President Uchtdorf’s Theology of Grace

I mean this post to complement Tracy M’s reflections on the same talk. Go read them if you haven’t already.

I hope that President Uchtdorf’s Sunday Morning sermon becomes a landmark, because of the smart way that it approaches the fraught theological territory surrounding works and grace. The point here isn’t the theological smarts, but the potential for pastoral comfort. We talk sometimes as though the intellectual and the spiritual can’t coexist, but I think that they inevitably do. And, as someone who believes that being critical about our God-talk matters, I’m persuaded that bringing our minds fully to bear on spiritual matters can be of great pastoral benefit, which is why I am praising this sermon. [Read more…]

The Event Horizon: Death(3)

[Part 2 here.]

We take this feeling with us each day and it drains the gall out of our years, sucks the sting from the rush of time, purges the pain from our memory of the past, and banishes the fear of loneliness and death [In Richard Wright. Twelve Million Black Voices. (Reprint) Basic Books, 2002. p. 73]

Our past disappears behind us, memory fades and our helplessness in the face of the inexorable progress of time is repeated billions of times over in human history. What are we really? Just a few pounds of interconnected neurons, a “bundle of perceptions,” coupled with a biased and limited view of thought threads and events gone by? “What is mankind, that thou art mindful of them?”

Our concept of permanence is flawed. Our individual temporal horizons are supremely narrow: they extend over a microscopic interval of the existence of the physical universe and that in turn is the tiniest part of infinity, a necessary consideration within Mormonism.

What does our brief moment on earth mean in this vastness? Mormonism does claim some answers (in fact according to Joseph Smith, it would be useless if it did not provide something concrete there), but the answers that turned out to be (eventually) most important for me did not really lie at the surface of its modern presentation, which seems driven in some ways by a kind of quasi-Christian-fundmentalist agenda.[1] I’m not suggesting that the Church is going in the wrong direction with this. There is plenty of support in foundational Mormonism for it. I’m only saying that my own search for, I’m not sure how to phrase it, maybe comfort, ultimately did not lead there.
[Read more…]