Sunday, June 2, 2013

Anonymous D Revealed as Tevye from "Fiddler on the Roof"

This is sort of a Guest Post from our good friend D. It is significantly altered and cut down not just in changing names to protect the innocent or guilty, as the case may be. Neither of us are the ultimate Judge and should only engage in "righteous judgment" as we navigate this world of sorrow with our individual agency trying to keep our souls intact. But he has shared some interesting insight with me that I cautiously share here:
The Mormon thing I find frustrating is the idea that all of us don’t fight against our darker sides all the time.  Men are carnal, sensual and devilish after all, the fall of our natures making us that way. So, all of us fight against those things all the time as we are supposed to. The sin, then, isn’t to have a fallen nature, the sin is to stop trying to throw that nature off and become a Saint knowing full well that we are going to fail a good deal of the time. The Church's stance on Boy Scouts is in line with that doctrine, that you can put off the natural man and become a Saint through the atonement of Christ. [Mosiah 3:19]  You have fight against those things that keep you away. Hetero men as well. We should invite every sinner of every stripe to come and join with us with the one stipulation that all of us are trying to throw off our sins not that we’ve actually done it, and that by trying and having faith in Christ he makes us clean every wit. Perhaps some future day, far off in the eternities we’ll be able to say that we now stand on our own being full of grace and truth, but we’ll never be able to say that we did it alone.
That course of action, repenting, isn’t available to you if you insist that you did nothing wrong in the first place of course.
With regard to a certain, ongoing critique of Hugh Nibley on another blog:
t’s not that I agree with Nibley all the time, the reality is I find things I think impassable in his writings, his biggest fault as a writer seems to be that he probably sees parallels where none exist, or they are tenuous. The one thing I don’t fault in this writing is the fact that I think he sees the cultural problems with the church pretty clearly, especially its love affair with wealth, always a plague and with Nibley gone, there are very few willing to take up the pen and write against it. Even Nibley isn’t taken seriously in this matter, most often he is simply dismissed. My amusement arises because of all of Nibley’s works I am best acquainted with Approaching Zion.  While in College and working at the Temple [as a security guard] I was given a copy as a Christmas present. I kept it in my car and I read it over and over.  It’s always amusing to read a review or paper when you know something about the subject.  My assessment of Nibley’s work has actually gotten friendlier over the years.  There were things I read, a lot of them in approaching Zion, that I thought were pure nonsense.  Revisiting the book years later I came to find I was mistaken and Nibley was on to something.

At the same time I find the attitude of some in the church, those, and they are few, who think Nibley walked on water to be annoying. The best lesson I think you can take from Nibley is that there is far more to the Gospel and Book of Mormon than most of us ever imagined, more of a challenge to just get looking rather than dismissing everything we don’t like.
With regard to frustrations with his local ward and his frank, Tevye-like, direct talks with the Lord. [If I'm going too far here, he'll let me know and I will edit out further - but I admit similar "talks" myself.]:
I suppose I feel Mormon intellectuals largely fulfill the scripture of "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.' [2 Tim. 3:7]  Harsh?  Yeah probably. True? I think so. Most of the time they usher themselves straight out of the church being largely too smart. Self-certified, or even genuinely certified intellectuals have always had the most difficult time with religious things. It’s too bad because what the church is in desperate need of are faithful smart, intellectually curious people. I don’t see a lot of them. I identify with Nibley maybe because I am one of the few educated people in my Ward and Stake who isn’t employed as an accountant, computer programmer or, gulp, financial adviser, perhaps the worst is the ocean of that most pernicious of all the insurance salesman, which my ward can boast of no less than eight! I’ve been hit up so many times to buy insurance, or to get financial advice from people in the Ward that it’s useless to try to count. “You need to get your money working for you D!”  “No thanks” says I, and then in an unchristian manner chuckle when they lose a bundle in the stock market and blame it on “Those d--- liberals.’  While many of these people are faithful and smart they almost all have a reverential attitude about money.
The worst thing I’ve realized about Utah, church-wise, is that it really is largely a club. I look about me and I see the largely stock characters one would expect to see in leadership- The insurance salesman, the attorney, the other insurance salesmen, the accountants, the financial advisers. I know this largely boarders on heresy but it’s true. I was so troubled by it that I actually brought it up to the Lord one day. No answer at first, but later that week after passing one of them in the car, he looked right and me and I waved and I was then just simply ignored, my little Volkswagen not worthy of notice of the man in the Escalade, it was then that the answer hit me as I thought about my prayer. I got the feeling, “Yes, I know Doug, and you’re right it’s largely a club, but still I call them, after all people respect them because of their money and they’re faithful enough, Who, in this ward is going to respect or take advice from geographer who probably makes less money than they do?”  My verbal response, “Well, you’ve got a point there, and I agree. Thank you for the explanation.”
Does it sound a little sacrilegious that I have such frank conversations with Heavenly Father?  Does it sound even more odd that he answers me in such a frank manner?  I know all of this sounds weird, and most people would think I’m making it up, but I assure you it’s real.

Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof" talking to God about his lame horse
"Cuz when you're rich they think you really know," indeed! I don't think it's sacrilegious at all. I know it's deeply personal too. And it can work differently for different souls.

"Faithful enough." I really like that phrase. It applies to all who are struggling forward on that straight and narrow path. More from Tevye D:
Just one more mention of the Nibley thing:  Zeal Without Knowledge might contain the most stinging indictment of Mormon culture I’ve ever read:
This sort of thing tends to breed a race of insufferably arrogant, conceited little show-offs - and magnificent performers. They tend to be like the Jews of old, who 'sought for things that they could not understand," ever 'looking beyond the mark," and hence falling on their faces: 'they needs must fall." (Jacob 4:14.) Yet Joseph Smith commends their intellectual efforts as a corrective to the Latter-day Saints, who lean too far in the other direction, giving their young people and old awards for zeal alone, zeal without knowledge - for sitting in endless meetings, for dedicated conformity, and unlimited capacity for suffering boredom. We think it more commendable to get up at 5:00 AM. to write a bad book than to get up at nine o'clock to write a good one - that is pure zeal that tends to breed a race of insufferable, self-righteous prigs and barren minds. 'One has only to consider the present outpouring of "inspirational" books in the Church which bring little new. . . .
Our reviewer [on that certain blog] only mentions the portion about the curriculum, which is stinging but nothing new. The real criticism comes in what Nibley says about zeal and zeal alone, sitting in endless meetings, dedicated conformity and unlimited capacity for suffering boredom indeed. That’s a Mormon meeting or a perusal of [much of the bloggernacle.]
So, I think I'm interpreting rightly here that D's beef is not with the Church so much as with it's members. Yet we are all in this thing together to work forward. And we are better together than we are individually. That's what I finally figured out from the scripture that confused me for so many years with its not-so non sequitur jump:
. . .the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually
 For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;
Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.
D&C 1:30-32 [emphasis added].

1 comment:

  1. I am reminded again why I am so lucky to have grown up in Oregon. I never had a bishop who was a lawyer. I have had contractors (one of whom had to declare bankruptcy while serving as a bishop) and mechanics, bus drivers, a store manager for building supplies and several high school teachers.

    I've never had an insurance salesman, financial planner or car salesman as a member of a bishopric, and the only lawyer in a stake presidency did mostly wills, adoptions, and housing contracts. I'm trying to remember if he ever talked about it in Stake Confetence. If he did, it wasn't prominent. I remember the stories he told about Scouting, his encouragement not to go to BYU because we thought it was our only choice but to look for a program we wanted to study, and his answer to a question about evolution (at youth conference) from a student who had been home schooled and learned young earth theory will always be the first thing I think about him.

    In fact, the only reason I know he is a lawyer was because he represented a friend (who wasn't LDS) who was raped, when she went to talk to the police. She was afraid that since she was 18, and the boy who raped her was 15, that even reporting it might get her in trouble. When I told my bishop what had happened, he told me that he would see if there was a way to help her. The next night, my friend got a call from the lawyer, who had already had a discussion with the DA's office, and while he didn't do criminal law he went to every day of the trial and sat on the other side of her, so she wouldn't be afraid. The only payment he would take was a couple blackberry pies. She took them to him on his birthday and anniversary until he left to be a mission president. Every August we would go pick the blackberries that she would use later, two rape victims spending a day of gratitude together.

    I'm not saying that the prosperity gospel doesn't exist in the hearts and minds of a lot of people, but if I can over generalize, most of those people are imports, and not native Oregonians.


Comments are welcome. Feel free to disagree as many do. You can even be passionate (in moderation). Comments that contain offensive language, too many caps, conspiracy theories, gratuitous Mormon bashing, personal attacks on others who comment, or commercial solicitations- I send to spam. This is a troll-free zone. Charity always!