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Monday, June 23, 2014

Fear mongering

picture found here

While I was in the wind-whipped deserts of Moab, Utah and subsequently out of the range of social media updates (and all other media updates), the world of Mormons was jostled once again. Two outspoken individuals were called into disciplinary council to discuss their membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And then at least ten more were called in for similar charges of publicly questioning church doctrines and church officials. One gentleman's disciplinary council was repealed as soon as it was called.  

Church officials and spokespersons have said that asking questions is not a problem, but what is a problem is recruiting others to question doctrine. And we recruit others, apparently, by voicing our own questions publicly. 

So, I was gone for a good portion of this news and debate. I feel like I am just getting up to date as Kate Kelley's bishopric decides her fate (by telling her they need a couple more days). My thoughts have been swimming, admittedly, and the words that repeatedly rise to the top are:


There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

This feels like a witch hunt to me. I understand the need for an organization to clearly define the lines that are acceptable to keep their reputation positive. I am not ignorant enough to believe that the church in which I believe is not ALSO an organization. It is just that I don't wholly believe in the organization (post EDIT: it is within this part--the organization--where I have some concerns). I fully believe in the gospel. Parts of the organization would drive me away from the gospel itself, if I didn't believe so firmly that it is true.

There are so many conflicts within the LDS organization and the gospel, that it is difficult for many (myself included) to know what is the better choice for themselves. Use social media to share the gospel, but don't "recruit" others to question. All are welcome to attend, but "don't you all look so nice in your white shirts and ties." Love thy neighbor, but pluck out the eye if it offends thee.

Contradictions are a natural part of all life, but I see it separate faithful and equal members within the church. I choose this point and you choose its antagonist. And then within our similar beliefs, we call out the other and point the finger of apostasy and blame. In a recent post on By Common Consent, the writer had a tender list of concerns that she had. A commenter jumped in with, "The fact of the matter is you are questioning church leadership, counsel, and revaluation, and direction which is the first sign of apostasy." (I think he meant "revelation" but I could be wrong. Maybe he was talking economics and I just missed that part of her post.)

Oh, apostasy. It is the word du jour. I have heard of people who have verbally worried that I, gentle Ahhnna, am headed toward apostasy. If it wasn't so laughable, I'd be offended. But the truth is, I have concerns and questions as well. I don't see the point of some ideas within the members of the church. I would love to sit and chat with you about them, but you see, there is a witch hunt afoot and apparently my very membership is on the line. If I write them down on this blog, where I have felt so many of you reach out and heard you say, "ME TOO! I am faithful, but there are things I bristle at as well," I could be called in and threatened as an apostate.

Then again, I am not afraid. I am more afraid that people like me and maybe you will feel silenced. That is what I fear the most in this recent happening. That those of us with LOUD questions and those of us with little questions will feel quieted. Afraid. We are more alike than different. It is OK to verbalize your questions, because there you may find solace and you will most likely find a friend who says, "I hear you and I understand."

To those who want us silenced and excommunicated, and to me and you as well, I have a scripture from the same chapter of John as above:


If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Silence is for the birds. They can have apostasy, too. I doubt they'd have as much animosity as I have seen about these Mormon happenings. They're too flighty. (Get it? Oh man. I kill me.)

a

4 wise comments:

Kat said...

I'm glad you are not silenced. I love your voice -- and your questions. I think asking them is a really important part of this life journey.

Tami Melville said...

Well written, I have very similar feelings..thanks for sharing.

Sue said...

I feel very safe, despite Kate's excommunication, expressing my opinions on any subject regarding the Church, including my doubts and beliefs. What I would feel considerably less inclined to do, in light of what's happened, is form a group and agitate for doctrinal change (however nicely) from the bottom up. Cultural change, yes. The doctrinal stuff I am willing to leave to the first presidency. (Having said that, I believe cultural change could open the paradigms of even older men to receive revelation, if the Lord intends it.) Unlike Kate, I don't claim to know whether He intends it.

So I guess I wish Kate had stuck to things like praying at conference (win) and moved on to standing in the circle for blessings, etc. and just waited on the Lord and those "old" guys to see what His will about the priesthood might be. I have no problem with her view, though I don't share it at this time. I just don't think she took it in the right direction by holding an unflinching agenda trying to gather others to share and advance it. I suspect the Lord lets things happen organically here on earth as much as possible, and when the time is right, He will advance His own causes through the proper line of authority.

I am more concerned about the John Dehlin thing, and I think the reason he was left alone by the Church for so long is because he really was just discussing things and allowing others to do the same, without trying to persuade others. I truly believe he just wanted to provide information. Frankly, much of it was helpful to me. I suspect he got onto thin ice when he recently spoke at a conference and openly called for change in regard to the Church's stand on LGBT issues. I like Dehlin, and I enjoy his podcasts. But I also understand that at some point, the Church needs to set a boundary...and that appears to be moving from discussion and opinion to advocation. I think I will be able to tell the difference in my own discussions, and I don't intend to be "more careful" about expressing myself, my opinions, my beliefs, or my doubts. As for advocating for others to change theirs, no problem there...I wouldn't want the responsibility of having "helped" someone make religious or spiritual decisions that could impact them eternally. Even my own children have to decide for themselves. But believe me, they've heard what I think on the various subjects...

Really enjoyed your post! As you can see, it got me thinking...

;)

Anne said...

Slow to comment because I hate commenting on my phone but do all my reading on it.

I have two very important thoughts to leave. 1. I like that you say "toward" not "towards". That "s" always bothers me. Maybe Edna can enlighten us on the real rules there? And 2. In all seriousness, Amen Sister.