The Culture of the Gospel

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SilentDawning
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by SilentDawning » 23 May 2017, 17:15

I agree that all principles, ordinances, and most practices aggregate to loving thy neighbor. And treating others as you would like to be treated. If that is all you need, then why have even faith, repentance, baptism and Gift of the Holy Ghost? Why have temple marriage, and all the commandments of tithing?

If that one grand principle of loving others is the simplicity of the gospel, do we need all this other stuff that often complicates matters? Most GA's would say "yes" -- the grand principle, the golden rule, is a summation of the other principles. There isn't a single GA that won't say that temple marriage isn't necessary for the highest level of heaven and eternal progression as the highest level. Many will preach about the need to pay a full tithe to reach the celestial kingdom....to me, the reductionist approach of boiling the gospel down to loving our neighbor as ourself isn't sufficient to really be a good Mormon....and reducing it to that level isn't a fair representation of what our church's gospel is all about.

Anyway, I agree with Heber's assessment that you can take the gospel, or even the whole LDS experience and do a Venn Unity Diagram that shows the overlap with our own happiness. That common set of experiences will be different for most people though, rendering the lds gospel as not much different from ANY experience that has elements that make you happy....
"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."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

ydeve
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by ydeve » 23 May 2017, 23:22

SilentDawning wrote:
23 May 2017, 17:15
to me, the reductionist approach of boiling the gospel down to loving our neighbor as ourself isn't sufficient to really be a good Mormon
I agree.
belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up
Even these are not all necessary to loving your neighbor as yourself. I personally love symbolic cleansing, but it's not actually essential. Neither is belief in the divine necessary. They are a core part of a large number of paths to loving your neighbor, but they are not part of all of them. If you only consider what is common to all paths/disciplines/churches that lead to love, what is left is not enough to consider a culture.

Which I think is a great thing. It means we can learn to truly appreciate different cultures and different ways of life, since we in no way have the "superior" one. We can truly respect others when they make decisions we do not understand, since their road through life, though different, is no worse than ours. "Sin," as it applies to others, changes from "doing what is contrary to my arbitrary discipline" to "doing harm to others." Diversity is something to be cherished.

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DarkJedi
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by DarkJedi » 24 May 2017, 05:41

SilentDawning wrote:
23 May 2017, 17:15
I agree that all principles, ordinances, and most practices aggregate to loving thy neighbor. And treating others as you would like to be treated. If that is all you need, then why have even faith, repentance, baptism and Gift of the Holy Ghost? Why have temple marriage, and all the commandments of tithing?

If that one grand principle of loving others is the simplicity of the gospel, do we need all this other stuff that often complicates matters? Most GA's would say "yes" -- the grand principle, the golden rule, is a summation of the other principles. There isn't a single GA that won't say that temple marriage isn't necessary for the highest level of heaven and eternal progression as the highest level. Many will preach about the need to pay a full tithe to reach the celestial kingdom....to me, the reductionist approach of boiling the gospel down to loving our neighbor as ourself isn't sufficient to really be a good Mormon....and reducing it to that level isn't a fair representation of what our church's gospel is all about.

Anyway, I agree with Heber's assessment that you can take the gospel, or even the whole LDS experience and do a Venn Unity Diagram that shows the overlap with our own happiness. That common set of experiences will be different for most people though, rendering the lds gospel as not much different from ANY experience that has elements that make you happy....
Because faith, repentance, etc., also point us toward loving God and loving our neighbors. In my view if we love God we will want to love our neighbors and vice versa. On this hang all the law and the prophets - meaning either all else hangs on these two or that we can hang all else on these two. It also, of course, depends on what your individual view of what constitutes a commandment is.

I'm pretty much were Heber is. I believe above all else what we really need to do is love our neighbors. I also believe there are many different ways to go about doing so, from very simple acts of kindness to paying fast offerings to help the poor or doing temple work for the deceased (if you believe that counts).

I agree that it is likely every GA would do as you say. I guess it depends on whose definition of gospel you're looking for. If you're looking for theirs and see theirs as the ultimate definition by virtue of their station, fine, then you've found what you want. There's a reason beyond relationships that you and I aren't GAs or AAs or SPs, though and that's because our views are different and we don't always toe the party line. That doesn't make us wrong or inactive. Heber and I can hold our view and fully participate as active members, and that's the beauty of it - our definition of gospel works too.

Just one point about things like tithing. I don't necessarily have to believe tithing is a commandment to pay it. That's not the reason I do it, nor do I do it for the promised blessings. I do it because I want to, and I want to because I think it's part of doing my part for the club. My family and I use church facilities, we go to the Christmas party and the RS dinner, etc. - it's only fair that I pay for my part of the heat, electricity, water, food, manuals (even though I use digital versions), etc. I suppose it could just as well be club dues from my perspective, and that's fine. The question asked of me is "Are you a full tither payer?" to which I answer "Yes" (FWIW I do not pay on gross). I was married in the temple because at the time I was very orthodox and thought it was what I was supposed to do, despite my non-member family not being in attendance (we threw a bash for the reception though!). If I had to do it over again now, I still would marry in the temple - because I love my wife and that's what she would want (and we'd still throw the bash). From my point of view, neither of these are directly part of the gospel except that they and on "love God and love your neighbor" in a general way.

Lastly, my view of the gospel is that it is something separate and distinct from the church. Yes, they are intertwined but the gospel has always existed and always will exist and without it there would be no church. The church exists because of the gospel, not the other way around, and the gospel defines the church, the church does not define the gospel. That's why, going back to the original post, I don't believe there is a culture of the gospel as postulated by Elder Oaks. There is a culture of the church and there are things we have in common with other believers in the gospel - but that does not constitute a gospel culture.
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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SilentDawning
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by SilentDawning » 24 May 2017, 05:50

DarkJedi wrote:
24 May 2017, 05:41
Because faith, repentance, etc., also point us toward loving God and loving our neighbors. In my view if we love God we will want to love our neighbors and vice versa. On this hang all the law and the prophets - meaning either all else hangs on these two or that we can hang all else on these two. It also, of course, depends on what your individual view of what constitutes a commandment is.
You could then argue that a) setting up chairs brings you closer to Christ because it is enabling others to get get closer to Christ in a comfortable meeting b) that moving brings you closer to Christ because it is showing love for your neighbor c) that badgering less actives who want nothing to do with you (and have said so LAST YEAR when you did a blitz) is loving your neighbor. And the list goes on and on and on and on and on.

So, as I said, the Love your neighbor principle is the summation of all the other principles and practices, so while you can say it's the gospel, you can't use it as a feasible definition of what the LDS gospel is. This is because there's a ton of diverse commandments GA's and leaders use to "encourage" people to do things that often help others, but sometimes, simply serve someone's organizational or personal interests.

My conclusion is that it behooves each member to decide what it means to love their neighbor, and do that....and that sometimes means filtering out other people's version of "the gospel".
Last edited by SilentDawning on 24 May 2017, 07:42, edited 1 time in total.
"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."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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DarkJedi
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by DarkJedi » 24 May 2017, 06:00

SilentDawning wrote:
24 May 2017, 05:50
My conclusion is that it beehoves each member to decide what it means to love their neighbor, and do that....and that sometimes means filtering out other people's version of "the gospel".
In different words that's exactly what I said.
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."

My Introduction

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SilentDawning
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by SilentDawning » 24 May 2017, 09:45

DarkJedi wrote:
24 May 2017, 06:00
SilentDawning wrote:
24 May 2017, 05:50
My conclusion is that it beehoves each member to decide what it means to love their neighbor, and do that....and that sometimes means filtering out other people's version of "the gospel".
In different words that's exactly what I said.
Ok, so back to my opening comment -- in my view OTHER PEOPLE'S version of what constitutes the gospel has not made my happy. In that sense the gospel, as defined by so many others and in some cases, the mainstream membership, doesn't make people happy -- as a universal principle. It is NOT a recipe for happiness as so many people seem to want to assert.

If people take offense at that, well, I guess that's fine. As we are so much a product of our own experience. And you can only deny your own experience, or write off extreme anomalies as "isolated incidents" so many times before you just accept that those anomalies, in your case, are the norm.

And also, ask a few of the members who have been active on this site whether the LDS version of the gospel made them happy. The answer is a blistering no on the whole, to the point they have to live lonely and alone their whole lives. One member got himself a same sex partner and lived his life in the church as an excommunicated member. Without full fellowship, without having a calling, without going to the temple. That was the only way he could stay active yet have a relationship like heterosexual couples.

This is not to steer the conversation into same sex issues, but it's to show that the gospel of happiness is not always a gospel of happiness. For some, its a compromise, and for others, a gospel of misery....

I am somewhere in the middle between happiness and misery.
"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."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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DarkJedi
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by DarkJedi » 24 May 2017, 12:17

Just a few thoughts.

We can't project on own experiences, or even the experiences of others we know, onto others. That is, because we have had bad experiences with the church (and many of us here have) doesn't mean everybody has. It could be a matter of perception, but it turns out perception is reality. I think there are some people who find happiness in the church, even if it is "only" perceived. I think others see the happiness (or joy) as some future event or state as a reward for "enduring" here.

There are lots of parrots in the church. Sometimes in SS or PH or F&TM I feel as though I am in a room full of parrots. It is what it is. Some people only talk about happiness because that's what they want and they are engaging in affirming behavior - repeat it often enough and it will become so (which also seems to be how some things become "doctrine").

In short, the church works for some and doesn't work for others. I do believe the gospel can work for everyone, but in its simplicity as earlier stated. If nothing else it gives hope, which is all some people have. The church's iteration of the gospel does not always give hope, and I believe that's wrong - and that's why I choose to live the gospel as I understand it and not as anyone else (including GAs) seem to understand it.

I'm kind of reminded of Scrooge's nephew Fred:
"There are many things from which I might have derived good by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew, "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round-apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin - if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
Try substituting "the gospel" or "the church" for Christmas. Lots of people could say likewise of the church or gospel.
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."

My Introduction

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SilentDawning
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by SilentDawning » 25 May 2017, 07:42

DarkJedi wrote:
24 May 2017, 12:17
Just a few thoughts.

We can't project on own experiences, or even the experiences of others we know, onto others. That is, because we have had bad experiences with the church (and many of us here have) doesn't mean everybody has. It could be a matter of perception, but it turns out perception is reality. I think there are some people who find happiness in the church, even if it is "only" perceived. I think others see the happiness (or joy) as some future event or state as a reward for "enduring" here.

There are lots of parrots in the church. Sometimes in SS or PH or F&TM I feel as though I am in a room full of parrots. It is what it is. Some people only talk about happiness because that's what they want and they are engaging in affirming behavior - repeat it often enough and it will become so (which also seems to be how some things become "doctrine").
I wasn't implying that my experience is everyone else's. But my experience is my experience, and after repeated patterns of behavior from leaders or members, I can't with conscience accept those patterns as unlucky anomalies for me personally, and keep on exposing myself to it. Life is too short and I truly want to be happy!!!

I think I'm pretty good at respecting the TBM and parroting (love that analogy) we see at church in others. I never speak out, never act contrarion, never shoot down their perspectives. But I personally don't get how it's a gospel of happiness for so many people. But that doesn't mean I don't accept that in others. If they say it makes them happy, I'll accept that wondering if a) it truly makes them happy or b) they are just saying that because everyone else does (like I used to).

There are a lot of happy people who don't have the weight of the entire suite of LDS shoulds that form the LDS gospel for so many people. And I'm one of them now.
"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."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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Heber13
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by Heber13 » 25 May 2017, 10:31

SilentDawning wrote:
25 May 2017, 07:42
I wasn't implying that my experience is everyone else's.
Thanks for clarifying.

Back on page 2, when you said,
I don't even think fully living the gospel brings happiness. Sometimes the things they ask you to do cause untold stress and unhappiness. I know that staying in my marriage due to the temple covenant and promise I'd made was a massive source of unhappiness for many years until I learned to cope. Staying in my calling when I was burnt out caused misery. Exposure to toxic personalities in the church -- moreso than any other place in my service realms -- that plunged me into the depths of misery.
...yes, that sounded like you were implying that was the case for everyone else also, based on those kinds of examples, and saying "they ask you to do"...it was implied you were not talking about your experience.

I took it as you were implying the gospel causes the problems you experienced, and does for others, and I cannot disagree more with that idea. I don't disagree with how you feel you experienced things, and I believe all those things happened to you...I disagreed with the implication it was the gospel and applies to others, and since others read this forum...wanted to call that distinction out. Frankly...I don't think any of those examples you shared are part of a gospel culture. To me, it sounds like you're conflating church issues, mortal issues, people imperfection issues with gospel.

I also think this is the kind of discussion one might have with a family member or friend in the ward or bishop...and therefore a good exercise here on this forum to practice how we would resolve the communication...since that is the purpose of the support forum...not just point out the gospel doesn't bring happiness and leave it at that. I know you better than that...and see you stayLDS and work through lovingly how to lift others in the ward, with your own twist and your own personality and style with all you do at church. Yet...there are some implications that didn't sound right to me, and worth responding to discuss it, I think.

If the gospel is centered on love and the 1st two great commandments, it sounds like you are saying love sometimes leads to unhappiness.

I have had a temple sealing, and I was miserable, and it was not healthy for me to stay in that relationship. Is it the gospel that I must stay in that marriage and live out a life sentence for a choice I made at age 21? No.

I have come to a place I am at peace with that, and I'm trying to express my experience that my temple marriage was not a gospel-centered eternal marriage, despite a church temple sealing.

Separating them out now makes sense to me. If it was a gospel centered marriage, it would have made me happy because it would have the elements that make people happy (love, respect, trust, etc.). A gospel centered marriage would make everyone happy. A gospel centered temple marriage would make everyone happy. A gospel centered civil marriage would make everyone happy. But I did not have that, I just had a temple marriage that was abusive and destructive to my soul and my kids'. It did not work for me. God did not expect me to stay in that situation, just like he did not expect Nephi to stay in his situation when Laman and Lemuel were persecuting him...so Nephi left. The gospel allows us to make those choices, but while we make those choices, the gospel teaches us where our heart should be as we consider consequences of choices.

Other people may believe that temple ordinance is necessary for happiness. I believe they are talking about going to live in the CK as taught by the church in the context of some teachings by some prophets at some point in time. They are not talking about the only way to find happiness. Any GA would agree that there are plenty of happy marriages outside the temple. Perhaps privately, if not over the pulpit.

And here is the beauty of the gospel...if I don't get sealed in the temple in this life...I can still go to the CK! Because temple work and proxy for the dead make it possible for all worthy people who want to live a gospel centered life will not be denied the opportunity. THerefore, happiness is the end goal of the gospel, no matter the earthly temporal and temporary situations. God wants us to become gospel centered. That is His Plan of Happiness, despite personal circumstance that varies.

That's my best shot at trying to explain my point on the gospel culture...and that I respect your experience and point of view...as long as we know it is not others' experiences or points of view...and therefore...what is taught at church or by DHO as gospel culture is truth, when understood correctly with correct context and correct underlying principles.

Typically, I would leave it at that, and not converse longer with another person, especially if I am getting to the point they are exhausted with my talking. (I hope not :shifty: )

But on this thread, I enjoy discussing it more because I believe other readers can understand there is value to challenging our thoughts and definitions, and that nuance has a place in working through our challenge to stayLDS, or not to stayLDS and just to walk away from church in a positive tone. (and also because others will skip over or stop reading 2 or 3 pages ago if I'm beating the dead horse and they don't care about it anymore).

But if you are not completely exhausted by me, please respond to my stuff if I should clarify further or you still disagree with parts, and please answer two questions for me:
1) Why do others' versions of the gospel matter to your journey and happiness?

2) I am not sealed to my wife. We have a civil marriage. I hold a TR, she does not. With your definitions of the gospel, and your experiences with what GAs would say, how would they respond if I told them I have happiness and am comfortable that I am on the path to eternal happiness and have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ as I am now? I have NEVER been happier! I promise I am telling the truth. So what would a GA tell me?
(Perhaps talking about a specific example like this that is personal to me might help our discussion add meaning to our words).
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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SilentDawning
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Re: The Culture of the Gospel

Post by SilentDawning » 26 May 2017, 10:43

Please recognize that with the exception of quoting facts about what exists in the handbook, well researched statistics, or historical facts (when verifiable) just about what anyone says is opinion here. That for me, is a forgone conclusion. Even in my quote I said "I don't think"....which indicates what followed was my opinion.

Heber13 wrote:
25 May 2017, 10:31

1) Why do others' versions of the gospel matter to your journey and happiness?
Years ago they mattered because as a young man, without a lot of confidence or knowledge of what this life or the life beyond is all about, I trusted people who seemed to know. Very influential people whose opinions mattered to me. I trusted them and made critical life decisions on what they said, and what they implied they meant. Same reason people are concerned about what their parents think.

Today, their opinions matter as I am part of their culture. Their opinions drive their behavior, and that behavior affects me. It affects my marriage, and in some areas of the world, I hear it can even affect your job. I have to deal with the implications of their belief in the gospel of happiness -- they are at me for high pressure callings, call me stubborn when I say "no", or chastise me when they want me to to do things I don't want to do.
2) I am not sealed to my wife. We have a civil marriage. I hold a TR, she does not. With your definitions of the gospel, and your experiences with what GAs would say, how would they respond if I told them I have happiness and am comfortable that I am on the path to eternal happiness and have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ as I am now? I have NEVER been happier! I promise I am telling the truth. So what would a GA tell me?
I can only speculate as I'm not a GA and don't have their full perspective. Plus, they are all different and have different personalities, level of caring, etcetera.

Further you haven't presented a problem for the GA. You said you are happy.

In the absence of a problem, I don't think the GA would care much about it. Or he would infer a problem, and give you hope that someday your wife will come around. Or that God will work out all these exceptions that the standard gospel can't resolve. I don't know.

So, take everything I say as personal opinion. I'm happy for my opinion to co-exist along other people's opinions that are contrary to mine, provided their opinions don't require me to do things I don't want to do or think are harmful to me personally or people for whom I am responsible. And in an online world like this, nothing anyone says here influences how my life runs without my consent. So, ultimately, it is like online, interactive journal writing where I come away with my own opinions.

My opinion in this thread is that the gospel has not been a success as a happiness formula in my case. It wouldn't surprise me if that is true for many other people. At the same time, I think it works masterfully for other people, like my daughter, for example (so far). It seems to work for my wife and her parents. So I will support them in it. But you won't find me preaching that the gospel makes you happy. I personally don't believe it and like to teach/speak about what I am. If asked to talk about the gospel of happiness, I would have to put a spin on it like no one has heard before.

And the funny thing about that is that if such a talk is like others I have given, people will come away telling me it's a really good talk. Because it will make them think about their life in a way that doesn't nullify their belief in the gospel of happiness, while expanding their idea about how to achieve happiness in this life.
"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."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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