Sunday, July 18, 2010


Temple Lot

In the words of the venerable Maxwell Smart

"Missed it by that much"

From the porch on my apartment I can see the exact lot of land where Jesus is going to come back and establish his new kingdom. That is, I should say, if you subscribe to a particular paradigm of thought that was brought about by a sharp young lad out of upper New York State, in the early 1800's. That lad was Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, the RLDS church (currently called the Community of Christ church), and various and sundry early splinter groups. The Mormon's are now the fifth largest church in America. They claim numbers in the area of 13.8 million world wide. They, by the way, do not own the Temple lot. [And we are talking about a very specific spot.] A spot proclaimed by the profit of the church via telepathic communication with the big man himself. The temple in the picture above is not owned by the Mormon's either. It is owned by the Community of Christ Church. They claim to be the true church born of Joseph Smith. It's a blood line thing. They have a membership of 250,000 or so. They don't own the temple lot either. The temple lot is owned by the Church of Christ Temple Lot. They have about 2400 members world wide (on a good days counting) and an active congregation of about 32 people. The Mormon's do own land catercorner to the Temple Lot and across the street from the Temple, but none of the three groups has built on the sight. The Community of Christ church, arguably the most liberal of the groups, and in true liberal fashion, decided the lot being across the street was close enough. Perhaps they have an annex planned in case God picks them and gives them the lot legally.
Having got myself way too mixed up in the history and particulars of all this, I come away with several bits of gleaned wisdom. First: if you are a person that is handing out modern day revelations from God..., never give a specific date (see history of the Millerites -origin of today's Seventh Day Adventists) and never give a specific location. Keep if vague. Second: never try to settle religious disputes by using scriptures when the people you are disputing with have rewritten the scriptures. It just gets silly. And third: remember that in matters of religious preference, a person chooses to believe what the do, and having made that choice, for what ever reasons, testimonies, influences, or Divine interventions, that person's mission in life is to hold fast to that belief, no matter what. They have chosen their own truth and their own reality. I am pretty certain that Jesus descending out of the sky and personally telling them they were misled would be met with suspicion of treachery.
I should say that I was a priest in a conservative fundamentalist splinter group of this church. I excommunicated myself on grounds of heresy of unbelief. What a long strange trip that was. As bazaar a circumstance as it was, I learned a lot about myself and my own liberal upbringing. I learned loads about the differences in the way our brains lean liberally or literally, and I have come to appreciate that this is a matter of more than influence. It is, I am certain, yin and yang-ish. Two sides of a coin-ish. Brains are just made differently. I learned that the layer in us that fights over religious and political issues is very thin. And, although, in that layer, I can be as opposed to a person as is possible, on all the other levels, we are able to understand each other quite well. We are very much of the same flesh and blood. I have come to appreciate that obscenity is not relegated to the dark parlors and seedy places of the world, but far too often is spewed from pulpits. Accepted as wisdom by congregants unwilling, or unable, to check the hideous discrepancy between what is being said in Gods name and what the words of the Christ revealed. I have learned to kick off the dust from my feet on my way out of places where the love of Jesus is perverted into judgement and hatred. I have also learned to dislike the arrogance and dismissiveness of the liberal intelligentsia, the scoffing and intolerance of intolerance, the bigotious attitude toward bigots, and the judgementalism toward the judgemental.
Perhaps most significantly, I have learned to check my own sense of righteous indignation. My own certainty. My own truthieness. Not to the cynical inability to trust anything, but to the realization that I, like all the others, choose my own beliefs based on my own preferences, testimonies, influences, and Divine interventions.

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