Monday, March 28, 2011

What I wish I heard in church on Sunday

This is likely going to become a new series. Every Sunday I sit in church and listen to the lessons and talks that at a surface level are good but I often find myself thinking "if only they went deeper" or "I wish they went further and said this..." I decided that my thoughts were worthwhile and though I may not be able to hear those talks at church or discuss them with my family members and friends, that I could take notes, and create those talks and lessons in mind.

In fact, I think I remember hearing I think President Eyring say that his father did something like this. I'm taking it a step further by writing down my thoughts while I'm at church and then coming home and posting them on my blog. I hope to have conversations about this with my readers, friends and peers and create the kind of church meetings that would be more uplifting for me personally, though the way they are at church may be exactly what most others need for themselves.

So here you go, my first installment of "What I wish I hear in church on Sunday..."

Sacrament meeting

What was said: give relief to japan, donate money because we can't be there to help

What I wish I heard: Oftentimes when aid is needed, extra volunteers can be a burden, accommodations cannot be found for them, their community has the man power. Their number one need is money to obtain the supplies they need to rebuild, provide for their needs. Giving money is the best way we can help in most aid situations. It is also the most scarce In our lives. An LDS woman in Idaho had a great idea to raise money in an effective way that offers good and services that people need and are seeking and then directs the profits to aid organizations. Talents of Sisters collects crafts from hobbyists and sells the products on etsy to people who are seeking out those goods. Crafters can donate their goods and so the whole amount goes to humanitarian fundraising or pledge a portion of their profit. A strength of talents of sisters is customers come from everyone and are not limited to certain demographics. So next time you are looking for a one of a kind gift, look on Talents of Sisters. And next time you feel like crafting and don't have a way to gift that craft, list it on Talents of Sisters and turn your hobby into relief.

What was said: people who are suffering want people to listen and understand, validate their suffering not judge

What I wish I heard: This is not a skill that many of us have. It is a terrible feeling to feel alone in your suffering. Often it is uncomfortable for people to hear of others tales of woe and they choose to focus on staying busy and doing in Service rather than providing the most needed service which is listening and providing relief to emotional anguish. Thank goodness for Christ and his perfect understanding of our suffering that we are never really alone. As instruments in the hands of God, we can provide that physical and emotional companionship to others like he provides to us.

We need community. I would like to see church members familiarize themselves with research on the necessity of community, how it ensures our survival and our health. They would see that the church provides this community in inspired ways. However, members of the church have a few things to learn when it comes to creating that community of support and relief.

What was said: talk on learning and truth, academic learning should be sought after in all areas of learning (excellent!)

What I wish I heard: discuss the limits of this- examples of learning that goes from studying very different forms of thought "embracing truth wherever it can be found" learning that comes from studying other religions

What was said: Prophet gives revelation at conference

What I wish I heard: There hasn't been a revealed revelation since 1976. Revelations are not common in the church (even the Proclamation is not revelation!) and it is a disservice to say that everything that comes out of conference is revelation. The hymn testimony says it best "I know a prophet speaks to us for our eternal gain." They may speak with inspiration at conference but conference is not revelation unless something is specifically stated as revelation.

Sunday school
What was said: Jesus is sinless

What I wish I heard: Jesus did not have to be sinless to be the savior of the world. Everyone has imperfections, even the lamb without blemish is not going to be perfect in every way to the cellular level. I do not feel the need to believe that Christ was perfect without sin to still believe, love and appreciate his atonement. A more human Jesus still makes the infinite and eternal atonement possible for everyone.

It doesn't matter all that much to me one way or the other and it doesn't upset me when I hear how adamantly most Mormons believe that Jesus literally lived without sinning. I would however love to hear a strong analysis on both sides of why/why not his sinless state was necessary for the atonement to be carried out. Raising the possibility that he was not without sin (but was capable of repenting and learning from his mistakes) would likely cause all sorts of havoc with people's testimonies. I, for one, would not find it challenging to my faith. At a higher level than that, I don't "know" in the testimony sense of knowing that Christ was sinless. I guess I better study and pray about it.

Relief society

What I heard: a woman's voice "as a young elder..." as she read a first hand account written by a man (and the uncomfortable titter of the other women present)

What I wish I heard: Someone go off on how ridiculous it is that women are denied the priesthood based on their gender. That person is not going to be me, but how refreshing it would be if we could stop avoiding the white elephant in the room that women, if they were to be honest with themselves, are uncomfortable with authority being given to men only. If women could be honest, would they say they think women should have the priesthood?. The priesthood doesn't have to be male. Leaders of the church can receive revelation to grant priesthood to women. Fast for that revelation, pray for it. In fact, today was the day at FMH was publicizing a communal fast on the topic of women receiving the priesthood in hopes that church leadership will "ask of God." (James 1:5)

Random Pondering:
I think it would be cool if the church were to experiment with a mega church in an area like Seattle. How many people would be in the congregation? If there are about 300 people attending each ward on Sunday, and there are 5 stakes, that is about 1500 people at church on Sunday. Would reactivation efforts be more affective with more people free from leadership? Would our communities be stronger?

What I heard: citation from Elder Oaks talk from oct 2010 conference: revelation both personal and through authority

What I wish I heard: bring up the legitmate concerns of when the person in authority is wrong, or when someones' personal revelation conflicts with priesthood direction

Concept I like: Spirit through osmosis soaking it up when surrounded by people who possess the spirit, a good essence that strengthens those near by

What I heard: The Holy Ghost is male

What I wish I heard: We don't actually know that the holy ghost is a man. Could be a woman (see Fall 2010 Exponent), could be a group of people. Does it matter? It would be nice to know but it doesn't change that the Spirit is real and good and present in the LDS church and throughout peoples of the world. It just bugs me that people speak with such certainty that the spirit is male when they don't actually know and the prophets/apostles who spoke with such certainty didn't actually know either.

What I heard: visiting teachers and home teachers are there for us when we need them.

What I wish I heard: Most visiting teachers and home teachers are not there for us the way that would be most beneficial to us. We could call learn more about providing emotional support.

Left-overs from church last week:

What I heard: Thinking of work as service: imbuing spirit and love into work done for others, laundry, dishes, food

What I wish I heard: We can also look at our employment and the men of the church can look at their paid employment: how does your work help and serve other? Is it meaningful service? If you do not like the answer to that question, is it important to be engaged in paid work that does help others? Do we have a responsibility to people outside of your family so much that we serve others and our families simultaneously in our paid employment? Are our priorities in paid employment focused on how our work efforts serve others?

Alright, let's discuss.

And please remember, its fine to disagree with me and point out inaccuracies or to suggest references that might give me additional insights. Just do it respectively and without attacking me. I haven't had that problem yet among my readers (thank you!) but you know, gotta add the obligatory, lets act like respectful Christians...