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More Mormon Musings

Posted by Nancy on July 10, 2008

Who would have thought that getting away for a few days would mean Bud and I would talk about – religion?

First, you have to understand that if there is one topic he never wants to talk about, it is religion.  And while he is not exactly anti-Mormon, he is sort of anti-organized-religion in general.  His philosophy is that religion is fine for those who “need” it, but he is not one of them.

So it came as a complete surprise when he became the latest person to put in his two cents worth on the Sunday activity musings that have been going on.  Oh, we talked about it a bit before, but not like this.  This time he has been telling me his opinion of what the gospel is all about, what its strengths are, and how that relates to raising children to be strong in the gospel and strong as a family.  This is what he wants for us, and he said it.

This is the most meaningful conversation we have had about religion in a long time, and the first time he has really opened up and shed some light on what he thinks about the Church’s teachings.

I have known he is proud of how our children have turned out, and gives their religious training a lot of credit for that.  I have known he likes to “pass” as a Mormon when we go to church historical sites rather than ‘fess up and let them be extra nice to him as a missionary effort.  I know he admires the Church and its members, – but, it’s just not. for. him.

So, his view on our last Sunday’s activities is that the whole day was premised on a spiritual occasion – the blessing of a baby – and the family would not have been together had this not happened.  It was not planned as a family reunion, but as a spiritual event that brought the family together.  To him that distinction is of primary importance.  Had we planned an outing to a public swimming park or paid money it would have been an entirely different situation.

It became a reunion because it was the first time we had all been together in a very long time, and we were celebrating the addition of a new baby.

Bud’s feelings are that the main focus of the Church seems to be on strong family relationships, and the activites of that day helped to accomplish that purpose.  In his mind nothing should have been done differently – no activity was inappropriate under these specific circumstances.  We talked about gathering children into the family, not driving them away with restrictive rules that add nothing to their religious experience.  Nothing drives him away faster than someone being overly zealous.

I respect that.  I respect that he has spent the week pondering on this, as I have.  I respect that he wants his family to live up to the teachings of the Church and have close family ties, even if he STILL is not ready to join the church himself.  I respect his right not to join the Church – if/when he does he will not be lukewarm but will be valiant in his membership because he will have chosen it when he is ready.

It is such progress from where we started when I joined the Church and he wouldn’t even come to my baptism.  It has been accomplished through patience on both our parts, through his support for my raising the kids in the Church, and my tenacity in hanging in there and demanding time for callings and activities that I knew to be important.  Our children worked to develop testimonies and incorporate them into themselves, and now use them to set examples for him.  Credit also goes to all the wonderful people at church who fulfilled their callings and helped the process along.

This whole period of introspection and scripture study occurred because of a statement that some people choose not to swim on the Sabbath because Satan has dominion over the waters, making swimming an inappropriate activity.  I have to admit I had never heard that before.  A poll of my children showed that they had, either on missions or at BYU.  The interesting part is that no one can find any scripture or prophet stating this.

Research by several of us shows it appears to be based on D&C 61, although Satan is not mentioned in it.  Further study on that section shows it was written about a storm on the Missouri River, and the Doctrine and Covenants study guide, authorized by the Church, has no reference to Satan when discussing this section.  Elaine took a D&C class given by the book’s author while at BYU, and he said nothing about Satan and water when teaching this section.  Some students brought it up, but the professor did not.

So, again we are back where we began.  If all recreational activities are forbidden on the Sabbath, swimming is included.  If any recreational activities are permitted, swimming is on the table along with everything else.

As Katie said earlier today, in the 11th Article of Faith we say we believe all men should be free to worship according to the dictates of their conscience.  Then we judge each other in the church.

Good luck in developing what will keep your family close to the Church.  Some things are requirements, but for others I suspect circumstances must be weighed and all families are different.  It is the love of Christ that is unchangeable.

Thus saith the Gospel According to Bud and Nancy.

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3 Responses to “More Mormon Musings”

  1. Elaine said

    Ummm . . . just wanted to clarify a few points. My D&C class was taught by either brother Otten or brother Caldwell (I don’t remember which, but they are co-authors of Sacred Truths of the Doctrine and Covenants, Volumes I and II). I have absolutely no recollection of the discussion of Section 61 in class, though I could probably pull out my notes. In the book, however, there is a quote from Joseph Fielding Smith who does affirm that the destroyer, as referred to in this section, is Satan, and he goes on to say that Satan does have some power over the elements (water, of course, being only one element), but God has more power over them (everybody say it with me: “duh!”). Says nothing about Satan “ruling” the waters (I don’t remember where I’d heard that, just that I had; but I’ve always had a difficult time with that concept, because if Satan rules the waters we seem doomed to failure, given that we are made of, what? 70% water, and the earth is what? 75% water.
    I am glad to hear that the spiritual significance of the day wasn’t lost on dad. I wish he could have participated in the blessing, but I’m glad he was there and even weathered a “dreaded” testimony meeting for it.

  2. Fern R. Law said

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with Mormon life.

    I served an LDS Mission to Southern Germany 38 years ago.

    I have heard, like others, of the concept that Satan has special powers over the waters, and that it was a reason given for why missionaries were forbidden to go swimming, but not forbidden to play volleyball on their Preparation day.

    I have not heard that it is forbidden for anyone else to swim either on Sunday, or any other day.

    I beleive it is as important fo refrain from going to public swimming pools as any other place where people are required to work on the Sabbath (hospitals, excepted.) And I think all Christians should be strong on this point, as well.

    My in-laws have their own pool, and we frequently have family gatherings on Sunday where swimming is a favorite activity, and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to let the Bishop know that either.

    Generally speaking, I think the most important of our beliefs are the ones stated in our Articles of Faith; and we may spend far too much time and energy worrying about concepts that are on the fringe.

  3. Nancy said

    Oops, my mistake. It was Katie who told me her recollections from the D&C class at BYU. Being so much younger, her memories are fresher. 😉

    I did not find the quote from Joseph Fielding Smith stating that Section 61 is in fact referring to Satan, but I did find one where he said Satan has some dominion over the elements. That would include things like air – hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. – among others. And, as you pointed out, God has more power and dominion.

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