Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A thought on defining your terms

One of my preoccupations is religion.  I write professionally on religion, faith and its affect on real people.  I do this because of my own passions and whims.  This leads people to assume certain things about me - especially as I will attend a congregation for some time as part of my research without necessarily subscribing to or sharing its faith.  This isn't done out of a lack of respect or even out of a dearth of personal faith, but it really confuses all those people who want nice categorical boxes.

I study religion and faith because of my love of the metaphysical, the divine and the passion people hold for those ideas, as well as a basic curiosity.  I spend a lot of my time thinking about these things.  I recently read a much more interesting post on this topic sent to me by my friend Tod - Mad Max Mormonism vs Star Trek Mormonism.

It has led me to question a definition: Latter.  Weird right?  Ok, but here's the thing - SO much ideology hinges on that word.  Latter.

Is it the end of days?  Jesus is on the way and the worse it gets the better it gets?  Or.  Could it be the other meaning of latter?  You know, the one that simply means "second".  Not latest, not last, but latter.  The one wherein the Lord, our God, is giving us a second chance to get it right.

Maybe if this definition had been made clear, many things in our state would be different.  Instead of feeding the beast that is corporate greed, polluting and raping the environment out of some sense that disregarding our stewardship of the earth is actually a good thing, we would be focusing on some of those other ideas our big brother tried to get us to hear.  The ones like loving our fellow humans, spending a lot more time with the needy, the lonely, and doing good works, the stuff that gets our hands dirty but our souls clean.

Maybe true believers could believe the good stuff not just the Apocalyptic Book part.  If we understood the definition of Latter, we could see the Revelations Book as a warning not a promise.  We could stop judging one another (which btw we aren't supposed to do either) and racing to the End of Days.   We could build intentional communities, enrich the earth, sustain ourselves and each other in joy.  We could also raise children who are thinking, connected citizens and most of all, we could practice faith instead of just preaching it.

True believers need to ask themselves what they are rushing forward to.  If we get to the end of the race today, do we meet the requirements?  Have we done anything other than rapine and war?  This isn't that kind of race.  How we get to the end actually matters more than how fast we do it.  For myself, I would like more time to get it right, to be that community described as Zion.  Hugh Nibley didn't seem to think we were getting it right and he was a much better thinker than I.

Maybe we need to define our terms.


Tod Robbins said...

Fantastic. The "Latter" duality is a ticker. We need more optimism for certain, and we (individually/collectively) must be the change we want to see. PS: Warner Woodworth's "Working Toward Zion" is amazing. Check it out!

Kat said...

I will Tod! Thanks. :)