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Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just lately I have had a compulsion to write. If you follow this blog ( a lot of folks used to, not so many now) you know I haven't posted since the middle of the month, and that is because the things I have a compulsion to write about are not the types of things I have been posting on the blog.

I started this thing to give those who might read it a little insight in what is is like to be a seventy plus old coot with marginal health but a lot of interest in what goes on around him. I haven't; however, done much of what I was doing earlier, that is writing a memoir for my kids so that hey might have some idea of how I, and they, have reached this point. (Oh come on, all of my kids are over forty, they KNOW the technical part of how they got started, and that will not be part of the blog, OR the memoir.)

Anyway, I haven't written much of anything about my life as a Mormon Missionary, how I got into, and what I have done with and about theatre, (My department heads at Georgia Southern have ranted for years about my unwillingness to spell theatre - theater. Some sort of effete connection with the British spelling I guess. I always tell them that theaters are where movies are shown and theatres are where plays are done.) and the relationship between puppetry and sculpting (which led to making dollies).I am now writing in my memoir about college, slipping into theatre, and my missionary experiences

(If you read hereafter, you will read about them. You are unlikely to get much about Mormon theology, I have already been a missionary, but you will get more about what it is like to be dumped into a totally unfamiliar culture without any language training, and some of the good- and bad- things that evolve. I have always been pleased that, coming into a society where the Lutheran Church was the state church, and most of the society didn't pay much attention to it, that by challenging existing faith, I created more really involved and active Lutherans than I did Mormon converts. I don't care what one's faith is, I can't help thinking that one is better off actively involved with it than just floating along as a member of record.)

I hope to involve you in theatre, in Puppets, in my family (most of my memoir about the family will remain on the page rather than on the blog. I have been threatened by my progeny), in the society in the mountain west, and what happens to a westerner who becomes a member of the Cranston Men's Republican Club in Cranston, Rhode Island. For those of you who may find these things intriguing I welcome you, for those uninterested, it was nice to know you while you were here.

Writing briefly about Mormonism, I do want to write about one issue, and I will never mention it again. When I wrote, last May or June about my experience while going to immerse myself in Southern Gospel Music at the Gaither Fest in Gatlinburg, Tennesse, an anonymous commenter blasted me for even attending the festival (among other things), and I really didn't perceive at the time that he was angry about a Mormon attending a music festival that dealt with Jesus, Faith, and Salvation, when he was sure that no Mormon could have a any concept of what it was really about.

I confess that as the festival was going on, when I occasionally stood with others, moved to tears by the intensity of what was going on, it occurred to me that many of the folks with which I shared hand holding and hugs and tears would possibly have shunned me had they known my faith, and it made me sad. In spite of the doubts of others, we Mormons worship the same Jesus that is worshiped by Baptists. The same one who (if one believes the bible, and I do) wept and while in prayer on the eve of passover sweat, as it were, drops of blood, He was so anguished for our sins and His atonement for them. We worship the same one who was crucified for us, who gave up His life and, in three days was resurrected. We worship the same one who created in his faithful all the experiences of the day of Penacost. The fact that we take more literally the nature of His resurrection and the prayers to His Father than others does not make Him less significant to us than to all others who follow Him, nor does the fact that, although we are aware and grateful that He is our Savior and accept Him as our personal Savior, we feel more strongly than some that his commandments are to be observed by the faithful.

The fact is that I had much more in common, in faith, inexperience, and even in worship with"anonymous" than he would ever admit, and this makes me sad. I felt such brotherhood with my fellow audience members at the Gaitherfest, and I am so sad that they might not have included me had they known "who" I was /am. We Mormons are not big on Holiday rituals (Midnight Mass etc.) and many of us follow those of others. Some of the most wonderful Christmas Eves in my life have come in the Midnight gatherings of the little Community Church of Christ here in Statesboro, Georgia, and these Christians were perfectly willing to accept me as I was, as I accepted them ( Some, in the Bell Choir in which many of us from both congregations participated played in both our services and theirs.)

Okay! that's over but you all, both faith oriented and otherwise know what I think and feel, and that your disapproval will not hinder my prayers in your behalf (as well as in my own behalf.) I hope no Christians, in fact no Americans, and even no more human beings than are already in its throes, could get caught up in the kind of fanaticism and hate of those who do not share your beliefs that has led to the kind of war in which we are now involved.

Christ commanded us to love our enemies and do good to those who would do us evil. I hope we can learn to really love all those who share so many aspects of one faith - - or even those who do not. DONE. No more preaching, I promise. I just had to let it out this time.


At 12:53 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I really don't get the anti-Mormon thingy. I didn't even know it existed until Mitt's candidacy.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Patrick, the anti-a particular religious practice has been around for a long time. The motivations are as varied as the practices, but the Puritans in England, having decided that they had a lock on valid religion rebelled, killed off a lot of royalists (and exported some of my wife's ancestors to the "New World") and changed the history of England. In the eighth and ninth century various members of the Muslim community decided that they had a lock on the true Mohamed and the Shiites and the Sunnies evolved, and with that, there has been blood shed every year since that time. When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began, Joseph Smith, a fourteen year old boy told the local pastorates that he had had a vision and seen God. Their reaction was not unlike that of the Pharisees when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.
"That can't happen, we know how it really works." and for the next fifty or more years Mormons were fair game for lynch mobs, tar and feather etc. (as were many Christians in the first century AD.)
Now, there are those who deny Mormons the right to call themselves Christian (A similar denial has been issued at times for Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, in Elizabethan England for Catholics, in France around the same time for Protestants, and, in some areas of Colonial America, even for Baptists.) I even know Mormons who are sure that when they get to Heaven they will be the only ones there-(-told a joke in this blog about that phenomenon.)

Intolerance of the faith of others is as old as faith, and will probably be around as long as the earth is.

At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Rain said...

Strange how I get that uncomfortable tug when I read "anti" anything in this case anti-Mormon. I have no right to be concerned with another's religious or spiritual beliefs or which path they may practice in preparation for an after life. We all have the right to search our own truth. My opinions silently direct me and I don't tend to express them without invitation.
I am much more concerned with a persons humanity, empathy and tolerance. Accepting the diversity of others without judgment are the lessons I most treasure.
Thank you for sharing your well written thoughts.


At 7:34 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Welcome here Rain, come back again. I went to your page and noted that we share a favorite blogger in Thotman.

At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

When a faith claims to be the only true faith...to the best of my knowledge they all do...what else can be expected other than conflict? To believe one is to exclude the others. You are right Richard, history proves that this will probably exist as long as the earth.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

I am a Christian but do not condemn those who are non-believers, nor would I ever think of condemning other Christian faiths that differ from mine, such as the Mormon faith. I think the MSM made a lot more out of Romney's faith than necessary! I don't care what faith he is. I don't care what faith a President adheres to. All I care about is that a President knows what he is doing!

Bottom line, the only people I am intolerant about are the people who are intolerant!

At 12:39 PM, Blogger t_cole said...

You said:
"I don't care what one's faith is, I can't help thinking that one is better off actively involved with it than just floating along as a member of record."

Profound. And I agree completely.
I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church. That is where my personal faith was born and grew for many years.
But contrary to most SB, I do not adhere to judgement and condemnation of other religions. Oh they deny it too. But I have been in the Sunday School classes and heard it with mine own ears...

When I first started attending the little country church I now attend, I had a sit down with the preacher. I explained to him that while I am a member of the Baptist faith, being a Christian is more important to me.
Christian, First. Baptist, Second. (he was okay with that!)

And truth be told - when we do sell our home and move back to the metropolis area - I will be looking for a church outside the Baptist faith.
Not because one is right and one is wrong - but b/c that is what His spirit is calling me to do...
And when He calls, I tend to listen...

Excellent piece, Richard. thanks for the mind-food.


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