I’m not a big political aficionado, but I’ve been a bit interested over the last few days as potential Republican candidates announce that they are no longer potentials. My interest stepped up a bit more today as I was perusing blogs and noticed Mitt Romeny on NieNie’s blog and John Huntsman on her sister Courtney’s blog.
Then I read Courtney’s Deseret News article and became much more interested in the questions and premises that she raises about the “varying degrees of Mormonism,” and what that might mean (see what I mean about me and politics). She also poses the question, “Does it do us more harm than good to try and explain ourselves culturally when we are so different?” Good question, Courtney. I know I have gotten myself in trouble a few times when I have tried to explain Mormon culture to people who aren’t Mormon. In fact, I can’t even explain it to myself sometimes.
Let me give you an example. As our family was happily working in our garden on Saturday, each of my girls asked me why we do this. (Imagine whiney girls voices saying things like “Why do we have to have a garden?” “I hate working outside!” “Can’t I go in and vacuum instead.” “No one even likes the garden, but you.” “Nothing grows, but tomatoes anyway.”) “Well,” I answer, in a very kind, but totally in charge tone, “because it is good for our bodies to grow our own food; our bodies benefit from the work and the nutrition. “And, I add, “it is good for our spirits because our prophet commanded us to plant a garden and we will become spiritual giants if we follow the prophet.” This prompted the following discussion between myself and my sweet lawyer husband:
“Wait”, my sweet lawyer husband said, “he did not command us to plant a garden, it isn’t a commandment.”
“Oh yeah”, I said, “well he told us we should and if the prophet says it then I’m pretty sure it is a commandment, isn’t it?”
“Well,” he said, “the prophet who told us that was about 5 prophets ago and the words of our current prophet carry the most weight, remember that quote from Brigham Young about the ‘living oracle?’”
“Well,” I said, “I remember that prophet about 5 prophets ago so he might not technically be a ‘living oracle,’ but he is still an ‘oracle’ in my mind.”
“Okay,” he said, “then how come that prophet that you claim as an oracle also said not to use face cards and you play Solitaire at least once every day?”
“Well,” I said, “…I…hmmm…okay you win.”
Then the girls cheer because they think if I don’t follow the face card admonition from a prophet that means they don’t have to follow the garden admonition.
“Not so fast, my pretties,” I say. “You are entirely wrong!”
Why, you might ask, this makes no sense! I assure you it does…at least it makes sense to me because I believe in personal revelation, or the ability to be guided personally by a loving Heavenly Father. I believe that He is aware of me as an individual and He understands my needs, my weaknesses, my desires, and my purpose in life better than I do. I also believe that I have a Heavenly Father who gave me a mind and a heart so that I can be guided by personal revelation, and I believe that my Heavenly Father gave me free will and the ability to make choices based on that personal revelation. And, I believe that same Heavenly Father feels the same way about every single individual who has ever lived, lives, or will live on this earth. And that means there are going to be differences among everyone Mormons included, and the way we do things.
The whole garden/face card thing is a great example of this. I believe, through personal revelation, that growing a garden is very important for me and my own family. I don’t think that means every family needs to have a garden. As for the face card thing, I can’t say I’ve actually prayed about it, but I feel okay about playing Solitaire on my phone once a day. I’m pretty sure the prophet’s admonition on face cards had to do with gambling and addictions. However, I know that there are other families who won’t allow face cards in their home. Good for them. Does that mean they are better Mormons than me? I know what I think, but I’ll let you decide that one.
Back to Courtney’s article…She makes this same point when she relates differences among her all-Mormon family members: “Take my family, for instance. Of nine siblings you will find all of us active Utah Mormons with differing beliefs on how to be a Mormon. Some don’t eat meat, while some do. Some don’t drink caffeine, while some do. Some don’t watch sports on Sunday, while some do. Some are (lo! behold!) Democrats and some are (definitely) not.”
See, “varying degrees of Mormonism” due to personal inspiration. I’m okay with the variety, in fact, I think it makes my religious life much broader, inspiring, and definitely entertaining.
What is my point? I’m not sure anymore, but I really liked Courtney’s article and I think John Huntsman and Mitt Romney both have great hair. Another point, all four of us are Mormons, but I can guarantee we will differ on things like “How to keep the Sabbath Day Holy” and “Is Diet Coke against the Word of Wisdom?” I also guarantee that the four of us are grateful for a prophet and personal revelation.
Finally, the real point of all of this: yes, we are planting a garden this year and yes, I just finished up a 10-minute Solitaire session…and if a prophet of God asks me to quit playing Solitaire, I’ll do it without a second thought because, through personal revelation, I know he really is a prophet.