10 October 2010

Follow the Prophet

Since last weekend's LDS General Conference there has been quite a bit of discussion on President Packer's talk about standards of morality and the power of repentance. Opinions have been shared and debated and protests have been staged because the talk was seen as a step backward for the church as regards the way we approach the LGBT community.

I have my own opinions on the matter that I don't really feel the need to express here. Suffice it to say that I have been in theater long enough (and in the world long enough) to have made several friends who associate with that community. I've enjoyed and treasured their friendships and valued the mutual respect that we've had for the beliefs we share or disagree on. This is true of every friendship I've had, really - the need for mutual respect and understanding even when you disagree.

I don't wish to discuss the political ramifications of President Packer's talk. Members outside of the LDS community are not always in a position to understand our beliefs as well as we would and they can't be blamed for that. What makes me nervous is when members of the church start calling the Presidency of the church and the Apostles 'out of touch' or 'misguided' or 'misinformed'. When they start asking for the Presidency to re-think or re-phrase what they have said so that it is more comfortable to hear. That is dangerous.

The Lord has made it very clear that he speaks through his prophets. There is no room for debate on this. Blaming age or so-called naivety for the reasoning behind any official message of these men is a sign of a lack of understanding or faith in that doctrine. Are these men perfect? No. Would the Lord allow them to make statements on His behalf that were contrary to His plan? No.

I understand when people outside of the church misunderstand or misread what the apostles say because they do not hear with the same experience that members of the church should. They listen to these words as politics because - for most other churches/religious organizations - that's how messages are given. But when members of the church willingly say "well. . . I follow the Prophet, but sometimes he's a little out of touch. . . " - that is dangerous. The Lord did not tell us to follow the Prophet when it was comfortable. He did not tell us to follow the Prophet only if we understood everything that He said. He did not say to follow the Prophet, but you can pick which members of the Apostles are crazy - He said:
"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

As members of the church we have a responsibility to be kind and understanding to all of God's children. We can't be comfortable with naivety about the state of the world. We have to associate with and love those who do not share our beliefs. We also have to recognize that the doctrine of this church is not always comfortable. It does not fit with the standards that the world would set or the way that knowledge is constructed and categorized in this world. The gospel is manifest in ways that can't always be measured or seen - but it can be felt and understood.

So there it is. The Lord does not excuse Himself from what needs to be said, and it is not my responsibility to excuse Him (or his servants) either.

08 October 2010

The more I love my dog. . .

This. . .

. . . is Schatzie.

She was, for all intents and purposes, my replacement. When I moved out of the house, my parents allowed her to take up residence. As I no longer spend large amounts of time with my immediate family at home (excepting Christmas, of course, and the odd vacation here and there when I'm lucky), I do not get to see her very often. Lucky for me she always remembers who I am and, thanks to my conniving methods of hour long belly rubs and the promise of beef jerky, she will allow me to hold her. She'll sleep in my room and keep my feet warm. She'll pee on the floor when I come in for excitement. She'll lick my face. She'll give me high fives. She'll look up at me expectantly when I tell her to stay, then put a treat on the floor, and stand there like a cruel slave driver, watching her patience, waiting for the command to come.

I've been thinking a lot about that particular moment recently. Those times when we test her training to see how long she will wait when the treat is not only promised, but in full view. My otherwise crazy and impatient dog will, because she wants so badly to please us, stay in her chair for extended periods of time until she is told to eat. If we walk away, she will come looking to me for permission before she eats the treat. It's funny how powerful the words of 'stay' and 'come' can be.

Not that she's perfect. I highly doubt that her patience would last if we, for example, asked her to stay, put the treat in the tray, then left the house for an hour or so. But maybe it would. Although she can be naughty and she doesn't always want to be bothered - I think Schatzie's ultimate desire in life is to please each of us.

There's a powerful symbol in that, I think. At least for me in my life and my situation right now - I feel at times like my poor dog, sitting on the floor in comfortable but foodless chair, watching the rest of my friends partaking of feasts that I have not been invited to.

Now - don't get me wrong. My life has been so abundantly blessed in the last several months that there are no words for me to adequately describe the gratitude I feel to my Heavenly Father for the guidance I have received. I have a job that I love. I have real, sincere friendships that have built me up and made me feel so wanted and loved that it's like having family close by again. I am blessed.

But occasionally, like Schatzie, I feel as though I am being relegated to a chair while others around me feast on food that I am not yet allowed to eat. It's this constant battle of wills inside of me: that feeling of overwhelming gratitude for the life that I'm leading, and the desire for the part of life I'm being denied for some reason that isn't quite clear to me yet.

So in the mean time, I'm going to try and be a little more like Schatzie. I'm going to work a little harder to please the one responsible for giving me all good things, and I'm going to (at least try) to keep my focus on those things that I have been given.