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Ironhold

Non-Traditional "Missions"

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As I've noted before, at the time I turned 18 there were some serious issues going on with my family to where my attempting to go on a formal mission would have been a hardship on my parents. 

Instead, I spent the next decade getting laid into by local and stake priesthood leaders and even largely shunned by many local members. This is because at the time, the mantra was "all young men must serve missions, and all young women are to only date returned missionaries". I was in defiance of this mantra, and so there were consequences. 

When I was in high school, most leaders were of the opinion that outside of e-mail and the barely-functional church website, the internet was literally nothing but porn. What they didn't understand was that this kind of mentality was keeping members off of the internet at a time when members online were few and far between. As such, those of us who were online were often the only member on any given internet forum. 20 - 1 odds in a "discussion" were depressingly normal, and this made critics of the church so brazen in displaying their overt hatred that "getting your first death threat" was a rite of passage. 

Talking to hundreds of people at once from all over the world? Being the personal bogeyman of an entire counter-cult ministry? Getting a writer for an alt-media platform to knuckle under with a single carefully-worded e-mail showing at length how badly out of date his research was? Didn't mean anything to the folks who thought that a mission involved a name tag and a bike.

Then once the Bloggernacle somehow just "magically appeared out of thin air", suddenly the internet was a glorious place to be and a ready tool for missionary work. Forgotten were the people like myself who drew the lines in the sand and built the defensive fortifications that allowed it to thrive in the first place. 

Folks, you don't need a name tag to go on a mission. You being a member of the church means you're on a mission, and that mission is to be out there in the world as best as you can be. 

And even if it looks like you're not having any success, you could be laying the groundwork for more than you'll ever know. 

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12 hours ago, Ironhold said:

When I was in high school, most leaders were of the opinion that outside of e-mail and the barely-functional church website, the internet was literally nothing but porn. What they didn't understand was that this kind of mentality was keeping members off of the internet at a time when members online were few and far between. As such, those of us who were online were often the only member on any given internet forum.

I remember back in the mid-late '90's, various reports on what people were doing online was roughly 1/3 porn, 1/3 arguing about politics/religion/Star Trek, and 1/3 computer geeks doing actual computer things.  

Yes indeed, lots of first world humans, including lots of LDS folk and local leaders, were not early adopters.  But "most leaders"?  I'm not sure about that.  Even those speaking out against it were hardly saying "nothing but porn".  We were being warned about the actual dangers there - not that dangers were the only things there.  Random smattering of warnings isn't nearly as blanket-statementy as you think:

Quote

"I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls.“
...
"parts of that online world are dangerous. Some Internet neighborhoods attract people and businesses you and your family need to avoid. Some people will want to steal your money and threaten your safety. Without parental guidance and supervision, children can put themselves in physical danger or encounter materials that are spiritual and intellectual poison."
...
“You can also view material on the Internet, on purpose or by accident, that will poison your spirit and mind, jeopardize your safety or your family’s, or get you into legal or financial trouble."

 

It's true that the church didn't really start urging saints to go online until 8-9 years ago, when folks started having non-toxic non-combative non-hostile places to actually go.

Quote

“All of these advancements are part of the Lord hastening His work in the latter days.  I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and more effectively to testify ... and to accomplish the Lord’s work.  
...
I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and more effectively to testify of God the Eternal Father, His plan of happiness for His children, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior of the world; to proclaim the reality of the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days; and to accomplish the Lord’s work.
- Elder Bednar, 2014

"we invite the young and the old, the adults, the young adults, the youth, and the children everywhere to join with us in this exciting new work by becoming Facebook friends with the missionaries in your area on your own computers and sharing their gospel messages online"
- L. Tom Perry, 2013

 

But from the very beginning of the church, our leaders knew about the good uses of technology:

Quote

"Between those facilities which are now available and those which are on the horizon, we shall be able to converse one with another according to the needs and circumstances of the time“
- President Hinckley 1981

"I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse."
- President Kimball 1974

"Discoveries latent with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings, as to make man’s responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands. … This age is fraught with limitless perils, as well as untold possibilities”
- President McKay 1966

"Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. It has been given with a view to prepare the way for the ultimate triumph of truth, and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan. We should take advantage of all these great discoveries."
- Brigham Young 1862

 

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I'm hearing that there is huge success online for missionary work now so maybe the transition to online teaching may end up being even greater.

It's funny that you brought up this talking just yesterday a friend, my wife, and I was talking about the pressure and judgment that church culture puts on people one of them was the expectation for young men to go on a mission. I'm just wondering what inspired you to write this.

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10 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

I remember back in the mid-late '90's, various reports on what people were doing online was roughly 1/3 porn, 1/3 arguing about politics/religion/Star Trek, and 1/3 computer geeks doing actual computer things.  

Yes indeed, lots of first world humans, including lots of LDS folk and local leaders, were not early adopters.  But "most leaders"?  I'm not sure about that.  Even those speaking out against it were hardly saying "nothing but porn".  

I *specifically* referred to the local and stake leadership in my area. 

Most of them were horrifically narrow-minded and old-fashioned, to the point that during one stake priesthood conference a speaker even advocated that parents remove the doors from their kids' bedrooms so that the kids couldn't hide anything from their parents. 

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9 hours ago, Highlander said:

I'm hearing that there is huge success online for missionary work now so maybe the transition to online teaching may end up being even greater.

It's funny that you brought up this talking just yesterday a friend, my wife, and I was talking about the pressure and judgment that church culture puts on people one of them was the expectation for young men to go on a mission. I'm just wondering what inspired you to write this.

Once upon a time, talking about the church on the internet was "scalp or be scalped". 

I have the wall full of scalps to prove it. 

So whenever I hear some young buck or some of these former leaders talk about how fun and happy their mission was and how they love such-and-such platform because it lets them chat with family and friends, a part of me wants to say "You're welcome" because I know they don't understand what had to happen to make it so that they could do what they're doing online. 

And I've just heard a few too many people going on about their missions lately...

 

edit - Yes, at one point I had been singled out by a counter-cult ministry because I embarrassed their leader. I successfully blew a hole in one of his conspiracy theories, and so that made me a priority for harassment and mockery. This was not the first time I'd been singled out by semi-prominent members of the Christian counter-cult or other such groups, hence the death threats. It wasn't a fun time, but it had to be done. 

Edited by Ironhold

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I started lurking on LDS discussion/debate forums back around 1997.  Dan Peterson, FARMS, and the young FAIR were great reads.  I did much growing and learning, about the criticisms of my faith and it's members, and how these criticisms were answered.  Eventually I started engaging.  My notes eventually exceeded 200 pages in Word.

I got a huge kick out of going to countercult debate forums, and throwing my hat into the ring.  Reachout Trust was one of my favorites - because those folks not only had a few brain cells to rub together, some of their top hitters were willing to engage civilly. At the top of my game, I actually got one of them to acknowledge that it was possible that I was a saved Christian.  The old Zion's Lighthouse Message Board was a hoot.  Some of the regulars there had been at it so long, they actually ran an experiment where they switched sides for one thread, and the faithful advanced the criticisms they felt were the most difficult, and the critics responded with the best and worthiest faithful defenses they had.  

My whole experience was full of watching people taking things waaaay too personally, I saw a thousand experiences like Ironhold's.  I don't think any of the arguers, from either side, actually ever budged a single dang inch.  But absolutely the fight impacted the people watching.  The "antis" had the advantage in the early days of the world wide web.  In 1997, the respected Christian scholars Owens and Mosser published their "Mormon scholarship, apologetics, and evangelical neglect: losing the battle and not knowing it?", where they basically assaulted their own side as being erroneous, infantile, and unimpressive.  FARMS, FAIR, half a dozen others, were all publishing like mad.  Itinerant countercult book writers and speech givers made a living traveling around and being paid to speak to congregations.  And the battle royal was held on hundreds of discussion boards and forums.  

From what I can tell, we mostly won.  The antimormon book industry collapsed, speaking fees dried up.  The 2002 Winter Olympics was held in Salt Lake City, under the (then) respectable hand of the (then) impressive Mitt Romney, and nobody's daughter's got kidnapped into spiritual wifery, and the whole world saw we didn't really have horns.  The Reachout Trust forum stopped being a thing.  The church started up various online campaigns with gusto, and they were GOOD.  The 'other religions' forum at Catholic Answers forum took consistent beatings from a few LDS posters with impressive charitable muscles, until it finally closed last year.  The last big thing to hit was the "CES letter", which was basically a cut-and-paste job of all the criticisms from the prior 20 years, that had already been answered ad-nauseum.

Good times.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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5 hours ago, Ironhold said:

I *specifically* referred to the local and stake leadership in my area. 

 

Given your constant regurgitation in what you claim are your local leaders failures simply point to your failures as a follower of Christ.

For example Christ commands you to forgive everyone.  From your postings you clearly have not forgiven your local leaders.  Our leaders are flawed and will make mistakes and even sin... They will account to God for their short comings and failure...  But every time you complain about the mote in their eyes you clearly show the beam in your own eyes.

You state that you did not go on a mission because of family issues.  That is understandable but Christ says

Quote

Matt: 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

That is a hard thing to hear but it is straight from Christ in the New Testament.  The prophet of God made it very clear that you should serve God on a mission.  You chose to let family and worldly concerns override your willingness to obey the command of God.  Instead of trusting and having faith in the Lord that he would take care of things while you faithfully served him, you choose not to serve.  You put your faith and your trust in your own hands and abilities... Which is a form of idolatry.

The consequences of your clear lack of faith in Christ followed you naturally to this day.  Young Faithful church women are interested in Young Faithful church men which in the short term aftermath of your failure to go on a mission you clearly were not.  When it comes to the church leaders advising Young Woman to seek after only Returned Missionaries, while dating RM's does not guarantee success, and young man that could have gone but does not shows that there are serious issues that need to be resolved.

As for the Church expansion into Service Missions... it is exists now to allow more people to serve.  In the past many faithful members who wanted to serve would be told no they could not by the Lord's leaders in the Church.  Because the Church had no way of supporting the special needs of those members back then.  The church has decided to fix this.  But in all the cases of Church Service Mission they still need the desire and the willingness to put the Lord first.   

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