A quick post to start a discussion and get your thoughts.
In talking with friends about Mother In Heaven, it seemed clear that her presence in LDS doctrine is now permanent but that our liturgy and current practice just don’t know what to do with her. We don’t pray to Her, we talk of Her but we have nothing to say; we know nothing of Her except by association. But She is a compelling figure for many and the desire to work Her into a pattern of worship is there.
My personal thought around it is that I envy people who have strong religious experiences within the faith, and that I can’t begrudge people a connection to Heavenly Mother even if I don’t understand such a connection myself. Or, more broadly speaking, I think it may be more important for people to have deep religious experiences within the Church than it is to ensure that their experiences follow a narrow prescribed format. I am generally in favor of things that bring people a feeling of being closer to God, and generally not in favor of obstacles to that relationship. In other words, I’d rather have Cafeteria Mormons than ex-mos.
This sounds a bit like Big Tent Mormonism, that notion that you are Mormon if you self-identify as one, even if your beliefs, practices and community don’t correspond to the institutional LDS Church. But I am looking at a distinction here, or rather several distinctions. First, I’m focusing on individual devotional practice and not movements or groups, which I view as schismatic. Second, I’m looking at variations of traditional LDS practice rather than disavowing mainstream LDS beliefs or discounting the Brethren. And further, I am looking at supplemental devotional exercise rather than a substitute for bread-and-butter LDS practices.
A friend noted that the response to black-and-white thinking isn’t shades of gray; it’s vivid colors. I tend to agree. So, if you are generally in favor of people adding variety to their devotion as a means of keeping their faith fresh, are you a Big Tent Mormon? If that term is inaccurate (and I suspect it is), what term is more suited? What are the limiting factors here? What are practical examples of what works (and what doesn’t or shouldn’t)? How can we give a broad range of helping people find God and feel the power of the Atonement while still teaching pure doctrine and keeping the body of Christ intact?