I wrote the following on January 3, 2018.
In July, 2019, I discovered a movement of remnant saints, making covenants with Christ, preparing themselves as individuals, as families, and as a people to come a people of one heart and one mind, and when Lords commands it, to rebuild the waste places of Zion.
I think I found the answer to everything I wrote below. I will be posting more about it in the future.
Of course, all religion is man-made. It begins with one person’s authentic, individual search for truth and reality. Then, somebody else comes along and tries to systematize and codify that search so that, instead of following their own path, people blindly tread in the true seeker’s footsteps, Then, somebody sees a potential to control these blind followers and creates a religion.
We see this pattern repeated over and over throughout history. You can pick your own religion and plug in your own names — different story, same plot.
I see myself as one of those authentic and original seekers. I am not a follower, and I am not looking for followers. I am looking for other leaders who want to change the world. And by change the world, I don’t mean remake the Mormon Church in my own liberal image. I am pushing for a total change in paradigm — how we see reality, how we organize ourselves, how we see ourselves.
Immersing ourselves in man-made religions is not a solution. Atheism is a natural reaction to this madness, but it is a reaction, not a solution. Blind faith and blind doubt are not solutions.
We need to approach all of truth and reality on the spiritual, mental, emotional planes, the same as we use science to approach the physical plane. We need to objectively study and experiment, and we need to share our findings with others. We need to build a body of knowledge that we can pass on. Not so we can create blind followers, but so we can build on that platform and create even more enlightened seekers and researchers, remodel society, and remake the world.
This is not an identity. I don’t need an identity. I’m not looking for an identity. An identity is static. An identity locates you in space and time, and in a fixed mindset. I am constantly changing my viewpoint, seeing things from a new viewpoint, from any and all viewpoints, and from no viewpoint. It’s dynamic.
I’m talking about Christian churches and organized religion in general. And what I’m about to say applies less to the Community of Christ than another church I can think of, so please don’t think I am directing this at you because I am not.
The original meaning of “church” in New Testament times was a gathering of the out-called (ecclesia), but in English and the other languages derived from German is it called “kirsche” (Origin of church: Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Late Greek kyriakon, from Greek, neuter of kyriakos of the lord, from kyrios lord, master; akin to Sanskrit sura hero, warrior)
Churches have become our masters, not our servants. Instead of gatherings of the faithful, they have become seats of power and influence.
Some churches teach that the only way to get to God is through them, and they claim to have a monopoly on power and authority. In this way, they have modeled themselves after civil governments.
Churches have also followed the military in their hierarchy of graded rankings. This works for the military because an army is supposed to be authoritarian, strong, unyielding, impenetrable, merciless, and monolithic. And, at times, secretive. This is a great pattern for a military unit, but not for a body of believers, not for the elect who have been called out.
Military units have rank. Followers of Christ should not. Like the military, in churches, some people are regarded as being better than others. Some people have more access to special communication, or special contact or special access to God that others don’t have. Some peoples’ thoughts and opinions are more highly regarded than others.
Peoples’ personal righteousness is evaluated in terms of their loyalty to the church, not by how well they follow the commandments of Christ, and the “doctrine of Christ”, as taught in the Book of Mormon.
Church members are not encouraged to learn and grow at their own pace. Instead, their leaders hold them back. The members are not allowed to seek for a deeper understanding of the so-called “mysteries”, whether it be learning, by study, or by faith. The Book of Mormon says that this life is the time to prepare to meet God. How many understand this, let alone follow this? How many people expect to meet God in this lifetime. How many people are preparing to meet God in this lifetime?
Another term for holding back a person’s progress is damnation. Self-appointed leaders attract followers and then damn them.
And, while we’re at it, the Book of Mormon teaches that faith is an active, dynamic process by which we obtain knowledge. But, churches teach faith as a static belief in church leaders.
There, have I gone far enough?
We need to re-think this whole concept, and while we are tossing out whole institutions, wholesale. We ought to consider the good purposes they did serve, use that as a foundation, and build something better, that serves us better.
We need to each think of ourselves as stewards, not spectators, and in this role, consider our institutions and their leaders as not our masters, but our servants, as we serve Christ.
I believe a lot of what those dubbed “Restorationists” believe. But, I don’t believe that the early church had it all right. I believe it was just a step in an ongoing journey of restoration that is continuing to this day.
I was involved in the formation of what some envisioned as a “gay Mormon church”. I came to see us are another step in a long succession of restorations. Others wanted to cling to the old model. They prevailed, and we quickly went the same way that I think the LDS church is going to go.
I would love to talk to John Dr. John Dehlin about this because this is a “Mormon Story”, but I guess if you don’t turn into an atheist or progressive liberal, or famous as an ex-church leader, or infamous for blowing up cars, there’s no interest.
I don’t want to go back to polygamy. But, I do want to prepare people to live “The New and Everlasting Covenant”, of which polygamy was an uninformed aberration. I also want to prepare people to receive ALL the ordinances of the temple, make sure they understand and live all the covenants therein, and receive the Second Anointing and the Second Comforter, the public and the private portions of this ordinance. I want them to understand that this is conditioned not on their faithfulness and service to the church, but on their faithfulness and service to the cause of Christ, and to their fellow humans. And I want to give them opportunities to grow and learn and perform faithful service to one another.
I see no conflict between keeping one’s covenants and the sex or gender of the person with whom you are making that covenant. And, by revelation, neither does the Lord.
I also believe that no one group or person has a monopoly on the continuing progress of the Restoration. We all have something to contribute, and we need to include more viewpoints (including this one) and stop fighting one another.
As for the church, at the core, it is like the branch that has been severed from the Vine. Cut off from its source, it is dead and brittle, and will soon turn rotten and become food for the much-needed new life, which will hopefully reattach itself to the Vine.
What’s my religion?
For me, it’s not that simple. Sorry to go on for so long, but this is who I am, and a one-word label would not suffice. I don’t want to give it a name, because when you name it, you define it, you stagnate it, and it ceases to be a living, growing part of you.
I was raised LDS, but I have synthesized for myself a number of things that I have found to be workable and true in my life. I don’t believe anything that I can’t demonstrate for myself. I prefer faith to belief. Belief is passive. Faith is that great active experiment described in the Book of Mormon, where you hold onto a proposition or hypothesis until it is proven true or false. At that point, that thing is no longer faith, but knowledge.
I pick up ideas to test everywhere I go, and in everything I explore. For me, I have found much grist for thought, practical tools for living, and keys to a knowledge of God in Evangelical Christianity, some New Age thought, A Course in Miracles, Kaballah, Sufi, Buddhism, Scientology (Yes, you read that right. I am Clear.), early Mormon writings, the teachings of Joseph Smith, and the writings of JJ Dewey. I don’t follow anybody blindly. I don’t agree with everything these people say, but I take what I can use, and put the rest back on the shelf. I am constantly growing and learning. Nothing is so sacred that is can’t be set aside in order to embrace even greater truth.
For me, a “higher law” isn’t a more restrictive law, it’s a more general law; it covers more ground; it explains more; it places more responsibility on the individual and depends less on external micro-management and policing. In this respect, the two great commandments is a higher law than all the law and the prophets.
For me, spirituality is all about the acquisition of knowledge and the development of our god-like potential, which lies within each of us. This is in contrast to religion, which is a series of exercises designed to force obedience in followers in order to appease an angry God in the hopes that if we do enough, or believe enough, he will overlook our sins and some day endow us with abilities we haven’t developed, and kingdoms we haven’t won, and that in some magical way that being whom we never knew will suddenly become our best friend.
“Someone today making the same claims would be seen as a candidate for the asylum or a fundamentalist, but the actual prophets of today would be saying far different things, things that resonate with people and start social movements. That’s really the primary criterion–that they identify a pressing need and articulate it in a way that deeply resonates with others.”
By this definition the leaders of the LDS church are not true prophets, and they are not even good imitations of the real thing. And yet, today as you said there are people who have identified a pressing need, but have yet to articulate a solution in a way that deeply resonates with enough people to accomplish anything, as of yet.
My experience with the LDS church, and with ending up co-founding another Restoration church taught me that this authoritarian “church” paradigm no longer works. It doesn’t resonate with people. We need a completely new model.
The church I was involved with began as a study group, not a church. It provided the opportunity for disenfranchised LGBT Mormon to continue to serve God by exercising their Priesthood, serving in callings, and receiving all the essential ordinances including the ordinances of the temple. Many of us received revelations. Sometimes the revelations would come to several of us at the same time. We even had our own Day of Pentecost experience when we dedicated our little tabernacle as a temple. We received authority by revelation to do all that we did.
But, we failed to listen and went off on our own and started a church. Not content with that, some members were upset that we were not following the exact pattern of the LDS church, and they steered the church in that direction.
Long story short. We failed. We failed in our mission, and we failed to help the people who needed help. After pondering this for years, I came to the realization that we were good people with good intentions, but were blindly following a failed paradigm. We didn’t need a church with traditional apostles and prophets. We needed something else. What that is I don’t know. And, maybe I’m not supposed to know. One thing I do know is it’s going to be a group effort. There won’t be “one mighty and strong”, leading a bunch of blind followers around. There will be many leaders, and they will have a shared vision, and they will do something that will resonate with the people. That’s all I know. I like to think that when we are ready, the Lord will touch a lot of people, and when that happens, I will get behind them and support them all I can.