What Mormonism boils down to

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 23 May 2015, 09:31

DarkJedi wrote:We probably need to consider the idea that Mormonism doesn't boil down to just one thing, and/or that it boils down to different things for different people. We talk about black and white thinkers frequently here - but this is looking like one of those things where there isn't black and white and there are no pigeon holes.
Maybe so but if someone thinks Mormonism means something significantly different from, "Follow the Prophet" to them that doesn't implicitly include this major tenet as well then that's just their opinion, not official institutionalized LDS Mormonism and other active Church members will still expect them to follow the LDS prophets in what they say and do. For example, suppose I don't see what the current WoW interpretation has to do with loving God or my neighbor; does that mean I can drink coffee or beer in front of TBMs without them freaking out and judging me? Of course not, and why not?; mostly because it goes against what Church leaders have taught in recent decades and the WoW is an explicit requirement in temple worthiness interviews, that's why.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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DarkJedi
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by DarkJedi » 23 May 2015, 10:20

DevilsAdvocate wrote:
DarkJedi wrote:We probably need to consider the idea that Mormonism doesn't boil down to just one thing, and/or that it boils down to different things for different people. We talk about black and white thinkers frequently here - but this is looking like one of those things where there isn't black and white and there are no pigeon holes.
Maybe so but if someone thinks Mormonism means something significantly different from, "Follow the Prophet" to them that doesn't implicitly include this major tenet as well then that's just their opinion, not official institutionalized LDS Mormonism and other active Church members will still expect them to follow the LDS prophets in what they say and do. For example, suppose I don't see what the current WoW interpretation has to do with loving God or my neighbor; does that mean I can drink coffee or beer in front of TBMs without them freaking out and judging me? Of course not, and why not?; mostly because it goes against what Church leaders have taught in recent decades and the WoW is an explicit requirement in temple worthiness interviews, that's why.
So are you saying that all of us either have to believe it boils down to follow the prophet or we're screwed? In that case I'm not the only one here who is screwed.

Personally speaking, even in my more orthodox days I didn't keep the WoW because I thought I was following the prophet, I did so because I thought it was a commandment. Now I keep my own understanding of it because I think it's a pretty good idea. I kept the WoW throughout my years of inactivity for the same reason - but were I not living it I don't think I would insult my LDS friends who thought I was living it by opening a beer or drinking coffee with them present.

I think part of the point of this thread is that we are taught so many things - including following the prophet - that it's hard to decide what it really means to be a member of the church. I'm not sure follow the prophet sums it up, but I'm sure there are many members who do believe that. We don't all have to believe the same things, and there is no "Do you follow the prophet?" TR question (noting, of course, that some people could interpret following the prophet as sustaining the prophet and therefore believe we are asked that).
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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Curt Sunshine
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by Curt Sunshine » 23 May 2015, 15:00

Yes, DA, many members of other denominations follow the prophet pretty much exactly like many Mormons do - while many don't. I have MANY friends who are members of MANY denominations, so that is not conjecture. I also work at a Cathoilc university that takes its common faith very seriously and see all iterations of belief there. The more liberal Protestant denominations have a smaller percentage of members who reference modern figures as regularly as we do in the LDS Church, but even many of them view the Biblical prophets in the same general way.

The difference isn't the denomination; it is the mindset of the person.
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.

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Heber13
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by Heber13 » 25 May 2015, 09:02

DevilsAdvocate wrote:For example, suppose I don't see what the current WoW interpretation has to do with loving God or my neighbor; does that mean I can drink coffee or beer in front of TBMs without them freaking out and judging me? Of course not, and why not?; mostly because it goes against what Church leaders have taught in recent decades and the WoW is an explicit requirement in temple worthiness interviews, that's why.
I agree with you on this DA. I think most people just simply don't think deeply about it...it is something you "just don't do as a mormon"...you "can't do that". It is almost unthinkable to believe in the church and to do those things without being fallen. If you ask "why?"...I think you get a myriad of reasons as people try to think up something that makes sense...like the church leaders, or commandments, or scriptures or or chemical properties of coffee and caffeine or science is changing but God is constant, or we just don't know reasons yet but someday will....all things that have been taught over the years in church to reaffirm things to ourselves as mormons.

Part of being in a group is accepting the group rules. Those rules are determined by leaders, and following them is part of your commitment to the group.

But to mormonism's credit...the leaders try to remind us that it isn't all about obedience and rules...there are reasons behind the rules and blessings when we live according to them...so the intent is for blessings that they believe will go to people by obeying rules and not for control of people...although sometimes that looks awfully similar from the outside.

The other element to consider in this discussion is that it is hard to say what Mormonism boils down to...because the reasons that give us meaning behind obedience change over time. Right now...a lot seems to be about the temple and eternal families and so that is why you obey the WoW. It hasn't always been that way for every generation. The reasons that resonate with people may adapt to what is meaningful to people at the time.
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: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by amateurparent » 25 May 2015, 10:05

For me, Mormonism always boiled down to the ability to have an acknowledged personal relationship with God. No matter what was said in church, I could go to God and decide for myself whether those presented ideas were good things for me or for my family.

Currently, I see the pendulum of church doctrine swung far away from personal revelation. It is currently focused on "Follow the Leaders. Follow the Prophet. Don't chose your own path. Don't ask for personal confirmation." I feel that the pendulum is just starting to swing back a little bit towards a more personal journey. Because the pendulum was swung the other direction for so long, I don't expect to see the pendulum shift without drama and angst within the community. But the pendulum will shift, it will gain momentum. And it just takes a single generation before a population thinks things have always been handled the same way. Our population is seen as marching in lock step in so many ways. It will be interesting to see what unifies us as a people as the pendulum swings and our natural individual diversities become more apparent.
I have no advance degrees in parenting. No national credentials. I am an amateur parent. I read, study, and learn all I can to be the best parent possible. Every time I think I have reached expert status with one child for one stage in their life, something changes and I am back to amateur status again. Now when I really mess up, I just apologize to my child, and explain that I am indeed an amateur .. I'm still learning how to do this right.

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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by Joni » 26 May 2015, 06:21

Reading the BoM hasn't cured my depression. It hasn't cured my son's ADHD/autism. It hasn't solved a single one of the fights between my husband and me (and has caused more than one). It didn't prevent my husband from losing his job four times in four years. It hasn't made me feel better about the gender inequalities in the temple, or in the Church as a whole. I suppose the problem could be that I'm not reading the BoM enough, but then again, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result...

For me, the message of that ETB quote - and the message I hear almost every week in church - is that if things are less than 100% perfect in your life, it's your own fault for not trying hard enough. And I can't even begin to express how incredibly messed up that is.

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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 26 May 2015, 07:15

DarkJedi wrote:So are you saying that all of us either have to believe it boils down to follow the prophet or we're screwed? In that case I'm not the only one here who is screwed...Personally speaking, even in my more orthodox days I didn't keep the WoW because I thought I was following the prophet, I did so because I thought it was a commandment. Now I keep my own understanding of it because I think it's a pretty good idea. I kept the WoW throughout my years of inactivity for the same reason - but were I not living it I don't think I would insult my LDS friends who thought I was living it by opening a beer or drinking coffee with them present...I think part of the point of this thread is that we are taught so many things - including following the prophet - that it's hard to decide what it really means to be a member of the church. I'm not sure follow the prophet sums it up, but I'm sure there are many members who do believe that. We don't all have to believe the same things, and there is no "Do you follow the prophet?" TR question (noting, of course, that some people could interpret following the prophet as sustaining the prophet and therefore believe we are asked that).
I guess I don't see much of a difference between doing something because you believe it's a commandment and following the prophet(s) that told people it was a commandment in the first place; to me that simply sounds like a different choice of words to describe the same basic thing (D&C 1:38). Similarly if you go along with what the Church teaches mostly because other Church members expect you to they could say it's important to do this or that for different reasons such as it is supposedly required to be with our families forever, simply because Mormons don't do that, etc. but as whole it reflects how much being LDS is currently about strict conformity to what Church leaders have officially taught recently. That's all I'm saying, basically if you think being Mormon should mean something else other than, "Follow the prophet" in practice you will typically still be expected to follow the prophet by other Church members in addition to whatever else you want to add to the list.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by SilentDawning » 26 May 2015, 07:24

I find that people turn to religion for perceived control in their lives. I've heard statements like these:

1) As long as I have a TR, I know that I'll be OK after death.
2) Read, pray, and go to church, and you'll get a testimony.
3) Pray and read scriptures as a family, and your family will be active.
4) Ward activity moves with home teaching. As long the priesthood is doing their home teaching, ward activity numbers stay high.

Recently, when my son refused the Aaronic Priesthood, a leader said that his reluctance was a result of family prayer and scripture study not happening. I had to give a gentle rebuttal -- if his logic was sound, then why is my daughter so active? The person with the leader commented that yes, my daughter was a pillar of sound Mormonism in youth. The person who boiled our problem down to two activities in the home didn't know what to say.

It's rarely simple. Yet people want to make it that way because it gives them the perception of control in a world that often acts upon us regardless of our own behavior.
"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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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by SilentDawning » 26 May 2015, 07:29

Joni wrote:Reading the BoM hasn't cured my depression. It hasn't cured my son's ADHD/autism. It hasn't solved a single one of the fights between my husband and me (and has caused more than one). It didn't prevent my husband from losing his job four times in four years. It hasn't made me feel better about the gender inequalities in the temple, or in the Church as a whole. I suppose the problem could be that I'm not reading the BoM enough, but then again, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result...

For me, the message of that ETB quote - and the message I hear almost every week in church - is that if things are less than 100% perfect in your life, it's your own fault for not trying hard enough. And I can't even begin to express how incredibly messed up that is.
Yes!! I have found that reading secular literature is where I get the specific techniques I need to improve my life. The gospel, and the church, is famous for providing general principles, or a forum for personal revelation (ideation), but it is long in general prescription and short on specific techniques. It is also good for creating an idealized self -- in the form of Christlike qualities, and a place to express certain qualities like charity and service, but those opportunities also abound in the world at large.
"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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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by hawkgrrrl » 26 May 2015, 07:32

The difference isn't the denomination; it is the mindset of the person.
This is such an important point. The more I meet people of different faiths, the more I see that our faith reveals our mindset. I was talking with one of my employees in India about religion (although like many upwardly mobile Indians, he was not very religious, his parents were devout Hindus). I was curious about his parents' views as the older generation as they see the secularization of India, and I wondered if they were literal believers anyway given the fantastical nature of Hindu creation and deity. He said that they were very literal believers to the point that they were superstitious about monkeys (the god Hanuman is a monkey God, and sometimes a trickster), and they fully believed the Hindu creation story to be a factual event. He said many of their generation held those views, but most of his generation did not.

Someone once did a post years ago on Mormon Matters about the idea that religions are like operating systems. Some programs (people) only work on certain systems (religions). For example, you can't run Windows on a Mac. But some programs (people) are more able to operate in a variety of operating systems. His theory, if I remember correctly, was that most of us simply run best on the Mormon system, it brings out the best in us, but it's just our operating system. We can come to know God via different systems. I'm not sure if I've gotten his theory right, but that was the gist.

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