Is it all really vanity?

Stephen MarshMormon 13 Comments

Oh the vanity and frailty and foolishness of men, for when they are learned they think they are wise …

Ok, I cheated and updated the language a little, and did not make it gender inclusive at the same time, but, seriously.  As you read the bloggernacle, where do you think people are following foolishness in their own wisdom, where do you think they are breaking away from the foolish traditions of the fathers.  Over and over again, in the Book of Mormon we have two themes.  One is those who are following foolish traditions of the fathers without questioning them or looking to the scriptures.  The other is where people are turning to their own vanity and deciding they are smarter than God.  How can you tell which is which?  Or is it all just vanity?

Comments 13

  1. I think I have a tendency to think I am breaking new ground when i think about things. One of the reasons I like the bloggernacle is that it helps me put my own thoughts but into the context of many, many others who have already thought through the same things. We don’t get the same answers but I am not an original and that is important for me. Thus there is a sense it which it is vanity and yet the struggles are genuine. Moreover, I try and remain agnostic on most issues, in that I feel that I am moving forward/backward in my understanding simultaneously. I accept that i have moved forward when it produces some change in my thinking and feeling that I sense has a spiritual impact on my life, however, I try not to hold to rigidly to what I think that meant in the past.

  2. “I try not to hold to rigidly to what I think that meant in the past.”

    I believe this is the defining factor, being flexible and humble enough to recognise that “I” don’t have all the answers is essential, I think you need to find what works for you and adapt to the changing situations.

    However with this attitude I feel more like Ephesians 4:14 with shifting views and opinions with the change of the wind.

    When will we become unified in the Faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God ?

  3. Because I see faith as a relationship rather a simple set of doctrines I think being unified in the faith is about the way I experience God and other people. Yes, I think prophets and apostles are important to this.

    I like the idea of pillars or anchors of my faith that sunstone has. I feel that God is exists (this is an anchor, or a pillar) while what this means or what God is has changed a lot for me. Is it possible that i lose this completely (I guess that it is), but I also feel that it is unlikely? Thus I see it as an anchor. Thus I do not feel tossed on the waves on the sea, but I also believe that thinking and working at these covenental relationships will always involve a shifting understanding. But perhaps I am just being vain?

  4. Life is about the heart, not about the brain. To me, the vanity is thinking doctrine is anywhere near as important as how we deal with others. Just recently, one of my son’s friends had his mom and step-father move to Washington and leave him, a 17 year-old son high school senior, behind. He was not invited to come with them. He was left in a house with no furniture and no food. He didn’t even know that new tenants were moving in that following Monday. When my son took him home from football practice and went in his home, he asked his friend what was going on. My son came home and told us we need to take him into our home.

    My son, while LDS, is not particularly religious. He is, however, a wonderful person.

  5. Mark Hansen – I’m not sure I agree with that dichotomy. The bloggernacle is not necessarily in diametric opposition to the scriptures. Also, I think there’s a big difference between pondering scripture’s meaning (a lot of which is done in the bloggernacle) and reading it in isolation. And I agree with Holden’s remark that it’s not in the reading (or even discussion) of doctrine that we make our souls – it’s in the living of the principles. Which is why the scripture Stephen starts needs the ending (2 Ne 9:29) to make it complete: “but to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”

  6. I agree with hawkgrrrl. there are far too many people who read scriptures and do not understand them. we are told to study the words of isaiah. I remember teaching gospel doctrine and asking a class member to read a verse from isaiah. they did, and I asked them to explain the scripture. they had no idea what it meant. in my heresy, I introduced a non-kjv bible that had a better translation. reading without understanding is useless. I find the bloggernacle not only helps me understand different passages of scripture better (or differently), but also I have found myself consulting the scriptures to refute arguments made by others. in this way, the bloggernacle encourages scripture study and understanding.

  7. I think this post raises a great question. I think I have been down both paths at various points in my life (I’m sure most of us have). The reason I don’t like this scripture is that so many see this as the very dichotomy you are illustrating. It feels like it gives license to orthodox individuals (since their prophet speaks for God) to blast anyone who disagrees. OTOH, questioners can point out the folly of past unquestioning decision making and pridefully ignore good counsel.

    But to me, this is too one-dimensional. Are most people really like this? I tend to doubt it. Would most of us really want to go against God if we were convinced He existed and acted according to one of various theological interpretations? And surely no one wants to repeat the awful mistakes from the Dark Ages, or witch hunts. I think most of us are wandering around in this life trying to do what we think is best. We develop expectations based on culture, experience, and observations, and when those expectations don’t work out we become disillusioned. That’s okay, it’s part of the cycle.

    But if we’re smart, we pick ourselves up and continue the journey! We continue to learn and grow and swing the pendulum around. Hopefully, at some point the pendulum will settle on something that is more enlightened than our previous self (whatever that may be).

    In this light, I have a hard time labeling anything in the bloggernacle as “foolish.” I prefer to think of it as a process. People are here, on the bloggernacle, throwing out ideas and trying to learn and grow. Sometimes this comes out the wrong way, but hopefully it always leads to more personal growth.

  8. It’s very simple. If you change your mind before the Brethren change theirs, you’re turning to your own vanity. If the change is contemporaneous, you’re good. If you’re late in getting with the new program, you’re obstinately clinging to the traditions of your fathers.

    Ya gotta have timin’…a tick a tick a good timin’….

  9. This is brilliant.

    I’m going to have to think about this.

    In the meantime I’ll wear my shirt from

    Tradition: Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly stupid. (And it shows a picture of a bull running down a crowded street trampling people)

  10. Well for all those in the bloggernacle and Mormondom, you should all be grateful that Joseph Smith decided that he needed to question all the religions of his day. You should be grateful for the many people who pushed, prayed and prodded God, until he fixed the foolishness of man and allowed all the men to hold the priesthood. Will those pushing, praying and prodding God for women be given the same credit. From a theological standpoint it is clear that women will be priestesses, so when do the priestesses get their priesthood? Is that foolishness or wisdom on my part?

    Thinking you are wise is the problem, not wisdom.

  11. Ulysseus:

    From a Community of Christ perspective, let me assure you that whenever you do have women priesthood, their titles will be neither priestesses nor matriarchs. 😀

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