Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anglican Church of State, Baptists Persecutions

Excerpt from Chapter 3 of The Sword of the Lord. Baptists were an oppressed and disreputable religious community in American before the Revolution. They were attacked, beaten, jailed, and ostracized for the offense of creating their own churches outside the established Church of England. Baptists therefore, led the drive to enshrine the separation of church and state in the new United States Constitution. The principle Baptists defended was intended to prevent the state from privileging one religious institution or one set of religious beliefs and practices over another, though not to prevent individuals from bringing their private religion and principles into the public sphere. ( read more at Beating Up Baptists | Andrew Himes )

I've been following Andrew Himes blog as he promotes his recently released book. Andrew, Seattle based, is known to me from my earlier period of activism as a military family speaking out on Iraq War. Andrew did far more good than I could ever have done in introducing non-threatening educational curriculum in Seattle region schools permitting dialogue amongst students on the war issue; his work in creating forum for artistic expression by soldiers, veterans, and their families towards the healing work that will be an ongoing consequence of this and previous wars. I have lost touch with Andrew in recent years, and it is encouraging to learn he has gone on to work on publishing his book to once again find healing ground in which to deal with controversial issue in non-confrontational manner.

Of interest to me in this particular post are several factors. In my studies of the culture and religion of Mormonism, I encountered in another forum blog the use of the word Restoration in connection with Baptists. I followed the linkage which took me to Restoration based religions at the time of the Second Great Awakening formation religions of the 19th century. Which led me to the Campbellites (Alexander and Thomas Campbell) which led me to the Disciples of Christ, which led me to Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt, adherants of the Campbellite Church of Christ movement, who led a percentage of the congregants to the newly forming Mormon religion of Joseph Smith. 

 With both my husband and myself more recently coming from being confirmed in the Episcopal (Anglican) Church which was closest thing I have to a familiar church of my childhood (my mother's church affiliation) to his returning to his root church (Mormon, officially LDS) and my joining the church of his faith, the mention of the Anglican Church as being the Church of State was of interest to me. I had heard this same mention recently for the first time when we watched the PBS documentary, God in America, that aired October 2010. That the Baptists were persecuted in acts of violence is not something I knew. Incorrectly or otherwise, I could posit the evolution of Anglican to the Great Awakening (first and second) religion formations, to include Baptists, Methodists, Calvinists, Presbyterians, revivalists movements to offshoots from these religious belief sets to include Campellites to Mormonism as perhaps distant or close cousins one to another.

Food Storage in weather disaster and would we even be in our homes? Maybe Not.

Musing;  I've been looking at food storage plans, ideas these past weeks (because that is one of those Mormon things to do), it occurs to me given the geographical area where we live, it is unlikely in a natural catastrophic condition, ie, tsunami, flooding, we would have or be in our homes to avail ourselves of the carefully laid up provisions.  If we lived in tornado country, same thing.   While there is something psychologically reassuring about having emergency provisions, I'm thinking with the climate change conditions as perhaps the new normative weather conditions, I might want to rethink how we would want to store up provisions.  

Because we do live where we live, having strong winter weather rain and wind storms (hurricane strength, although for definition reasons, we don't get to apply that word to our storms) we almost have to have some sort of 72 hour emergency kit and plan.  We live on the coastline so there has been interest on the part of the county in having us getting prepared for tsunami conditions.  After our Storm 2007, when there was no evidence of communication getting inside or outside of our county, I know the County has built stronger, more effective communication network to avoid what we experienced in 2007.

We, in this rural county, by necessity, already do a certain amount of emergency preparation, including some element of food storage.  Personally, we (meaning my husband and myself) can do better in laying up emergency preparations.  With the news of tornadoes wreaking catastrophic havoc in Midwest (over 100 killed in one tornado alone), the tsunami that devastated coast of Japan this year to include compromising their nuclear plants, and floods seemingly across the country, I'm not so sure many of us can count on being in our homes to 'be prepared' for these kinds of  weather based natural disasters.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Snippets of thoughts since last I posted ten days ago.  The roaring roller coaster of emotions continues to dwell in me yearning for a controlled manner of expression and yet the controls have seemingly been lifted.  A state of being. I hope it will find a balance, and if not, then I hope I will find a balance.   It is my belief, or perhaps better said, I know this church is in a growth curve of it's own, in it's own right, even as I adapt to my personal growth curve in having become better acquainted with this church.   I feel the undercurrent strongly.  I don't have experiential 'before' to compare it with, so have to trust the historical experience of others as indicative of the evolution that I can palpably feel is happening inside this church structure.   

Salvation not condemnation.  Our Bishop said this simple little phrase a couple Sundays ago, in the context of an announcement and not buried in a talk.  I wrote the phrase down.  I like it.  And I believe he meant it to mean something for each of us, as in pointing a direction. 
A mature couple from our region spoke this Sunday of their experience of senior missionary work in England.  I enjoyed listening to both of them speak and with great humility about their time spent in helping with a youth camp in England.  They are planning another mission and will be leaving again soon.  They live in one of our coastal small communities. Part of their talk was to encourage some of us in our retired years to step up to this opportunity of senior missionary work. 

 I was particularly taken by how she, as a mother, included in her presentation letters she had solicited from her adult children in how they managed in their parents' absence.   They have ten children, I believe she said, and she probably read about six of the brief letters. She talked about the events in their lives she had missed while they were away in England.  As I listened, I felt my own stomach tightening knowing that should my children be having such events in their lives, my immediate reaction would be to get back home to be with them.  As if my being there with them would somehow ameliorate the circumstance they were having to face.  She spoke of one adult child who had cancer, another adult child who lost their business, another adult child who lost business and employment and decided to enlist  in the Army (my immediate thoughts of Afghanistan deployment), another adult child who was married, and another adult child who had birthed a new baby.  

Afterwards I spoke with them and asked her how she was able to remain overseas with these events happening in her children's lives. The answer she gave me resonated with me in a useful way as I deal with my own feelings regarding the geographical distance with my own adult children as they cope with events in their lives.  She said, 'you know how as a mother you don't tell your children everything about how you are feeling because you don't want to burden them; well it's true in reverse too.  The children didn't tell me everything while I was gone, and I learned of some of these events after we returned.'   

 It was a good reminder for me.  I know my children don't tell me even a percentage of what is going on with them as events occur in their lives, until after they have dealt with it in their own way.   They tell me after the fact and more to let me know that they did deal with it and did so in a responsible manner.  As my own instincts shout at me that I would have wanted to drop everything and rush to their side, that is not quite what they are wanting from me.  They want to reassure me that they handled and managed their challlenges, and explain how they managed it.  And even though they have been adults managing their lives for some time now, and my head knows this absolutely, my heart feelings do not match up with my head thoughts on the matter. 

Enough snippets for now.  We received our copies of our baptism papers, which, and I must smile when I share this, I have put away in the big, old fashioned King James leather bound, Family Bible, replete with family history, color picture sections with copies of some of the old painting masters biblical interpretations.  It's an tradition from yesteryear, I know, but it brings me comfort.  Many families had one of those big ol' Family Bibles, where record keeping was done.  I believe my mother still has hers.  

This morning I listened to an exceptional podcast, or at least I found it to be exceptional.  The tone was respectful and honored the fact of the courage of some of the men who have made an impact on the direction of the church.  It was not a hail to the chiefs kind of talk, rather the speaker, author Greg Prince who gave the presentation spoke of these men as people of courage while reminding us they were not sainted, rather men of their era and historical times, engaged in trying to lead a church in directions it may not have wished to be led, the men being a bit quietly resolute and therefore a bit extraordinary in being willing to hold the line in leading in a difficult direction.    
Link and  a copy/paste of the  promo of the podcast. 

As a part of the March 2011 Mormon Stories Conference in New York City, author Greg Prince  spoke on the topic of 21st Century Lessons from Three 20th Century Men: David O. McKay, Leonard Arrington and Paul H. Dunn. 
Greg Prince is the author of David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism.  He is currently working on biographies of both LDS Church Historian Leonard Arrington and deceased LDS General Authority Paul H. Dunn.

And I'm inclined to get down the words I heard her husband say at the end of his part of the presentation.  Words I am more familiar with and can say with comfort; 'I know the gospel is true, I know Jesus is the Christ, I know He is our Redeemer and Savior'.   

 Also because the talks today in the last meetings had a focus on choice, and free agency, I could strongly feel the comfort of words I liked saying in our Episcopal days.  It gave me comfort in the acknowledgement that it is impossible not to have made mistakes throughout the week, that those omissions could be forgiven, and that I might do better in the week to come. 

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Calling, Home Teaching, Visiting Teaching

Last Sunday I was given my first 'Calling'.  What does that look like?  The Ward Bishop asked to speak with me, asked my husband if he would mind, to which my husband, with a big smile on his face, shook his head no and said go right ahead.  Because my husband already knows how much of this works, he was amused, lovingly so, but amused nonetheless.   The Bishop asked if I would agree to being called to be a Relief Society (R.S)  Teacher (once a month, third Sunday, even numbered lessons).  Ahh, sure, I can do that is what I said.  He talked with me a while longer, and my questions for him were along the lines of being very new to these doctrines, I was very likely to be more off track than on track in 'teaching' anything.  I have no wish to offend the sisters.  He encouraged me with some instruction in how this church conducts situations in which 'discussion' is encouraged and  some methods to ensure it remain gentle, loving discussion.    Okay, so this is my new function in R.S. meetings, and I already envision the sisters teaching me more than I would be 'teaching' them.  I'm both flattered and also mildly amused as this may be a gentle, loving method to get me up to speed in learning some of the doctrine of this church.

Tuesday night my husband went out with another male member of the church to complete 'Home Teaching Visits' to the families assigned to them.  Better that he should write or talk of his own experiences, these are not new to him, new to me as his newly baptized wife, but not new to him at all.

Wednesday night R.S. President visited me at my home to help orient me to my new function (calling).  There will be the usual formalities on a Sunday where it is announced and followed at some point by a process of 'setting apart'.  My first 'teaching' experience will be this Sunday, using the manual/book the church uses and the lesson will be on tithing.   How fitting since I still have personal issues to work through with the concept of tithing.  She and I  talked some about how I viewed tithing, especially in relation to my prior employment and the impact on families at lower end of economical scale, for which this county is particularly known.   What is the difference between a church requesting a collection and a church requesting a tithing?  Well, there is to be the crux of my 'teaching' this Sunday in giving this lesson.

She also asked me if I would be willing to be a Visiting Teacher.   Home Teacher, Visiting Teacher ...  I hear these words used frequently, and haven't figured out which is which, why, and functions.  She explained that Home Teachers are male (priesthood) who visit the family and Visiting Teachers are women who tend to the women.   I agreed to participate as a visiting teacher.  Since we are located some miles from the town served by the Ward, and we are down to one vehicle temporarily, I had some concerns about time frames.  She explains that the visiting teaching can be done by phone calls, letters, or home visits.  Another sister who lives in our little village does her visiting teaching by phone calls.

Thursday night, we had Home Teachers visiting us at our home.  Awkward as that feels to me, it went fairly well in that it was more of a get acquainted visit.  I was pleased that both of the men have formal professions one as superintendent of the local school district, and the other a retired college counselor.  I'm not going to say I was altogether comfortable with the visit, given some of the topics and at one point one made use of the word 'liberal' somewhat disparagingly.  It quickly became clear though, that his intent was in a different direction related to his professional field, and perhaps not aimed at those of us who may hold and cherish our 'liberal' views.  I wanted to be entirely honest and forthcoming in my belief set, the story of my husband's return and my reasoning for baptism into this church in sharing information about us with them.  The discussion took on a respectful tone, a sharing that I found useful, and the discussion soon shifted away from topics that are not yet comfortable for me.  As I explained, I am not a 'convert' in the traditional sense of the word and bring with me my own testimony of faith which is steadfast irrespective of the differences in doctrinal teachings.  There are aspects of this religion that I much respect, and aspects that I am not likely to value as much.  I prefer to set my own pace, and not be instructed as to what I need to or should believe, nor the manner in which to express my beliefs, although I see learning the Mormon vernacular and the symbolic definitions as relevant to shared communication.  It was a good visit, and I think I shall appreciate their future visits as appreciable opportunities.

It has been an interesting week.   I can feel myself softening a little, pulling down some of the walls.  Given that my orientation to the LDS religion has been from an unfavorable vantage point from several directions, understandably I have adopted a somewhat defensive position.   It does indeed appear that these are caring people who do have an interest in caring for one another.  I'm not yet sure that the established methodology for how the members care for each other is in the best interest of the individual or the best interest of the organization.  My thinking is that it is in best interest of the organization, rightly so, with the bigger challenge being addressing the individuals as to their best interests when those interests conflict with the organizational interests.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

As promised, details on our baptism

I have had ten days to think about it since our baptism weekend, and now feel ready to write my post about the experience.   In between was Mother's Day weekend, in which my two granddaughters chose to spend the day with me and we had  wonderful 'girl time'.   Given that the baptism weekend has taken on sacred qualities for me and my husband, I will give only the outline, and probably won't begin to try to capture the depth of emotion.

My husband and his two brothers have been somewhat estranged over the years of our marriage.  In my assessment, partially for their own familial  'brother' kinds of family relationships, inherent in all families.  The baptism served well to bring them together to forge new relationships going forward.  Both brothers, by choice, wanted to travel from Utah to our home in Washington (state) to witness our baptisms.  Taking it a step further they offered to perform the baptisms.  One brother (former ward bishop) baptized husband, and the other brother (in a bishopric) baptized me.  I have had my own falling out with the younger brother over a strong difference of opinion which has lasted over the years, making his performing of my baptism all the more significant.  This is the same brother who is musically talented, has played the piano all his life, and he performed the music for us that day.  His especially soulful rendition of the song we chose for my husband 'Consider the Lilies' was so personal between them, for all of us, and the impact was felt by all in attendance.

Having family as guests in our home over that weekend was a treasure.    Although our house is not well configured to be much accommodating to overnight guests, it was still a quite successful weekend.  They were accommodating to the restricted geographical circumstances of our home and I applaud them for their willingness to make the best of the situation.  We had traveled north to pick up my mother from Tacoma a day earlier, and she occupied the one guest room in the house, and family made do with air mattress and couch in the living room.  Friday night we were getting tucked in when the electricity went out (happens sometimes here, fortunately not so often).  That added to the 'camping out' feeling that already existed with the camping out sleeping arrangements, except made a tad more challenging getting it set up in candlelight.

Saturday, April 30, 2011, day of our baptism, and we knew to expect some of his cousins who wanted also to be there to witness the baptism.  My son and his lady were coming, and my husband's daughter was also coming.  In a suprise announcement, our niece, a mother of four little ones, was able with help of her family 'move mountains' to make the trip from Utah. I was planning to prepare a meal for all our guests after the baptism, and the head count started at one number and kept growing.   It was exciting and challenging all at the same time.   We had eighteen of our family at the baptism and to our home afterwards for dinner.  Travelers from Utah, Portland, Oregon, Woodland, WA, and most all were heading out that night, either back the same night to their homes or to a stopover location.   Earlier in the day, my sister-in-law suggested a walk and she took photos of interest points in our quaint little community.  Appreciating the walk with her as it was rather calming for me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011, day of our confirmation.  We went to the Sacrament meeting at our Ward, knowing the confirmations had been planned.   With family having performed the baptisms the day before, the Bishop wanted the confirmations to join us to the Ward family, and while respecting it was our choosing as to who would be 'the voice' in stating the confirmations, we had agreed to having a long time elderly member of the Ward speak the words.   I really did want the young missionary who has been with us from the start to have a more active role in my confirmation, and I also understood the symbolism of having a Ward member say the words.  The confirmations were done, including the young missionary, husband's two brothers, the Bishop, and the elderly member of the Ward.  It felt inclusive, covering all the bases, personal, family, missionary and Ward.

It happened to be what is called Fast and Testimony Meeting Sunday, whereby members who feel compelled can have time at the podium to share their faith experience.   Knowing how emotional it already was for us, and not likely either of us would be able to get more than a few words out should we choose to share our feelings, it still seemed an opportune time to me for my husband to speak given that his brothers were in attendance and we would not likely see them again in that capacity.   Dear husband did decide to try, and words were lost to him, he delivered a sense of his feelings by performing one of his beloved piano hymns, one that he had played upon the return of his mission all those decades earlier in the brother's lives together.
It was a quite moving way to give expression when words won't come.  

His brother followed up giving a powerful sharing of his feelings, in which he included what he knows of me in what he shared, catching me by surprise, the singular stand out thing for me he said was acknowledging my personal spirituality.   I will hold onto the content of what he said that Sunday for many years to come.   A few other people came up to share their experiences, and by then his other brother was seated, waiting his turn to share his thoughts, but the clock was ticking and had ticked away the time by the time his turn came, and I don't know this to be factual, but I believe he abbreviated his talk, probably changed the topic as well. But it is good; enough sustaining emotion had passed that weekend and may blessings abound.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Baptized and Confirmed weekend of April 30/May 1 in 2011

We both were baptized and confirmed into the LDS church this past weekend.  I wanted to get a placeholder post in place and will return to write more detail in short time.  It was such an intense, moving, emotional experience throughout the weekend and words are just not available to me to adequately describe the depth and sacredness of the experience.  The bare bones is the the experience in and of itself is worthy of a post, and the reconciliation elements with my husband's brothers and cousins and extended family is another emotional aspect of the experience, along with my own personal feelings of being embraced into the family and the church.
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