Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends

on 28 January 2009

So I heard this song the other day and realized how similar to our lives as Moho's it was. At least in my own personal journey So I decided to interpret the lyrics.

I used to rule the world

Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

Used to be the EQP or the Gospel Doctrine Teacher, the Good Mormon Boy, King off it all. Now we sit in church alone, devoid of what we used to have

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

I used to have it all, everything in Mormon culture going for me. I would join in with the crowd in singing the sinful nature of gays

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

One day I had everything and the next I lost it all. I discovered that my faith now stood upon pillars of salt (Sodom Reference) and a foundation of sand.

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

I hear the church choir singing and the prophets words ringing demanding that I become a sacrifice for the church that tells me I am wrong

For some reason I can't explain
Once you go there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

For some reason I can’t explain once you find yourself you are never the same. You want it all back when you used to rule the world.

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become

It was a wicked and wild wind blew down the doors of my closet, shattered beliefs and the sound of hate People couldn’t believe what I had “chose”

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

The church leaders wait for my spirit on a silver plate.
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want EQP

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

I hear the church choir singing and the prophet’s words ringing demanding that I become a sacrifice for the church that tells me I am wrong

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

For some reason I can’t explain I know the Savior won’t call my name For I never spoke an honest word when I ruled the world

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

I hear the church choir singing and the prophet’s words ringing demanding that I become a sacrifice for the church that tells me I am wrong
For some reason I can’t explain I know the Savior will name my name For I serve a better life than when I ruled the world.

Living in Opposition or living through it?

on 22 January 2009

We believe that there is opposition in all things. That in opposition to joy is misery, in opposition to life there is death. When you look at these things you can clearly see that Joy is superior to misery, that Life is superior to death. However are these things that are opposition are not inferior, they provide the ability to both enjoy & appreciate life, and they each have their time and place.
If Christ had not experienced the misery of the bitter cup then He could not have found Joy, and neither can we find and appreciate Joy without having tasted the misery that is found in sin. Is death really a bad thing? Without death then we wouldn’t be able to have eternal life. Think what art would be without the dichotomy of light and shadow and that balance and equilibrium.
Could then our dilemma be a brief moment in misery that will translate to a greater Joy in the life beyond? Could our trials preclude us to receive greater Joy depending on how we bear them? Will we drink from the bitter cup or let it pass from us? What will you do?

Game Theory, John Nash, and the MoHo Dilemma.

on 20 January 2009

My plans:
I am gay. I am a Child of God. He loves me. His son atoned for my sins, pains and sufferings. HE wants me to be happy and return to him. I have to do that by following the Spirit which tells me to start a family and raise children with a loving Husband. IF the Church isn’t true then MY testimony in it and God is shaken and thus my spiritual experience to live with a husband isn't true. But then What does it matter. If I look at this like a game theory problem then I have the choices to Cooperate with the Church, or defect from it, those are my options. The Church’s option is to be true or not. Looking at this as for a Nash Equilibrium point of view I come up with the following possible outcomes:
1. If I cooperate and the Church is true, then I have obeyed the teachings of the Church but not the Spirit and will achieve the blessings promised simply through the sheer will power, but will be without help-meet or children and thus will have missed many opportunities for human and spiritual development.
2. If I cooperate and the Church isn’t true, then I have wasted my entire life following that which is untrue, being completely alone and leaving no posterity. I would have lived a moral life, but to what outcome, Where would I fall in the Hierarchy of Heaven or the levels of Hell.
3. If I defect and the Church is true, then I will have been following the spirit and will be blessed with obedience to the spirit and thus will be blessed in the afterlife. I will have had the opportunity to be a father and husband and learn to love ad the Father loves.
4. If I defect and the Church isn’t true then I will not have spent my life following that which isn’t true, and then I will have had the ability to love as a father and as a husband but where my place in the eternities lies is still up in the air.

In laying out the possible choices and options and actions and outcomes then I am left with the best possible choice for both me and the group as having me defect. It is the best way for me to be a productive member of society, It makes me the happiest and teaches me important life and spiritual lessons and I will have been following the spirit. This is my decision, and I wish I could make it now, but instead I must wait until after the Middle school musical is over (people irrationally fear that I am a pedophile) I might also wait until my mother is on stronger ground with herself emotionally and in her marriage, I don’t want to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. So I am set to come out Either March 8th (my birthday) or on May 6th after I finish with my finals.

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All or Nothing Principle

on 11 January 2009

Both Alan and Austin have recently discussed their take on the “All or Nothing” teaching that states that if the Book of Mormon is true then Joseph Smith was a prophet and all prophets since him were prophets and thus we have this compulsion to believe everything that is said out of the mouths of the Prophets because thy are the Mouthpieces of God.

I have had difficulty with this doctrine in the past both before and after I came out to myself. Before I never really had a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but I believed the words of the Prophets were inspired by God and that we should follow them. Recently the reverse had been true, I believed that the Book of Mormon was true but I had misgivings about the leaders and the revelatory nature of their teachings. While I was having the second round of attack by the “all or nothing” doctrine two things hit me that taught me the absurdity of the doctrine. The first comes from Star Wars Episode III the Revenge of the Sith and while I know that it is cheesy, the line does serve the discussion well.

Anakin Skywalker: If you're not with me, then you're my enemy.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

Now I will admit I am slightly nerdish and often relate Star Wars to principles of the Gospel, but not as much as some. (My brother-in-law has FHE lessons that describe the gospel principles taught by Star Wars) When I heard this line in the Movie theatre I was thinking; “George, How did you know that was what I needed to hear?” Granted I do know that the line itself is an absolute statement and that it does fall under the principle of “false dilemma,” but it still has worth for the purposes of this discussion.

I often feel that the “corridor” is trying to shove the line down my throat that you are either with us or against us, that if you aren’t following every little facet of the unwritten order of things, or the “Law of Packer” as I have heard it described, then you are apostatizing. I feel that this can be best compared to the Law of Moses and those that tried to uphold it over the doctrine of the Church. The people who held so tightly to the unwritten practices began to loose sight of the Lord, and the reason for their actions. That reason is communion with God. And thus a new culture is born, a culture that is focused on the letter of the law rather than the spirit of it. I often see that those whose focus is on the cultural aspects of the Church and not the doctrinal ones most tightly hold the all or nothing principle and brandish it at all others.

The other experience that taught me some clarification on this principle was during my discussion with a student of Arabic and Middle Eastern studies about the similarities between Islam and the Church. I am talking about the doctrinal similarities not any radicalizations, and I am in no ways trying to say that the Church is breeding suicide bombers. I found that the five pillars of Islam are contained in the Doctrine of the Church. The five pillars and their Church counterparts are as follows.
1. Shahadat is professing one-ness of Allah and accepting Prophet Muhammad as his messenger to humanity. – This is akin to both taking the Lord’s name upon us and in bearing our testimony of our belief in God and his prophets.
2. Ṣalāt the Islamic prayer. - Prayer
3. Zakaat or alms-giving, is the practice of charitable giving by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. – Tithing anyone?
4. Sawm during Ramadan - Fasting
5. The Hajj is a pilgrimage that occurs during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah to the holy city of Mecca, and derives from an ancient Arab practice. – Visiting the Temple
Even Jihad as defined by Arabic as Struggle, their are several types of Jihad and all but the most commonly thought of yet least often discussed in the holy writ talk about controlling the natural man.

So I was having this discussion with my friend who was studying Arabic and she started to talk to me about the Hadith. If we look at the Quran as a similar book of script to the Book of Mormon, then the Hadith is like the D&C. It is a collection of everything the Prophet Mohammad said, did or didn’t say or do. The difference between the Hadith and the D&C is that in the D&C only revelation is present and in the Hadith there are myriad of simple actions or inactions that were taken as doctrine of the Divine. This is where the thought hit me to compare this to the All or Nothing theory.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was taught that there was a hierarchy in the teachings of prophets and what weight we should give them. This Hierarchy states that Scriptures trump words of the Prophets unless those words are elevated to scripture, that the words of current prophets were greater than those of past prophets. While I was re-taught this at BYU my freshman year, my great religion professor told us that not everything that the prophets said was prophecy, that they were men and lots of the things expressed over the pulpit were the opinions of great and learned men, but were not revelation unless stated so.

His perfect example of this was the Bible Dictionary and the Topical Guide and Footnotes. A council was formed to provide a set of study tools that every latter day saint could use to help them further their knowledge of the gospel. The majority of the footnotes and most of the bible dictionary are based off of the personal notations of Bruce R. McConkie. These were not revelation but instead were scholarly discoveries. If you doubt this then go and read the introduction to the Bible dictionary.

So I saw the every movement of the Prophet Mohammed being taken as doctrine that is one step removed from the Quran as a similarity to the words of the Twelve as revelation when often they are not revelatory in nature. Most latter day saints don’t see the difference and instead see the need to follow every jot and tittle that is put forth in front of them.

Austin you say “In a nutshell the “All or Nothing Theory” is that either Mormonism is all true, or Joseph Smith was a false prophet and anything that has come from him was not inspired by God (not necessarily saying it is not good).” What is often needed to be distinguished here, as I have tried to do, is that there is a difference between Mormonism, and the Doctrine of the Church. I do believe in the All or Nothing principle in that if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then all of the truth of the gospel is true. To that extend I believe in the all or nothing principle, however when you have material that claims to be doctrine but isn’t, that that does not need to be followed or believed in order for the truth of the gospel to be true. For example, when you went to church did you ever see anyone who was dressed in a non-white shirt or wearing sneakers instead of dress shoes. Think back to that and try to remember what your feelings about it were when you were inundated with the Mormon culture. I know my reaction, it even happened last week but I caught myself and realized what I was doing. I sat there thinking that person was not being righteous, and that I might be more righteous than them. I don’t know how you might have felt I don’t pretend to know, but for me that was a real clear example of the separation between Gospel and Culture.

The only other point that I might try to make concerning this is what Elder Oaks said in a CES fireside almost 4 years ago about the case of exceptions to the general rule, and how that was meant to be worked out between you and the Lord. I believe that there is a theory of all or nothing when it comes to following Christ, but that it comes to the following of Christ not the Culture of the Church.

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Follow up thoughts and an Idea for the Future

on 10 January 2009

So through the random connections that abound in this Interweb I came to this post from Austin about the Church being an all or nothing religion. Now I am sure that I don't quite agree on that (saving for a latter post) and that is one of the reasons why my meeting with Elder Clayton made me feel so horrible I think. In that meeting I was basically told that the Church is a mold and if you don't fit you are at fault and need to change, even if the Lord has told you otherwise, because that is Satan not the Lord. So while I was reading Austins post I came across Abelard's comment that referenced Don Holsinger's article concerning a CES fireside talk given by Elder Oaks. So I emailed Abelard and got a copy of the article that I have provided to you (if the link didn't work then email me and I will send it to you.) So I read the article in which Elder Oaks gives us counsel that contradicts the counsel given to me from Elder Clayton, the counsel that the Lord will never give me any personal revelation that goes against the Brethren. Elder Oaks states that should any member feel that he is an exception to anything said that that is a matter NOT for the General Authorities or the twelve, but for you and the Lord. As soon as I read this I knew the truth of it, I knew that of course I can not change the doctrine of the Church, if the Lord desired the entire doctrine to be changed He wouldn't use me, but his chosen mouthpieces instead. I realized that both Elder Clayton and I could be right, that Elder Clayton could be right in that the Lord would never tell me any revelation that should tell the Brethren what to do, which was one of the main thoughts going through my head at the start of the meeting, but that I am still right in that the Lord will give me personal revelation to guide my major decisions in life.
So now I know that I am supposed to continue living the church standards and the church principles for they are true, but that I am meant to marry a husband that I love, and adopt children that we can raise, that can be raised up in a better environment then they would have otherwise. The only thing that comes into question now is the timing and what I should do until I am ready to settle down and get ready. This was starting to percolate in my mind when a friend sent me this message;

"You figure out what is right for you, whether that be leaving the church and dating men, or going on a mission, or staying in the church and being celibate, you go for it."
Now I had heard these and similar words before, but the juxtaposition of them with the question of timing in my mind, combined with another friend's concerns against going against what the church says about getting married now or waiting until his future wife goes on a mission gave me a great idea. I know what the long term goal for my life is; find a husband and have kids, but in the mean time what should I do? Why should I not go on a mission? It has been something that I have always wanted to do even though for the wrong reasons, but now that I really do have a testimony of the truth of the atonement, of the power that the church is in many people's lives, and the testimony and feeling that came to me when I first KNEW that the Lord lived was that I wanted to shout, to sing, to proclaim this truth out to everyone, I was so happy that my boss said that I was radiating happiness when I got back to the office. I have felt the worth of this gospel in my life, and in the lives of others and I want to share it.
My Patriarchal Blessing states;
"You will be a positive influence to many and have opportunity to testify as a full time missionary. There will be those who will bless your name because they will hear the truths of the gospel from your mouth. There is nothing you could do in these two years that would benefit you more, even in a material sense. If you had to choose between a mission and a college degree, the mission would be of greater benefit."
As I reread those my blessing I felt how words that didn't make much sense to me before, or that I disbelieved due to me being gay were relevent all along from the new perspective that I gained when I trust in what I have felt from the Lord. So now, with my mind contemplating a mission, I plan on seeking out the answer of whether or not I should serve a mission and when. On whether I should go to the temple and enter into sacred covenents that I know I will break in order to follow what the Lord has told me. I will try to find the answers to these and other questions just as I have this past round of doubt and anguish, by turning to the scriptures, the temple, prayer, fasting and all around communion with Christ my personal Savior.
Now that I have a knowledge of what I should do, of where my life lies in the distant future, I am happy. I know where I need to end up and I plan to get there. My mission is something that is less important than that and if it needs to be furloughed then I will do it, but it is not something that will consume me, not somehting that will leave me exhausted with stress and late nights of reading.
Here is to a great new year, and the peace that comes with a vision of the future.

Quote of the Year

on 01 January 2009

As President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. once said:

"If we have truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not truth, it ought to be harmed...a [truth seeker] must get at facts, he must consider motives---he must tear off the mask and lay bare the countenance, however hideous. The frightful skeleton of truth must always be exposed...[he] must make every conclusion pass the fiery ordeal of pitiless reason. If their conclusions cannot stand this test, they are false."