Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

By Their Fruits . . .

Today I was at the Chicago Temple. In the celestial room and later in the main entry area, I took a few minutes to watch the people there. I couldn't help but notice that the Temple is a place of happiness. I saw whites, blacks, Mexicans -- all people that seemed to be strengthened by what they were experiencing. Yes, this is very subjective and very biased on my part, but take a look at the lives of people who go to the Temple and ask them what the Temple does for them and their marriages. This is a house of spiritual strength, a house of prayer, a house of purity, a House of God. The Temple is not some spooky demonic netherworld that turns people into zombies, as anti-Mormon horror films would suggest.

On the way home, my wife told me a story that tied in to my temple experience. A good Christian but non-LDS friend of hers recently said that her daughter hung out with a group of LDS girls during the homecoming dance at a local high school, and went to a party with them afterwards. She went to her mother later and said, "Mom, I want to hang out with those Mormon girls more. They are the only ones who don't have alcohol at their parties." That fine young lady valued the high standards of her LDS friends. And I value those standards, too. LDS youth who live their religion stand out. They have something wonderful to share with others. What the teachings of the Church have done for them is a good and praiseworthy thing.

The Church has plenty of flaws, being an organization still over 99% mortal at last count. But what it does for its members is wonderful. I'm so grateful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I cannot say enough but how it has blessed my own life, my marriage, and the life of my family. Condemn it all you want, but be careful about unrighteous judgment -- that will haunt you one day. The restored Church of Jesus Christ is true, in spite of sometimes painful flaws and puzzles and all the things that make critics guffaw.

If you have not given it a serious chance, I would encourage you to learn more about the Church and its doctrines. Meet with the missionaries, read the Book of Mormon, visit Mormon.org, attend services in your area, and find out what we mean when we say that the Gospel of Jesus Christ really has been restored. It's wonderful news!

32 comments:

BrianV said...

I have been having a hard time with things lately. I have been a member of the church for a little over two years now, and recently I have been so busy with school and my new son that I have been slipping back toward life before the church, temptations come back to try and haunt me and I know that it is largely due to the fact that I have not been trying hard enough lately. I do not want to go back to being that person. I hope that I can get myself on the right track so that my family can recieve the blessings they deserve. Sometimes I feel like I am not strong enough to change my life, but when I think about it I have made so many changes allready. I just have to be determined to follow the path and try to be like Christ, as imposible as it feels at times.
Sorry for the some what off topic rant, but this post reminded me that I haven't been to the temple in a long time and I need to strive to do better. Thanks to all who are good examples, you give me hope.

Anonymous said...

"temptations come back to try and haunt me and I know that it is largely due to the fact that I have not been trying hard enough lately."
I don't understand this, you get tempted cause you are not trying hard enough? Makes no sense.
"I hope that I can get myself on the right track so that my family can recieve the blessings they deserve." That's it. Guilted into submission. Do what you are told or your most loved will suffer. Mmmmm Got to get me some of that Gospel so I can feel like that too.

anon said...

Anon,

Why do you spent your efforts tearing down? Are you so angry with yourself or your own lifestyle that tearing down others increases your happiness?

Zippity do dah!

Anon

Steve said...

"The Temple is not some spooky demonic netherworld that turns people into zombies, as anti-Mormon horror films would suggest."

Interesting. Being excluded from participating in my daughter's wedding as a non-member, I had these same thoughts as I waited outside for my flesh and blood to emerge from her wedding.

Spiritual place indeed.

Daniel Peterson said...

I love the temples of the Church, and they have been important elements in my testimony for many, many years. I would like to add my endorsement to Mormanity's. The gospel is a wonderful thing, and I encourage those who do not know and appreciate it to seek to do so.

Eric said...

Anonymous said: "temptations come back to try and haunt me and I know that it is largely due to the fact that I have not been trying hard enough lately."
I don't understand this, you get tempted cause you are not trying hard enough? Makes no sense.


Perhaps "trying hard" isn't the best way to phrase it. However the point still stands. The reading the scriptures, going to church meetings and praying are all things to help us stay focused and in remembrance of the Lord. "And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the eadversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction." (1 Nephi 15:24). To make an analogy, I must recharge my cell phone's batteries every day if I desire to use it the next day. Similarily, scripture study, prayer, attending church meetings, etc. help us hold fast to the word of the Lord and thus resist temptation. Just as a battery drains, so to will our spirituality without regular spiritual "recharging."


Temple's are entirely great. While I'm only a Priest, it is truly a great experiance to go and do baptisms for the dead. There is this undescribable feeling of joy that comes over me. I'm sad to say that not all my fellow Young Men choose to go to the temple, but I there is a definative difference between those that do and them. To me this is just further testament of what living gospel can do for someone. The anti-Mormons have one thing right, the temple does transform people. It makes them stronger, happier, more energetic, and just a general improvement in their lives. Temple worthiness is truly a standard of living that we should all strive for.

I too would like to encourage anyone doubting in the LDS faith to actually take a serious look at it. The anti-Mormon arguments are very persuasive on the surface, but nothing compaires to the word of God. If you are only aquanted with anti-Mormon material, I emplore you to actually examine the Church from the other side, pick up the Book of Mormon and give it a read. See it for yourself.

BrianV said...

I appologize if I worded that badly, I was tired, and I am in no way a writer. I should have said I have been lazy, neglecting the things that I know (I have a strong testimony of them) help me to be a better person. It is not about guilt, it is about the fact that I love my family and have not been treating them as good as I should be, I have been lazy in reading praying and also making sure my family feels the love I have for them. I am only gulited in the sense that I know that I can be a better person and I have not been doing so lately, which makes me feel bad because my family doesn't deserve it, not because of the church.

Anonymous said...

It is disappointing that Mormanity saw whites/blacks/Mexicans at the Temple. Most people see brothers and sisters in the gospel.

Blacks-are African Americans
Mexicans-are Hispanic people.
Whites--caucasion.

How do you know that the Hispanic people were Mexican?

Give Racism a break---at least in the Temple.

Also, we have many friends that are not LDS and do not drink. We also have good and trusted friends that do drink. Why the "close minded" implication that LDS kids are better than other?

BrianV said...

Are you implying that you dont mind if your kids drink? Would you not worry that they could get hurt/killed? Even If I was not LDS I would not want my kids in that scene. I was in it growing up and it is not a good environment for anyone. For example, at parties in my home town I know of at least 3 girls who were raped at parties by several people. Sober teens would not be able to do such, and the victums were druged in some cases. Drunkin rapes are not all that uncommon.

Anonymous said...

did I mention that my graduating class was only 46..... Brian

CJ said...

Talk about making a man an offender for a word. Unbelievable the way some people come here, just dying to find something they can transform or twist into an attack on someone, usually Jeff. A man simply mentions (on a blog meant to promote such things) how happy his particular life choices make him, and instantly there are critics to say how "close-minded" he is. Word to those living in a word of cynicsm and negativity--it's okay to simply be happy and desire to share with others why. Goodness.

And Anonymous, please tone down the p.c. rhetoric. Your p.c. terms may be the most acceptable way of labeling those of caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic ethnic backgrounds, but Jeff's terms were by no means slurs, and FAR from racism. For the record, almost every single Hispanic I've spoken with in the Chicago area is from Mexico, so Jeff's label is not some gross generalization that all Hispanics in the States are Mexican.

The mention of LDS kids refraining from alcohol more than most other kids isn't some unfounded slander of youth in general--it's borne out by fact. Check the UNC study. There was no demonizing of others in Jeff's mention of that experience, just an implication that LDS kids on the whole drink less alcohol. This is not only fact, but also far from something to find offense in.

Daniel Peterson said...

It seems to me quite a stretch to accuse Mormanity of racism on the basis of what he posted here. Quite a stretch. And more than a bit obnoxious.

BYU alter ego said...

I have to weigh in on Jeff's behalf here. Although it's true that it's considered appropriate to not use terms such as "Mexican," or "blacks" and instead to say "Hispanic" or "African America," it doesn't mean Jeff was meaning to imply any kind of ill will.

My own parents (I'm in my late twenties and am the oldest if that's an indication)generation grew up not thinking twice about a comment such as that. In fact, my Dad still uses N***** unbelievably enough.

My mom swears up and down that she heard Bruce R. McConkie prophesy that a "music from the dark continent," ie; rap, would destroy society. I'm paraphrasing of course.

Of course R&B music has a FULL spectrum of content both bad and good. But that kind of racial paranoia existed oh so recently.

I mean, I was already born before the ban on Blacks and the priesthood was lifted, and I'm young...lol

I myself have even been censured at work to use "latin" or "Hispanic" instead of Mexican.

It takes prolonged exposure to others different from us to learn how to be sensitive, something us BYU alumni didn't get a ton of.

So if Jeff doesn't come off as perfectly sensitive try to understand where Mormonism has come from.

I can say from my own interactions with Jeff that he's a stand up guy and we shouldn't jump on him over something like this.

Walker said...

Here, here--CJ. Well said.

Bookslinger said...

Anon:
GEEZ! How do you know that the people Jeff referred to were NOT Mexican? Maybe he was able to discern their accent. Maybe he heard them talking about their Mexican hometown. Maybe he engaged them in conversation.

By the way, here's an article that mentions that Mexicans don't mind being called Mexican:
http://www.latinogeneration.com/articles/Olmo.htm

GEEZ #2! Not all black people are African-American. Some real Africans and real Haitians resent being called African-American. Some Africans who keep their citizenship of their home country don't want to be called American. And some Haitians don't want to be called African.

Some Africans don't consider black Americans African at all, and therefore resent that we call black Americans "'African'-Americans".

One of my black American friends went on a trip to Africa, and the Africans mocked him for calling himself "African-American" saying "You're not African!"

PC-ism just creates more problems than it tries to resolve.

GEEZ #3! If you want to be "correct" it's spelled Caucasian and should be capitalized, not "caucasion." And as a Jewish-Polish-Scottish-Irish-English-Lithuanian-American I'm SOOOO offended! ;-)

Schuyler said...

In the church we keep our confessions private, as it should be, and often paint a rosy picture for others about how our lives are going. This sometimes leads saints who have problems to believe they are somehow less worthy than others. Rest assured all men have weaknesses, commit sins and thus are in need of constant repentance. The great news about weaknesses is they should prompt us to turn to Christ that we may repent and receive a remission of our sins. Unfortunately, many don't realize the atonement goes much deeper than than. Because of the Atonement, Christ understands every physical and spiritual pain, every disappointment, every hurt and every loss we experience. It is also just as important to realize His great love for each of us (both believers and non-believers.) With faith in Him, each of us can turn to Him for help, undertanding, comfort and forgiveness. He has also called men and women within the Church organization to help us when our burdens overwhelm us. These individuals usually have a sound undertanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have traveled (and continue to travel) this path of understanding one's weaknesses, turning to the Lord for help, and working together with Him to repent and reform ones life.

It's a beautiful plan that brings hope and confort to all those who follow it. Best of all, we know we're not alone.

Back to the topic of the temple, one of my best friends, who isn't a member of the LDS church, went through a similar experience as Steve when his only daughter was planning her married in the temple. There was nothing anyone could do to console him. After much soul searching, his daughter decided to have a civil marriage first and then wait one year to be sealed in the Temple. I neither condone nor condemn this action, but I believe in her case, not doing so might have destroyed her mom and dad's marriage. Having daughters myself, it would about kill me if I weren't allowed to attend their weddings. The only consoling thing I could offer is if your son-in-law lives up to the covenants he made in the temple, he will always treat your daughter with love, respect, affection and will honor you as her father.

Bookslinger said...

It's my observation that most non-Caucasian people really don't want or need all the so-called "sensitivity" that the PC-ninnies try to enforce on everyone else.

Mexicans don't mind being called Mexican. Most blacks really don't mind being described as a "black person" whenever verbalizing a personal description is appropriate. I have no problem with people calling me "that dopey-looking fat white guy."

(BTW, are there any "gyno-Americans" lurking about, or is this an all Y-chromosome party?)

Most of us realized Jeff was observing (perhaps "celebrating" :-) the diversity of temple-goers, but the anon-RfMer decided to turn it around.

If I tell you that the two guys standing over there are Mark and John, and you want to know which is Mark and which is John, it's perfectly acceptable to say that Mark is the black guy and John is the white guy. And if I know that Jaime comes from Mexico, there's nothing insulting about referring to him as Mexican.

And with so many Haitians and African immigrants who aren't citizens in my town, "black" can sometimes be a more accurate and "safer" description than African-American.

Describing appearance, including skin color or ethnicity, when it's germaine to the conversation is acceptable. And I think Jeff's mention of the diversity of temple-goers and how all seemed to be strengthened by the temple experience, goes to illustrate the universality of the gospel.

The phrase "all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples" is mentioned many times in the scriptures, usually in terms of teaching the gospel and distributing the scriptures. Therefore I think there is no sin in making note of someone's nation/kindred/tongue/people.

Mormanity said...

Wow, the racism charge threw me for a loop. I guess I am terribly isolated in my little part of the world. My friends who have much more African heritage than I do don't seem to favor the term "African-American" - as far as I can tell, most of them prefer the term "black" and consider themselves just plain old Americans. I've asked several of them about this to make sure I was using the most acceptable term. They didn't seem to realize that it is a racist term, but in the eyes of some critics, I guess any term will be branded as racist.

My Caucasian friends often refer to themselves as white and also think of themselves as plain old Americans (well, there is the occasional Scottish-American standout among the Lindsays). I apologize to all the Caucasians I may have offended with my racially-charged appellation of "white."

The LDS native Spanish speakers I know are Mexican - you know, people who come from the nation of Mexico. We have quite a few of these fine saints in the Midwest, and almost enough for a branch in the Appleton area. I've heard them call themselves Mexicans and just can't imagine why that would offended by this term. I do have friends from other Spanish-speaking countries, but almost all the LDS Spanish-speaking people I know are from Mexico, though there were some Spanish speakers there in the Temple that may well have been from other nations - my faux pas. Sorry!

FYI, I also met an Oneida Indian while at the Temple (wonderful brother John P. from the Oneida Branch, for those of you in my area). I guess it's a good thing I didn't mention that in my post. I KNOW my anti-Mormon RFM lurker buddies and highly politically correct Mormon friends would have nailed me for that term! Who but a depraved Mormon racist would dare call a member of the Oneida Tribe an "Indian"? I apologize - but it's not my fault since I got that term from my Oneida friends. (Interestingly, the Wisconsin tribe currently doesn't use the term "Indian" much on their Website, but the larger New York branch of the Oneida Indian Nation does.) I went out of my way to check with tribal members about the propriety of the term "Indian" when I created my tribute page on the Oneida Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, not knowing that they were encouraging me to use a racist epithet.

Let me rephrase the offending portion of my post in more sensitive words: "While in the temple, I observed people having a variety of linguistic affiliations as well as a broad distribution of melanin content levels in their epidermis, wherein not all of the visually discernible melanin variation could be attributed to differences in past solar exposure but presumably comprised genetic causative factors indicative of welcome geographic diversity in ancestry."

There - that should help, and maybe even convert a few of the once-offended RFM folks!

Mormanity said...

On a slightly more serious note, I think I can see now where the person was coming from who was offended by alleged racism. One highly-educated black acquaitance of mine explained that a few years ago, "black" was out of favor and some said it was racist, but he said it is currently the best term to use. And I've heard a number of blacks that I really respect express their unhappiness with the "African-American" label.

Politically correct terminology comes and goes. The lingo that you think is safe and sensitive today will probably get you nailed by some critic in the future.

It's been that way in the gender wars as well. Some once offensive terms seem to be making a comeback, if used in the right way, by the right people (hint: celebrities can get away with anything). And once-neutral terms can suddenly get you burned. Those who wish to make another an offender for a word will always succeed - such an easy game.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jeff, for your post. It's too bad that there are people who want to find fault with anything you or some other people on here say.

Just a couple random comments:

— I appreciate Brianv's comments as well. All of us struggle with issues at times. Fortunately, that's why we have the Atonement.

— The policy about nonmembers attending weddings indeed causes hard feelings. If I were the one in charge, I'd allow the wedding to take place in public (perhaps in a nearby chapel) immediately before the sealing. But I'm not in charge, and I can only hope that those who set the policies have prayerfully considered any changes. I would hope that anyone going into a marriage where the site is an issue would pray about the right thing to do; if one of the couple were my son or daughter, I'd counsel them to get married and wait a year for the sealing (but they should pray first before listing to me). That may not be a popular point of view, but I also believe that the Holy Spirit can guide us to do what is best.

— I find the temple a spiritual place. I had the opportunity to participate in a session not too long ago in Latin America (although there were no Mexicans present that I know of). I must say that it was an inspiring experience to share that time with people from another country, language and culture. While we have work to do to remove vestiges of racism and culturism, we certainly are headed in the right direction in becoming a world church.

— Where I live, the members of indigenous tribes call themselves Indians.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading the comments and even the negative remarks. There needs to be an opposition in all things. The alternative is a boring and dull life. The irony of the gospel in my life is that it diffuses and promotes the good and the bad among people depending on where their faith lies. -zerw1n

AlexG said...

I AM a Mexican and I do not mind someone calling me that. I did not felt that Jeff's views were racist. I can disagree with him on other issues, but I do not think of Jeff as a 'racial bigot'. I am very proud of being Mexican, of my cultural heritage, of my country, of its people... I find the politically correct terms to be a version of 'veiled racism'. I am not an 'Hispanic' nor 'Latin'. I find those term quite derogatory. I was not offended by Jeff saying that he saw whites, blacks and Mexicans. In the London Temple you can see blacks, whites and Americans. Am I racist? No, not by far. Political correctness has always produced a violent rash upon my skin. Plus white/ yellow/ black/ Mexicans/ Americans... = Humans, not some political niecety. Political correctness is a load of rubbish.

The temple is quite a spiritual place. I sympathise with the feelings of a non-member being frustrated because he can not attend to the wedding of his daughter/son. This issue is quite personal to me. I understand anonymous comments in his frustration against the temple. Yet I feel that if he would give the temple a fair chance, he would find it one of the most spiritual places. Just walking on temple grounds has a tranquilising and spiritual effect on me.

BrianV: The only thing that you need to do is go to your bishop and talk about it. People that enter the temple are not perfect and are struggling with some temptation in their life. Even temple workers have that. Go to the bishop and explain your desire to go back to the temple. If there is no serious transgressions, the temple doors might be more closer than you think.

Mike Parker said...

The problem with the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" is that they attempt to lump everyone south of the U.S. into a single category, when in fact there are vast differences in language and culture between Mexicans, Panamanians, Argentinians, Brazilians, etc.

The same problem applies to the word "Asian" — there are more differences than similarities between Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and other peoples from east Asia.

(Sorry for the threadjack.)

why me said...

Strange that when someone like Jeff bears his testimony and testifies to the beauty he see in LDS young people, some people want to tear it down.

I suppose that we do live in a somewhat 'sick' world or society.

If a person wants to show his gratitude for their church membership, people should show joy that a human being as found his or her peace.

I would say this for any human being who has found their strength and happiness.

Such people who have found peace should not be envied or mocked or have his or her words picked-pocketed but rather these people who share a beautiful thought should be thanked because they have given humanity hope.

ltbugaf said...

STEVE: You complained about being excluded from the temple at the time of your daughter's wedding. One thing you and everyone should understand is that no one is "excluded" from the temple; everyone is invited! Everyone on earth is invited to have faith in Christ, repent, be baptized by proper authority, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and prepare for to enter the temple and receive all of its blessings. You're invited too! I hope you'll come, and share every one of those blessings with your daughter.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I guess I should stop calling girls "chicks". Sorry.

Bookslinger said...

I envision some of the temple wedding rules changing in the United States.

Outside of the US, where marriages are required by law to be performed by a civil authority, and that authority is not given to preachers, pastors etc., people go to the government office, get married civilly by a government employee, and then go to their church and get married ecclesiastically. It's been like that for all religions for many years.

For temple-worthy Latter-day Saints in those countries, and where there is a temple, they also go to the courthouse or wherever, get married civilly, and then go to the temple. There is no "one year minimum" requirement in those countries if both parties already had temple recommends at the time of their civil marriage.

I think that may eventually get applied in the United States.

There have already been exceptions made in cases that require overnight trips to the temple and the bride/groom must travel together.

It wasn't that long ago that single women under a certain age, or women married to non-members couldn't go to the temple.

The minimum age for temple-endowments for single men who are not going on a mission has also been lowered.

As the national borders dissolve as they are related to church work, I envision the rules will likely be more uniform. If temple-worthy members outside the US can get married civilly then immediately get sealed in the temple, I bet it will happen here.

The church places importance on families, and emphasizes reaching out to non-LDS family members. I can't see non-members being admitted to the temple. But I do see the one-year wait relaxed for those who already had recommends. Get married civilly, quick trip to the temple, then on to the reception, etc.

randallk said...

I nominate ltbugaf's post for a "digging a deeper hole" award.

Grow up and address the issue.

ltbugaf said...

RANDALLK: Why do you believe that inviting people to do everything they need to do to come to the temple, and then to come there and receive its blessings, is "digging a hole" of any kind? And why do you believe it is immature? Do you believe the temple is built for the purpose of exclusion or inclusion? It's the ultimate in inclusion--the effort to include all of mankind who are willing to qualify and come, in God's highest and greatest blessings. I'm sorry you think it's immature to do that.

Anonymous said...

To advocate for the Church and it's leadership we need to show Cultural Competence.


Cultural competence requires that individuals and organisations:


a) Have a defined set of values and principles, demonstrated behaviours, attitudes, policies and structures that enable them to work effectively in a cross-cultural manner;


b) Demonstrate the capacity to 1) value diversity, 2) engage in self-reflection, 3) manage the dynamics of difference, 4) acquire and institutionalise cultural knowledge, and 5) adapt to the diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities they serve;


c) Incorporate and advocate the above in all aspects of leadership, policymaking, administration, practice and service delivery while systematically involving staff, students, families, key stakeholders and communities.

Walker said...

Anon@10:49,

If you're going to use someone else's work, please cite them (unless, of course, you ARE Norman Levitt from Rutgers University, in which I case most profusely apologize).

Please see this website
http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000CADAC.htm

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love cut and paste?