Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Orson » 16 Oct 2013, 08:28

Harmony does make it hard to understand how a prophet could have so many failings.
To me this comment illustrates a very popular yet very wrong expectation of what a true prophet is or should be.

[edit:] Terryl Givens nails this point late in his MD interview here (about 24 mins in): ... -of-doubt/
We [wrongly] persist in erecting our prophets into heroes and idols, ...we set our members up to fall when we create idols out of human beings.

He also explains his feelings that it is wrong to be singing hymns and anthems to prophets, to prop them up in any way that makes them look better than another ordinary human being. The point is that the Lord can work miracles through ordinary and weak mediums, not that a human can be good enough to be called as a prophet.
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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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Earl Parsons » 16 Oct 2013, 09:44

I read RSR last year and really enjoyed it. It's a well researched and written book.
Kumahito wrote:Now, for those who have read it, here's my question: how can a TBM who has read RSR still have an unqualified and unreserved testimony of JS?
I don't think it's possible to know about some of the things you mention and still have an unqualified and unreserved testimony about JS. My testimony has nuance, caveats, and boundaries, but it's still a testimony.

I think that's ok. Maybe we're supposed to embrace nuance? I know I've had to do that professionally. As you learn more physics you discover that what you learned in a previous physics class isn't always true, or is only true in certain situations. If I want to share my lab results with others I need to fully explain the situation and my assumptions.

Lately I've found my self doing that when I teach or give a talk in church. I don't give blanket statements anymore, i.e. "The church is true." My claims are more specific and limited: "Being a member of this church has helped me understand God and draw closer to Him." The second statement is limited to my personal experience, and is specific to my relationship with God.

Hope that helps.

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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Heber13 » 16 Oct 2013, 12:19

Kumahito wrote:here's my question: how can a TBM who has read RSR still have an unqualified and unreserved testimony of JS?
Yes, absolutely. There are many faith promoting things in the book that prop JS up as an amazing character who achieved great things despite the opposition he faced. Those who have that faith in them that he is a prophet will glean from the pages the evidences that he did accomplish remarkable things, in a cafeteria style, processing what is good to them. Deseret book would not sell it if it was a book that proved he was so flawed he can not be considered a prophet.
Kumahito wrote:If you've read RSR, I'm wondering how it influenced you?
With so much information out on the Internet, it was so critical for me to read something that can be taken as credible, and not anti-, and yet...shows the problems that exist with the history, even things that are unexplainable or things I can't process (ie, polygamy). The book simply says what the records show, and that was what I needed to read at the time. Not apologetic explanations, or anti-attacks...just the stuff so I can choose for myself what I think of things.

I also remembered the book having a great influence on my personal life, that while things in my life seemed out of control or imperfect, and that I truly am a flawed person, that it is OK, and the Lord can still work with me, just as He did with His weak and rough stone of a prophet. I had a personal connection to it because of where I was in my life with my fears and doubts and failures, and it helped me let go of some perfectionist tendencies I struggle with.

It is one of my favorite books. I'm glad it is distributed by Deseret books. I bought it at the book store next to the temple, and the worker said, "I've read it. It is a great book. It really makes you think about things."

Can a faithful member read it and have a testimony? Yep. Many do. And for many, it helps them think.
Meh Mormon wrote:I have read the book and so has my wife (most of it at least). We have had very different reactions to it.
This speaks volumes for me. The idea that the same text on the pages can speak differently to people to me is so vital to how I process so much in my life. It helps me search for that conjunctive faith, because so much of what we hold as truth depends greatly on our point of view.
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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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Sheldon » 16 Oct 2013, 13:08

My SP would not read RSR. He said he started to, and then didn’t like the negative things it said about JS, so he stopped reading it. He was then called as a mission president. So not everybody is ready for RSR.

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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by mackay11 » 16 Oct 2013, 13:39

Joseph Smith said,
“I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm, yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the smooth-faced hypocrite. I do not want you to think that I’m very righteous, for I am not. There was one good man, and his name was Jesus”
(Documentary History of the Church, 5:401)

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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Roy » 16 Oct 2013, 14:28

I remember having a shift in perceptions. We always know that prophets are imperfect but then act as though those imperfections only apply to inconsequential things. JS was for me in a category all his own, a type of super-prophet, seer, and revelator. I imagined him as almost otherworldly dropping pieces of knowledge and wisdom from his regular interaction with the divine.

In RSR I found a prophet that didn't know what was going to happen. I have heard a saying about JS that some use to reconcile things. "God told JS what to do but not how to do it." This would imply that any errors are with the implementation of the divine will only. In RSR I found that Joseph's understanding of the divine will (what God wanted him to do) seemed to evolve over time. Also that this line over line understanding many times did not come from revelations but from things that Joseph seemed to have co-opted from his environment. So I would change this saying to, "JS did the best he could to interpret the divine will using the tools he had at his disposal (some of those tools might include mysticism and the ability to see inspiration in your environment), JS also did the best he could at implementing his understanding of the divine will into programs on the ground" I agree that his accomplishments are impressive but not "incomparable" (as they were referred to at our last conference).

It was later that year when tragedy struck in my life and I really had to confront head on my beliefs on life and death, eternal families and eternal worlds. By then the teachings of JS did not seem to be as incontrovertible as they once had. I was floundering around by myself on the internet when I found StayLDS.
"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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Re: Rough Stone Rolling and My Shelf

Post by Roadrunner » 17 Oct 2013, 14:15

Loved RSR. My biggest single takeaway is that you can strive to be intellectually honest about the church - simultaneously acknowledging a large number of flaws and still having faith (or at least hoping).

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