Sunday, February 14, 2010

Why Are You So Afraid? --

  Jesus asks the disciples this question in Matt 8:23 - 27.  After reading the January 2010 First Presidency Message, (5MB PDF of magazine , illustration on p4) I think he might ask modern day LDS apostles this same question. 

  So much to cover.

  Even the picture associated with the article is shrouded in fear.  It shows the appearance of Christ to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, which was certainly the highlight of the Kirtland Temple dedication.  Except the actual appearance wasn't out in the open.  It happened behind a curtain, so that only they were witnesses to it.  The picture in the article only hints at this.  Richard Bushman points out in Rough Stone Rolling that there are only 3d person journal accounts of this, Joseph Smith never wrote of it, and few saints at the time were even aware it happened.  So, why an illustration that implies it happened in plain view?

  It refers to the apostasy in Kirtland following the bank collapses without mentioning Joseph Smith's involvement in it.  It moralizes this apostasy as though people just didn't do enough to sustain their faith after all these marvelous experiences, while totally ignoring the flaws in the church leaders that was such a huge factor.

  The article itself references D&C Section 88, known as the "Olive Leaf".

  What a marvelous section.  Fundamentally it recaps a lot of the doctrine on the three kingdoms of glory and gives specific details about the millenium, the Second Coming, the battle of Armageddon, and finishes with some instructions about the operation of the School of the Prophets.  It's vast in scope and visionary, turning the mind towards the ultimate victory of Christ and the transformation of the earth into its ultimate paradaisical glory.  I'm honestly not sure I've ever read it from that perspective before.

  So, where is the fear in this?

  I think it points out that the apostles are scared of the gospel.

  Rather than using Joseph Smith's vision of Christ and revelations like the Olive Leaf to point to the cataclysmic events of the Second Coming, these are the quotes we are most familar with:

"And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom." (v77)
"Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.
 Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads." (v81 - 82)
  And of course our perennial favorite:
"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" (v119)

 So, we take a miraculous vision to Joseph Smith that was surrounded in mystery and boil out all the nuances surrounding it.  We take a fascinating, thought-provoking vision of the millenium and the Second Coming and reduce it to simple pithy aphorisms about behavior improvement.  The youth and Primary suggestions at the end of the article (viewable in the PDF version above) solemnly invite the youth to fast, pray, read their scriptures, keep the commandments, follow the Holy Ghost, and remind them that we draw near to the Lord by following Thomas S Monson.

We take a complex period of history in the LDS church from which much can be learned about the flaws of men and the importance of basing our testimony on Christ, and instead imply that if only people had been more faithful their testimonies would have survived?
Why are we so afraid of our history?  Why are we so afraid of the majesty of our doctrine?  Why are we so afraid?


Anonymous said...

It's because the sanitized version of the Gospel sells better than the real Gospel. Mormonism focuses on the positive and easy to digest. The fact that billions will go to Hell at the last day is rarely mentioned despite the fact that the Bible, D&C and BOM have scores of references to it. There is more, read 3NEPHI 9 1-12 and count your many blessing and see what the Lord hath done.

Paul said...

You ask, "Why are we so afraid of our history?  Why are we so afraid of the majesty of our doctrine?  Why are we so afraid?"

Because there is no love, and there never will be unless members ( the "we") of the LDS church divest themselves of pride. Pride? Yes, as manifested in countless ways that salvation in the LDS church seems to have a lot more to do with 'image' than honesty. Honesty? Yes, not only being honest about LDS historical accounts, but honest about who we (and especially the 'leaders') as individuals really are without, for example, the insincere, plastic, Mormony smiles and speech mannerism denoting the false religio-philosophical rhetoric such as "fake it until you make it." Without resorting to misleading propaganda in the guise of 'church art and illustrations.' Without the mis- and dis- information of historical accounts.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." and pride, which is another way of expressing the notions of 'false perfection' does indeed all too often preceded a fall into a pit of fear; and this is in regard to the so-called 'active, true believers'. But what about the other so many good people who have fallen by the wayside left to rot from neglect, judgmental indiscretions, marginalization and worse -- cutting off, i.e., excommunication. Do you think a church that excommunicates with impunity such as the LDS church, isn't doing it out of fear? Think again.

But what is the real fear all about (and this church has been running in ‘fear mode’ since the day it was organized)?

SECRETS (letting the cat out of the bag) and its inevitable effect on MONEY (loss of revenue)!!!

I don't want to feed your disaffection, or mine, or anyone else's, but what does my brain tell (scream at) me? Something different than my heart? Yeah, sometimes. So for me it's more of a question of torment accompanied by a certain sadness.

Still, the LDS church isn't giving anyone ‘the Kool-aid,’ to drink, but it is very much trying to shape a particular type of personality that will make a member fit right in; to make that member want to keep playing so at least he or she will keep paying. Of this I am almost positive.

However, if you believe in Christ and ascribe to the notion that there can only be one, true church having the only true authority to be "baptized in my name," -- to arrive at the juncture for peace in our lives only requires the answers to just a few questions:

"Is this how the true and living, resurrected Jesus the Christ really operates? Considering the deleterious traits and other undesirable attributes "of almost all men," hence, with whom He has to work with, is this really the only way He can run His one and only true church in order to establish His kingdom in preparation for His coming and reign over the earth? Are most people really capable of dealing with the 'real truth' (think explaining the facts of life to a five year old, “Oh you want the real truth instead of the 'stork story'? Well, one night daddy stuck his penis inside of mommy's vagina and squirted juice inside of her and that's how you came to be born," and then expecting him to respond, "Oh, sure, that sounds logical to me.")."

Festina Lente -- make haste slowly, fellow traveller. Think all things out VERY carefully. Pause, think, listen.

But I know it's hard -- for you as it is for me.

God help us.

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