Jun 19, 2014
Sep 13, 2012
I am sure you will not post this on your blog due to the incorrect understanding you have of the Deseret Land and other church-owned properties. Anyone can pick out pieces of any article and turn everything around. Just as I could pick speeches from any democratic party and use "their words" and turn it against them.I applaud you for your skills in doing so and admire the time you wasted to turn something good into what appears to be bad (according to your blog). There are too many topics to discuss the errors in your blog, but I can honestly say that I will be hunting on Deseret Land this year and all that I paid for was the cost to buy a hunting tag and permit($35 for the tag and $35 for the permit= $70)!!! So, next time you might want to do a little more research before posting a blog that states the costs are thousands and thousands of dollars!!good luck in your endeavors and may you research EVERYTHING before you claim something to be true or not. Oh, and I plan an killing a big deer this year!!
As I've uncovered the truth of LDS past and contemporary history and found solace among others who have gone through the same "spiritual trauma" -- which I really don't think is much of an understatement -- and seen many of them get dumped by their spouse, snubbed by their family, ostracized by their neighbours, or generally viewed as some sort of pariah by fellow Mormons, I've seen a side to Mormons and Mormonism that really breaks my heart. I will always know that there are so many wonderful, loving Mormons who really take The Golden Rule to heart. That's the side that I will try to remember.
But truth be told, besides all the historical and epistemological problems within Mormonism, the words and actions of some Mormons -- and maybe not as few as we want to think -- have repulsed me to such a degree that I no longer wish to be associated with Mormonism or regarded as "Mormon." Brett's words are a reminder of just how miserable and mean-spirited many of them can be. The satisfaction that many seem to get from defending "The One True Church" by deriding and ridiculing others is almost palpable. Not until I left the Church did I realize how little love there can be in it. Not until I left was I able to understand why I was so unhappy in it. And not until I left it was I capable of feeling pure, untainted love for another others that did not have to be coloured or marred by dogma.
It's been hard at times for me to accept that my family and friends are happy in the LDS Church. Truthfully, it has sometimes been excruciating to carry the burden of knowledge about the true origins and current operations of the Church that most of them seem to "know exists," but don't dare investigate themselves. But in the end, I think it is for the best that they have decided to spare themselves the pain of disillusionment and betrayal -- even though at the other end of it I've managed to find a peace and fulfillment that I couldn't have imagined before. I want to be happy, and for me, being happy means being out of the Church. But I also want my loved ones to be happy, and so, if the Church = happiness for them, I could never begrudge them that. I hope and I believe that we genuinely care as much about each other's happiness and well-being as much as I think we do. And that's what has kept us together.
I made many great friends through this blog, many of which I maintain to this day. Thanks for all who have followed along with me and who have poured out their own religious sorrows and struggles and lended me support.
And to all those who are still in the early stages of your journey, I think it's wise to follow Brett's advice:
"May you research EVERYTHING before you claim something to be true or not."
So very true.
Nov 6, 2011
Sep 5, 2011
Is The LDS Church Sacrificing Principle for Profit With Hunting Preserves?
“To what degree should the principle of ‘respect for life” be extended to bird and animal creations? What do the scriptures, Joseph Smith, and other early Church leaders teach about the grand design and purposes of God’s non-human creations? Does having “dominion” over the kingdom of creatures mean we are their predators and exploiters or does it suggest a “stewardship” relationship in which we become their caretakers in order to help them “fulfill the full measure of their creation?” If the scriptures teach, “woe be unto man that sheddeth blood or wasteth flesh and have no need,” and “the blood of every beast will I require at your hands,” what rationale could be used to explain Church-owned, revenue-generating enterprises such as Deseret Land and Livestock and the Westlake Hunting Preserve? Do these operations constitute sacrificing principle for profit?”
- Sacrificing Principle for Profit: Church Wildlife Enterprises and Hunting Preserves, Sunstone Magazine
I recently learned about the two Church-owned and sanctioned hunting preserves mentioned above and was stunned by what amounts to be the killing of animals for profit by the LDS Church.
Perhaps unlike other Church business enterprises, however, is the fact that missionaries were sent to “serve God in a most unusual way,” according to this July, 2000 article on Deseret News about the LDS Church’s hunting preserves.
According to the information packet from Deseret Land and Livestock obtained by the Sunstone speaker on this podcast, a guided archery hunt to bag an elk can fetch $11,500 plus tax and license, as of the year 2001. (A more detailed price list can be accessed at around the 28 minute mark of the podcast.) When asked in a letter by concerned members of the Church how the hunting preserves could be ethically justified, the Presiding Bishopric (who oversees the hunting preserves) offered no response or explanation.
Now, many Mormons own a gun and many go hunting. Millions of Americans go hunting every year and it’s a big industry. So what’s the problem with the Church getting in on the profits? Well, when we consider LDS scripture and statements by General Authorities such as the following, it’s clear that we’re not “just another hunting enterprise:”
“And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.” (Genesis 9:11, JST)
“I never could see why a man should be imbued with a blood-thirsty desire to kill and destroy animal life. I have known men—and they still exist among us—who enjoy what is, to them, the ‘sport’ of hunting birds and slaying them by the hundreds, and who will come in after a day’s sport boasting of how many harmless birds they have had the skill to slaughter … I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food, and then he should not kill innocent little birds that are not intended for food for man. I think it is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to kill almost everything which possesses animal life. It is wrong.” (President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp. 371-372)
“Now, I would like to add some of my feelings concerning the unnecessary shedding of blood and destruction of life … And not less with reference to the killing of innocent birds is the wildlife of our country that live upon the vermin that are indeed enemies to the farmer and to mankind. It is not only wicked to destroy them, it is a shame, in my opinion. I think that this principle should extend not only to the bird life but to the life of all animals … because God gave it to them, and they were to be used only, as I understand, for food and to supply the needs of men.” (President Spencer W. Kimball, “Fundamental Principles to Ponder and Live,” The Ensign, November 1978, p. 45)
“Killing for sport is wrong…One day, to while away the slowly passing hours, I took my gun with the intention of indulging in a little amusement in hunting turkeys… From boyhood I had been particularly, and I may say strangely, attached to a gun. Hunting in the forests of Ohio was a pastime that to me possessed the most fascinating attractions. It never occurred to my mind that it was wrong-that indulging in “what was sport to me was death to them;” that in shooting turkeys, squirrels, etc., I was taking life that I could not give; therefore I indulged in the murderous sport without the least compunction of conscience.” (Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.188-189)
Something happened between the days that those statements were made and the present day where sport hunting for profit within the Church was suddenly considered to be a good idea — so much so that missionaries were initially sent to tend to the grounds. How did we get from the days where the Church fostered such a high regard for animal life that Joseph Smith prevented the unnecessary killing of rattlesnakes; when the pioneers would lay their hands upon their oxen to bless them; when their animals were valued as they were the key to their survival, and hunting was done only because it was necessary to sustain their lives — to the days when they’re hunted down for recreation and profit? What does that say about our culture and our religion?
Did I miss a change in LDS teaching concerning reverence for the Lord’s animal creations? Or is the only change that we’ve put a price on their heads?
George Q. Cannon, counselor in the First Presidency under Brigham Young and editor of the Juvenile Instructor, probably wrote more concerning the humane treatment of animals than any member of the Church. In 1868 he began writing editorials advocating kindness to animals and in 1897 he founded a Sunday School-sponsored “Humane Day,” which became an annual event. Most members of the Church know nothing about it, but this program continued in the Church for the next twenty years.
It is perhaps a bit ironic that leaders of the Church — in the days of when members were more dependent on animals for their food and clothing — were so frequently vocal about the humane treatment of animals, emphasizing that we should never take their lives unless it is to save our own, whereas today — when we are much less dependent on animals for our survival, and are supposedly much more enlightened on the subject of animal intelligence, emotion, and sensitivity to pain – the leaders of the Church are mostly silent on the issue of animal welfare and see fit to send missionaries to tend to sport hunting grounds.
In the Deseret News article, referring to Elder Huff, who tended to Westlake, it says:
“Instead of knocking on doors, he spends his time bush- whacking in the thick brush along the southwest shores of Utah Lake, looking for the perfect place to nurture his birds by planting numerous stands of corn, rye and other grains….
Large holding tanks that are no longer used for farming now provide high-profile watering holes throughout the game preserve, attracting not only birds but rabbits, coyotes, deer and even antelope.”
Interestingly enough, President Joseph F. Smith made a very specific statement referring directly to hunting elk, deer and antelope, among others:
“I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food, and then he should not kill innocent little birds that are not intended for food for man. I think it is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to kill almost everything which possesses animal life. It is wrong. I have been surprised at prominent men whom I have seen whose very souls seemed to be athirst for the shedding of animal blood. They go off hunting deer, antelope, elk, anything they can find, and what for? “Just the fun of it!” Not that they are hungry and need the flesh of their prey, but just because they love to shoot and to destroy life. I am a firm believer, with reference to these things, in the simple words of one of the poets:
“Take not way the life you cannot give,
For all things have an equal right to live.”
Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.4, p.48
President Smith seems to predict with amazing accuracy what is going on at places like Westlake, where ”prominent men,” (perhaps the “doctors, dentists and attorneys from Payson north to Ogden, including Park City,” that Elder Huff refers to in the Deseret News article) seem to be so “athirst for the shedding of animal blood” that they will literally spend tens of thousands of dollars to “go off hunting deer, antelope, elk, anything they can find, and what for? Just the fun of it!”
Indeed, a very elite, lucrative kind of “fun” that had (as of 2001) a six-year waiting list.
Information about these hunting preserves is very sparse, but according to Jim Catano, who contacted the Church’s public affairs department and was “told by the director that he would answer my questions, a second-tier media handler was assigned to inform me weeks later that they would not answer any of the questions I’d submitted in preparation for this article.” (The article he was referring to can be accessed here.) After deciding to drop into Westlake unannounced and being given a tour by manager Kevin Albrecht, he found out the following in 2001:
“Our efforts in bringing our opposition to the attention of the Church hierarchy have already had an impact. Not only do missionaries no longer staff the facility but “canned hunts” in which birds that have been raised in captivity are released just before the hunters go in are no longer sponsored. Kevin said he had had several meetings with upper management as a result of our activism, and canned hunts were one of the first things to be changed.
He told me that in a meeting he recently attended of commercial hunting facility managers, people from other parts of the country were surprised how low the daily bag limit is (2 per day as opposed to “as many as you can shoot for a price”) and that the facility no longer plants hatched birds but relies only on wild reproduction. He informed me how strict rule enforcement is and that members must report birds they think they’ve wounded but can’t find as part of their daily limit. He’s fairly confident that members do this although I have my doubts that all do.”
Since information about these preserves is limited, I decided to get in contact with Jim in order to ask him whether he had any new information since his update in 2001. He said that he had contacted Farm Management Corporation (wholly owned by the LDS Church to run its farm properties) sometime prior to 2003, but they “refused to talk to me and give me any more information on the subject at a certain point.”
So, while there have been positive changes as the result of protest about the initial practice of canned hunting, Jim says that it “didn’t change (his) mind about the merits of the existence of this facility.” The end result has remained unchanged: animals being hunted down for Church profit.
This isn’t about sustaining the lives of doctors and lawyers or meat going to waste. Who eats coyote? And $11,500 for a few elk steaks? This is about the number of animals being purposely multiplied by creating the perfect conditions and attracting them to the preseve for the purpose of being killed “just for fun” – not because they need the flesh to live on, as President Smith stated above.
Ironically, The Humane Society of the United States has a webpage dedicated to praising the LDS Church for its teachings about animal life. Do we deserve the praise? Or have we given nothing but lip service to our supposed respect for God’s creations and their right to life?
Despite past teachings and statements by General Authorities on the subject of hunting and the taking of animal life, many of you have no personal problem with sport hunting. Obviously, you have the legal right to hunt and I realize that I’m unlikely to change your personal views on the matter. I ask you, however, whether you would be troubled by any of the following purely hypothetical situations:
- The Church preaches against alcohol consumption, but purchases a vineyard in California and profits from the sale of the grapes being harvested to produce wine.
- The Church teaches that pornography is wrong, but has a stake in a popular fashion magazine featuring scantily-clothed women in sexual poses.
- The Church opposes abortion but owns property in Florida that an abortion clinic rents.
Would you be prepared to defend these hypothetical scenarios in the same way that you defend the Church’s hunting preserves?
Of all the good ways to make a buck, is this the best we can do? Are we or are we not, as a Church, sacrificing principle for profit?
Gerald E. Jones stated the following in in an Ensign article from August, 1972 called “The Gospel And Animals:”
“The prophets have been consistent in reminding men of their duty to the animal world. As the Lord told Noah, “… the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.” (JST, Gen. 9:11.) It is our sacred stewardship to care for the earth and all the creatures on it.”
The prophets have been consistent. What about the Church?
I’ll leave you with a quote from Joseph F. Smith from an editorial published in the Juvenile Instructor in April, 1927:
“… The unnecessary destruction of life is a distinct spiritual loss to the human family. Men cannot worship the Creator and look with careless indifference upon his creations. The love of all life helps man to the enjoyment of a better life. It exalts the spiritual nature of those in need of divine favor.”
Apr 26, 2011
I’ve been on a pilgrimage for the last 14 years, but I think that my
problem until recently has been that I have been looking back at what once was,
rather than looking forward to what might become. My motivation for being
baptized in the Community of Christ was the following: I wanted to symbolically
put an end to a long and painful change process and begin to look forward to a
new and better life as one of Jesus’ peaceable followers. I thought it was
rather symbolic that I had sung Mozart’s Requiem in the choir a few weeks ago,
as a requiem for the old creature I once was, a death mass for the life I once
lived and for the principles I once believed in.
I’ve been a Christian all my life. I have been willing to take upon me
the name of Christ as far as I can remember. This faith had its origin in the
church community that I grew up in (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day
Saints). But it was only as a sergeant in the military, 14 years ago, that I was
challenged to the core. A soldier asked me if I was a Christian, and when I
answered yes – he said, what on earth are you doing here? It was an important
realization – that the greatest injustice one can do to oneself is to do
injustice to others – and I am grateful that someone else was more lucid than me
at the time and got me started on this transformational process. But I’m not
going to dwell on the past so much today. The important thing for me right now
in this moment is to look forward to a new life as a member of the Community of
Jesus once said, “Without being born again, one can by no means enter
into the kingdom of God”. To me this passage of scripture means that when we are
baptized, we enter on a journey of discovering the kingdom of God within, so as
to contribute to establishing God’s kingdom in the world. Through my baptism
today I committed myself to seeing things from God’s perspective – and let the
Spirit of Christ and of His peace show me a gentler way to a better life so that
I can be a blessing to others. A peaceable disciple wants first and foremost to
serve his Master and this Master has always underlined the fact that we serve
him best by serving others.
In the Doctrine and Covenants 164:5 of the Community of Christ, it
says: “It is imperative to understand that when you are truly baptized into
Christ you become part of a new creation. By taking on the life and mind of
Christ, you increasingly view yourselves and others from a changed perspective.
Former ways of defining people by economic status, social class, sex, gender, or
ethnicity no longer are primary. Through the gospel of Christ a new community of
tolerance, reconciliation, unity in diversity, and love is being born as a
visible sign of the coming reign of God.”
It is this community that I want to be part of and as a member of the
Community of Christ, I can help bring it about: I can increasingly testify of
Jesus Christ and participate in my newfound church’s own mission of promoting
communities around the world that are built on hope, peace, love and joy.
Would I be here today unless Joseph and Emma Smith had dedicated their
lives to understanding God’s will for them? The Book of Mormon has been central
to my quest for peace in my own faith, and has convinced me like few other books
have, that war and violence are neither of God nor are they God’s will for His
children. War and violence is what we, together with God, must oppose. But still
there are many so-called Christians, to the extent I thought I was a Christian
when I was in the Armed Forces, that distort the teachings of Christ and adapt
them to serve their own purposes: this distortion has led to suffering, disaster
and death on an unimaginable scale.
How grateful am I for having found the Community of Christ that both
understands and interprets latter day scriptures in a responsible manner and
that have taken seriously the divine call to repent from the violence that has
previously defined (and still does) the Saints in the latter days. The first
Saints, who lived at the time of Jesus, must be looked upon as examples of
Christian living for the Latter-Day Saints, so that the last shall be (equal to)
the first. For the disciples in the time of Christ believed that they had indeed
beaten their swords into plowshares that they would no longer practice war – but
always seek peace. It is with them that I have chosen to lay down by the waters
of baptism (down by the riverside) my sword and my shield.
Does it mean that members of the Community of Christ do not feel
indignation at the injustice that characterizes the world we live in, that we do
not fret and grieve when nations go to war against each other or when
authoritarian regimes oppress people, or that we do not suffer when we see that
we are about to undermine and destroy the very Creation that sustains our puny
lives? On the contrary, like God, neither can we look upon sin in the slightest
and consent to it. We are called to promote good fellowship, through our
communion with the Holy Spirit that is the peace of Christ, to be a force in the
world that can transform unhealthy relationships, that we may promote God’s
peaceful reign and not the least, bring balance to and purity of
Peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you. Do not let
your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. I have always believed that
Joseph Smith’s vision of building Zion was one of the greatest innovations in
Christianity in the 19th Century. But the scripture I now am referring to, has
always been central to my understanding of how Zion will see the light of day.
We will achieve peace, but not through the methods of the world (not as the
world gives). Mahatma Gandhi said: There is no way to peace, peace is the way.
That is, there is no way to Zion, Zion is the way. I see the connection here
with what Christ said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no
one comes to the Father but by him. We must dare to live as Christ suggested we
ought to in the Sermon on the Mount (is it any wonder we refer to Zion as Zion’s
Mount). Some have taken his admonition seriously and have followed Christ’s
long-suffering example in their quest for a better world.
Change does not come by itself, but it comes when we change ourselves –
and to help us along the way Jesus has given us rituals and symbols that can
help us keep to the uninterrupted and narrow path. Baptism is one of the
sacraments that can remind us of His death and resurrection, and also of his
victory over those who sought to get rid of him. He changed the course of
history in spite of opposition and persecution. Others have also tried to change
history through the same methods and all who refuse to lift up our swords
against our neighbors have become pilgrims in the pursuit of peace.
The symbolism of my baptism today, on an Easter Sunday (the day we
remember His resurrection) reminds me that I must follow in his footsteps
through all the days of my life on earth. The fact that I’m the same age as
Jesus was when he died on the cross and was reunited with his body, says a lot
about his ability to embrace His Divine calling in a relatively young age. 33 is
a good age in a modern world to take up the call I have received to testify of
Christ and the need to continue to admonish others of the importance of
nonviolence both as a believer in the Community of Christ, but also as a
committed member of the global world community.
Maybe that’s what I need to do as a newly baptized member, to see how
the principles taught in Doctrine and Covenants 164 can be implemented in other
contexts. Perhaps one day the world community will become a whole new creation,
a Community of Christ, a new society where we increasingly view ourselves and
others from a changed perspective, where former ways of defining people by
economic status, social class, sex, gender, or ethnicity no longer are primary.
Through the gospel of Christ a new community of tolerance, reconciliation, unity
in diversity, and love is being born as a visible sign of the coming reign of
Mar 25, 2011
Nov 17, 2010
Nov 4, 2010
Oct 11, 2010
The danger of distance hit home to me more these past couple weeks in three different, totally unrelated forms.
I read a detailed account of the life of a Norwegian veal calf named Tussi. The author followed him from his birth in a barn to when he was grazing in pastures, and then just under six months after his birth was loaded onto a truck and driven three hours to a slaughterhouse. There he was led through a narrow hall to where a bullet was shot into his skull, he was hung upside down, throat slit, drained for blood, and then cut into steak.
I'd like to believe that there are few Norwegians who would have had the heart to send Ali out along his journey to nowhere if they knew him personally. If it were they who had to make the final decision. If it were up to them whether he were given the opportunity to continue his education, work, and have a life of stability in Norway where he had learned the language and had friends that had become like family to him; or whether he be left with the alternatives of returning to nothing in Afghanistan or being shuffled from one European country to another without any rights or protection.
"It suddenly occured to me how dangerous distance is, and how easy it is to distance oneself when the victims have a foreign religion or rhetoric. The labelling of Gaza's population as religious fanatics and terrorists made it so that people in the west didn't identify with them and their suffering. The terror label had created a distance between them and us. For ever day that the war continued, more children had their lives ruined. Either they lost their lives, arms and legs, or they lost their parents. They were all psychologically injured of the chaos they lived in. Every day with war did irreversible damage to everyone in Gaza. As children were killed and maimed, American and European politicians discussed details in the wording of a resolution. I felt nauseous."
Just this morning I read about New York gubernatorial hopeful Carl P. Paladino's comments about how children should not be "brainwashed" into thinking homosexuality was acceptable. "That's not how God created us," he said. And then he added, "I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.”
The other side could claim that religious groups are engaging in brainwashing themselves. But really, who needs to be brainwashed? People can decide for themselves and pass judgment once they've personally bridged the distance. And perhaps it says something that those haven't had that distance between themselves and gays are the ones that generally seem to exhibit the most compassion and understanding. In the Mormon community, Carol Lynn Pearson comes to mind. Is there anyone who gets it better?
A friend of mine sent me a message this past week in which he wrote:
"I was raised in a very conservative, Republican, Mormon household with all of the subtle (and not so subtle) prejudiced attitudes against women, poor people, races and cultures different from our own, and, yes, against homosexuals. After all, "they" are not like "us," and, further, "they" are choosing to be different from "us." So, growing up, and even on my mission in the late Eighties, my view were very much what Boyd K. has expressed over the years.
As I have pursued my working career, I have formed too many friendships with gay and lesbian men and women. You know, so long as I was separate from "them," I did not have to take anything new in. Needless to say, over many years, and many conversations, and pondering, my programming has been updated."
I thought that his sentence, "so long as I was separate from "them," I did not have to take anything new in" hit the nail on the head. And it was very timely as the subject of distance had been on my mind lately.
On a relevant note, Marlin Jensen caused some waves of his own over his Prop 8 apology at a Church meeting in California. The way I see it, Packer and Jensen adhere to the same doctrine. Neither of them see a place for homosexuals in the Church who are not celibate. But Jensen's approach somehow seemed so much more palatable in this Salt Lake Tribune article where it was reported:
Jensen was the visiting general authority and offered to meet with members on the issue. About 90 people attended the meeting by invitation, and 13 shared their stories of pain as gays or family members, Pearson reported on her website. After one particularly harrowing account, many in the room, including Jensen, began to cry.The speaker said he felt the church owed him an apology.
Jensen arose and said through his tears, according to Pearson, he had heard very clearly the pain that had been expressed and that “to the full extent of my capacity I say that I am sorry.”
Marriage as only between a man and a woman was a “bedrock of our doctrine and would not change,” Jensen told the group that day, nor would the policy requiring gays to remain celibate.
“However, I want you to know that as a result of being with you this morning, my aversion to homophobia has grown,” Jensen said. “I know that many very good people have been deeply hurt.”
Jensen’s heartfelt empathy was such a healing balm that day, said Andy Sorenson, bishop of the Moraga Ward, home to about half the participants. There was widespread sobbing.
“He said that we have to do better going forward as a Christian people in expressing Christ’s love and fostering our common bonds together,” Sorenson said Monday. “It was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life."
Maybe he is starting to recognize the danger of distance.
Sep 28, 2010
Pure Mormonism, by Alan Rock Waterman (pictured right) has become one of my favourite blogs. Here is a brief description in his own words:
"I've had a lifelong interest in what the early Latter-day Saints understood to be the "pure theology" of The Restoration, unfiltered by many of the common assumptions prevalent among a majority of modern Mormons today. In Joseph Smith's time, a teaching was accepted as valid only if obtained through divine revelation from God. Today, much of what passes for doctrine among my fellow Saints appears to contain "the philosophies of men mingled with scripture." I've been further intrigued by warnings of the falling away of the latter-day saints in our day as foretold in the Book of Mormon, and this blog was created as a forum for discussing some of the possible signs of that prophesied derailment."
"Rather than simply emulating Christ and allowing His light to shine within them, some in the church seem to define “living the gospel” as a desperate race to obey all the rules of the institutional Church. This counterfeit gospel keeps the membership focused on their shortcomings; constantly worried about what they should or should not be doing, they're motivated by the fear that what they're doing is never enough, rather than allowing themselves to simply be who they really are: Sons and Daughters of the Light."
Aug 17, 2010
Aug 11, 2010
"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
"If your theology doesn't match up with your reality, there's nothing wrong
with your reality."
Jun 24, 2010
A Franciscan blessing
“May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers,
half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
Perhaps this is the greatest of all blessings?
Jun 11, 2010
"At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they
will be like the angels in heaven."
I've learned so much in recent months about family and what it means to me. I want to be with my family forever, but my family extends beyond the traditional Mormon definition.
May 2, 2010
An Open Discussion With FD and Hassan: Islam, Christianity, War in Afghanistan, Ethnic Discrimination, The Role Of God And Religion In Our Lives
"Is this what my life is for? To be wasted in a world of war?"
- I'm still technically Mormon, but am more universalist at heart and personally believe that the spiritual and temporal welfare of individuals is more important than what religion is "true" or "correct." Religion is no longer "one-size-fits-all" in my world view.
- Hassan is a non-practicing/non-believing Shia Muslim who had to flee wartorn Afghanistan because of his ethnicity and dissenting political and religious views. As a Hazara and Shia Muslim, he was both a religious and ethnic minority in Afghanistan. His application for political asylum is currently being processed, so he still has to live daily with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over his head. The current political situation is bad for refugees, particularly from Afghanistan, and the majority are having their asylum applications rejected.
- I'm currently reading the Qu'ran (among other things) and Hassan is reading the Bible and selections of the Book of Mormon in Persian.
- We share a very similar world view, and despite our non-literalist approach and problems with religion, we have a similar view on its valuable role in the lives of the human population.
- We both believe that a secular state is necessary in order to protect religious freedom and civil rights.
- We question the appropriateness of any religion to discriminate within its faith based on factors such as race or gender.
- Who is God and what is our destiny?
- Is God "nice" and "just?"
- If he planned everything for human beings from the beginning, why does he treat people differently?
"I am looking for some answer that makes sense to believe in a
religion. I was born in Afghanistan into a Shia Muslim family, though
I never wanted this. I have been abused and insulted because of my race,
nationality and mostly religion. If I had been born in another place,
for sure I could have a different life and different destiny. I feel like a
victim of religion, and my belief has always created problems for me. I want a
religion to ease my life and help me with the best way of life based on peace
and freedom, but now I am mostly afraid of religion. If I practice my previous
religion, I have to endure abasement and insult my whole life, if I change
my belief, I will be killed, and if I don’t believe any religion still I will be
killed. These are all because of being born in Afghanistan, and according to
Islam, it is my destiny. God has planned it for me from the beginning
of my life. I don’t know, how do you believe, FD, MG, MH and other
Apr 30, 2010
On Easter Sunday I went to Lutheran mass with my husband (who is still officially Lutheran, though never attended church regularly) and my Afghan refugee brother Hassan. I certainly haven't been looking to "jump ship" membership-wise, but as I've found it increasingly difficult to go to the LDS Church regularly, I decided why not check out something different.
Last Sunday was stake conference and since I wasn't about to go all the way to Oslo for church even at the height of my TBM days, I told my husband I was going to go to the Lutheran service just for the heck of it. He said he wanted to come with me, so we went. The church was packed (a rarity) because it was baby christening Sunday. At first I was disappointed because I just wanted to be there for a regular service. So we sat there and enjoyed the music and screaming babies, and then a man that neither of us knew got up and held a sermon that totally took our breath away.
He told a story about a friend of his, a doctor in a nearby city who was on his way to a Christmas party one evening last December and suddenly noticed a young man on the street who looked quite distressed. He felt that he should stop and ask him what the matter was, and so he did. The young man replied that he had missed the last bus to the refugee centre where he lived (which is quite a way outside of the city and certainly not within walking distance, especially not in the middle of winter). When he mentioned the word "refugee," my husband and I looked at each other, surprised, since the matter of refugees is extremely central in our lives at this time. And then he mentioned that the man said he was a refugee from Afghanistan, which really took our breath away. (The Afghans are the ones we've gotten really close to and they have such a special place in our hearts. I started to think of Hassan, imagining if it were him sitting out in the cold somewhere with no place to go, and suddenly I couldn't stop my eyes from overflowing with tears.) The doctor decided that Christmas parties will come and go each year, but this was an opportunity for service that he couldn't let go. So he drove the young man home and was invited in for tea. It was the first time he had entered a refugee centre (very few Norwegians ever do) and it was an eye-opener for him. The young Afghan man introduced him to some of his other Afghan friends and they struck up a close friendship, which led to the devlopment of a Norwegian-Afghan support network. In the process, he and some of his friends converted to Christianity and are active in the Norwegian church community in a nearby city.
The man closed his sermon with an inspiring talk about our attitudes towards refugees in Norway. (At worst, some are downright hostile, but most probably view them as a big burden to society that they wish would simply go away.) So he asked the congregation: should we lament about this "burden" of refugees, or should we thank God that they survived the dangerous journey to this country and view them as an asset? He finished with a prayer, specifically mentioning the refugees of our town. My husband and I we were both sort of floored, as this is not a topic one expects to hear at church -- and of all the Sundays that it should be mentioned, when we were actually there to hear it... my husband even felt moved enough to go up and take the sacrament at the end of the meeting, which I had never seen before.
It's funny to think that we should decide to go to Lutheran mass on exactly that day, but I'm sure glad we did. I got in contact via e-mail with the man who spoke and told him how he probably had no idea of the the unlikely impact he would make that day with his sermon. He was appreciative for the feedback and as he thought more and more about it, felt compelled to contact me again about working together in an interfaith/cultural network of people in the area who want to work towards building a better relationship with the refugee community in our town. And who is more prepared to do that than us?
A few years ago, I would have felt it was such a waste of time to get involved in a "wrong" church when I had the "true" one. Now that truth is in the backseat and the welfare of souls (not just in a spiritual sense, but especially in a temporal, humanitarian sense) is in the driver's seat, I'm just thankful for the opportunity to help and for the tools that seem to be finding their way to me, from the unlikeliest of places.
Apr 4, 2010
"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
-Romans 12: 15