Saturday, 1 February 2014

Why?


In November 2013 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began releasing essays addressing controversial church history in its Gospel Topics section on LDS.org. This was done without any press release or notice and has come as a bit of a surprise to the wider church membership. Most people have only become aware of it through blogs and links on social media.

The first of these essays addressed the varying accounts of the 'First Vision' which caused a few ripples. But the statement that caught the attention of most people was 'Race and the Priesthood' which was a revolutionary departure from the usual subdued introspection of our past and its impact. Overnight blogs and podcasts sought to digest the material and make sense of it.

Why is this being done? With the effect of the Internet making historical documents available to everyone, it is easy to come across material which challenges the church's current teachings. Some very prominent members in high leadership positions have gone public with their doubts and the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney has highlighted some areas where the church is not very consistent.

Elder Snow, Church Historian and Seventy explains:

“My view is that being open about our history solves a whole lot more problems than it creates. We might not have all the answers, but if we are open (and we now have pretty remarkable transparency), then I think in the long run that will serve us well. I think in the past there was a tendency to keep a lot of the records closed or at least not give access to information. But the world has changed in the last generation—with the access to information on the Internet, we can’t continue that pattern; I think we need to continue to be more open. Fortunately Seminaries and Institutes and Curriculum have really stepped up and said in essence, ‘You know we really want to take this on, we would like to talk about these sensitive issues in our seminaries and institutes.’ It’s one thing to tell a fourteen-year-old some of these sensitive things and they say, ‘OK, that’s great.’ But sometimes when you are twenty-something, it comes across a little differently. I think we can build faith and better prepare people if we will weave some of the unusual threads in history into the curriculum.” - Elder Steven Snow (Also see this video

In the absence of any official channels to ask more questions about these essays and also to help make sense of the information - this blog was created. I hope that it will provide a forum for discussion for each statement and its impact to our understanding of the gospel, the church and our faith. I invite you to participate.

Regards

Ganesh Cherian

http://www.kutv.com/template/cgi-bin/archived.pl?type=basic&file=/news/top-stories/stories/archive/2013/12/IjdLBB3D.xml



18 comments:

  1. I think you have been very thoughtful in your blogs and exposing the inconsistancies and pablem that has been fed to the members of the True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe in being We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, as long as it suits us. The church has lied consistantly to further it's work. I don't understand what that is? Most of it is lies and the belief in Christ is genuine but all Christian churches fulfill that, so what was the main purpose of the LDS church. In the begenning was is based on personal gain, status, recognition, then sex and exploitation? Then develope into a money maker? Not the vast machine is rolling across the world tapping into all the coffers there too. Now it is cover you ass time and damage control. They need the money, but like all pyramid schemes it is bound to fall. by jaw

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope that there are better motives. :)

      Delete
  2. Ganesh, I have enjoyed reading your commentary over the past few days. I have tread the same path as you and have a lot of empathy for the journey you're on. I am the great....great grandson of Orson Pratt and was born in the church, served a faithful mission to Korea and my last calling was a gospel doctrine teacher. I highly recommend any books by Steven Hassan, which helped me understand and come to terms with my 'faith crisis' some years ago. Here is a link to his website...

    http://freedomofmind.com/

    When my first daughter was born, I reached a bit of fork in the road between loyalty ('true to the faith') or personal integrity. After a few years of sincere research and introspection I decided the greatest tribute to the best of what Mormonism teaches is to choose the right and let the consequence follow, to live a life of integrity - or to be true to one's self - as my mission president used to say. At the end of the day, we are all still brothers and sisters regardless of our views on religion.

    I would very much welcome any personal correspondence with you, if you are so inclined. My personal email address is lkschinook@yahoo.com

    -Lantz Stringham



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lantz, very thoughtful.

      That website is confronting... not sure I am ready for it yet..... but I will explore it in due course.

      :)

      Delete
  3. I read your thoughtful post today on KiwiMormon and appreciate these posts as well. I'm a 5th generation Mormon, a BYU grad, married in the Temple, very active etc, but have had serious doubts for about a year. I just finished reading Rough Stone Rolling and no longer believe in the restoration. I now feel very conflicted about how to proceed in participating in the church.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A friend and member of the Stake Presidency just gave me that book this morning..... guess it might not clear the water then. ;)

      If there is any hope that I can offer, its that from the last few days and reaction to the blog post, thousands of people are feeling the same way as you. I think the church will change quite dramatically very soon and you will find yourself with something important to contribute.

      :)

      Delete
  4. Ganesh, I really applaud your courage to blog about these essays; and the kindness you show to those who disagree with you in the comment section. I'm not LDS, never have been. But I have long admired and studied the LDS faith and history. As you struggle to come to terms with your understanding of LDS history, please keep in mind that the LORD often uses very flawed men (and their organizations) to accomplish His purposes. Though the foundation of the LDS church might be flawed, the foundation of God's redemptive work--the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ--is not. Keep close to Jesus and your Heavenly Father as you journey through this process and I am confident you will come through it with a much stronger relationship with them than you could have otherwise. Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if the Lord then has used flawed people to make up by themselves all sorts of teachings including the temple work, baptism for dead, endowments etc) that are nothing to do with His real divine plan and purpose for us? How do we know for sure now, that the BOM, POGP & D&C is even true at all? I read somewhere that there is another book out there written before the BOM was ever[published that has similar story lines and characters to the BOM - had Joseph read this prior and did it inspire his muse to create all these other scriptures we have believed? trusted? were so sure was of the Lord & the most correct of any book? I used to think like you say about flawed men and choose to be ignorant, but I simply can't no more - I'm so in doubt!!

      We can all say we prayed and felt the Holy Ghost - our confirmation/answer, but why then is it that I have felt this same kind of lovely feeling all my life in other situations that have been non-LDS related? Was it the Holy Ghost just following me around then? For myself, I don't think so. The Holy Ghost also feels a lot like feelings one can experience from ASMR (meaning: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a physical sensation characterized by a pleasurable tingling that typically begins in the head and scalp, and often moves down the spine, through and around the chest and through the limbs.).

      I also had the Jehova Witness' knock at my door the other week to share a short scripture and guess what....I felt strongly that same Holy Ghost feeling. The question is, if our church is the one true one, then I don't know why the Spirit would reign with the JW's? For me they triggered ASMR sensations in my brain with their nice meditative way of relaxed talking.

      Maybe the key is to follow Jesus' teachings and examples alone. His teachings are very powerful, strong, say so much.

      Delete
    2. The feelings of the HG, as we teach in the LDS church, are many and varied...yet the same Spirit. I know growing up as non LDS and attending sunday in another faith I certainly felt those feelings as we sang about Jesus...and because I grew up not understanding what I needed to do to continue to have those feelings...I soon lost them because I chose behaviour that drove it away. Since joining the Church my entire life revolves around becoming a follower of Jesus Christ...everything we teach, or believe is directed towards binding us to Him more fully. It is challenging being His disciple with peaks and valleys..
      However I am confident that this church has always been led by ordained prophets and apostles ,divinely appointed, who administer His gospel and its associated ordinances for the salvation of all people who will come unto Him.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for your thoughts 'be Ready'. You have a different perspective and something worthwhile to add to the mix.

    I appreciate what you are saying and it was beautifully articulated by what a High Council friend said to me on Sunday. That he thought this process was great for the church because it would help us orientate ourselves to God where our alegience should be - rather than men who will be flawed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. They reached a 'critical mass" a long time ago so not so overly concerned about the fallout. Financially they have alternate source in business income that they have aggressively pursued to cover the "inner circle" for life. It may go the way of the RLDS in the future when the courage for truth surfaces in a grander scale with the rising generation. Another example is the FLDS in their ability to survive even as splinter groups.The Utah based corporation of the church is a splinter group amongst many after the death of Joseph Smith. It is a Bringhamite church.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Brother Ganesh, I would try this website...

    http://rationalfaiths.com/

    It is very up front about being questioning, doubting, and conflicted. But it is also uplifting, wonderfully invested, and intellectually stimulating. I personally love it, and you may find what you are looking for here.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have always had the odd doubts about a few issues at church, and whenever I'd express and ask questions to family members or other church members, was always met with a shrug of shoulders coupled with statements like "That's just the way it is, we have faith in our Leaders" or met with very uncomfortable reactions as it seems a lot of people I encountered did not want to 'go there' or even ask themselves such questions. They would rather sweep it under the carpet and make-believe it doesn't really exist. That was never really good enough for me, though I managed to keep it locked up in a room in my mind.

    However, with the discovery of these essays released from the church, I am so astounded, & that room has unlocked! This was the first real awakening for me when I truly started questioning if my doubts/senses all these years were in fact true intuitions for myself. Before this, I would still think overall what the church taught and told us was mainly accurate but never liked coming across only part information (eg: when we studied the Joseph Smith book in RS, it only mentions he married Emma Smith, & no mention of the other wives). These essays from the church really cut me and I've never felt the same since. I'm also finally being completely honest with myself with all the weighing up of evidence/references, and not prepared to sit back and be an idiot any longer.

    I am tired of my family trying to come up with useless lame excuse as to why we should just accept things as are without question or pondering, and get fed up when their explanations have no solid foundation to them - lots of empty words all supposedly true because of 'Faith'.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Continued...

    A very dear friend of mine has been telling me for years now how ridiculous and made up this all is after all the things I shared with her over the years (thinking I was sharing the gospel), in fact she thought even less of the LDS church after hearing more about it. She can hardly believe all the fabled fairy-tale nonsense we all believe(d) and thinks Mormons obviously can't be very smart people. She also thinks people who are quite unsure of themselves and or insecure cling to believe this sort of religion as it promises security for eternity (being together with family forever, promises of being Gods & Goddesses with a perfect body etc). At the same time all these teachings have caused myself far more distress, fear and displeasure in life, as a result I have let opportunities pass me by incase they might be displeasing to the Lord or not in harmony with his teachings (questions like these are asked in Temple recommend interviews) when in fact they are very normal, worthwhile things.

    I now see all my friend has tried to tell me over the years to now in fact be true and I can't believe I've been so ignorant as if under a spell all these years. All the time and money I've wasted, all the crap I've told friends (to find out it's probably all lies and most inaccurate).

    I spent all yesterday reading online (where I stumbled upon your blog, and btw your essays are excellent and well thought out). I watched a small documentary on youtube, and was saddened to hear the church used to practice blood atonement years back (something I never knew and I suppose is another among many hidden dark secrets of bizarre going ons performed by people we are all meant to love, trust, believe in and put our whole life on the line for).

    Another thing is we can make ourselves believe we have all we do due to blessings, being faithful members etc, but why then do others who are not members also have this same amount of blessings and abundance in their life with only difference being they are not members? It's got to make one wonder... seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Continued...

    I am also displeased to discover the symbols on garments and used in temples are in fact borrowed ideas from Masonry which do not actually exist in Christian history but come from pagan and occult origin. Discovering this information (never bothered to look into it before) has me thinking is the endowment really directly from Heavenly Father? or was this just a Joseph Smith idea?

    This information in particular makes me wonder:

    "Joseph Smith was initiated as a first degree mason on Mar 15, 1842 and the next day became a master mason.
    Two weeks later on Mar 30th, he organized the Mormon women's organization "The Relief Society" using masonic terminology. He told the women they "should grow up by degrees," they should be "sufficiently skill'd in Masonry as to keep a secret," and they should be "good masons."

    On May 4th, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum introduced the Mormon endowment ceremony to nine men. The next day, Joseph and Hyrum received their endowments by these men." (see: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-lost-symbol-mormonism-and-masonry)

    At this time I'm finding comfort in this extract (see this documentary at time: 12.15) what this lovely, wise, ex Mormon lady says):

    "I'm amazed and I'm saddened that I gave 31 years in Mormonism believing that I could not go to heaven without the consent of Joseph Smith. I want Mormons to realise that Jesus died for all my sins and all their sins, that neither of us need Joseph Smith, Blood Atonement, Temple Marriage, the wearing of Mormon Temple Garments, or any of those other things that Mormon's have added to the blessed story of the Son of God."

    You may find bits of this documentary interesting... it's quite an old video.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtkcKiufZSQ&noredirect=1

    I believe this sums things up nicely. I'm saddened the more I look into things, I'm discovering more and more inaccuracies and lies.

    Who is the truth and what is the truth?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey Ganesh...hope all is well. I too have learnt alot of side liner stories about the church and modern day prophets...some from family struggling with testimonies...it does in the end come down to faith...pure and simple...for me. I have just completed teaching the BOM in seminary and have a strong testimony of its divine origin and message. I think if one wants to find fault with the church and the people in it...not hard. Interestingly much of the BOM reflects just that...members losing there way and turning on the church...yet the message is the same...the Lord continues to reach out to them. Sadly, the greatest detractors are members who have dwindled in unbelief, and ever will be it seems...just like in the BOM. Sad but true...however that is the gift of agency...the golden thread in the perfect plan of a Fathers love for His children. Love it...agency...we get to choose how we apply our faith.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just came across your post on kiwi Mormon. just wondering where you are with your faith/membership 2 years later....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there. Good question.

      I am still an active faithful member, but my understanding has changed and deepened. I went on to do a lot of research on polygamy which was very challenging but rewarding. I have since done a bit of public advocacy for the marginalised in our community. I am deeply interested in the openness that the church is trying to do, but suspicious about the dual church that we are currently operating i.e nuance in print showing how we have got it wrong but double-down over the pulpit.

      Generally though I am my same happy, generous, committed person I have always been but with a greater appreciation of the messy and complicated. :)

      Delete