Of Apostates and History

imageNearly 170 years ago those who believed in the Church of Jesus Christ were directed to evacuate Nauvoo, their City Beautiful. Their two leaders, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, had been killed while in the protection of the state militia. The state had removed legal protections by revoking the Nauvoo City Charter, and the surrounding community had burned Mormon homes and killed Mormon adherents.

In the ceremony held this past Saturday to commemorate the flight of the Saints from Nauvoo, starting February 4, 1846, this failure of the United States to protect the rights of her citizens was discussed. But we also spoke of how we now enjoy full rights and protection before the law. And in this vein, we pledged allegiance to the flag of that government which has sustained us in our freedoms.

This month there has been a bit of fuss over some dissidents. Are they brave? Are they not?

Here is my question. Can you remember the dissidents of yesteryear? Continue reading

What the LDS Church Really Says about Reading Anti-Mormon Literature

flier-clipart-ar130411564061063Those members less inclined to know the history of the LDS Church, especially the more complicated parts, express concerns that they were told to keep away from reading non-faithful material. They claim to have been taught to always turn to Church sanctioned material only and avoid non or anti-Mormon literature. No doubt there has been warnings of the harmful effects of the less than official sources, but an outright ban is a misreading of many lessons taught. The message isn’t always clear because opinions on just how to approach anti-Mormonism is mixed. There is no one single set of standards how to engage or respond. What is consistent over the years is the warning and how to be careful.

Learning is an essential part of growing in the Kingdom of God. The subject matter that we should focus on is very wide. We read in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 77-80 how open: Continue reading

Lord is it I? Faith and the Dark Night of the Soul

As have many other LDS Bloggers, this week I have been reflecting on the pending disciplinary proceedings for John Dehlin. However, as it happens I also visited South Florida this week where I grew up and spent most of my childhood. As such, I have also been reflecting on the nature of faith and testimony and my own faith journey.

As I reflected on my long windy path, through belief and disbelief, theism and atheism, and my eventual embrace of the Restored Gospel, I came to better appreciate that faith is never a static thing, we are always constantly either strengthening or weakening our faith. Moreover, unexpected experiences can deeply shake our faith or shatter it. We are never as secure or as sure in our faith as we think.

The events of the last supper most recently discussed by President Uchtdorf at conference powerfully illustrate this point. When the Savior told the disciples that one of them would betray him, they all turned inward and asked “Lord is it I?” Implicit in this question is the fact that it very possibly could have been any of them, or any one of us. We may as Peter declare boldly that we will never forsake the savior or the faith we hold dear, but as with Peter we may find ourselves in the very situation that causes us to waver however briefly.

When I was in high school, I was very secure in my faith in God. Although in that period I began seriously investigating both Christianity and Judaism, my faith in a personal and loving deity was very strong. I wrote an essay for my English class about a personal spiritual experience which I declared made it so that I could not doubt the existence of God. I was convinced that my testimony of God was secure beyond any doubts.
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There is nothing ‘brave’ about challenging the Church

Of all the silly arguments made by supporters of John Dehlin and Kate Kelly, the silliest of all is that they are doing something “brave.” If you do a search for “John Dehlin brave” or “Kate Kelly brave” you will encounter dozens of sycophantic followers claiming they are “brave” for standing up to the Church.

There is nothing courageous about it. In fact, contradicting the Church in this day and age is so certain to please the crowds that even the basest coward can do it.

Elite media have turned Dehlin and Kelly into heroes. Nothing would be known about their disciplinary councils if Dehlin and Kelly didn’t immediately run to the press to let them know because the Church does not release details on such councils. Dehlin and Kelly, however, emit press releases and try to turn private, sacred events into circuses by ginning up public support. In Kelly’s case, it involved protesting General Conference. For Dehlin, it is an attempt to ask his supporters to hold a “vigil” at a stake center during his disciplinary council.

Since when it is “brave” to take actions certain to be applauded by the mainstream media and supported by crowds of people?

The truly brave people are those who do what is right even when the crowd disapproves. Today, that means maintaining God’s standards even in the face of overwhelming public disapproval. For example, here is a brave man:

“Our doctrine—not just belief, but doctrine—that sexual relations are only appropriate and lawful in the Lord’s eyes between man and woman legally and lawfully married is unchanged and will never change.” —Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve

It is a certainty that maintaining such a position will become increasingly unpopular in the coming years, and Church leaders will not cave and will indeed be courageous.
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Untold Stories – Nauvoo, Log Cabins, and Cthulhu

imageWhen we visit Nauvoo, our home away from home is the Van Fleet cabin, one of the authentic log cabins off Mulholland Street, a few blocks east of the Nauvoo temple.

I love to stay in this home, where dozens of people lived over the years, a cabin where Butch Cassidy was welcomed as a friend. As late as 1924 babies were being born in this small cabin that had neither electricity nor running water. Now it has both and all the comforts of a modern hotel room. Yet as I lay back and look at the worm-carved ridge beam, I am still powerfully reminded of a time in the past.

This adds extra depth to what my husband and I are learning this weekend at the Untold Stories symposium at the Community of Christ Joseph Smith Historic Site here at Nauvoo, where historians and members of the two major sects that grew up out of Joseph’s teachings happily work together to learn about the past. Continue reading