Thursday, November 30, 2006

There is an interesting difference between Christianity and Islam with regard to a person's relationship to God. Christians use the term "children of God" and talk about God as a father. In Islam people are servants or slaves of God, and while the Koran talks about His mercy and compassion it forbids the notion of God having literal children. But a child can be more loving than a servant who should only be more obedient. I think it might be splitting hairs to argue one or the other view, but I'm partial to the notion that I am (as we all are) a child of God and not just His slave. Though I must point out that I don't mean a literal child which would imply the need for a heavenly Mother. I think God transcends gender, and so is a creator as much as a father or mother. Also, I recognize that I am a servant of God and that He demands obedience. It's not one or the other; it's both. I wonder how much of the conflict between Western culture and the Middle East revolves around this simple distinction. It reminds me of the Faith vs. Works arguments that are internal to Christianity (again not one or the other but both). People get so set in the dogma that they are unable to love each other and obey the other principles that come with faith in God. Can the Koran be reconciled to the Christian notion that we are all brothers and sisters because we are God's children? I doubt it very seriously, but with God all things are possible. Can a Christian learn a lesson in service by studying the Koranic principle of Surrender? I would certainly hope that every Christian would be willing though not many are. So there must be some authority that can be called upon to establish a balance and avoid senseless disagreement on small points. That leads me to the notion that what Islam really needs is the modern revelation to separate Surrender from the less pleasant aspects of a slave culture. The Koran and the Bible sometimes disagree. I see the Book of Mormon and a latter day prophet as the solution to that disagreement. But I'm still a long way off from standing up in Sacrament and saying I know this is true.


Monday, November 27, 2006

My reading of the Koran is going slowly but smoothly. I've been pondering a vexing question that relates to Koranic (Sharia) law. In countries that practice Sharia law it is illegal to proselytize Muslims and treason (punishable by death) for a Muslim to convert to another faith. As a mormon I firmly "believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law." (AoF 12) So the question arises: how can I magnify my priesthood to Muslims? I would hope that they might be interested in reading the Book of Mormon and be persuaded to a point of view closer to my own. But that hope seems vain and foolish if they would die for even trying to put Latter Day Saint principles into practice. The Koran is very strict about keeping people on the strait path and following the prophet (Mohammed). So I'm left to wonder how to convince Muslims that Gospel Principles are on that same straight path and that Gordon B. Hinkley is the living prophet that they should be following.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

I had a long talk with my wife a few days ago and am feeling less alone with my beliefs. She's less lazy then I am but also less of a mormon. We agree that if Jesus was God or a god at the time of crucifixion then his experience would be cheapened. In other words an immortal god could spend a day on the cross and it would be little more than a stubbed toe or a hang nail. Christ's suffering only means anything if he were fully human at the time. If he wasn't then how could he relate to us and our suffering. At this point she concedes that Jesus might have become God or a god after that as an exaltation but I disagree with that idea. There is no god but God in my humble opinion.

Which leads to my next book - The Koran Interpreted (A. J. Arberry). I finished Mere Christianity and found little comfort in Lewis' strict Trinitarianism. I took a short break from serious reading with a Piers Anthony book which I flew through, and I started reading the Koran yesterday. I tend to be on dangerous ground when reading Scripture (even someone else's scripture), because I've got so many ideas of my own that I tend to argue with even the best of it. That trait is the reason I've only read the Book of Mormon once so far. I get to about the end of King Benjamin's speech and I've had so many arguments that I put it down not feeling very spiritual.

For me the Koran is little different. I feel like I had better know what is in it. But the sense that it's important doesn't transfer to a faith that it's infallible. I have believed for a long time that Scripture is both useful and dangerous. There are people in every faith that work to live by the letter of the law, but forget the spirit of God that the law represents. One of my personal quests for instance is to play whatever part I can in ending the crusades. For nearly a thousand years Christians and Muslims have been killing each other, and I for one find that situation appalling. I'm certain that if more people understood the spirit of the Scripture instead of insisting on lockstep conformity to peculiar dogmas that the world would be a better place. Can my voice help stop the killing? I don't know and sometimes I despair of it.

My own part in this drama is small. I have neither great power nor great eloquence. Still I pray for a better, safer world where piety is the rule rather than the exception. May God bless you and keep you and bring us closer as the human family should be.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

I haven't posted in months because I haven't had a whole lot to say, but I'm alive and relatively well.

The missionaries came over today and I tried to explain my point of view to them. They reached the conclusion that I was misunderstanding the doctrine of the Godhead. I understand that some people including the leaders of my church teach that Jesus is God; I just disagree with that point of view. I'm not very loud about it because I realize I could be wrong. Still, I am certain that Christ's message was "Love God and Love your neighbor" not "Worship me cause I'm all that."

I've been reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. I'm about a third of the way through but stalled out. He doesn't have any sympathy for me either. I'm left wondering whether I even count as a "mere christian" or whether I'm merely playing at Christianity. It's just weird sometimes to be convicted of my beliefs and be aware at the same time that no one really shares them.