Here's What I Think

A mission companion of mine has started a blog in recent weeks, discussing some finer points of the LDS Church. The topics more often than not relate to issues of relations/perceptions between the LDS church and those not/formerly of the LDS church.

The most recent posts talk about missionary work as the LDS church does it, and the most recent one compares LDS missionaries with Peace Corps volunteers. If you want more background you can go to the post (click the previous link) and read the other comments, but the following is my take on the whole thing. I'd be interested to see what you think of my evaluation. Maybe it's a little self-aggrandizing, but hey, we all do it:

"I like Tobyo's comments a lot- just recently I was talking with my sister who is working for a year over in Iraq for the Army Corps of Engineers. Our discussion at one point turned to the "American Arrogance" that we both percieved in our respective work fields (hers being the Army in Iraq, and mine being in the broadcast media). Now I am all about America, I love this country, and I think I'm one of the four or five people in the world who thinks George W. Bush is still a pretty good guy.

However, I think it's easy for Americans to become arrogant about their way of life- just because it works in the U-S-of-A doesn't mean it will work as well or in the same way in otehr places.
I think it's a good thing that Iraq now has the opportunity to form its own "new" government, to start fresh without the tyranny that has plagued it in the past. And I'm glad the U.S. and other nations have given them that chance. But we all need to see that maybe the American Way isn't com[patible with Iraqi culture/history/mentality, and that isn't a bad thing. I support the effort in Iraq, but now it's time to get out and let them stand or fall on their own. And if they create something different than what some U.S. leaders want, that's not necessarily a bad thing, and in fact, short of a return to terrorism and tyranny and a dictatorship, is probably a good thing.
Cutting away from matters political (about which I'm sure I will draw much disagreement), I hink Tobyo hit it on the head- Mormons, too, can have an arrogance about them- I've mentioned such a mentality in my mind.

What we need to recognize, to borrow from James E. Talmage's parable of the lamsp, is that all lamps give off light, some brighter, some not as bright. Do I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the LDS church is the brightest lamp? Yes, absolutely. But there are so many lamps that are brilliant and almost blinding, particularly in cases of individual faith. I hope to be half as devout, at least, as Pope John Paul II or Mother Theresa or even Mohammed.

Why, then, missionary work? Going on the belief that the LDS faith is the true and living church of God on the earth, it is a responsibility to give each person a chance to hear and accept that truth. I don't want to argue about who's right and who's wrong- my point is that what man believes his faith is the most true, his responsibility is to share that faith with everyone he meets. To not share his faith with someone can often show an unhealthy measure of pride and conceit, and to not believe God wants him to share his faith shows a lack of understanding about the true just and merciful nature of God. For God to be all loving means all of his children need a chance to realize and find the most correct source of truth that can be found. Otherwise, He wouldn't be the God that millions of people worldwide belive Him to be. God would not deny any of His children an opportunity to realize their full potential and maximum happiness. That is why, in part, churches send out missionaries- to bring the world God's truth, to give the world a chance to accept or denty it. That is our call and solemn responsibility.

Okay, that last part wasn't really peace corps related, so maybe here's a thought on that: missionaries are like Peace Corps volunteers because they bring America to every corner of the world. I think the difference is (or maybe should be?) that they don't push American on people or teach them about it with the goal of helping them become converted to the American Way (because, as mentioned above, the A.W. doesn't work with all people in all places). Maybe then, it's enough to simply help people understand what America is and what we're about, giving them as much information as possible, and letting them make their own decision.

In that, I think, volunteers and missionaries are very similar.


Tamara said…
Gotta love ya, babe....but what's the deal w/ Talmage's parable of the "lamsp"? Ain't never heard of that one!

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