Showing posts with label Mormon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mormon. Show all posts

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.

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.