My ideas about the Divine have shifted in recent years as my spiritual practice has deepened. Here are some thoughts about how I currently interpret "God."
Science Mike shares a mystical experience he had that bears resemblance to Joseph Smith's First Vision, and other such encounters with the Divine.
Do mystics withdraw from all community to a solitary and independent life, or do they find deep oneness in community? What kind of community?
At times these seem to be at odds, but at the deepest level they may be One.
Is there "one true church," and if so, who or what is it?
I want to say a few thoughts about Richard Rohr's daily meditation today about "From Naïveté to Wisdom." Please click the link to read it. It's a beautiful simplified perspective of the faith journey: from order, to disorder, and then reorder.
Who was Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844)? He's been quite an enigma both within and outside of Mormonism since his death. Many Mormons see him as a deeply gifted prophet of God, in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and even Moses. He recorded and published new scripture, the Book of Mormon, just like ancient prophets. Many Mormons revere him as someone who restored Christianity in its purity, even the original Christian church and true gospel of Jesus. They believe he received true priesthood authority from God to perform real saving rituals, ordinances, and act as a "high priest" to bring others into the presence of God.
Mormonism traces back its history in modern times to its founding prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., and his "First Vision." Joseph was a young farmer boy who lived in western New York, born in the early nineteenth century. This was the time of what's known as the Second Great Awakening, and where Joseph lived is known as the "burned-over district." It was a time of much Protestant religious excitement, revivals, reforms, and the formation of new religious movements and denominations (which eventually included Mormonism). A Restoration Movement grew in popularity in the area, which involved ideas of "restoring" a pure, primitive, uncorrupted, and original form of Christian faith.
I will begin to offer a reconstruction of the Mormon narrative, which also applies in many ways to Christianity in general.
At times I feel like much religious terminology and symbolism has failed to bring unity to our modern culture and global society, and that we need new terms and symbols to point to these highest realities for which we yearn. New religious movements often emerge under such conditions (and there are tens of thousands of these movements in the world today). But I'm not sure that helps, but just further divides us, each believing they have "the truth."