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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180 I Dialogue wrong, they suffered the natural results of such action—the breakdown of human relations and of crucial family strength, of the sense of individual worth and self-control and of fidelity to another person that lies at the heart of a good marriage. As a result in the graphic words of Jacob in The Book of Mormon, "Many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds." But when such people joined or became active in the Church they found the support the Gospel provides for family unity and trust, for loyalty between husband and wife, through teaching and helping people to live the commandments of God—and they were incredibly happier, more liberated, though still "underdeveloped." This awareness, that the Gospel is so overwhelmingly valuable that it crowds out the temptation to be overwhelmed by the mistakes people make trying to translate its ideals into specific Church expression and action—and the real intellectual problems and puzzles that such human expression of the Gospel can get us involved in—has come to us most powerfully here in Minnesota, trying to serve as branch president to a group of about one hundred saints scattered over seventy-five miles. We range from hard core, Utah-born, inactive to new, bright-eyed, convert student. All of us are guilty at various times of most of the forms of bigotry and hyprocrisy and of the various dangerous tendencies in bureaucracy and self-righteousness that have repulsed you, but at the same time there is closeness, communication, self-development and moving, penetrating spiritual experience available to us through our association and service in the Church—and I mean feelings and experiences crucial to our joy and progression that we just wouldn't have without the Church. We see families united when one or both parents join the Church and take seriously the covenants of baptism. We see a young man, long devastated by drug experience and divorce and plagued by continual despair, respond to the challenge to gradual return to activity in the Church and use of his priesthood and thus begin to grow spiritually and in self-confidence and become a new person. At our Easter service last month our visitors included a large family of Spanish Americans from Texas whom the missionaries had contacted. The family had with them a grandmother visiting from Mexico who spoke no English. It happened that our main speaker, Frank Odd, was a recent addition to our Branch who teaches Spanish at St. Olaf College. After a moving personal witness of the meaning of Christ and the new life he brought us, Brother Odd asked us to excuse him while he spoke to a person there who had not been able to understand any of the service to that point. Then he gave the grandmother a special message in Spanish and bore his testimony to her. And though we did not understand much of what was being said then, we felt deeply a spirit of love and conviction witnessed by the Holy Ghost. Tears are shed often at our meetings, not "potato love" tears of gullible self-congratulation, but tears of joy and recognition of goodness and truth—such as those we shed recently while a man who had been inactive forty years passed the sacrament to us as a new deacon, beginning to prepare to baptize his wife and children. Or when a young man spoke last week with marvelous, miraculous effectiveness about his conversion to the Gospel and the value of the Church to him while standing before us as a living witness to what he was saying, because we were aware that through his involvement and service in the Church he has grown in just a few years from a totally withdrawn and inarticulate, even vocally and socially crippled person, to the dynamic young husband and father we saw before us. Well, perhaps the awareness you expressed —that your own perspective may be faulty— is your saving grace. I believe that is the key for you, as it has been for me, and hope that I can help you see that feelingly, as some others have helped me. I continue to believe that the burden of change is on the persons, like yourself and me, who see the problems, who are pained by the failings of the Church. Since we are the only ones who see what we think is "wrong," we are the ones who must do something constructive about it, because the people who are committing the errors can't see them. What we can do about these problems is not leave, desert, turn the Church over to those who may be perverting it, nor is it to remain within but to withdraw spiritually through our own self-righteousness; we must reach out in love, trying to help—and also trying to learn, through our cooperation and common service, from the perspective and commitments of other people, learn to see our own faults—lack of courage, perhaps, lack of whole-souled commitment, failings which may be in the long run, more destructive than the ones we are condemning. I love the Church with all my heart and mind, but it's a love that has to be developed, renewed—one which I know can lapse, can ebb and flow. I hope you'll give the Church a chance—again and again. It needs you— and you need it, because it is the means that the Lord has given us to struggle with the great moral and spiritual imperatives from God for attaining the possible Godhood within us. I think the Church is by far the best place to do that and the only place we really can, partly because of the very challenges that human association in the Church context provides and which have been so upsetting to you.