Nailing Down Mormon Doctrine Correlation

Mormon Stories recently conducted an interview with Anthropologist Daymon Smith. I highly recommend that you check out at the very least the second part of the interview.

The full interview can be found here.

As an outsider it’s sometimes difficult for me the understand how Mormon doctrine can be so unflinchingly solid to some and so fluid to others. Jack recently stated that there is no such thing as “Mormon doctrine” only “a history of Mormon thought”. I thought that was a great way to put it. But now I’m not so sure that’s true. There didn’t used to be “Mormon doctrine” but now there clearly is and the correlation department has quite intentionally been responsible for developing it.

This interview unlocked that riddle for me. In a way, I think I better can understand orthodox Mormons by classifying them into two groups; 1) Those who feel bound and committed to Mormon correlation 2) and those who don’t. Clearly those are broad categories but it makes better sense of Mormonism in light of the Fundamentalist movement and is more meaningful than traditional/non-traditional.

I see some Mormons leverage the complaint against Historic Christianity that it allowed the Council of Nicea to define Christianity too tightly. That same charge seems like something that can directed at Mormon correlation as well.

Conversation With The Excommunicated

John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories recently posted an interview with excommunicated member Paul Toscano. I found Mr. Toscano to be intelligent, belligerent, funny, maddening, contradictory, sarcastic, interesting, and entertaining. I’ve posted a number of segments from the interview and they are definitely worth the listen.

Kullervo has stated several times on the blog that Mormon doctrine is actually very loose. Every one thinks that it is strict and that it’s their own personal interpretation that IS what the church teaches. If someone happens to disagree, it will just be a matter of time until everyone comes around to accepting their viewpoint as the one, true teaching. This viewpoint of Mormon doctrine is perfectly illustrated in Paul Toscano. He is utterly convinced that he is the one who has got it right on issues that the larger church body clearly doesn’t agree.

My favorite part of the interview was his take on his excommunication. He was told that he was being excommunicated for threatening and weakening other people’s testimonies. “They said ‘You’re damaging people’s testimonies’. And I said ‘Show me who has lost their testimony as a result of anything I’ve said, and if it comes to taking a body count, I’ll put my lost testimonies up against Boyd Packer’s any day of the week.’ “(Tim’s paraphrase). His sheer bravado just made me laugh.

If you want to hear the whole interview go to Mormon Stories.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Finances Matter

There has been a healthy trend in internet Mormonism to acknowledge the personal failings on LDS prophets and affirm the sinfulness of all people whether inside the church or outside the church. This is particularly the case when LDS are confronted with Joseph Smith’s polyandry or Brigham Young’s blatant racism or unorthodox teachings on Adam/God. I have no desire to hold LDS prophets to a standard of infallibility and think it’s appropriate to believe that there are times that even they may be acting or teaching outside of God’s specific will.

Where I’m having a disconnect with this is in regards to the LDS church’s lack of financial accountability to it’s membership. If even a prophet can fall and bring sin into his life or his personal opinion into his teachings, I wonder why LDS membership thinks that their church accountants are not also prone to the same personal failings.

Public financial accountability has become a hallmark of responsible charitable organizations for quite some time. It’s not just good practice, it’s now standard practice. Secrecy in financial accountablity is not something people look for when they look to generously give. That’s not the case in Mormonism. It’s quite clear that the church has zero intention of telling its members what it is doing with their money. There is no way to tell if 80% of the money is going to feed hungry children. There is no way to tell if 2% of the money is going to feed hungry children. There is no way to know if a couple of well-placed individuals are filling up off-shore accounts for their own personal gain.

What really perplexes me is not that the LDS church has made the decision not to be publicly accountable (who wants to be held accountable?), it’s that the rank and file membership don’t care. I find this bizarre. On the one hand you have people saying that “even our own prophets mess up”, but on the other “we think the organization and everyone who runs it can be trusted without financial accountability”. It just doesn’t make any sense. I think it’s the duty of givers to hold the organizations they give to accountable in some way. Why is the LDS church different?

In my view light cleans all things. I was happy to find this podcast on Mormon Matters where everyone on the panel agreed with me. I hope this view of responsibility grows within the Mormonism. Until it does, it breeds an outsider’s view that strong, unquestionable authoritarianism runs the LDS church.

Poverty Unlocked

Why is there so much poverty in the world? How can God let this happen and what does He plan to do about it? What is my role as a Christian in helping the poor? Should I give money to that guy on the street corner? What exactly can I do when the problem is so big? Is there any hope for the AIDS crisis in Africa?

I want to point you to an excellent resource. There is a new podcast called Poverty Unlocked. It contains some great information and some practical ways to think about poverty and what to do about it from a Biblical point of view. You’ll definitely feel better equipped to be a part of the solution. No more doubts about when to give and where to serve. You can know if your efforts are doing any good.

Foster Parenting Podcast

My wife and I have started a new project. We are preparing for another foster placement in the upcoming weeks. To keep everyone updated and to have some fun, we’ve created a podcast! Check it out by visiting our blog at . You can download and listen to the podcast there as well as subscribe via Itunes.

For those who may be new to the world of podcasts, here’s a quick run-down:

  • A podcast is like a radio show or a book on tape. We record it and put it on the internet. You download it and hear us talking.
  • Our podcasts will be 5-15 minutes each. We will record them at least once a week, but when we have big news it may be more often.
  • If you have an iPod, you can listen to podcasts on it.
  • If you don’t have an iPod, you can listen to podcasts on your computer.
  • It’s very easy. Don’t let the lingo fool you!

Our first podcast is now online! We are thrilled to be able to share our news with you in this format. We hope you’ll listen. Feel free to forward this on to anyone you might know who is interested in foster parenting.