees, and they don't have a monopoly on happiness. It just is one vehicle you can try to use.

And based on that lens, there are some cultural things that you might want to avoid, and we call them "traditions of our fathers". You can do the same exact thing with traditions inside the church. And we should. We should shed all traditions that won't help us. And cling to those that do.

And if people at church don't agree with you that some things we preach in the church can be damaging to individuals...that is fine. That is about them. You are smart enough to see the value of some things in the world, and the problems of some things inside the church.

Nothing is perfect. You choose what to focus on and what to believe to be a happy person.
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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hawkgrrrl
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by hawkgrrrl » 19 May 2017, 10:27

I think he makes some good points, but then links them to the wrong reasons (as several of you have commented). I don't REALLY hear him touting colonialism per se, just putting the needs of the church (as he's defined it) ahead of the needs for individuals to find happiness, but he's doing it because he thinks that prescription fits everyone equally, so it's not with mal intent.

This multi-gen family thing is what happens when you confuse correlation and causation. It also, for those who have children leaving, feels a whole lot like victim blaming. Parents who are already wounded, often who have kids who have left due to the church's misguided culture wars, the congregations' ignorant comments and Biblical literalism, or the horrible white-washed correlated lessons that a quick google search reveals to be fictional, or the emphasis on obeying leaders rather than having a personal relationship with God and seeking one's happiness within the gospel, those parents are now being told that it's because they didn't create a "gospel culture" or put the church first or keep the Sabbath enough or whatever other things are being linked today to creating multi-gen families. This focus is bad for a few reasons: 1) we don't actually know how to "create" multi-gen families, 2) what used to work doesn't any more, 3) the parents are often the stalwart obey-at-all-costs ones that the church craves, so this means they (some of them anyway) will just eat their young in defense of the church.

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nibbler
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by nibbler » 19 May 2017, 11:38

How does focusing on MGFs help the individual member? From an organizational standpoint the focus makes perfect sense, preserve the organization, but what value does it add to the individual member? MGFs can give people that peace of mind that their family will be saved in the CK, building MGFs can assuage a fear people have, but does that really feed people spiritually or only calm an anxiety?

I remember having this conversation here some time ago about an article someone had written about declining church attendance. IIRC the author wasn't talking about the LDS church, just church in general. The bullet points in the article remind me of the bullet points in the talk cited ITT. The concern that is being communicated is, "won't somebody please think of the church!" church meaning the organization. The article and the talk weren't as concerned with ministering to people as they were with preserving the organization of the church itself... which probably contributes towards people leaving churches.

Having people that are a part of multi-generational families in leadership is probably viewed as having the added benefit of ensuring loyalty and consistency, where the thought is that a person that's several generations deep in the church is less likely to bring along "traditions of their fathers" that go against church culture or people that aren't as familiar with church doctrines and end up teaching the wrong things.

I think it's church culture to believe that whether or not someone is active in the church is an indicator of whether they will be saved and it's more gospel centered culture to believe that whether or not a person is loving and good is the indicator of whether or not they will be saved, regardless of church activity. Or maybe the gospel culture is bringing out the best in everyone and to lose interest in whether or not someone is saved.

Where I'm going with this is that I think church culture focuses entirely too much on church membership and activity so we get this focus on MGFs. Were Simon, Andrew, James, and John members of MGFs? Not of Christ's church but they may have been "born of goodly parents." But that's beside the point. People are their own people. Good parents have Lucifers. Bad parents have Abrahams.

Going back to a point raised in the Europe consolidation article... to be honest I haven't seen a disproportionate amount of local leadership be members of a MGF. I can think of at least five BPs of wards I've belonged to that were converts. For comparison's sake I can think of four that were a part of MGFs. It depends on where you live and who else lives there.
The time to relax is when you don't have time for it. - Sydney J. Harris

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