Is There No Other Way?

What a giant mess. As I approach the ten-year mark of my baptism, I realize more and more clearly that conversion is not a succinct pinpoint in time. It’s a grand, messy, ongoing, trying process. Becoming something aside from our easy, default self requires the constant renting of the shell we build around our hearts and selves, and the process is uncomfortable.

There is a lot I’m uncomfortable with in my Church. There is a lot I’m uncomfortable with in myself- but only one of those do I have any real power to change. That fact, in and of itself, is something I am uncomfortable with— the invisibility and institutional impotence of women in my church is something that causes me ongoing and continuous discomfort. The discourse of “modesty”, ad infinitum, makes me feel ill, particularly when I look at my own children. The constant and firmly entrenched conflation of the culture of my church with the Gospel of Christ creates an environment alienating to converts and infuriating at times.

Then I receive a letter from a friend who is concerned that my feminism has put my soul in jeopardy. I sit down and cry. Where did we go so far off the rails as a people and a church? I wonder. How did the church Joseph restored, where women had voices and were the first suffragettes, where Utah gave women the vote first and my prophet Joseph welcomed all into his home, become so… narrow?

Then, like a whisper, I hear (or feel. or something)… “there is no other way.”

This grand mess we have is the best we have, and like my conversion, it’s a work in constant process. Learning to sort the culture from Gospel is what has allowed me, personally, despite (or because of?) myself and my discomfort, to figure out what the Gospel actually means to me. It is what allows me to call my testimony my own, and to know that it truly belongs to me. I know I’m not living on borrowed light, because no one has the same oil in her lamp as I do in mine. Her oil wouldn’t light my lamp.

At heart, this makes me a big-tent Mormon. There is room for my friend who is frightened of my feminist leanings and there is room for me, who finds a way to sustain my leaders by sometimes keeping my opinions to myself. There is room for my gay friend who choses to this faith and claims the space he deserves, and there is room for my friend who spouts what I find irresponsible boilerplate about ‘loving the sinner, hating the sin”. As hard as this is for me to admit, there is room for the woman who puts her infant daughter in temple-worthy outfits, and there is room for my daughter, in a sundress and shorts. There is room for my friend who eschews caffeine and ‘the appearance of evil” and there is room for me, who tries not to laugh at Coke being ‘evil’ as I pop my third can today.

What there is not room for is any one of us believing our way is the only way. There is not room for a friend believing she is more righteous than anyone else because of her children’s clothing, or that the beverages in one’s refrigerator are indicative of faith. There is no room for the judgment of another’s life, because whatever our leaders may or may not say, it’s always trumped by the Savior. I shall not judge. I shall not cast the first stone. I shall turn the other cheek. I shall comfort those in need, I shall be merciful, and I shall seek the kingdom of heaven. I’ve been looking all morning and I cannot find one favorable word Jesus said about measuring myself against my brothers or sisters.

He invites me to come unto Him. He invites me, me with my feminism, burgeoning intellectual single-mom status, in all my messy brokenness and ongoing breaking, which is neither greater nor less than yours, to come until Him.

It’s the only way.

Comments

  1. I think you just described charity.

  2. I completely agree that the Lord doesn’t want us to measure ourselves and our progress with our neighbor, but he does provide a pretty clear measuring stick for those who want to be his disciples:

    What manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.

    Your conclusion points to this. Does the difference come down to what kind of person we interpret the Savior as wanting us to be? I tend to look to his special witnesses as exemplifying the direction we should direct our character. Clearly, they aren’t “there yet” either, but I think they are farther along so I value their counsel on day to day matters just as much as I would the Saviors, were he here. Isn’t that what priesthood authority is supposed to be? Those witnesses who live their lives righteously, have power to know the mind and while of God and can convey it with authority.

    I really like the sentiment this ends with. I find the scorn the so called left heaps back on the right for their misdeeds pretty hypocritical considering how quick the left is to soften, excuse, even attempt to redefine as possible doctrine, some moral misdeeds on the left.What it looks like to me is compassion for my ideological allies imperfections and derision for my ideological foes imperfections.

    The whole thing is just sad, and I wish we could all just take the advice given in the last paragraph whenever we see something that bothers us… He invites me to come unto Him. What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.

  3. You lost me, kaphor. I sustain the witnesses of Christ, but I don’t believe they are exempt from the distorting lens of their own mortality any more than I am. The privilege they have is in being called, and being able to devote more of their lives to that calling than another. That may or may not lead to clarity, as can be seen in the study of our historical record. We are to pray and ponder these things and decide for ourselves.

    I would easily be labeled one of the ‘left’ that heaps scorn, based on what you said. That’s what I was trying to get away from– none of us gets to call out the perceived misdeeds of any side or any individual. The clarion call is to come unto Christ. Every. Last. One. Of. Us.

  4. Thank you so much, Tracy! As a gay man returning to the fold after ten years–with my own trajectory of spiritual growth in the meantime–it is very helpful to hear that we each have our own oil in our lamps. Just as I am receiving spiritual gifts already from church lessons and fellowship, perhaps my unique journey can add something valuable to the community of saints.

  5. But is there room for someone who doesn’t think there is room for me or Tracy M or kaphor? Seriously, is there?

  6. Amen!
    The ongoing battle between culture and the Gospel. You culture is not the Gospel and the Gospel is not your culture. IMHO, the Gospel is Heavenly Father’s direction on how we should live our lives in the hear and now. Culture is man’s direction on how we should live our lives. I choose to follow Heavenly Father’s will, rather than Man’s.

    I have chosen to accept the Church’s teachings because when I joined and was baptised I made a decision to submit but I also know that the Church is made up of men and women and they are subject to error and mistakes. Much that is taught will become clear in the end and I hold on to that which I know will change my life for the better in the here and now.

  7. Yeah, RJ. But I or you or kaphor also have the ability to claim our place, even in the face of being told there is no room.

  8. But is there room for someone who doesn’t think there is room for me or Tracy M or kaphor? Seriously, is there?

    My ancient grandmother, whose bitterness and anger is only fueled by her dementia, has a thing or two to learn about the gospel, meaning, what it means to strive toward being Christlike. At one time, I believed that once she did, she would be granted her greatest wish, which is to die. I don’t believe this anymore.

    What I DO think is that in spite of my personal feelings about her, if we believe in a loving Heavenly Father, then yes, there is room for her here because HE makes room for her. The people she looks down upon (*ahem me ahem*) are in their own space with their own areas for improvement.

  9. I appreciate what you’ve written here Tracy. I can’t fully grasp your life as a convert, but I can tell you that I have always felt like an alien and an outsider in my church, despite 8 generations of membership. I have always thought of that, as with so much in life, as some of the foliage that are designed to “afflict and torment” us.

  10. Tracy, unfortunately, much of this cultural garbage equated with the Gospel of Jesus comes straight from the top. Just recently, from one of the big guys – “Standards of modesty must be taught, almost from birth.”

    I love your positive attitude and your claiming a space for you and people like you (and me!), but your anti-feminist friend doesn’t develop her options from thin air – she gets them from church manuals and General Conference and in sacrament meeting talks.

    What there is not room for is any one of us believing our way is the only way. There is not room for a friend believing she is more righteous than anyone else because of her children’s clothing, or that the beverages in one’s refrigerator are indicative of faith. There is no room for the judgment of another’s life, because whatever our leaders may or may not say, it’s always trumped by the Savior. I shall not judge. I shall not cast the first stone. I shall turn the other cheek. I shall comfort those in need, I shall be merciful, and I shall seek the kingdom of heaven. I’ve been looking all morning and I cannot find one favorable word Jesus said about measuring myself against my brothers or sisters.

    This is beautifully said, but I think it works better in Protestant/grass roots style religious traditions. We Mormons on the other hand are supposed to find a great deal of enhancement from living oracles who commune with God in a unique way and give us “necessary” direction in addition to the scriptures. For people like me and you though, they seem to be more of a hindrance than a help. Not that we need them to be perfect, but at least trustworthy right? That’s a tough pill to swallow every day/week/month.

    Not trying to poo poo – just trying to express an honest response to your heart – felt post.

  11. RE: 5 — There is room for everyone, but Christ is in the main hall. And the doors to everyone’s room is locked from the inside.

  12. Molly Bennion says:

    “Her oil wouldn’t light my lamp.” LOVE IT and must quote you often. You are so often the source of quotables, Tracy.

    In what large organization of any type can any person well attuned to ambiguity and complexity feel fully comfortable? I feel comfortable with the gospel of Jesus Christ as I understand it and that itself speaks of different oil. Communal life is often a blessing and usually a challenge. Isn’t that the wisdom behind churches, especially the volunteer-fueled Mormon church? Armed with one trusty lamp, we could just study the gospel alone, but that doesn’t get the same results.

  13. RJ @ 5:

    But is there room for someone who doesn’t think there is room for me or Tracy M or kaphor? Seriously, is there?

    You’re describing the paradox of tolerance, and identifying a philosophical problem with a “big-tent” conception of Mormonism. The very idea of setting up a community based on liberal tolerance does not mean that all ideas sit on a level playing field; rather it unavoidably privileges liberalism and relegates non-liberal ideas to the realm of the private. So the answer is no–a liberal society cannot tolerate intolerance, and while it may be able to tolerate isolated and personal displays of intolerance, liberalism cannot allow intolerance to gain a foothold in the marketplace of ideas, as it would destroy the entire liberal enterprise.

  14. This is lovely. Thanks, Tracy.

  15. Nate W. (#13),

    a liberal society cannot tolerate intolerance, and while it may be able to tolerate isolated and personal displays of intolerance, liberalism cannot allow intolerance to gain a foothold in the marketplace of ideas, as it would destroy the entire liberal enterprise

    I agree. This is exactly why Zion, if it is ever to be built, is to be built on principles of love and charity (which are relationship-based), and not on principles of tolerance (which is individual-based). Liberal tolerance will fail, unavoidably, for the reasons you describe; genuine love–where Tracy and RJ and kaphor and Carey and Bruce R. McConkie and everyone else is loved fully for what they bring to the whole, and not for who they are in themselves–won’t. That’s no big tent; that’s community, and the building of it (and our constant failure to build it) is the theme of our whole existence here, I think.

  16. I teach modesty from birth…it’s just that my concept of modesty is for girls and boys and teaches them to dress appropriate to the situation and respectful of your body. At birth and as a baby…this means keep your diaper on most of the time. ;) because it’s plain ole dangerous and I hate cleaning carpets.

    I’m definitely for more charity at church. I don’t think there is no other way to learn it than to have such vastly different views and opinions and backgrounds. It is very difficult. I don’t think of it as big tent thought…I think of it as zion.

  17. I like a lot of this post, but don’t really understand where you are going with

    loving the sinner, hating the sin.

    After hearing Elder Holland (https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/languages/ces-devotionals/2012/09?lang=eng) last night discuss a lot about perfectly distinguishing between the two, I have trouble fitting in the paradox, which usually is something I don’t have trouble with.

  18. Josh, for me personally, that particular phrase has been used as a bludgeon to tacitly disapprove of a person or their actions, while feeling morally superior. I don’t think people, myself included, possess the finesse to wield it without eviscerating the one directed at. Too often is becomes a tool of judgement and persecution. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and I have not listened to Elder Holland’s talk. I’m resistant because I understand he spoke about teaching children to dress temple appropriately from infancy, and that is one of the things I have great challenge with and must bite my tongue.

  19. Tracy, this is an example of why I always look forward to what you write.

    It should be required reading for every member of the Church – and I agree totally that I must accept others who see things differently than I do if I expect them to accept me.

  20. Tracy,

    This was very enlightening. I was wondering if you have or have ever had any uncomfortable feelings about the church’s history of polygamy?

    I am not a baptized Mormon and my entire family is Catholic. But recently I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon in a search for truth. From an outsider’s perspective, I have an easier time believing that God restored his church through Joseph Smith than I do dealing with issues like the one you wrote about and the church’s history of polygamy. As I read the Book of Mormon, think about the events it describes, and pray to God asking if this Book is really His word, the feeling I get and the belief that this is true becomes more clear.

    As a convert, you probably understand the outsider’s point of view and the skepticism. I feel like I’m at a crossroads in my spiritual journey and I know I’ve become closer to God than ever before since I started reading the Book of Mormon. But like you wrote about, there are certain things about this church that I feel so uncomfortable about. I know polygamy is not allowed today, but there was a time not too long ago when the church allowed it. If this is really Christ’s true church, how could something like this have happened? It just sticks out to me and I wonder how you feel about it. How do you put to rest these uncomfortable feelings?

  21. @Tracy- thanks. It’s tough to avoid those pitfalls. I guess that’s what it all boils down to–in any social instance. I still think we are ok to pass judgements though (provided they are balanced, in moderation, timely, etc). If there’s another way to put the idea without elevating the judger, I’m all for it.

  22. @Josh B – I think the difference is that we can judge an action or behavior or standard as appropriate or inappropriate for our own self to follow, but you can’t judge it’s appropriateness for someone else.

  23. “Where did we go so far off the rails as a people and a church?”

    I don’t think we have gone off the rails as a people and as a Church — I see so much of beauty and wonder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — that’s why I joined it so long ago.

  24. I have never regretted joining this church, and I love it and belong here. I claim this as my faith, and as my faith community. I have found tremendous good here, and continue to find it in my community, both online and in my ward. But that doesn’t mean I have to take everything and not question. Indeed, I believe I am *supposed* to question, it’s part of using my own discernment and asking God so that I can learn how to hear Him and get the answers I need.

    As far as polygamy, I don’t actually worry too much about it.

  25. Jack #20 – You are at a very interesting point. I’m not sure how helpful this may be, but in my opinion the most important thing is to discovery for yourself–between you and God–whether the Book of Mormon is true and whether Joseph Smith really was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ. Once you’ve gained a testimony of those things, it is easier to deal with the tough questions, such as what you are attempting to grapple with.

    There are no easy answers to such questions (why polygamy). But if you have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, your faith will help you endure the unanswered questions until such time as you receive an answer.

    I do not personally know why Joseph Smith was commanded to engage in polygamy, but I believe he was a prophet, and that he did not lie about such thing. I likewise do not know why God later rescinded the commandment, but I believe that Wilford Woodruff was a prophet, and that he did not lie about how that came about.

  26. “is to be built on principles of love and charity (which are relationship-based), and not on principles of tolerance (which is individual-based)”

    I think this is exactly backwards, RAF. Tolerance is a community standard. Love and charity are always for the individual as s/he is. “What they bring to the whole” is what they are in an of themselves. Tolerance is a community standard necessary for a community’s ability to endure interpersonal tensions. As the number of things that localized communities provide in terms of survival (physical and otherwise) has diminished, and the threshold at which people will leave their communities for the same reason come lower and the need for tolerance within communities has increased. But this is nothing to do with love. Love is perpetually involved in the individuation of others – hence His work is to bring to pass our Eternal Life. A community of the saved is a community of the individuated.

    On a related note: I don’t much care if I am tolerated within a community as much as I want to be seen and loved. As I myself am.

  27. Whatever the terms of that Zion community end up being, we have plenty of work to do to get there. Thank you, Tracy, for pushing us even a couple inches closer.

  28. Ok, firstly I want to thank you so much for this post, Tracy. As a community, we need to develop a spirit of loving, respectful tolerance. However, it is also true that such a community cannot tolerate intolerance – which would rule out a lot of the more conservative members. So I don’t think there are any good answers.

    Jack, I wish you all the best in your search for a closer, more fulfilling relationship with the divine. I have found so much rich goodness and spirituality in this church and faith community. Regarding polygamy, I personally find it difficult to believe that it was commanded of God. However, I am comfortable embracing the more uncomfortable aspects of Mormon history on the understanding that all religions have skeletons in the closet, and God always has to work through fallible, flawed human beings.
    The most important thing for you at this stage is to gain a spiritual confirmation that the Book of Mormon is inspired of God. Once you become convinced of this incredible truth, it becomes easier to forgive the mistakes of Joseph Smith in light of his extraordinary accomplishments and his enduring legacy that he has left to mankind.

  29. “However, it is also true that such a community cannot tolerate intolerance – which would rule out a lot of the more conservative members.”

    and a lot of the most liberal members who reject and hold in disdain the more conservative members.

    I think that’s one of the points of Tracy’s post – that tolerance and love are not things that “they” need but rather what “we all” need.

    There is a lot of practical power in, “We love him, because he first loved us.”

  30. My children wear caffeine-free diet coke cans as tassle shawls over their long dresses. Just FYI.

  31. There is a lot of practical power in, “We love him, because he first loved us.”

    This.

    And this is why I think love would be the core value and not tolerance. Love demands we love even those who are unloving or difficult to love. I don’t think tolerance should invite kicking out the intolerant…but here it is already.

  32. I purposely left out the word “tolerance” from the OP. In my experience, tolerance implies one person holding an opinion of moral superiority granting or allowing another to exist- this is not Zion or what Christ asks of us. We have to love, even those with whom we disagree or do not understand. Compassion and charity sit much better with me than tolerance. This is why I said there is room for my friend who believes differently than I do- and room for me. Neither of us tolerate the other- we are both one in Christ’s love.

  33. I really enjoyed your post, Tracy. Yes, love and charity are the goal, not tolerance (which is a very weak stand-in for them). Sometimes when I have a bad day at church (sometimes the result of a run-in with disagreeable ideas, or sometimes just feeling lonely there), I think WHY am I here affiliating with these people? But I need to remember I am not there to affiliate with ward members, I’m there to attempt to be a disciple, and affiliate myself with Christ.

  34. Tracy, right on. It is a messy process.

    #17, Josh, with regard to Tracy’s post. I listened intently to Elder Holland’s talk. Nice talk, but he certainly had a strong anti-gay implication. He railed against post-modernism. But I am ONLY converted and able to stay because of a post-modern interpretation. The post-modern position allows us to easily hold disparate thoughts and feelings in the same mind. This makes a very messy process of forward growth. There is no easy set of rules, no particular key to turn. No sin to hate and no sinner to love, particularly. We are all just people.

    Rather I am horrified and astounded by idiocy, lack of perception, and failing insight. Is is easier to love people this way? This is post-modern morality.

  35. Is it easier to love people this way?

  36. One more thing, lack of self-possession.

  37. Meldrum the Less says:

    I am taking about 30 scouts (in a non-LDS troop) backpacking, camping and swimming this weekend along the Chattooga river (Where the movie Deliverance was filmed). Over half have never been camping before. (Youth, or new converts) They are excited but scared and many parents are worried as usual. They have the scout book that tells them what to do but most do not read it closely until they really need it. (Scriptures) Skills training by older scouts (parents/ leaders? now that is funny) is always rowdy and chaotic. Our elected senior patrol leader resigned last night for using drugs and his first assistant can’t come. (Worse than Smith’s polygamy?) We are down to the second assistant, a capable quiet strong young man thrust suddenly into challenging circumstances alone with perhaps his friend (Big Dan, the littlest kid in the troop) as back up. This boy leader was particularly mad at me until recently because he thinks I was trying to kill him on the Feb. trip where 9 hard miles turned into 13, but I think we are back on good terms. He will be in charge of this circus except when safety is at stake.

    I am inviting every scout to come; with all of their craziness and energy and latent criminal tendencies. (Beyond brokenness, that would be an improvement). I have begged and cajoled and bribed them in all the usual ways. Two boys, probably about 13 years old joined the troop last night and they are included. They could be future serial killers for all I can tell. Sounds like they will fit right in with the rest. Knowing what I know about the older ones I sit back and wonder if I am crazy.

    I do have 6 other adults backing me up on this trip. The most steady Christian guy I currently know will help the boys do a devotional Sunday morning. Of course, his son is among the worst but somehow he likes me. TA former cubmaster and the best in the troop at working with boys of the deacon age, a crazy funny smart Aussie dad (probably redundant), a dad of a new scout, the grandmother of a troubled boy who is a retired psychologist. I will probably end up carrying her pack. One of the older boys who must be close to 6′ 5” now agreed to carry my Dutch oven if I make pineapple upside down cake and we will bring a tarp to build a larger overflow tent just in case. It will be a great kick off to an incredible camping calendar this year. Scouts will learn many lessons, some the hard way.

    I have done this for a few years and I think I know how to make it work out, I hope. It will not be like in the Disney movies or like a blue-haired mother might remember it to have been for her perfect boy 50 years ago. Scouting is not the only way, but it is the best way I know to turn boys around and get them headed in the right direction. (And you are kidding yourself if you think any of them doesn’t need some turning around from time to time.) By extension living the gospel and the deliverance it brings us functions the same as scouting does for the adolescence of this life in preparation for the next. It is messy, but so worth it.

  38. So beautifully stated and so true. The reminder of our own messiness and brokeness cannot come often enough.

  39. RW, you give lots to think about.

  40. To Meldrum the Less : Thanks for DOING good. I love this description and hope your trip goes well. In this Internet age there are plenty of people to hold forth on problems, failings and unknowns. Not many will do what you’re doing, and on a consistent basis. Bill Gates’s father wrote a little book called “Showing Up for Life.” I have to ask myself often, “Did I show up today?”

  41. iAgain, Tracy, you make me slightly paranoid that you are the voice inside my head, but far more poetic. As a convert, it is constant cognitive dissonance between the spiritual manifestations and testimony built and the hope of things to come… it makes you have an appreciation for the pioneers on their long journey in hope of far better things to come.

  42. I agree with the exhortation to charity but I feel compelled to push back a little. Is there really no other way? Seems to me like there are many ways that we could be better as a church and as a people and I think these are real possibilities. I don’t think the present conflicts and challenges are inevitable and insuperable. I think that some of the problems you point to are very real and that their solution is not a foregone conclusion. There is a possibility of failure. There is also the possibility of victory and the new opportunities it would bring.

  43. Beautifully said, Tracy. Thank you.

  44. Jack (20), if you’re still following this thread, you may be interested in another thread on the Times and Seasons blog:

    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2012/09/dont-read-that-your-testimony-will-be-history/

    This thread deals specifically with the issues you raise in your comment. I wish you the best in your spiritual journey.

  45. Tracy, what a wonderful post. Thank you.

  46. Meldrum the Less says:

    From # 42 ” …we could be better as a church..”

    This is my biggest issue about the LDS church. We really could be better. At least as good as the other churches in the community. Is that asking for too much? We are definitely the most expensive church to belong to.

    Taking the scout troop analogy another step. Guess what the LDs ward is doing this weekend? Nothing. This month? Nothing. This past year? Almost nothing. A few showed up for summer camp. No regular camping program. Lame and boring scout meetings about once a month. Untrained leaders serving less than a year each. No boy leadership. But they damned sure cheat their way to eagle by age 14, every last one of them. Proved we are so better than everyone else. Until the district clamped down and there hasn’t been a Mormon eagle around here for about 5 years.

    Partly it is because we are far under critical mass with less than 5 young men of ages 12 to 18 in the two wards that came out of the split last year (except the youth programs were supposed to stay together). And partly because the youth and their parents don’t want to do scouting. It becomes conscription, one more dreary duty and a pain in the arse. The depth of this apathy was revealed to me when I found out a surprizing fact: of the once 80 (now 60 ) scouts in my non-LDS troop sponsored by a Presbyterian church, only 6 were members of that church! Yes, even if we only had half a dozen youth, we could decide to muster a similar level of commitment and effort devoted to this troop in last 5-10 years and be taking 30 boys camping this weekend. Really is no excuse.

    I have volunteered to help out in any way at the ward with scouting many many times. Scouting is my passion. But I am viewed as not suitable to be selected for one of the ten prestigious positions in the YM & scouting program reserved for the top overconformists from the same ten families. Since my son aged out it I do not feel exactly welcome tagging along uninvited and simultaneously chewing my lips bloody not pointing out a better way to do almost everything.

    I guess the real question, as an adult (not a scout): Is the LDS path the clearest way to Christ for you?

  47. Meldrum, you nailed it when you said that most members are apathetic about Scouting – but it’s largely because there is so much else on their plates. That wasn’t the case decades ago when Scouting actually was popular among the membership.

    Imho, we can’t do better right now in that area – and I wouldn’t mind seeing it scrapped altogether. Of course, that proves your apathy point to a degree.

    /Back to Tracy’s points in the OP.

  48. The premise of scouting is good, but method and execution (at least within our Church and in my experiences) abysmal. Where and when did he Church become bedfellows with Boys Scouts of America? I agree, as usual, with Ray, though empathize with Meldrum, whose passion and devotion to the program is clear.

    Thank you Tracy. I needed this today. Sometimes the uncomfortable-ness is crippling. For the first time since my baptism, I’ve had to take a “time out.” And how is it, I find MORE oil in my lamp? How is it I am finding more understanding of Christ, and what it is to love completely? More peace? It goes against what I was taught. I agree that the GA’s do not trump my own inspiration, and that has put me at great odds with church policies, and culture. Are they really further down the path than we are? How should I know! They have certainly made some monumental errors with rarely (if any) apology or confession. They just change the policy.

    But I still, somehow, believe. And I do not regret my baptism.

    Jack, Joseph Smith made a lot of mistakes in and out of the Church. The leaders after him did too, and continue to do so. God “let’s” leaders make mistakes because God let’s everybody make mistakes, even at the expence of the innocent. How else would people know the difference? There is only so much one can teach children. Eventually, these children have to experience for themselves what works, and what doesn’t. It is both a group effort and an individual one. I’ve seen people being taught love and compassion through example and training. But the level of compassion taught is different than the level one attains in witnessing and experiencing adversity and failure personally. While God is not the author of adversity, He is the author of love and compassion, which can only be comprehended fully once adversity is allowed in the mix…at least that’s my take and my current level of understanding.

    Thanks again, Tracy, always so good to read your articles!

  49. Meldrum the Less says:

    Reply to #47

    “so much else on the plate”

    Just what in the name of hell do we have “on the plate” that trumps the development of the next generation including our future leadership? I could maybe buy it if we had “on the plate” a young women’s program that was so intense and demanding that it was competing with the young men’s program. And our strategy was, “the hand that rocks the cradle will rule the world,” and hope for generations of excellent women to carry the day. While “the boys will be boys” and men will be, uh, boys. Yeah, right.

    But you know, I have a daughter and the only thing that hacks me off more than Mormon ineptitude in scouting is the stinkin’ outhouse that passes for spring water into which is dunked our young women. Don’t get me started, i will just have to delete it…

    ****

    I do agree with you on one point, if we can’t find our way do scouting properly we should scrap our current sorry effort to participate in the single longest running and most successful youth program in the history of modern western civilization. Every ward should be subjected to a withering scrutiny of it’s scouting program and those found wanting should be canned. All of these young men should be told to join well organized scout troops in their communities. We can leave it to other churches to train our future leaders and youth since we are not up to the task.

    And you know, with the next foul breath I say: if we can’t do church decently (bad music, useless sermons, boring lessons, etc.) why not chuck the whole fetchin’ church on the scrap heap? Why wait for it to die the slow death of poor leadership, impotence, boredom and irrelevance? Just wondering.

    Disclaimer: I, Meldrum do hereby affirm that I am thoroughly exhausted and moderately sleep deprived from being up most of Saturday night snipe hunting and telling bear stories and throwing burning logs into the river in the black of midnight and being run ragged the last 36 hours non-stop by an unforgettable group of about 20 scouts who are blessed with a generous amount of mischief, mixed up thinking and deviancy usual for that age. Life doesn’t get any better. My expressed opinions might not be as measured by what passes for appropriateness as usual and for this I do not apologize.

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