Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Living Room Temple

Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness,” Says the Bible Dictionary in the LDS edition of the Bible. It seems that some in the mountain west might be taking this a little too far. It appears that it has become a common trend for some LDS to take a spare room in their house, add some modest furniture, paint the walls white, hang some Church artwork, and maybe even an altar! And by doing so, create their own Celestial Room.
I remember one evening doing a Google search for “celestial room,” that led me to a resort in Utah that had its own celestial room! (see here) I said to myself, wait aren’t celestial rooms reserved for the temple? Apparently not. The practice of creating a quite room dedicated to prayer and study is not new or exclusively LDS, it does become interesting when Mormonism puts its spin on it, especially with our unique temple liturgy.  
Let’s go back in history a bit; the original Nauvoo Endowment was given to a special group of Joseph Smith’s close friends often called the Anointed Quorum. It was given, not in a temple, but in the attic of the Prophets red brick store. It seems that a temple proper is not necessary for the ordinances we normally associate with it. Brigham Young even dedicated one mountain top as a natural temple. It was recorded that at one point on the trek west Brigham Young and several other Elders dressed in their temple clothes and retired to the top of a mountain to Pray according to the True Order.  
Later in LDS history we see Brigham Young encouraging every family to have a temple style Altar in their homes, he even includes dimensions! By Common Consent has an excellent blog about Family altars, by J. Stapley. We see that certain elements of temple worship were brought out of the temples and into homes. Up until the 1970’s, extra temple Prayer circles were the norm in some Stakes. Once they were stopped at the Stake Level, because there were not enough opportunities for all to participate, it seems the practice stopped completely.
That brings us to today. After some searching and posting questions on LDS forums; it seems that some Mormons are bringing the temple back into their homes. The practice ranges from simply having a living room with no TV and a set of scriptures, to a full blown recreation of what one would expect in a celestial room. Personally I applaud the idea, why not bring a little piece of the temple back home with you? If having your own altar reminds you to pray more often what harm could it cause? This is the sort of thing I could see myself doing if I had the space.
Don’t be fooled, this practice is not exclusive to LDS eHow has a page showing you how to create your own prayer room for any religion. It seems that some people have an embedded drive to create sacred space where it is easily accessible. I wish more people were that in touch with their spirituality.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christian But Different

If you spend any reading LDS apologetics or anti-Mormon websites you will notice one reoccurring question, “Are Mormons Christians?” Most LDS will say yes and argue their reasons and most “Christians” (AKA: anti-Mormons) will say no. What I find interesting is what follows. Since it is almost universally agreed in anti-Mormon circles that Mormons are not Christian, they must then define what we are.
A cult
The majority defines Mormonism as a cult, but what is a cult? The World English dictionary defines it as:
1.    a specific system of religious worship, esp with reference to its rites and deity
2.    a quasi-religious organization using devious psychological techniques to gain and control adherents
3.    Socio-  a group having an exclusive ideology and ritual practices centered on sacred symbols, esp one characterized by lack of organizational structure
4.    intense interest in and devotion to a person, idea, or activity: the cult of yoga
Ok, 1,3, and 4 I can’t really debate but, on the same token those definitions fit pretty much any organized religion. The first definition is so broad I can’t think of a religion that wouldn’t fall into that category. The third definition could be argued; it would be hard to argue that the Church has a “lack of organizational structure.” The Last definition isn’t really a blanket fit either. I don’t doubt that there are numerous Mormons who have “intense interest and devotion” to the Church, it might not even be a bad thing, but I don’t think that is what anti-Mormons are driving at.
That leaves us with the second definition. Ahh! I bet you thought I was going to skip over that one. I was just saving the best for last. First I don’t think Mormonism could be considered quasi-religious. If we are nothing we are fully religious. If anything I would say most mainstream religions are “quasi-religious.”  Then there is the multiple “psychological techniques” we use to gain and keep members. I just wish I knew which ones they were. I really see no difference between how Missionaries proselytize and the countless evangelicals who feel like they need to “witness” to me.  
All in all, labeling Mormonism as a cult seems more like a tactic to keep others from even considering our beliefs than an accurate characterization of our beliefs.

The Fourth Abrahamic religion

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has called Mormonism the fourth Abrahamic religion:
“Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being the fourth…”
Evangeilicals and anti-Mormons call this statement generous, I call it offensive. Saying Mormons are the fourth Abrahamic religion, separating us from Christianity, only insults our deep respect, devotion, and worship of Christ.

So where does that leave us? I think the most Fair and equitable way to define Mormons is Christian but different. I will be the first to admit that we do not have all of the same believes about Christ that others do. Our beliefs are distinct, that is what makes us distinct. However, we are followers in and believers of Jesus Christ. By any definition that makes us Christians.

Friday, December 2, 2011

First Post: Welcom to Mormon Thought and Opinion

Welcome to Mormon Thought and Opinion! I decided to create this blog as an outlet for all my personal thoughts and opinions about Mormonism or more correctly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
A little about myself; I am a convert. I joined the church when I was 13. So, in a sense I don’t consider myself a convert because this is the only church I have ever belonged to. I was born in the Midwest and have spent most of my life in the Midwest or the east coast. I am married to a wonderful albeit less active woman. We have no children (yet) other than our dog, a three-year-old Great Dane. I have always considered myself a faithful member of the church even though I do have my occasional stumbles and doubts.
My Goal for this blog is to provide an outlet for all my unedited thoughts and opinions about my religion and life in general. Good, bad, unflattering, and uplifting, it’s all going to be included. I hope to give a real life picture of the average (or perhaps not so average) Mormon. I hope to discuss many topics, ranging from general doctrine, temples, and general social politics.
Finally, welcome and enjoy!