« Home | Sometimes It's Okay Not to Have All the Answers » | What the %*@# Do I Know? » | This Is Not The End » | Until Death Do Us Part…Not » | Barbarism Begins at Home » | Watch Out For the Stones » | Hypocritical Oaths » | Do As I’m Doing…Follow, Follow Me » | what difference does it make » | Alas, Babylon » 

Friday, September 16, 2005 

Veiled Speech

I feel it important to note initially that no-one terribly important to me has passed away. I have lost two grandparents, but I wasn't close with either one (in one case, because she was long gone while she still lived; in the other, because he was kind of a mean old coot and sometimes quite unpleasant to be around). The closest I have come to losing a close loved one was watching the lingering death of one of my wife's great uncles. At one point, he lived in the house with us and I would hear loud thumps in the night and have to rush upstairs to help him up off the floor. Later, after I moved away, he fell into dementia and fever. When my in-laws could no longer take care of him, he became bitter, lashing out at those who had taken care of him. When he passed on, it was hard to remember the genial gentleman who loved to tell me about his mission in the 20's because he had accused my mother-in-law (the saintliest person I know) of trying to cheat him out of money and cheese.

Mormons love to pride themselves on their vast knowledge of the afterlife. Most likely, this is entirely due to the influence of section 76, which does presume to tell us where we will all wind up (depending on our actions here on earth). To be honest, I don't find it nearly as explicit as most people seem to. While, I don't believe Dante is the equivalent of Joseph Smith, I do think that Catholic beliefs about the afterlife are clearer than our own (though, perhaps, slightly more complicated).

I have a father who isn't a member of the church. The family I grew up in isn't sealed. My father is in his 70's now, the age at which one reads obituaries, even in towns where you don't know anyone. His mortality is beginning to concern him; it has always concerned me. I don't know why my Dad isn't religious exactly. He will pray, but he doesn't like to do it. He has said that if he were to join a religion, it would be ours, but I know that he is very suspicious of our religion.

Recent study has convinced me that some commonly held LDS ideas about the afterlife are wrong. Specifically, I have come to believe that the time of our probation extends into the afterlife. We can repent up until the point where we are resurrected, I think. This gives me hope for my dad.

Perhaps this strikes you as defeatist or condescending. On my mission, I got fed up with my father. I wrote him a long letter, explaining why he ought to find out if the church is true and trying to answer any possible concerns that he might have had. The letter got enveloped, stamp, and began the journey to the mail box. On the way, I was told not to send it. I was told that the rush wasn't great, that I had to be patient. My father's relationship with God and religion is complex. I see now that I hastily written, if heartfelt, letter was not going to do away with his questions.

I have a notion regarding my father's ambivalence to religion. His father died when he was thirteen. He loved his Dad. His father's death disrupted his whole family. It changed his relationship with his mother, sisters, and brothers. I imagine my father pleading with God in prayer for his father's life, for his family. I don't blame my dad for his skepticism.

There is probably nothing more emotionally affecting than the death of a close loved one. The hope that the Gospel brings is actually fairly universal (your beloved has gone to a better place seems to be a religiously ubiquitous response to death). Unfortunately, that can only do so much for the benefit of the people who remain in this not-better place, dealing with a life that is clearly worse for the loss.

To those people, what can we offer? A testimony that helps me through tough times cannot be given to another. While I find answers in the gospel, they are of the sort that cannot be spelled out. And besides, I admit to never having suffered great loss. It is likely that I would find the gospel's answers inadequate (and possibly offensive), too.

It is a universal problem of those in pain that they can never be understood. Interestingly, testimony and pain are both lost in transmission. The best we who haven't lost can do seems to me to be to be there when the grieving need us and to get out of the way when they need to be left alone.

Somehow, we have gone this week from talking about life after death (of which we know very little) to death, which even I understand is painful. Perhaps this is appropriate. The dead, we believe, have gone beyond the veil of mortal interest and mortal care. It is the living whom we must help.

My husband was asked how it was that I seemed to deal so well with the deaths of my children (somebody didn't know me very well). He said, "her testimony of the gospel."

When he told me that, I about threw up. I lean on that now, but at the time of my deepest sorrow, it was cold comfort.

I said, "nope, it was my sense of humor." Which is a gift from God, but...

Recent study has convinced me that some commonly held LDS ideas about the afterlife are wrong. Specifically, I have come to believe that the time of our probation extends into the afterlife. We can repent up until the point where we are resurrected, I think.

I'm curious, what leads you to believe this? To be honest, I feel the same way, but it seems to contradict what Amulek taught the Zoramites:
"...therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed."

A close reading of Alma 12:24-25 seems to indicate that the probationary period ends at the resurrection (or, more specifically, at the judgement). I think that this is, ultimately, what Amulek is getting at.

I think God is infinitely more merciful than we are and that things will work out for the very best for all of us.

Marian D. Hanks often uses the quote, "to know there is a God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and that there will be wonderful surprises."

I believe that.

I can't explain how or why...but I've thought about the very same ideas about life after death. I find it interesting (and oddly comforting) that others have similar thoughts or ideas.

I hope this doesn't disturb Rob TOO much...you know, that we have similar views. ;)

Hehe, i'm sure we agree on lots of things... but a blog is no fun if everyone sits around agreeing with each other :)

I agre...concur.

Post a Comment

This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

Various Links

Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates