Friday, May 26, 2006

Two Temples --
I attended two temples on Wednesday, and the experiences were very revealing.

I went for a long hike in the woods with a 50 pound pack to get ready for a backpacking trip next month. I had my MP3 player with me, and the weather was glorious. For me, hiking is like a temple experience. It's a place of revelation. This day was no different. The glory of God was all around me, everywhere, in the blue of the sky, the green of the leaves, the blue of the lake water, and the gentle rhythms of the trees. No words of counsel manifested themselves, nor angels with flaming swords. None were needed. God was telling me in loud visible terms, "this is the glory and greatness of my creation, and you couldn't reproduce a particle of it on your own. Behold my glory, and be a part of it. Work with it and not against it. I hold you in the palm of my hand as the pinnacle of my creation. You are at my mercy in all that you do. Be still and know that I am God. Exult in my love for you and behold this earth I have created for my glory and for your sustenance during your short time there." The power of God was almost tangible, visible. I felt my part in his creation as one of his created.

I finished the hike, went home, and got cleaned up for an evening temple session. As this might be my last I approached it with a heightened level of awareness. What would it be like? What messages would God send? How would the revelation I felt in the temple compare with what I felt in the woods?

One of the downsides of the smaller temples is that I invariably try to pack too much in to a temple visit. I am always squeezing it in around other things, and I am almost always rushed. This was a little different, but not much.

One thing I felt as I drove the twenty minutes to the temple was a feeling of release. Like a great weight was lifted off of my chest.

Often what should be a place of worship is for me a place of failure. I'm running late. My shirt isn't white enough. It's wrinkled. I should be doing more genealogy and bring my own names. I'm not attentive enough. My mind drifts when I should be focused on the ceremony. I sweat visibly anticipating the transition to the celestial room. What if I forget something? What if the temple worker is disgusted by how sweaty my hand is as I am tested? Why don't I see angels and get more revelation? Why don't I come more often? I should have polished my shoes. I'm just not good enough to really be there.

There was none of that this time. With a more discerning attitude towards the church has come a sweet release from most of those feelings of inadequacy. Paradoxically, since I don't put things associated with the church on such a high pedestal anymore I enjoy them hugely more than I did before. My identity in Christ gives me everything I need, and we're all sinners. What other people in the church may think of me is of lesser consequence. I am justified by my faith and my relationship to God and Christ and not by how well I fit into church programs or "look like the propets" in how I act or dress or speak.

I have felt for awhile that the thing that we are blessed for in temple worship is our faith, not merely performing the ordinances. The value is not the ceremony itself, but as an expression of worship and faith. There are many other expressions of worship and faith. Do the dead need these ordinances? No. We need them as a way of worshiping and in feeling those tangible connections to those who have gone before. Temple ordinances create mystic ties to both the dead and the living.

I think I had one of my best sessions ever. The references to the atonement and the resurrection came through more clearly than before. The feeling of progressing in devotion to God and in sanctification came through more clearly. The doctrines about achieving godhood and of God having progressed from his own Garden of Eden were there, but inconsequential to me. I almost brushed them off.

I suffered my usual sweaty palms, but made it to the Celestial Room, perhaps for the last time, without incident.

Once in the Celestial Room I was left to ponder. What does it all mean? If the temple is a place of revelation, Lord, bring it on. I need some. This could be my last shot at this. If I'm supposed to repent and return to orthodoxy, send me a flaming arrow of revelation. If I'm supposed to tear off my temple clothing and start singing "Amazing Grace" and call the others in the room to repentance, give me a sign.

I closed my eyes as usual, preparing to launch into a tortured prayer, and the witness I got was to open my eyes, look around, and take it all in. So I did.

I perceived the symbolism of the temple ceremony as a process of cleansing and sanctification rather than exaltation. It seemed more about personal purification than an increase in power and status and authority. I appreciated the Celestial Room as a quiet place of contemplation and separation from the cares of the world. One of many places. Not the only place. One face of God was revealed to me in the woods earlier. Another was revealed in the temple. God has many aspects, many roles, many ways being perceived. The temple is an important one, but just one.

I looked around at the joy in the faces of some of the other people in the room and felt warmed by their faith. There was a young couple desperately in love. There was an older lady holding hands with a young woman, the both of them crying about something. I appreciated the beautiful white and gold furnishings and decorations and the flowers and the chandelier. It was truly a beautiful place that wholly reflected what I brought into it. It wasn't a source of light, but a lens through which the faith within me might be focused in a positive way.

Finally it was time to go. My gaze and my touch lingered on everything near me as I walked back to the locker room. I touched the wood work and looked in the sealing room as I passed. I wanted to remember everything, since I might not pass this way again.

I was one of the last people in the temple, and of course the only other person in the temple was using the same locker space, so I paused to put my immediate family on the prayer list, as well as all the members of the New Order Mormon web site.

On the way out the door I wanted to visit the sealing room where my daughter had been married, just one last time, but the smiling temple president and the smiling matron were there to gently guide me out the door so they could lock up, and I didn't fight it.

So, after all that, what about renewing my recommend? I felt at peace with myself. It was out of my hands. It's largely up to the bishop and stake president at this point to decide whether my heretical thinking puts me outside the fold or within it. I have no transgressions to worry about. Keeping the Word of Wisdom is not a problem, if I decide to. It might be a question of whether I want to keep that current on my tithing, but the central questions are the doctrinal ones. Once those are settled I can worry about the behavioral ones.

Another angle on this, which I felt in the temple, is that there are other beautiful houses of God in which we can worship. Are there not cathedrals to pray in? Woods to hike through? Mountains to climb? There are. One aspect of what I felt in the Celestial Room was to look around, mark the feelings I had, and search out other like places in which I felt close to God. Also, losing a temple recommend is not permanent. If my circumstances and faith issues change, I can work through getting it back.

In summary my temple experience was a great one, and it motivated me to seek out like experiences. Either in the temple or elsewhere . . .

Monday, May 22, 2006

Adult Beverages, Part II –-

I wanted to continue the experiment from last week, basically pitting Ps 104 against D&C 89 to see which one would win out. I was on my own last night, as Wife of Bath was out of town and my son was at work. I sat down with dinner in front of “The Gospel of Judas” on the National Geographic channel and a couple of glasses of wine. I’m obviously not in practice with this drinking thing, because I got a little fuzzier than I was expecting, and it lasted longer than I remembered. I’m not sure I felt that much more relaxed. Just fuzzier, although I was trying to pay attention to biblical scholars and archaeologists tell the story of a 2000 year-old manuscript, which is hardly a “good times” experience.

My son came home from work two hours earlier than expected, and I was in trouble. He wanted to go out and throw the lacrosse ball around, and I could hold it together in conversation, but there was no way I could play lacrosse. It requires a lot of coordination to throw and catch with a lacrosse stick, and I had had a little too much wine for that.

We went out to the back yard, and it was pretty humble. I couldn’t catch a thing. Once the ball hit me in the chest and I stumbled trying to pick it up. My son looked at me and said, “Dad? Are you OK?” He’s used to people drinking from his restaurant experience, and he asked me if I had been drinking, and I had to admit I had. He was very disturbed, and he went into the house and called the bishop . . .

OK, that’s the Ensign version, where I am caught in my transgression, am called to repentance by a member of my family, caused to confess to the bishop, and thus begins my return to the strait and narrow path.

What actually happened is that I had no problem playing catch. I’m not sure how, because I couldn’t think fast enough to actually throw and catch, but the stick somehow ended up in the right place, even when his throws were off and I was stretching to make the catch. Some subconscious part of my brain was able to make it work, even though the conscious part was a little dizzy.

After we got done playing catch he put some music on, shoveled a path through his room so I could get to the bed, and we listened to music together for awhile and joked around. A very companionable evening.

So, for whatever reason the Ensign version didn’t happen, and I wasn’t called to repentance for my transgression. In fact I felt kind of sustained and confirmed.

I’m not sure I’m going to repeat this experience for awhile. Drinking seemed more relaxing when I was in my 20s, probably because I wasn’t trying to hide it. Sort of like eating pepperoni pizza also. In my 40s, I have much more of a sensation of a foreign substance in my system that the body is not happy with.

Probably drinking is more of an accessory to relaxed, intimate conversation and listening to music rather than watching documentaries and trying to play sports.

This morning I have a headache, too. I wonder where that could have come from . . .

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why don’t we get drunk and –-

talk about the scriptures? (Apologies to Jimmy Buffett)

I’ve been intentionally having “scorecard moments” lately, where I try different experiences to see how they make me feel. I will arbitrarily not wear garments and see if I notice. I don’t. I will undress for some reason and be surprised not to find them.

Wife of Bath and I had a nice Mother’s Day dinner last night, and we shared the equivalent of a bottle of wine between us over dinner. How did it make me feel?

I am not what you would call a relaxed person. I am always seeking to “lengthen my stride”, always picking apart personal philosophies to see if they still hold water, always doing something. There is always laundry to do, things to pick up, books to read, etc..

It was nice to just sit on the couch and relax and talk, without feeling driven to get up and do something. We talked about Ps 104 and what it says about wine gladdening the heart. I shared things from a book I’m reading about less fundamental approaches to Christianity. In short we had a warm, relaxing experience. Often I’m too busy to listen, not only to those around me, but to the Lord. I felt the sort of warm glow that leads me to the scriptures to worship the Lord. I felt grateful for all I have been given.

I felt the sense of something from this world being used for a worshipful purpose, and thus being consecrated in a way. While this experience in this context felt OK, splitting a 12 pack of beer in front of a hockey game would not have been OK. It would have just been a drunk.

As Joseph Smith enjoyed a bottle of wine in his last moments in Carthage Jail, I felt uplifted in following the prophets in this way also.
Revelation --
in the LDS church is like the Colorado River. Most of it is siphoned off upstream from you.

Let's see, the inspiration I've received lately:

The Word of Wisdom is pharisaical.

The KJV is cryptic and should be dumped.

LDS are too inwardly focused on the clean people and not outwardly focused on people you might find in bars, homeless shelters, etc., where the LDS dare not go.

I find a better worship experience in the Episcopal Church.

God loves me and sends me spiritual promptings even when I commit sins.

I could go on. How much of this is "authorized" revelation? 0. All of it is contrary to things on which church leaders have spoken, so it's off the table.
The only authorized revelation for most people is how to accomplish what the church has told them to do. What to do and what not to do is not on the table. Only how to do it.

Basically "modern revelation" only applies to leaders. We don't need a personal relationship with God, because our leaders have told us what to do. All we need to do is to be obedient and we'll be saved. God may be consulted about minor implementation details so you don't need to bother the bishop.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I'm such an idiot--

I got dressed yesterday and was looking for a t-shirt. I picked out the one my daughter and son-in-law gave me for Christmas, largely because it was on top.

One of my errands was to go CD shopping. I listen mainly to contemporary Christian music these days, and my favorite store is the local Lifeway store, which is a franchise operated by the Southern Baptist convention. This one is a really nice store, and the people behind the counter are just nice, nice, nice. I always enjoy shopping in there.

Just before I walked into the store I realized I was wearing a Brigham Young University t-shirt into a Baptist Christian bookstore. I got a few strange looks, some glares, but nobody said anything. They were probably more confused than anything. Apparently our local LDS bookstore gets a lot of Baptists, because they sell modest wedding dresses you can't get anywhere else. Maybe it's good to return the favor.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Joseph’s Ladder –
In most orthodox Christian churches salvation is basically like throwing a light switch. If you believe, you’re saved.

Not so in the LDS church. For us, salvation can best be compared to a ladder. Everybody starts at the bottom, and you have to climb your way from being a spirit to being a God. Some people make it further than others. It’s recognized that most people will not make it all the way to the top. General Authorities of the past have told us that most people will be “terrestrial”, and thus not qualify for Godhood.

Even God himself started at the bottom, as a man on another planet. Through his worthiness and intelligence he climbed the ladder. General Authorities have indicated that even Jesus had to prove his worthiness. Yes, Jesus. The Son of God and member of the Godhead. Even he had to face some entity with a clipboard and a checklist who would decide whether or not he was good enough to take upon him the sins of the world.

What is the psychological impact of “the ladder” on the members of the church? I can’t speak for all of them, but for my family it has been tough. During her teenage years my daughter held our family up to the “ideal” families in the ward and pronounced us as strictly second-rate. My son just turned 18, without either his eagle scout award or his Duty to God award. He will be forever a second-class citizen in the church, and will have to listen to others extol the virtues of the “eagle” for the rest of his life, and know that he didn’t make it. He is fully active in seminary, but only fifty-fifty on Sundays, because he has trouble getting to sleep. He goes to seminary most mornings running on a few hours of sleep and ends up sleeping until noon most Saturdays to make up. He just has trouble getting up on Sundays for 9am church. Accordingly he misses many of the activity announcements, and when his priest’s quorum 1st assistant was asked to help him stay informed, he replied, “he should have been in church on Sunday”. So possibly salvation is only reserved for those able to get up for 9am church. More than any of us, I hurt for him, because he is just not one of these quiet focused people who get to climb the ladder and are rewarded with status in the Kingdom.

As a convert I didn’t serve a mission, didn’t go to seminary, and thus didn’t get the early imprinting of gospel knowledge others did. Accordingly I’m the 2d oldest person in the Elders Quorum, watching the guys younger than me being called into bishoprics and to the high council. Not really callings I want, but I’m conscious of being left on a lower rung of the ladder compared to those with the “high” priesthood.

After 22 years of this I’m tired of the ladder, of being told by my own child that our family isn’t good enough, of the implications that my son is a second class citizen because of his lack of full participation in a non-church program, of having to put up with being basically graded on my worthiness by my quorum membership. We talk about the church somehow being “restored”, but somehow I don’t remember Jesus establishing criteria for perfect families, establishing graded priesthoods, or establishing some kind of awards program for young men. What I remember Jesus saying was, “by this shall men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love, one to another”. Not whether you got your eagle scout rank, had family home evening and passed the daily prayer checklist, or managed to get promoted to the right priesthood quorum. We are to be evaluated by our love for others.

Whose ladder is this anyway?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I hope they call me on a mission –
There are a lot of positive things I have gotten from the LDS church. I think the church teaches people to immerse themselves in the scriptures in a way few churches do. Unfortunately we're also given specific ideas about what they mean in the correlated lessons, which discourages people from searching the scriptures with an open mind. There only seem to be a few well-trodden paths down which the Lord sends people. I.e. education, temple, mission, temple marriage, leadership positions, etc.. The idea of joining the Peace Corps, starting a homeless shelter, etc., don't generally seem to be on the list, but I digress.

From the time we joined the LDS church Wife of Bath and I have talked about serving a mission together. The idea of setting aside 18 months in full-time service to the Lord has always been appealing.

Even though it seems unlikely that the LDS church would send us on a mission at this point, I still have that desire to serve, planted through dozens of GC talks on the need for senior missionary couples.

The nice thing is that now we can pray about what the Lord wants us to do and pick one of many available agencies to volunteer for. We could serve international missions, or we could just pack up and move to, say, Spartanburg SC and be full-time volunteers for any number of relief organizations. We get to decide after much prayer and contemplation, rather than based on the ten seconds or so of inspiration sent to the President of the Church.

I hope they call me on a mission!
Stake Conference --
We attended stake conference today, and it was a typical NOM moment. The focus was a satellite broadcast directed to 41 stakes in our area. We had opening and closing prayers and hymns at the stake center, and the rest of the content was the broadcast from Salt Lake City.

I could write a two-page summary of the talks, but I'll spare you by just summarizing their major themes.

The first speaker was Sis Kathleen Hughes, of the general RS presidency. She shared some personal insights about going on a mission. She and her husband plan to serve missions once her current calling is completed, and she shared her fears of inadequacy, that she will not be up to being able to share the gospel with people. She reminded us that we are not sent to do the Lord's work without the Lord's help, and that we rely on Him in everything we do rather than in our own strength. All in all a really good and inspiring talk. I found myself wondering, though, about an organization in which one of the senior leadership was caused to doubt her own worthiness and ability. If she is not up to the job, the rest of us are probably hopeless.

The second speaker was Bishop Richard C Edgely of the Presiding Bishopric, and he gave a riproaring talk on the healing power of Jesus Christ. He talked about counseling a couple whose young child had just drowned and were angry with God. He talked about holding stake conference in a prison and having a non-member thank God that he was sent to prison and found the gospel, and his feelings about being freer than he had ever been in his whole life. Just a wonderful, wonderful talk on the power of Jesus Christ to make things right.

At this point I was having that familiar feeling. Why am I so disaffected with this church again?

Then came Elder M Russell Ballard, who reminded us in a good way about the importance of being obedient to the doctrine of the church and about the ordinances. All have divine worth, and we need to go out and bring them into the church so they can benefit from the church programs and ordinances. In short, a talk about the church and the structure, rather than about Jesus Christ.

We sang "Praise to the Man" and worshipped Joseph Smith for four verses.

The concluding address was President Monson, who presented a familiar laundry list from the Kirtland temple dedication about how it should be a house of order, a house of prayer, a house of fasting, etc., and presented many stories I had heard before to illustrate his points, including a story he used during the last regional conference when he was here. His talk really seemed to be kind of a prefab talk constructed of recycled pieces, not really linked together very well. For example he spoke powerfully about Jesus last words on Golgotha, words of forgiveness. "Forgive them, for they know not what they do". Then launched *immediately* into talking about the humorous letters children send to the First Presidency. One revealing thing was being asked by Elder Harold B Lee about his favorite hymn when he was first called as an apostle. "The old priesthood hymns", he said, with "Praise to the Man" being his favorite. So, one of the chief apostles on the earth, called as a special witness of Jesus Christ, and his favorite hymn is a tribute to Joseph Smith . . .

In closing he blessed with a bunch of things related to temporal blessings and nothing of a spiritual nature.

In summary the dichotomy present in the way general authorities see the church was ever present. To two of the speakers the gospel is apparently about Jesus Christ as healer and our primary source of support. To the other two the gospel is about priesthood, programs, and ordinances, about callings and modern revelation, about the physical mechanics we see as the church does its business.

It struck me that President Monson said absolutely nothing new, nothing different, nothing that really seemed to be from the heart. Just a familiar multi-point talk illustrated using the usual stories we've all heard countless times.

This was a regional conference. Did the Lord having anything special to say to our 41 stakes outside the strength of the Church? About preparing for hurricane season? About healing racial issues? About getting along with the flood of Spanish-speaking immigrants we're getting? About President Hinckley's well-known declining health? About immigration reform? About anything? Apparently not.

So I will take to heart the lessons of the first two talks and pretty much file the last two in the "been there, done that" category. All in all the conference was a positive experience, and I got more out of it than not going, but I find the mixed message between "the church is founded on Christ" and "the church is founded on priesthood authority" to be quite illuminating.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Virtual Reality –
I spend a lot of time hanging around the DAMU lately, and it’s easy to become focused on all the things going on in the LDS church “out there”. Bishops and stake presidents doing dumb and abusive things, people’s mission presidents who were jerks, stuff GAs said twenty years ago, etc.. Likewise it’s easy to get wound up about things Brigham Young said 150 years ago, Bruce R McConkie said 30 years ago, President Hinckley said 10 years ago, etc..

As we consider what the LDS church means to us, it’s important to be aware of those other things, while at the same time staying centered on the church we actually belong to. i.e. the ward we attend, the bishop and stake president we have, as opposed to the ones people elsewhere have, etc.. The people we know, and the experiences we have personally. With the internet it’s possible to hear all the off the wall stories happening in 20 or 30 wards while overlooking the perfectly normal things happening in the other 25,000 or so every day.

Rather than getting wound up over what Brigham Young said, focus more on what the current GAs had to say at the last conference. This is the church we actually belong to, not Brigham Young’s church.

Which is not to say there aren’t objectionable things happening today. There are. The modern church is way too focused on obedience and institutional survival rather than dealing with the diverse issues the membership is increasingly going through. It’s just a question of dealing with our personal issues and not the vicarious issues of other people, which may actually be exceptions to the rule and not situations we face at all.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Faces of God—
After reading the Wilford Woodruff lesson I quoted before, I drove to work and listened to a sermon from the evangelical church of my roommate from college. His insightful preaching is what finally got me to wake up and appreciate the many gifts of the spirit available outside the LDS church.

I find myself drawn to the message of sin, personal inadequacy, grace, and forgiveness preached by evangelical churches. Probably because I am very conscious of my own weaknesses and my inability to measure up to the cultural standard set by the LDS church. Evangelical churches tell you that your faith is mostly all that matters, and I can do that.

I find myself drawn to the gospel of social justice and relief of the poor found in the Episcopal church and other mainline denominations. Mostly this is what Jesus exemplified. I also find myself drawn to the tradition of thoughtfulness and tolerance for others’ interpretations of scripture. Because I can read the scriptures and see many different viewpoints most of the time, depending on what you choose to focus on.

I find myself drawn to the organization and commitment of the LDS church, that feeling of being part of a worldwide body that generally speaks the same language where faith is concerned. I find myself drawn to the idea of a plan of salvation as articulated by Joseph Smith, and that view of eternity as a timeline with a well-defined beginning and ending.

I often feel somewhat torn between these things. Should I stay LDS? Should I be Baptist? Should I be Episcopalian? Which one is right? What should I do?

The thought I had this morning is that the creation and plan of God is so rich and diverse, what leads me to believe that any man-made church can actually hold it all? The best any one church can do is to try to make sense of a little corner of it. No church has any hope of articulating the whole thing, without driving its members into madness trying to fit the whole thing into their brains.

Rather than feeling like I have to pick one or the other, maybe what I am called to do is to be blessed by whatever value I find, wherever I find it. I remember hearing somewhere that “all truth may be circumscribed into one great hold.” Maybe these artificial man-made divisions just don’t matter that much after all.
What I Love About the Church –
This is the conclusion of lesson 7 in the Wilford Woodruff manual:

Through the merits of the Atonement, we can be perfected in Christ.

There is no being that has power to save the souls of men and give them eternal life, except the Lord Jesus Christ, under the command of His Father.
It should be our chief study to treasure up the words of life that we may grow in grace and advance in the knowledge of God and become perfected in Christ Jesus, that we may receive a fullness and become heirs of God and joint heirs of Jesus Christ.

Brethren and sisters, are we not the sons and daughters of God, and when he shall appear, if we are faithful, shall we not be like him? Yes; and when the glorious day arrives we shall once more have the privilege of standing upon this earth and meeting in joy and thanksgiving … thousands of others who have washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb, and who, through the merits of His atonement, are anointed kings and priests unto God, and with Him reign exalted in His kingdom. May we all be found worthy of this reward; and now, while we travel through this world of change and sorrow, may we take pattern by the lives of the worthy … and, above all, follow in the steps of the great Exemplar of all righteousness, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose grace be ever with you all.


Within the LDS church can sometimes be found some of the most eloquent and insightful testimonies of Jesus Christ and his mission available anywhere. I remember thinking when I went through the temple for the first time that I had learned more from my endowment than the previous two years I had been in the church.

In general orthodox Christian theology is like looking through a porthole onto the ocean. It focuses on a narrow visible piece of ocean. By contrast Joseph Smith managed to extend our vision beyond the narrow piece of eternity visible in the bible to our origins and to our destination. He presented not one, not two, but at least three additional creation stories. He took the simple question of “what happens when we die” and created a universe of kings and queens, priests and priestesses, gods and goddesses, reigning over worlds without end. The porthole becomes the panorama camera. The dot that represents our time on earth on the eternal timeline becomes the line stretching to infinity in both directions, backward into our past and forward into our future.

All of it, when properly expounded, based on the atonement of Jesus Christ as Wilford Woodruff presents.

Is it all true? Or is it just inspiring metaphor? I’ll just leave this where it rests right now.

Monday, May 01, 2006

How Did I Get Here? –
It’s interesting to contemplate sometimes how the Lord leads and guides our lives. Two years ago I was in a calling I considered the most important thing I had ever done, shaping young men into Aaronic Priesthood holders. It required weekly contact with ward members and lots of coordination. Then my father-in-law died, which caused me to re-evaluate a lot of things. I began to realize that my testimony was my most precious possession, and I immersed myself more in the scriptures to strengthen it.

Through a chain of events I am now in a stake calling that basically requires me to go to weeknight meetings a few times a month, and I’m in a ward calling that requires minimal contact with ward members. Because I sometimes have to visit other wards on Sundays, my stake calling gives me the freedom to visit other churches in the mornings and do my stake visits in the afternoons. Our long-time faithful home teacher was reassigned, and now we have a home teacher that comes sometimes, but is obviously just fulfilling an assignment. Our previous Elders Quorum president used to conduct home teaching interviews monthly, but our current one does so rarely.

If the Lord really wanted to keep me active in the church he has picked a funny way of doing it. My connections with my ward have been reduced to an absolute minimum, and I’ve been given the freedom to explore that I never would have had before. Much of my “support system” has been ripped away. I am much less busy than I was, so I have the time to read and ponder. I’ve had occasion to meet with the bishop a few times over administrative things, and he has yet to ask me any of “the right questions” that would bring my concerns out into the open.

I have prayed periodically for intervention if I’m on the wrong path, and as of yet no priesthood leader has ridden to the rescue. No one has shaken my hand, fixed me with a piercing stare, and led me into a classroom to ask me about my testimony. No new callings have shown up that would have caused me to have to lay out where I am right now. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

If we believe that there are no coincidences, what direction am I being led in?