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Monday, April 30, 2007

Amazing Grace

by Sharon

Last Saturday's Salt Lake Tribune (27 April) contained "A call to grace" written by Tribune journalist Peggy Fletcher Stack. It's the story of Jonathan Hays, a newly ordained Christian minister serving in New Song Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Salt Lake City.

Rev. Hays is unique in that he's the first pastor in Utah's PCA Church that is from Utah. According to the Tribune article, the Senior Pastor at New Song said,
"All the other pastors have moved from other places," [Rev. Samuel] Wheatley says. "We need insiders [like Hays] who automatically understand the challenges of Protestant ministry in a predominantly Mormon culture. They know the true points of difference and true points of similarity between the two and what needs to be articulated much more clearly."

Rev. Hays fits the bill. Growing up very active in the LDS Church, part of a multi-generational Mormon family, Jonathan Hays began looking into the history of Mormonism while he was at college. He
...was troubled by some of what he read, particularly the practice of polygamy, which the LDS Church abandoned in 1890. He could no longer reconcile what he read with what he heard from contemporary Mormon leaders.

"I left the LDS Church, not to become something else, but because I didn't think I could be LDS anymore," he says. "I kinda had a phase of rebellion. I was upset that God would let me be part of something that wasn't true."

Coming into contact with Christians who had "a real relationship with Jesus," Jonathan began to long for spiritual life. He decided to go to church one Sunday morning, but not knowing where to go, he chose the church closest to his home.
"What I experienced there was amazing," he says. "I heard grace and I saw grace and it blew me away because I had never seen or heard it before. I knew going in there that I wasn't good enough. I had seen it throughout my life as I tried to be a good Mormon; I knew I couldn't do it."

That night he prayed his own version of the "sinner's prayer" -- that his life was "screwed up" and he needed help.

"I didn't know the right way to pray, but I saw Jesus and so I leapt for him," he says.

Well, Jesus, ever faithful, caught Jonathan Hays. I'm willing to bet Rev. Hays now sings Psalm 40, verses in which all the redeemed in Christ rejoice:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.

This is God's amazing grace.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Misunderstanding Mormonism

by Sharon

The bishop of the Howell [Michigan] ward of the LDS Church, Mark Briscoe, recently told a journalist that it's painful to him when others think Mormonism isn't a Christian religion. He identifies this notion as the "greatest misconception about the [Mormon] church." On April 26th reported:
"Sometimes people would say that we're not Christians," [Mr. Briscoe] said. "We definitely are. We believe in Jesus Christ."

An Idaho native, Briscoe has been a Mormon his whole life, and said it is painful to have others think that his church is somehow outside the boundaries of Christianity. He said he was a high school student when he first heard the accusation.

"It was a little bit unsettling," he said. "From my earliest memories, we talked about Jesus Christ."

This is nothing new, of course, and if you've been reading Mormon Coffee for awhile you will have read my thoughts on this topic before. I keep bringing it up because I'm ever hopeful that Latter-day Saints might "get it" if they are encouraged periodically to think the issue through.

Setting aside the specific definition of "Christianity," which Evangelicals and Mormons may disagree on until the cows come home, just think about the implications in the next part of the article:
In fact, members of the church believe that Jesus' teachings were changed and weakened soon after the apostles died, and that this "apostasy," or falling away from the truth, led to the withdrawal of the true church from the earth.

Mormons believe that was reversed when Joseph Smith, regarded as a prophet, was visited by God and Jesus in a vision in 1820. That's when Smith was chosen to restore the true church to the world, according to LDS doctrine. Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the sacred text of the Latter Day Saints[sic], which is based on the Bible.

The Mormons' refer to this process as the "restoration."

This is the LDS message. The true teachings of Jesus were changed. His followers abandoned the true faith. The true church that Jesus instituted was withdrawn from the earth, leaving behind nothing but a counterfeit. This false church -- false Christianity -- reigned unchallenged for nearly two thousand years until Joseph Smith restored the true church -- the LDS Church -- to the earth once again.

Now, what does that mean in regards to all those who call themselves "Christians" who do not presently accept Joseph Smith's restored church? We may talk about Jesus Christ, but according to Mormonism, our faith is false. It's based on the corrupted teachings of Jesus which finds expression in millions of apostate churches all over the world.

Mr. Briscoe is hurt if people say Mormonism isn't Christian, yet he has no qualms in saying that historic Christianity has become an entirely perverted religion.

Though there might be disagreement over what constitutes true Christianity (Mormonism, orthodox Christianity, or something else altogether), the point I think too many people miss is that Mormonism and historic Christianity are different religions. If Mormonism is true, then historic Christianity is false, and vise-versa; one or the other is "outside the boundaries of [true] Christianity."

In my opinion, the greatest misconception about the Mormon Church is that people think it's just another Christian denomination. The doctrines of Mormonism do not allow for that option. I'd like everyone to know.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Miracle of Satanic Suckerpunches?

by Aaron

It's been said that one man's trash is another man's treasure. In this case, one man's miracle is another man's "satanic sukerpunch." Both men are LDS Apostles, designated as prophets, seers and revelators in the Mormon Church. Here's what they said:

Spencer W. Kimball:
"Your Heavenly Father has promised forgiveness upon total repentance and meeting all the requirements, but that forgiveness is not granted merely for the asking. There must be works--many works--and an all-out, total surrender, with a great humility and 'a broken heart and a contrite spirit.'

"It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility your sincerity, your works, your attitudes." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 324-325)

Jeffrey R. Holland:
"You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast. Another satanic suckerpunch is that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. That's just not true. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes to say, 'I'll change'--and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend--indeed, you had better spend--the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as they did for Alma and the sons of Mosiah." (However Long and Hard the Road, 6. Quoted by C. Robert Line, "The Interplay between Forgiveness and Lost Opportunities," BYU)


Monday, April 23, 2007

Saints George

by Sharon

Today is a national holiday in England -- St. George's Day. St. George was a soldier of noble birth who served in the Roman army in the early 4th century. When the Roman Emperor Diocletian began his horrific persecutions against the Christians, George responded by giving his worldly goods to the poor and publicly confessing his Christian faith. He protested against Diocletian's persecution of Christians and boldly disobeyed orders by refusing to sacrifice to other gods. George was beheaded by Emperor Diocletian on 23 April 303 AD. George's example of bravery in defense of his Christian brethren and faith has encouraged individuals and nations for centuries. Today St. George is honored as the patron saint of at least nine different countries.

In case you're wondering, St. George, Utah is not named for St. George the Christian martyr, but for early LDS Apostle George A. Smith. Brigham Young named the principle settlement of southern Utah's 1861 Dixie Mission "St. George" in Mr. Smith's honor.

George A. Smith was a self-taught lawyer who, like St. George, defended his brethren. A description of Mr. Smith's "most notorious case" is recorded in A Book of Mormons:
Howard Egan, a Mormon school teacher, had joined the California gold rush in 1849. While he was away, James Monroe seduced one of [Egan's] wives, who gave birth to an illegitimate child. Egan returned to Utah and killed Monroe "in the name of the Lord" because his "peace on earth" had been destroyed.

[George A.] Smith argued that "in this territory it is a principle of mountain common law, that no man can seduce the wife of another without endangering his own life....The man who seduces his neighbor's wife must die, and her nearest relative must kill him!" The jury declared Egan not guilty.

Both of these honored men are called saints. George A. Smith gained his "saint" status by virtue of his church affiliation, while George the Christian martyr was a "saint" first by virtue of his faith in Christ; later, by the forfeiture of his life in defense of -- and on account of -- his faith in Christ.

I once spoke with an LDS missionary who emotionally (and very mistakenly) proclaimed that the only people who had ever died for their faith were Mormons. In honor of St. George's Day I leave you with an excerpt from the writings of early Christian historian Eusebius:
The outrageous agonies endured by the martyrs in the Theban area, however, defeat all description. Their whole bodies were torn to shreds with clawlike potsherds until they expired. Women were tied by one foot and swung high in the air, head downward, by machines, their bodies totally naked without a stitch of clothing -- the most shameful, cruel, and inhumane of all spectacles for onlookers. Others died fastened to trees: they bent down their strongest branches by machines, fastened one of the martyr's legs to each, and then let the branches fly back to their natural position, instantly tearing apart the limbs of their victims. This went on not for a few days but for some whole years. Sometimes ten or more, at times more than twenty were put to death, other times a hundred men, women, and little children were condemned to a variety of punishments and killed in a single day.

I myself saw some of these mass executions by decapitation or fire, a slaughter that dulled the murderous axe until it wore out and broke in pieces, while the executioners grew so tired they had to work in shifts...

Need I cite the names or numbers of the rest or the varieties of their martyrdoms? Sometimes they were killed with an axe, as was the case in Arabia, or had their legs broken, as those in Cappadocia. At other times they were hung upside down over a slow fire, so that smoke rising from the burning wood suffocated them, as in Mesopotamia. Sometimes noses, ears, and hands were mutilated and the other parts of the body butchered, as was the case in Alexandria...

In all these trials the magnificent martyrs of Christ were so distinguished throughout the world that eyewitnesses of their courage were astounded. They provided in themselves clear proof that the power of our Savior is divine and ineffable indeed. To mention each by name would be a long if not impossible task.

I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been...

I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast...drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (Revelation 6:9-11; 17:6)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tell It Like It Is

The student-run daily newspaper for Ohio University, The Post, recently ran an article titled, "Being Mormon in College". In addition to interviewing a Mormon student for the article, journalist Amanda Wilcosky also spoke to the LDS missionaries on campus:
The missionaries said the founder of the religion and prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation from God in 1833 called the Word of Wisdom. In this vision, God warned Smith about certain substances that were deemed to be unhealthful. At the time, little evidence existed to support his claim, but [LDS missionaries] Wat and Patterson said that current knowledge about the dangerous effects of these substances helps to justify Smith's revelation.

Although a law in the Book of Mormon advises that followers do not consume or use certain items, the church does not utilize threats or guilt to ensure obedience, the missionaries said.

"The church does not take away one's agency to choose," Patterson stressed. "They are all just recommendations that can bring more happiness in our lives."

First of all, the Word of Wisdom came from Joseph Smith's lips at a time when the temperance movement was sweeping across America.

As early as 1784 Dr. Benjamin Rush argued that excessive use of alcohol was bad for people, both physically and psychologically. This resulted in 200 farmers forming a temperance association a few years later in Connecticut. Another temperance association was formed in Virginia in 1800, and another in New York in 1809. By 1834 there were 5,000 temperance societies in the United States.

Tobacco was believed to be a "nerve-prostrating, soul paralyzing drug, a fleshly, ungodly lust." Coffee and tea were considered "as bad as toddy-guzzling" and the Journal of Health (published between 1829 and 1835) recommended a vegetarian diet or a sparing use of meat for good health (see Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 166).

I'm sure the LDS missionaries are unaware of these historical facts; nevertheless, it's a deplorable thing to tell people that the then unknown, but currently understood, dangerous effects of these substances is evidence in support of the idea that Joseph Smith was a true prophet -- when it isn't.

Furthermore, LDS missionary Elder Patterson said that the Word of Wisdom is nothing more than a "recommendation" which, if followed, will bring happiness to peoples' lives. When was this commandment downgraded to a mere suggestion? True, the revelation was not originally understood to be a commandment, but according to LDS President Ezra Taft Benson:
In 1851, President Brigham Young proposed to the general conference of the Church that all Saints formally covenant to keep the Word of Wisdom. This proposal was unanimously upheld by the membership of the Church. Since that day, the revelation has been a binding commandment on all Church members. ("A Principle with a Promise", Ensign, May 1983, 53)

And what about the missionaries' reported statement that the Church doesn't utilize threats or guilt to elicit obedience to the Word of Wisdom? LDS Apostle Boyd Packer said:
The Word of Wisdom put restrictions on members of the Church. To this day those regulations apply to every member and to everyone who seeks to join the Church. They are so compelling that no one is to be baptized into the Church without first agreeing to live by them. No one will be called to teach or to lead unless they accept them. When you want to go to the temple, you will be asked if you keep the Word of Wisdom. If you do not, you cannot go to the house of the Lord until you are fully worthy. ("The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises," Ensign, May 1996, 17)

Just a friendly suggestion. No threats or guilt.
  • Obey the Word of Wisdom or you will not be allowed to join the Church.
  • Obey the Word of Wisdom or you will not be allowed to lead in the Church.
  • Obey the Word of Wisdom or you will not be allowed to go to the temple.
  • Obey the Word of Wisdom or you are not "fully worthy."
  • Obey the Word of Wisdom or else.

Don't get me wrong. The LDS Church certainly has the right -- and the responsibility -- to require certain things from its members. What bothers me is the way the missionaries -- official representatives of the LDS Church -- didn't own up to the Church's true teachings and requirements on this. If they weren't prepared to tell the truth about it, why say anything at all?

Maybe I'm making too much of this. Perhaps the 9th commandment has also been downgraded to a suggestion.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Motive in the Murder of Parley P. Pratt

Yesterday Mormon Coffee discussed a report that appeared in Deseret News on April 14th which inaccurately portrayed the death of LDS Apostle Parley P. Pratt. Today (April 17) the newspaper printed a correction:
Correction: Parley P. Pratt

Early LDS Church apostle Parley P. Pratt was killed in May 1857 in Arkansas by a man from San Francisco who blamed Pratt for the man's estrangement from his wife, whom Pratt married. A story in Saturday's Deseret Morning News incorrectly identified the killer and his motive.

Thank you, Deseret News.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Murder of Parley P. Pratt

by Sharon

Over the weekend (April 14) Deseret Morning News reported that a group of interested people will be gathering in Arkansas on April 21st for a conference looking at the life and ministry of LDS Apostle Parley Pratt. I don't know what the conference will be like, but if the report in Deseret News is any indication, it may be a frustrating event for those who prefer accurate history above revisionist history.

Deseret News explained,
An early apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Pratt was killed near Van Buren, Ark., in May 1857, by a small Arkansas band antagonistic toward his teachings.

In truth, Parley Pratt was murdered by an outraged husband and father by the name of Hector McLean, with the misguided support of McLean's friends. Pratt was not killed so much because these men were "antagonistic" toward his teachings, but because Pratt was living those teachings with McLean's legal wife.

McLean's wife, Eleanor, had abandoned her family to become Pratt's 12th plural wife. Soon thereafter, in 1857, McLean learned that Eleanor and Pratt were intending to abduct the McLean children and spirit them away to Utah. After finding no help in this situation from the legal system, McLean and his friends took matters into their own hands -- tracking, attacking, and brutally killing Parley Pratt, the Mormon Apostle.

Many Mormons consider Parley Pratt a martyr for his faith. Was he really killed because a few men in Arkansas opposed Mormon teachings?

Pratt was murdered not only because he practiced polygamy according to the teachings of the LDS religion, but because he engaged in "spiritual wifery" with another man's wife, and sought to steal McLean's children as well.

Was Pratt's murder wrong? Of course; no doubt about it. But where is the virtue in reporting, as LDS Church-owned Deseret News has done, that Pratt was killed by some men who just didn't like Mormonism? There is none.

On 17 April 2007 Deseret News published a correction regarding their erroneous reporting on the motive for the murder of Parley P. Pratt. You can read the correction here or here.


Friday, April 13, 2007

With Love and Charity to All

With Love and Charity to All

by Sharon

Following the distribution of the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD last month, there have been many conversations and opinions published online regarding the Christian outreach effort. One exchange took place on the Salt Lake Tribune's public forum.

A Catholic woman, who believes in "love and charity to all" wrote to express her dismay over the DVD distribution, ending her letter with a kind hope that Latter-day Saints had been able to enjoy their Church's General Conference despite the "sport" engaged in by "anti-Mormons." Perhaps this was not the most charitable and loving letter "to all" in consideration of the nature of her concerns.

At any rate, this letter brought a thankful response from a Latter-day Saint who wrote:
As an active Latter-day Saint and a returned missionary, I have gotten in more than my share of arguments with the so-called "Christians" who feel a compulsion to build their own insecure beliefs (and yes, often they were insecure) by tearing others' beliefs down. So when I read S.J. Moormeister's kind comments ("Anti-LDS DVDs," Forum, April 3) I was reminded why I always liked Catholics so much during my mission.

Two years and I never once had a Catholic tell me I was going to hell for my beliefs; rather, they were always kind and generous to us. Ms. Moormeister does a service to herself and to the parish that she attends. Thank you so much for not participating in the bigotry that is so common these days. I did enjoy conference very much. Thank you again.

Matthew Call

Mr. Call's experience with Catholic folk was perhaps more magnanimous than he realizes, given the historic position towards Catholicism expressed by LDS leaders through the years. Consider these public declarations offered without apology (then or now):

LDS Apostle Orson Pratt:
Q. Is the Roman Catholic Church the Church of Christ?
A. No: for she has no inspired priesthood or officers...

Q. How long since the Roman Catholic Church lost the authority and ceased to be the Church of Christ?
A. She never had authority and never was the Church of Christ...

Q. Who founded the Roman Catholic Church?
A. The Devil, through the medium of Apostates... (The Seer, 1854, 205)

LDS Apostle Daniel H. Wells:
I would rather preach the Gospel to a people who have not got any religion than I would to a people who have got a great deal of religion. You take the Catholic world. What impression can the truths of the Gospel make upon them as a people? Scarcely any impression at all. Why? Because they are satisfied with what they have got, which we know is an error, and which is not calculated to stem the tide of wickedness and corruption which floods the world. It never will convert the world to God or His Kingdom, or convey a knowledge of God unto the children of men, and it is life eternal to know Him, the living and true God. (Journal of Discourses 24:320, 1883)

LDS Apostle Hyrum M. Smith:
Christianity, as it is known in the world today, has fallen far short of the accomplishment of what might have been expected of it. It has failed in establishing those principles which Christ taught among the children of men. The great Catholic division of the Christian world, the Catholic church, is a national liability to any country. It wields a great power over the minds and the hearts of the children of men, but it is a power for evil rather than for good. It brings countless thousands regularly to confession; it rarely brings a single man to repentance and the abandonment of his sins. (Conference Report, October 1916, 42)

LDS President David O. McKay:
At one time it grieved me to know that this Church was not numbered among Protestant churches. But now I realize that the Church of Christ is more than a protest against the errors and evils of Catholicism." (Conference Report, April 1927, 105)

LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie:
It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this "church which is most abominable above all other churches" in vision. He "saw the devil that he was the foundation of it" and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization. (Mormon Doctrine, 1958 edition, 130)

Apparently, sometime around 1960 LDS leadership decided they ought not to say these sorts of things in public if they want to make friends in the world. If Orson Pratt and David O. McKay, et. al., publicly expressed their religious convictions today, would we find the Anti-Defamation League releasing a statement condemning their remarks as "nothing more than [Catholic]-bashing... hate directed at all of us"? And would Mr. Call agree with that? I wonder if he would rebuke his Church leaders for "build[ing] their own insecure beliefs" by "tearing others' beliefs down."

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Validating Post-Mormons

by Sharon

The LDS Church has had a rough month. It started with the March 25th outreach effort of Christians across the nation distributing thousands of DVDs on doorsteps which compared Mormonism with the Bible. Soon after that, the Church released a statement of their concern over the content of an upcoming PBS series titled "The Mormons" due to air on April 30th and May 1st. Now, in Logan, Utah, a new billboard has gone up which advertises a web site in support of disaffected Mormons.

The Associated Press reports:
A billboard aimed at uniting former Mormons has gone up on Main Street in a city that once had the image of a local temple on its public seal...

"It's a milestone for the group. ...We're helping people validate their choice to leave. We're not trying to drag people out of the church," [Former Mormon Jeff] Ricks said...

Ricks, who left the church in 1993, said Post-Mormon Community serves as a social network. The goal is to erase the stigma that sometimes comes with leaving the faith.

According to the web site, there are 13 Post-Mormon chapters around the world,
...members of a rapidly growing community of families and individuals who have voluntarily left Mormonism. We choose to no longer base our lives, and the lives of our children, on so-called truths dictated by others. We believe that truth is freely available to any honest, diligent seeker regardless of creed, age, race or sexual orientation.

We have felt the butterfly's metamorphosis. Forces that well up from within have compelled us to grow beyond the limits of Mormonism. And so we have become a loosely knit community of friends and support groups, and endeavor to help those like us who also feel the need to explore meaning, purpose and life beyond Mormonism...What we once perceived as the "strait and narrow way" has broadened to include all ways that promote individual and collective well-being.

We are not anti-Mormon; it is not our intent to belittle others. In fact, we want to keep all the good that came into our lives through Mormonism, but we will be open about its misrepresentations and the way in which its dogmatism and authoritarianism have proven detrimental to many individuals, families and communities.

From a Christian perspective, there's a definite down side to The group does not endorse any religion or belief system, though members are welcome to "continue their spiritual journey through more traditional means." The web site states,
We do not advocate another form of Mormonism or any other religion and believe that loving one's neighbor begins with giving up the claim to have special access to truth. We feel that arrogance attends the illusion of "knowing the truth" and that such arrogance leads to a narrow-minded tribalism that impedes personal growth and fosters a divided community.

It's unfortunate that, dedicated to helping people find joy in life after leaving a religion whose "dogmatism" was "detrimental," would embrace such an idea. If a member of the Post-Mormon Community continues his spiritual journey and eventually comes to believe he knows the truth, will he be labeled "arrogant" and be thought to be on the road to "narrow-minded tribalism that impedes personal growth"? How is this an improvement over Mormon "authoritarianism"?

I love the idea of available support for people struggling with the problems they encounter in questioning or leaving Mormonism, but seems to be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Truth is freely available to all; yet the ability to know the truth is not an illusion. By embracing this ideology is merely replacing one deception with another.

Jesus, who claimed to know the truth, said, "the truth will set you free." I believe Him. The only hope for Mormons, Post-Mormons and non-Mormons is the Truth: Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Mormon Behavior, Mormon Speak

by Sharon

Today's (9 April) New York Times carries an op-ed piece by Kenneth Woodward about Mitt Romney and Mormonism. A large portion of the article is dedicated to understanding why Americans are uncomfortable with Mr. Romney's religion. Mr. Woodward writes:
Among the reasons Americans distrust the Mormon church is Mormon clannishness. Because every worthy Mormon male is expected to be a lay priest in voluntary service to the church, the demands on his time often leave little opportunity to cultivate close friendships with non-Mormon neighbors. A good Mormon is a busy Mormon...

To many Americans, Mormonism is a church with the soul of a corporation. Successful Mormon males can expect to be called, at some time in their lives, to assume full-time duties in the church's missions, in its vast administrative offices in Salt Lake City or in one of many church-owned businesses...

Moreover, Mormons are perceived to be unusually secretive. Temple ceremonies -- even weddings -- are closed to non-Mormons, and church members are told not to disclose what goes on inside them.

I think Mr. Woodward has been quite perceptive in his identification of some specific Mormon behaviors that may concern non-Mormon Americans.

Furthermore, Mr. Woodward suggests that Mr. Romney use his many public-appearance opportunities afforded him as a presidential candidate to explain Mormonism to the American public. Mr. Woodward writes:
But Mr. Romney must be sure to express himself in a way that will be properly understood. Any journalist who has covered the church knows that Mormons speak one way among themselves, another among outsiders. This is not duplicity but a consequence of the very different meanings Mormon doctrine attaches to words it shares with historic Christianity.

For example, Mormons speak of God, but they refer to a being who was once a man of "flesh and bone," like us. They speak of salvation, but to them that means admittance to a "celestial kingdom" where a worthy couple can eventually become "gods" themselves. The Heavenly Father of whom they speak is married to a Heavenly Mother. And when they emphasize the importance of the family, they may be referring to their belief that marriage in a Mormon temple binds families together for all eternity.

Thus, when Mr. Romney told South Carolina Republicans a few months ago that Jesus was his "personal savior," he used Southern Baptist language to affirm a relationship to Christ that is quite different in Mormon belief. (For Southern Baptists, "personal savior" implies a specific born-again experience that is not required or expected of Mormons.) This is not a winning strategy for Mr. Romney...[he] should avoid using language that blurs fundamental differences among religious traditions.

I'll hop on this bandwagon; it's good advice. I'd like to see Mitt Romney heed it, but I'd also like to see every Mormon who speaks publicly about the teachings of their Church express themselves "in a way that will be properly understood" by non-Mormons, avoiding the use of "language that blurs fundamental differences among religious traditions."

Wouldn't that be great?

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Friday, April 06, 2007

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

based on a Medieval Latin poem ascribed to Bernard of Clairvaux

O sacred Head, now wounded,
      with grief and shame
      weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded,
      with thorns Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish,
      with sore abuse and scorn,
How does that visage languish,
      which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners' gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior; 'Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, assist me with Thy grace.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this, Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.


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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Will PBS also be labeled "hateful"?

by Bill

Television producer Helen Whitney has been working on a documentary covering Mormonism for several years, and on April 30 & May 1, "The Mormons" will finally air on PBS stations throughout the country. The official web site of the LDS Church has already concluded that it is likely to cause debate.

Whitney says "The Mormons" is a "complex film, a respectful film, but not an uncritical film." If that last part is true, I think Ms. Whitney is going to learn a big lesson. When it comes to the Mormon Church, respectful and critical are not normally two words they recognize in the same sentence. You either praise them or you risk being accused of ignorance and/or bigotry.

I wonder if the LDS Church will send the Anti-Defamation League hounds after Whitney if they find the content to be unappreciated. Will the ADL denounce PBS as a hate group like they did thousands of Christians who delivered the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD? It remains to be seen whether or not Helen Whitney really did her homework.