Discussion about Fellowships, Organizations, Churches, Ordinances, Keys, Authority and Reality
MB: Regarding the large Moab fellowship where Denver was invited, attended, and spoke, and regarding Brian Bowler's desire to have a quote "general conference". I get that it's important to have fellowships to mourn with those that mourn to care for the needs of others, but you can do that in smaller groups. I'm not sure what the purpose is of getting these large groups together. What does it accomplish? Does Christ come? I don't see it as being much different from what the LDS church does. The work of salvation is individual. And my hope is, that we don't have another large organization that becomes abusive that someone has to dismantle 200 years from now.
It does seem, however, that there will be another organization who are given ordinances and rites as a teaching tool to those who still won't rise up and individually connect (hopefully not me), in parallel with something much smaller, and more real than pretended.
LB: I did start to believe after the marriage (Keith Henderson) debacle that it seems like there is a large (maybe even majority section) who are seeking another New Testament type church.
LE: if the purpose in getting together is to fellowship and learn from each other I think it's great. But like LB I do detect a tendency toward some kind of hierarchy.
I think MB is onto something about the local effort being more important. It's easy to hang out with like minded folk for a day or two and look past each other's shortcomings and annoyances. It's much harder to interact with people nearby on a regular basis and learn how to really fellowship. There will likely be some strife and difficulties. Learning to overcome all that with love is real fellowship I think. And it's something these large gatherings probably won't produce.
TM: Ok, this is going to be totally disappointing and uninteresting. But here are some thoughts running around in my head about gatherings, fellowships, community, etc. This may be long winded, but I'm just dumping some ideas that are in my head.
I'm trying to understand the importance/role of 'community' in approaching God vs the individual path. There is lots of scriptural evidence that community is important (Zion, 4th Nephi, waters of Mormon, King Benjamin, etc). The hard part is, I feel like I totally suck at 'community.' Growing up LDS, I became skilled in the art of LDS community. Since dismantling myself and everything I previously thought, I find myself almost afraid of it. I don't want to fall in to previous traps of seeking constant approval and social acceptance, flattering people, getting a 'high' from people liking me or having titles/authority. I loved the 'praise of the world' way too much growing up and it is a tendency that's been painful to remove. I explained it to Linds the other day like a drunk hanging around in a bar. I try to avoid any situation where I may find myself tempted by my previous tendencies for praise, etc.
That's just the warm up. Haha
I was extremely turned off by the thought of the Colorado gathering last year. Zero interest in going. I heard about this Moab gathering pretty much after the fact, but I surprisingly felt like I kinda missed out on something I would have liked to be involved in. I've also recently heard of a gathering in Island Park, Idaho (one of my favorite places in this earth), and I'm surprising myself in wanting to attend. I think my motive is just to enlarge what is becoming my 'new community.' I'm feeling like more and more of an outcast in my previous communities - my extended family and church. I also see value in community for our family, Lindsay and I and or children, as we distance ourselves through our new ideas from previous sources of community (church/family).
MB: That's interesting. I wonder if some of that sentiment is causing (what I think may be) a resurgence of LDS culture, just with a few different beliefs. I do think community is important, esp for the reasons LE mentioned.
Agree TM, it's natural for everyone to want to belong. I often feel lost in that regard.
Just a few years ago I could take a trip across country and see a lot of family and have a great time. Now it would be weird/awkward.
TM: I absolutely abhor the idea of any new hierarchy and don't want to trade one LDS 'sect' for another. But I do feel a desire for community among like-minded folk. That being said, LE's points were great about the artificial buzz generated by a once or twice a year meeting of people that you don't interact with locally on a regular basis. It's hard for that to be real.
And then I wonder why I want to drive across the country for this short-lived and likely artificial fellowshipping when right here locally there are at least two great families in my back yard that I'm not doing a good job fellowshipping with.
MB: My concern is most people will not progress, and instead substitute the comforts of a community with norms and rules testimony meetings, self-congrats (even if there's no official hierarchy) for divine communion.
I don't really see any way around that scenario though.
TM: I share those same fears MB. So much emotion can be generated in a concentrated, camp like experience. Ie: youth conference, girls camp, etc. That emotion can give one the impression they are in the right way or doing something important/real - when it may actually be mostly excitement, belonging, emotion, etc.
MB: Yes, LB mentioned that same thing to me, the EFY effect. Other religions have that effect with their youth encampments too.
TM: Absolutely. They work. They are powerful.
Companies even do similar things.
MB: I think there is value in that. Love, friendship and belonging are real and important, but they can be just as much a distraction or substitution.
Yes, my company does a hoo-rah every year.
I dislike them, but it must work, I'm still there after seven years. ;)
MB: Maybe I'm still there despite them.
LE: Efy...great comparison!
MB: So I see this movement as a few finding God, but mostly requiring more temple ordinances that point to something more and survive beyond the death of someone that has connected. I see most going through the new improved rituals as if those rituals had power in themselves. Unless a very large group of people "ascend" I see it continuing as it always has, the church of the Firstborn operating in a very small, outcast manner, among a more populous group who attempt to prevent pride and hierarchy from squashing individuals from rising. I think that is the *only* reason the LDS church has lost something, and that something new had to be started, because it became too oppressive, to far gone from its original intent, too far for a member to see that there might be more, real and authentic to the pantomime.
TM: What are the new improved rituals/ordinances?
MB: I don't know, but Denver has talked about how he would stage an endowment. Adrian has asked for an ordinance for his kids marriages. I think they are coming, and are necessary for the same reasons Joseph left them.
TM: Yeah, true
MB: Loved all of your thoughts. I have to go to sleep now though, we're trying to start better sleeping habits. LB has been out for an hour already. :)
TM: Ha. Good for you. If I could summarize, I'd like to get better at real, sincere community. And I believe that's with you guys. I'd love to figure out how to do that better.
MB: Me too. Love you all, and hope we can build lasting relationships. <3
TM: Amen MB. Amen.
[The next day]
LB: My own personal experience is that we lose community like TM described, our public education, our political framework, our church structure, and then sadly our families. We become the outcasts of the world, lost and separate from what we love still but unable to fully be a part of our old communities. We are now left with a void or hole inside of ourselves that manifests as an outside need—community. I think as we learn of the true nature of God, that he/she is a heavenly host, we see that not only is community necessary, but that community is actually God, it is a host. Our true selves long for Christ and God, we desire to return to them. Yet that community can only exist as we individually fill our own void with further light and truth until we stand in the presence of Christ. As we make this personal journey we look to our spouse, our children. We (MBand I) have made so many improvements this way. As our family strengthens we can have eyes to look around us and see other families, such as you good people.
How awesome it would be to gather and simply invite Christ and wait, and then if we have a worship it is directed entirely by being moved upon by the Holy Spirit.
I have been reminded again how we ended up here in Knoxville. We had known we were moving from our tiny house in Valrico for five years. I was frequently looking at homes within the area. Nothing ever felt right and so we always stayed in our home.
After 2011 when we drove across country we were thrilled to look at Utah as a strategic relocation, not just for that reason but for large LDS church and homeschool groups. We drove through specific areas, we saw communities, we walked temple grounds. But we knew we wouldn't feel comfortable in the places we had visited, we were already too outside the norm. Driving home TN felt so good. Somehow, we believe God, had everything fall into place to end up right here.
In a lot of ways being here has been so wonderful, and yet it has also been hard. I believe the wonderful outweighs the hard. Staying in FL and going through all we have been while still living near family would have been a sharp pain. I am so glad we moved, it lessened the disappointment and rejection on both sides.
[Part of a later, separate conversation started by JZ]
JZ: People associate fellowships with some kind of formal organization. I think that's one of the most deeply rooted LDS traditions, is the desire for formality and structure. That's what we teach investigators. "This is the same organization established by Christ". But fellowshipping can happen spontaneously or almost by accident.
MB: Yep. It's simple anyone can follow the doctrine of Christ and have wildly different beliefs. Brian even hoped to have a quote "general conference". Aaaaaahhhhh. I actually don't have a problem inviting anyone to come, but why use that terminology? But it seems to be more love of the LDS structure than just the terms. The use of the terms seems to telegraph the love of what they came out of.
AL told me a year or so ago that he felt like he was on a mission again, making converts and baptizing. At the time I was like, "Cool!", but today I'm like, really? The best I could offer someone is to tell them I think I have a little more truth, and I recieved authority to baptize, but I'm still seeking. I'm not baptizing you into "the truth", I'm just doing it because you asked, and I'm willing. That's a totally different attitude than "I'm on a mission."
Most of the time he spends on his blog is bashing the LDS church.
JZ: Yes I've not really read much of his.
Some people are angry about all this. I'm much more sad and disappointed.
MB: Yeah, I'm mostly shocked, and trying to find my own footing amidst what I think I see going on.
JZ: CZ and I always wondered what we would be asked to do. She thought of starting a blog. We thought we might go down in flames.
Clearly the Lord had other plans. I'm just trying to find what I'm supposed to do next.
I like your words there. Finding your footing.
All these pictures might create a sense of "I missed out" for people.
I don't know. I liked your comment. To bring this full circle.
JZ: Another subject - if you were talking to a TBM and they said "but the church holds the keys" where's the best place to start taking down that argument?
MB: What did "going down in flames" consist of in your mind?
MB: Hmm, good question. I would start by having them research church history, the Joseph Smith Papers, etc., and have them note every time "key" is mentioned and in what context, and what it was talking about. I'd say about 80% of what they say, when they say "key" is talking about a key of knowledge, not authority. And the ones that do seem to talk about authority can be interpreted as something other than authority. For instance if Joseph had the "keys" to run the church, it was more likely because he had risen to such a point that he had knowledge and the only one that had done so. Look at how Hyrum was transitioned as co-president (equal with Joseph) of the church (D&C 124 I think), and God talks to Joseph to show him the keys whereby he can ask and get answers.
The next problem with the church holding "keys" would be the rest of D&C 124 and other parts of D&C where the Lord is not pleased with the church, such that they are under condemnation, and if they did not build the temple in a sufficient time, they would be rejected as a church with their dead. So tell me if that church failed to meet the requirements, and everything that happened with the Nauvoo temple after Joseph died, then how can anyone claim the church in 1844 is in any way shape or form holding "keys" that Joseph held. I look at a lot of D&C that way. The church the Lord was talking to, no longer existed after 1844, but they were on their own.
JZ: "Going down in flames" meant speaking out, potentially getting disciplined. We kept secret.
MB: Got it.
JZ: Really the entire legitimacy of the LDS Church hangs on D&C 124.
I don't understand how it's not more obvious to people in the church, that the Lord wasn't pleased.
And that the red brick store isn't a temple.
MB: I was pondering this question a while ago, and the image that came to my mind was of a building that was whole, then the foundation cracked and smoke rose out of it. The building still stood, but it was defunct and was no longer the same building.
JZ: I think your point about keys being for knowledge and not always authority are wise.
MB: The building cracked down the middle as well.
JZ: Yes I believe you shared that imagery with me once before. I love that.
MB: So even the ones that talk about authority...I believe the only reason they have authority, is because they have knowledge and need to be a teacher to others. I don't think of it as authority like a badge, but something that the being who has knowledge naturally wants to elevate others, and they are put in a position that they have to figure how best to do that.
MB: Yeah, it said a lot in such a simple image.
JZ: The conflation of priesthood and office are another huge problem.
Great point—by gaining knowledge you have authority to teach because you have attained the knowledge, but used righteously you won't be using the knowledge to control. Only to impart the knowledge and to share it. But unless you don't have the knowledge you have no authority to teach.
I like the way you described this
<3 you JZ. Hope you and your family are doing well.
JZ: Love you too. We are doing great.