Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bedtime story

I just finished watching The Mormons on PBS and it wasn't a bad flick. As I sit here with droopy eyes ready to doze off for the evening, I'm just alarmed at how blessed my life is. I've been meaning to write more "stories" on my blog, so maybe I can pop out a quick one before I slip into my sleepy coma.

I remember one of the interviewees in the documentary saying that it didn't matter all the good that came from the church if it were a fraud. None of the goodness mattered if the historicity demonstrated that it was all based on a fabrication. I don't remember the exact quote, so I hope I'm not giving a really bad paraphrase, but I just can't agree with the guy.

I've never been one to get wrapped up in the historical debates of controversial church issues. Those sorts of discussions just don't float my boat. Regarding the "facts" of polygamy and blacks and ERA and Mountain Meadows massacre... I still have a lot to learn. I do think that in the end the church is true not just in overall effect, but in the details.

When I was a kid, a friend of mine quipped that even if the church isn't true it's still a helluva way to live. I thought he was an idiot. I was a very idealistic little boy and my primary interest was in the truth. The absolute truth.

However; when I watch the cameras flip back and forth between Elder Jensen and various critics of the church, there's almost a demonstrable difference in light in their faces. It's not that the critics weren't nice folks, smart folks, good folks... but the church has had a refining effect on Elder Oaks and President Hinckley and Elder Jensen that seemed amazingly stark to me. Isn't that something to the credit of the church despite whatever academic squabbling a person wants to undertake?

At the end of the day I feel very happy knowing that a large portion (if not all) of the happiness I have in my life extends from my family and the happiness in my family extends from trying to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that gospel has come through this church.

Ok, kids. There you go. That is what you might call a "flight of ideas" post from your schizophrenic friend, -L-. And now, with no regard to whether anything I just wrote made any sense whatsoever, I publish and sleep.


Tito said...

Tal Bachman, the man who made the comments you referred to, has become something of an anathema to the Church. Years ago, after his hit single, “She’s So High,” remember reading an article about him saying something to the effect that he was an anomaly in the rock community because he had several children all from the same woman. If I remember correctly, it also mentioned him missing an awards ceremony because it was on Sunday.

Since that time, however, he has left the Church, but is one of the classics who simply cannot leave it alone. He’s become one of the most rabid of anti-Mormons. I’ve occasionally read posts of his on ex-Mormon sites, and they are about as polemical and extreme as they come. He’s become a pretty shrill and negative individual—at least when it comes to the Church.

Scot said...

I just can't agree with the guy.

This would be just fine if there weren’t side effects. The majority in the LDS faith may get a lot of pleasure from it but there are others: the child excluded from his neighborhood friends for having a family of a minority faith, the gay kid brought to desperation, and the homemaker on antidepressants just to keep up emitting that Mat 5:16 light. If it’s true, all that is a reasonable price. If not, to believe something because it ends up feeling good becomes problematic.

When you know something is true when it isn’t you’ll have all sorts of conflict with either the truth or others who believe similarly in something that’s not true. I mean, over the last year I’ve become good friends with a Muslim woman. She’s amazing and also gets a lot of joy out what her faith and its teaching have brought her and her family. But the same puts a wedge between us and the same wedge between her and the LDS; we are both her heretics in light of the truth :-).

I do know debating and examining the details certainly promises little enough to justify your not getting wrapped up in the historical debates and such. No religion will stand or fall on such examination anyway. But I’m just saying I agreed with the guy; it matters, if true or not.

PS We watched it last night too and thought it was well done and balanced. I wondered how you'd feel about its fairness, but I'm glad you didn't think it bad either.

Loyalist (with defects) said...

That's the heart of the whole issue as to whether or not its true. but that is also only a question individuals can make for themselves. it can't be foisted upon others passively or with agression.

For Mormon's and their idea of truth there is an all or nothing attitude. take it or leave it. As if there single choice for every single option out there.

but as LDS we must be open to new ideas (within and without). we must also examine our actions (past,present) and adjust them under the light of new knowlege.

when i teach EQ i constantly tell them that the gospel is for "thinking" men and women. We certainly have plenty of "blind" followers and as Tal indicated there are some few individual who, if told, would do whatever they were told even to the most extreams. I do believe this is a relativel small portion.

I dont criticize, but i do question and if that doesn't make me a good mormon, i can live with it.

-L- said...

I hear you, Scot. I look back over this post now and have no real idea what I was trying to say. I think I was thinking along the lines of 'the end justifies the means' (which is a whole 'nother philosophical topic!), but when you are looking at ends you've got to include both the good and the bad.

I would say the light in the eyes is more than anti-depressants. And I think it is substantially darkened when the person excludes religious minority playmates, etc.

Basically, I do think it matters whether it's true or not. (And it is. True, that is.) But his rejection of all the good as irrelevant if it is untrue is not a valid extension of that (and that's the notion I disagree with). As I said, I may not remember his exact point well enough to be criticizing it.

Scot said...

" I would say the light in the eyes is more than anti-depressants."

Sure. I was saying the pressure to keep that shine up results in the need for some, again, a minority. It’s a cliché around Utah suburbs but I am thinking of the duel lives of a couple mothers of my childhood friends.

" As I said, I may not remember his exact point well enough to be criticizing it."

I’m not sure I remember it clearly either. I remember it as though he could not teach his children the LDS faith, despite the good in a lot of the lessons, when, to his mind, he knows it’s not true. I know even some atheists disagree and go to various churches for such benefits. But I didn’t gather this meant he meant to reject of all the good as irrelevant, and he would, just like I, see a shared benefit in the majority of the same values for his family (If he doesn’t though and I misunderstood I’ll call him a jerk :-)).