My Other Blogs

2006-05-22

Misunderstood LDS Temple

Although I totally dig the Temple, I think the ever increasing trend to Mainstream the Church has created a strange and unnatural dichotomy. The difference between the "Sunday" Church and the Temple is so stark and vast that I believe it actually hurts many who go through the Temple for the first time, or even every subsequent time.

The Church has worked hard to present itself as a mainstream flavor of popular Christianity, perhaps as a way to gather converts (or maybe as a way of appeasing the populace of Utah who are born into the system unwittingly), and in so doing, it has cast aside (if not altogether out) many of the doctrines that mark our distinctive theology and enlightened understanding of the after-life.

Steps have been gradually taken to modify the Temple Ceremony in order to minimize the impact, but they are in a tough bind: The Temple contains eternal, unchangeable ordinances. Straying too far off the mark would invalidate them. So only miniscule and gradual changes are made here, where the rest of the Church can be recast to fit any Public Relations need by publishing a few new Sunday School manuals, and merely omitting the interesting (offending) parts.

I do not believe this is a deliberate attempt to throw off the Restoration, but that cultural differences and generations of born-in-the-covenant members have failed to receive the further light and knowledge which was had by their grandfathers. They are making a sincere effort to do what they believe is right, to retain members, to gain converts. But anyone who studies Church History soon learns that the official histories of our day are like Fairy Tales compared to what has actually transpired.

The funny thing, I think, is that if the modern Converts, with the aid of the Internet, could start deciding what would help them, instead of those born into the Church, we would have far less cover-ups. I, for example, am a convert. In the process of investigating the Church, any thinking young person would naturally study it the same as any school subject - that means turning to Google.com for many, and we become painfully aware of the Cover-Ups involved in history. But, those who do, and yet join anyway are not ashamed of the things being covered up. The cover-ups themselves are what we see as shameful, and cause more harm than the doctrines, history, and practices supposed by the "Molly Mormons" to not be faith-promoting.

Give us the meat. Everyone knows that the meat must be eaten before the milk (dairy) or a meal isn't Kosher. Don't give us the pearls before swine line. We aren't swine, and take offense at being considered unclean animals. Meat is presently not given at all, it must be sought after on the Internet and in old books.

If the Church would embrace its "strangeness", and encourage study of things like the Temple, in a respectful manner, many valuable preparations could be made by studying the Old Testament, or extra-biblical Jewish histories and commentaries, for example, which would make the Temple a comfortable and spiritual experience for the first time patron.

The focus should be on converting people instead of getting converts. Getting a convert is nothing, if they are only going to fall away or feel uncomfortable upon future study and research, and feel betrayed by misleading statements received in their "youth" in the study of the Gospel.

I was reading several people's anonymous comments on the Internet about their reaction to their first Temple experience. It is extremely plain to me that numerous people go through the Temple, tolerate it, and due to peer pressure are prodded to lie and say that they enjoyed it. It gnaws at their minds and they either deal with it until they become numb to it, or some time, maybe years later, they fall away.

It just shouldn't be that scary. The answer isn't to make it less scary by altering the ceremony, it is to make it less scary by teaching and preparing people for the experience, by gaining true converts to begin with. If they feel more comfortable being a Protestant, let them BE a Protestant. We don't need them occupying space in our chapel if they are not interested or open to the Fullness of the Restored Gospel and if they are preventing those of us who are truly there to Fellowship, Worship, and Learn, they are stumbling blocks to the Saints.

That may sound harsh - But rather than throw them out, lets try to really convert them.

5 comments:

Roy W. Wright said...

I can't express how glad I am to have found your blog tonight. For some time, I have been feeling that there is some kind of doctrinal cover-up going on in the Church, and it has pained me to try to reconcile my testimony of the truths of the Gospel with what is being taught by the current leadership. I am constantly reminded of these words by Brigham Young, which I first became aware of, ironically, from the Church News:

Honorable men... would say, "I want to be baptized. I admire your industry, and your skill in governing... I would like to join you." But take care, if you join this people without the love of God in your soul it will do you no good. If they were to do this, they would bring in their sophistry, and introduce that which would poison the innocent and honest and lead them astray. I look at this, and I am satisfied that it will not do for the Lord to make this people popular. Why? Because all hell would want to the in the church. The people must be kept where the finger of scorn can be pointed at them...

When I see this people grow and spread and prosper, I feel that there is more danger than when they are in poverty... I am afraid of only one thing. What is that? That we will not live our religion, and that we will partially slide a little from the path of rectitude, and go part of the way to meet our friends.


But tonight I feel... just great -- I feel like I have found the Church all over again after reading all of the posts here. I feel enlightened as I haven't in years. Keep up the good work and know that you'll have at least one dedicated reader from now on.

Jeff said...

Roy, you almost bring tears to my eyes. I am so glad to see someone helped in some way by what we have been outpouring here for the past few days (this is still a very young blog). In responding to your post on my other blog, I wasn't sure if you were a Mormon, so I didn't want to alienate you by mentioning Mormon things specifically ;) But, I see that you are already acquainted, and that makes me happy. I am very familiar with the quote you just shared. There are at least a couple of other quotes where Brigham made similar warnings. I have faith in the leadership of the Church, but where my faith is lacking is due to the complacency of the majority of people of the Church. At one time, Brigham was praising them that there had been no more obedient and faithful people since the City of Enoch, and yet look where we stand?

What has transpired, and what seems shameful especially to some scholars, is nothing more or less than a result of the membership. God usually gives people exactly what they ask for. They don't always know what is best for themselves, however.

I look forward to the dialogue we can have on this blog and perhaps others. Your comments, questions, and even criticisms, if any, are welcome here.

Jeff said...

Roy,

If you don't mind sharing, I'm curious to know how you found the blog tonight? We are still so new, it is exciting to see someone reading it at all.

~Jeff

Roy W. Wright said...

It was your recent post at Jeff Lindsay's place.

Jeff said...

Ah, very good. I really hesitated before posting there because I don't care much for Jeff Lindsay's style of apolegetics, and I knew I was opening a can of worms, but I went ahead and did it in spite of my reservation. I guess it was a good choice.