The prophet and coffee

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4825
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by nibbler »

From the article there doesn't appear to be any one clear decision or revelation on the matter. It didn't occur in a vacuum, it was more of a lengthy debate that spanned a few decades where the practices of the church followed any number of things:
  • The opinions of the sitting president of the church
  • Wider political considerations
  • Acceptance among Protestant/Evangelicals that were also pushing for temperance during that same time period.

    Though unstated in the article, I'd add that there might have been an element of "keeping up with the Joneses." If the wider Protestant groups are moving towards temperance, it wouldn't look right if the true church was more lenient. Some parts of the article read like the church tended to follow wider societal trends rather than taking a leading position.

    They didn't want wider Christianity to gang up on them. They wanted to be seated among other Christian groups, not set up as a rival to them. I suppose that much hasn't changed.
The article leads off with the following:
At a meeting on May 5,1898, the First Presidency and Twelve discussed the Word of Wisdom. One member read from the twelfth volume of the Journal of Discourses a statement by Brigham Young that seemed to support the notion that the Word of Wisdom was a commandment of God.
Which is interesting. They had the actual revelation that says it wasn't a commandment but they go to the JoD to build the case that it was. Of course this could have been an instance where a leader with a strong opinion cherry picked from an authoritative source to support an argument they wanted to make. People do that all the time.

I suppose a church of continued revelation is also meant to work that way.

One thing that struck me was the difference of opinions shared by church leaders 100 years ago. We don't really get that now. These days there's more of a united front, at least in public view. We really only get a small glimpse of the differences of opinion once a member of the Q12 becomes "unleashed" as president of the church and begin to enact their differences.

The article suggests that the ban on coffee was very much a matter over caffeine, as caffeine was central to the debate over Coca-Cola. I don't think they would have said that was the official reason, but some of the debate appeared to center around whether a substance was a stimulant.

It was difficult to parse out, but the focus appeared to be on alcohol and tobacco at the time the WoW was made a requirement for a TR. I say hard to parse because I'm left to guess that coffee and tea were implied. That's the danger of leaving it at saying "Word of Wisdom." There's a loss of precision. Was the first temple requirement a prohibition on just alcohol and tobacco or was the introduction of the requirement just as restrictive then as it is today?

Other:

From the Dialogue article:
Meanwhile, the Church continued its campaign against tobacco use. An article in the Improvement Era, March, 1923, argued that tobacco users naturally linked themselves with evil persons such as profaners, criminals, vagrants and prostitutes.
From Luke 5:30
But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
— Douglas Adams
Minyan Man
Posts: 2133
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Minyan Man »

I remember my first few years in the church. I so wanted to be accepted & fit in.
As a result, I learned that there were things I "must" do to fit in & be accepted in return.
They included:
- WoW (100%)
- Dress code. (Always conservative)
- Full tithe payer. (Of course.)
- Temple worship. (Yes)
- Callings. (As many as I could get.)
- 100% Home Teaching. (Goes without saying.)

You can see where I'm going with this. Church was always first. Everything else was second. Including Jesus Christ.
On top of everything, I wanted to be accepted.

Very little in my life, at the time, was focused on Jesus Christ.
Since coming out of "inactivity", I'm trying to focus more on Christ & less on the rest of it.
WoW plays little on my spiritual life today. Except, I don't drink alcohol, use drugs or smoke.
I wouldn't use them without the church. No one in a leadership position needs to be asking "the questions".
User avatar
PazamaManX
Posts: 115
Joined: 24 Nov 2018, 03:21

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by PazamaManX »

Thanks for sharing that nibbler, that answered a lot of questions and then some for me. It does bring to mind the question of how much of our doctrine and policy is revelation and how much is "revelation".
Minyan Man wrote: 08 Jun 2022, 08:48 Since coming out of "inactivity", I'm trying to focus more on Christ & less on the rest of it.
WoW plays little on my spiritual life today. Except, I don't drink alcohol, use drugs or smoke.
I wouldn't use them without the church. No one in a leadership position needs to be asking "the questions".
This IMO is the way to go. Remain focused on Christ and let everything else come second.

Before taking up coffee drinking, I did put a lot of thought and some prayer into it. I never felt any answer indicating a no. Being someone who is not a morning person and finds it hard to get moving in the morning, a cup with breakfast has helped immensely with that. And I find myself no more spiritually damaged than before. If our interest is really on following Christ and bringing others to Him, it does seem silly to make dietary restrictions one of the pillars of what makes a good saint (or disciple. Or someone who is on the covenant path. Whatever you call such a person these days.)
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Old-Timer
Site Admin
Posts: 17063
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Old-Timer »

Just a short vent:

Our insistence on not using all of the things we accept culturally as being part of the Word of Wisdom as a condition of baptism is one of my strongest pet peeves - especially since those things won't get someone excommunicated.

If someone can remain a member while doing something, it shouldn't be a requirement to become a member. Removing the Word of Wisdom baptism requirement alone, I think, would keep a lot of people in the Church and increase baptisms, as well - and it just makes sense, imho.
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
User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7245
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Heber13 »

My shorter vent on this topic:

I have heard the conversation below with family members talking about while we were at a reunion.

The Wife [making conversation]: "I love the smell of coffee. Love it. Just hypothetically...what would you say if I just wanted to start drinking coffee?"

Her husband's response: "I'd divorce you."

Responses like that make me sad we have put such emphasis on the insignificant details of obedience to this law.
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."
User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4825
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by nibbler »

I think talk like that is mostly bluster. Maybe more of an empty threat that's meant to control someone else's behavior through fear than something they'd actually follow through with. Like when a family member threatens to write someone out of the will if they don't comply with their wishes. It feels like a bluff. It's still a terrible thing to say.

Divorce over coffee. Exactly like Jesus would want. :roll:

As enforced today, the health benefits of the WoW are miniscule when compared to the cons of how the law is used to judge others. The divisive fruits of the law feel like they far outweigh any pros.
Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
— Douglas Adams
User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7245
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Heber13 »

nibbler wrote: 29 Jul 2022, 12:15 As enforced today, the health benefits of the WoW are miniscule when compared to the cons of how the law is used to judge others. The divisive fruits of the law feel like they far outweigh any pros.
Agree. I think it's a symbolic thing in the church now, or a tradition.

Kind of like some Jews still have Kosher foods. It depends on how Orthodox they want to be.
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."
User avatar
PazamaManX
Posts: 115
Joined: 24 Nov 2018, 03:21

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by PazamaManX »

Heber13 wrote: 29 Jul 2022, 11:51
The Wife [making conversation]: "I love the smell of coffee. Love it. Just hypothetically...what would you say if I just wanted to start drinking coffee?"

Her husband's response: "I'd divorce you."
My first reaction after reading that was thinking that he was joking. I'm guessing he wasn't? If he wasn't, that's honestly sad to see.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7245
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Heber13 »

PazamaManX wrote: 06 Aug 2022, 10:15
Heber13 wrote: 29 Jul 2022, 11:51
The Wife [making conversation]: "I love the smell of coffee. Love it. Just hypothetically...what would you say if I just wanted to start drinking coffee?"

Her husband's response: "I'd divorce you."
My first reaction after reading that was thinking that he was joking. I'm guessing he wasn't? If he wasn't, that's honestly sad to see.
He was 100% serious and holds this thinking to this day. It is sad how strongly people hold to their view of importance of obedience to commandments in the church. Black and white, all or nothing.
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."
AmyJ
Posts: 1090
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by AmyJ »

Heber13 wrote: 15 Sep 2022, 15:16
PazamaManX wrote: 06 Aug 2022, 10:15
Heber13 wrote: 29 Jul 2022, 11:51
The Wife [making conversation]: "I love the smell of coffee. Love it. Just hypothetically...what would you say if I just wanted to start drinking coffee?"

Her husband's response: "I'd divorce you."
My first reaction after reading that was thinking that he was joking. I'm guessing he wasn't? If he wasn't, that's honestly sad to see.
He was 100% serious and holds this thinking to this day. It is sad how strongly people hold to their view of importance of obedience to commandments in the church. Black and white, all or nothing.
I have been thinking about some of this (because I am more like the wife in the example then not), but really it looks like a situation where the "drinking coffee" is a proxy value for "fidelity" - so the question isn't "what about coffee - a substance" but "what are you faithful to?" - which usually jumps into "if you aren't faithful to the Word of Wisdom, are you going to be faithful to me? are you going to be faithful to my values?"

The reality of a faith transition is that more or less, subconsciously, the person experiencing the faith transition HAS TO examine their values - and disassociate/deconstruct proxy variable connections ("I can still be a faithful person and drink coffee") - and often does so in the silence of their minds months before the faith transition gets mentioned to their spouse. So the non-faith transitioning spouse gets ambushed into cognitive dissonance - and if they are insanely lucky, they find the resources to complete proxy value evaluations themselves without making tactless conversation mistakes that disconnect them from the person in the faith transition.
Post Reply