What is the difference between culture, tradition and doctrine? A simple enough question with a seemingly simple enough answer - seemingly.
For me, it's to a point where I can't even be certain where one ends and the other begins.
I've found comfort in the past in the thought that with our general authorities, the line is rather clear. I prefer to think and hope it's the members who make it a game of sorts to interpret as they will, to create boundaries where there were none before, to make requirements of things and complicate ideas to the point of no return.
Perhaps this is why we're so stuck on the basics so much. Prayer, scriptures: we all know the Primary answers. It's a way of keeping to the simplicity of the Gospel, right?
I'll tell you what, though: if allowed, I'd totally ban those answers from anything outside Primary. They've become empty and meaningless. Dare I say they hold the same power as the oft repeated "I know this Church is true." Where's the meat behind that? I can pray and have it mean nothing. Nothing. I can be a robot and say and do all the things I'm supposed to - but I won't. Not anymore.
We need to get back to the real basics. Love the Lord thy God. Love thy neighbor as thyself. The Sermon on the Mount.
I love context and digging deep just as much as the next person, but c'mon.
Is it really all or nothing? There is an understandable perception that that's how the Church works. It says jump, you say how high. It says donate as much of your means and time as you are able in support of an issue you cannot stand, and you shove everything aside - everything, no matter what - and do what your leaders ask. No prayer needed when the Prophet speaks.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way!
Well, he hasn't necessarily had the clearest of eyes and deepest of perceptions in the past with some issues. The prophet is still a man with his own prejudices, traditions, and ideas that could influence revelation.
It influences ours sometimes, doesn't it? Isn't it sometimes difficult to know the difference between our enthusiasm and the Spirit? Or our own stubbornness for stupor of thought?
One person told me I shouldn't pray for my own answer because the Prophet gave it for me. Those weren't her words verbatim, but that was the message. The Prophet said, so we do. We can trust him.
"The Prophet will never lead us astray."
I'm sorry, but I can't help but think those are some of the most dangerous words uttered in recent times.
Even the Prophet would tell us, I would hope, that we can receive different answers than he'll get. The more cynical say the Church allowed in-house dissenting opinions regarding Prop 8 because they had to in order to diffuse any assertion that our votes were being effectively forced.
I hope that's not the case.
When the Saints followed Brigham Young West, Emma Smith chose to stay behind. Brigham and Emma didn't get along, to say the least - and many Saints criticize her for staying.
I don't. I don't know her or her heart nearly well enough.
But is this idea of being one with the church so much that it trumps any personal revelation you may get doctrine or culture?
Million dollar question of the day.
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