What's My Line?

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Heber13
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Re: What's My Line?

Post by Heber13 » 21 Sep 2016, 15:12

Judging them to be true prophets or false prophets is what it is all about. That is the testimony or faith we work through. Do we trust they bring us knowledge and truth from heaven, or are they wolves in sheep's clothing?

For me, the line has moved back and forth as I gain more experience in life, and more knowledge of things. I do not need to cling to a fixed line that if crossed must only lead to the choice of rejecting. Because my end goal is not to measure the prophet. My end goal is to find god and seek his truth, and the prophets are voices in my journey to be happy. They are one data point to be considered in finding truth.

Trusting them requires some evaluation of their character, their intentions, their integrity. So I cannot ignore mistakes that happen. But I cannot only judge by imperfection. I can trust the imperfect person, with hesitance and skepticism, but trust nonetheless. Truly cafeteria style.
FaithfulSkeptic wrote:
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
That's pretty black & white - I think there are both good and bad fruits that have come from JS, BY, and the current Q15.
I see some inconsistency in what you say here, FS. Maybe you can clarify for me.

Scriptures do seem to suggest black and white thinking...good or evil fruit. But they cannot be literal in meaning, because I know of no one claiming to be prophet that is all good, or all bad. You even mention that in your next statement as you see that in JS, BY and the current Q15.

So...if you can see that JS is not all bad fruit...how can you judge them? Is it really so black and white?

To me...it seems like the fruit has to be "good enough" for you to consider it good fruit...even if you know that literally means it is some good and some bad...because there is no perfectly good fruit from anyone.

On many occasions I see the wonderful fruit of the prophet Joseph Smith and ask the reverse question to others...how can you not believe he is an inspired man of god when the fruit of what he did is such a wonderful thing that blesses me and my family? Is that not equally black and white...if there is good fruit...you must believe? (Rhetoric...because I say "no". I can see good fruit and also see bad fruit in other religions and so I do not believe some things.). I don't have to believe when the fruit is good, I don't have to reject when the fruit has some blemishes and isn't perfect.

We went picking apples this weekend in our orchard. We filled boxes full of beautiful apples. And we had separate boxes filled of worm-ridden, diseased and bug infested apples that we will send to pig farmers who want them free from us. The fruit of the tree was good and we eat it. But not every fruit of the exact same tree was edible. Some is seriously sick and unacceptable. It's the same tree. How do I judge this fruit? How do I judge the tree? By the bad apples or by the good apples?

For me, I accept it is a good fruit tree when there is enough good fruit on it that I can make some apple crisp (my favorite) and I don't have bad experiences of every bite leads to bad fruit and bugs and gross stuff. After a while, I just start to trust the good fruit is there based on my experience of eating it...and when the bad stuff is found...I cut it out and reject it...and stick to the good fruit. I would be dumb to keep eating the bad fruit...if I constantly had bad fruit I would reject it and stop eating it, even if I kept trying to be hopeful and positive...at some point...it is just bad stuff.

Judging the "good enough" is where it comes down to. The line that GBSMith talks about, and that taste for the fruit is different for you than for me. I like tobasco sauce...it is good. Others do not and it is evil. The sauce is the same. Our tastes vary. We get to choose what is good fruit to us and what is evil fruit to us...there is not black and white absolutes in matters of taste, perspective, belief, faith, opinion, and trust. You live the principles and judge for yourself.
GBSmith wrote:Why are some OK with serous sins in leaders and for others it's a deal breaker.
I dunno for everyone. But to me, it is because I read RSR and see mistakes and sins and things I don't like. Perhaps in my head there is some debate on if there are "serious" sins, as opposed to serious mistakes, or just serious things I don't understand and don't like. Perhaps, GB, you can give your serious sin JS did that invalidates him as a prophet to some people, and why someone who saw God at age 14 cannot make any sins the rest of his life and his message of seeing God or translating the book of mormon is proven to be a hoax.

I guess...even if I can be shown there is some serious sin...is it repetitive? Is it debatable? Is it the kind of thing that I can avoid...just like discarding the worm-ridden apples and not eat it...so I can stick to the juicy sweet fruit of the tree? Does the sin overshadow everything else, or is it separate?

Is the fruit of Joseph Smith's prophetic mission good enough? Or is it all so tainted it is not worth tasting even one apple, for fear it is too great of chance it will lead to eating worms?

I'm interested in how some people draw the line, that if crossed, is the deal breaker and never negotiable. Do we know reality and ourselves well enough, we can be so sure of our judgments of what God can and cannot do with imperfect mortals? Do we know how to judge "serious sins" so black and white?
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's My Line?

Post by Roy » 21 Sep 2016, 15:19

I also believe that the historical record shows that JS was passionate about his innocence from adultery.
"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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LookingHard
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Re: What's My Line?

Post by LookingHard » 21 Sep 2016, 15:24

Roy wrote:I also believe that the historical record shows that JS was passionate about his innocence from adultery.
This parallels what I just was thinking. We don't hear a lot of people saying that king David's sleeping with Bathsheba is making them doubt God. Sure it is far removed, but also David was "punished" and even though he has some good to his name, it is stained. It seems (to me at at least) that the church does not (almost cannot) allow any stain to be attributed to JS - period. I think some of what me and other push on is not that he was perfect, but people try so hard to hold him up as perfect. To counter that there is more attacking of JS himself than those that hold up a perfected JS.

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mom3
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Re: What's My Line?

Post by mom3 » 21 Sep 2016, 15:24

GBS - Thanks for pulling this forward. It's a great topic.

From here on - I walk gently.

I adored JS during my TBM days. I also was driven to be a Christ-disciple to the fullest. In my mind they were not synonymous. JS wasn't Christ. He was just the doorstop that held open the deepest personal connection available to Christ.

Today I still relish much of JS ideals. But they are more geared toward the ideals we never talk about. His eagerness to learn about science, language, histories. I believe he initially believed everyone could have a personal "manifestation" of Christ. Just like he had. I still place hope in his envisionment of how our present life is book ended by productive pre and post mortal lives. No matter how far I run. Even if I resigned those things would stay with me. I dream of the day I get to hang out with my relatives who have passed on. I have a million questions for others who lived before me. I don't want this life to be the only life. Nor do I want a simple heaven and hell. - However, my certitude that JS knew exactly those things has dipped a lot. I can't say "I know or We know" like I once did.

The Jesus Christ I still pursue is really a brief sketch of a soul. If I met someone 200 years after he died would I find my vision of him betrayed. I know we say he was perfect. And he may have fulfilled his mission with perfection. Never deviating. But I already catch glimpses when I read the gospels, that his family life wasn't some picture perfect story. His sisters shrank in dread as he stood up and commented in church. His brothers challenged him to "show himself" to their people. This got him kicked out of their village. (Its where we learn A prophet is without honor in his own country). He even goes so far as to tell his siblings to go up to the festivities and he will go later. All was not well in that Zion. So - is the Christ I adore, worship, and work to be like who I think he is? I don't know.

I know I look for leaders ahead of me on the path of life. Most of them are perfect and heroic in the beginning. As I get closer every story has warts, sink holes, and disappointment. I don't know how to amend it. For me I keep pulling the best pieces I can find. Then take them with me. I also thank heaven that I never became anyone of influence in this life. The position is too risky.
"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: What's My Line?

Post by Ann » 21 Sep 2016, 23:11

mom, I really enjoyed that. Thank you!
So - is the Christ I adore, worship, and work to be like who I think he is? I don't know.

THIS is the kind of thing I wish we could talk about at church. But when "doubt your doubts" is interpreted mainly as, "don't depart from the literal, exclusive claims of a not-yet 200 yr. old church," we don't get to it.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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Re: What's My Line?

Post by SilentDawning » 22 Sep 2016, 06:33

I used to hold the leaders at the top, and the historical leaders, and even many of the local leaders to a really, really high standard because a) they expect so much of me personally due to their truth claims and b) the truth claims are very "extreme" [one true church, prophet who speaks to God, will never lead us astray, no celestial kingdom without temple worthiness, have required really big sacrifices, never say 'no" to a calling, blessings predicated on righteousness and obedience etc].

So, I felt that if they are going to make those kinds of claims, then they better be walking the talk. And that means, yes, calling people to office who God inspires them to call, and who presumably, with the millions of people available, are up for the job. If they don't walk the talk, this besmirches their own claims to the truth.

Walking the talk means living our values and our mission, sometimes at the expense of the church's short-term temporal self-interest. And it means showing uncommon deference to members who are consistently faithful and who have needs that are consistent with the mission of the church. It also means holding the church, as an institution, to the same standards of honesty and virtue that is consistent with its origins.

Sadly, they have fallen down on most of these imperatives in my lifetime. And I have found peace in lessening my commitment and being agnostic about their truth claims. So, on one hand, I find it easier to accept the leaders and all their warts now, but this comes at the expense of my overall commitment. I found it easier to give cadillac service to a cadlillac organization. But now, I give Corrolla commitment to what I perceive to be a Corrolla organization. I consider it like any other organization.

The thing that confuses me the most is the litmus test of truth (as far as the church and many people in multiple religions). The feeling of the Spirit. I am not living all the commandments like I am supposed to right now (tithing, for example, TR-holding), yet when I prepare for lessons at church, or teach them, I have the Spirit with me.

But so do others in religions that are clearly false. The Book "When Mormons Doubt" provides testimonies of people who testified the People's Temple and other clearly false religions were true due to the Spirit. So I can't even rely entirely on that to shore up the gap I see between church leader behavior and their truth claims/expectations of me and the members at large.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

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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's My Line?

Post by FaithfulSkeptic » 22 Sep 2016, 09:12

Great post, Heber. A lot of thoughtful comments that are very helpful to me.
Heber13 wrote:Judging them to be true prophets or false prophets is what it is all about. That is the testimony or faith we work through. Do we trust they bring us knowledge and truth from heaven, or are they wolves in sheep's clothing?
This has me a little confused. This sounds pretty black & white, but I don't think that's what you are trying to say. With your example later on of picking apples, you had good and bad fruit from the same tree. So if I understand you correctly, a prophet can bring forth good and bad fruit, and you just have to decide what is good and discard the bad? The bad fruit doesn't invalidate all the good fruit that comes forth. That makes sense to me.
Heber13 wrote:For me, the line has moved back and forth as I gain more experience in life, and more knowledge of things. I do not need to cling to a fixed line that if crossed must only lead to the choice of rejecting. Because my end goal is not to measure the prophet. My end goal is to find god and seek his truth, and the prophets are voices in my journey to be happy. They are one data point to be considered in finding truth.
I like this - that there isn't a fixed line and prophet's voices are just data points to be considered in finding God and seeking truth. Unfortunately, I don't think this is the message we get from the Church.
Heber13 wrote:Trusting them requires some evaluation of their character, their intentions, their integrity. So I cannot ignore mistakes that happen. But I cannot only judge by imperfection. I can trust the imperfect person, with hesitance and skepticism, but trust nonetheless. Truly cafeteria style.
Beautiful. I agree that it really comes down to trusting in an imperfect person.
FaithfulSkeptic wrote:
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
That's pretty black & white - I think there are both good and bad fruits that have come from JS, BY, and the current Q15.
Heber13 wrote:I see some inconsistency in what you say here, FS. Maybe you can clarify for me.

Scriptures do seem to suggest black and white thinking...good or evil fruit. But they cannot be literal in meaning, because I know of no one claiming to be prophet that is all good, or all bad. You even mention that in your next statement as you see that in JS, BY and the current Q15.

So...if you can see that JS is not all bad fruit...how can you judge them? Is it really so black and white?
Yes, I see the inconsistency between what Jesus said (seems pretty black and white about good and evil fruit) and what I observe in life (good and bad fruit in everyone, and no one is perfect).
Heber13 wrote:To me...it seems like the fruit has to be "good enough" for you to consider it good fruit...even if you know that literally means it is some good and some bad...because there is no perfectly good fruit from anyone.
Yes! We have to consider both the good and bad fruit and then decide if it is "good enough." Or just take what is good and throw away the bad. Even within a single apple, it may be mostly good, but have a bad spot that you could just cut away instead of throwing away the entire apple.

I love your example of picking apples and I think it really relates well to the good and bad fruit that all of us have (including prophets and the current Q12).
Heber13 wrote:For me, I accept it is a good fruit tree when there is enough good fruit on it that I can make some apple crisp (my favorite) and I don't have bad experiences of every bite leads to bad fruit and bugs and gross stuff. After a while, I just start to trust the good fruit is there based on my experience of eating it...and when the bad stuff is found...I cut it out and reject it...and stick to the good fruit. I would be dumb to keep eating the bad fruit...if I constantly had bad fruit I would reject it and stop eating it, even if I kept trying to be hopeful and positive...at some point...it is just bad stuff.

Is the fruit of Joseph Smith's prophetic mission good enough? Or is it all so tainted it is not worth tasting even one apple, for fear it is too great of chance it will lead to eating worms?
That is the million dollar question! And that is what I'm struggling with so much. I feel like I've led a pretty sheltered life. I've grown up eating good apples from the orchard of the Church my whole life. I've occasionally had a wormy apple, but these are few and far between because there has been so much care to spray the trees and remove any bad apples that might be there. Well, lately that's changed for me. I've been discovering more and more bad apples. And looking back on my life, I now see that there were plenty of bad apples on the trees, but I just never noticed them. Now it seems that I'm constantly encountering bad fruit and I'm questioning whether I want to keep eating from this orchard. Should I find another orchard with fewer bad apples, or do I even like eating apples at all? Like you said...at some point..it is just bad stuff.
I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2014

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Re: What's My Line?

Post by nibbler » 22 Sep 2016, 10:01

I wanted to look at Heber13's Orchard a little more in depth.
Heber13 wrote:We went picking apples this weekend in our orchard. We filled boxes full of beautiful apples. And we had separate boxes filled of worm-ridden, diseased and bug infested apples that we will send to pig farmers who want them free from us. The fruit of the tree was good and we eat it. But not every fruit of the exact same tree was edible. Some is seriously sick and unacceptable. It's the same tree. How do I judge this fruit? How do I judge the tree? By the bad apples or by the good apples?
I want to share two fruit stories that I've heard in my travels:

1) Much like in Heber13's story there was a family that had a small orchard. They didn't sell apples or anything, it was just for personal family use. One day extended family visited right at the peak of when the apples were ready. The entire family went to pick apples so the visitors could have several bags to take home with them. As they were gathering apples one family member attempted to teach a lesson to the younger generation. They picked up an apple that some hornets had obviously been burrowing into and said, "If the hornets like it this much it must be a good apple." and then took a big bite. Meanwhile the younger generation was left scratching their heads. Why would I want an apple that a hornet has been burrowing into if there are literally hundreds and hundreds of apples, more than we could possibly ever eat, that don't have bug holes in them?

Supply and demand. How important is the prophet when there's only one true church in the land? By contrast, if truth can be found anywhere, if everyone is a prophet, then we can be more selective about what we pick.

The apple that's bad for Heber13 might be good for the family member trying to teach the younger generation a thing or two. Or it might be good enough for pigs. Or it might be good enough for worms. Maybe the apple rots on the ground and all it ends up doing is returning nutrients back to the soil. "Good fruit" is relative.

What if Heber13 showed up to the orchard a week earlier than he did? Some of that rotten fruit may have been deemed good enough to make crisps with but sitting on the ground that extra week gave the bugs time to get to it and pushed it over to the bad category. Maybe good fruit is dependent on timing. What we needed in the moment we needed it.

Sorry Heber13, I don't mean to pick on you.

2) This story isn't about apples, but it is about fruit. One day there was this family hiking in the woods. It was going to be a long hike, so they brought some food with them, one of the food items was a bag of raisins. As the family hiked along they ate from the bag of raisins. When the bag was nearly empty one family member decided to take a look at the raisins they had mindlessly been eating. The raisins were full of maggots.

The fruit instantly went from good to bad, even though it was the same exact fruit. The family immediately threw the raisins away. Now maybe if you're Bear Grylls or someone like that you don't care and continue to eat, I don't know.

Good and bad can be relative to what we know about something. It can also be situational. If you knew you were going home later that day to eat a big meal some maggoty raisins are easy to dismiss as bad. If you got lost in the woods and ran out of food you might try to go back to the place where you threw out the raisins. If you were a hotdog and you were starving, would you eat yourself? (had to)

Maybe some of that related back to the topic. I think it becomes much easier to accept Joseph, or anyone for that matter, when you reach that place where it's no longer an all or nothing deal. I think many times we look at people as the fruit. What if we looked at individual ideas as the fruit instead. The whole of what has been revealed through humanity is an orchard. In that orchard there are apples we'll chose to eat and some we wont. I can eat Joseph's eternal families apple but leave the polygamy apple for the pigs.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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mom3
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Re: What's My Line?

Post by mom3 » 22 Sep 2016, 10:16

I take two thoughts on this.

First - No church that I have attended ever says "We are an okay church. We get some stuff right. We get some stuff wrong." Every religion believes it's founding story. Even if you or I can see flaws in it. As I proceeded through the early phases of my transition I studied, attended, and searched other religions. People from each of them were experiencing Faith Crisis. I found it in Buddhism, Evangelicalism, Amish, Catholicism, even Muslims. -

WE ARE NOT ALONE.

This is important to me because I did think I could find the right religion/church/lifestyle. My answer now is my true religion resides in me. No one else can create or take it from me. If I believe Muhammed had his experience. That is my belief. The only person who can change that is me. If Neal Anderson adores JS. That's okay. I did once, too.

Second - My varied religion study brought me another insight. TIME. When you go back and look at the long histories of these churches you see the ebb and flow of their words, actions, doctrines. Its not pretty. I believe our pioneer ancestors, not just Joseph alone, would visit us today and wonder "What the Hey?" Early Buddhist monks fought each other to the death. So much for being Zen and loving like they promote today. When the present Pope began to speak out, I listened to my local Catholic radio station and local Cardinals and Parish Priests, were working overtime to correct him. They would take a phrase he said and then say, "Well he isn't condoning gay marriage. He's just saying...." I have a close Catholic friend who refuses to support the present Pope.

Do I miss being in the in crowd? Sometimes. Do I miss the easy assertions I floated on? Uh huh. But my husband (the post Mormon) brought up a great point the other day. Though I thought I'd chosen my religion before. I now can honestly say I have chosen my religion with a much deeper conviction. Every week or so when I show up, I am clear inside me about why I am there and what I represent.
"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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Weaselgirl
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Re: What's My Line?

Post by Weaselgirl » 22 Sep 2016, 14:46

Here's a thing I wonder.

In all this talking about how we (the Church in general, TBMs whatevs, not us StayLDSers necessarily) view JS as pretty much untainted by any sin, he's worshiped, kinda, as are other leaders, right? And sometimes (often, I guess) figuring out that these are human people who sin crushes their belief in those people, right?

What does that attitude have to do with how Church members view their fellow members who sin?

I mean, is this part of the Church culture, this weird unrealistic expectation of absolute perfection the reason why there is so much fear and shame attached to making a mistake?

I hope I'm explaining this rightly.

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