Active in the Church

Lisa Ray Turner church, Culture, Mormons, testimony 107 Comments

My 21-year-old son, Ethan, was home from college for a couple weeks this summer. On Sunday when he came to church with us, our bishop asked him, “So, are you still active in the Church?” He asked this question in the presence of several other people, then proceeded to give a mini-talk on what it felt like to have a testimony. My son was put off by the conversation, as were the other people in the group.

For the record, my son is “active” in the Church. At least if that means someone who goes to church regularly, attends Institute classes, and has a calling or two. I’m not sure why the bishop asked him so pointedly whether he was still active, and what answer he expected. Did he wonder because my son hasn’t yet gone on a mission? Do people assume if someone doesn’t go at 19 there’s some problem with their testimony or worthiness? Did he wonder because my son has a beard? Did he wonder because my son generally favors red or blue shirts to white? (And in Ethan’s student ward at the University of Colorado in Boulder, white shirts are as rare as Republicans.)

Whatever the reason, it was curious that the bishop wasn’t a bit more subtle. He could have easily learned my son’s activity status in many different ways. He’s a good man, and well-intentioned. Bishops have a tough job and I don’t want to judge him. However, it leads me to ask a lot of questions. What exactly does it mean to be active in the church? Is there a magic number of times you have to actually attend? I know people who pop into church every other month but still feel like they are thoroughly active in the church. Does activity constitute being busy with callings, going to social events, and hanging out with members of the ward? Are you still active if you skip stake conference every time it occurs? How about if you consider general conference a vacation day from church?

Can you be active in the church if you attend but don’t believe any of the doctrine? How about if you’re a “dry Mormon” who hasn’t been baptized but you show up every week? Does mere attendance make you active?

What do you think? What does being active in the church mean to you?

Comments

comments

Comments 107

  1. It’s unfortunate that “active in the church” has become the equivalent of “pursuit of God.” You just can’t cover the latter lightly in conversation or meaningfully without trust, without the other person giving you permission to speak this way into their lives. General LDS culture just doesn’t behave so consensually, especially among leaders and their congregants. If such terms hadn’t become equivalent perhaps we could be a bit more authentic with one another about our joys and trials, our hopes and fears, our faith and doubts, our convictions and our shortcomings.

  2. doesn’t the church define activity as attendance at SM once a month?

    my bishop is a hardliner and probably thinks it means you at least attend the temple once a month

  3. JfQ – good point. Being “active” is not necessarily the same as pursuing God. In fact, while I have been physically “active” in the church for my whole life, there have been periods that I wouldn’t consider active at all in the spiritual sense.

    As for the bishop in the post, it is unfortunate when these things happen, but we all have a tendency to put our stuff, our views of people and the world, onto others without really getting to know them first.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story Lisa. I really enjoyed it. As you know…I like to bring truth to power. I am sorry about what your bishop did. Totally uncalled for…Having a great and humble bishop is like heaven and having an arrogant or socially inept one is hell….as far as my experience goes.

    I think people can be active and not go to church. But then I am somewhat “progressive” on my views and am frustrated with the Stage 3 level of Faith that the church is stuck in…I always come away from Priesthood feeling anxious and hypertensive because I feel like it is just 45 minutes of brainwashing conformity.

  5. yeah, For me Active means. I am actively trying to find a way to make my worship the least bit meaningful. I could complain a lot about church but i’ll refrain. Activity does have a definition its somthing like church attendace 3 out of 5 weeks or something like that. This could also be just Mormon pontification.

  6. Fwiw, the only “required” meeting for every member is Sacrament Meeting; everything else is “suggested” or “optional”. Personally, I generically consider someone to be “active” if they attend Sacrament Meeting regularly. I consider someone “fully active” if they do what they can do – whatever that is.

    Otoh, I believe that **administrators** have to designate degrees of activity, since they oversee the operation of the organizations – which includes the staffing of callings within the organizations. “Activity” for them generally means attendance that is steady and reliable enough to warrant confidence that a calling will be performed without regular headache and heartburn as the leaders scramble to get a substitute. For them, “less active” often might as well be “inactive”.

    Officially, for a temple recommend, a man also must attend Priesthood meeting as much as possible (or be unable to do so because of the performance of a calling) – and women should do the same with Relief Society.

    As to the Bishop, I can only echo #2 and #4. I try VERY hard not to be critical (to be meek and merciful), since that is a calling no one in their right mind would covet and I hope for the same consideration in my callings, but there are times when I am left speechless, shake my head and/or cry. Your example gets a head shake.

  7. This question made me stop and think. Am I active in the Church? I could define activity in two different ways–as a measure of attendance or as a measure of belief. As a measure of attendance, I am totally innactive (or “less active” as it is said these days). I haven’t set foot in the church building since new carpet was installed several months ago, which only added to the problems I was already having with my sensitivity to perfumes. Yet, as a measure of belief, I am more active than I was when I was attending, as absence (and the need to study it out on my own) has definitely made “the heart more fonder”.

    For what it’s worth, I have a son-in-law with a beard and a ponytail and not a white shirt in his closet, who is definitely active in the Church by any definition. Though he has never felt anything but acceptence in his Utah ward, people who meet him for the first time sometimes seem quite surprised to find out he’s a Mormon. Some people just don’t fit any standard mold (not a bad thing).

  8. My wife visits the single women in our ward and lets them know they are remembered. They, and the older women, also get a little present or card on their birthday. We are involved with our son’s scouting as well as assisting with his sporting activities. We also have a disable daughter that can demand a lot of time and energy.

    We live busy lives and try to contribute in a meaningful way to those around us.

    By church standards we are inactive, but I have a hard time seeing it that way.

  9. Doesn’t the temple recommend interview also ask men if they attend priesthood meeting regularly? So that’s basically “required” too. I don’t know what they ask the women–I just asked my wife, and she doesn’t remember them specifically asking about Relief Society.

    I think “activity” has to include some kind of church attendance. That seems like a baseline of how the word is used within Mormonism. I consider myself pretty active, but I find myself more and more happy to have an excuse to miss church and glory in the extra private time. Still, I probably make it to sacrament 8 out of 10 times and the other two meetings about 6 out of 10 times.

    Activity also implies willingness to accept a calling, I would say. I’m currently hunkered down as an assistant ward clerk who counts the incoming donations nearly every week. There have been callings that I have accepted and then have not done. I think I am to a point now that if I am asked to do a calling in the future that I don’t want to do, I will decline it. But I will add a caveat about what I am willing to do (for me, I think any future calling will have to be a Sunday-only deal; I don’t want church creeping into the rest of the week). We’ll see if I have the guts to actually stand up for myself.

    Other things, we certainly know the semi-commandment status of temple attendance, scripture study, FHE, home teaching. I’m not sure if one has to hit those benchmarks to be considered fully active or not. Probably lots of members would consider a person not fully active if they didn’t hit ’em. As for me, I pray every weekday morning while driving to work (with eyes open), I try to get to the temple 1-2 a year, I read the scriptures only when I need to look something up for a writing project (not very often–months can go by without), we hit FHE about every other week and it’s VERY short and simple, usually conducted while eating dinner. I’m surrounded by hometeaching Nazis and so have to do that most times just to avoid being socially rude. Overall I’d say I’m about 45% active in all the peripheral stuff.

    The church ought to come up with an activity ranking, sort of like your credit report score…

  10. #10 – “Doesn’t the temple recommend interview also ask men if they attend priesthood meeting regularly? So that’s basically “required” too. I don’t know what they ask the women–I just asked my wife, and she doesn’t remember them specifically asking about Relief Society.”

    Re-read #7, third paragraph.

  11. Some comments make me laugh, and some make me sad. I’ll have to agree with several of you, it depends on what kind of activity we’re talking about, but to be honest I think one ties into the other. For example if you actively believe in the church, your most likely going to want to actually go to church. If your “active” in going to church you’re not necessarily active in “believing”.

    In response to the actual post, I do think the bishop could have handled that situation much more tactfully but, I think sometimes we have unrealistic expectations for bishops. Now granted that comment coming from anyone would be out of place and intrusive, but still… some people are just more blunt than others. It doesn’t make it right but some people are just forward

    Every time I comment on here I feel like I’m super harsh and sound like I’m harping on people but I don’t like making excuses. You do what you can and let go of what you can’t, but there is no need to make up excuses for why you’re not giving it what you could. Now I’m not saying that there’s just black and white and that you are or you aren’t active, but people tend to like to make that gray area bigger and bigger by rationalizing things. Coming from someone who has been inactive, you just have to take responsibility instead of blaming it on things like “Life is too busy” or “I only like to be active on Sundays.” If your inactive, it’s because you don’t want to be active, not that’s necessarily a bad thing.

  12. There is no requirement for a woman to go to Relief Society in order to get a temple recommend. Some bishops or stake pres. may ask, but it’s not a question on the official list.

  13. I believe if your bishop is truly inspired of God then he may well have felt something out of place with your son. No parent likes to hear that, and he the bishop may have been better advised to conduct this more privately. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that the inspiration hit him in mid sentence and he just went with it.

    I suspect your son has been reading “anti” materials presented to him by others at college, and associating with young people who are proud to be atheists. This can be very damaging. Unfortunately, with the bishop perhaps getting the sense of this and being too blunt, he may have driven your son to look at even more of the information from the adversary.

    My son also attends college. I talked with his roommate’s parents before school started this past year, and they told me about their son. I was satisfied. I met the boy and his parents when they boys moved in. The roommate seemed like a nice fellow. The parents assured me that this roommate, call him “Adam” was a devout, honest, church-going young man. During the course of the year as I talked with my own son, I found out that not only does Adam not attend church, he gets drunk regularly, and is homosexual.

    Now, I’m not making any claims about your son, but we really don’t know what goes on when they get away from us. I have learned from some reliable sources about some of my son’s behavior at college that really surprised me as well.

    I’m just saying, don’t discount your bishop’s likely inspiration. There may be something that the bishop got a little insight on from a reliable source “upstairs”.

    And, regarding the question of activity. What value is going to meetings if it doesn’t bring about a softened heart? Why would your son be so shocked or offended if he weren’t hiding something. Counseling may be in order.

  14. #15 – A bishop can make mistakes, and – even if he was inspired in his question – there is a proper way to address concerns. Publicly is not that way.

    “I suspect your son has been reading “anti” materials presented to him by others at college, and associating with young people who are proud to be atheists.”

    Why would you suspect that? There’s absolutely nothing in the post that would lead to that conclusion.

  15. I agree that he probably should not have done that publicly. But, I don’t like to assume that priesthood leaders, acting in the scope of their calling are making mistakes. I have found that if I place trust and confidence in my priesthood leaders, things go better.

  16. I’d be worried, and here’s why.

    Bishops are entitled to inspiration and light and knowledge from God. We can’t possibly know what is really going on in the lives of our children once they go off to college. When a bishop, stake president or general authority gets a prompting, we should listen. This bishop may have handled the mechanics of it poorly, but that doesn’t mean we should discount his concern.

    Elder Bednar gave us the example of a young man dumping a girlfriend because she chose not to follow the prophet’s advice to only wear one ear ring. Here, we have a case of a young man refusing to wear the “uniform of the priesthood” that has been taught by many leaders for many years. Additionally, he hasn’t gone on his mission. His beard may well be a sign of rebellion, but may be calculated to be just a low-level enough rebellion to not alarm his parents. This boy sounds to me like he is on the road to apostasy.

    I think it is time to take action.

  17. Friend: I can’t tell if you’re being facetious or dead serious. “Uniform of the priesthood”? Aside from the missionary white handbook (applicable to only those set apart as missionaries), where are the members instructed to wear any kind of uniform? Besides the white shirt and conservative tie, what else is part of the uniform? A dark suit? polished shoes? matching socks? what else is forbidden? french cuff links? belts with large buckles? brown shoes with black slacks? It’s this kind of squinting and judging about cultural (not doctrinal) issues that Lisa is speaking against in this post. I don’t know her son, and he very well may be struggling, but he might not, either. Bishops make well-intentioned missteps, too. Overblowing things by suggesting that someone is on the “road to apostasy” for looking a certain way that is different than the majority offends.

  18. President Packer taught us to follow the “Unwritten Order of Things” and to watch and learn from our leaders by example. Next time you are at General Conference, count up the colored shirts worn by the General Authorities. It’s simple. Follow the Prophet.

    Elder Oaks taught the Principle of Non-Distraction and specifically mentioned wearing white shirts.

    I gave you Bednar’s example in an earlier post.

    President Faust used the terms “jot and tittle” once in a talk to essentially say we need not be commanded in all things, to know that we have to do right in all things.

    There is no other reasonable, FAITHFUL, interpretation here. Faithful priesthood holders wear white shirts.

    The bishop, acting within the scope of his calling, had warning bells go off. He may have handled it poorly, but that doesn’t mean God wasn’t talking to him, and also talking to the boy and his parents through the bishop.

    I suspect you are friends with Sister Turner and are just trying to protect her feelings. Well, there’s a time and a place for that, but when a child is on the road to apostasy, it is time to take action.

  19. If the boy can’t do the simple, easy things like wear a white shirt, how will he ever be able to do the more difficult things.

    This is a simple matter, like the ear ring. Obedience brings blessings. Disobedience leads to apostasy.

  20. Friend: I think its clear that we’re not going to come to an agreement on this principle. I’ve never met Lisa or her son, and I’m not trying to protect her feelings about this subject, either. I think I understand your good intentions about raising the question of faith struggles in our youth, but I can’t accept your basis for doing so in a situation that uses physical appearance as an indicator of faith, spirituality, worthiness, obedience, sustaining church leaders, etc. I also feel like “apostasy” is a terribly strong word in this context, and that you might not realize it, but you are using the term as a weapon to provoke a reaction based on fear. Finally, I believe that there are other FAITHFUL, reasonable interpretations of your references to authority above, and I believe that the issue is less simple than you are trying to make it out to be.

  21. Re: white shirts – I think it is more nuanced than this. If someone is wearing a blue shirt or growing a beard out of a sense of rebellion, then I agree, they are being disobedient. Otherwise, what’s the problem with mixing it up?

    I have a question here: where is the line between acting like Pharisees in the language and dress of our culture, and “teaching correct principles and let the people govern themselves”?

  22. OK, I’ve never been a bishop (knock wood) but have served twice as a counselor in a bishopric, and . . . I’m mostly appalled. Even if the bishop somehow felt inspired to raise that issue with the young man, he should have done so privately. Sigh. ..bruce..

  23. I have to admit I am somewhat surprised by you, Ray and Steve, this is the church equivalent of “settled law.” You know it is, it seems like you must just be arguing for your own reasons. Follow the prophets, boys, follow the prophets.

    In his talk about Raising the Bar in 2007 Elder L. Tom Perry suggested young men

    “Start now to prepare for a full-time mission by adopting the appearance of a full-time missionary.”

    Elder Holland taught:

    “May I suggest that wherever possible a white shirt be worn by the deacons, teachers, and priests who handle the sacrament. For sacred ordinances in the Church we often use ceremonial clothing, and a white shirt could be seen as a gentle reminder of the white clothing you wore in the baptismal font and an anticipation of the white shirt you will soon wear into the temple and onto your missions.

    “That simple suggestion is not intended to be pharisaic or formalistic. We do not want deacons or priests in uniforms or unduly concerned about anything but the purity of their lives. But how our young people dress can teach a holy principle to us all, and it certainly can convey sanctity. As President David O. McKay taught, a white shirt contributes to the sacredness of the holy sacrament.”

    Is this such a big thing that we need the prophet to convene his counselors, and the Twelve, and come forth with an “official declaration” in order to satisfy you on this one? What can it possibly mean to follow the prophets if we can’t do the simplest thing like wear a white shirt to church, without having to be COMMANDED? Follow the Prophet.

    It is simple. There is no need for nuance and complexity here. This one is simple.

  24. I will not question or doubt that bishop nor his intentions.

    In the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, we read a quotation from Heber C. Kimball: “He [The Prophet Joseph] said that the very step of apostasy commenced with losing confidence in the leaders of this church and kingdom, and that whenever you discerned that spirit you might know that it would lead the possessor of it on the road to apostasy.”

    We are cautioned to guard against apostasy. If by sharing a testimony that apostasy is one of the dangers of not following wise counsel of the leaders of the church, I am somehow guilty of using a weapon, then guilty I am. Because I will not apologize for the Lord nor His teachings.

    We must constantly guard against apostasy. And, looking for “nuance” or “other explanations” of the plain and simple things taught by our leaders sounds like laying aside a duty that God calls you to perform to gratify your own desires, which Wilford Woodruff taught is laying the foundation for apostasy.

    Follow the prophets on this one. Don’t look for exceptions. Don’t look for excuses. Don’t look for nuance. Follow the prophets.

  25. Friend: I can’t believe that I’m being sucked yet again into reacting to your words, yet I still fail to see the commandment to wear a white shirt in any of these quotes (take a look again at all those quotes: they mention “principles” and “suggestions”; that’s a symantic difference, true, but it points to a greater concept that the GAs speak in generalities, and the membership of the Church are to apply them individually, by the Spirit). I also don’t see the GAs condemning those who don’t wear white shirts in these quotes either. What I do see are judgmental reactions toward others based on what people read into the quotes you cite above, and that’s what troubles me. Your implied suggestion that Ray and I don’t “follow the prophet” because we don’t expect everyone to wear a white shirt to church is accusatory and uncharitable, imo.

  26. I won’t apologize for the Lord. If you insist on looking for nuance, look. This one is clear, and has been clear your entire life, and you know it has been clear and settled your entire adult life.

    This is one of the easy tests of obedience. Some pass, others fail. We try to help all pass, but they go looking for nuance and exception and whining and moaning about a right to choose, etc. Your right to choose was the right to choose to come to the earth and follow the prophet. That’s what you chose. Now you’re looking for options, nuances, “complexities”.

    I might believe that there are some “complexities” and “nuances” in the church, but this certainly isn’t one of them. I was once told by a GA that when he went to a stake to call a new stake president, that in interviewing the bishops, high councilors, etc. if any came to the interview not in a white shirt and tie, they were automatically off the list for consideration, and further that he gave very little weight to their suggestions, because they obviously hadn’t mastered the smallest of things (wearing a white shirt and tie) and therefore were not ready to participate in the larger things.

    It’s simple. Simple. Simple.

  27. SteveS wrote: “I still fail to see the commandment to wear a white shirt ”

    But, if you really must have a COMMANDMENT in ALL things before you can understand them, follow them, accept them, obey them, etc. That is your choice. It is not, however, the way the church operates. I will stand with the church on this one.

    If the suggestions, of apostles and prophets, and principles taught by apostles and prophets are not good enough for you, that, again, is your choice.

    A suggestion by the prophet is good enough for me. A correct principle taught by an apostle is good enough for me. I don’t need to be COMMANDED in all things.

  28. Friend,

    There are lots of things that have flashed through my mind as I read your comments, and I am not going to record any of them here. All I will say is that there is NO “uniform of the Priesthood” that applies to how we must dress to follow the prophet. None. Period. Whatsoever. The “principle” is to dress **in your official duties as a Preisthood holder** in a way that reflects your respect for that authority, with a white shirt and tie wherever possible and while performing the ordinances of the Priesthood. **That’s exactly what Elder Holland said in the quote you mentioned.** The outward manifestations of how that principle can be lived are wide and varied. Nowehere in the CHI does it require what you are requiring, and nowehere does it even imply about worthiness what you are implying about worthiness.

    Finally, you aren’t talking with a bunch of fringe mebers on the verge of apostasy here. I wear a full suit and tie (with white shirt) in all of my official activities in my current calling – specifically because I have been asked to do so by my direct Preisthood leader. I have worn slacks and a polo shirt to State PEC meetings, since I have gone there straight from work, with explicit approval of my Stake President. I have shown up at the temple in slacks and a polo shirt, since I had unexpected time available on a business trip. I have taught Seminary in a branch where the Teacher’s Quorum President (a wonderful, faithful young man) passed the sacramnet in jeans, tennis shoes and a gang-symbol-emblazened t-shirt – since thet was his Sunday best. (That kid was one of the most amazing people I have ever met, and he got permission from his gang to opt out of illegal activities and attend church when he was baptized. He couldn’t leave, but he gave up his former life completely.)

    I won’t comment further on this line of discussion, since it isn’t worth it to me. There is an “unwritten order of things”, but it is terribly unfortunate the way that the general principle Elder Ballard taught has been bastardized so badly my so many. Nothing he said in that talk or the other quotes you provided justifies your conclusions here, imho.

  29. This post has generated some good (and humorous) responses. I relate to praying while driving to work with eyes open. I think the Bishop was off correct form. I am reminded of my own homecoming from college and saw a buddy who had just finished his first year at BYU. When he answered me that it was great, he thew out this interrogative, “why didn’t you go?” My unexpressed thoughts were why SHOULD I go when I have a great university with a top notch institute program here. So when the Bishop blurts out are you still active, I think why SHOULDN’T he still be active? It’s akin to blurting out “are you still a full tithe payer?”. The only circumstance I can see that this may have been semi-appropriate is if the Bishop had worked with the young man in Priest quorum and they had an established rapport of some kind with ‘being active’ as a standing method of banter. Even then, it is so easily misconstrued by bystanders that it still seems off correct form. I can’t imagine an inspiration regarding a members college behavior being reasonably expressed in a way that causes a member to be ill at ease in the foyer. But, I’ve repeatedly had thoughts come out wrong verbally, even if inspiration was involved in the idea for the words, so I would hope others would be quick to forgive.

    As to the question of who is active, thats a tough generalization. I remember the missionaries reporting on a visit to a very lesser active family and returning with the feed back “they think they’re active!” Its so easy to assume that we know enough about the individual to judge whether they are active, then you learn some simple truth like they are taking care of a terminally ill relative so they can’t come to church, etc.

  30. Friend: final comment from me, I promise. I’m glad you find comfort in conformity. I wish you the best with living your life that way. I’m sad that you feel the need to condemn others who don’t see things the way you do. The Church, and the Lord, have room for lots of different people and lots of different perspectives. I think we both agree that the wearing of white shirts isn’t a core doctrine, essential to believe by all who call themselves Mormon. But we differ in the degree to which we assign its practice as an indicator of faith and worthiness. I just hope that you’ll pause for a moment in the future and consider the thoughts, ideas, feelings, and background of the person to whom you are communicating before launching into a “lion of the Lord” rant of righteous indignation.

  31. Ray, you wear a white shirt, wouldn’t you teach this young man to do the same? Of course you would.

    I’m worried about my brother here. I’m trying to show love, and bring him back into the fold. My invitation is to Come Unto Christ. Follow the Prophet. This is easy stuff. Do the easy stuff first, then move on to the more difficult stuff. If someone is refusing to do the easy stuff, then that is a sign that things are not well. You know that as well as I do.

    These are not difficult principles. Do what the prophets ask and you will receive blessings. Don’t go looking for commandments and because the commandment wasn’t countersigned and witnessed and meets some artificial standard, pretend that you can ignore the promptings of the spirit when given directly by the mouth of the prophets and apostles.

    This isn’t difficult.

    And, while you guys pretend to not know about wearing white shirts and following the prophet, this poor boy is slipping into apostasy. What can we do to help him?

    We can encourage him, in this case through encouraging his family, to follow the prophet. Have a particle of faith. Wear a white shirt. Shave your beard. Plan for your mission. Don’t delay your mission for education’s sake. The mission is a commandment. Can you guys at least see that one? This boy needs help. Let’s help him, not argue among ourselves.

    Don’t go beating up his bishop, help the bishop. Help the boy. Invite him to Come Unto Christ. You can’t find Christ if you’re busy looking for nuances and exceptions and complexities and every other reason to ignore the clear counsel of the leaders of the church.

    Apostasy is serious business, let’s help this boy.

  32. Steve suggests that finding comfort in conformity is somehow wrong thinking.

    Elder Neal A Maxwell apparently didn’t think so. “True orthodoxy thus brings safety and felicity! It is not only correctness but happiness. Strange, isn’t it, even the very word orthodoxy has fallen into disfavor with some? As society gets more and more flaky, a few rush forward to warn shrilly against orthodoxy!”

    Steve accuses me of condemning when all I am doing is inviting a wayward youth to enjoy the blessings of orthodoxy, safety, happiness. The boy obviously isn’t happy now. Maybe we could do something to help him, instead of turning on one another and attacking the simple messenger who offers only the love of Christ.

  33. Friend, if you are sincere in your responses, I wish you well. If you are not and this is a facade (since you have not answered anything others actually have written in response), I also wish you well. I truly am done.

  34. Friend, when I was working as an editor at the Ensign magazine, I always wore colored shirts. While I was out to lunch one day, someone anonymously made a photocopy of that page of Elder Holland’s talk, yellow-highlighted the paragraph instructing Aaronic priesthood to wear white shirts, and left it on my chair. After I returned and read it, I just threw it right in the recycle bin, because I was not planning to administer the sacrament that day (or any other day) at work.

    That’s a big problem in our Mormon culture: someone sets a certain standard or benchmark in a certain area, and then certain overzealous members expand that standard into other areas. So much needless conformity has crept out of BYU and into the broader church that way. Perhaps you don’t understand that excessive conformity can be a major stumbling block in the gospel to certain personalities? So it’s best not to impose things needlessly, if saving the maximum number of souls is really the main goal.

    Another fun thing at the Ensign was that I regularly wore one dress shirt in particular that was dark purple. One day my boss actually said to me, “President Monson doesn’t like purple shirts because the gays wear them.” Just a few weeks later, I got a big kick out of the fact that the Ensign published a picture of Pres. Faust at the Days of ’47 parade wearing, yes, an obviously lavender shirt.

  35. The boy’s mother said the bishop “proceeded to give a mini-talk on what it felt like to have a testimony.” Who among us, if we had a wayward son wouldn’t want our bishop to teach him, even bear a powerful testimony of what testimony really is.

    Let’s not attack this bishop for bearing his testimony to the boy. Let’s not twist this around and call the bishop the sinner in this situation. He was teaching. He was reaching out, inviting, he loves this boy. If the boy and others were “put off” by the bishop bearing his testimony, if they couldn’t feel the Spirit and the love with which it was offered, that is somehow a sin of the bishop? I think not. Let us not speak ill of the Lord’s anointed.

    And, Ray, I lurk here quite a bit, and I see you use this tactic yourself of not answering any points, and then accusing others of not answering. I feel I have answered every point brought up by anyone. The simple thing is undisputed. We have received suggestions to wear white shirts, we have been taught the principle of wearing a white shirt. If you don’t think that is reason enough for us to teach it to those who follow on behind us, that is your decision. I teach what the prophets teach.

    The shirts aren’t the illness here. They are a symptom. Just like forgetfulness isn’t the illness in dementia. It is a symptom of dementia. Let’s attack the real disease here. Let’s get to the root of the problem instead of just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Now, what can we do to help this boy?

    What help can we offer to his mother? Is it really the best we can do to suggest that she is probably correct to question and doubt her bishop? That can’t possibly be our best advice, can it?

    Again, I suggest counseling may be in order.

  36. The fact of the matter is, we are commanded to meet together oft. That means going to Church and participating in it.
    We are a church of callings and following through on commitments. Those commitments are called covenants, callings and commandments.
    If you want the blessings that come from follow-through on those commitments, then you will keep them. If those things are of no importance to you, then I guess you will not.
    This is really all about actions and intent of your heart to follow the Lord, and it means nothing what you believe.
    You can believe that Zarahemla is on the moon and that Cain is Bigfoot and that Kolob is Alpha Centauri. But if you don’t keep your commitments, then no, you are not “active.”

  37. Guy, I don’t know if I agree with you about Bigfoot, but I think you are on to something.

    This is about making and keeping commitments and covenants, isn’t it.

    I can’t condemn this bishop for showing love.

    Let’s help this boy, before it is too late.

    Suggest to the boy he call the bishop, in an attitude of meekness and humility and after prayer and fasting. Then go in and confess whatever needs confessing to the bishop. That will be a good first step. I might also suggest reading The Miracle of Forgiveness by President Kimball all the way through in two or three days if possible.

    Any other thoughts on what we might do to help him?

  38. “Do people assume if someone doesn’t go at 19 there’s some problem with their testimony or worthiness? Did he wonder because my son has a beard? Did he wonder because my son generally favors red or blue shirts to white?”

    The unfortunate answer to these questions is yes, people will wonder if a young man, especially your son’s age, does these things. Mormon culture places high value on external things and less emphasis on internal commitment and conversion. I have faced some of this too and have gotten to the point in my spiritual life where I can brush off the comments and opinions of others that do not matter and move on with life. The worst thing one can do is to stew over what so and so said about their shirt or their beard and move on. Even better, when these opportunities present themselves, remind whoever you are talking to that Jesus invites all to come unto him.

    Just some thoughts for now.

  39. I have been lurking on this site for awhile and now want to participate. I have never been an bishop and never will be so I can’t answer for him, but I would like to say that activity level sometimes has nothing to do with spiritual growth. I have been an active member all of my life. I have held one, two and sometimes three callings at once, but it wasn’t until I had a serious question of faith that I started to grow spiritually. I am now much more tolerant of others and I don’t worry about what the person next to me is doing. I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing the best they can. I’m not sure how much sense this makes, but I don’t think activity level necessarily means that a person is actually spiritually growing in the gospel. Shouldn’t our goal be one of spiritual growth and not outward appearances? I don’t think people should be so worried about whether or not the person next to them is wearing a white shirt and tie. We should be thinking about what Christ would do? Does it really add to our own spirituality when we start worrying about what our neighbor is doing? I have found much more peace in my life now that I have become less judgmental and become more focused on my spiritual growth.

  40. Friend,

    I’m with Ray (36) on this one, in spirit and in word. It’s very hard to tell whether you are engaging in intentional or unintentional parody. In any case, I’m going to have to see an ophthalmologist after rolling my eyes so many times in the last few minutes reading your post.

    If you are indeed sincere, which I still can’t quite fathom, you are setting yourself up for a big letdown, straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel here. A white shirt may or may not indicate a level of seriousness about “being on the team,” but it is certainly not among the weightier matters of the gospel.

    A bishop can be equal parts inspired and equal parts inept. Your belief in the inability of an anointed servant of the Lord to regularly make mistakes in their callings is disturbing and unwarranted by anything the brethren teach. Seeing budding apostasy in a shirt color is laughable, which is why no one knows whether to take you seriously. The weightier matters — God judges not the outward appearance, nor should you — seem to mean little to you.

    FYI. In one ward, the first Sunday I wore a suit and white shirt to church iwas the day I was sustained in the bishopric. We regularly extended inspired callings to colored-shirt wearers, without calling their fashion sense to repentance. The bishop I served with was both profoundly inspired in his calling and at the same time kept at least half the members of the ward offended at any given time. The ward members weren’t necessarily in the wrong.

    Most of the ward could nevertheless separate the times he was being inspired from the times he just didn’t understand how he was coming across. Right now, I think you have no idea how you’re coming across, assuming this isn’t intentional. There’s a kernel of truth in what you’ve said, but for the most part you’re shooting far beyond the mark.

  41. So, I am called for shooting beyond the mark. I am “off base” here? I see it otherwise.

    Many here are quick to point out that the bishop was “inept” or somehow the offender or sinner in this transaction. We are counseled not to be critical of our leaders. These things don’t fit together. If this had been President Monson bearing his testimony to this boy on the importance of testimony, none among us, except the truly apostate, would accuse President Monson of being “inept” or doing it wrong, etc. We would take his side, and help him. We would take the side of the Lord and help the church leader help the misguided.

    That is exactly what we need to do here, now, in this instance.

    Yes, church leaders can make mistakes, but even if this is one, it is so trivial that we should line up on the church leader’s side any way. He is reaching out to this boy. He is trying to testify of truth to this boy.

    Many on this forum have spoken against the bishop. Who will speak up for the bishop? Who will speak up for the Lord?

    Sad times, my friends, sad times, indeed!

  42. My Friend,

    You doth speak as a Pharisee. Yes, the group at the time of the Saviour who built their belief system around strict adherance to the letter of the law. What would I consider as pharisical directives in the church today? Yep, wearing a white shirt is one of them, in my opinion. That is why the Lord called them ‘whited sepulchers.’ It is not the act of wearing a particular color of shirt, it is the false sense of ‘reward’ for doing so. The more we measure ourselves on this false sense of ‘rightness,’ the further away, I believe, we are from the spirit of Christ.

  43. And, yes, I know that inner soul is the true barometer, but here the boy has been asked to do a few simple things. He has not done them. The bishop presumably knows the boy is only home for a couple of weeks, that he goes to church with all manner of liberals and attends college on the campus of one of the most noted party schools in the country. Yes, yes, I can see that in the ideal he would have brought the boy back into his office, but if this was his one and only chance to try to reach him, before the boy returned to college, then I commend this bishop for bearing his testimony. I don’t condemn him for it.

    Asking about activity and then bearing testimony about having a testimony is now somehow offensive? This smacks of apostasy. Why is everyone taking sides against this good bishop? He speaks for the Lord, and many here are ready to condemn him for minor violations of pleasantries and ettiquitte while he was trying to save this boy’s soul.

    Astounding!

    If others were “put off” by the bishop, then perhaps THEY have the problem. Not the bishop! Let us not sacrifice this good servant of the Lord upon some altar of our own making. Lift up this bishop. Praise him, guide him. Help him. He is reaching out with the Love of Christ, and many of you here find fault with the bishop!

  44. Jesus said love God with your whole heart and love others just as much. He was wearing a beard. He didn’t say anything about white shirts. Or when, precisely, to go on a mission.

    It’s my personal belief that Heavenly Father looks into people’s hearts and I doubt He takes time to notice shirts or that He would be much impressed with a horde of people who looked just alike since He created people who are so different in different parts of the Earth and at different times (like in the nineteenth century when Brigham Young and nearly everyone else wore a beard).

    Jesus also said something about a mote in your brother’s eye…

    Lisa, I’m willing to believe you’ve raised a wonderful son who’s on his own path in his own way on his own time. If there’s ever any stumble on the way I have no doubt you and your family will rise to the occasion and provide the help needed. I wonder how it feels to read all this. And I think a lot of this is poor respect and poor return for your candor and sincerity.

  45. Alice’s remark is clearly directed at me. Why? What have I done to show “poor respect” other than to point out that we should not criticize our leaders.

    Forget the white shirt. It is a symptom, nothing more.

    This bishop was showing love. He is the one who has been disrespected by the posters to this blog.

    I for one, commend this bishop, and repeat my suggestion that the boy seek immediate counseling, in the spirit of meekness and humility, with fasting and prayer, and confession of sins.

    Sin without repentance leads to apostasy.

  46. Friend,

    Wow, what a threadjack this has been!

    No one’s saying the bishop is uninspired or anything but well intentioned. Just simply pointing out that he made two objective mistakes. Since they don’t seem clear to you, once again, the mistakes were:

    1. Calling out a young man in public. If someone is in need of spiritual nourishment, the fastest way to harden his heart is to embarrass him in front of his family and friends. That wasn’t the bishop’s intention, but that’s what he did.

    2. Assuming the worst. The fact that the young man is objectively active in church neutralizes the notion that the bishop’s assumptions or wording were inspired. The bishop’s may have been “reaching out with the Love of Christ,” but by any objective measure he did so with his foot firmly in his mouth.

    Friend, in your comments you are guilty of number 2, and trying unsuccessfully to accomplish number 1. You are assuming that everyone here is fault-finding regarding the bishop and needs to be called to repentance. Acknowledging a violation of established social etiquette is not fault-finding. We’ve all said things we wish we could take back, and we probably all feel sorry for bishops because they’re always walking on egg shells. But a mistake is a mistake.

    Your tone smacks of condescension and an implicit assumption that you are not only more right but more righteous than the other posters on this thread. I suggest you put an end to your mote-finding expedition. As it is, we’ve totally veered off course and lost steam on what should have been an interesting thread.

    I’m done.

  47. 46. “goes to church with all manner of liberals”
    Hah! If I was a bishop I would call into question anyone’s worthiness who goes to church with liberals. After all, how can you be a democrat and a good Mormon? 😉

    40. “go in and confess whatever needs confessing to the bishop”
    I don’t see where Lisa said her son had any grievous sins in need of confessing. Again, you are putting your view of things onto someone else. Perhaps your son needed to confess (re: #15), but that doesn’t mean this son in the post is the same.

  48. Lorin said, “I suggest you put an end to your mote-finding expedition.”

    I will not apologize for the Lord. God knows your hearts as well. He knows who among us is on the road to apostasy, and who is willing to stand with Him. I stand with the Lord.

    And can no one see, that this boy needs help? No one at all?

  49. #51 – Perhaps the boy does need help. We all need help, do we not? Suggesting that you are speaking for the Lord here (“I will not apologize for the Lord”) is not a statement that one can converse with, but it is quite arrogant to imply (which is how you sound here, to me at least) that your interpretation and way of being in the church is THE way, while Ray’s or anyone else’s is not.

    Fwiw, we could all use a little more love and patience. I believe we all have loving intentions.

  50. Friend,

    Please outline for me, if you will, what led you to believe the young man is on the road to apostasy and in need of counseling? Be as specific as you can be.

  51. Friend, I agree that we should always look within ourselves. However, you still insist that the boy was “wayward”? We are all wayward to some extent… are you suggesting that his beard or shirt or “liberal” school is proof of his need to confess?

  52. “Alice’s remark is clearly directed at me. Why? What have I done to show ‘poor respect’ other than to point out that we should not criticize our leaders.”

    Friend, you don’t seem to care for being called out in public by equals on a message board in spite of your refusal to recognize what it could have been like to a young man called out by an older man with a great deal more power and influence within the hearing of others.

    A great many people are telling you as kindly as they can that your defensiveness on behalf of someone who may or may not have been acting in love and inspiration is taking a cannonball to a fly while analyzing and evaluating is not the same thing as criticizing a leader.

    Naturally, you are entitled to your opinion and observation. But is it possible that reflecting on what many have had to offer is in order?

  53. I think the message is clear. A simple servant such as myself, willing to speak truth, is to be harassed and chased away, called names and found fault with. Consider your Christian natures my friends.

    I have done nothing but try to stand up for the Lord and the Lord’s anointed. None among you have been willing to do that. And, you attack me for doing it.

    The Lord knows my heart, and he knows yours. He knows who is on the road to apostasy, and he knows who is refusing to take one step in that direction.

    You call me a Pharisee, a troll. . .

    Again, I ask you each to consider your own Christian natures. I will pray for you.

  54. “Friend” can’t be a real person. Not sure why you are all taking him seriously. I’ve met some strict Iron Rodders in person and online, but these comments are just a little over the top. It is good “performance art” though.

  55. This is Lisa’s thread, not mine. If it were mine, however, I simply would plead with everyone to realize that there is no communication going on here. “Friend” is getting entrenched in his position; everyone else is getting entrenched in theirs.

    I will make one more attempt to reiterate what I have said previously, hoping it will somehow moderate the tone and diffuse tensions:

    Each of us – every single one of us here and each bishop or stake president or apostle – is a sinner who desperately needs God’s grace and mercy. Bishops have a heavy burden, not least of which is the judging that occurs among the general membership that nit-picks and analyzes every action he takes and every word he speaks. (There is a reason that a prophet is not accepted in his own country.) I am loath to criticize any priesthood leader for attempting to do the impossible, but I also am loath to avoid discussing real life issues simply because a priesthood leader made a mistake.

    That is ALL I have said in regard to this bishop – that he made a mistake in HOW he asked the question. I have not condemned him, and I never will. I have not claimed Lisa’s son needs no help from his Priesthood leaders; all of us, including I, do. Nobody here has attacked the bishop, and I don’t think anyone will.

    No mortal is infallible, and it is important that we learn from our own mistakes and the mistakes of others. I have been in plenty of situations as a Priesthood leader and teacher of youth where I have done and said things MUCH worse than this bishop did. I hope others grant me the same grace and mercy I hope Lisa and her son grant this good man.

    Having said all of that, I simply can’t assume a young man needs counseling and is in danger of apostasy from what Lisa has shared – ***and when nothing the actual bishop said or did implies that need.*** If the young man’s bishop – his own judge in Israel – did not make that claim, I refuse to do so or support that claim from someone without that authority.

    Friend, my problem with your argument is that you appear to be placing yourself in the position of judge for this person – while simultaneously claiming to support the bishop who has not reached the conclusions you have reached. I will side with and support his actual bishop in this case.

  56. Just curious, who is considered more “active”:

    1.) A person who attends 100% of his meetings and holds a calling, but doesn not really believe in the Restoration, and maybe not even in God, but considers Church attendance and service important.

    2.) A person who does not attend meetings and does not hold a calling, but 100% believes in the Restoration, God, Scriptures, Prophets, the whole enchilada.

  57. Perhaps I’m being conceited here, but Friend has now been asked about 5 times about how he ascertained the boy’s unworthiness, and has yet to answer.

    We all need to pray for ourselves, and each other. I agree, Friend, the Lord does know your heart, and he knows mine.
    We all need to consider our own Christian natures. The problem here is we can’t seem to find the Christianity to really listen to each other with love rather than defensiveness or agendas.

    I’m with Ray, and Friend, in that the Spirit is not here, but not because of the original topic between the boy and the Bishop, but because we are not listening to understand, we are listening to change.

  58. I’ve read these comments with interest, and the mother bear is coming alive and I feel the need to respond and tell a little more about my son. Everything I say deals with outward expressions of spirituality, which are only part of a complex picture, but may give some idea of what kind of kid he is. First, I’ve been told by many of his friends at college that he lives an “exemplary life” (and by the way, I’m using the exact words of a non-LDS ex-roommate). He’s on the Institute council and regularly fits Institute classes into a crazy-busy schedule. He always has a calling. He recently broke up with a girlfriend because she didn’t understand the concept of religious abstinence and because he said there was no future since he was going on a mission in a year. He has indeed been approached by anti-Mormon types and has vigorously defended the church to them. Believe me, at this school he’s had ample opportunity to do this. At this point (his senior year of college), he could have joined them long ago if he’d chosen. He’s a gifted musician who willingly shares his talent at church events.

    As I said in the post, I have no desire to judge my bishop’s actions. Indeed, he is entitled to inspiration. But I know my son, and he’s either a good kid or he’s fooling me, and a whole bunch of other people. Okay, stepping down from the mother-bear soapbox.

  59. Ray #60 says he has made no charge about the bishop, but yet in #7 Ray said he echoes #2, which reads:

    “Some Bishops are just jerks, plain and simple. Others zealots and some absolute saints.”

    I cannot echo that statement. I cannot say that plain and simply, some bishops are jerks, other zealots.

    I have met some who were saints. But no jerks.

    LisaRayTurner loves her son. I’m glad. She knows her son. That is wonderful. She is defensive. I understand that. Sometimes, however, we must look past our own human nature (in this case to be the mother bear) and see if just maybe the Spirit is trying to speak to us, through the Lord’s anointed.

    I feel I have been abused and attacked. I offer nothing but the love I have felt from my Savior. I am called, troll, pretender, Pharisee.

    I take offense at the notion that bishops are jerks. I stand up for them. I get abused. Is this really where the Mormons hang out? If we’re the Mormons, and I get this abuse for not thinking bishops are jerks and zealots, what treatment would I get from apostates?

  60. Well said Ray. Let it be done. This could go on forever, without anyone more the wiser, or more loving.

    When I was in Japan we (missionaries) were amazed that members could be considered active if they came to sacrament meeting “once a quarter.” I don’t know if that is the standard now (or everywhere), but that’s what we went by then.

  61. #66 How easy it is now to call for this to just die, when it seems that from the very beginning, this thread is exactly what I said it was. Post #2 called the some bishops jerks and zealots, which the clear implication is that this bishop was that. Ray, agrees.

    Friend objects.

    Pile on Friend. He’s a troll. He’s a Pharisee, He’s full of stuff requiring a laxative.

    I maintain. Bishops are not jerks. I stand with the church leaders, and not against them.

    And, regarding Ray’s call to focus on Lisa’s questions, the point was aptly made earlier, that what is the real point of “activity” when it may or may not be an indicator of anything.

    Obviously our leaders DO think activity is an indicator of something. Otherwise they wouldn’t emphasize church attendance.

    In direct answer to Lisa’s last question: “What does being active in the church mean to you?” I say it means attending church, standing with the Lord, and not being critical of the leaders of the church or referring to them as jerks and zealots. It means many other things as well, but this is a good initial definition.

  62. Adam, many churches consider their members to be “active” if they show up on the major holidays – and many “inactive” Mormons seem to have the same view. I wonder if that definition follows people into the Church and doesn’t get erased in the waters of baptism.

  63. Friend, really, you said so yourself, the Spirit is not here, so let’s all drop it. We all have plenty of stuff we could still discuss, but none of us are being edified. Otherwise, continue if you must, and wade through the laxatives, lol. 🙂

  64. Ray, that may be the case. Being an “active” Mormon to me really goes beyond just showing up at ANY meeting; there is so much more involved. It is a way of life!

  65. OK, I will break my own plea – specifically to try to end this on Friend’s terms. I sincerely mean this as an olive branch.

    I have known one bishop in my life who really was a jerk. He was a good, sincere person, and he did the best he could, but he was a jerk. He had no idea how he came across to his peers and the members of his ward, and he had no idea why the missionary work in his ward and the general morale suffered during his tenure. He didn’t understand why people asked to be allowed to attend other wards. He simply couldn’t see that the way he was acting and talking made him come across as a jerk – and that he drove people away from communion with the saints.

    Otoh, I have known hundreds of bishops who were not jerks – even though they all made mistakes now and then.

    I meant my echoing of #2 to show that I only was “shaking my head” at this bishop’s action – the least harsh response of those I listed. I have cried over the actions of bishops occasionally; this one warranted only a head shake.

    I obviously gave a different impression to you, Friend. I apologize for that.

  66. Ray, I will take you at your word. I accept your apology. I take the covenants I have made seriously, and I cannot, not one particle of me, allow myself the luxury of thinking those types of thoughts about bishops. Do the young people still say “different strokes for different folks”? If they do, that may apply here, whatever it means. I never really understood that, anyway.

    Thank you for your words.

    This place is brutal. I try not to get involved in name calling, and perhaps when others were calling names at me, my fury was kindled.

    I am sorry you had a bad bishop. I have never had that experience. I suspect you are in a great minority in the church.

    Yes, I am different. I hear them laughing at me and mocking me as I walk to church. Sometimes my fury is kindled then too, but usually a good long walk will ease the pain and soften my heart.

    I had assumed that here, where no one knows me, no one can see me and call me “freak” or “relic” or any of the other hateful names thrown my way, I could have a measure of comfort and understanding. Here there are new names, troll, Pharisee, caricature.

    I have faith. I know the Church is true. I must. I have been laughed at and mocked and called names for forty plus years for living my religion. The people of this church are high on themselves, they don’t like me. They chase me away. Not one member of our ward, except our good bishop, is willing to have me as their home teacher. No one will be my companion. I came here hoping to be a Friend, but here too I received only scorn.

    Other than from my good bishop, your “olive branch” is the only act of human kindness I have received from a member of my own church for a very long time.

    And I sincerely thank you for that. I am a human being. Despite others claiming I am not real, a pretender, a performer. I have flesh and bone. I, too, have feelings.

    In more than 40 years I have missed only one Sunday, and that was due to something beyond my control. So, yes, I believe activity in God’s Church is important. I believe activity means following the prophet. I believe it means forgiving those who transgress us. I have so little in this life other than my activity in this Church. And every Sunday they laugh at me, call me names. The young children point at me and their parents shush them. The older children throw things at me from their cars when their parents aren’t watching. Apple cores, peach pits and other trash they have. I have heard them discussing and laughing outside the building how they “beaned ol’ So and So with an apple core”. I wonder about the youth of our church.

    Activity means enduring until the end. And, enduring is hard.

    If I have offended any here, please know it was not my intent. My only ambition in life is to be God’s humble servant.

  67. Friend, thank you for giving us the opportunity to understand you a little better. I am sorry you are laughed at on the way to church. THAT is brutal. May we all find happiness, and be free from suffering.

  68. Friend: the boy is at College and is home visiting. How again does that bishop of the ward he does not live in get authority to have revelation for him? Odd that.

  69. Friend, there is no way to say fully what I want to say. I hope everyone here understands why that is and now will let this drop.

    All I can say is that I hope and pray that whatever is causing your life of conflict will end – no matter in whom the responsibility lies.

  70. I teach at a private catholic school and am forced to attend mass on occasion to supervise my young charges (all in matching plaid skirts and either white or blue shirts) At one mass the priest said that attending this mass would “count” for church attendance for that week no matter what religion you are. I felt grateful that no one counts my attendance. My husband wears white shirts when officiating in his calling in the High Priest quorum. Otherwise he wears Aloha shirts. He only wears his white shirt to the Temple so he has less changing to do. Who cares???
    We have members with white shirt and tie and Tongan or Samoan skirts (men) and tattos all over their bodies. I have tattooed friends who have been sealed in the Temple and attend to their genealogy and do the work for their ancestors. Friend makes me wonder whether i am being judged for not wearing the Molly Mormon jumper with requisite white T-shirt underneath. Church and activity is not for the perfect necessarily, it is for those of us seeking to find who we are and what our Father in Heaven wants us to do with our lives.
    I agree with those who said that the remarks should not have been public. But were they even really a question? Was the bishop in his own perhaps socially unconcious way just trying to make conversation about the only things he knew to talk about. Had it been my son, i would have told him to be glad the bishop recognized him and made contact and not to take the remarks so personally.
    It seems each of us wears our vulnarability on our sleeves (multi colored or not) I would hate to judge a bishop and i would hate to judge the college kid. I am glad that as a lady i will never be a judge in Israel and hope that the ones who judge me, will have kind hearts and the ability to see my soul.

  71. I am fairly new to my “adult life” life in the church. I currently have my first calling that requires me to be in a lot of personal contact with our bishop, and attend a ton of meetings, etc. In transitioning from a youth where adults never criticize anything about the church in your presence so as not to shake our shaky testimonies, I have had my eyes wide opened to the realism of the church. I have had to work really hard with being okay with the fact that our bishop messes up (in my opinion) all the time. But I would argue that my opinion matters at all. God called that man, not just to be a generic conduit of the spirit, but to be himself, as well and use his judgment and personality. And I feel better about myself, my calling, and my relationship with God when I just don’t let myself analyze, criticize, rethink, or anything but support and sustain.

  72. Amelia, bless you child. You are walking with the Lord. Sometimes it is a difficult walk, but it is the right way.

  73. Friend, you are good. Everyone was right, you troll. Now this is just sad. These are serious topics. Shame on you.

  74. Again with the names. I only thought to commend Amelia, and I get more name calling. I made one post one other place, and said I would do no more there because it would go bad. I should have done that here also.

    I am chased away by the members in my own ward, and I am chased away here as well. Just as I do there, I will walk away here with my head up, because I know I have done what I can to love God. I have no ill will to any of you.

  75. Sorry, but I can’t believe so many commenters think “Friend” is real. Matt Thurston, I’m definitely with you in assuming Friend is merely a hoax. If I had more time, I’d look for chiasmus or other Hebraisms in Friend’s sentence structure.

  76. #61 – Matt, the first person is more active – and every bishop in the church would rather have a congregation full of #1’s than #2’s.

  77. We’re involved in the church for many reasons, some having to do with deep faith and testimony, others having to do with the desire for a community and because we love the people in our wards. #1’s and #2’s are surely equally welcome (#1’s being active though not totally converted; #2’s having strong testimonies but not showing up). But you’re right, Ray – from a leadership point of view, the #1’s contribute a lot. Could a whole ward of #1’s sustain itself though?

  78. On the white shirt thing: People like “Friend” may preach it as doctrine, and maybe even believe it is doctrine, but it is clearly just policy. It has not been ratified by a vote of the members! The same General Authorities that Friend reveres would tan his hide if he suggested that we preach policy as doctrine.

    If the rule is unwritten, it’s not a rule. On my mission, we were taught by our leaders that a goal not written is only a wish. It’s a very similar thing. The white shirt rule is clearly policy, not doctrine. You know, like the blacks holding the priesthood thing, being less valiant in the preexistence, etc.

  79. Wow, see what you miss when you don’t pay attention.

    Here’s my take. I’ll defend the Bishop here for a moment, not the method, but the motive. It is a proper question to ask a college student whether he is still active and attending church now that he is away at school. As many of you know, we lose a great many of our young people during this time in their lives. I know that from personal experience.

    I just would have done so privately and in a slightly different way. But I will give the Bishop a kudo for concern.

    On the other hand if you knew what went on at CU Boulder, you be concerned too!!!! 🙂

  80. the Molly Mormon jumper with requisite white T-shirt underneath. I’d forgotten about those, in our area they aren’t part of the culture.

    high value on external things and less emphasis on internal things that can’t be observed. There is a value on behaviors that demonstrate foundations that can not otherwise be observed. That happens across cultures and groups.

  81. Stephen M,

    The problem is that Mark Hofmann exhibited exactly the behaviors that we assume demonstrate foundations. That’s how he hoodwinked everybody, from his ward members to historians to the First Presidency. John C. Bennett did the same in Nauvoo. History shows us that these markers are unreliable.

    Or is history not to be trusted?

  82. John and Stephen,

    I agree that there is a value in the observable. After all, it really is all we have that is objective. (“By their fruits . . .”) We just have to be aware of ALL that is observable and not get blinded by seeing certain things we want to see. There also is “a value” to feelings and impressions that are much less observable and objective.

    The balance is what’s difficult, especially when dealing with people who are willing to project who they are not. This thread alone illustrates that quite well. We want to give people the benefit of the doubt and not judge too quickly or harshly, but there really are some “jerks” out there.

  83. Jeff Spector – I agree with you on this one. The bishop’s question was awkward, but had he asked Lisa’s son in a private aside how things were going and how was his ward, and was he still doing all right with his testimony, totally fine. Maybe he was trying to keep the tone light and it just came out all wrong.

  84. Ray (100): Mark 5:27-34; Mark 9:20-24; Luke 7:1-10; Luke 23:42-43. Just a few of many examples to show action doesn’t trump professed belief every time. 🙂

  85. Although, I have to say, BFAM, that each case you listed is one where their words were preceded by their actions – or, in the case of the thief on the cross, his words are easy to interpret as the manifestation of the act of confessional contrition. You also might say that each case was an example of “displayed faith” rather than “professed belief”.

  86. Ray (103): Or, to say it in another way, examples of faith and works living in harmony. Neither an ascetic’s faith nor a “halakha”-motivated work — unquestioningly self-aware, simple effort coupled with completely non-self-sufficient need for redemption.

  87. Yeah, faith without works produced through a connection to the vine really is dead, being alone – and vice-versa, which should be quoted every bit as much.

  88. #1 and #2 on the above choices just sound like the gang on Mormon blogs. Actives with cogdis and inactives without. I kind of like that my ward is made up of actives without cogdis. Most of them have already gone through their cogdis and have chosen to be there. Many are reactives. I would be very surprised if more than 1% were cogdis in this ward, although in other wards (esp. UT), probably a higher % are underground cogdis.

    My husband and I always looked at ward members using a different scale:
    A – totally active, trying to do everything right, could easily be any calling you throw their way inc. bishop, stake presidency, RS pres, etc.
    B – totally active, good people, would be willing to do most any calling but you probably wouldn’t give them the biggies for whatever reason
    C – may be active or less active, but they are there; may or may not accept a calling, depending on the calling and whether they want it
    D – less active and willing than C, may not be currently able to accept callings due to disfellowship or excommunication, etc.

    This discussion usually comes up when there’s a local leadership shakeup and we try to figure out where the chips are going to fall. We speculate if so-and-so might be the next whatever-big-calling, and then we’ll determine if they are either A or B. If B, probably not the big callings, but maybe the next tier. Personally, I love being B. Sometimes someone we thought was a B gets an A calling, and we are surprised.

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