08 October 2008

Oh say, what is truth?

Follow up on last week: I was asked out again. This time by email. You can officially add that to the list of ways that should not be used on a first date (if you want to be classy). Furthermore, texting is also out. So is asking by proxy.

I've been thinking recently about modern LDS conceptions of what is "true" and what is "false" and I have more or less come to the conclusion that in many ways - those connotations are slowing us down. The gospel is so much more relative than we give it credit for. Really, I can't think of too many aspects of the gospel that - at least from my perspective - are absolute truth. What it comes down to is this list of basic principles:

1. The church is true.
2. President Monson is a living prophet of God.
3. I am a Child of God.
4. The Book of Mormon is the word of God.


Basic (crucial, but basic) hingepoints of the gospel that are either 100% true or 100% false. There's not another way around it for them.

But there is another huge part of our life that is a little more grey. We are told that we shall "know the truth, and the truth will set you free" - another name for Christ is "the truth" - so we are essentially trying to find truth our entire lives. We are trying to return to him. Our life is - or should be - a journey to find truth.

But these individual truths can change. I especially like the chapter in the D&C where it talks about the Apocrypha. Joseph was told that the Apocrypha had been corrupted by evil men - and that those who read it with the spirit would be uplifted by the elements of truth that it still contained. This, to me, speaks to the individual ways that each of us feel the spirit and live their lives.

Take for example the way people worship on the Sabbath. There really aren't hard and fast "rules" about Sunday worship. We are instructed to keep the Sabbath Day holy, but never told how. In my family, that meant coming home after church, changing out of our nice clothes, playing games with each other, watching a movie, and maybe getting together with some of our close friends for dinner. Some of my friends have no screen-time on Sunday, they stay in church clothes all day, and only spend time with immediate and extended family. Is one of us "true" and the other "false"? No. We just feel the spirit in different ways. We build schema's for ourselves.

Another example: I find books and music and movies to be great spiritual builders for me. They make me want to be better. I find truth in the books that I read, even when they contain subject matter that may or may not make other people comfortable. I'm reading a book right now, for instance, called Atonement that is based on how the lives of everyone in the book change because one girl decides to blame the wrong person for a rape that she witnessed. It isn't an easy or light kind of read. But it has made me think quite a bit about choice and the consequences of our actions when we deliberately try to hurt people.

The movies I watch, again - I don't let the MPAA determine my conscience on this subject. There are movies of every rating that - to me - don't contain much substance or benefit at all. Lots of the kitchy LDS films through some of the more recent films by actors like Will Ferrill provide absolutely no substance for me. They entertain people, but don't necessarily do anything for them at the end of the day. I don't see the artistic value in it. It's my own standard of judgement. Then there are some rated R films that I've either seen all of or seen edited versions of that I have found much more benefit from. They make me think more than the latest LDS comedy on life as a single adult. (Item: I think we should use that term like we do with words that designate handicaps - "an adult that is single" instead of "single adult". I'd like to think that my single-ness doesn't define me.)

My point isn't that watching these movies or reading those books or worshiping your own way is bad or good - what I am saying is that I think our culture could do with a little bit more understanding. What is right for one person may not be right for another in terms of day to day life where we haven't been given direct instruction. And thank heaven we haven't - it's a higher law. We are not the Children of Israel.

In many ways, the application of the gospel is plastic. We each need to find our own way, so to speak. We all see truth differently. We have different perspectives and experiences. As far as I can tell - God is really the only being that can decern perfectly what is absolute truth or absolute false.

The point? We could all afford to be a little more patient with one another.

1 comment:

Evelyn said...

Amen sister!