Friday, November 2, 2012

My Mormon Perspective: *Remembering* what we have already learned



God's preferred way to teach us: Remembering what we have already learned

I love reading Keepapitchinin (Keepa) because I learn so much about the gospel, as it has been applied and taught since the time of Joseph Smith. I don't have Mormon ancestors, or any ancestors who lived in Utah, so many of the things I read are like going on an archeology hunt for people who are similar to me, while being utterly foreign as well. It is an important trip though, because while these are not my blood line ancestors, they are the spiritual ancestors of my faith.  I can find insights into how to live my life, as I read about how they thought, worshiped, and lived.




There are two other reasons why I love Keepa, and both of them have to do with the community and people who are involved.  The commenters often bring just as much to the conversation, because there are a lot of really talented, very smart, entertaining and sometimes intimidatingly accomplished people who are part of the Keepa community.  I am still a little surprised when they put up with my random questions, and are kind when I am really not in the same academic league as everyone else.  I also really love Ardis (the Keepa Queen) who writes with passion and insight, and she is someone who I hope to grow up to be like some day.  The depth and breadth of her knowledge can be kind of intimidating, and yet when I worry I might be rambling too much, she has always encouraged me to share my thoughts.  I have a huge amount of respect for her.  For an example of why I wish she was my grandmother, you can read her testimony here.  (Maybe if I am lucky, she will adopt me some day, ;-) A girl can certainly hope!)

I really like the idea of looking at the ways the gospel has been lived and applied at different times, places and circumstances. The Jews in Palestine, the Nephites in the Promised Land, and Mormon pioneers, and more current Latter-day Saints, all worship the same God, and have access to the teachings and spiritual promptings of the Holy Ghost. The differences in the way they practiced their religion came from the places and circumstances they were in. There is always the same goal in each group, to understand God's desires and then learn how to act in accordance to the way God asks us, so we can become like Him. The desire to know and understand God is the same.  It is the implementation and details of worship differs with the culture and circumstances . It is important to look at the difference in how worship happens at different times, so that we can distinguish the doctrine from the culture in which it is practiced.

Often I have pridefully thought I could easily see the difference between doctrine and culture. While I may be fairly good at parsing them by the standards of 2012 USA, *I* really need a much wider and longer view, that comes only from the scriptures and writings of saints from other times provide, to be able to sort out the gospel of Christ, distinct from how the gospel is practiced in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2012, or at any other time in history. I need to look for the doctrine by finding which principles and doctrine have been taught by prophets in all dispensations, even though they may be practiced uniquely in specific cultures.

 

I don't need that wider, and potentially more academic, view of being a disciple of Christ because I believe the LDS church to be untrue, but because currently, I am not physically able to participate in church attendance. So, I am looking at how I keep my testimony bright and my life on the path with the rod of iron as my guide, while I go for a time without the structure of a three-hour block meeting, a calling, and LDS social activities. It is a time less of faith crisis, and more a time of, faith and practice pondering.  To find those ways to practice the gospel outside of the established cultural practice of *my* time, I need to find those things that are essential to being a saint, when the program designed for the vast majority, is not possible for a period of time. Let me explain what that means in my circumstance.

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a member if the church when I haven't been to sacrament meeting in almost six months, and it is unlikely I will be able to physically go to church in the next six months. What started out as a couple of months is turning into a year or more, of my husband attending church without me. We are finding that we miss that companionship on Sundays. Looking at six more months, we are considering having church at home at least half the time, so that our worship doesn't seem so disconnected from each other.

My husband is a new convert, who was baptize a little over a year ago. He only had a few months after his baptism before my health started declining and my body wasn't able to make it through the three hour block. As it progressed, I was only able to be there for sacrament meeting, then only the sacrament, and then I was told I should not to travel, (even the 20 minutes each way to church) unless it was for medical care.

During the time where I was not able to attend, Scott has been at church most Sundays, he has continued to fulfill his calling as Assistant Scoutmaster, but he is lonely at church, and constantly worried about me when he is away for long. He has been prompted a number of times to leave church early, and has reached home within 5-10 minutes of a fall or other problem, which hadn't started until he was more than half way home. As my condition has worsened again, he has felt prompted that he needs to stay home with me, at least until we move, on Sundays. Originally I was very resistant to the idea, not wanting him to miss the blessings of church attendance just because I could not go.

After much study and prayer, the Holy Ghost helped me to *remember* a number of key things I have read on Keepa. (Part of the spiritual preparation to receive this personal revelation was having already read, asked questions, and thought deeply about those things that now became important to *remember* as I listened to the whispering a of the Spirit to my soul.)  Part of what brought me to thinking about that option (besides our discussion as a couple) was my question, at least a month ago, about early saints who did not migrate to Utah. Ardis's answer gave me a lot to think about, and consider what it might mean in my life.  This is her answer to my question:

"Julia, they were on their own, unless there were other members nearby to meet with. They were encouraged to subscribe to the Liahona and other Church publications, and the missionaries would call on them the next time they came through (we’ve seen Elder Jones call on members a very few times earlier in his journal), but mostly they were on their own.
 
We’ve had a few stories about missionaries calling on people who had been baptized years earlier but hadn’t ever seen or heard from a Mormon since then, yet they considered themselves LDS and so did the missionaries. At exactly the same time Elder Jones is writing, my own family were isolated members like this in Alabama. They held a home Sunday School part of the time, and they always welcomed and took care of the missionaries who passed through, but they had no day-to-day Mormon communal life like members in the Mormon West had."
Additionally, the Without Purse or Script series of posts, which shares the mission diary of a missionary serving in Texas in 1900 and 1901, it gives a look into the daily life if a missionary before church correlation. In the diary it shares many things that would be unthinkable to today's missionaries. The missionary experiences shared include travel for pleasure, and they received mail and purchased things on many different Sundays. They sometimes hunted for their food (which means they carried guns, at least part of the time, if they were shooting squirrels, etc.) and only sporadically (less than monthly) attended meetings where the sacrament was available.  





The missionaries also had many discussions with ministers of other churches and attended the meetings of other congregations and religions, without anyone fearing the missionaries would lose their testimonies because of the contact. As I have found on many occasions in my life, knowing and understanding the contrast between what the restored gospel, (which the missionaries knew and taught) and those things being taught by other denominations, is a blessing to them.  Reading about those missionary's experiences, has helped me remember many of my own childhood experiences attending the church services and classes with friends of other religions.  There were many blessings I received as a result of joining my friends as they prepared for a Catholic First Communinion and a Jewish Bat Mitzvah.  I not only learned the religious doctrine being taught, I also have additional doctrinal insights and understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is taught and lived by Latter-day Saints.  An unexpected benefit, later in life, is that often makes I am able to help answer questions about the doctrine of the LDS church, because I had a basic understanding of the doctrine of the faiths of my childhood friends.  
 
 

I don't know yet what our family worship will look like over the next year or so. I am confident that we will both read the scriptures, listen prayerfully for the promptings of the Holy Ghost, in the same way we both heard the promptings to move before the next surgery. If we choose to have more of our worship happen in our home, instead of at a chapel, I am confident that we will receive the guidance of the Holy Ghost in choosing what to study and how to apply it in our lives. If Scott continues to attend Sunday services without me, I am sure that we will be led to find ways to not feel the loneliness that creeps in on most Sundays.  No matter what the answers we receive end up being, I have faith that the answers will be what the Lord knows is the best thing for us now, and in the future.
 
 
Sometimes when life goes in to places not covered by the guide books, getting your bearings, and looking for remembered land marks, is how you start figuring out what to do next.  I believe that we will continue to have the landmark truths learned in the past, no matter what the source, brought to our remembrance. That is the beauty of the gift of the Holy Ghost.  We have a perfect advisor available to us, as long as we are listening for that counsel.


Don't forget it is NaBloPoMo! To find other bloggers who are participating, you can go here!



5 comments:

  1. Thoughtful exploration of your path. And of course, all of us are constantly "remembering" the truths we knew before we came to earth. Wishing you peace and joy in this journey.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A very thoughtful look at what happens when we take the time to think about what we should do and have past experience to draw on. A good way to make decisions, and tells how important reading is.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous, reading can be an important part of the questions, but sometimes it is listening and recording thoughts and feelings we have. I think one of the biggest reasons we are encouraged to keep journals is that they can help us remember things we already have learned.

    Mom, (Kathy) I found it helpful as I was trying to trace some of the background behind the thoughts and impressions I was having. Heavenly Father always gives us information before we need to make a course correction, or change something in our lives. It is good to share those things with others, as an example of a way it might possibly work for them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sometimes I don't know if I should love you or hate you. I actually went to Sunday School today, and someone asked a question about how the Holy Ghost teaches us things, and I pulled up your blog on my iPhone and read a couple of paragraphs from this post.

    I think they must have thought I was looking up something on LDS.org because several people asked me which conference talk I had been reading from. Anyway, people may spend a bunch of time looking for Jay Taylor's talk. Congrats, you are a new General Authority! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I called you a GA and I don't even get a courtesy laugh?

    But really, are you okay?The posts this month are great but you don't seem around much. Are you not doing very well again?

    ReplyDelete

Comments Are Always Welcome! You don't need to agree to have something great to say!

Please be respectful to yourself and to others. Offensive language, personal attacks and spam will be deleted.