Sunday, April 3, 2016

Your Mother's Survival Guide for Church Membership

As a convert to the Church, I feel the weight of responsibility for how my descendants will come to know God. While I continue to maintain this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and it contains within it the necessary ordinances of salvation with proper priesthood authority, there are briers, thistles, and thorns of human error and cultural norms that make the journey towards those blessings painful. To my children and their children and so on, I offer my guide to surviving Mormonism should they choose to proceed of their own free will and choice:

Give strict heed to true messages from God. This is not the same as blind obedience:

Today I've been catching up on General Conference. Some people look forward to hearing these talks, ready to accept anything they hear from the pulpit. But why is it that we're encouraged to search, ponder and pray first? Because what should actually happen is we receive a token of remembrance, a ringing true in our mind that what we're hearing is correct. After that, we must exercise faith (even a small particle) and confirmation (or sign) will be given to us. Then shall we know these are true messages from God. There is a checks and balances setup here because the leaders of the Church are human like you and me, and humans are not perfect (#ponderize).

When confronted with sanctioned gender inequality there are two possibilities here:

      1. Accept this setup as divinely inspired only after confirmation by the Spirit AND realize it must be temporal in nature AND acknowledge that it is a trial meant to be endured, not enjoyed.
      2. Recognize this is the result of men's philosophies mingled with scripture. 

In both of these cases, you will need to fall back on the simple truths of the Gospel, which teach us that Christ suffered and died for us individually as equals. It also helps to surround yourself by like-minded individuals who will sustain you in this endeavor.

Beware the following commonly used phrases, which serve as pitfalls to mercy and have little or no foundation in the scriptures:
  • "Self-Reliance"
  • "Hey, we ALL have trials."
  • "Happiness is a choice"
  • "You must choose not to be offended"

I've talked about self-reliance before, and previously explained why comparisons of suffering help no one.

Is he just not trying hard enough to smile?

While it's true that in order to become happy one must actively find joy in his/her present circumstance, there are enough people experiencing acute, exquisite pain for whom hearing this little factoid would not be helpful nor presently applicable. 

Modern-day members would have told Jesus he was choosing to be offended right here

The oft quoted, "It's a choice whether to be offended" is also problematic. Dr. Julie Hanks does a great job of discussing that here. I would like to point out that this phrase frequently has anti-feminist undertones and is used to paint women as hysterical when they voice their concerns. In other instances it discourages members from speaking up about injustices. Like the "happiness is a choice" barb, there is underlying truth to this principle: We are ultimately responsible for what we do with our feelings, but this is not how this phrase is being used most of the time.

You come from community activists. Keep up the good fight. 

Modern Latter-day saints are all about following the rules, working within the hierarchy, and being subject to those with power. I see the value in this, I really do. But protests and civil disobedience for righteous causes have their many examples in the Book of Mormon, too. Know that this departed soul would look down with glee to see her descendants standing up for what is right. To do this the correct way, seek inspiration and humility and all will be well.

Tertiary service has its place, but don't forget to get face-to-face with your brothers and sisters. 

Mormons love to get together and put things in boxes and ship them off to needy people. That's great. That's wonderful, but that doesn't replace primary interactions where you literally clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, and mourn with those who mourn. --Yes, even and especially those not of our faith.

For crying out loud, the GOP is not the Lord's party. Neither is the Democratic one. Nor  Libertarian and so on. 

Be true to yourself and pick the best candidate based on your own thoughts, morals, and objectives.

People will think they are literally God's gift to earth because they are white, from Utah, and from pioneer stock. They will try to use scriptures to support this. 

Run! RUN! Get away from these people. You know my preference: Stay out of the Mountain West and attend a nice liberal arts school away from this craziness. :)

"This is for the people of the sun."

This Church, at least as it stands today, can be rough on minorities. I can't tell you how sorry I feel for bringing upon my descendants the inevitable struggle and soul-searching that will take place when they hear terms like "white and delightsome." Here's some consolation for my Latino kids:

  1. For starters, we know that the Lamanites will blossom as the rose. As I type this, I've recently learned that 3 out of 4 newly announced temples will be built in Latin America. 
  2. In the Book of Mormon, Church members are warned that if they continue in their evil ways "a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among [them] as a lion, and tear [them] in pieces, and there is none to deliver." That's us, guys. We're the lion.
    This warning is given again to the Gentiles here.
  3. As if that weren't enough, members of the church are told their idolatry and enmity towards our people will eventually cause them to "bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of [our] feet."
So who's delightsome now?

Last words:
This post will continue to grow overtime, I'm sure, so I'm going to stop here for now and come back to this. Tonight I bury this record in the interwebs for my children, and their children, and their children's children and so on. And I know it is of great worth because this is the only way Mama knows how to get through Sunday. 

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