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flameburns623 last won the day on March 28 2016

flameburns623 had the most liked content!

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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. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Kingdom Halls, like LDS Meeting-houses, are places which encourage visitors. The service structure is a bit unusual: about an hour spent in a book study, in a classroom setting; followed by an hour of congregational worship and Scripture study. They often have microphones on sticks, allowing congregants to answer questions from their seats. There are discreet boxes in the foyer for contributions: no plate is passed for donations. Coffee and donuts sometimes follow the meetings, allowing congregants to mix and mingle. However, two or three congregations often share a Kingdom Hall, so the amount of loitering may be limited. From their website: https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/meetings/
  11. Many of you know of Hank Hannegraaff as an Evangelical apologist who was/is vigorously anti-Mormon (as well as anti-Jehovahs Witness, anti-Christian Science, anti-Word-of-Faith, and pretty much defined by all of the "cults", heresies, and "aberrant Christian teachings" he opposed. Hannegraaf emerged as the heir apparent of Dr. Walter Martin, the original Bible Answerman, founder of the Christian Research Institute, and author of the Kingdom of the Cults, a seminal work of it's era and one of the motivating forces of the contemporary Evangelical apologetics movement. This Easter, Hannegraaff converted to Greek Orthodoxy, along with several of his family members. https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/protestant-radio-host-becomes-eastern-orthodox-show-dropped-from-evangelica Almost immediately upon his conversion, Hannegraaf was denounced for "apostasizing from the Christian faith" and he was dropped from one of the major Evangelical radio networks airing his show: http://pulpitandpen.org/2017/04/10/the-bible-answer-man-hank-hanegraaff-leaves-the-christian-faith/ Within a couple of weeks of all of this, it emerges that Hannegraaff has an aggressive form of lymphoma, which has already spread throughout his system: https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2017/may/bible-answer-man-says-tumors-have-spread-throughout-body While we can quietly celebrate that Hank is now learning how it feels to be told he is worshipping "another Jesus" and is no longer Christian, the better part of valor may be to keep the man in prayer as he battles this disease.
  12. I think we are in a cycle of plateau and consolidation. And, I emphasize this can well prove to be part of a natural cycle of long-term growth. Predicting long term trends from a few years sampling is sort of like denying or asserting climate change based upon the last two or three winters. Religion has always been robust in America. One suspects that as the Millennials mature, many of the New Atheists and "spiritual/not religious" will find a religion. I do wonder if computers and technology won't make even more dramatic changes in how we "church" than simply providing a keen little Library of materials. However, I agree that poor decisions and mismanagement could also launch the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints into a different cycle, a cycle of decline. Some suggest those mistakes have already occurred, that there is a lot of troubling information about Mormonism which leadership should have come to grips with two generations or so ago; and, having confronted such issues intellectually, they ought have been more transparent with rank and file members. The thinking is that in an Internet age, not only is the difficult information readily discoverable, but that it has emerged and will continue to emerge that leaders have not been forthcoming. The time for the Church Essays, by this view, was in the early days of the Tanners and of The Godmakers: by the Eighties and Nineties, the Church Essay materials, and the sort of material coming forth in the Joseph Smith Papers project should have been incorporated into the Church curriculum. It should already have been mainstreamed into our culture. The reluctance to take early positive steps to address tough questions and messy history, the aggressive use of church authority to penalize those who spoke up, it is being argued, is breeding and will breed cynicism and doubt about leadership. Not the thorny issues themselves, but the erosion of faith in our General Authorities, owing to their own intransigence, is what may well sing our Swan Song in the LDS Church, per said critics. It is the inevitable coming crises of trust in leadership which, I understand is being argued, which will really undermine our growth and cost the Church dearly in membership. See the following: http://religiondispatches.org/churches-can-no-longer-hide-the-truth-daniel-dennett-on-the-new-transparency/ http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/5196148-155/trust-gap-hounds-the-mormon-church I am not certain I concur with the above analysis. I do agree the Internet Age is changing the social order. But it is changing that order EVERYWHERE, not just in the LDS Church or in religious bodies generally. I think folks will be adjusting to the Wikileaks culture in business, government, academia, the crimiinal justice system, and everywhere else for a long time. Privacy as we have always known it is an endangered species. I don't think the Church will be singled out as a special target for suspicion. We're going to go through a period of getting increasingly jaded about how top/down leadership comes to make decisions on behalf of others. Which may well compel the "flattening" of traditional, highly vertical, leadership structures. Including vertical Church strctures? Perhaps. Looking backward: at nearly the time that Fawn Brodie and Gerald and Sandra Tanner began revealing messy issues with Mormonism, an entire wing of Christianity was engaged in an experiment with openness and transparency. Mainstream denominations, Protestants and Catholics, spent a decade being "Honest To God", in "aggiornamento". Radical theologies of the Death of God, experiments in worship, "renewal" and "relevance" were attempted It cost them dearly. Mainstream denominations went into a sharp decline, from which they have never fully recovered. To the contrary, they are continuing to hemorrhage membership. Meanwhile, conservative Christian bodies undertook different tactics. Neo-Evangelicals created their own system of colleges and universities, built up ministries of apologetics and explication of their faith, and invested energy in trying to hold on to their youth and young adults. And: they drove their liberals away, or else departed themselves from organizations over which liberals and progressives had too dominant a hand. It was a strategy which worked. (And is still working, at least better than anything the mainstream denominations are doing). Whole books were written on Why Conservative Churches Are Growing. Many Evangelicals experienced growth spurts very similar to those encountered by the CoJCoLDS. (And, apparently, similar shenanigans with 'basketball baptisms' and such). It appears to me that the General Authorities, (with or without the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, as one chooses to believe), appropriated elements of the success of Evangelicals, paired with certain successful business practices. These positioned Mormonism for very healthy growth for many years. One can overstate the degree to which advanced age diminishes a person's suppleness of mind and willingness to make deep changes. However, I am going to venture to guess that as the inter-war generation of General Authorities is replaced by Boomers, we may see some dramatic changes yet in the Church. God is still speaking, to hoist a slogan from another denomination, and the Baby Boom generation underwent some of the most significant adjustments ever. Such a generation, once holding the reins, may well prime the LDS Church for another sustained period of growth. My thoughts, anyhow.
  13. Praying, Brother. Praying.
  14. The advantage of a split would be more service and/or leadership opportunities. It seems to me that my ward is top-heavy with high priests, though that could be a misapprehension. Even with new members, though, it's hard to see that we have enough Melchizedek priests to "share" some with a new branch or ward. Perhaps the other ward is more endowed with MP's. Advantages of a merger would be not breaking up a close-knit ward. Though I am sure the chemistry would change. Also, our ward is impacted to some degree by the presence of one or two large university campuses. Not so much as in some wards to which I have belonged (one ward had four colleges or universities inside its boundaries!); but I suppose there is enough flux that a combined ward could stabilize things. Of course, this is just a stab in the dark about what may happen Sunday.
  15. My ward and another are meeting in combined session Sunday. No agenda announced in advance. Each of us are meeting at a time other than our usual time, and for two hours only (third-hour priesthood meetings cancelled). Sounds like a ward merger or split, creating a branch or ward. Tough to tell which. My bishop has apparently opined that the announcement will "shake everybody up". The ward I am in is become rather close-knit so a split could be upsetting. A merger less so, since no one would be "going" anywhere. Of course, there could be other reasons. Can't imagine why ONE OTHER ward (but not a whole Stake) would be involved, unless it concerned just our two bodies. Am hoping for a new branch or ward. We've seen several convert baptisms recently. Attendance, however, leads to concern for the likelihood of a merger. Keep us in prayer!