An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Posts tagged ‘LDS culture’

Changing Churches

I was intrigued to learn that our youngest son, Techie, and his wife have changed churches—not beliefs—just churches. Belonging to an evangelical, Calvinist church is not the same as belonging to a hierarchically structured church such as the LDS. The doctrine at their new Reformed Baptist Church is basically the same as that taught at the Mars Hill Church they formerly attended. Their reasons for changing are social. Their former church had very few minority members and Techie and Techie II are in a mixed marriage. They find couples like themselves at their new church. Techie also likes the sermons better. The Baptist pastor has a Ph.D. in religion and is given to thorough dissection of biblical verses.

The interesting thing I found when visiting them, is that they still attend the Bible study group affiliated with the Mars Hill Church. This small group meets on Tuesday evenings in a member’s home to share a pot luck meal, Bible study, and prayer. Attendance is voluntary and the Techies enjoyed the group and continue to be part of it.

I saw the upside to participating in two different churches when I visited after their baby was born. Members from both churches brought meals in for two weeks or more after the birth. I was amazed at the plenty. The downside (at least for me) is that they belong to two groups to which they must now return the favor. Meal assistance in both churches is unassigned, so they can do it on their own schedule.

I see some real advantages to flexibility in attending the church or the portion of a church that meets the needs of individual families.

Last Days

A recent blog about 2012, the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar, reminded me of the speculation about the Second Coming I’ve heard during my lifetime of LDS Church membership. A Sunday School teacher once showed our unruly class a newspaper photo of a cloud pattern that resembled Jesus’ face. “Now I don’t want to frighten you,” Sister Durrant said as she suggested the cloud formation could be a sign of the Savior’s imminent arrival. Like heck she didn’t want to scare us. Her pay-off? A frozen classroom of pre-adolescents terrified to make an irreverent move or sound that Jesus in the clouds might see or hear.

When I learned that 80-year-old Brother Hansen’s patriarchal blessing promised he would live to see the Savior come, I prayed for his good health and long life.  A spectacular sunset once prompted my grandmother to imagine it as the perfect setting for the Savior to appear from Heaven. I visualized Jesus descending through the pink and gold clouds and panicked. At twelve I was less ready for the Rapture than Grandma. How could I repent in preparation for the Great and Terrible Day when I hadn’t sample any sins?

By the time I graduated from BYU, I was pretty well convinced the Second Coming was imminent. The Cold War sizzled. Would George and I have time to start a family? I wanted to live in the West where I felt more protected from atomic attacks, but knew we’d eventually have to make the trek to Missouri—assuming we were righteous enough not to be destroyed in the apocalyptic events leading up to the Savior’s appearance.

During the late ‘60s Seattle’s tranquility was broken by race riots, proving the fulfillment of prophecy. A high councilor addressing our ward advised not only food storage, but also a camper truck with a winch to pull it over boulders and trees. Roads would not be safe for our families and bags of wheat and soy beans. I bought glasses knowing my contact lens might not be convenient on an extended campout. Since George and I didn’t own a truck and winch, I figured we’d be walking back to MO.

We actually moved to rural Utah in 1979 in order to be self-sufficient on a half-acre lot—well, as self-sufficient as possible—and it was closer to Missouri. Our little town of Glenwood filled with other LDS families moving back to Utah to hunker down for the final inning. We raised animals, gardened, canned, and chopped firewood. The economy tanked in the early ‘80s, but nothing worse happened and subsistence living got pretty boring. One by one, we millenarians migrated back to cities for jobs that would pay for our kids’ college and missions.

While the LDS Church has never officially opined on the date of the Return, Relief Society, Priesthood and Sunday School lessons as well as General Conference addresses frequently focus on preparing for the last days and the return of the Savior. Members jumped on board in 1999 and boosted the economy by buying up food, batteries, generators and other devices to make the End more comfortable. Storage items purchased for the 2000 date of the Second Coming are nine years old now.  Will the Mayan Calendar story drive a new wave of preparedness frenzy?

At this point, current events cause me more fear than prophecy. The spread of nuclear weapons to countries with unstable governments is a serious threat to human survival. My new concern? What if we blow up the world and Jesus doesn’t come?

Letter to My Bishop

Letter to My Bishop
No, this is not a confession piece about flunking my temple recommend interview. A post on bycommonconsent.com made me think of suggestions I’d like to make to my own bishop.
Some of my suggestions would be quick and easy to implement: 1) Lock the organ keyboard and let pianists who can play hymns at the tempo they’re written accompany the singing. 2) If you must assign three different speakers to talk on the same theme in sacrament meeting, at least admonish them not to all use the same conference address. 3) Encourage ward members to recognize that non-LDS people also have family values. 4) Remind parents not to leave dirty diapers in the restroom garbage after the block. Most likely the trash won’t be emptied for a week.

My most radical suggestion, however, would be to let people choose their own callings. Wouldn’t it be fun to have people who are truly enthusiastic fill all the positions? Most wards have a diverse group of members with widely differing talents. My own children were fortunate enough to have their lives enriched by ward members with talents and interests different from those of their parents. Left to us, our kids would have had far fewer camping, back-packing, and boating experiences. Personally, I’m glad to do grubby things like cleaning the meetinghouse, washing up following ward dinners, and pulling weeds for elderly or ill ward members if hardy, fun-loving souls will coach sports teams, deal with giggling and/or hysterical adolescent females at Girls’ Camp, and take Scouts on 50-mile bike rides.

So, would a ward function if everyone did what they wanted to instead of what they were called to do? Maybe. I’m always amazed when apparently sincere people tell me they really love callings I wouldn’t accept at gun point—such as taking the youth on a river run. And some people hate turns on the clean up committee which I don’t mind. Probably there is enough diversity in most wards to get the work done—or decide if the job really needs doing. If nobody in the ward volunteers for Food Storage Coordinator, maybe it’s because nobody in the ward has a current need to fill their basement shelves.

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