Category: Mormonism so-called


Wrote this in my journal yesterday and felt impressed to share it here, for whatever it’s worth: [emphasis in original; hyperlinks added, obvs]

I understand the appeal of giving up.  There’s a certain finality to it, which when you’re in the middle of something that as far as you know will never end can seem like deliverance in itself.  Where there is no vision, the people perish.  The question is whom do we trust to supply the vision?  That answer seems to be the most important.

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I’ll say this straight off: For me, this was the most important General Conference I’ve ever seen.  It’s not every 6 months that you go with a question and have nigh-on every talk touch on it in some way, and, like pieces of a puzzle, form a map to an answer.

I also think this conference is significant as a culmination of a certain urgency that I’ve been detecting in recent conferences.  The question before us is “Who do we trust as our guides?”.  This conference has laid out a guide to preparing for the trials to come, if we will accept it.  Otherwise, we may let our insistence that the Lord do things our way lead us to follow another path, and lack the necessary preparation. Continue reading

If it should be … the will of God that I might live to behold that temple completed and finished from the foundation to the top stone, I will say, ‘O Lord, it is enough. Lord, let thy servant depart in peace.’

Joseph Smith

Today I was set-apart as a counsellor in the Bishopric of my church congregation, and thus also ordained a High Priest.  While this could rightly be considered a significant personal event, it’s not normally something I would specifically mention on here (let alone announce!), but I do so because it provides a bookend for what has been a remarkable chapter personally that has taken place over (exactly) the last 365 days.

Much that has transpired I will not relate (and I doubt I ever will), but there are some things that I’ve learned from the experience that I wish to share and hope that it may be of benefit to you, dear reader!

  • We are fundamentally broken

Part of the reason we are to forgive all of everything is because if we didn’t we would spend our whole lives being offended.  Look closely enough and you will find the faults of others that you seek.

Part of the reason we are counselled against pride is because we do not see ourselves clearly.  To do so would probably be the ultimate demoralisation.

If you find yourself disheartened at your personal struggles, take comfort that everyone else is struggling too, in ways that do not show.

  • There is a long list of people in my life that I have let down and there’s nothing I can do about it

Because I (along with the rest of you) am fundamentally broken, there is much in my life I have not done that I should have, and this will continue to be the case for a long, long time.  I apologise in advance.

We are going to let each other down.  We simply are, and we won’t be able fix it.  We may not even know we broke it.  But take heart…

  • Both of the above are OK….as long as….

The wonder of the atonement and power of Christ is that it and He takes the broken and the wounded and, by degrees, leads the soul bearing the corruption of this world through the water and the fire and makes them fit for the kingdom of heaven and thus eternal union.  And this can all happen without people seeing it, or acknowledging it.

One of my new favourite scriptures is Helaman 3:29-30:

29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—

30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.

  • Priesthood keys are real

For all the faults of the ones holding them (and I know plenty about *that*!), God established an order and when a thing requires the involvement of keys, trying to work around them or avoid them will. not. work.  Just so you know!

  • We wink at the commandments of God at our peril

So much that the Lord asks us to do requires faith, because the consequences are, at best, non-obvious and at worst firmly counter-intuitive under our paradigms, but the results of ignoring that guidance are and will be devastating.  The worst part is we will do our level best to pretend that it didn’t really happen, or it’s no big deal.  That will be a lie.

  • We will confess at judgement that the Lord is just

At the last day, when we stand before God, we will bring our excuses, our theories, our rationalisations, even our Strong Reasons(TM) against Him, and watch in horror as they crumble to dust before what really is.

Picking that sort of fight is a hiding to nothing.  And we get nothing out of it.

  • Jesus stands at the door and knocks……….and waits…………

“For all of this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still”

Wherever you think you are, whatever you think your faith is like, whatever you think you have done, whatever you think *others* have done, the Saviour calls to you.  While we need to open the door, He will be there when we do, even if no one else is.

 

A bit of a disjointed hotch-potch pot-pourri, to be sure, but I couldn’t let today go without saying it.

Time for a grand adventure, methinks.  Let’s see what the next 365 has in store…

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

D&C 64:10

I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

D&C 38:27

Thinking about grievance got me thinking about forgiveness, and Zion, and then I saw this and I better understood something that’s been resting on me for a while.

More and more I find myself being drawn to the idea that what the Lord calls us to when we are invited to righteousness is not some abstract standard of behaviour, but rather a total unity; a kind of social intimacy that we can never truly grasp in our current state.  Our sins are what keep us from that union, again in ways we do not grasp, so much so that we scoff at the commandments intended to lead us there.

But other than our own sins, we can let other’s sins (and even things that are not sins) keep us from that union too.  We can harbour bitterness and resentment, and then when the time comes that all must be brought together, our pain will demand that we stay away.  Separate.  Alone, to some eternally damning degree.

We will need to lay all our burdens down if we are to enter that ultimate celestial union.  Even if, for now, we must keep some at arm’s length for our (or their) safety’s sake, we can still long for the day when all barriers can fall.  We can keep heaven in our heart.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows

The young woman laments the whole campus landscape of alcohol-soaked hookup sex. “Women are encouraged to do it, which ignores all the risks for us,” she says. “You get embarrassed and ashamed, so you try to make light of it. Then women get violated and degraded, and they accept it. Who does this culture benefit? Alcohol predators. It doesn’t liberate anybody.”

Emily Yoffe

I would be my brother’s keeper;
I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.

Lord, I Would Follow Thee (LDS Hymnal #220)

About once a month or so, I see an article/blog post like this one appear on my Facebook feed.  Every month the same argument is made, and each month it makes less sense to me.  As you can see, it’s now bothered me to the point where I blog about it.

First things first: I don’t like the phrase “Modest is hottest”.  Simply because I don’t like slogans in general.  They are far too reductive and people have a tendency to take a slogan and behave like it is self-evident truth in itself, when it is merely a mnemonic summary of a larger concept.  I understand why people use them, and can even accept that because I’m strange and most people aren’t like me that what I think isn’t actually relevant on this, but it doesn’t stop me being annoyed.

But that’s not what this post is about.  I want to talk about this strange backlash going on these days against the concept of modesty, more specifically the idea that part of modesty’s value (at least, the part of modesty that concerns dress) is that it reduces possible temptations for others (and this is typically referring to men).  Moore has written a fairly standard criticism of this for the most part, I think,  so it seems like a good post to examine.

Moore writes:

The second Article of Faith states, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins…” Constantly telling a girl that a man’s thoughts and actions are her responsibility is doctrinally incorrect.

Leaving aside the seamless shift from the earlier ‘occasionally hear[ing]’ to ‘constantly telling’, this subtly distorts the second article of faith, and obscures the scriptural fact that we do bear *a* (as distinct from *the*) responsibility towards others’ attitudes and actions.   Jacob, son of Lehi,  spoke of the duty he and his brother Joseph felt towards those for whom they had a stewardship to teach:

And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.

Alma the Younger’s guilt during his incapacity was centred on the effects his words and actions had had on others to the point where he considered what he had done as tantamount to murder:

Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.

Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

In an even more analogous case, Paul sought to avoid situations where his actions could be misinterpreted by those without sufficient gospel knowledge:

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.

For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

The concept of immodesty as temptation even pops up in General Conference from time to time, most explicitly in recent times by Elder Oaks, I believe.

The idea that the concept of interpersonal responsibility is undoctrinal is false.  Indeed, it is specifically refuted in scripture.  Yes, there are fundamental limits to that responsibility, but it exists nonetheless, and it stems out of the intention that we regard each other’s welfare as our own.

Moore continues:

It also translates closely to the idea that it is a woman’s responsibility to maintain the sexual standards of a relationship. Elder Jeffery R. Holland said, “I have heard all my life that it is the young woman who has to assume the responsibility for controlling the limits of intimacy in courtship because a young man cannot. What an unacceptable response to such a serious issue! What kind of man is he, what priesthood or power or strength or self-control does this man have that lets him develop in society, grow to the age of mature accountability, perhaps even pursue a university education and prepare to affect the future of colleagues and kingdoms and the course of the world, but yet does not have the mental capacity or the moral will to say, ‘I will not do that thing?’ No, this sorry drugstore psychology would have us say, ‘He just can’t help himself. His glands have complete control over his life–his mind, his will, his entire future.’… I refuse to buy some young man’s feigned innocence who wants to sin and call it psychology.”
[emphasis in Moore]

[First, an aside, the transcipt of this talk (which is definitely worth reading in full, btw) that Moore refers to has been edited (I think for reasons of translatability).  In the original talk, the sentence “What an unacceptable response…” above was actually “Nothing I have heard on this topic makes me want to throw up more than that!”, which is much more like Elder Holland language!!  Anyhoo…]

The irony here is that this passage actually makes my point for me.  What is it about male irresponsibility that disgusts Elder Holland so much?  That it means women end up taking on more responsibility, ie that male actions and attitudes makes the female’s life harder.  So Elder Holland chews the guys out.

Now consider how the address would have been different had the issue been that most women spent their life dressed for a slutwalk, while the men were showing excellent restraint.  Would he *really* have spent his time telling the men how they needed to keep on showing restraint and not said a word to the women?  The point is if we can reasonably adjust ourselves so as to be supportive of another’s efforts at righteousness, should we not do so?

As context for Elder Holland’s remarks, some Elder Christofferson:

There has long been a cultural double standard that expected women to be sexually circumspect while excusing male immorality. The unfairness of such a double standard is obvious, and it has been justifiably criticized and rejected. In that rejection, one would have hoped that men would rise to the higher, single standard, but just the opposite has occurred—women and girls are now encouraged to be as promiscuous as the double standard expected men to be*. Where once women’s higher standards demanded commitment and responsibility from men, we now have sexual relations without conscience, fatherless families, and growing poverty. Equal-opportunity promiscuity simply robs women of their moral influence and degrades all of society. In this hollow bargain, it is men who are “liberated” and women and children who suffer most.

*and this is something I’ve blogged on before.

It turns out though, that Moore does not, in fact, believe her own position:

I know in my own life, I have always been meticulously modest. However, I have constantly been at the receiving end of some of the most degrading comments. “Wow, you can tell you have a huge rack even in that sweatshirt!” and “You’re a solid 8, except for your boobs. They’re a 10,” probably come in as most memorable. I had FHE brothers admit to me that they assumed I was not a very good Mormon because of the way I’m built. As sweatshirt man pointed out, there is really only so much I can do, short of wearing a giant bag to hide the fact I look like a woman.

For a long time, when I would hear these things, my mind couldn’t but help think that it was somehow my fault. I clearly wasn’t a very good person, or else I wouldn’t be having men say things like this to me. My value as a daughter of God was being degraded, and instead of demanding to be treated like a human being, I shrunk back, thinking I had been the one in the wrong. [emphasis mine]

I get it.  Those guys were douches.  But the whole point of the post was that it should be irrelevant what other people are doing; we should be able to act and think rightly, regardless.  Why does Moore suddenly claim victim status, blaming the douches for her loss of self-worth?  Suck it up, kid.  After all, your feelings are not their responsibility…

This is what irks me the most about this concept.  If we really were completely self-contained agency modules, we could have just been plugged into our own personal (and personalised) instance of some kind of Matrix-style simulation and got things done.  Yet we are here with each other.  We are meant to be together.  What we do affects each other, and we are meant to care about that, because we are meant to be helping.

———–

PS – One final thought which, strictly speaking, isn’t on modesty but was actually what motivated me to post in the first place. Moore writes:

Someone once told me that when you are teaching women to change what they do to prevent being assaulted or raped, what you are actually doing is saying “Make sure he assaults someone else.” You are not fixing the real problem, which is the man’s problem.

I thought I had heard everything on this topic, but it turns out I was wrong, and it also turns that this is what makes me want to throw up most!  I’m astounded first at the utter naiveity of it, as if no-one had ever considered/tried telling rapists not to rape before, but what filled me with disdain most was the realisation that if ‘teaching women what they [can] do to prevent being assaulted or raped’ is equivalent to saying ‘make sure he assaults someone else’, then not teaching women would be equivalent to saying ‘You need to take one for the team’.

And if that doesn’t make you want to throw up, then you and I are about to have a falling out.

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while, but not been able to quite find the words I’m looking for.  As today is polling day in the States, and I want to write this before the results are announced, my hand is forced.  This *will* come out wrong.

Back in 2008, if I was a US citizen I would have voted for Obama.  McCain to me never seemed to grasp that there was something seriously wrong with the way Bush had done things on multiple fronts (pun intended).  Obama at least seemed to grasp the basic issue that *something* was wrong.  I was glad when he was elected, but I had a worry.  I worried about all the people who had voted for or against Obama simply because he was black (I remember seeing several interviews of the former from the public on election night and I think we’ve all seen examples of the latter).  I worried that Obama had a lot of expectation riding on him, and I wasn’t sure that while he saw that something was wrong, that he actually knew what to do about it.  I worried that an ineffectual or deleterious presidency from Obama would give fuel to the fire of those who think a black man should not be president.

On that latter worry I will let history judge, but I have to say Obama has to me been a great disappointment.  He had a chance to challenge the prevailing economic establishment.  He didn’t take it.  He had a chance to stop treating the office of the president as a cathedra, he didn’t take it (ironically he has at times just made it look impotent, which is not the same thing).  Guantanamo remains the symbol of the US ‘Do as I say’ approach to foreign policy and human rights.  Bush’s most egregious discardments of the principles of a free society remain intact in law, and in some cases expanded.  It’s curious to me the fuss that’s made by his opponents over Obamacare of all things.  Seriously, it’s small fry.

And that’s the real problem.  That people focus on the fripperies suggests that they’re swallowing the camels.  The Republican party still strikes me as group of people who, deep down, don’t think there was a problem before Obama.  Romney’s 47% comment is a case in point.  (Incidentally, I think the fuss that kicked off over that one was entirely manufactured – inasmuch as you had to really be listening dishonestly to say that it meant what people were claiming it meant – that Romney didn’t actually care about the *welfare* of those 47%)

The problem is not the ‘47% of people are so dependent they can’t see what’s good for them’ claim.  The problem is that he never seems to question ‘how did this come about?’  Does he seriously believe this state of affairs (assuming it’s accuracy) appeared in the last 4 years?  That Obama somehow magically turned a huge swathe of the US citizenry to vapid acquiescence in a single term?  The follies of right and left are symbiotic.  They cannot be explained in isolation, and so long as people try, the folly will remain.

The truth is I don’t really see a good choice in this election.  Both left and right would see victory as a vindication of their fundamental political assumptions, which they show no sign of questioning.

As for Romney, who knows what he would really do if elected.  I hold the same fear for him though as I did 4 years ago, that numerous people will cast their vote (for or against) purely on the basis of his religion, and that a bad Romney presidency would further marginalise us Mormons in a way we can barely dream of now, but then maybe I’m just too cynical these days and should just hope more…

*****

My reading of the Book of Mormon during this time has of course been coloured by my environment.  I’ve paid much more attention to the political setup of the Nephites and noticed a couple of things:

1) The elected leaders referred to as ‘Chief Judges’ never seem to have to face re-election and the people seem very keen to elect one of their sons when they die.  It’s as if culturally they still wanted a king, despite Mosiah’s warnings.

2) There are 3 instances when the Chief Judge is also the High Priest of the church.  In the case of Helaman, son of Helaman, his short reign passed without incident, but his son Nephi and prior to that his grandfather Alma (the younger), were faced with ministering to both a church and a nation that were spiralling into iniquity.  When faced with this challenge, they both made the same decision: to relinquish the judgement seat in order to spend more time preaching the gospel, as is recorded of Alma:

And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.

and of Nephi:

For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.

Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.

I don’t pretend to know if having Romney in the White House would ultimately be a good thing or not.  What strikes me however, is that the prophets who *had* political power gave it up because they believed that:

…the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.

The true revolution, I believe, will not be televised.

This is just a repost of something that popped up on my Facebook feed recently.

When I say (not), I mean because it doesn’t actually talk about the current controversy at all, but it seems relevant somehow.  I don’t want to comment any further, I think the linked post should be left to tell its own story.

 

A few of the things that stood out to me from the General Conference of the church last weekend:

Saturday Morning Session:

President Henry B. Eyring – Mountains to Climb

It is never too late to strengthen the foundation of faith. There is always time. With faith in the Savior, you can repent and plead for forgiveness. There is someone you can forgive. There is someone you can thank. There is someone you can serve and lift. You can do it wherever you are and however alone and deserted you may feel.

I cannot promise an end to your adversity in this life. I cannot assure you that your trials will seem to you to be only for a moment. One of the characteristics of trials in life is that they seem to make clocks slow down and then appear almost to stop.

There are reasons for that. Knowing those reasons may not give much comfort, but it can give you a feeling of patience. Those reasons come from this one fact: in Their perfect love for you, Heavenly Father and the Savior want you fitted to be with Them to live in families forever. Only those washed perfectly clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can be there.

Saturday Afternoon Session:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland – The Labourers in the Vineyard

This parable—like all parables—is not really about laborers or wages any more than the others are about sheep and goats. This is a story about God’s goodness, His patience and forgiveness, and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a story about generosity and compassion. It is a story about grace. It underscores the thought I heard many years ago that surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it.

I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.

Elder Richard G. Scott – How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life

Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously. It may seem paradoxical, but that is why recognizing answers to prayer can sometimes be very difficult. Sometimes we unwisely try to face life by depending on our own experience and capacity. It is much wiser for us to seek through prayer and divine inspiration to know what to do. Our obedience assures that when required, we can qualify for divine power to accomplish an inspired objective.

Priesthood Session:

Elder David A. Bednar – The Powers of Heaven

I believe my father was wrong to judge the validity of our Church’s claim to divine authority by the shortcomings of the men with whom he associated in our ward. But embedded in his question to me was a correct assumption that men who bear God’s holy priesthood should be different from other men. Men who hold the priesthood are not inherently better than other men, but they should act differently. Men who hold the priesthood should not only receive priesthood authority but also become worthy and faithful conduits of God’s power. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord”

I share with you this pointed lesson I learned from my father to emphasize a simple truth. Receiving the authority of the priesthood by the laying on of hands is an important beginning, but it is not enough. Ordination confers authority, but righteousness is required to act with power as we strive to lift souls, to teach and testify, to bless and counsel, and to advance the work of salvation.

Sunday Morning Session:

Elder D. Todd Christofferson – The Doctrine of Christ

How does the Savior reveal His will and doctrine to prophets, seers, and revelators? He may act by messenger or in His own person. He may speak by His own voice or by the voice of the Holy Spirit—a communication of Spirit to spirit that may be expressed in words or in feelings that convey understanding beyond words. He may direct Himself to His servants individually or acting in council.

Council deliberations will often include a weighing of canonized scriptures, the teachings of Church leaders, and past practice. But in the end, just as in the New Testament Church, the objective is not simply consensus among council members but revelation from God. It is a process involving both reason and faith for obtaining the mind and will of the Lord.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such.”President Clark…observed:

“To this point runs a simple story my father told me as a boy, I do not know on what authority, but it illustrates the point. His story was that during the excitement incident to the coming of [Johnston’s] Army, Brother Brigham preached to the people in a morning meeting a sermon vibrant with defiance to the approaching army, and declaring an intention to oppose and drive them back. In the afternoon meeting he arose and said that Brigham Young had been talking in the morning, but the Lord was going to talk now. He then delivered an address, the tempo of which was the opposite from the morning talk. …

“… The Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, whether the brethren in voicing their views are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’; and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest.”

Sunday Afternoon Session:

Elder Larry Y. Wilson – Only upon the Principles of Righteousness

We lose our right to the Lord’s Spirit and to whatever authority we have from God when we exercise control over another person in an unrighteous manner.  We may think such methods are for the good of the one being “controlled.” But anytime we try to compel someone to righteousness who can and should be exercising his or her own moral agency, we are acting unrighteously. When setting firm limits for another person is in order, those limits should always be administered with loving patience and in a way that teaches eternal principles.

We simply cannot force others to do the right thing. The scriptures make it clear that this is not God’s way.

Our children are in our homes for a limited time. If we wait until they walk out the door to turn over to them the reins of their moral agency, we have waited too long. They will not suddenly develop the ability to make wise decisions if they have never been free to make any important decisions while in our homes. Such children often either rebel against this compulsion or are crippled by an inability to make any decisions on their own.

Wise parents prepare their children to get along without them. They provide opportunities for growth as children acquire the spiritual maturity to exercise their agency properly. And yes, this means children will sometimes make mistakes and learn from them.

God tries our hearts

You might claim to have the facts, but the truth is true no matter how you act. (Idlewild – If it takes you home)

A few science v religion flamewars that I’ve come across recently have reminded me of something I learned about a year ago, and that’s that matters of faith are not related to matters of knowledge, at least knowledge as we understand it.  You can argue about whether a particular thing is true or not until you are blue in the face, and it won’t matter a jot.  Truth is not true because of the arguments employed for or against it.  It is simply true.  Our efforts to discern that truth are necessarily flawed, but I’ve reached the conclusion that it is precisely that ambiguity that enables God to accomplish his purposes.

I am increasingly convinced that when judgement comes, what will matter will be not the individual actions, thoughts etc, but rather our character, and character is something that can always be both strengthed by the workings of the Spirit, but also stretched, whether we understand the gospel or not.  It is why there will be many outside the gospel that will find themselves exalted and many within it that will find themselves abased.  It is in those times of stretching our hearts (rather than our minds) that the adversary finds his opportunity.

At all times, God seeks to enlarge our hearts, and that is not a pleasant process.  It is the ultimate abandonment of the comfort zone.  We’re not just doing something we’re not used to, we’re being something we’re not used to, and no matter how far we go down that road, the temptation will be there to say “It is enough!”.  We must necessarily go through times when we don’t see the point of it all (and I don’t mean weeks and months), in order to see the point of it all.  It will be the choice, made at total emotional and spiritual exhaustion, to go one more step, that will make all the difference.

Then we will know the truth for it will be in us.

The 'do' should be underlined as well!

The question is not whether we should or should not preserve the past, but what kind of past we have chosen to preserve. – Professor John Urry

I’ve known for a while that I am not a Conservative, but I have recently discovered that I’m not a conservative either, at least in my head. There have been a few changes in my life recently, all stemming from my decision at the beginning of the year to move out of my parent’s home. The way that decision came about leaves me convinced that the Lord has some purpose, yet to be revealed, in this happening, and I’m kind of excited to see what’s coming.

One of the changes is that I will no longer attend the congregation where I (both figuratively and literally) grew up. This means that the responsibilities that I had at that congregation have passed to another. I met with him on Tuesday to have a handover. He was one of my assistants before I left and so knew most of what I would pass on already, and I had witnessed his progression in the past couple of years. I came away from that meeting knowing that the Lord had put in place exactly who he wanted at the time he wanted it. One of the principles taught in the church is that one of the purposes of this life is to learn and grow by experience, and that our progression would be stopped if our circumstances stayed static. It’s interesting in this context to note that the Mormon definition of damnation is simply the cessation of progression.

As I consider these changes in my life and the troubles that we face as a people, it seems to me that we have imposed upon ourselves damnation of our society, and that conservatism is the root. We have a tendency as a culture to not just respect and learn from the past (there’s nothing wrong with that – indeed the ability to remember is, I would surmise, a fundamental prerequisite for intelligence), but also glorify it.  Some hark back to the days of empire, others dream of old pastoral England.  I’m sure we all get nostalgic.  It is important however, to see the past as it really is.  It’s very tempting to see the past (and the present) as the way things should be in the future, especially when we find that past comfortable personally.  The simple fact, however, is that change is the nature of life itself.  No moment is quite like another.  Your children will not be quite like you, and they will face a different situation than you did and will respond differently.

Indeed, we always subconsciously fight against this conservative notion.  We always have something we want to change, some way in which our lives can be improved.  To achieve it though requires the abandonment of the status quo.  In order for something to change, you must change something!  It seems absurd to say that in all its tautological glory, but it is a lesson often forgotten, not least of all by me.

So how do I think we damn ourselves as a society?  Here’s some suggestions:

  • We despise our political system and yet reject electoral reform.
  • We place the historical character of our towns and villages above the actual housing needs of people actually living.
  • We refuse to end the systemic robbery on which our economy is based, invoking the spectre of people possibly finding they need to move house.
  • We give people perpetual monopolies on our culture, in the name of protecting a cartoon mouse.

In order to progress, we’ll need to let go…