Richard Bushman interview

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DarkJedi
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Re: Richard Bushman interview

Post by DarkJedi » 05 Jan 2021, 11:42

AmyJ wrote:
05 Jan 2021, 08:15
NOTE: I think that we tend to stereotype it as "us vs them" only or "one of many" viewpoints only - but I am not sure that is accurate. I think that the majority of the saints embrace the paradox of both viewpoints - it is a case of "Everyone is out to get us AND we are only one of many minority religions out there". And unless you are in leadership or a faith transition or know someone in a faith transition (or all of the above), there isn't a huge need to try to bridge both world views.
I'm looking at this more from the perspective of we being one tiny bunch of Christians among all Christians tasked with saving the whole world as opposed to the us vs. them or minority church. One of the things Bushman said (it's in the last quote of the OP) was "The ultimate good end of cosmopolitanism is to recognize that the work of God is going to be handled by the 99.9% of the population that’s not Mormon. It can’t just be this tiny speck of a church." My old guard friends tend to espouse the idea that our responsibility as the one true church and possessors of the restored gospel is to save the whole world and everyone who has ever lived on it. I think the more cosmopolitan view (which matches mine) is that responsibility is not ours alone and, as indicated by Bushman, probably not mostly ours - other Christians will do most of the "saving" work of God. To me the idea that this tiny somewhat insignificant church could possibly save the world is frankly pretty absurd - but I know people in my ward who wholeheartedly believe that and would call me a heretic for thinking otherwise. So it's not so much the persecution/minority complex as it is the idea that we are one of many churches doing the same thing - spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. What I was trying to say in my previous post was that I don't think most conservative/orthodox members are at that point of thinking we are in that position (one of many instead of sole proprietors) nor do I think the average "floater"* member recognizes that concept. So it's not so much us vs. them as it is a recognition that we're part of something much bigger than we are - cosmopolitans.

*Floater member is a newish term for me. It's really for lack of a better term, but floater members are there most Sundays but really haven't paid much attention to how things have changed around them. The old frog in the pot analogy works in this case (except that analogy really is faulty - real frogs do recognize it's getting warmer and jump out). The floater member is more likely to quote Spencer Kimball than Dieter Uchtdorf and probably hasn't read anything published by the likes of Bushman or Givens. She's more likely to testify "I know the church/gospel is true" than "I know Jesus Christ is my Savior." They're just going along with the flow like they have for 20 or 30 years - floating. I don't think they're evil or malicious, but they really don't know much about the church or the gospel and exist in a state of ignorant bliss. They're just there.
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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Roy
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Re: Richard Bushman interview

Post by Roy » 06 Jan 2021, 11:18

DarkJedi wrote:
05 Jan 2021, 11:42
So it's not so much the persecution/minority complex as it is the idea that we are one of many churches doing the same thing - spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. What I was trying to say in my previous post was that I don't think most conservative/orthodox members are at that point of thinking we are in that position (one of many instead of sole proprietors) nor do I think the average "floater"* member recognizes that concept. So it's not so much us vs. them as it is a recognition that we're part of something much bigger than we are - cosmopolitans.
only two churches, Church of the Lamb and church of devil, 1 Ne. 14:10.
I agree with what you are saying but I also believe that this is consistent with the us vs them mentality. About a year ago we were studying Lehi's and Nephi's dreams in Sunday school. We talked about how the church of the devil (which at one time had been understood by BRM to refer to the catholic church) refers not to a single organization but every organization or movement that hinders the work of the church of the Lamb. Part of what non-LDS churches do to hinder the work of the church of the lamb is to offer a counterfeit salvation. Members of those churches do not feel like they need the LDS Jesus because they believe that they already have Jesus. I suggested that, just like the church of the devil had been thought to be a single organization but our understanding of it has evolved to include all things that fight against the gospel, perhaps the title of church of the lamb could be similarly used to describe all organizations and movements that push the gospel work forward. I received VERY strong pushback on this. We seem to be highly territorial of our anointed by God status.

Therefore, according to the BOM, if there are only two "churches" in opposition and WE are the Church of the Lamb and every other church in existence is part of the church of the devil then it really is a matter of "us vs. them." We do not believe that salvation is offered in these churches, we do not accept their ordinances as valid, and we actively proselytize to their membership. Not only do we feel that they are not able to help us to save the world, we tend to feel that we need to save them too.
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: Richard Bushman interview

Post by DarkJedi » 07 Jan 2021, 05:47

I hear what you're saying Roy, and that is certainly part of the ingrained teaching that has pervaded the church for a long time. It certainly has that scriptural backing depending on your interpretation of that scripture. And as you say, some leaders of the past have some very definitive interpretations. Like all scripture, I take this one with a grain of salt. My general view of scripture is that it is the individual writer's view or interpretation of things which may differ from my own understanding. I thought it interesting in the interview Bushman talked about 19th century influence in the BoM but in his usual style he never says anything about how that influences his view of the book. I should also note that as a former Catholic I take issue with them being referred to as the church of the devil (and recognize that such ideas have been refuted in more recent times).

The point is that the us vs them thing is separate from what Bushman asserts about the church being more cosmopolitan and "one of many." It's mostly opposite the us vs them view. I personally believe we are one of many and I know a handful of people who believe it. I vaguely recall something along that line being said in a GC talk not too long ago but I don't have time at the moment to research it. Generally speaking I think all churches are part of the Church of the Lamb (and I would include Judaism, Islam, and perhaps other religious traditions in that group). I think that's far from the more mainstream/orthodox view most church members have and that's at least in part because of what you cite which includes the "one true church" viewpoint.

I got the new book by Fiona and Terryl Givens (All Things New: Rethinking Sin, Salvation, and Everything in Between) as a gift and have started reading it. It does address how some protestant thought and theology has pervaded Mormonism, but I'm not sure it will get to this point in particular. I'm only a couple chapters in but it has been a great read so far.
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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nibbler
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Re: Richard Bushman interview

Post by nibbler » 07 Jan 2021, 07:22

DarkJedi wrote:
07 Jan 2021, 05:47
Like all scripture, I take this one with a grain of salt. My general view of scripture is that it is the individual writer's view or interpretation of things which may differ from my own understanding.
My line is that you don't read the scriptures, the scriptures read you. Stated differently, scriptures are less about revealing universal truth and more about revealing your nature as evidenced through your interpretation of and reaction to said scriptures.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

AmyJ
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Re: Richard Bushman interview

Post by AmyJ » 07 Jan 2021, 08:07

DarkJedi wrote:
07 Jan 2021, 05:47
The point is that the us vs them thing is separate from what Bushman asserts about the church being more cosmopolitan and "one of many." It's mostly opposite the us vs them view. I personally believe we are one of many and I know a handful of people who believe it. I vaguely recall something along that line being said in a GC talk not too long ago but I don't have time at the moment to research it. Generally speaking I think all churches are part of the Church of the Lamb (and I would include Judaism, Islam, and perhaps other religious traditions in that group). I think that's far from the more mainstream/orthodox view most church members have and that's at least in part because of what you cite which includes the "one true church" viewpoint.
Something that contributes to the "Us vs Them" mentality against the "Cosmopolitan" mentality is the fundamental shift from being "anointed of God" and "a peculiar people" to "religious in our own way - just like everyone else" shifts the church members into hard questions (on pretty much any subject), and potentially reconfigures individual member's cost-benefit analysis on church sacrifices to the negative. By switching to a more "Cosmopolitan" viewpoint, it sets up an individual to other ways of doing things (looking at the other churches and how they have answered the questions).

But then again, I view all churches right now as a loose coalition of individuals who contribute money, time, and other resources to a cause in exchange for identity, stability, tribal inclusion, culture, entertainment, and to a degree, other needs. From where I sit, these organizations are being replaced by/supplemented by other organizations that can fulfill those specific organizational roles better - the list would include social services (both government sponsored and other organizations like the Red Cross), education, politics, social media subgroups, among others.

In a sense, the church's shift to the "home centered, church supported" model was brilliant because it shifts the focus from becoming a "Super Organization" or a "Super Partner to Organizations" to the unit of the family. It also forces the family to decide how "relevant" the church and it's traditions are to the family - which is a complex question which may not be the answer the church is looking for. It also forces the family to do the heavy lifting to identify service activities, which can contribute to the limiting of community togetherness. One of the things I have seen (looking from the outside) is that the Senior Primary Program focuses on the 8,9, and 10 year old's setting goals and collaborating with the parents (home centered) and then the Primary leaders (church-supported) to complete the goals. But if the child(ren) and parent(s) can complete the goals on their own, then what relevance do the Primary leaders have?

On a personal note, our primary is looking to start up Achievement Days (for 8-11 year old girls) again - and I chose to be the leader for this group again. I put together a list of activities to propose to the girls that I wanted to do/themes that were relevant to this age group and were Zoom-friendly - but were pretty non-religious (though in line with church teachings on Community, Self-Reliance, Service, and Personal Growth). At our first Primary planning meeting, we went over the general handbook for Primary - and I was amazed about how the recent changes for the Primary Children were heavily focused on teaching the gospel and planning activities around the mission of the church. I had brought up 3-4 not religiously focused activities I was thinking of presenting to the girls, and (predictably) got some pushback from the Primary President ("those aren't really gospel-focused") and then she also gave some anti-pushback ("but those are in line with the church and are really important") - and she concluded with "I don't know". She also mentioned that she doesn't always by instinct see how my activities will work - that they come together really well.
She left the planning with me and another sister from the Primary Presidency to talk to the girls to see what they want to do, and she didn't oppose me bringing up my list of concepts to the girls. At this point, I think that they don't want to try to call another person and take over the executive functioning of dealing with that person and planning those activities - that I won't hear anything else about it as long as I keep to my current course.

Roy
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Re: Richard Bushman interview

Post by Roy » 10 Jan 2021, 11:24

AmyJ wrote:
07 Jan 2021, 08:07
On a personal note, our primary is looking to start up Achievement Days (for 8-11 year old girls) again - and I chose to be the leader for this group again. I put together a list of activities to propose to the girls that I wanted to do/themes that were relevant to this age group and were Zoom-friendly - but were pretty non-religious (though in line with church teachings on Community, Self-Reliance, Service, and Personal Growth). At our first Primary planning meeting, we went over the general handbook for Primary - and I was amazed about how the recent changes for the Primary Children were heavily focused on teaching the gospel and planning activities around the mission of the church. I had brought up 3-4 not religiously focused activities I was thinking of presenting to the girls, and (predictably) got some pushback from the Primary President ("those aren't really gospel-focused") and then she also gave some anti-pushback ("but those are in line with the church and are really important") - and she concluded with "I don't know". She also mentioned that she doesn't always by instinct see how my activities will work - that they come together really well.
She left the planning with me and another sister from the Primary Presidency to talk to the girls to see what they want to do, and she didn't oppose me bringing up my list of concepts to the girls. At this point, I think that they don't want to try to call another person and take over the executive functioning of dealing with that person and planning those activities - that I won't hear anything else about it as long as I keep to my current course.
DW and I are in charge of activity days for the boys in our ward. We have begun doing it by zoom. This has led to complaints from at least one mother that feels that if the YM and YW can meet physically then we should be able to do it as well. DW and I are not comfortable with live meetings just yet so if push comes to shove then the leadership can accept our zoom meeting format or release us. In December, we did a nativity based "escape room." This week, we will be doing a more secularly based Christmas trivia game. When my wife did activity days for the girls some years back, I was surprised at how gospel centric it was. It seemed to me to be a SS lesson with treats and a cool craft. DW and I were more recently the cub scout bear den leaders. I believe this latter experience informs how we plan our activity days lessons now. The boys want something fun and engaging, if there is a spiritual component then that is an afterthought. P.S. We have also invited the girls to our zoom activities. Most of the work is in planning the activity. it is fairly easy to scale it towards a larger group.
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: Richard Bushman interview

Post by DarkJedi » 11 Jan 2021, 08:16

There is also a Mormonland podcast of the Bushman interview. It's about 37 minutes long and offers some additional insights and details about stuff discussed in the article (including cosmopolitanism and the "one true church" idea).

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2021/01 ... historian/
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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Re: Richard Bushman interview

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Jan 2021, 12:23

"My line is that you don't read the scriptures, the scriptures read you. Stated differently, scriptures are less about revealing universal truth and more about revealing your nature as evidenced through your interpretation of and reaction to said scriptures."
^^This.
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.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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