“Do you think the American people would ever have ratified” the Constitution if they had been told “the meaning of this document shall be whatever a majority of the Supreme Court says it is?” Scalia asked. Referring to the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion and the 1992 decision that barred states from placing an: “undue burden” on abortion rights, he said, “They vote on the basis of what they feel.”
“It’s the destruction of our democratic system,” Scalia said. “I cannot imagine the system can continue with more and more of the basic rules made by the Supreme Court.”
by Robert John Stevens, October 26, 2015
My wife, son Andrew, and I attended a Catholic wedding this August in Ijamsville, Maryland. I was impressed at how many scriptures were read.
When I sound an alarm it is probably too far in one direction: Content produced by religious organizations in the 21st century could be more interesting. Rather than summarize everything in generalities that don’t stick in the reader’s mind, the authors would be much more effective to quote the original sources in the body of their text.
Consider these two essays just released by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
To prove my point, if a study was performed having groups read these essays, or Sunday school and priesthood manuals filtered by Church Correlation vs “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder” by LeGrand Richards, I hypothesize the later would do much more to enlighten starving minds.
When Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and prominent early leader Sidney Rigdon spoke they often used a chapter from the scriptures as the basis for their discourses. Contrast how much more interesting that was compared to today’s sacrament meetings where members tell stories that are more fitting for library groups.
One of the unintended consequences of modern prophets, apostles and general authorities is that the average member feels disempowered, and they feel they have little to contribute; therefore, member talks have evolved from speaking with authority to quoting the brethren to personal member stories that are often more story than insight.
If we are truly children of the God of all creation then we have creative minds too. Original sources are much more nourishing and memorable then summaries.
If I am correct on this issue and content was delivered primarily as original sources with insightful commentary, I believe it could have a big impact on activity rates.
From my friend Jeff:
I think one of my challenges is that you use incredibly large brush strokes to paint (“starving minds”, “all the content produced by the church in the 21st century”, “today’s sacrament meetings”, “the average member feels disempowered and that they have little to contribute”, “member talks have evolved from speaking with authority…to more story than insight”), and none of those broad brush strokes capture my own lived experience in the church. And my guess is that if the changes you propose were made, it might make an impact on activity rates of people like you, but might lead to struggles for other members not like you.
I’m not under the naive impression that the church is perfect and unable to improve. But I’ve found in my marriage that if I look at my spouse and only worry about her imperfections, it makes for a terrible relationship and usually results in me being blind to the things I need to change about myself. At the end of the day, I believe the church has the “words of eternal life” and helps me to come closer each week to Christ, “The Son of the Living God”. That is why I will not “go away” (John 6:68-69).
by Robert John Stevens, October 24, 2015
This newly released article by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entitled, Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women shows an example of where a scripture overrides usage:
By 1926, Church President Heber J. Grant affirmed that the First Presidency “do not encourage calling in the sisters to administer to the sick, as the scriptures tell us to call in the Elders, who hold the priesthood of God and have the power and authority to administer to the sick in the name of Jesus Christ.
If that is true, how is career church employment justified in light of 2 Nephi 26:31?
But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.
Never or only in extreme situations.
I cannot think of any justified use of the force of government over personal liberty than to take away my 81-year old mother’s driver’s license.—Robert John Stevens, October 24, 2015
In celebration of today, October 21, 2015 (Back to The Future Day)…