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Friday, April 30, 2010

Faces and Faith

I've been thinking.
About my visit to the LDS Langley temple on Tuesday night.
Although I've never been on the verge of converting to Mormonism, I was really disappointed.
It was kind of like going backstage after an elaborate show and finding the actors without makeup and costumes, having shed their stage roles, except that I'd missed the show.
Is there a public face to the LDS church, one of friendliness and welcome, that is removed behind the scenes? For all the happy volunteers who guided visitors and showed gracious hospitality during the open house, those church members I encountered later were extremely unwelcoming and ungracious, even to the point of rudeness. The wonderful picture of Mormonism presented in the blogs suddenly doesn't look so great. Which makes bells ring in my head and lots of question marks float through the air.

The other thing that has been running through my mind is the high emphasis on performance. LDS members must successfully submit to an interview every year in order to enter the temple. (Please, if you are a Mormon and I'm getting the facts wrong, set me straight. I am at the mercy of blogs and websites for my information!) The questions are all about living up to church standards and principles, keeping all sacraments and covenants, and sustaining the president as God's representative and prophet on earth.

I have no problem with accountability. In fact, we probably all need more of it in our lives. But to limit entry to the House of the Lord based on performance, after the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus that gives us free access to the presence of God, is just like taking people right back to the Old Testament laws. The New Testament is pretty clear that salvation is based on faith, and that our good works (following rules, etc) are "as filthy rags to God". I can never be good enough on my own, but fortunately, the blood of Jesus cleanses me. It is enough.

I feel sad about all those Mormon women I have come to admire. They're so enthusiastic about their faith, which I see as a great virtue, but it looks to be built on lots of rules and regulations, secrecy, and expectations for performance.

Blogs are like windows into people's lives. I feel like I know so many of the bloggers I follow, although they (mostly) have no idea that I exist. I like to think that my Mormon blogger "friends" would have been themselves - fun, friendly, welcoming - if they had been the ones carrying chairs at the temple on Tuesday. But what if they weren't?

Isn't life mysterious...?

5 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

risThanks Ang,

I replied to your comment on thekingpin68. I also linked this post within my reply as I am sure some of my readers would find it interesting.

Russ from Maple Ridge.:)

Jeff said...

This is old information, but still interesting:

"After months of investigation, the Denver Post team of Farrell and Richardson concluded that "the Reader's Digest image" of Mormonism most people accept "is all done with mirrors. The signs of strain inside the Mormon nation are real enough." Although Mormons pride themselves upon their abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, a government study conducted in 1973 indicated that "church members take more non-barbiturate sedatives, tranquilizers, antidepressants, stimulants, pep pills, heroine, cocaine, and LSD" than non-Mormons."
(p. 19, "The God Makers," by Ed Decker and Dave Hunt, copyright 1984.)

"Utah's divorce rate has always been higher than the national average...[and] 20 is the most common age for women in Utah to get divorced...
Utah's child murder rate is five times the national average. Half of all babies born in Utah have teenage mothers, and seven out of ten of these children are conceived out of wedlock...
But because of the fierce pressure to remain "respectable" in Utah, seven months has become the most common interval between marriage and childbirth.
Mormons tend to replace vices like cigarettes and alcohol with a demanding sweet tooth. A hefty 46 percent of all adults and Utah are overweight, compared to a national average of 19 percent."
(Denver Post, p. 10, Special Reprint, Sunday Supplement, "Utah: Inside The Church State," Nov. 21-28, 1982, from introductory comments by Will Jarrett, Executive Editor.)

Mormonism teaches that there are still multitudes of full-grown adult spirits out there waiting for bodies to inhabit so that they too can become gods.

“The Lord has revealed that when a man and a woman are married according to his law, children born to them will be theirs throughout all eternity.” (Smith, Joseph Fielding, Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1954, Vol.2, p. 86.)

For Latter-day Saints, the term "godhood" denotes the attainment of such a state—one of having all divine attributes and doing as God does and being as God is."
("Godhood," K. Codell Carter, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992.)

“The whole purpose of life is to test us to see if we have caught the real meaning of divinity.”
(“Convince or Convert?” Theodore M. Burton, BYU Speeches, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1964, p. 8.)

Latter-day Saint said...

If I may explain a little bit to make your understanding more clear, it is not about living up to performances it is striving to keep the commandments that have been set in place by God,if you are an unendowed member of the church your temple recommend is only valid for a year; if you are endowed your recommend is good for two years (though you must still be worthy, and that is where self accountability comes in).

When going for a a recommend interview we are asked questions about worthiness and accountability to obeying gods commandments, one cannot expect that God should bless us when we are not keeping his commandments; that goes contrary to my understanding and knowledge, and to the scriptures.

I hope this clears this up for you! Cheers!

Latter-day Saint said...

Also in reply to Jeff, "The God Makers" is the worst source of information you can source from when learning about Mormons, it is known and seen by many professionals as half truths and outright blatant lies. Do not trust anything from "The God Makers" the best source of real truthful information on mormons can be found here:

www.mormon.org
www.lds.org
http:jesuschrist.lds.org

Ange of the North said...

Latter-Day Saint, thanks so much for your comments; I appreciate your input and clarification! I still feel that there is an element of earning the right to come into God's house. I know that on my own, I'm not worthy of standing before God, and my good works can never make me worthy. It's only by the blood of Jesus that I can come into his presence. However, I understand that entering the temple is a privilege that is not to be taken lightly.
I guess there are many cultural aspects to Mormonism that seem unfamiliar... The King James language, the secret temple rituals, the old-fashioned looking artwork that always shows Jesus with light skin, the suits and ties, the organ music and hymns, it's all just different and maybe a bit difficult for an outsider to understand.
Again, I really appreciate your comments!

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