I’ve been reflecting on Mormonism. That joyful, confident, speculative religion given to mankind between 1820 to 1829, with all the potential vitality of a new movement. Unafraid, uncaptured by an institution, filled with the possibility of changing the world. A time before the adversary saw that inasmuch as you can buy anything in this world with money, you could also buy Mormonism with money.
That’s the trick. Turn the religion into a “thing.” Because “things” can be bought and sold. They are merchandise. Mormonism wasn’t to be a thing. It was to be intangible, a spiritual revival, otherworldly.
But those sorts of incohate notions cannot long survive without a sponsoring entity; an organized host to carry it onward. And so what was an idea at first, took second-place behind an emerging organization with a hierarchy, controls and assignments. That “thing” was subject to control, could be sued, threatened, and captured by the monetary needs of the thing itself.
When I joined Mormonism it was essentially confined to a single, triumphant “thing.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owned it, brought it to me, packaged it for presentation through missionaries, and delivered it with flannel-board discussions and film strip displays. It was homely and crude. But that didn’t matter. It was the substance, the doctrine, the answers it offered that captured my heart.
I’ve loved every minute of Mormonism. From the initial conversion to the latest constrictions, it has been a wonderful journey for which I have nothing but gratitude.
I’ve kept that sense of wonder, of excitement, of endless possibilities for this restored faith. As the correlated church has advanced its stranglehold on the minds of my fellow Latter-day Saints, I’ve grown progressively quiet in meetings and lessons, allowing my own explorations to proceed outside the bounds of the organized meetings. What I’ve found continues to keep me in awe. I love this faith as much today as I did when I joined.
I’ve written about it. But I do not think I’ve ever discussed (apart from those who actually insist on talking to me) anything I’ve written with any member of my ward or stake. I remain silent inside the organizational sub-department where I live. I think there are many people in my ward who are not aware I’ve written a single book. I doubt many people know I have a blog.
What I love about the faith is not a “thing” and therefore cannot be taken from me. I fully expect to lose my card (temple recommend) tomorrow. That thing can be taken. And my membership number can be lost, too. And I won’t be able to talk in church. I stopped attending Sunday School some years back because they would call on me and ask me to discuss something even when I preferred to remain silent. When asked a specific question by the teacher, I had an internal debate about how to respond: Do you give a full answer to a topic warranting the rest of class time and then some, or give some misleading, incomplete dangling remark for which I am accountable before God. Better to withdraw. So I did. In High Priests Group it is much easier. There the atmosphere is either a wade through mind-numbing trivia, or pretty good material. Selective and pointed comments are allowed, and hardened opinions are unchanged. A safe environment in which to remain silent or to express occasional insight.
Tomorrow will not end my love of this restored faith, though it may cost me some “things” that the organized entity claiming to own the faith thinks it can remove. I’m reconciled to that potential loss. But I’m also reconciled to these few truths underlying my faith:
-God spoke to me BEFORE I joined the LDS church. If He hadn’t, I wouldn’t have joined.
-God has continued to speak to me since.
-Administrative allocation of membership numbers, status and privileges inside an organization don’t matter much to God. I know that because I’ve been the least of the Latter-day Saints and He has taken note of me.
-God will continue to have fellowship with me.
-The religion I believe has existed from eternity and will continue into eternity. Therefore, a temporary, corporate organization that is owned by a sole individual, which IS The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints won’t survive beyond the veil. There you leave behind your money. You can’t buy or sell in that better place. Since I’ve been there already, the turbulence here is of little moment to me.
-Souls matter. Yours, mine the living and the dead. God is more compassionate that we are. No matter how serious we take our organizations, our things, the souls of mankind are infinitely more valuable than commerce between ourselves.
-I have an assignment given to me I intend to discharge. It is because I love God and therefore love His children. It will cost me a great deal to accomplish that. Not only ire of the organization, but the money I will spend to accomplish the task.
-I am converted. Not to things, but to God. Whatever stuff is taken away, that will remain.
Be of good cheer. All of you. Whether you hate me, think me an apostate, authentic, a lunatic, pretender, inspired, misled, devout, or merely inconvenient, I’d recommend you try to find joy in this life. Think deeply. Ponder carefully. Search into meanings. Look up at night and search for the constellations and planets. Note their movements. Try to watch the occasional sunrise. God’s fingerprints are all over this creation. Envy the birds, feel pity for the insects, taste and smell and listen and rejoice. You are alive. And for so long as you live, the possibilities remain endless. You possess choice, which in itself is godly.
A Latter-day Saint today, perhaps a Cast-away Saint tomorrow. But always a Mormon.
I remain content with my faith.