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What I like about being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


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Thanks for this.  I can relate as one from the outside looking in these days.  I think it's what draws me to places like this.  I still enjoy being Mormon even if I can't really fit inside a church any longer.

As I said, I can relate and each on her list works for me as well, even if a couple I would not have thought about.  

Mormonism taught me to always be ready to ask a question and not be settled, or particularly dogmatic, in any given conclusion because there is always more to learn.  

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48 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I can relate as one from the outside looking in these days.  I think it's what draws me to places like this.  I still enjoy being Mormon even if I can't really fit inside a church any longer.

I fully embrace the "Purpose" of the Lord.  Which is to invite intelligences to become spirit children of Heavenly Father, vote to participate in the "Great Plan of Happiness", take on all the challenges of mortality and (hopefully) more completely utilize (rely on) the Power of the Atonement (that helps us to transcend our shortcomings).

The Resurrection is a FREE gift for ALL who are born into the world.  The only question is if you want a Celestial Exaltation or a humdrum Telestial complacency.  You might ask yourself:  are you playing a game of "keep away" from your Maker?  Why not put Him to the test?  Be brave enough to try to walk with Him.  God wants to bless you beyond your imaginings but He cannot force His gifts on you.  It is up to you to do the "implementing" (grace to grace).

If you can't stand the people in the church, maybe you should take off the telestial eyeglasses and put on celestial frames and look at your circumstances with the Eternal Perspective?  And allow the Lord to mold you as pliable clay (not be brittle) and make you a new creature.

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2 minutes ago, longview said:

I fully embrace the "Purpose" of the Lord.  Which is to invite intelligences to become spirit children of Heavenly Father, vote to participate in the "Great Plan of Happiness", take on all the challenges of mortality and (hopefully) more completely utilize (rely on) the Power of the Atonement (that helps us to transcend our shortcomings).

The Resurrection is a FREE gift for ALL who are born into the world.  The only question is if you want a Celestial Exaltation or a humdrum Telestial complacency.  You might ask yourself:  are you playing a game of "keep away" from your Maker?  Why not put Him to the test?  Be brave enough to try to walk with Him.  God wants to bless you beyond your imaginings but He cannot force His gifts on you.  It is up to you to do the "implementing" (grace to grace).

If you can't stand the people in the church, maybe you should take off the telestial eyeglasses and put on celestial frames and look at your circumstances with the Eternal Perspective?  And allow the Lord to mold you as pliable clay (not be brittle) and make you a new creature.

I think I've given the wrong impression.  Most of my favorite people in life are active members of the Church.  I can stand the people...I love them.  That's not really what has sent me out.  

I'd like to add:

Mormonism taught me the best way forward is to take responsibility for your part in life, learn to go inward to solve personal problems, as most problems stem from a mixed up perspective.  

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2 hours ago, stemelbow said:

Thanks for this.  I can relate as one from the outside looking in these days.  I think it's what draws me to places like this.  I still enjoy being Mormon even if I can't really fit inside a church any longer.

As I said, I can relate and each on her list works for me as well, even if a couple I would not have thought about.  

Mormonism taught me to always be ready to ask a question and not be settled, or particularly dogmatic, in any given conclusion because there is always more to learn.  

 

1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

I think I've given the wrong impression.  Most of my favorite people in life are active members of the Church.  I can stand the people...I love them.  That's not really what has sent me out.  

I'd like to add:

Mormonism taught me the best way forward is to take responsibility for your part in life, learn to go inward to solve personal problems, as most problems stem from a mixed up perspective.  

I read you as saying that you see some different truth for you than the Church accepts. This ends up making you feel on the outside of the Church.

I see that as a weakness of the hierarchical structure of the earthly Church, so I empathize with you to this extent, even though my other truths are somewhat different from yours.. The Church has assumed that only the president is going to receive the mysteries of God. To the extent that its structure discourages looking for truth outside of the current paradigm, it is frustrating. Do we really believe that the president is going to be the most exalted? Somehow that doesn't seem to jive with Yeshua's words that the greatest among us shall be the least. So yes, I agree that the Church teaches us that we are each responsible for our part in this life, and not to expect others to solve all our problems. However, I would add that the Church needs to accept its teaching that truth is acceptable from whatever source it comes instead of hunkering down behind earthly authority as it tends to do. As you say it assumes there is more to learn, but then sometimes discourages questions against its current paradigm. But you have to give it credit for teaching the principles even if it has issues following them itself - that we are still learning precept upon precept. When I began to have serious doubts about the orthodox interpretation of scripture, the open "theology"/outlook of the Church was appealing to me. But yes, there is a "natural" conflict/tension between the Church's own teaching, and its conception of authority. The things that initially struck me as true and godly about the Church - it's concern for others including the dead who have not had the opportunity to hear the gospel, still strike me as being the true gospel, and incidentally, the Church is the only organization which has consistently pursued this work - even among those who have schismed from the Church - other sects of Mormonism if you will. Why is this so? Is it because this Church is the only one which has remained true to the restored gospel?

Where I have differed from the Church really has nothing to do with the gospel of salvation. The Church continues to teach the true gospel, and LIVE it. That is HUGE in my book. If I see God a little differently than the Church has come to believe, that is really not its fault. I just view myself as having evolved beyond what the Church has taught. As you say the Church teaches that ultimately we are each responsible for ourselves. Was Yeshua beyond our understanding? Yet, He came to teach us. God is invariably interested in the welfare of His children. I will always love the restored gospel, and what the Church has taught me, even if that has led me to some places where I disagree with past teachings. It is just slow to evolve, but it has shown that it will. It is willing. Can you accept that God is still working within the Church to forward His gospel? For me that is ultimately the question that it comes down to.

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Lots of things I like about being a member of the true church of Jesus Christ, but probably the thing I like best is that somebody has enough of the keys of the kingdom of God to enable me to have access to all of the blessings God desires to share with everyone. And that person with those keys has a way of transmitting that power to me without me having to wait until I'm ready to physically go to Jesus Christ to get access to all of those things.  Or even physically go to the person on this planet with all of those keys, because that person with all of those keys is empowered to delegate the power of those keys to other people who are closer to me.  Close enough that I can travel to them in less than an hour from where I live.  Well, I suppose the nearest temple is about 2 hours from me, but still that is nice to have easy enough access to all of those things.

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In no particular order:

The teachings of the Gospel have given me an external standard of behavior to which I strive to adhere.  If I were to have defined my own moral code, it would likely have been too self-centered and subjective.

The Church provides a feeling of community.  This one sounds trite and sentimental, but the more I think about it, the more valuable I find it to be.  Many folks who have left the Church speak of the loss of this (the sense of community) as being one of the more painful parts of leaving.  Conversely, at any given time I have all sorts of people who can help me at any time, and whom I can help at any time.

The teachings of the Church have made me a much better husband and father than I otherwise would have been.

The teachings of the Church have helped me understand the value of education, hard work, ethical conduct, self-reliance, community involvement/responsibility, and the proper use of individual agency.

The teachings of the Church have made me understand and pursue genuinely important goals in order to find happiness, contentment, etc.

The teachings of the Church have helped me understand the importance of charity for and service to our fellow man.

The teachings of the Church have expanded my perspective and understanding of the purpose of life.  Where we came from, why we are here, where we are going.

The teachings of the Church have helped me to understand and value the relationship between God and man, and the centrality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives.

The teachings of the Church have helped me value the pursuit of truth, and to differentiate identifying what is true from what is popular.

The teachings of the Church have helped me understand how much I don't know, and the concomitant value of faith, guidance from the Holy Spirit, and "enduring to the end."

The teachings of the Church have helped me recognize my failings, while also giving me a framework in which I can work to overcome and improve on those failings (repentance).

The teachings of the Church have helped me appreciate the value of ordinances and priesthood authority.

The teachings of the Church have helped me to control my fear of death and the unknown.  As Marie Curie put it: "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."  I have a friend who has taken a winding road in and out of fellowship with God.  At last, after some years, he "came to himself" (Luke 15:17), straightened out his life, and has returned to the Lord's Church, to full fellowship, to the temple, and so on.  And then he was diagnosed with cancer.  I visited him on Saturday.  He is, in a word, serene.  He has been receiving chemo treatments for some months.  He will be getting a CT scan in a few weeks.  He told me that if the cancer has been reduced or eradicated, he has plans to move home (to Ecuador) to spend his last few years (the cancer is terminal, it's just a matter of time).  He also said that if the cancer has returned or worsened, he will discontinue the treatment and let the disease take its course.  Either way, though, he is . . . serene.  He is at peace.  He knows where he stands.  He knows where he is going.  He doesn't fear death.  He understands it.  I hope to be like that, when my time comes.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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I’m grateful to have grown up with the Word of Wisdom.  Working in healthcare has given me greater appreciation for it.

I love the theology.

Pioneer heritage.

Pot lucks.

Elder Uchdorf 

Church ball

The youth programs that helped keep me inline as a youngster. 

But the most important thing to me right now is having a set of values and morals giving me some kind of meaning in life.  It’s hard to live life without some sense of purpose.  I think the lack of purpose and meaning in people’s lives is a contributing factor in the suicide problem we’re facing. Heck,  I may not even be here  now if I didn’t have the gospel to hold onto in my lowest moments.  

 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

I like how peculiar ya'll are (said, of course, with great affection). Keeps me coming back here ;) 

Aren't you peculiar too? I think everybody is peculiar.  Some more than others but still pretty peculiar. So even if some people think we are peculiar that doesn't mean they aren't peculiar, too.  Otherwise everybody would be the same, which is clearly not what all people are.

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Thank you, Kevin.  Something else I like about being a part of the church.  Something i had not heard of before but am glad to have found, with the help of you mentioning it. Oh how i love reading Hugh Nibley!  I've read a bit and will read the rest later but so far I've found that I already had the correct notion on this.  I just love the depth he adds to the story and how good it feels to read what he knew!

For others who would also like to read it I'll put a link here: http://scottwoodward.org/Talks/html/z-Scholarly Articles/NibleyH_BeforeAdam.html

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1 hour ago, Kevin Christensen said:

.................. I was troubled for a few days by Anthony Hutchinson's Dialogue essay on the four LDS creation accounts.  While pondering his diagram of the Hebrew Cosmos, I remembered having seen something very similar in a different context.  In Hamlet's Mill, a book Nibley had quoted fairly often.  ............................... 

Didn't Anthony Hutchinson become an Episcopal Priest?  In the northwest somewhere?

1 hour ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Eugene England wrote a lovely essay on that, "Why the Church is as True as the Gospel"..............................

Didn't Gene say that only in an LDS congregation would you meet such a mix of people you'd ordinarily not make part of your circle of friends?

Anyhow, I really enjoyed your brief autobiography.

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I'd like to say "ditto" to so many of the things that have been said so far.

I have had similar experiences with the counter-claims of the critics (including some of those listed by Kevin Christensen, although definitely not to the same extent that he has had), and doing so has always led to a greater understanding of my faith and beliefs that have surpassed anything that I could have ever imagined.

Regarding theology and philosophy, the speech by David L. Paulsen on Joseph Smith and the Problem of Evil, has been a long time favorite of mine.  Joseph Smith got there first on that one too.  And how did he know so much about earliest of Christian teachings (men become “gods”, Jesus as “another God” or the “second God”)?   He got there first too.  It just gets more rewarding and mind blowing the deeper one digs.

One other thing I wanted to mention that I like about the Church is the volunteer participation of members in all the callings of the church (and that we normally don't get to pick our own callings).  I visited a ward in Utah this last Sunday and it was their fast and testimony meeting (since General Conference is coming up this weekend).  The Bishop was conducting and so he was the first one to bear his testimony.  He said something like, “I love each and every one of you.  I remember before I became a bishop, I used to hear other bishops say the same thing and I wondered how they could really love each member of the ward.  But now I know.”   This is the beauty of the organization of the church.  As we receive callings we struggle and grow and learn how to seek the Lord’s help in how to fulfill what we need to do and receive direction from the Spirit.  And having these experiences, in whatever calling we have, gives us a greater appreciation and understanding of what our bishop and other leaders are going through.  As a result, we are less inclined to be critical of their leadership and more inclined to be supportive of them in their callings.  And at some point we may find ourselves in one of those same leadership positions, and we will be praying for the support of others and direction from the Lord.   This also helps us to relate to and appreciate what the men and women in scripture had to go through.   Isn’t it great?

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3 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

I like how peculiar ya'll are (said, of course, with great affection). Keeps me coming back here ;) 

I like what the author of the article linked in the OP said about that too:  "The Mormonism of my childhood taught me that being peculiar meant you were blessed by God. It was nothing to be ashamed of, but to be celebrated."

That goes for all who strive to live a Christian life, really.  

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20 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Didn't Anthony Hutchinson become an Episcopal Priest?  In the northwest somewhere?

Didn't Gene say that only in an LDS congregation would you meet such a mix of people you'd ordinarily not make part of your circle of friends?

Anyhow, I really enjoyed your brief autobiography.

I had heard something about Hutchinson going that way.  One of the things I eventually got from Hutchinson's essay was an understanding of what I call spiritual masochism, that is, a determination to prove one's intellectual integrity by publicly facing unsolvable problems.  The hitch in that approach is that since the point is to prove you can face problems without flinching, solutions become unproductive, and there is a consequent paralysis of imagination.   It's not an uncommon problem.

Here is an online version of England's thoughtful essay.

https://www.eugeneengland.org/why-the-church-is-as-true-as-the-gospel

And thanks.  I always enjoy your well-informed contributions.

Best,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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47 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

I had hear something about Hutchinson going that way.  One of the things I eventually got from Hutchinson's essay was an understanding of what I call spiritual masochism, that is, a determination to prove one's intellectual integrity by publicly facing unsolvable problems.  The hitch in that approach is that since the point is to prove you can face problems without flinching, solutions become unproductive, and there is a consequent paralysis of imagination.   It's not an uncommon problem.

Here is an online version of England's thoughtful essay.

https://www.eugeneengland.org/why-the-church-is-as-true-as-the-gospel

And thanks.  I always enjoy your well-informed contributions.

Best,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Kevin, you just opened my eyes. I hadn't even thought about "spiritual masochism," but now I think that accurately describes my approach to a lot of things.

How do you get out of it?

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What a great topic!  I just returned from the JWHA Conference at Rochester, NY, where a community of CoC, LDS, Strangite, Wightite, Cutlerite, Remnant, Restorationist, and whatever-ite scholars and homers met for four days in collegiality to celebrate 'being Mormon.'

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What do I like about being a member of The Church?  First and foremost, above all else, I believe it's where God wants me to be, and I suppose you could say I "like" doing God's will.  Everything else is a distant second, but there are plenty of them too:

 

- I like the church's welfare program.  It's heartwarming and humble to be finance clerk and write checks to cover this house payment, that medical bill, the other utility payment.

- I like the generous nature of so many members.  I'm getting my new Bishop used to the idea that he'll do a lot of church stuff in Nov and December.  Members show up with envelopes of cash and tell him "make sure this gets wherever it needs to go".  The stake makes us track all this stuff in MLS.  Last year we had such a surplus we were able to transfer some of it to another stake, where they were doing stuff like repairing furnaces so members could have heat, and paying dental bills so members could have teeth.

- I like having something immediately in common with at least a small fraction of people wherever I go in the US.  It makes it much easier for an introverted recluse like me.

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I was going to say , as have others, it gives you public speaking abilities and when your adult friends are dodging that you realize , heck i've been standing up doing this since primary, so public speaking, thinking on your feet, how to do a meeting i.e. plan, organize, execute. I think too it gives you training on how to help others who have a different background than yours. In our ward we have brother who is 1000000000000000000 percent blind and simply needs help and so the ward helps with him, we also have 2 sets of parents who are deaf and so those 4 brothers and sisters need signing and we are all aware of their needs, which gets you out of your own comfort zone and you help. SO, people in our ward are learning ASL.

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2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Kevin, you just opened my eyes. I hadn't even thought about "spiritual masochism," but now I think that accurately describes my approach to a lot of things.

How do you get out of it?

The root of spiritual masochism is pride, so, humility, and the tentativeness and openness that humility engenders helps. 

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Believe in aGod; believe that he is, and that he bcreated all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all cwisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not dcomprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. (Mosiah 4:9)

And there is the concern for being seen facing problems as end in itself, rather than no big deal, just part of the process, something that goes with all learning.   Kuhn talks about the "essential tension" in science, working on the parts of knowledge that don't fit the current paradigm.

Nibley talked about how one of his intellectual heroes (Scalliger) would go to the ghettos to let Jewish children there correct his language, being willing to be taught by children, to be as a child himself, rather than always wanting to be seen as the One Who Knows.  I think about a moment when Margaret Barker came to BYU the first time in 2003, teaching a room full of BYU professors and me and Alyson Von Feldt.  One day there was a slide up, showing the famous Sistine Chapel scene of God reaching out to Adam.  Someone commented (John Gee?) that the cloud in which God appears was the shape of an anatomically correct human brain.  Margaret turned and looked, and smiled and beamed with delight and said "I never thought of that!"  She demonstrated a child like wonder in that moment, and was not at all self conscious about it. And this despite providing lecture material such that Alyson told me she heard Wilfred Griggs say "She puts our scholarship to shame."    But she learned what she did by not assuming that she knew everything, and not really caring what other people thought.  She is all about trying to approach God, and that leads to consideration best shown in Moses 1, "Now I know that man is nothing."  But despite that also being able to say, "I also am a son of God and have further thing to inquire of him."  And that reminds me of James Comey''s book on Leadership, contrasting the best leaders, who embody a combination of humility and confidence, as opposed to those who demonstrate a combination of pride and insecurity (e.g., "I have all the best words").

Alma 32 has a passage where Alma talks about how you do the experiment, see the growth, experience the expansion of the mind, the enlargement of the soul that goes with genuine learning, and asks, "If you knowledge perfect?"  And the answer, "Nay," but you have to continue the process.

Best,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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