Showing posts with label LDS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LDS. Show all posts

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Celebrating with Funerals

There was a funeral in the ward today – a man I didn’t actually know.  But Roland was presiding and asked me to be there.  The funeral did not start until 12:00 and yet I had been asked to be there at 11:00.  I still don’t know why.

So while I was there I started reminiscing over some other funerals I have attended during my lifetime. I have attended well over 40 funerals (perhaps more than 50) during my lifetime.  I don’t say that to boast – it’s just always been part of my existence.  As a result, I have always been surprised by the ignorance of others who find themselves in a situation of having to make funeral arrangements and not having a clue as how to go about it.

Death takes place all the time.  It happens all around us – I suppose for some more than others.  And each culture/religion views death differently and there are just as many funeral ceremonies as there are ways of dying.

For some cultures it is considered disrespectful for those attending to wear anything but white.  For others, black is the acceptable mournful color.  For the LDS member/funeral, the tradition is to dress in the same attire worn to Church on Sunday.

When Roland’s uncle (who’s not LDS) passed away, I had packed a black dress – though not a solid black dress.  It was gingham with large faded flowers – something I have worn to Church.  I don’t think his family was happy with what I had chosen to wear as his mother led me into her room and held out a couple of dark skirts and told me I could wear one of hers. 

Never mind that Roland’s mother is quite a bit shorter than I and any skirt that she had may have barely covered my bottom. It was 30 degrees warmer in Arizona than in Utah.  I was already hot in my “casual” summer dress.  I distinctly remember that one of the skirts was made out of wool – I’m allergic to wool.  As hot as I already was, I might as well just wear a trench coat and be just as uncomfortable.  And why would anybody own wool clothing while living in Arizona anyway?  I was the only adult wearing a dress.
For me, going to a funeral means you’re supporting your living friends whose loved one have passed on.  I normally don’t go to funerals if the only one that I know is the one in the casket.
I was once asked to drive my grandmother to a funeral that took place in another county.  I didn’t even know the deceased or any of his family – just my grandmother.  She didn’t really know the deceased all that well but had wanted to support the mother of the one who had passed. But at the funeral, I learned a bit about the deceased.  And after the funeral, I knew the deceased just as well as grandma did.

I have been to a handful of non-LDS funerals, but for the most part, the funerals that I have attended have been LDS conducted – usually in the chapel where we hold meetings on Sunday.  And I like LDS funerals.  For the most part, I think they pay excellent tribute to the one who is deceased.

The funerals I enjoy the most celebrate life.  The speakers consist of friends and/or family (family members are best!) who relate stories about the deceased.

I had the opportunity to speak at my great grandmother’s funeral, my grandmothers, and my dad’s.  I really enjoyed my dads.

The program addressed "farewell services" rather than "funeral services" I talked about dad’s early life up until he married.  Patrick took over celebrating my dad’s life as a father and patriarch.  We played Corey’s voice reciting his poem (found here)  which he later set to music.  And Kayla sang Amy Grant/Gary Chapman’s “Father’s Eyes”. 

I remember attending another funeral for a former neighbor (only about four years older than I) and his four children spoke at his and put their dad on a pedestal and really honored his accomplishments.  It was great!

Besides the funeral itself, there is the Relief Society who will bring casserole dishes, baked potatoes, side dishes, rolls and desserts (so the family and friends of the deceased can eat after returning from the burial) I remember lots of sign up sheets being passed around in my last ward.  Seems there were always three funerals in less than three months.  It became overwhelming at times (I’m sure for the RS presidency especially) I remember doing baked potatoes and salads and one dessert.  Today I took Calico Beans

Monday, September 3, 2012

There Must Be Uniformity at the Pulpit


Shortly after Roland was called to the bishopric, he was asked to summarize a talk that had been given about the conformity of testimonies and submit it to the monthly newsletter – which actually didn’t exist before this particular bishopric. 

Now there are a few people in the ward who tend to drone on and on until the gratitude that is felt in their hearts turns into penetrating boredom on the part of the audience.  Every ward has them.  They start off by expressing what it is that brought them to the podium – and then they take us on a stroll down memory lane, or into their health, or into their entire week.  Gradually the testimony gets lost in their words.  And all eyes turn to the clock and you can almost hear a chorus of silent groans.

Sometimes there is a dead silence and often times the droner just feels it’s his (or her) duty to fill the silence while the audience wonders which is worse: the silence or the droning on and on.

Today it was announced in each first meeting (primary, Relief Society and Priesthood) that if one spends more than three minutes at the pulpit than it is no longer testimony.  And we are reintroduced to five subjects that should be topic of one’s testimony.

I get it to a certain degree – the timing thing.  Sadly, it doesn’t seem to register with the ones who are guilty of running off the mouth.  And though I do have a testimony of the five given subjects, I don’t always feel inspired to share – especially because it now seems so conforming.  I like to hear individual experiences and a brief history of the belief – but not by just one individual for the whole entire meeting.

Sweet Jeff got up to bear his testimony.  He’d written it down so that he wouldn’t stumble.  And yet he did.  He is a member of the special Olympics.  They treat him like he matters, but not all people do.

Our ward mission leader quickly followed him up to the stand, and stood by his side.  The words he used were non-conforming and perhaps out of line with what a true testimony is – but it was real.  It was genuine.  And as he teared up with his plea for prayer support, the ward mission leader stepped closer to the mike and finished reading what Jeff had written.

Before Corey had even decided to go on a mission, my dad had had a series of strokes.  His brain wasn’t able to communicate to his muscles quickly enough to have them do what and when he wanted. 

He had a one or two minute talk, but it had taken him an entire minute just to get out the first sentence.  Corey lovingly put his arms around dad and asked him if he (my dad) would like  Corey to finish reading it.  That moment between Jeff and our ward mission leader triggered those memories.  I started bawling.  But it was actually a good memory – for there had been so much gratitude on my dad’s part – it shined as he told Corey “thank you.”  And I wasn’t the only one crying.  Those who didn’t cry (if any) were definitely in the minority.

Shortly after Jeff sat down, a couple came to the stand.  Roland and I often refer to them as Frank and Marie Baronethough he is certainly way more humble than Frank could even dream of.  It’s just the constant bickering they seem to do with one another.  They genuinely do love one another.  And perhaps their arguments are just playful on their part (well at least on his) it still doesn’t seem in harmony with a happy marriage.

He got it.  His testimony was short, sweet, covered at least three of the subjects.  He was very humble.  His testimony was genuine.  It was nice.

His wife didn’t drone on as much as usual – but she did drone.  Time to sit down, Marie.  Oh, I would not want the bishop’s job for anything.

I enjoy watching the second counselor.  His expressions often mirror my own thoughts.  He looked like he was trying to keep from laughing while the bishop painfully checked the clock.  She finally sat down without his inviting her to do so.

Overall, it really was a nice meeting.  Not a lot of conformity.  I must say I liked that as well.  I realize that I do not go to meetings to be entertained.  But the heart gives me more focus than guidelines do – though I really do understand their purpose.  I just think it’s sad that so many of us have to be asked to conform because there are individuals that just don’t get it – even with the guidelines.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chopped, Snipped, Spliced and Discarded – I could SO use that Money

          Before Roland and I moved from our first house, he introduced me to the reality show “Chopped” a one hour show that gives four chefs the opportunity to create appetizers, entrees, and desserts using four specific ingredients – most I haven’t been familiar with or think of as too bizarre to belong with  either the rest of the ingredients or in the particular round.

          I would think that there is more than eight hours of footage for each episode of “Chopped” – thus it is not just the chefs competing who get “chopped” but the editing as well.  It sickens me to know that all this wasted footage exists – that so much tape ends up on the floor.  The expense that goes into these reality series (Wife Swap is another example) and all the waste.  I could really use the money that is spent on wasted film.  So many Americans could – especially in this economy that seemingly continues to spiral downhill.  Where are the priorities of this nation?

          Recently there was a documentary on NBC called: “Mormons in America: NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams" and actually I feel a certain amount of emotion which I stated in my last post.

I think Rock Center handled “Mormons in America” well.  Some accused of focusing too much on the small percentage that “don’t really represent the entire church” well guess what?  It’s that small percentage that the world will be looking at. And I think it’s wonderful that it has been presented to the world (or nation anyway) that there might be a better understanding.

          Abby Huntsman does not represent the entire Church.  Who does?  Some criticized that the creators of the program should have gone to the authorities or at least devout members to for a more accurate understanding.  But we are a very diverse people – even among ourselves.  The gospel values are true regardless of its members.  But the members are not perfect.  We are not all cut out of the same mold – and the world needs to know that there are struggles that many members face that don’t always correspond with what the gospel principles teach.

I think the documentary was handled very nicely.  And I think Abby did a great job letting people understand her position but still being respectful of the Church. She probably has a better hold on what a non member might feel.  There are many who have left the church who experience that “ah-hah” moment after they’ve been away for it – not that they disagree or become uncomfortable – but all the sudden understand the meaning of “a peculiar people” and understand the non-members view – whereas those who are so close to the surface don’t have that same understanding.  They don’t see the forest for the trees.  Corey explained it a little bit in this post  

          There are many members (or former members) who have had their feelings hurt for whatever reason.  Treated like outcasts.  Overaggressive concern isn’t handled correctly either on the part of the leaders or the interpretation of the member (I think more of the first; as an example Abby’s bishop told her that she wouldn’t receive the same blessings – and although it may have been said out of concern – it hadn’t been communicated in a proper manner)  I like the way Clive Durham said it in this post 

          Bishop, stake president, and other leadership positions are held by people.  Imperfect people. Some, who unfortunately abuse their power, some, who should have never been put in that position to begin with.  Some who would rather not be there and wonder why the position was accepted in the first place. 

          Julienne (sp?) and Al Jackson do NOT represent all members.  A large majority, perhaps.  But certainly NOT all members.  Mitch Mayne is told he can keep his position in the Church so long as he remains celibate.  Celibate?  Really?  In a Church that pushes marriage and family? (And there are many who actually do push)

          That was Corey’s plan - to remain celibate – though he wasn’t fulfilled.  He would have been able to keep his membership – but still not feel whole – not complete.  He did NOT go in search for a partner.  Truth is, when they initially met, he tried to avoid it. 

          Their first encounter together was working on the same production in Las Vegas.  The two of them started out with a casual dinner, but after a while Corey's feelings deepened towards his partner.  He started to have feelings that he had been  told all of his life were wrong to have.

Corey returned home from Las Vegas the first Christmas after they had met.  Relieved in some ways not to be tempted by something he had been trying to avoid all of his life.  Yet torn because he really did have emotions for this guy.  And what a wonderful guy he is.  I really really do like Corey’s partner.

          Eventually it turned into something very beautiful.  Both celibate.  Both wanting to wait.  Both yearning for God to be a part of their “marriage” and I have no doubts that He is.  Corey had to give up his membership.  But he did not give up on the gospel.  He still attends Sunday meetings (minus the priesthood which he was never comfortable with in the first place) and though it’s often hard for him not to be able to participate to the fullest – Corey is happier than he has ever been in his entire life. 

          Corey is very knowledgeable in the gospel.  He is very well rounded individual.  He doesn’t represent the entire Church – even when he was a member.  But he does make an impact.  A GREAT impact.  He has a very strong and beautiful testimony.  He is one of many pioneers on a path that is slowly being smoothed over and more widely traveled – and yet too many who are on that path feel alone and unwanted and aren’t always handled with care.  Corey, fortunately, has had amazing support. Yet it seems to be a rarity with far too many.

We have a friend who is strongly opinionated and probably more of a feminist than Joanna Brookes.  She is married to one who has been on the high council as well as other prominent positions.  Both strong in the gospel.  Each representing what sometimes appear as conflicting ideas.  And I love them both.  And I respect them both.  And I am personally grateful for the diverseness.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Boundaries and Languages of the LDS Church

          The words ward and stake refer to the geographical boundaries of those who belong to the LDS Church.  A certain number of members are assigned to a certain building.

          First off there is a chain of command.  Perhaps it might be easier to an individual to compare the chain of authority (but not the religion itself) to a business or military leadership, let’s say.

          The CEO or President does not show up in every store, in every franchise, in every company that she or he has built.  They hire staff who they hopefully communicate to.  They in turn hold meetings at their assigned areas and let their people know what the CEO expects. 
          The corporate moves from states to cities – with even more employees representing the different locations within the surrounding areas.  This is how the chain of command operates.  This is how the CEO communicates to his fellow worker.

          In the LDS Church there is a Prophet who is referred as President of the Church.  He in turn has counselors.  They preside over what is known as the twelve apostles who in turn preside over the Quorum of 70’s.

          Each member of the 70 is assigned to preside over certain regions.  A region is a geographical boundary which includes several stakes.  Each stake is divided into wards and branches (a branch includes a much smaller membership than does a ward) who in turn each have a bishop (or branch president) and counselors.  And the chain of command goes through each region, each stake, each ward, etc. The boundaries are included in the Church organization.

          Recently, when we had visited with Roland’s family, I was trying to explain this to one of my sisters-in-law.  Our youngest son, Randy, was also having a similar conversation with another family member.

          In the past I had typed up the address of where we were staying to find the address of a nearby Church – and usually had a choice of locations (as the site brought up at least three surrounding in the area) but this year it gave only one.  I did not question it until we were driving there.  I don’t remember it having been such a long drive the last time we were there.  We had gone to another building in the years prior. But after the meeting started, I realized that it was a meeting where we needed to be.

          The first speaker warned the congregation that even though LDS language is familiar to its members, for many outside of the Church some of our words are a bit foreign (just as most military terms are to me; Tony can use initials and military terms when speaking to Roland and he will understand them, but I will not)

          We refer to the youth Sunday school as “Primary”.  Primary means first in sequence, most important, basic, original and relating to early education.  All of these definitions fit what primary is in the LDS Church.  Our youth are important.  They learn the basics of the gospel.  They have activities in primary.  They sing songs.  It’s an introduction designed for children.  It is inviting to most children, really.

          The teenage group is referred to as Young Men/Young Women.  Back in my day it was referred to as MIA:  Mutual Improvement Association.  (though there is the joke of many youth who seem to be missing in action) It is a program designed to help the youth to stay on course and create goals and achieve them. 

          The programs purpose is to help build self-esteem and awareness and offers guidelines on how to conduct one’s self and how to face daily living.  There are youth activities during the week in addition to the lessons given on Sundays.

          The Relief Society: the oldest and largest women’s organization in this or any other dispensation.  It teaches strength and gives counsel on rearing one’s family, on loving ourselves, on loving one another, on teaching, on learning, and just on rejoicing in being a daughter of God.

          Within the Relief Society is the visiting teaching program.  This program was designed to strengthen the welfare of each sister.  Several sisters will be assigned to visit a certain amount of sisters and/or families in the ward once a month – just to see how they are doing, to report back any concerns, to stay in touch with those who may not be coming to Church for whatever reason.

          There is a lot more to mormonology.  This post doesn’t even begin to touch the surface.  But perhaps I’ve accomplished a few things with a few readers.  Hopefully anyway.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Make Every Second Count: You just Never Know

          Two weeks ago we left the state to be with Roland’s family.  We spent most of Friday driving, checked into a room and spent two days there.

          We didn’t meet up with the family until after 4:00 pm on Saturday.  Roland and his brother had both come from out of state to celebrate their mom’s 85th birthday.

          The eldest sister had actually sent the invitations out in January.  We had told her repeatedly that we just didn’t have the finances.  And just the week prior, we didn’t even have reliable transportation.  We ended up borrowing my mom’s car and our expenses were paid for.

          There was Elvis, and dancing, and hugs, and kisses and a tremendous surprise.  Roland’s mom had an exceptional birthday.  Cameras went off in all directions.  I would guess over 600 flashes – but that’s just a guess. 

          The next morning we posed mom and four of her five children (there was one who was unable to attend) before Roland’s brother and his wife returned to their home state.  More pictures were taken with I don’t know how many cameras.  It is nice to have those memories.  Especially now.

          Last night the family called to tell us of Roland’s older sister’s passing.  It was so unexpected.  I am still bewildered over the news.  Who knew that all of those pictures would show her in her final moments?  Wonderful, happy photographs of the very last memories we will have of her.

          We’d gone down visit before.  Maybe every other year.  Twice to bring mom back for a visit, once for the funeral of Roland’s uncle. 

          I’ve been to a lot of funerals during my lifetime.  Most have been LDS.  I like LDS funerals.  I can’t say the same for non LDS. I think I’ve been to about five that have been of another denomination.  And with each of them it has felt cold and so non-personal to me.  For it seems that anyone could be lying in that casket and the sermon would be exactly the same.

          Not all LDS funerals leave one feeling good about the person or the way the arrangements were made – but for the most part (at least in my experience) LDS funerals are beautiful and filled with love and devotion.  For the most part, even if you may not be familiar with the deceased, by the time the services end, you will know something.

          We sat around for two hours at Uncle Gil’s.  There was a small amount of hushed visiting and family members taking a break for their smokes and returning to the mostly empty pews.

          With most LDS funerals I have attended, there is a viewing beforehand.  And there has always been a line.
          The services are usually done by friends or family members – remembering and honoring those that have passed on.
          The Relief Society (women’s organization) rallies around the family – often providing the family with a meal for after the services.

          Roland’s family doesn’t have any of that.  They could.  But choose not to.  For Uncle Gil they hired a preacher, a minister, a man of the cloth – I actually don’t know what his title was.  A handsome sum of money was donated by the family members who might attend on Christmas and Easter (if that)  It felt as though they were trying to buy Uncle Gil’s way into heaven.

          I think the family would find a lot more comfort if they were to allow Roland and myself to conduct – because we would honor his sister by holding the kind of funeral that I am used to attending.

          I’ve given talks at funerals before.  I spoke at my great-grandmothers, my grandma’s and my dad’s.  I thought my dad’s was wonderful.  I talked a bit about daddy’s childhood and how he had met my mom.  Patrick took over with honoring him as a family man. 

          Corey was out of the country at the time.  We played a message that he had recorded prior to my father’s death.  And Kayla (who was in her last year at high school) sang “My Father’s Eyes” There was music.  It was a really nice service.
          After Bill’s (my brother-in-law) first wife died, I learned things about her that I hadn’t known before her passing. There were some really nice talks at that one as well.

          There are many LDS funerals that seem to go on and on – but as a whole, I think they are nice tributes and find a lot more comfort in them than these “impersonal sermons” as I call them.  I just don’t find the same sense of peace that I do with LDS funerals.

          We are still awaiting details.  But these are my thoughts at this time.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Don’t Want to Be an Example!

          I met Dave when he worked at a sandwich shop in Maynardsville, VA.  My two missionary companions adored him.  He was a really nice guy.  Very personable, very friendly, outgoing, full of life.  He liked to drink, smoke, and lead an immoral lifestyle.  He appeared to be happy and content.

          Dave had been raised in the LDS Church – and whether he ever felt a part of it or not, I do not know.  I’m guessing he did.  I know he had lots of friends in the Church.  And out of respect to them, or perhaps for his mom, or maybe it was the Church itself, he decided to have his name removed from the membership records.

          He hadn’t necessarily stopped believing the things he had been taught for most of his life.  He had just chosen a path that wasn’t very wholesome for a staunch and devout member to be on.  And he knew that.  He knew he had disappointed many by spreading his wings – by taking the road that seemed more popular.  And it worked for him.  But he knew that his choices were not the right choices for people to see.  He didn’t want people to say, “He’s a Mormon” and mar the image of what some people would believe that Mormons were (or are) and so he asked for his membership to be taken away.

          He did not go into great detail about his disciplinary council.  He said it was one of the hardest things he had ever done.  He said if he had been thrown into a room with a bunch of strangers that it would have been so much easier.  But the men in the room were his friends – or had been at one time or another.  He felt like he had failed them and his mother.  But it was just something he felt he needed to do.

          He could have remained an inactive member.  The Church doesn’t excommunicate those who are inactive – even if they have a questionable lifestyle.  Active members and missionaries are asked to work with them and “bring them back into the fold” and eventually there is a repenting process – but not drastic like the active members who have done something within question that results in excommunication. 

          When I heard Dave’s story I was in awe.  What a great guy to give up his membership (hard as it was) so that he could honestly tell people that he wasn’t a Mormon nor had membership there.  Of course, the ideal thing (according to thousands of members) would have been just to give up his “wicked” lifestyle, repent and return.  But would the lessons that Dave received out of life been any different?  Surely his experiences would not have been the same, and he wouldn’t have grown into the man that I met two years later.

          Since I had arrived in Maynardsville, the small branch had made a goal to get 75 members to attend their Sunday meetings.  And each week we had between 62 and 67.  We worked with non members as well as inactive.

          I served that area for three months.  That makes at least twelve Sundays.  On the last Sunday I was served in that area, there were a number of visitors that came to the ward.  Among them were Dave’s mom and new step Dad.  They came in at number 73 and 74.  Dave walked in right behind them.  He had helped them reach their goal!  He was number 75!

          I was released from my mission five months later. And two years after that I had just returned for a visit.  My former landlady and I had gone to the strip mall to visit Dave at the sandwich shop.  Only he was no longer working at the Sandwich shop, but at an electronic franchise next door.  He had given up the green shirt and apron (which matched his tattoo) for a three piece suit (which hid his tattoo) 

He was living with a girl who he’d come to love and wanted to marry.  He wanted an eternal marriage – not a worldly one.  He had developed a love for Joy and wanted to embrace life with her.  He wanted her to learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

He told us about Joy and he asked us to dinner so that we could meet her.  And then he asked if we could arrange for her to meet with the missionaries.  He wanted for them to both become members and to be sealed in the temple in another year.  I didn’t get to see it.  I had heard from a few members though.

          Dave came back.  He was a strong member.  He brought with him an understanding for giving into temptations and overcoming challenges.  He had a calling to work with the youth.  He could relate to them.  He had a firsthand account of what it was like to be in the Church and what it was like to be on a worldly path.
          Dave and Joy were married in the temple a year after the branch president had married them civilly. The little branch grew into a ward and Dave served as a counselor to a bishop who had also been an inactive member. 

          Sometimes leaving the Church goes wrong for many people.  But there are just as many who become even stronger in the gospel and can build up testimonies because of their outside experiences.

          I’m not advising to go outside just for experience.  It’s not my call.  Often it’s not your call either.  But if we put our faith in God and rely on him and communicate with him, we can have our own empowering experiences.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

He Doesn’t Eat Onions, He’s a Mormon

          I once had a Sunday School teacher who related the following:

          He and his buddy had gone to Hawaii one summer to earn some money picking pineapples.  The two were assigned to two different groups.  Rex was the only LDS member of his group. 
Because his fellow pineapple pickers had never met anyone else from the Mormon Church, they looked at Rex to represent all members.

Rex just happened to hate onions.  There was nothing religious about it.  It was a personal preference.  He just didn’t like the way they tasted or smelled.  Many in his group believed that it was a religious thing as they had nothing else (or no one) to compare it to.
One day the two groups got together for lunch.  Some fast food place that served hamburgers.  Rex ordered his food with the added instructions, “No onions”
Rex’s buddy than placed his order.  Sensing that the two of them were together, the cashier asked, “Do you want that with onions or without?”

Before his buddy had an opportunity to answer, someone from Rex’s pineapple picking group said (I believe in a loud voice) “He’ll have them without.  He’s a Mormon”
Up until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to Rex that the members of his group had been watching him.  He was their example.  He represented the entire Church – which of course isn’t right. 

None of us is perfect.  None of us by ourselves can represent our entire religion, race, heritage, etc.  And yet so often our words are taken at more than face value.  We are an example whether we like it or not.

LDS members are encouraged to pray about the things they learn and are taught.  They’re encouraged to pray about lessons that they teach or talks that they give.  When leaders (including the prophet) are sustained, it is still up to each individual member to pray about it – to receive his or her own confirmation.  To understand the things of God and not just take the lesson or the teaching or the sustaining upon face value. 

Missionaries teach non-members and encourage them to pray that they may receive their own personal revelation as well. We each need to know and understand for ourselves.  We need to pray to Him who knows all to receive our own personal revelations. And yet many fail this simple task.  We take things upon face value due to a person’s calling or position or because of our own blind faith and idleness. 

The press picks up on words spouted from the mouths of any “Mormon” who make it to the media – be it a member of a sports team who happens to be LDS or one who uses the title bishop or stake president or perhaps is running for political office or maybe a professor who teaches at BYU.  Some individuals are more recognized than others.  But like Rex, some of us never make it to the press or receive prestige recognition, but are still being watched nonetheless. 

Do we vote according to our own personal revelation?  Or do we listen to and value the opinions of many imperfect members and take it as “gospel doctrine”?  No one of us represents the Church and yet sometimes we are the only example that some people even know of. How do our words or lifestyles influence them?  How do our words or lifestyles influence those we serve with or go to Chrich with?  Does what we say represent gospel truth or do we come across as opinionated and insincere?

And yes, there are many blind followers.  But there are those who are willing to admit their faults and desire to improve.  There are those who strive to become the best they can be – not because they want to represent the Church or have control or abuse their positions – but so they can be true disciples of Christ and let others see that they are striving to live up to his name.

If all of us (members or not) would take the time to offer sincere prayers so that we may have our own understanding – that the messages we hear are the truth and not misrepresented pieces of truth  (or our own misunderstandings of it) – that we may know for ourselves who we are and what path we need to follow for ourselves.  That we may understand God’s heart and not get caught up in theories or misunderstanding of imperfect members.  Because even though it seems there are so many who are close, none of us is perfect.