Orthodoxy vs. [Un]Orthodoxy

January 5, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 7:37 am   Category: Uncategorized

In our recent PEC meeting, our bishop let us know that the chain of command [God, Prophet, Apostle, Seventy, Area Seventy, Stake President, Bishop] had sent down a message that the leadership is worried about a growing rift in the church where members are identifying themselves as either orthodox or unorthodox members.

What I found so illuminating about this was the example the Stake President used to make his point. He noted that he was recently in an interview with a certain sister who told him that she had some concerns and had been unable to take the sacrament for quite some time.

As the stake president mentally steeled himself to help her through whatever issues of morality and repentance she was struggling with, that’s when she let the other shoe drop.

“It’s wheat” she said.

“Excuse me” He said.

“We’re supposed to use white bread.”

The Stake President said that as he explained that the bread type didn’t matter (and in some situations where bread was not available, other substances could even be used), the sister looked at him like he had just apostatized.

(and in BCC Firestorm Fashion)

Discuss.

82 Comments »

  1. Your Bishop’s example of why a member might call themselves orthodox is a petty and superstitious reason to call yourself orthodox. However, I think there is a noticeable division within the church between the old thought and the new thought. A division based on examples that aren’t so petty and superstitious. I don’s see the division as an obvious one, where we fear a split in the membership of the church. I see it as a division between those who relish in the differences we have with other churches, and those who downplay those differences.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 5, 2010 @ 8:01 am

  2. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. I’m wondering whether this is the same type of example that is coming down the chain of command. When I hear these general sorts of concerns articulated in church (rift between orthodox and unorthodox), it is only rarely that the orthodox get taken to task.

    Comment by Randy B. — January 5, 2010 @ 8:08 am

  3. Hehe. Good story Matt.

    I think the moral of the story is this: There are more morons in the world than any of us want to admit.

    The solution to such problems is this: Carry on.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2010 @ 8:51 am

  4. Craig: a division between those who relish in the differences we have with other churches, and those who downplay those differences.

    Which side of that divide is the orthodox side?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2010 @ 8:52 am

  5. I think we should use monkey bread for the sacrament.

    Comment by Aaron n Idaho — January 5, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  6. What is monkey bread?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2010 @ 9:32 am

  7. Orthodox, smorthodox. When people self-identify as anything it’s anyone’s guess what the label means.

    Comment by Peter LLC — January 5, 2010 @ 9:40 am

  8. Why was this illuminating for you Matt?

    I also kinda agree with Craig in #1. Some of my biggest disagreements with fellow LDS bloggers have been based on ‘the divide’, and how wide it is, and whether we should try to emphasize or de-emphasize such divide.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — January 5, 2010 @ 9:45 am

  9. mmmm…monkey bread

    Comment by Randy B. — January 5, 2010 @ 9:45 am

  10. Monkey bread is not such a good idea… I would eat a whole sacrament tray myself. Or…I would offer to go take sacrament to the “shut ins” and I would steal it all.

    Which side of the divide does that put me on I wonder…?

    Comment by Riley — January 5, 2010 @ 9:53 am

  11. I only eat rye. What about: white shirt v. blue shirt deacons: go!

    Comment by Tod Robbins — January 5, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  12. I’m glad you brought this topic up. Because I think these word are used to label people over less-than-consequential things. I don’t think that wearing a blue shirt makes you heterodox, I think evolution by natural selection is a valuable way to understand life on our planet, and I think that much of the language in scripture is symbolic rather than literal. However, I consider myself orthodox. Why? I have made a covenant to take upon me the name of Christ, remember him, and keep his commandments. I try to honor that covenant. That is what I consider orthodoxy.

    Comment by Todd — January 5, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  13. Matt,

    Was the concern centered around the idea of labels (sort of a “no manner of ‘ites thing”) or was the concern over a discomfort that some members would feel comfortable considering themselves to be anything other than fully orthodox?

    Just curious.

    Comment by John Dehlin — January 5, 2010 @ 10:48 am

  14. What’s interesting to me is not that she had a problem with the bread being wheat, or even that you are poaching my trademarked Firestorm line. To me it’s amazing that someone would be denying themselves the sacrament for this reason. I mean, that’s a pretty big deal. So it’s the extent to which she was bothered that surprises me.

    Comment by Steve Evans — January 5, 2010 @ 11:07 am

  15. Boy does this one hit home. Robert Kirby illuminated it best: http://www.mudrow.org/Herb/FKM1.html

    I think in practice, what most people consider “Orthodox Mormons” for the sake of this discussion include Kirby’s categories of “Conservative Mormons” and “Orthodox Mormons.” I think the biggest problem this group has is that they are rabid about conformity, sometimes at the expense of being a decent person.

    Everyone else, including the “Genuine Mormons” falls into the “Unorthodox” category due to not being herd animals. The problem this group can face is the suspicion they are treated with for their resistance to conformity, especially their objection to micromanaging the thoughts of others. They can also, as Kirby points out “worship at the altar of their own opinion.”

    I think the majority of active TBM types could all really benefit from reading Dr. Seuss’ book about the Sneetches . . .

    Comment by Molly — January 5, 2010 @ 11:15 am

  16. Geoff, lmgtfy.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 5, 2010 @ 11:47 am

  17. Monkey bread is exactly what the Godless liberals who believe in Darwinism would want us to use!

    Comment by sister blah 2 — January 5, 2010 @ 11:51 am

  18. Matt,

    In addition to Dehlin’s excellent question, I am wondering if they hinted at the recommended solution coming from the chain of command.

    Like Randy B, I am surprised that the SP used an example of radically insane “orthodoxy” rather than the alternative. Despite the example, somehow I still suspect the upper levels of that chain worry more about the unorthodox than the orthodox. I hope it is a “no manner of ‘ites” concern though.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 5, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  19. Monkey bread would be delicious. We did use bread bowls once. Best meeting ever!

    Comment by Todd — January 5, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  20. The problem with Googling “monkey bread” Jacob is that it doesn’t explain why a bunch of Mormons seemed to be especially into the stuff.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  21. Monkey bread is that sticky, cinnamony bread. Yum. I think the more appropriate leavened foodstuff would be for us to use jonnycakes for Sacrament. Brother Joseph would be proud.

    Comment by Rusty — January 5, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

  22. Geoff, it is because it is made exclusively with white bread.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 5, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  23. Sheesh Matt. You made me want to go to a PEC. Once. I vote for cinnabon sacrament. Imagine the smell! Would that be unorthodox?

    Comment by WVS — January 5, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  24. Because monkey bread goes so nicely with green bean casserole and that lime jello stuff with carrots in it.

    Comment by Aaron n Idaho — January 5, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

  25. Todd, did you put the wine *into* the bowls?

    Comment by WVS — January 5, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

  26. Ha! Didn’t go quite that far WVS. We just used the bread bowls for bread. We couldn’t find any bread so I found bread bowls in the kitchen. I think they were for “mingles” after the block. But maybe wine would be good in the spirit of orthodoxy.

    Comment by Todd — January 5, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  27. “jonnycakes”

    Hehehe. Nice Rusty.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  28. Yeah, but Rusty, Brother Joseph wanted something better, remember? ;^)

    Comment by Chuck — January 5, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

  29. When I have used the term “Orthodox Mormon” in a blog post over a year ago, it was my shorthand for conveying the meaning so well worded by Molly above and Robert Kirby. At the time of this usage, I was completely oblivious to the Mormon-related blogging world. My post had been reflecting on the different Mormons I saw around me. My step-father was what I called an Orthodox Mormon, in that he kept the letter of the law strictly and very publicly but never made the genuine personality changes necessary to being a true follower of Christ…he was doing the actions as a Pharisee would, as opposed to BEING Christlike inside and letting his actions naturally flow from inside. I find it interesting that your leadership would call attention to the divide in their meeting yet completely miss the point by forgetting to expound upon the problems with this woman’s bread-snobbery. My step-father spanked me for accepting the bread tray with my left hand once because that was “not proper”.

    If I’d been raised by Genuine Mormons, would I have to struggle so much with the little and big sacraments so often performed in Mormon living?

    Would calling attention to the so-called Orthodox Mormonism vs Genuine Mormonism divide help in any constructive ways?

    Comment by MchllChndlr — January 5, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

  30. “And thus we see” that there are pros and cons of being BOTH orthodox and unorthodox, no matter which way we define the terms.

    Comment by Clean Cut — January 5, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  31. (And I think that everyone is both from time to time, or even most of the time, depending on the circumstances…)

    Comment by Clean Cut — January 5, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  32. Eric: I found it illuminating because I’ve always found the Liahona/Iron Rod divide in the church to be terribly false.

    John Dehlin and Jacob: I honestly don’t know.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 5, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

  33. It’s interesting to me how too often people assume their personal witness or assumptions regarding concepts, procedures, history, or doctrine is mandatory and binding on everybody else. I think they assume there is an absolute truth that God has communicated perfectly to us through infallible servants who are disconnected from their personal biases and cultural influences. Therefore, there is something fundamentally rebellious in a person if they disagree (I use rebellious and disagree since apparently it’s up to the “heterodox” members to “fall in line” with the “orthodox” members on any given subject, and not the other way around). In other words, to often the “orthodox people” set the rules. Typically their formula is simply an equivocation of words: orthodoxy = truth; heterodoxy = falsehood or mistruth.

    Regardless of how we determine where a person stands, if they introduce Monkey Bread as part of the sacrament I can guarantee you that neither side will want to claim me.

    Comment by Riley — January 5, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

  34. Riley, I once posted on that very topic. Totally agree with you.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 5, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  35. Orthodoxy = “correct doctrine”, in the context of some arbiter of correctness.

    One might argue that anyone who believes that orthodoxy == truth doesn’t quite appreciate church history, or the ninth article of faith.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 5, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  36. Mark D, I’m not sure that it would necessarily be “correct doctrine” as much as it is “accepted doctrine”.

    Comment by Clean Cut — January 5, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  37. By the way, I don’t think the Church is nearly as concerned about people thinking of themselves as “orthodox Mormons”, I think the leaders are concerned about the implications a large number of members considering themselves “unorthodox Mormons”.

    And of course the best way to combat the trend is to seek out and destroy false claims to orthodoxy wherever they may be found in the Church. Such claims are much more insidious than admissions of unorthodoxy.

    Not claims to truth (although those can be problematic as well), but claims to orthodoxy. Claims to truth usually aren’t much of a problem until people get dogmatic about it. Everyone has opinions after all.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 5, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

  38. I’m not sure that it would necessarily be “correct doctrine” as much as it is “accepted doctrine”.

    “Accepted” means “accepted as correct, by some arbiter of correctness”. The qualifier is important.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 5, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

  39. Got it. We’re on the same page.

    Now, as to the arbiter…

    Comment by Clean Cut — January 5, 2010 @ 3:05 pm

  40. And of course the best way to combat the trend is to seek out and destroy false claims to orthodoxy wherever they may be found in the Church.

    Now that’s interesting. Maybe the story about the wheat bread is concerning to the SP because he doesn’t want to be considered to be an unorthodox Mormon, rather than because he is concerned that the woman is crazy in her orthodoxy. That would make a lot of sense.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 5, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  41. I am saying that coming down on false orthodoxy (i.e. people who falsely think that some proposition or another is orthodox when it isn’t) is much more important than coming down on people who have unorthodox ideas but know that they are unorthodox.

    The reason why is that false claims of orthodoxy push others into sympathy with the “unorthodox” camp, many more than would be inclined to feel that way to begin with. Right or wrong, a preponderance of members who feel that they are unorthodox is hazardous to the health of the church. If people are pushing others away due to a false sense of orthodoxy, that is worse. There is no salvation in a false doctrine, right? More like a cancerous growth.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 5, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  42. As an individual with a strong analytical bend I tend to view the world in terms of probabilities– including my own beliefs and testimony. During an informal conversation with a church member I expressed my testimony of the divine nature of our current Prophet’s calling as “man’s best guess as who God would ideally choose to lead His church on earth.”. Bishop was eavesdropping and later called me into his office. When I refused to restate my position in stronger terms I was released from my calling and he refused to sign off on a temple recommend. Appeals to the SP fell on deaf ears. I guess I may qualify as unorthodox and to me it, assuming the rumor to be true, it sounds like a coming purge.

    Comment by PaulM — January 5, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  43. Doh! That stinks for you PaulM. I suspect the problem was probably not your heterodox opinion but rather the fact that you were brazen enough to openly share it with a fellow ward member within earshot of the bishop. There seems to be a major difference between private opinions and public preaching in the church.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  44. PaulM:

    for someone who claims “a strong analytical bend” and “to view the world in terms of probabilities”, a “coming purge” seems pretty improbable.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 5, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  45. Maybe #42 feels a “coming purge” of one?

    Comment by mondocool — January 5, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  46. Matt:

    Hence the qualifier “sounds like.” Please read more carefully before picking. A purge seems more probable than some of the more benign possibilities others have proposed given my experience.

    Geoff:

    Mostly I chalk the whole thing up to bad luck. The irony is that I was attempting to help someone get over the idea that prophets and apostles should be perfect in every way post calling. The idea that some of the early leaders may have been called “by mistake” does not seem far-fetched to me.

    Comment by PaulM — January 5, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

  47. Yeah PaulM — it sounds like some bad luck to me also. Well I hope it blows over quickly for you there in your stake.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

  48. Mondo: Can you address comment #13 at all. You were there, after all.

    I am surprised at the seriousness of many of these comments. Where I thought this was mainly a good reminder to not be so uptight…

    Comment by Matt W. — January 5, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  49. From what I can gather, this “orthodox or not” thing is a very serious issue for a lot of people Matt. PaulM is one example of many.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  50. Fortunately, there is mostly common ground between orthodox and nonorthodox. I would call a belief in God, Christ, etc. common beliefs. I would call a testimony of truth in the BofM common. I would call service to others, loving fellowman, etc. all common.

    I think the biggest difference is in the approach to things that are more peripheral and have absolutely nothing to do with the core of the eternal gospel. Examples:
    – White shirts
    – Facial hair
    – Tattoos / earrings
    – What you actually use for sacrament
    – What hand you use for sacrament
    – Coke
    – Wine (yes, Christ drank wine. So did Joseph Smith – it’s NOT an eternal principle)
    – The length of garments, which have changed by several feet over the years
    – Hairstyles
    – Wearing socks to Church
    – Whether a few words in Genesis were meant as a scientific text
    – Calling the General YM leader “President xxx”, calling the General YW leader “Sister xxx”
    – Whether a testimony means “I KNOW” or “I BELIEVE”
    – Etc.

    Orthodox people seem to get really bent out of shape with these peripheral things. Non-orthodox people care much less about them.

    Unfortunately, as shown above, most leadership positions are filled with “Orthodox” people, which self-select more Orthodox people for leadership positions, who then do the same…

    Comment by Mike S — January 5, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

  51. Mike S,

    Wine is out of place on your list. None of that other stuff will keep a person out of the temple — drinking wine will.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  52. In my brother-in-law’s former stake, it had to be white bread with no crust. Each piece was to be pure, white & delightsome just like the Savior we were remembering. We thought it was over-the-top, but because the directive came from the top (stake president), he did as instructed.

    Maybe this certain sister used to live in Albuquerque?

    Comment by Téa — January 5, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

  53. #13 via #48: I think Judges in Israel have a hard enough time w/o having a few or a bunch of people in a congregation taking upon themselves the role of arbiters of the faith. I have a hard enough time just trying to be true to what I believe and feel the Spirit wants me to do. Judge yourself against what you know to be true.
    I think all the conversation this post has generated on this and other sites is evidence that the Brethren were correct in admonishing us to avoid labeling ourselves in relation to others as a “qualified” member.
    (Anyway, Kirby’s article was fun.)

    Comment by mondocool — January 6, 2010 @ 2:03 am

  54. We use potato bread…less chance for allergic reactions (and it tastes better, IMO).

    I wouldn’t mind a redefining of the terms “orthodox vs unorthodox.” To me, a lot of the pangs come from the difference between gospel and administration of the gospel. The latter can give people false security in black letter laws (white shirts, white bread, etc…). The former is the only one that matters because the adminstration changes ALL THE TIME.

    Comment by hl — January 6, 2010 @ 5:07 am

  55. John and Jacob J:

    Since mondo is the one who actually spoke with the Stake President, I would say the concern is with people demarcating themselves into subgroups, especially with one group holding themselves up as the “true members”.

    “Away with self-righteousness” as Joseph Said, not to mention the beams and motes lesson from Jesus.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 6, 2010 @ 8:18 am

  56. We had a mission president who opined that “you’ll never hear this from SLC, but the best bread for the sacrament was white, no crusts.” I thought about buying the blackest loaf of pumpernickel I could find, sticking it in the freezer at the church, and pulling it out for the sacrament the next time he showed up at church. I also thought about telling him directly that I thought he was an idiot.

    But, as with most such plans, I never got around to carrying out either of them.

    Comment by Mark B. — January 6, 2010 @ 8:47 am

  57. Geoff J:

    Agreed that wine will keep you out of the temple now, but it does support my point about the leaders trying to “out-orthodox” each other. In the early days of the Church, drinking wine was fine. People drank wine in the temple. They even used it for sacrament in the temple until the 1900’s. Christ drank wine, the Nephites had wine, etc.

    So, while the current leadership disallows its use, it’s not an ETERNAL principle, but merely a reflection of an “orthodox” interpretation of the WofW.

    Comment by Mike S — January 6, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  58. Mike S,

    It doesn’t really matter that Joseph Smith and Jesus drank wine. God turns the keys of the kingdom over to his living prophets and they decide the minimum requirements of the covenants in our day. The living prophets could of course lift the ban on wine but until they do we must adhere to the God-sanctioned guidelines they have put in place here and now if we wish to participate in all of the ordinances of the church. I have blogged about this in the past.

    Outlining the borders of orthodoxy in the church is in fact the responsibility of our living prophets so there is no problem when they do so. The problems arise when rank and file members attempt to take on that role.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 6, 2010 @ 9:13 am

  59. Geoff: I missed that post the first time around, but I agree. But it is really humbling to me as a person who is working with the Young Men. Makes me want to pray more.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 6, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  60. Geoff J

    I read the post you linked to, and there are good comments there. Thanks.

    I agree that we must jump through the current hoops and that they may change depending on who happens to be in charge (accepting that God will support his current prophet as you talked about). I have always done all I needed to do to keep a temple recommend.

    That being said, my comments were meant more as an observation that things tend to get more and more “orthodox” as things evolve. It’s much like taxes. Once a politician can get taxes raised for some “one-time” thing, they generally never reduce them. Once a social program is started, it becomes an “entitlement”.

    Similarly, in the Church, someone makes a comment about how they like white shirts. Over time, this gets raised to a near-doctrinal level for many people. Similarly thoughts on beards or what bread to use or whatever. The same thing happened slowly over decades with regards to varying interpretations of the Word of Wisdom. It also happened as societal prejudices crept in to lead people to find supposed doctrinal reasons to deny blacks the priesthood. To actually go backwards is extremely hard. If someone doesn’t support one of these things, they are seen as “apostate”. It takes something as significant as Proclamation 2 to change something like this.

    My suggestion is that the more “orthodox” members look at many of these things as “doctrine” while the “unorthodox” members would rather ignore all them and focus on the core of the gospel (again, within the boundaries of the teachings of the current prophet).

    Comment by Mike S — January 6, 2010 @ 9:55 am

  61. I agree with your general sentiments Mike S. My original point in #51 was just that the wine issue falls into a unique category because it is officially and clearly proscribed by the First Presidency. Things like blue shirts and Coke on the other hand fall more into the social norms/recommendations bucket when it comes to the worldwide church. There is a bright line between those two categories.

    I also think that while there might be a drift toward orthodoxy in the church there is a counter-drift away in other things. For instance, I remember being a kid in the 70s and thinking that caffeinated sodas were on par with beer in Mormonism. Nowadays most every Mormon I know drinks Diet Coke or whatever without a hint of social concern. So those non-official norms shift over time.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 6, 2010 @ 10:28 am

  62. Mike S,

    Couldn’t agree more. In looking at your list and reflecting on my wards I have been in I would sure like to start selecting which one to attend based on leadership. Find me a leader that is not so focused on minutia and let me go to that ward.

    I know it doesn’t matter that much but some wards seem to be more fun than others and the thought occured as I read these comments the wards I enjoyed the most are not the ones where we were constantly being chastised for things that really will not matter in the hereafter.

    Comment by Jerry — January 6, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  63. Jerry:

    Luckily, I’m in a reasonable ward, even here in SLC. Last month I actually was curious and of the 30-40 people in Elders Quorum, at least 50% didn’t have on a white shirt, and at least 10-15% didn’t even have on a tie. Many of the deacons wear white shirts, but a few don’t. No one cares. We use whatever bread someone happens to bring.

    When YM President, I had Xbox 360 parties, we went to clubs to watch bands play, played Laser Tag, pool parties, etc. I completely ignored the Varsity and Venture programs. I’d bring a case of Diet Coke to conferences and meetings. Luckily, I had an understanding bishop to work with.

    At the same time, we also read the entire BofM together as priests each year. We covered the Preach My Gospel manual nearly twice for each boy before they went into the MTC. And at the end of the day, we have over 15 people on missions right now. We have numerous Eagle scouts. They are all great kids and still good friends. All these minutae are silly things. They only serve to push away the youth.

    So, am I orthodox or unorthodox?

    Comment by Mike S — January 6, 2010 @ 11:24 am

  64. I’d say your Perdition Mike S…

    In my ward (and In-laws family tradition), if EVERYONE doesn’t have their Eagle Scout you’re lost and cannot be quickened by the Spirit in anydegree possible.

    So if i were you I’d start figuring out if Spirits can feel cold and if so, start inventing a a “spirit blanket” for you cause you’re lot is intense eternal cold. Or is fire?…

    Comment by Riley — January 6, 2010 @ 11:42 am

  65. They certainly pushed my oldest son out of the church. After he got called out for wearing a blue shirt he started to find fault with a lot of other things until he no longer was willing to go at all.

    You can count the people in my ward who do not wear white shirts on one hand. Now the push is to get everyone wearing suits to complete the missionary look. We need to lead our young men by example is the logic used.

    I also agree withthe wine being on the list even though we are currently restricted from using it. The restriction is based on problems the church had not on any spiritual basis.

    Comment by Jerry — January 6, 2010 @ 11:52 am

  66. Mike S’s list was interesting to me personally, in that I probably fall almost exactly in the middle of that list. I still wear socks on Sunday (black ones, even) but quite intentionally take the sacrament with whichever hand is closer, in my own Quixotic quest to dispel that particular unnecessary awkwardness. No tats, but personally my favorite first-hour snack is a good hearty twelve-grain with lots of nuts in it. Diet Dew is my weapon of choice, though I’d agree that wine “line” has always been drawn very brightly during my lifetime.

    Years ago I chose to wear white shirts on Sunday (and encourage my son to do so as well, unless his “church shirt” is dirty, in which case he goes in blue or plaid or whatever’s clean that day) because I think there’s some cool symbolism there, but interestingly enough, after almost six years in our current ward, it was not until a few months *after* I started “raising my goat” (sorry… enabling the more valiant facial hair to fulfill the measure of its creation) that I was called into the EQP. I’ve always thought that was kinda funny, and now, even though I’m kinda getting tired of the maintenance, I keep the goat around just because I sense that every once in a while it allows me to talk more freely with some of our “non-orthodox” quorum members AND serves to help a few of our hyper-orthodox quorum members rethink a thing or two. :-)

    My apologies in advance for subjecting you to YAMS*, but regarding the sacrament bread:

    I sat through a priesthood lesson in a not-to-be-named Ward in Japan where the YM leadership demonstrated (in the kitchen) their recommended technique for preparing the sacrament bread. Japanese “shoku-pan” (which is very white, quite sweet, sliced quite thickly, far more substantive than the usual American cheap stuff, and all-in-all quite delicious) was to be used, of course. The crusts were also to be carefully cut off before the meeting, of course. Finally, the bread was to be pre-cut with the knife about 80% of the way through, allowing it to still be “broken” by hand at the sacrament table at the appropriate time, but ensuring that each member could get a nicely-shaped, still-fluffy and non-smashed, optimally pleasant piece of bread.

    After stifling my giggles and my urge to jump in as the twenty-one year-old all-knowing American arbiter of the CHI, I listened a bit more carefully and realized that the leaders were not teaching the boys that this was the one true way to do sacrament, but rather a local adaptation that they had found to be useful. They were surprisingly explicit (and quite accurate) on where the doctrine ended and the implementation started, and in the end, I came away more impressed than anything else.

    Will one or two of those boys grow up to be hyper-orthodox bread Nazis? Maybe. But it was kinda cool to think about the thought and care that the leaders were putting into both the ordinance itself and the teaching of the next generation.

    @Jerry: You’re both welcome in our ward. We did a Wii Olympics for an EQ activity last quarter and we have a plaque for the active-duty Marine hanging right alongside the ones for the full-time missionaries from our ward. :-)

    * YAMS = “Yet another mission story”

    Comment by Taylor — January 6, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

  67. Mike has a good point about the Word of Wisdom. Bushman notes in Rough Stone Rolling that it was a later generation of Saints that turned the “principle with a promise into a measuring rod of obedience.”

    Geoff also has a point and on that I agree: that if you decide you’re a member of the LDS church today and the current leaders say something is a doctrine or an article of faith then it should be followed out of respect to the requirements of membership.

    Comment by Happy Lost Sheep — January 6, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  68. Mike S- I agree regarding the Minutiae, and I believe that is really the point of my original post, when you get down to it.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 6, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  69. Japan bread is the best! I am the YMs pres and pick up a loaf at the 7/11 or local Quickie Mart for every Sunday meeting. When I don’t bring it, i get some sighs of disappointment from the congregation.

    As far as the white shirts, I don’t wear one unless that’s the only one i have clean. I don’t make my kid wear one. The quorum president’s have enacted a white shirt policy when passing the sacrament, and I don’t tell them not to. It’s their discretion.

    I consider part of my job as the YM’s president is to not make them ___________ (fill-in-the-blank with the quirk du jour) Nazis and to lighten up. We are meant to have joy. I can’t believe that God cares what color my shirt is, what hand I take the sacrament with, etc…

    But, I also recognize that i could be wrong. our bishop is quite orthodox in the above things.

    Maybe the difference is lax’ed and strict?

    Comment by SVM — January 6, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

  70. Orthodox is someone who points out all the motes in other’s eyes, while not being able to see the beam in their own eye. Unorthodox is someone who blogs critically of themselves, others, prophets, apostles, and everyone else, too.

    Comment by kevinr — January 6, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  71. So long as it is not Freezer Bread, I would be happy

    Comment by CHK — January 7, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

  72. In his book “Evidences & Reconciliations”, Elder John A Widtsoe said that the “word orthodoxy is not applicable to Church doctrine or practice.”President Hugh B. Brown at a BYU Devotional, May 13, 1969, said: “Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and in religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts.”
    It is too bad the BRM came along and provide us with what is orthodox.

    Comment by scott — January 8, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

  73. Scott: I think Bruce R. McConkie was a great man, a great thinker, and a great apostle. He was the apostle that Kimball went to for research which helped lead to the revelation on blacks and the priesthood. He is the one Kimball went to for work to denounce Adam-God Theory. He was a strong advocate of some views you and I may disagree with, but I hope we can forgive him his heresies, as I am sure he forgives ours.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 8, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

  74. Matt W: I didn’t know that Pres. Kimball went to BRM for help on those two issues. Do you have a citation or resource where you got that information. I agree we should forgive him his trespasses, but it is hard for me given the strong personality he had and the strong conviction with which he pronounced his views as pure doctrine. Because I remember many of his sermons and heard him speak “live” on a couple of occasions, it is difficult to understand. I guess it boils down to he’s human like all of us.

    Comment by kevinr — January 9, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

  75. kevinr: I joined the church after McConkie was dead and gone, so I did not get him live. My source for the above Statement’s is Ed Kimball’s “Lengthen your Stride”. He also went to McConkie to have him officially denounce “blood atonement” for the Church.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 9, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

  76. the “word orthodoxy is not applicable to Church doctrine or practice”

    With respect to Elder Widstoe, I think this is a bit of an overstatement. I suspect the intent was to say that the word “orthodoxy” should not be used to refer to Church doctrine or practice. It is understandable why the Church leadership feels that way – the widespread use of the term exacerbates, formalizes and legitimizes faction and division.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 10, 2010 @ 9:29 am

  77. From the conversation that has taken place here, it seems that what some of you have been calling “orthodox” and “unorthodox” has been described well by Scott Peck. But he calls them Stage 2 people and Stage 4 people, which are two of the stages of spiritual development that he defines. Whether you agree that what he is calling spiritual development really is spiritual development is less important than understanding the psychological observations that he makes about the stages. To vastly oversimplify, Stage 2 people are not looking for truth as much as they are obsessed by a desire to conform to a set of rules that never change. Stage 4 people want to be free to search for the truth wherever it leads, and so, are not fixated on the rules. Peck goes into some of his ideas about why these people are the way they are. I think his ideas are insightful, but I’m sure that many of you will disagree, and some of you already have disagreed. If you choose to look at his ideas, an important understanding to get from them is that these two groups of people exist everywhere. They are not limited to the mormon church. The underlying issue has nothing to do with mormon doctrine or practices; it has to do with the people involved. And there are reasons that they are the way they are. Once you understand the reasons, it is much easier to accept both groups and live anxiety-free with them. MUCH easier.

    I apologize in advance for raising Peck’s ideas once again to those of you who have already been or will be offended by them. I just felt that they are very applicable to this particular discussion.

    Comment by Bill B. — January 14, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  78. Honestly, once the baby-boomers die off, this won’t really be a problem anymore.

    One thing I object to here is conceding the “orthodox” label to this group.

    Seriously, who died and made them “orthodox?”

    Orthodox implies belonging to a belief-set that most approximates the way things have always been accepted to be.

    But really, these people you are all calling “orthodox” have only had their viewpoints in vogue since around the 1970s and 1980s – people who matured in LDS service during that time period (baby boomers) gained a certain set of prejudices, viewpoints, and norms. Highly influenced by a select variety of authoritative sources.

    But the fact is, these guys are merely the newest fad.

    They aren’t orthodox at all. The only reason they’re persisting is because, because they’re all largely baby-boomers, they outnumber the rest of us.

    But since when was this a democracy? The definition of orthodoxy is not “that which is held as pet doctrine by the most people.”

    This ain’t their Church, and they sure as hell ain’t “orthodox.”

    I think I’d rather just call them “neo-orthodox” and be done with it (or maybe McConkie-ites or John-Birchers). They’ve been hogging the pulpit for long enough. It’s high time they moved over and gave someone else a little air-time.

    Comment by Seth R. — January 23, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

  79. Seth R. I disagree- I think the newest fad is the Richard Bushman/Terryl Givens group. There are more of us everyday. I find it interesting that in the 20-30 year olds I’ve run with, many know Bushman and Givens but have never read and McConkie outside of Mormon Doctrine, and no Truman Madsen.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 25, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

  80. This has been a fun post. I am older so I have a lot of respect for men like Elder McConkie and President Benson. I also have respect for Bushman and Givens and Ostler. My faith is centered in living in the mainstream of the Church. That means taking all of them into consideration and trying to live by the spirit. The main problem with those who may consider themselves “orthodox” and I consider myself that way, is that they do not follow the brothern very well. They embrace a particular political philosophy as orthodox when the brothern have come out again and again saying there is not such thing. Some individuals my of had opinions, but as a whole that has always be the churches stance. The same as on other issues. The church has never taken a stance on evolution. I think white shirts are a good idea unless someone does not want to ware them. But Bruce R. and the John Birch Society never would of gone together. Other leaders maybe.

    Comment by Steve G. — January 27, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  81. Seth #78
    Honestly, once the baby-boomers die off, this won’t really be a problem anymore.

    Before we die off there may be a few things for your generation to learn. Yes, a few have perhaps been rigid about some suggestions made, but the underlying principle was to encourage reverence toward the most important things in life. Hope we don’t die off before we can pass this on.

    Comment by Hal — January 28, 2010 @ 8:22 am

  82. I am not looking forward to the Baby Boomers dying off. Gen X is next in line after them and that’s me!

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2010 @ 10:11 am

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