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flameburns623

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About flameburns623

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    Former LDS considering return
  • Birthday 02/03/1960

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    Southern Illinois--near St. Louis

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  1. The Church is growing so fast...

    Five million members of the Church are active at any given time, but not necessarily the SAME FIVE MILLION MEMBERS. Another five million members invariably self-identify as members, show up at potlucks or church dances, marry, baptise their children, seek aid and confort from, and are buried as Mormons. They seek succor and hope from LDS teachings. They pray as Mormons, with LDS presuppositions about deity and the Afterlife. And, as some indeterminate number of the aforementioned 'active' attendees go inactive for whatever reason, some indeterminate number of the semi-active become active. Tracking all of this would be difficult -- while you could ennumerate the atrendees at picnics, potlucks, and dances, track the members whose kids are sent to Church every Sunday even though their parents haven't seen the inside of the chapel in decades, while you could annotate that Elder Jones presided over the funeral of Sister Murphy, last shown as having tithed in 1989--that would be a daunting set of figures to juggle. As respects that final five million members: admittedly some number of those are wholly lost to us. They may not remember they were ever members, or they may have been active in their local Happy Baptist Church of Podunk for so long that they aren't even invited to tell their harrowing tales of their escape from The Cult Of MorMans any longer. OTOH, some other indeterminate number of that last five millions WILL return to some measure of semi-active or active participation in the Church, when the right trigger moment comes. Catholics, Adventists, Freemasons, and Nichiren ShoShu Buddhists also have a core number of active members, a periphery of semi-actives, and an outer layer of folks whose associations aren't readily described. And all of them count the nominal membership right alongside the members who show up every time the doors are unlocked.
  2. The Church is growing so fast...

    IMHO: no matter what church we are talking about, a third of the received members will be readily accounted for and usually attend to regular worship and practices. About a third will be highly fluid and mainly inactive, showing up mainly for funerals or big life events and (usually) self-identifying as members, but not recognizably, faithfully, practicing, supporting, or observant. And a third are pretty much lost to any particular group, on the rolls but with status unknown, or having made other spiritual commitments. Oddly, some unpredictable factor--a spiritual awakening, a personal crises, estrangement from other commitments, or even the sudden positive novelty of association--can bring some portion of that third back. (If Mitt Romney has won the presidency, and been a successful president, this might not have led to mass conversions, for example: but less activrs and inactives might have moved into other categories). The fiftern million raw number is not dishonest: those who are on the rolls are on the rolls. That numbrr doesn't tell the whole story, but it is probably a more "true" number than the membership numbers of other churches, given the way we maintain fairly accurate numbers.
  3. The Church is growing so fast...

    In the RCC, attendance woild certainly go unnoticed. Your anonymity in that denomination is legendary. Some other established mainline Protestant churches are similar in this respect. In smaller, Evangelical Protestant sects the situations vary: while there are no systems of home teachers, there are sometimes weekly or monthly bible studies, discipleship meetings, or similar small-group systems in place which allow enough personal interaction that the drifting away of faithful members is noticeable. And members of a board of elders may be tasked with staying in touch with members. In general, though, a person is most noticed during the first few months that they are perceived as 'visitors'. It is during that phase that churches seek to 'sell' themselves to prospects. There may be considerable follow-up to encourage such to keep attending. When the newness wears off, no one is paying attention any longer, and people can drift away readily. Only those with vital roles in the congregation are visible by their prolonged absence.
  4. She's an editor. (THE editor?? Dunno how many they have). Highly placed I gather. However large Sunstone is.
  5. A General Authority excommunicated?

    It "COULD BE" for something indirectly related to "apostasy or personal doubts": pushing too hard/direspectfully for changes in policy based on those doubts, stealing/leaking information based on said doubts, yada, yada. IOW, not "for apostasy", but for inappropriate conduct borne of such surmised apostasy. BUT THAT IS ALL SPECULATIVE . We just don't know anything. Except that this guy has people close to him who are almost certainly in great pain right now, no matter why he's out. Still suggesting that they, and he, deserve our love and prayers.
  6. A General Authority excommunicated?

    Tomorrow, or this week, or next month, or at some future date, Br. Hamula may come forth with a bombshell revelation about the LDS Church which shows that the statement about this matter is "not about apostasy" was public relations window dressing. OR, conversely, it may emerge that Br. Hamula was removed for cause of moral turpitude such as commonly leads to separation from almost any institution which has a reputation to uphold. For the moment, I will set aside speculation until more information is forthcoming. Meanwhile, Br. Hamula and his friends and family affected most directly are in my prayers.
  7. My wife endured a mental breakdown last year and had to be treated with therapy and medication. This is a very personal topic for me. Thanks dor raising the issue.
  8. Update Time - What's everyone reading right now?

    I love novels. I sometimes learn more from novels than nonfiction. Had overlooked my fiction reading, much of which is old ground, (I re-read many fiction books several times over tge course of decades).
  9. Update Time - What's everyone reading right now?

    Elaine Pagels, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, & Politics in the Book of Revelation; and, The Gnostic Gospels Marvin Meyer, The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts. Kasser/Meyer/Wurst, The Gospel of Judas. Julie M. Smith, Search Ponder, and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels; and, As Iron Sharpens Iron: Listening to the Various Voices of Scripture. David Bokovoy, Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy. Illia Delio, The Emergent Christ. Richard Smoley, Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition. Bradley J. Kramer, Beholding The Tree of Life: A Rabbinic Approach to the Book of Mormon. John Williams, Heaven Up Here. Blake Y. Ostler, Fire on the Horizon: A Meditation on the Endowment and Love of the Atonement. The Doctrine and Covenants. Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley And, the four Gospels and Apocrypha of The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Just a smattering of light reading.
  10. Light is Good.

    Transparency in disciplinary councils would not necessarily imply publicizing such councils: but making certain the proceedures ensure a fair playing field for accused parties to make a reasoned defense before an impartial panel of peers. And in a manner which ensures the accused, if determined culpable, is given loving advice and discipline in a manner which has the best possible chance of being medicinal and healing for the transgressor, for any direct victims, and for the Church and Body of Christ as a whole. Let's first be clear: most Church disciplinary councils probably don't have to address the fact of guilt or of innocence of an accused member. That member may have already confessed to a transgression. And the nature of the transgression is often such that all concerned would prefer privacy. Such councils are therefore probably mainly going to address any mitigating facts and circumstances and determine the penalties to be imposed. These will not be adversarial processes in such cases. And, if there is reasonable doubt--if one spouse accuses another of abuse or infidelity, but the other spouse denies it: unless hard evidence is forthcoming, I am going to guess that a council will not be convened. It is likely at least a bit rare for one spouse to steadfastly deny allegations while the other purports to bring forth evidence. In such cases, however, there should be some right of "discovery", allowing each side opportunity to prepare a rebuttal to any evidence or witnesses. And care should be taken that those empanelled for the matter have no personal interest, i.e. are not relatives, personal friends, or business partners, of either spouse. Basically, though, I think even the sharpest critics of proceedure in LDS didciplinary councils would assent to a high degree of privacy where purely personal issues are being hammered out. If it emerges that an accused person is guilty of, or strongly suspected of, sexual abuses, particularly of a minor, I know the critics are rather concerned the Church may need improved safeguards for the victim, a more robust commitment to early reporting and involvement of child protective services and the police. It is in cases of ideological challenges to someone's faith--i.e., when a charge of apostasy is leveled against an individual--that critics are especially concerned. Various Church tribunals have convened where this was the central issue, and where those who experienced the process claim they encountered a system heavily skewed against them. In several cases, it has been implied that the issue boiled down to, "Did you say/do this"? And, "Will you repudiate it, publicly, and desist from this, publicly, ever again"? No discussion of whether the statements of the accused were based in factually accurate material or whether the accused was operating within scope of academic or other professional freedom, or within the scope of his or her free agency as a churchmember. And with no opportunity to have a transcript or recording of the procedures (unless a bootleg recording is performed) to use either in an appeal or to publicize so that other members of the Church can then decide if the Church were being fair and impartial. It is fair to say that since apostasy is fully a public transgression, critics seem to feel that making a publicly reviewable record for such a disciplinary hearing should be the default policy, unless the accused requests otherwise. This, at least, is the feeling I get from reading accounts by critics. I hope my analysis is not mistaken for advocacy Without endorsing the above: I do believe that in an increasingly secular government and society, many nations--possibly even the United States--may apply enormous pressure on private organizations, including churches, to exercise the same high levels of openness and transparency increasingly expected of government and of business. Unlike another poster, my understanding of history is that it is free and open societies which practice transparency. It is oppressive, often criminal, snd certainly brutal societies in my reading of history, which enforce secretiveness, which cordon off ordinary members of a society from the halls of effective power. Remember that even the Soviet Union had elections--conducted in such a way as to ensure that dissidents were easily identified and therefore subject to social and official penalties. So: social pressure, if not legal pressure, could very well impel the LDS Church to do differently in the relatively near future than has been in the past. Other churches will face similar expectations. Anyhow: stuff to chew the fat on.
  11. Light is Good.

    The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability is a parachurch ministry which helps other parachurch ministries and some churches strike an appropriate balance between privacy of donors and the effective use of funds. http://www.ecfa.org/Content/Standards Take note that member organizations are expected to provide regular, detailed, financial statements, readily available to members/donors, which allow the donors to evaluate for themselves whether the funds donated are being properly and effectively utilized. Because of the televangelist scandals of the 1990's, many if not most Evangelical parachurch organizations belong to something like the ECFA, and a lot of churches likewise. Similar things are being done to ensure independent oversight and recordkeeping to protect parishioners and clergy from incidents of ecclesial abuse and to ensure a fair and thorough investigation when such is alleged. Privileged personal information remains privileged, but g The Community of Christ has (supposedly) maintained a higher degree of exchange of dialogue between hierarchy and laity, as part of it's understanding of "Common Consent". Although revelation and governance still flow from the top down, changes do not take place, (ideally???? I don't know this firsthand), until the matters have had some measure of vetting before the whole church. Generally, when people speak of wanting "more light" within a church, these are the sort of steps they wish to see undertaken to ensure that the widest possible involvement of all members at every level is enabled. Personal privacy is not compromised nor do congregations micromanage the meal breaks of the General Authorities, but collegiality, multivalent accountability, and a greater measure of representative democracy are provided for.
  12. Hank Hannegraaf ruminates very, very deliberately and slowly on subjects. It took him fifteen years to come to a personal opinion on eschatology. Hank Hannegraaff has spent much of his ministry trying to help Christians discern nuances between what constitutes sound theology; what issues Christians may disagree but ought not divide over; aberrant ideas which might lead to theological confusion; and outright heresies, teachings apt to lead a believer away from Christ and cost them salvation. This was a hallmark of the Christian Research Institute from the time that Walter Martin founded it in 1960. At that time, Evangelicals struggled to get along, with many small denominations making their distinctive practices an absolute test of fellowship. By the time Martin died abruptly of heart failure in 1989, much progress had been made in downplaying the importance of whether to use wine or grape juice for communion, whether only one loaf of bread could be used, or if multiple loaves were acceptable, and whether or not foot washing is an ordinance. Hannegraaf proved capable of maintaining such a balance between "unsettled" perpheral issues and more dangerous teachings. Moreover, he was clever at reducing things to clever little acrostics such as "the F.A.C.E. which proves the FARCE of evolution". After a three year period when the Bible Answerman was more of a roundtable discussion with a revolving door of two or three apologists taking turns answering questions, Hank Hannegraaf assumed the role of host full time. He is supposedly not actually well educated--some claim he was a high school dropout--but he has regularly had some of the best writers and thinkers of the Evangelical world on as guests. And, he has obviously not merely interviewed themfor the sake of his audience; but has learned from these people himself. But he has been very, very careful about planting his own theoligical flags. He is 67 years old now and I suspect his age will factor in to how well he recovers from his present illness. And, I expect we will not see him make any more dramatic theogical changes this side of Spirit Prison.
  13. Dark Secrets in the offing

    I don't know. It looks to me as if a ward to our south more or less got subsumed into other wards. I haven't seen a comprehensive map of the whole area.
  14. Dark Secrets in the offing

    Saint Louis now has four Stakes with twenty units apiece, rather than three Stakes with thirty units. Our ward boundaries enlarged noticeably, adding a couple of towns and villages to our south. One ward completely shifted southward, another expanded eastward, but no changes for my family and I.
  15. When he initially announced, he indicated that a trip to China, meeting with persecuted Chinese Christians, ten years ago, started him on a spiritual journey through the Early Church Fathers and Scripture. I am not clear if these Chinese Christians were Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or what; but their faithfulness and love of Jesus Christ, in the face of severe persecution and imposed privation made it impossible for him to feel they were not saved Christians. From this, I gather that these Chinese believers must have belonged to a denomination Hank would have deemed "aberrant" at that time. He became a Greek Orthodox catechumen over three years ago, culminating in his Chrismation on Palm Sunday. So, this has been a long and arduous pilgrimnage for him.
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