Saturday, September 22, 2012

Downtown Mormon Lunch: Fun & "Weightier Matters"

Two things came together in my normally confused brain this week as I sorted through them for some sense. First, my "manifesto" the other day led me to a fascinating discussion on my Facebook link to that blog post with some Brazilian friends and I jumping between English and Portuguese in a discussion of the U.S. Constitution. Good thing I know how to switch my keyboard back and forth for the right accent marks, etc. That ended with a Brazilian friend, now U.S. Citizen (I believe) asking me if I knew any of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve who were Democrats. The late, and Portuguese-speaking, James E. Faust was the only one I knew for sure in modern times. He had served in the Utah State Legislature and had been Chairman of the Utah Democratic Party so it was rather obvious. I'm sure there are others, they just keep those sort of things rather private if they haven't been in political office as part of their public life before their calls to the presiding quorums of the Church.

The second part came from my posting of early Friday when I found a writer who knew that alcoholic beverages, but not Coca Cola, were prohibited by the LDS Church. My thoughts there led me to Matthew 23 about straining at gnats, and swallowing camels as we neglect the weightier matters of the law, Judgment, Mercy, and Faith. Which reminded me of a classic talk by none other than James E. Faust, our former member of the First Presidency and the Democratic Party. The talk is:  "The Weightier Matters of the Law."

Now, don't get me wrong here. I know I'm treading on a fine line discussing political parties and church leadership. The two are in entirely different fields of life if certainly compatible (part of my point). And please let me acknowledge that I frequently, maybe even in this posting, have much to repent of as I constantly do. (Although, it does seem like I make some progress in life repenting of more and more things - but they just keep coming!)

And with regard to President Faust's talk. I encourage all to read it. It came at a very exiting and stimulating time of my life, both intellectually and spiritually, as I had just been ordained a bishop a few months earlier. The ward was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of those blessedly fascinating places on the face of the earth, both as capital of the Land of Enchantment and as a very unique ward. I'm sure every bishop believes their ward is the ultimate in uniqueness and I really can't prove mine was because I neither want to reveal ecclesiastical confidences, nor embarrass any of the good Saints (or myself).

One very friendly and positive aspect of the experience in Santa Fe was that some friends and I had been convening an informal "downtown Mormon lunch." On certain designated days, we would meet at a picnic table on the banks of the Santa Fe River (ephemeral trickle) with friends from church of all political persuasions and life-styles including occasional non-member friends and some members from Albuquerque or elsewhere who commuted to Santa Fe for work (like the guy who later ended up the Presidency of the Stake we moved to in Albuquerque. He worked for the State Police and once, while off-duty driving President Gordon B. Hinckley around to determine the location for the Albuquerque Temple, accidentally dropped the lid of the car trunk on the Prophet's head.) We heard a lot of great stories and had a lot of fun and sometimes engaged in deep discussions.

One of the participants was a less-active young woman who was married to a young lawyer who happened to be the son of a former Governor of the State of New Mexico (not Gary Johnson, that's another story). I once saw this former Governor in the back of the Santa Fe chapel for Sacrament Meeting. I assumed he was there to check out the religion his daughter-in-law was from. After the service, I went from the stand to meet him, but he had ducked out before I could. Anyway, this young woman was struggling with her beliefs. I shared a copy of the talk from President Faust that she received gratefully as we discussed it at one of the downtown Mormon lunches.

President Faust's talk also helped address a lot of worries some of us had in the Ward at the time, which I'm not going into, only to say that some members may have been placing too much attention on straining gnats in the Diet Coke than they did with the weightier matters. My focus as Bishop was constantly to emphasize basic principles in the sets of: Atonement, Judgment, Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost, Endure to the End; Faith, Hope Charity; and Judgment, Mercy, Faith. I was hoping that would help the Saints of Santa Fe to "govern themselves."

And now we're to my point. Just as Diet Coke is not prohibited by the LDS Church even though so many in and out of the Church have worried about it for some odd reason or another, neither is voting for Barack Obama. There's not even a "higher law" making one more righteous if they don't drink Coke or don't vote for  President Obama - or even if they do. I am aware it can work both ways. That's why I keep repenting too.

1 comment:

  1. I thought you might be interested in this post, and the comments, if you haven't already checked it out. Wheat and Tares under Obama vs Romney, a Mormon Dilemma


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