This week I was taught to soften my approach,
and to refrain from undeservedly qualifying my views of "good."
The Cascade Literary Guild on the Orchards
This week marked the last Thursday of the month, and as such, the meeting of the Cascade Literary Guild on the Orchards (I admit, a fancy name for our book club). I look forward to this each month. I think one of my favorite things about this club is I am 25 years the junior of all other members. For the last 5 years this has allowed me a unique and refreshing insight into the minds of women, in completely different stages of life. These Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers offer a worldview unique and invaluable to me, as I strive to keep perspective in my little world of raising babies.
Three Cups of Tea
Our book this month was Three Cups of Tea. It is an inspiring account of the humanitarian efforts of Greg Mortenson in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His work stands as a testament of the power one individual has to change lives. As we discussed the good of this man and the wonderful Muslim people with whom he works, our discussion broadened to the invaluable contribution of all God-fearing people. While heterogeneous in age, profession and many other things, our Guild is homogenous in religious devotions. We were organized (but currently are not affiliated) as an outgrowth of the women's organization of our church, The Relief Society. I was able to share some of my experiences from being in the Holy Land. I gained a love for the Arab people (most of whom were Muslim) with whom I met and interacted. We had Islamic Clerics teach us of the 7 pillars of Islam. I left with a deep respect for a misunderstood religion and people.
It has been a unique experience to spend my adult life in an area predominantly of those of my religion. While the religion is never an issue, the culture of the area sometimes has been difficult to adjust to. I grew up in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Colorado. I became accustomed to being one of a very few who shared my beliefs. Some culture perceptions and colloquialisms often become thought of as doctrinal, but in fact are not. One colloquialism brought up was "They are such a wonderful person. And they aren't even Mormon!"
If You're Mormon You're Good
The danger in this phrase comes with the underlying assertion that you are automatically a "good" person if you are a Mormon, and if you aren't Mormon, you have to somehow prove you are "good." Clearly in no way is this the doctrine. I have met many of my faith, who are not pillars of goodness, and many outside of my faith who live
The Only True Church
One of the women in our club pointed out that we no longer preach "We are the only true church on the earth." With that statement I had to disagree. I feel this is a fundamental principle of our church. If it were not so, why would we proselyte? What need would there be for our church? We clarified as a group. What the women were trying to help me understand was the sensitivity now in which we present ourselves has increased. A better way to describe the doctrine, more consistent with the approach now taken, is that we are the only church which claims to have the authority to act in the name of God through his holy priesthood. Therefore, we have the fulness of the truth, an indispensable piece of the puzzle. We can add to the truth that so many other wonderful religions possess. Truth is out there in so many places and with so many people.
The Second Coming of Christ and the Millennium
Today Brent taught a lesson at church on the Millennium. He has beens studying it in depth for the last month or so. I have piggy-backed his journey a bit as well. It was amazing how many misconceptions I have grown up with concerning this period. I found I had fallen again into a sort of religious centrism. Here are some of my misconceptions...and I am just scratching the surface, I bet I have hundreds more!
A Few Misconceptions
1-At the second coming of the Savior "every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ." This always meant to me, everyone would accept the fulness of the gospel and join in my faith. How wrong I was. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young both taught extensively about how other religions will still exist after the advent of his coming and during the millennium. All those who are truly seeking to be good people will be saved from the burning.
2-Parable of the 10 Virgins. I have always understood this parable to be directed at those who have received the fulness of his gospel. Only half of them will be prepared to meet the Lord at his Second Coming. Again, here came the blinders for me. I thought this meant those who will escape the calamities are only 1/2 of the members of my faith. That would be a very small lot. (I have to say this is a bit embarrassing to write about, as I realize how shallow and closed-minded these views were. But I actually think they are quite prevalent.)
What I now realize is "where much is given much is required." There will be a lot more simple, faithful people living in rural Afghanistan and China that will be saved than members of my own faith. It is ME who'd better be worried. Not them! "Approaching Zion" warns of this in large measure. It is much more difficult to keep ourselves out of Babylon when we are surrounded by money and media, than if we are trying to eek by to survive against the elements and keep our families alive and fed.
3-Satan is Bound During the Millennium. But...there is still agency. All people will be living righteous lives, but as God's plan will not be frustrated, all must still chose to follow him and the degree to which they will accept his truth. Again, there will be good people of all faiths. It will be a glorious time to arrive. In God's magnificent plan only the wicked are punished. All people who live virtuous lives will be rewarded. The key, however to the fulness of glory and happiness, of living together as families forever, is only through the church with His priesthood and authority on earth.
It really makes so much more sense. When Christ is King, and we have a true one-world order, not the false one so many seek to establish today, it will be a 1000 year season of peace and love for all those who are truly righteous and kind, and keep themselves out of the modern Babylon.
Lesson Learned and Applied
"Good" comes in so many colors and faces and religions. We can find it everywhere we go, if we are looking with a softened heart. I am grateful this week to have been taught by the wonderful ladies in the Cascade Literary Guild on the Orchards, the good word of God and his prophets, and my sweet husband. Hopefully I can become a more Christlike person because of it. And I just better watch out, because it is people like me who are in greatest danger of burning! (Well me, and the really obviously wicked.)
P.S. I know I give zero references for things, again this is more like a personal journal and I want my own family to search the answers for themselves, maybe I can give them food for thought and a springboard to start from.