Sunday, November 7, 2010

When the Manna Gets Old

The Israelites in the Book of Exodus were fed miraculously with bread of heaven as they wandered in the wilderness. The bread, manna, fell from heaven each morning and provided all they needed for that day. In the evening, they enjoyed meat from quail provided to their camp. After a while though, they got bored and they wanted something different. They missed what they had left behind.

From Numbers 11:
5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:

6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna before our eyes.

This is a well-known scene from the Old Testament and it becomes in our modern times an example of not being happy with what you have, seeking luxury, being ungrateful, greedy and selfish.

Another pretty obvious parallel is the bread of heaven as a symbol for the bread of life. In the modern LDS church, I can see this case being made: Heavenly Father has revealed a certain amount of doctrine and gospel light to the people of the world and they have an obligation to daily partake of it and live according to its principles. These doctrines are made available through the scriptures and teachings of the prophets (i.e. the bread of life). If members of the church become bored with or tired of these teachings then they are obviously in the same error as the ancient Israelites. These Church members are unable to be happy with what they have, but vainly seek for more. Their selfishness is deplorable and in extension, they can be used as an example of sinful behavior. This can be used to denounce the people who enjoy speculation or scholarship or those who mention a desire for revelation on certain topics or those who seek to understand "the mysteries" mentioned throughout the scriptures.

And to those who make that case, I will say that their meaning sounds an awful lot like the people denounced in The Book of Mormon for saying, "A bible, a bible, we have got a bible. We have not need for any more bible."

Member of the church would be familiar with the foundation principles of the gospel being the core focus of correlation. I learned from Daymon Smith's Mormon Stories Podcast that correlation consists of 72 gospel principles and core doctrines that are intended to be solely concentrated on throughout the church and throughout the world.

In response to that presentation, I commented:
I’m coming to this discussion late, but after just listening to Part 2, have to comment that the discussion on correlation is informing and validating some of my frustrations with the 72 ideas of the gospel. I’m feel pretty solid on those, to be honest. I got it down. I’m bored with the general instruction of correlation and like Andrew referred to I’m itching to move on to the “mysteries.” How I wish there was a post-correlation track for those who are ready to move beyond the basics and seek the “further light and knowledge” that is in the realm of pure speculation now? Sunstone is great for that, of course, but hardly mainstream in the church.
I can't believe that Heavenly Father wants us to stop in our progression and refrain from seeking greater light and intelligence in this life, yet I see this being taught in his church. It saddens me. I find myself in a situation where I have to hide my thoughts and feelings in fear of the judgement and persecution of others.

I know that one of the arguments supporting the idea that those who aren't content with revealed gospel knowledge are ungrateful and selfish also claim that members of the church have the obligation to become perfect in the principles of the gospel that we do have knowledge of. In extension, it is because we are not perfect in these things that we have been deemed unworthy by God to receive any further information. Its as if we are in a period of being damned and halted in our progression because we aren't good enough at what we've got.

That may be true. Yet can such a sweeping generalization be true of everyone? Is this a judgement that we are experiencing because, like many other situations in life, the many are ruining it for the few or, like in other situations, the few are ruining it for the many?

If that is the case, then it might be accurate to say that some members of the church truly are ready to progress beyond correlated principles and to learn through revelation some of the less important doctrine that help us make sense of everything that is and all that will be revealed. If the glory of God is intelligence, why are damned if we seek it?

Those who defend the correlated view say that it is important to have a strong foundation and to not stray from it. That what is taught by the church is the foundation and most important information of the gospel and all we need to know to get back to our heavenly parents. While that is true, and it is important for each member of the church to be firmly established in gospel sod, you can't live in a house that is just a foundation.

Having heard the same lessons repeated with little variance over the last few years has left me weary and yearning for more. And if I run the risk of sounding like an Israelite complaining about manna, I think I'll take it considering my intention is "to hunger and thirst after righteousness."


Anonymous said...

Jenne! I read your post and I like it. I need to look at the exact 72(?) correlated points, but I begin to go out of my mind every time I hear "the gospel is simple", "we should stick to the basics", it is hard to make choices between "two good things", we have a limited amount of time and "reading scriptures is most worthy of it". Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

Jenne said...

I'm trying to guess the identity of my anonymous commenter here... but that's keeping me from actually responding.

So I'll respond instead. I obviously share your frustration and I suppose the answer I've found is follow the Spirit where your interest will take you. I limited myself to a study of the scriptures for so long that I felt guilty to seek outside sources to deepen my understanding of the scriptures. If I only had time to do one: read scriptures or dig deeper to understand the scriptures, which was more important? After a while of having difficulty chewing on what I was reading because it was the same taste over and over again, I decided to turn to studying topics and aspects of the scriptures from external sources. My world opened up, my menu was more diverse and my palate rejoiced, let me tell you.

Jenni "Bee" said...

I have several thoughts here, I'll see if I can bring them together into a logical format...

1--we are taught (paraphrasing here *wink*) that all truth is part of one great whole. Also that all truth comes from God. So, wherever I find truth--regardless of the apparent source--it actually is from God, and therefore compatible with the gospel. That was a freeing realization.

2-truth can be recognized and validated by the spirit--again, sources are not as important as that personal revelation/validation.

3--I too get very little out of verbal repetition. I get something out of reading, although if it's too familiar I tend to zone out and doze off... I get a LOT out of conversation though, which is one reason I enjoy rousing discussions (theological or otherwise) on forums, facebook, etc.