I’ve been stewing about this blog post for weeks, because I mean it to be provocative. I want to write about one of our most important Mormon doctrines, but it’s a topic that seems to be shrouded in a cultural taboo, like Heavenly Mother or polygamy. They used to sermonize about having your calling and election made sure a lot more than they do now. “They” being our church leaders. It was a naturally accepted piece of doctrine back in the days of Joseph Smith and the early saints. I imagine that every alert saint was keenly aware of whether or not they had personally been sealed up into eternal life by the Holy Spirit of Promise. I don’t know that we later latter-day saints give it much thought or attention anymore. But maybe we should. Continue reading
I have a dream that one day we will reach a critical mass of Zion-prepared people and the Lord Jesus will return in glory to live and reign here with us.
I have a dream that my children and my grandchildren and their children will inherit a healthy earth, that they will be freed from the tyranny of sin, free to grow in righteousness in a peaceful, joyful world.
I have a dream that one day I will talk with my Lord face to face, that I will learn all truth, line upon line, directly from the Source of Truth.
I have a dream that the church I love will one day be truly perfect, that everyone — of every gender and race and social class — will find a welcoming home, a place to rest and contribute, to love and be loved.
I have a dream, a powerful dream, of the celestial world, where my Mother and my Father reign in all perfection and glory, a celestial Home where I belong.
I have a dream of a marital partnership that mirrors our Parents’, to which we each bring divine power and tenderness, and with which we further the work and glory of our God.
I have a dream that every soul on earth and in heaven will come to know who they really are, that they will each embrace the grace of our Savior and come Home.
I have a dream, an impossible dream, that Love and Truth and Mercy will prevail, that humankind will finally find within themselves the divine spark that makes us beloved sons and daughters of God, the spark that once ignited and fanned, flames into glory, one precious soul at a time.
I dream the impossible. And I believe . . .
What do you dream?
“We believe the bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.” Article of Faith 8
“If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Article of Faith 13
As members of the church, I think we sometimes believe this in theory, but, at least when it comes to religion, we avoid the seeking part, unless it’s through “official” LDS channels.
Which is unfortunate. Because the fact is, we do not have the market cornered on truth. Nor is our culture a perfect fit for everyone. Sometimes you can hear the same message from two different people, and one of them will really reach you, while the other barely catches your notice.
It’s also unfortunate because as members, in conjunction with our traditional study methods, we have the Holy Ghost available to help guide us. He will let us know the truth of all things, so we don’t actually need to worry about being led astray if we seek with our hearts attuned to the spirit. When ideas don’t resonate; if they have a hollow sound and do not ring true, we will know they are of little value, and ultimately our learning will be directed toward truth, as described in D&C 93.
It’s with this in mind that I share thoughts about one area today.
A few weeks ago I was in Georgia visiting friends. They are Christians, and I had the opportunity to attend their church services while there.
It was my first time ever going to a “mega church”. And by mega, I mean many thousands of people. Between the seven different locations in the area, they have over 25,000 attendees each week. It’s a seriously fine-tuned operation.
It was a vastly different experience culturally, and I’m grateful for the renewed exposure it gave me into how many of our friends and neighbors experience religion and worship. It increased my appreciation for their goodness and faithfulness. A reminder of just how many truly good, humble, earnest people there are.
Services started with an (optional) live concert. Professional musicians performed while the whole thing was projected onto three huge screens. The audience was on it’s feet singing along when we arrived.
After the music, an excellent sermon was projected via satellite onto the huge screens. The pastor was quite engaging; his message was based on verses in 1 Corinthians. Every word he said rang true with my beliefs. It was part of a series of talks on the topic, and I thought it would be interesting to hear the others, so when I got home I went looking for them online. While searching, I found several excellent series that I’ve enjoyed listening to, as have my kids.
It is because I know everyone wrestles at some point with relationship issues that I share the following. For some time now I’ve been studying, fasting and praying for direction and answers. I knew I needed divine guidance about our situation, but it never occurred to me that perhaps the truths I sought would be presented by a Christian pastor on the internet. Yet perhaps this four-part series I stumbled upon, Staying In Love, is the missing link not only for us, but also some of you, fair readers.
Even though he no longer believes in any religion, my husband and I have watched all four parts together (they’re about 40 minutes each). Not only did we both enjoy them, they’ve inspired some very good discussions. Every word of these talks rang true to me, and I’ve gained insights I haven’t had before about the Savior and relationships. I don’t know what will happen with us, but either way I am grateful for the insights I gained.
Whether you are single or married, happy as clams or barely hanging on, I can’t imagine any couple not benefitting from these messages. And remember, you don’t have to worry about being misled. Just apply 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Our lives can only be richer as we incorporate truth from any source into them.
Have you ever found truth in unexpected places? Does the thought of attending another church make you uncomfortable? How could being more open to learning about other faiths or belief traditions build bridges and foster community with others? I know style matters, and these may not be to your liking, but if you’ve watched the talks I’ve linked to, what do you think? Did you feel the spirit while listening?
The parable of the talents bugs me, so I have spent some time wrestling with it, chomping on it, working some useful meaning from it into my bones.
I like that that the wealthy man gives the same reward to both servants who actually do something productive with what he’s given them:
Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Being a “ruler over many things” isn’t necessarily the future I want, but I just interpret that as “good stuff happens.” And I’m all over entering into the joy of the lord.
However, the poor third risk-averse guy recognizes that his boss has some markers of a personality disorder.
The servant knows the master is “hard.” (In fact the master admits he doesn’t have the most scrupulous business practices!) The boss doesn’t give him any instructions on what to do with the money; he just expects to collect it when he gets back. And heaven forbid the servant should lose the money in a venture gone wrong! So the servant does what he thinks safest to make sure nothing bad happens to it: he buries it. Can we really fault him?
Sure enough, the master returns and goes ballistic. Not only is the servant’s name Mud for not reading the master’s mind and earning some interest at least, but he’s cast into outer darkness.
I’m even more troubled by what I discover when I search for myself in this story. The truth is that I’m usually plagued by the fear that I’m not doing enough with what I’ve been given. I’m anxious that I won’t figure out the master’s mind about what to do with what I have. (And now I’m referring to the contemporary meaning of talents, not the ancient sum of money kind of talents; and I’m reading master as “Master”). I’m afraid that the Master is going to suss out my inner dumbness and whomp my backside for not recognizing just how much more I could have accomplished if I hadn’t been such a timid nincompoop.
(Where did I get such a skewed image of what the real Master is like? Hmm. Maybe from simplistic readings of multi-layered parables like this, from vast passages of the Old Testament, and from not asking enough questions?)
Wait a minute! Maybe I’m getting more out of this parable than I thought! The master – in his reasonable frame of mind – lauds those first two servants for being “good and faithful” and rewards them with abundance. Goodness. Faith. I think I’m on to something.
It’s the fretful, anxious, uptight servant whose mind is all focused on the possibility of calamity and loss who ends up with … calamity and loss.
I’m not saying that this resolves all my quibbles with the personality of the master portrayed in this story, but when I sit in this story, when I gnaw on its bones, I feel myself called to let go of my fears and experiment with the talents I’ve been given, have some fun, give ‘em a go! It’s not a comparison with the others around me who have five to my two or ten to my four. It’s a mind set of acceptance, gratitude, expansion, joy!
This is only an appetizer of what this story, what the scriptures, can reveal when I get in there and munch. I’ve got an appetite for more!
In a couple of weeks my youngest daughter will receive her patriarchal blessing. She’s only thirteen, but for six months now she has been pestering me and my husband about getting her blessing. At first I brushed her off, thinking she wouldn’t be able to understand the blessing’s significance at such a young age, and told her it would be best if she waited until she was a little older. But she persisted. To her credit, for the past several months she has researched patriarchal blessings on her own, read talks and articles, asked me and my husband questions, fasted, pondered, and prayed. Her desire for her blessing has never waned, nor has her insistence that she is ready. Continue reading