We’re all finished our topic on the gray areas of life, but two regular correspondents wrote to me personally this week with ideas (in the first letter) and a quote (in the second letter) that I hadn’t heard before. I’m going to run those letters just because I can. Then we’ll move on to today’s new topic.
I woke up unable to sleep so I finally have time to write. In those grey areas of life we pray and get personal revelation. Clearly some things may be bad for us, but none of us is perfect and we can work on ourselves over time.
I was just as good a member when I was still watching R-rated movies as I am now, but I missed out on blessings. Those who drink diet sodas miss out on health blessings, but are not in any way bad or evil. None of us does everything right if we go through the list of everything recommended by the Church.
When we get advice from a church leader we can pray and ask for our own testimony of it. Sometimes we are also just not ready. All of us need to just get a life and not worry too much about what other people are doing, but rather look at our own lives and decide which habits to work on one at a time. When one new virtue becomes easy, we can add another in. If we are worried about what someone else is doing, we can turn the same magnifying glass on ourselves and decide what is lacking.
As for me personally, whenever I have run across a grey area I have searched it out on my own. At times I have changed my views after more information or study and prayer. Sometimes I make changes and sometimes I do not. When the answer is the same for everyone, our leaders make it very clear through official policy. Anything that is not current public official policy in my world is advice and subject to individual inspiration.
Liz, I really liked what you wrote about being just as good a member when you do certain things, but missing out on the blessings associated with refraining from them. It is certainly easy to see when in the health arena, because it’s pretty obvious that if you eat things that aren’t good for you, your body will ultimately suffer. It’s intriguing to extend that to other areas as well, but I suspect the principle is just as viable there. Thanks for pointing it out.
I’m a little perplexed. For some reason your column did not appear in the Meridian I received in my email last week, so I had not read it, although obviously others did receive it, so could respond. I know you want to start a new subject next week, but I did want to put my two cents in on this current issue.
There are many things that have been church “policy,” or just church custom, for many, many years, even though they have not been set down as doctrine.
A number of your respondents said if it is spoken at General Conference or printed in the Ensign it is doctrine, but I don’t believe that is totally true. Even the GAs have differing opinions. In fact, over the years, there have been feuds between some GAs regarding certain topics.
We always need to rely on the Holy Ghost to confirm if something is right. As one person said, some things are between you and the Lord. I personally do not drink caffeinated beverages (I do not include chocolate in that as the amount of caffeine in chocolate is infinitesimal – the active ingredient in chocolate is theobromide, a member of the caffeine family, but it does not have the same effect on the nervous system), but I have good LDS friends who do, and I don’t berate them for it.
I don’t shop on Sunday except in an emergency, but I do sometimes go to dinner on Sunday. There are good LDS people, even GAs, on both sides of the fence on the eating out on Sunday issue.
I even occasionally attend an R-rated movie. One of the finest films I have seen is The Last of the Mohicans, which undoubtedly received its R rating from the violence. It is hard to make a film about a war without violence (try making a realistic movie about petty much any Book of Mormon story without it being given an R). There was no bad language in the film or any sex. The basic theme was one of friendship and loyalty, not a bad subject for what was an uplifting film.
Then I have seen PG-13 films that were embarrassing, to say the least.
All of these things are why we have our agency and why we are able to ask for guidance when necessary. If I have a strong opinion on something, and I express that opinion, either in a class or even a talk in sacrament meeting, I usually preface it by saying, “This is the gospel according to Sharee.”
Once, many years ago when I was a student at BYU, I wrote to Joseph Fielding Smith about a matter (at that time he had a column in the then Improvement Era where he answered questions). He didn’t print my letter, but he did write me back. One of the things he said is something I will never forget. He said we should not stand up so straight that we lean over backwards. That is something for those who look down their noses at those who drink cola beverages or who might run over to the store on a Sunday to pick up a forgotten item to think about. And we’re not supposed to judge, anyway. That’s God’s job.
Just my thoughts.
Sharee, I love that quote about not standing up so straight that we lean over backwards. In fact, I like it so much that I’m going to steal it for the end of today’s column. Thanks!
Okay, people. Here is today’s question. Let’s just say it’s a topical one. It’s always fun to have a topical topic.
Kathy, having just read your blog “Why a Mormon would make a Good President“ , I am stopped cold at your point about honesty, and at the dishonest press we all must deal with today.
I have a couple LDS friends who are convinced that Mitt Romney is a chronic liar, because they’ve had the misfortune of tuning in to certain TV news programs (Rachel Maddow, MSNBC) and reading certain news websites (The Huffington Post), which revel in slandering and maligning Romney.
One friend (who is a convert of 30 years and has one of the strongest testimonies of The Book of Mormon of anyone I’ve ever met!) particularly frustrates me, as we have discussed in depth the “disinformation” she is accepting as truth.
She is an Obama supporter, and has always had a liberal viewpoint, so we have always disagreed on which approaches/policies truly best help citizens. However, I now fear that she will leave the Church over these lies about Romney; and this would be a terrible loss, not just to me but, to the Church.
Any thoughts out there as to how I might help her see more clearly, and not be deceived?
What’s It All About, Alfie?
First of all, that’s a great name, Alfie. Old people such as myself will appreciate the movie reference.
Even though it would be tempting to turn this into a Romney vs. Obama discussion, I want to see if we can take the high road on this and instead turn it into a discussion of the news media. In short, I want to ask readers how they walk the fine line between staying informed of what’s going on in the world and at the same time realizing that the news media has no intention of actually telling the truth.
I am not saying this as an ignorant cynic. I am saying this as a former newspaper reporter. I made an effort to be honest in my reportage, but honesty is something that is in short supply as far as the news media are concerned.
Are you readers out there aware that you’re being lied to? If you are, what efforts do you make to discern the truth? And what should “Alfie” do about a friend who is unaware of the propaganda on both sides in alleged news reports, and who may actually turn away from the Church because of misconceptions?
If you want to share your opinions, send your thoughts to [email protected]“. DO NOT USE THE FORM ON THIS PAGE, BECAUSE IT RARELY WORKS SO YOU’LL JUST BE WASTING YOUR TIME. No, write an actual email to the email address in this paragraph. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Until next week –
“We should not stand up so straight that we lean over backwards.”
Joseph Fielding Smith
Want more Kathryn H. Kidd? Visit www.planetkathy.com to read her blog, get free stuff, and participate in the new Ask Madame Kathy forum. Kathy also has a weekly column at the Nauvoo Times (www.nauvootimes.com).