Monday, December 28, 2015

My Journey Within Mormonism

      Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my readers.  I know that Christmas can be a mixed bag when it comes to the various family and cultural experiences that people have.  Whoever you are and wherever you may be in your life and in your relationships.  I hope that you can find peace and hope both in a religious sense and a secular sense.  Although this blog post will not be exactly about Christmas it is in a way about new beginnings and the growth that comes from the discovery of something new.

       To preface this blog post I recommend reading my previous post about my thoughts on the LDS church's new policy and the experiences that have led me to seek out a spiritual home in the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  As I listened to the Prophet-President of the Community of Christ I wanted to learn as much as I could about this part of the Restoration.
      Just as a way to help both explain and bring my readers along on my journey, I am going to post a couple of long 1-hourish videos that were displayed on Mormon Stories about the teachings and history of the Community of Christ beginning with Joseph Smith.  It is presented by John Hamer who is a historian and himself a former gay Mormon who is now the pastor of the Toronto Community of Christ congregation.  My posting this is not about converting anyone or saying that my path is the right path.  The path to spiritual progression should always be between the individual and God.  I simply want to share what has brought me peace in the hopes that it may help others or may stimulate a desire to learn more about religious history whether it be purely academic or spiritual.  Here is an introductory video about Community of Christ.  I think many of my readers will recognize the music in the background.

      The next two videos are about the differences and similarities of beliefs between the LDS and Community of Christ.  These were the ones I watched first.  I was intrigued by the similarities and differences between the two.  John Hamer who is presenting also gives the case of how disaffected LDS members or LGBT Mormons may find a spiritual home at the Community of Christ.  These videos are kind of long so if you have spare time I encourage you to watch them.  I personally watched them as I did dishes and chores.  Summaries can be found and additional dialogue here.

       The next four videos follow the history of the Community of Christ.  From 1830 to the present day and how it was shaped in parallel to the LDS church.  The first video covers the beginning of the restoration from 1820-1844.  Most members of the LDS church will recognize this history.  Once again dialogue and summaries here.

       The next video covers more of the divergence and schism of The LDS church between those led by Brigham Young and the scattered congregations who did not travel west, including Joseph's Smith's family.  Many different groups formed their own churches under various leaders including the Strangites, Cutlerites, Rigdonites, etc.

       This next video follows the RLDS church as it is organized in 1860 under the leadership of Joseph Smith 3rd (Joseph Smith's oldest Son). This video covers most of his tenure as Prophet of the RLDS to 1910 as he brings many of the scattered Saints into the Reorganization.

       The final video follows the transformation of the RLDS church to the now Community of Christ using the historical research done in the 1960s and 1970s as a catalyst for introspection and change.  The parts I find the most compelling are how it appears that the leadership in the then RLDS church decided to address historical issues head on.  This is in stark contrast to LDS leadership who sought to keep these historical findings from reaching the general membership.  The LDS church is only now trying to address these issue in public with their release of various essays on the church's history.

       The most interesting thing that I found from these videos was how little I actually knew about the early history of the restoration tradition of Christianity under Joseph Smith and how very little I knew of the Community of Christ.  I deeply regret this ignorance and have since continued to seek more knowledge on the subject.  I will also post a couple of other links below that I have found helpful to learning more about the Community of Christ.  These links will also include the Latter-day Seekers website that is specifically geared toward LDS members who are interested in learning more.

       Thanks for watching and reading.  Hopefully in the next several weeks/ months as my time is permitted I will be writing and sharing more on this subject.   I have appreciated the perspectives and dialogue that I have received over the past several years as an out Gay man and look forward to many more to come.  During this Christmas and Holiday Season I hope peace can be found in your homes and in your communities.

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