Reflections on Meetings in the Church of Christ

One of my favorite quotes of all time about Mormonism focuses on the concept of Zion.  “Zion-building is not preparation for heaven.  It is heaven, in embryo.  The process of sanctifying disciples of Christ, constituting them into a community of love and harmony, does not qualify individuals for heaven; sanctification and celestial relationality are the essence of heaven.  Zion, in this conception, is both an ideal and a transitional stage into the salvation toward which all Christians strive.”[1]  Fiona and Terryl Givens have captured here what I find to be one of the most essential parts of my religion—the development of a community based on love and discipleship to Christ.  That, to me, is one of the core reasons for the Church—to provide a place where we can begin to learn and practice the things that are necessary for us to live in a heavenly community, even though the lived experience often falls short of that goal.

Now, there was something profoundly ironic about studying the founding of the Nephite Christian church during a time that we are unable to attend worship services in the modern Church in last week’s “Come, Follow Me” curriculum.  I was grateful for the chance to do so, however, since there will come a time, sooner or later, that the current situation stabilizes enough to return to regular Church meetings and each of us will need to make the decision about returning to those meetings.  Beyond health considerations related to the virus’s ongoing presence in our lives, there are individual considerations about how attending church benefits us vs. the home-based worship we’ve been practicing.  As I have been thinking about this for myself, I’ve been pondering on things along the lines of: “What are we supposed to get out of church meetings?” “What do I actually get out of Church meetings?” “How do I want to refocus my efforts to improve/change what I get out of church meetings when they start again?”  As is often the case when I start pondering on something, a blog post is born.

Part of why this is on my mind is that there has been some online chatter in the bloggernacle about the possibility of lower attendance when Church starts back up.  For example, Bishop Bill over at Wheat and Tares posed the interesting question: “What if they opened church back up and nobody came?”  He observed that he’s seen discussions online lately where lot of people agreed that while home church is tough, going back will be harder, with some people expressing that they don’t miss hearing false doctrine, getting children ready, fulfilling demanding callings, etc.  The main exceptions he observed, were those who were single and missed the companionship they gained when attending church.  In another example, Ziff over at Zelophehad’s Daughters recently looked into Google Trends to try and glean information about change in interest in the Church during the pandemic in order to see if there were indications that less people would be attending once Church opens back up and found that there were less searches about the Church in general in 2020, which could indicate less interest in the future.  And, of course, there are individuals who are at high risk from the virus that will likely need to stay away from Church, as has been discussed in some of the comments related to these and similar posts.  Time and the actual process of starting up Church again will tell.

These discussions have caught my attention because I can relate to them.  At church prior to COVID-19, I spent most of my time wrestling with a very cute one-year-old adventurer who made it hard for me (or anyone around us) to focus on the actual churchy things going on.  Since the churches were shut down, we’ve settled into a routine that works well for us and overall, I’ve enjoyed having church at home more than I did having church at, well, church.  Yet, time passing and reflection over this last week has reminded me that there are things that I do miss.  I miss the music most of all—singing congregational hymns, participating in the ward choir, and my time with the Bells at Temple Square.  I also miss seeing my friends in our ward and catching up with them.  And there were times that I felt the Spirit and was uplifted by sacrament meeting or the discussions we had in elders’ quorum.  It’s the opportunity for community—gathering together as disciples of Christ to practice Zion-building, strengthening and helping each other along the way—that I feel much less chance to practice while sheltering in place.

Now, as I mentioned up front, I have been pondering on what church is supposed to be about, partly through the lens of last week’s readings in the Book of Mormon.  After Alma’s life-changing encounter with Abinadi, he began to “teach the words of Abinadi” among the people in private.  Those who believed what he was teaching met at a place called Mormon, were baptized, and then began to be “called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward.”[2]  After fleeing political persecution, they established a community in the wilderness with Alma as “their high priest, he being the founder of their church.”[3]  Now, while Nephi and Jacob both mention the ideas of churches and had some sort of priesthood organization with teachers and priests that seemed to have continued on through Alma’s time,[4] there seems to be something new and significant about this church that Alma founded and continued to develop in King Mosiah’s realm.[5]  It is unclear whether it was merely the idea of multiple congregations, each with their own priests and teachers, rather than one national congregation or assembly under the king and his priests that was the innovation or something else entirely, but it seems that Alma had started something new in Nephite religion—something that Mormon found important enough to spend a relatively large amount of time and effort on discussing a failed Nephite colony to document.

I bring this up because Alma’s Church of God gives a glimpse into the heart of what church is about.  At the waters of Mormon, Alma asked his audience the following:

As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people,

and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,

and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death,

that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?[6]

It seems that the baptism Alma offered focused on twin commitments to discipleship to God (“be called his people,” “stand as a witness of God,” and “serve him and keep his commandments”) and to the community (“bear one another’s burdens,” “mourn with those that mourn,” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort”).

This twin set of commitments to God and to fellow humans is, of course, not a feature of Alma’s teachings alone.  During Jesus’s mortal ministry, when asked which commandment in the law is the greatest, he replied using quotations from the Torah: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”[7]  Perhaps less well-known along these lines are the things Joseph Smith identified as fundamental principles of our religion.  In all my reading, I’ve only noticed him referring to three things as fundamental principles of Mormonism.  The first was in 1838, when he wrote that the “the fundamental principles of our religion” were focused on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and “all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.”[8] The second occasion was in 1843, when he declared that, “the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to recieve thruth [sic] let it come from where it may.”[9] The third occasion was also in 1843, when the Prophet stated that “friendship is the grand fundamental principle of Mormonism.”[10]  Friendship and the Atonement of Jesus Christ map well with Alma’s commitment to community and God.  The two great commandments should stand at the core of our religion, and also our activities at church.

Beyond these foundational commitments, how did Alma’s church function on the ground?  We only get a limited view, but we see Alma focusing on teaching “repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people,”[11] and to have priests and teachers focus on the same as they “did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness.”[12]  Further, Alma “commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.”  This included that act of sharing “of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God … to every needy, naked soul.”  The Sabbath day was observed, with “one day in every week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God.”[13]  Once again, the two commitments to God and neighbor stand out in the functioning of the church that Alma founded.

This brings me to my next question on which I’ve been musing:  How do I want to approach church meetings differently to make them more meaningful for me?  While this will vary for each individual, bear with me as I share some of my own thoughts (or, if you would prefer to not bear with me–for which I wouldn’t blame you–you can just skip to the end for a few closing thoughts and questions for discussion).  First, the idea of working towards a community, particularly a Zion community with “hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another,” is something that I would like to put a greater focus on in my life.  Prior to the shutdown, I think my focus had been on surviving meetings, praising God in song, contributing to discussions, and looking for some sort of spiritual high along the way (all of which was less than perfect).  With the shutdown, I think one thing that has stood out is that I miss the social aspects of the ward and need to pay more attention to them—getting to know more people and build friendships during church meetings (and outside of church meetings too), participating more in the service opportunities that are organized at church, and (as is often necessary for me) improving my efforts to truly minister to my ward members.  As Joseph Smith said, “friendship is the grand fundamental principle of Mormonism,” not just spiritual highs and doctrinal discussions.

I do expect that even that my experiences and efforts will fall short of perfection or perfect enjoyment (both because of me and my fellow ward members), but that’s part of the process.  That’s a lot what Eugene England was getting at in his famous essay “Why the Church is as True as the Gospel.”  As he wrote: “I believe that any good church is a school of love and that the LDS church, for most people, perhaps all, is the best one. …  In the life of the true Church, there are constant opportunities for all to serve, especially to learn to serve people we would not nor­mally choose to serve—or possibly even associate with—and thus opportunities to learn to love unconditionally.”  Even though we may not always enjoy the experience, “it stretches and challenges us, though disappointed and exasperated, in ways we would not otherwise choose to be— and thus gives us a chance to be made better than we might choose to be, but ultimately need and want to be.”[14]  Achieving a community where “hearts [are] knit together in unity and in love one towards another” in a ward is process that can be frustrating and difficult, but both helps to purify us as individual and builds a better community that can function as “heaven, in embryo.”

The other thing that I haven’t dwelled on as much so far is the commitment to God and Christ that is the basis of the community and the expression of which that was the other central concern of Alma’s church.  We enter the community of the Church through the ordinance of baptism “as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve [the Almighty God] until you are dead as to the mortal body” and meet on the Lord’s Day to “worship the Lord [our] God.”[15]  This is another thing that I think I lost track of in the weekly grind of surviving church—an example of missing the forest for the trees.  I went to Church primarily because it’s what I was expected to do as a member of the Church and experienced survival more than edification as a result.  As Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught, however, “we do not strive for conversion to the Church but to Christ and His gospel, a conversion that is facilitated by the Church.”  Church meetings are an opportunity to gather and, “joined in faith, we teach and edify one another and strive to approach the full measure of discipleship.”[16]  Going back, I think greater effort will be required on my part to both seek edification and strength from other people’s testimonies and experiences as an aid to my personal, ongoing process of conversion to the Christ and His gospel.

As I am writing this post and trying to bring it to a close, I just received the email of the church leaders announcing that they have authorized a phased return to some weekly worship services and activities, following local government regulations.[17]  While we likely still have a long road ahead of us to return to normal church meetings, it is definitely a good time to reflect on each of our experiences with church meetings.  Here are some potential ideas for discussion in the comments below:

  • What do you miss and hope to experience again once you return to church meetings?
  • After having this time away from regular church meetings to reflect and explore worship in different ways, how will you approach things differently?
  • What has changed in how you understand the Church as a whole?

Let’s discuss.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Terryl and Fiona Givens, The Christ Who Heals: How God Restored the Truth that Saves Us (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2017), 78

[2] Mosiah 18:1,17.

[3] Mosiah 23:16.

[4] See, for example, 1 Nephi 14:10 and 2 Nephi 9:2; 2 Nephi 5:26; and Mosiah 11:5.

[5] Mosiah 25:18-19.

[6] Mosiah 18:8-10.

[7] Matthew 22:34-40, NRSV.  See also Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.

[8] Elder’s Journal, Vol.1, No.3 (July 1838): 42-44.

[9] Joseph Smith sermon, 9 July 1843, in Cook, Lyndon W. (2009-09-03). The Words of Joseph Smith (Kindle Locations 4598-4604). Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition

[10] Joseph Smith sermon, 23 July 1843, in Cook, Lyndon W. (2009-09-03). The Words of Joseph Smith (Kindle Locations 4714-4719). Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition

[11] Mosiah 18:7

[12] Mosiah 18:7, 19-20; 23:18.

[13] Mosiah 18:21-29.

[14] England, “Why the Church Is As True As the Gospel,” Sunstone 22, nos. 3/4 (June 1999), 61–69, https://www.eugeneengland.org/why-the-church-is-as-true-as-the-gospel. Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave some similar thoughts about why the Church exists and what we are intended to get out of the experience.  He taught: “It is important to recognize that God’s ultimate purpose is our progress. … One cannot fully achieve this in isolation, so a major reason the Lord has a church is to create a community of Saints that will sustain one another in the ‘strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.’” He added that: “As a body of Christ, the members of the Church minister to one another in the reality of day-to-day life.  All of us are imperfect; we may offend and be offended.  We often test one another with our personal idiosyncrasies.  In the body of Christ, we have to go beyond concepts and exalted words and have real ‘hands-on’ experiences as we learn to ‘live together in love.’” (D. Todd Christofferson, “Why the Church,” CR October 2015, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2015/10/why-the-church?lang=eng.)

[15] Mosiah 18:13, 25.

[16] D. Todd Christofferson, “Why the Church,” CR October 2015, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2015/10/why-the-church?lang=eng.

[17] See https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/safe-return-church-meetings-activities and https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/multimedia/file/safely-return-to-church-meetings-activities-guidelines-2020.pdf.

29 comments for “Reflections on Meetings in the Church of Christ

  1. anon
    May 19, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    Lots of interesting questions here. For myself, I have conflicting opinions:

    On the one hand, I admit that for the most part I’ve enjoyed the break from in-church meetings. I’m not looking forward to going back to regular meetings.

    On the other hand, I do miss– and need– some of the mingling and mutual strengthening and collective worship that is hard to replicate in zoom meetings. Like many of us, I’m basically lazy and so will usually be drawn to the easy course, but I also know that this is not the course of spiritual growth or service.

    On the third hand, both my lazy and more aspirational natures can wish that some of our meetings would never return. Stake-sponsored leadership meetings, for example. The combination of our church’s corporate culture and the generally admirable desire of some of our leaders to “magnify their callings” just leads to a lot of meetings that aren’t worthwhile, and that tend to sour us on meetings generally. Sometimes I wish someone could say to a well-meaning leader: “I know that you are only trying to ‘magnify your calling’ but . . . just don’t. Stop. Sorry, but you aren’t that important. For the most part, the best thing you can do to help people is to leave them alone.”

    On the fourth hand (or foot?), I do think something valuable is lost as we move away from the kind of full church community that does involve a lot of activities, and maybe even meetings. My wife grew up in a rural community where the church was pretty much the center of everybody’s lives, in various dimensions. Not just worship and service, but also sports, and culture (dance festivals, music festivals, speech competitions), and recreation (picnics, campouts). No way to replicate that. For my first two decades or so, we met on Sundays in the early morning (for Priesthood Meeting), then again later (for Sunday School), and then again in the late afternoon or evening (for Sacrament Meeting). It was burdensome, but it made for a thicker community. With every step toward the home-centered church, we lose more of that community. Something is gained, but something is lost.

  2. GEOFF -AUS
    May 20, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    I don’t think you can have a zion society in America. There is quick mention of a zion society having all things in common. I always think “no poor among them”, and no rich either.

    I think you are suggesting we should beb rying to create a zion society, here and now. I agree it should govern our thinking about how we would like society to be. It should affect how we vote.

    As many members believe there is a relationship between the church and the right of politics, who move in the opposite direction no poor among them; I think it would require a great change in understanding, and culture to move toward a zion society.

    I can’t imagine a Zion society without universal healthcare.

    I can’t imagine a Zion society with poverty, or excessive wealth.

    I can’t imagine a Zion society with the highest rate of imprisonment in the free world (many because they can’t afford bail, or representation.

    I can’t imagine a Zion society with the highest rates of poverty in the first world.

    I can’t imagine a Zion society where in another state there is great poverty, but not our problem.

    I realise you have emphasised the more spiritual aspects of creating a zion society, but without the change of culture re financial equality the spiritual stuff is empty.

  3. Travis
    May 20, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    Our family enjoys sacrament at home better because we use real bread. There is something about the GMO-artificially-bleached-white-bread used in so many sacrament meetings that disrupts the symbol for me.

    We look forward to re-attending Children’s Primary and Children’s Sunday School at our home ward church building.

    We will still avoid attending “adult” classes because (1) unconscious priestcraft and (2) institutional dogma have become intolerable.

    More than Covid19, I am concerned with protecting my family from the unhealthy culture of the institution.

    On Zion:

    The body of the church may be blind from the path of Zion until the institution and its leadership are able to throw off the ideologies and spells cast by false priesthood: capitalism, socialism, republicanism, conservatism, environmentalism, industrialism, liberalism, constitutionalism—all false lenses claiming to be some economic or political truth. Most priesthooders’ worldview is defined by an ideological lens.

    We have a body of priesthood contaminated by the image of the “light-bringer” of freemasonry—a bringer of contention, confusion and dominion.

    When priesthood stops referring to its identity as “power” and “authority” and recognizes the simple truth: that there is no priesthood without the Spirit—then, we can begin to talk about a path toward Zion. Gonna be a while. A lot of guys depend on their badges of power and authority—so much so that the Spirit is displaced by some other source.

  4. The Other Clark
    May 21, 2020 at 11:57 am

    Lots of overlap here (in the original post) with Elder Uchtdorf’s sermon “Believe, Love, Do.”

  5. Chad Nielsen
    May 21, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts so far.

    Anon, I agree that there’s a lot of things to consider, each with its own give and take. I’m a bit conflicted myself about returning and have no desire to deal with the more corporate nature of some meetings (I get more than enough of that at work).

    Geoff, I agree that there are political ramifications in working towards a Zion society and that the USA is a mess when it comes to politics generally and in our economic disparities. It is difficult to see that resolving into anything like a Zion society in the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing what we each can to work towards something of the sort and I appreciate your sentiment in that regard (though I recognize there are disagreements about how to best go about resolving economic disparities). But, the political and economic infrastructure of the United States was a bit off the scope of where I was focusing my efforts in writing the post here. In a way, I was more hoping to reflect on how we can work towards the ideals of Zion using wards (and not just ones in Utah or the USA) as a training/testing ground, especially after having some time away from church meetings to think about their function in our lives.

    Travis, I’d like to understand what it is you mean by unconscious priestcraft in Sunday School. Along the lines of your comment in general, though, what do you think are some ways that we can work towards throwing off such lenses and how do you see priesthood being viewed once those lenses are off?

    Thanks for the reminder of the talk, Other Clark. I’d forgotten about it, but it is a good one.

  6. PassTheChips
    May 21, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Geoff-AUS – I agree with your comment. However, it’s basically the same comment you make again and again regardless of the site or post and has been for years. Does it not become tiresome?

  7. GEOFF -AUS
    May 21, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    As a member I have to connect with American culture, and many members here think the extreme right is where other members should be. This doesn’t seem to be changing, in spite of my efforts.

    Sorry to appear tedious. Perhaps you could join the effort?

  8. GEOFF -AUS
    May 21, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    Sorry

  9. Travis
    May 21, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Chad, priestcraft is when an appeal to authority or power is represented outside the context of the Holy Spirit or outside the context of the Love of Christ.

    What I do to “check” myself: Every time I read “power” and “authority” in some churchy-context, I supplant “power” and “authority” with “The Spirit” or “Love of Christ.” If I hear others speaking about “power” and “authority,” I ask: “Is this being spoken of in the context of the Love of Christ?”

    The manifestation of priesthood power and authority is the Love of Christ, so why not just replace all phrases of “power” and “authority” with “Love of Christ?”

  10. Travis
    May 21, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    Chad, by unconscious priestcraft, I mean to refer to the adoption of false beliefs or corrupt doctrines without malicious or evil intent.

    For example, during the Cold War, the institution that manages the Church made special use of the idea that Soviet socialism represented something akin to Lucifer’s attack on mankind’s free agency. The spell of priestcraft is ideology and it crept into our teachings.

    The tragedy of a “free agency” lens is that it detracts from the real focus of Lucifer’s attack on Adam. It wasn’t about free agency. It was about Sovereignty. Adam was crowned by Jehovah, and Lucifer refused to recognize Adam’s legitimacy. It’s the difference between Adam-as-steward and Adam-as-King. As with Adam, so with us. The belief-trajectories of Kingship and stewardship lead to very different conclusions about our relationship with God.

  11. PassTheChips
    May 21, 2020 at 7:10 pm

    Geoff-AUS, I’ve given up. It will be the next generation that changes things. I see it already and I live in the Mountain West.

  12. ji
    May 22, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    I heard a Catholic friar once discuss prayer, and how we should pray for God to work through us rather than for praying for what we want. Maybe church worship meetings are the same way — rather than asking what do we get out of it and is it worth our while to attend, we might ask what does God want us (or really, me) to get out of it.

  13. Talon
    May 22, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Geoff-Aus

    When you say “sorry” you sound more like a Canadian, and we would be happy to have you!

  14. GEOFF -AUS
    May 23, 2020 at 7:04 am

    Thanks Talon, My family did emigrate to Canada in 1959, but were called on a building mission within 12 months, and eventially sent back to Australia. Obviously meant to be Australian not Canadian.

    The sorry is because I have trouble getting this site to post my comments, but a second one brings up the first one that seems to have dissapeared.

  15. E.C.
    May 23, 2020 at 10:29 am

    @ Geoff-Aus,
    For my house, we do what we can to build Zion in our sphere of influence instead of spending our time worrying about the broken political system. That means sharing freely with those in need (food flowing to us – far more than we can use ourselves – is our peculiar blessing from heaven due to tithing), helping others find meaningful work, or employing them temporarily. We are certainly not wealthy, but we try not to forget from whom our blessings come, and we look at our abundance as God’s gift with which we may bless those around us.
    I suspect Zion not look like anything earthly. Joseph Smith’s overriding theme was that heaven is relational, which suggests that Zion’s government (as headed by Christ Jesus) will be different than any political system now extant.
    I agree that here in the US our political system has strayed from its original intent, but I don’t think the solution to that is ‘more government’. I think it’s ‘more preparation for the Savior’s Second Coming’. Did he not command us to “say nothing but repentance to this generation”?
    In my view, Zion comes about because of individuals willing to reach out to those around them, rather than top-down policies such as you suggest. Our baptismal covenants suggest one-to-one contact with, and love for our neighbor – and we are all neighbors.

  16. Travis
    May 23, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    One of the best LDS publications I have ever read on how-to-do Zion was published as a study course for the Melchizedek Priesthood in 1937: “Priesthood and Church Welfare” by George Stewart, Dilworth Walker, and E. Cecil McGavin.

  17. Taiwan Missionary
    May 23, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    Concerning E.C.’s comment:

    My take on the Christ of the N.T. is that he was not politically oriented. He was critical of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and their abuse of religious and social power, but he derided their pretense that they held political power, while living under Roman rule. Christ also told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world. He also said to render unto Caesar that which was Caeser’s, and unto God that which was God’s.

    I am leery of people who attempt to use political power to advance their agendas. Progressive Mormons, and traditional, orthodox Mormons give me indigestion as they attempt to marry the Church to their particular political world views. Lord Acton said it well: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There is no better secular prophet of the modern age than the disillusioned Socialist George Orwell and his novels “Animal Farm” and “1984.” We would do well to heed his message, as we attempt to sustain our modern-day religious Prophet, RMN.

    Bravo to E.C.’s comment!

  18. GEOFF -AUS
    May 24, 2020 at 6:03 am

    I see a zion society as an ideal we are told about so we know what we should be working toward politically. I realise that the political right has found a rationalle to justify voting for policies that move in the opposite of Zion.

    If this is given as an ideal, it might be worth asking whether, if your political ideology is the opposite of Zion, is that a problem? Are there any other gospel teachings we can comfortably, do the opposite, because that is not our political ideology?

  19. ji
    May 24, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    I think we err in trying to politicize our approach to achieving Zion. Zion will not be achieved at the ballot box. Remember, our Savior said “it must needs be done in mine own way.” For saints in the U.S., Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are not the way to Zion. For that matter, neither are Donald Trump and the Republican Party. I believe we can work towards achieving Zion, individually and within our ward communities, under either political regime.

    The key is charity — individual charity. We do not show charity by hating other saints, individually or as a class, who might vote differently from the way we would prescribe. So please, may we keep politics and political animus out of our discussions of achieving Zion? It seems to be a distraction. It seems uncharitable.

  20. JS in Provo
    May 24, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    In answer to Geoff, it is unfair to accuse those on the political right of some kind of cognitive dissonance because they believe in establishing Zion but don’t believe in government run health care (to take your first example). Perhaps they believe all should have health care but think a more market oriented approach is a better strategy to achieve that end.

    One of the best things about attending church is I don’t choose my congregation and I am thrown into association with people who have different ideas about politics and doctrine, often ideas that I think are wrong but it’s good for me to learn to understand their perspective and love them anyway.

  21. GEOFF -AUS
    May 24, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    The idea that the consequences of your political decisions are not to be taken into account when working towards Zion is strange. Countries that are much closer to a Zion society, no poor, care for their neighbours welfare, are like that because people use their vote to create that kind of society. These are also much more united and happy places.

    What I’m hearing is that you can vote to create a society the opposite of zion, where the rich get richer, the poor increase. Where there are all sorts of terrible consequences, (400,000 back yard abortions with 10,000 women dying in africa), working poor, A million extra people in prison because of poverty, 30million living in poverty in the richest country, Consequences you don’t personally see.

    But you are then kind to those on a local level that is all that is required.

    Perhaps I am asking that you considder the consequence of your ideology?

    JS on healthcare, think about it. You have the most expensive healthcare system in the oecd, and it leaves millions of people without healthcare. You claim to want healthcare for all, but insist on a syatem that the poor can’t afford. Do you refuse to drive on roads provided by governments, but built by private contractors? If it were not republican policy, why would you think that was a good idea?

    In every other oecd country universal healthcare is not a political issue because it is agreed by all sides of politics as the best, most economical way to provide healthcare. There are free market components to those systems.
    It is only an issue in America because of republican ideology. The conservative parties in those other countries are proud of universal healthcare. The same applies to so many of the things republicans defend that are not even questioned elsewhere.

    To a member anywhere but America they struggle to comprehend that you claim to follow Christ but can justify voting for Trump, and even without him, policies that have terrible consequences, but then say that doesn’t count because we are kind to our neighbours.

    So you vote with macro consequences, but practice your religion on a micro scale. And yes I see dissonance there that you don’t/ cant/wont see. I see my vote as part of how I follow Christ, not something separate.

  22. Travis
    May 24, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Political ideology is a “priestcraft.”

    Both Margaret Barker and Richard Draper (scholars of the book of The Revelation) agree that political ideology is clearly represented in the adversarial motif in apocalyptic context.

    The whole rub is that LDS priesthood dudes are under a spell of priestcraft: the lens they use to interpret reality is ideological. They cannot even think outside the framework of their ideology.

    We are somewhere in the 40 years in the desert, wandering before we see something like Zion.

  23. GEOFF -AUS
    May 26, 2020 at 3:55 am

    Nothing to do with the church, thought you mightn enjoy this. This is a male chior from a small town in Australia.

    https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=1036347323427552&_rdr

  24. Travis
    May 26, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Geoff-Aus, thank you; I wish our Tabernacle Choir would do the same kind of thing. Orthodox hymns are beautiful. Russia has so much Zion in its soul.

  25. Chad Nielsen
    May 26, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Love it, Geoff. I have a soft spot for Russian music (whether boisterous folk songs sing in the style of the Red Army Choir like this group or the beautiful classical Orthodox music like Chesnokov of Rachmaninoff wrote). So fun to see that.

  26. GEOFF -AUS
    June 1, 2020 at 2:15 am

    Ji I am none of those things, and I don’t see that in the comment. I note you attack me personally, whereas I am trying to get you to question your ideology.

    I am trying to ask you to realise that having charity in your heart, and being charitable to those close to you, and at the same time voting for a party on the basis of law and order, or to increase the wealth of the rich at the expense of the poor, and a president who is devisive, v voting for support for the poor, and a president who would heal, and seek to unite the country, will not get you closer to Zion.

    The racial problems in America are caused by the way the poor, who are usually also coloured, are treated by
    Conservative government policies. I say conservative, because countries that are less conservative, do not have these problems.

    Does your country feel less Zion like at present? Is it the protesters who are causing that? Could it be that conservative voters have some responsibility? Do you have ideas on how to make sure this never happens again? Will you being charitable to your neighbours do that? Do you have to vote for a government that will work to improve the lot of the poor, to reduce the division?

    I thought the killing of George Floyd was an example for you that individual charity, needs to be supported by voting to create a Zion society. One is no good without the other.

    The problem I have getting thins on this site is that, often it just goes to a blank page with Akishmet, if you press return you loose your comment, but if you make a second comment the first one comes up too.

  27. GEOFF -AUS
    June 1, 2020 at 2:30 am

    I am coming to realise that calling into question the other persons personality, is a conservative tactic to divert from defending their ideology.

  28. Chad Nielsen
    June 1, 2020 at 7:59 am

    Geoff brings up a point about personal attacks. Some reminders from the comment policy for this site: “Critiques of others’ positions are to be expected, but those critiques should be of the argument, not the person. No insults.” “It is also unacceptable to call into question a commenter’s personal righteousness.” ji’s comment does involve personal insult to Geoff. Likewise, Geoff’s comment directed specifically at Tiwan, Js, and ji, was also in violation of policy in calling personal righteousness into question and, to be frank, was a bit unfair. I have removed the offending comments. The discussion in and of itself is fine as long as you avoid ad hominem attacks.

    Thanks for the info on the site error, Geoff. I’ll pass it on to the folks looking at the site’s architecture.

  29. ji
    June 2, 2020 at 7:35 am

    “I am trying to get you to question your ideology.”

    Geoff,

    I have never declared a political ideology, so it seems unkind for you to attribute one to me and then ask me to defend it.

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