Sunday, October 23, 2011

Practical Spirituality

I'm sure I'm going off the deep end here into metaphysical and theological issues that have been argued through the ages by intellects infinitely greater than my weak mind. My whole point here, though, is to try to keep this as simple as possible. With my posting of late last night about an inexplicable, possibly spiritual impression, I realized that my personal faith which I'm pretty sure is well grounded in my religious tradition, requires spiritual revelations to make sense.

That's maybe going to be a howler to many out there who have a good time with the oddities of historical and theological Mormonism. I'm going to put that aside for the moment as I have addressed it elsewhere on this blog to some extent. My point is very personal and very practical. Spiritual manifestations have to mean something. My mind and spirit both require an answer to the question, "What is the point?"

There are some religious traditions that I can respect without ascribing to mainly for the reason that I don't understand their claims of spirituality. It seems the more mysterious the experience, the more sacred and revered it is, yet I'm not sure what the point is other than an expression of the mystical for the mystical sake. This can even get down to the whole purpose of God who seems a little arbitrary to demand certain things of human creations "just because." And what is the end of it all? To disappear into a mystical union with the Divine? Or sit around in eternal praise with a harp? I'd much rather be a partner ("joint heir") with Christ and the Father in creating worlds and furthering the salvation of infinite humanity and its eternal potential. But I'm going too deep. Let me back up.

When I get spiritual impressions, they tend to serve a purpose. It is not always immediately obvious, but it makes good sense to follow through until the purpose is revealed which happens over and over again. On the simpler side, I feel impressions to remind me of something I need to do or have forgotten. It could be rationally explained by the misunderstood workings of my own electrical impulses in the cranium, but that doesn't work for things that have no logical explanation and still make absolutely perfect sense for a real purpose that is eventually revealed. A great example of this is the incident with the finding of the lost iPod of one of my Scouts. It was a simple thing that may or may not lead that young man or me to eternal glory. Yet it was real and it happened. And now when I see that young man, we have a strong bond of friendship and respect. That is a good thing simple as it may be and a positive result in our human striving for connection with each other.

I have had similar experiences with much more important matters like my choice of a marriage partner (and celestial companion forever if we can keep things going after these first 31 years into the eternities). There have also been important decisions about my career, where we were to live, my children, our health, our extended family and so on - all clearly influenced by spiritual impressions, messages, guidance, and all for a real purpose even if some are still in progress. Do I know the answers to all questions? No. Is my life always easy and happy? Also no, and that is probably more often due to the lack of listening to the spiritual promptings. I can do better and I can wait for the rest of the answers.

There are a few basic rules I follow as a check on spiritual impressions:

1. Does it make sense? (well, that's the whole point I'm talking about)

2. Is it consistent with basic commandments, standards, policies of what I know from my religious tradition?

3. If it relates to the family, does my wife confirm?

4. Does it give me internal comfort or increased anxiety? (The D&C Section 9 test)

5. Is it within my realm of responsibility and action?

That last one was a real problem in a former ward where a group of individuals would get occasional "inspiration" or "insight" on behalf of other individuals that on their face and process were rather inappropriate. It took a lot of long-suffering gentle persuasion to address those issues. (Oh, and some occasional "reproving betimes with sharpness" of course).

This list isn't exactly a check list I go down but a series of triggers that tend to go off it things are not right based on life experience to date. It works. My life is spiritually blessed. I haven't run across any better ideas yet. No overwhelming spiritual manifestations nor logical fallacies have yet corrected me.

I will continue. And will that be to the end? Hopefully, and beyond.


  1. I've always liked the idea of a practical religion. For me religion is useless if it isn't capable of answering some basic questions. They just happen to be the questions you used to hear most often. Why am I here? Where did I come from? Is this all there is (what's after death)? I discounted those questions on my mission until we had a profound tragedy and had four missionaries die within a few weeks.
    The point of religion is to answer those questions. If it can't do that it is of little use to us, although it may give us comfort. The problem with science is that it simply pretends that it already has the answers (and I say this as a scientist having degrees in Geography and Geology) and there is nothing there. If it can't be weighed or measured it doesn't exist.
    The genius of Mormonism is that it gives real solid answers to those questions while at the same time avoiding the dogmatic touchiness of philosophy.

  2. "dogmatic touches of philosophy." I like that. Mormonism wasn't reasoned out - at least it is not even claimed as such. It wasn't "argued out" of the Bible either. The claim is revelation which makes a lot more sense to me. Why? Because of those darn fruits we know it by. The real stuff that works. Put it to the test. Live it. Works for me.

  3. Yeah. The core LDS beliefs are really pretty few and simple. Do you accept Jesus as Savior? Do you believe in Modern revelation (Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon, Present Day Prophet), and do you lead, or strive to lead a godly life? The closest thing we have to a creed is found in Section 20

    he Lord God has spoken it; and we, the elders of the church, have heard and bear witness to the words of the glorious Majesty on high, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
    17 By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them;
    18 And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them;
    19 And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.
    20 But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man.
    21 Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him.
    22 He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them.
    23 He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day;
    24 And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father;
    25 That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved—
    26 Not only those who believed after he came in the meridian of time, in the flesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who truly testified of him in all things, should have eternal life,
    27 As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son;
    28 Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.
    29 And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.
    30 And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true;
    31 And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 20:16 - 31)

    An interesting and rewarding section for study.


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