Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fascinating Discussion on Mormonism and Politics

Back in 2007 we had a fascinating discussion on Mormonism and Politics involving the media and Richard Bushman.  Now in 2012, the next election cycle, Boston College has sponsored a fascinating panel discussion involving Kristine Haglund (editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and blogger at By Common Consent.  Parenthetically, one of my "favorite posts from other blogs" listed on my right sidebar is her "The Liturgy of Jello").  Both she and religion professor Stephen Prothero participate in an insightful discussion on Mormonism and politics.  The hour watching this on C-SPAN is an hour well spent.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pruning Our Bitter Fruit (And a Lesson From the Osmonds)

Some of my favorite insights have come from fellow bloggers, and Ray/Papa D once shared what I believe to be a significant insight in #3 of the following summary: 

1) God works with prophets in their own limitations all throughout history
2) The Restoration is a process not an event
3) The "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times" refers to the condition at the end of the dispensation--that the Jacob 5 concept of pruning will be accomplished fully only at the end. (There will be "bitter fruit" in the Church even after the Restoration – fruit that could be pruned only according to the strength of the root.  I don’t think that bitter fruit has been purged completely yet).

Just as Mormonism does not have a monopoly on truth, Mormonism also does not have an absence of error.  Naturally we taste bitter fruit whenever there is racism (such as the priesthood/temple ban and lingering folklore), inequality (women in the Church), or simply bigoted people who make it awfully hard to establish Zion (lack of compassion for our gay brothers and sisters comes to mind).

The goal of establishing a Zion community is a worthy goal, even if we must occasionally taste the bitter in order to know the sweet.  John Adams' July 3rd 1776 letter to his wife Abigail can be adapted to our day as well: "Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph, although you and I may rue, which I hope we shall not."  

We must be charitable and patient as the strength of the root grows so that bad fruit can be pruned and more good fruit can come forth.  Sometimes our "labor in the vineyard" may even seem more monotonous than joyful--something like what Jenkins Lloyd Jones wrote and which President Hinckley liked to share:

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. Most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise… Life is like an old-time rail journey — delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

I also suspect that another trick is to appreciate the good fruit without letting the bitter fruit make us bitter ourselves.  I take comfort in knowing, as we prune the bitter fruit, that one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch.  

Related videos (on a more lighthearted note):  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Standing Ovation and an Amen

[Update]  In addition to Brad's BCC post, I'm also wanting to applaud a beautiful guest post by Paul Reeve at Juvenile Instructor: "Professor Bott, Elijah Abel, and a Plea from the Past", Jana Riess' "Flunking Sainthood" post: "How Far Will the LDS Church Go in Cracking Down on Racism?", and finally Gabriel Gomes Fidalgo's powerful and moving personal story.

From Brad's post: Pride, Gross Iniquity, And Suffering For One's Sins:

"The question we should be asking ourselves is not why the ban was right until 1978, but rather why God permitted us to persist in doing something so obviously wrong until 1978. Part of the answer is that we insisted on it. We demanded it and refused to consider otherwise. We were defensive and obstinate and self-assured and prideful and utterly unwilling to consider that we were wrong, that what we were doing was wrong. Some of us were willing, but their very marginalization only marks them as exceptions that prove the general rule of our being very and prolongedly guilty of the above forms of unrepentance...

...The Kingdom’s growth and, by extension, the people of the world are paying a price for our unwillingness to publicly confess our sin, which we instead hide under a cloak of un-Christian folklore and false-doctrine and proud insistence that it wasn’t our fault, it was really God’s. When you have committed a great evil, and when you persisted in committing it for an extended period and at incalculable human cost, anything short of fully acknowledging it for what it truly is, and of anguished, broken-hearted contrition for having done it is not full repentance. And without full repentance, full redemption is not possible, but instead one must continue to suffer for one’s iniquities."