Dern capitol A thingies. Please ignore them.
Warning: An Impassioned Attempt at Making Sense of Things follows.
I taught a lesson yesterday in my LDS Elder's Quorum, the mormon equivalent to Sunday Men's Bible study. I as again amazed by the wide divergence in the belief system held by we "mormons."
My lesson was entitled "Visions, Faith and Decision." The LDS Faith started back in the tumultuous early nineteenth century in a heady burst of idealistic and religious fervour with a very unique cosmology to match. It has gradually funneled down to a more narrow and manageable diametre in the present day, struggling to achieve the status of a socially "acceptable" mainstream religion.
I don't really know why i am fixated on the metaphysical and the nature of the divine, it seems to set me thinking in a way completely incongruous with the rest of the world. Though the lesson went quite well and everyone seemed to enjoy the relatively lively dicussion on the topics, it went in a totally different direction than i had intended. I had envisioned a debate on the nature of the ancient, early mormon and modern LDS prophets, or leaders of the church. I wanted to discuss the nature of visions, prophesy and the common member's relationship with the varied mormon views on God and his relationship with us as a people and as individuals. No one wanted to touch that, for sure (who could blame them, really.) Too damn weird. Nevertheless, there is a history of seeming "high weirdness" in our tradition, like it or not.
I think there is a problem in the church. Yeah, really. I apologize for rolling out a very old and rickety draft horse of contention, but the differences between the church of today and that of the early days are very, very dramatic. The ways employed to deal with these differences only serve to thinly mask problems and magnify them in some people's lives. The church and really, we in the church as a collective, have tried to make differences, peculiarities and scandals disappear or diminish in policy or relative importance. A problem with this is the relatively short history of the church; these peculiarities and problems, these "wrinkles" don't have enough contextual history to really fade into the background for the collective consciousness of the membership or the interested public at large.
The LDS church has a tendency to produce a great number of "splinter groups," "apostate" former members and truly hostile non-affiliates. The issue that has the most urgency to me at this time is the plight of the great number of members and former members who are deeply dissatisfied with the church for one reason or another but still believe in the basic core or the church's theology.
The church itself is a loosely bound collection of varying beliefs and individual cosmologies, much like other churches. The history of the church and the way we have handled our codified cosmological, theological and political differences with the rest of the world has engendered an atmosphere of tendency toward apparent inconsistency and conflict. The natural variation of individual beliefs coupled with this intense inner conflict in the church's history, cosmology and policy is ground fertile for schism and division, both individual and for groups of like-minded individuals.
Anyway, just a rough rant from the heart at this point. Take it for what it is.
Have a nice day!