Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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Dialogues on Science and Religion I 113 secrets of your particular field. And that is a lifetime mission, not a mission that you can take on for two years and then be released. That it is a lifetime mission and you are in this central position of leadership in a rapidly growing field. The Church is interested in the development of that particular field, and you want to do your very best. You do not have to be apologetic about it; you can be assertive about it." This was almost a complete reversal of what I had been taught from childhood on: "Never question if a person in authority asks you to serve. He would not have asked you if he had not given it thoughtful consideration. He is a representative of the Lord. And you must accept his call." Now here was the President of the Church telling me to have respect for my professional mission and to tell local authorities that when Church activities interfere with that mission that I was justified to indicate, "I have to be about my Father's business." It brought a certain resolution to what would be very difficult role conflicts later in my career. I have accepted some church assignments since, but I have kept President Smith's reminder that if I did not value my time, and if I did not value my mission, I could not expect a local Church leader to value it. Somewhat later I was asked by a stake president to become the stake Sunday School superintendent, which would require me to travel throughout the entire area. I told him that I respected his judgment but what he could not know was the nature of the commitments that I had, and I had to tell him "No." He was impressed and said no one had ever turned him down since he had been stake president. I asked him to think about it and pray about it. Before he got back to me with his answer, he had been released as stake president. He later told me he guessed that I was wise to have turned his call down because if I had accepted it that I would have found myself under a stake president who did not share his views of what was involved in the task. He added, "Sometimes we do make errors." This is rambling a little bit, but I have to say that part of my upbringing in the Church was colored by an enormous status difference between the faculty members who lived in the local ward of my youth and the essentially poor, unlettered, unskilled immigrant members of that ward. Our family provided continuous leadership in all aspects of the ward, but we never really felt we belonged. I always had a sense, while I was growing up, that I was somehow or other a cut above the rest of the members of the local Church. This was not good, because it tended to make me marginal to that particular ward. While I exercised leadership, it was a relief not to have to attend when I was away. That marginality has continued in other places I have lived. Converts with much less education, suspicious of people with education, sure that the educated cannot possibly believe, and sure that they are really unbelieving members of the Church—I had the feeling that if this is what the membership of the Church thinks, then I must not be worthy of membership in the Church. There are perhaps a half dozen wards in the course of my growing up where I felt fully at home, mainly those connected with universities or Institutes of Religion. These were places where I felt there was understanding and friendship, where I could explore all thinking in depth. This affected, I think, in my own development for most of my career, a sense of marginality to the official Church and to the local ward in which I was a member. I think they accept me in my own ward now largely because they accept my wife and because I never turn down an opportunity to serve at the organ; but they are hostile and disturbed by the questions which I raise in group discussions.