Correlated Religion/Eligibility Review

Justification for the LDS Priesthood Coorelation Program

Source: Wikipedia’s is as good as any explanation

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Priesthood Correlation Program (also called the Correlation Program or simply Correlation) is a program designed to provide a systematic approach to maintain consistency in its ordinances, doctrines, organizations, meetings, materials, and other programs and activities.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized according to priesthood function, and correlation provides support to the priesthood quorums, thereby improving communication and leadership, and keeping unorthodox information, doctrines and other undesired concepts from being introduced.

Another result is the block program, which standardized Sunday as the official day to hold most public church meetings.

Prior to the 1980s, meetings were held throughout the week. For example, in a local ward, the Relief Society may have met on Monday mornings, Primary and choir practice on Tuesdays, Young Women and Young Men on Thursdays, ward activities and events on Fridays, and service projects on Saturdays. Because of the church’s focus on families, the Correlation Committee recommended a three-hour block of meetings on Sundays that would include a sacrament meeting, Sunday School, priesthood meetings, Relief Society and children’s classes. Results and curriculum

Because of the correlation program, the church generally operates the same in structure, practice and doctrine globally. For example, members in Germany, Kenya and Utah all study the same lessons and attend the same type of meetings in any given week.

The doctrines taught are the same; however, the emphasis on principles, church structure and church culture is more emphasized in fledgling areas, while emphasis in established areas focuses more on application of the principles taught.

On feeling like a non-coorelated Mormon …

Eligibility Review

A little over three years have passed since the intersection of our spiritual identity and need with the available blessings and community of a local LDS Ward. Was the Church I left in 1991 a different church than what exists today?

As I used to conduct professional eligibility reviews with my welfare clients to see if a relationship should continue or not, I want to comment on the past three years of new belonging to the church of my youth.

What follows obviously is merely opinion on my part. Although “eligibility” might be loosely related to the idea of worthiness for blessings, I think that after three years it has become time for truth-telling in regard to my membership relationship with the LDS Corporate entity – which is not necessarily the same thing as the growing depth and feeling of relationship with the local members of the local ward (congregation) where we attend meeting.

That having been said however, I feel it necessary to come out of my own closet regarding my recent more open truth-telling about my previously self-monitored and somewhat self-censored opinions. These opinions and attitudes – with the possible exception of my dear wife – have had and still have little to do with anyone else’s spirituality.

However, in response to recent public events within the LDS Church, I believe that an eligibility review of how I feel that about my return and rebaptism into the modern correlated organization would be appropriate.

As a disclaimer, however, I feel to add that this is my writing and does not necessarily reflect the attitude or opinions of my wife, Lietta.

Furthermore, in acknowledging that what I’m about to write is mere opinion and in no way is my authoritative declaration of truth or falsehood regarding the LDS Church, it’s tenets, practices, doctrine and, above, all its highest leadership, it is important to me to make the following very very clear:

I can only relate to Mormonism as a religious system by the lights of how I experience God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit Personally.

My relating to the Church is not defined by official teachings or any other form of someone else’s magic outside the authority and proprietorship of my own life. My spiritual training, my automatic religious stance, my faith and my trust in the experiences of communion with the Divine were generated and nurtured in my youth. The true-church talk was always there and part of my upbringing, but I paid very little youthful attention to the absolutes of the Mormon Church being exclusively truer than any other religion.

That is the reason why my first week in the LDS Mission Home at age 19 was such a mental shock. Those notions of absoluteness did not enter my life until I agreed – for my own personal reasons – to serve and complete a two and a half year term as a Mormon Missionary. At that point of preparation I had to learn the LDS gospel message, how I could obtain a spiritual witness (the LDS call it testimony) and then travel abroad to proclaim the gospel to non-members.

Within the culture, dissenters express the idea of “cookie cutter” Mormonism based on conformity and subjection to micro-management by ecclesiastic authority – monitoring that has generated an image of cult behavior to many people.

From within that cookie cutter center we have recently seen those “I’m a Mormon” publicity bites that seek to counter the idea of cult mentality and blind obedience. In addition there is the almost unconscious dependence on the notion of absoluteness and possession of something regarded as “The Truth” which, combined with a total immersion (pardon the baptismal pun) in the literal-mindedness of scriptural and doctrinal belief, has also conveyed a distorted legalistic image of Jesus Christ.

In the LDS Church, Jesus Christ is perceived as a revealing head of the Church who guides the corporate flock with tools of commandments, promises and warnings blended with an excessive focus on detail work such as ordinances, callings and record keeping.

All of this suggests – at least to me – that individual spirituality within the Church is directly connected to the degree of faithful “busy-ness” which becomes the focus of life’s activities. It seems that the more “active” you are in group participation the more “spiritual” you are – most of which is validated by local leadership recognition, encouragement and approval of your spiritual busy-ness.

This sort of emphasis on spiritual busy-ness has a name in a religious venue. Known as “performance-based-religion,” this practice seems to be one end result of the on-going Christian theological conflict between faith and works. Faith and works as differing points of religious sometimes collide. There is the grace freely offered and given by God and the notion of works as a means of earning your way into God’s good graces.

The Mormonism in which I was raised and came to learn about my relationship to heaven came down on the side of works without which – as the hymn Do What Is Right exhorts, “Angels above us are silent notes taking” – you would not earn your way into the Celestial Kingdom.

In my experience, performance-based religion seriously degrades and diminishes the idea of free agency and willfully. Rather than following the Christ model based on genuine faith and love. Performance-based religion replaces doing and being good with something useless: an ongoing fear of failing to measure up to the unbending demands of justice, morality and a God who can in no way look upon sin with any degree of allowance. The on-going risk involved in performance-based spirituality is a tendency toward a blind trust in leaders that almost inevitably leads to a willful blind obedience to the counsels of ordinary men.

Such can lead men and women to living in what I equate to Thoreau’s notion of a life of quiet desperation.

What is forgotten in such a scenario is that performance-based religiousness is also literal-minded religion which then makes a false organizational proprietary claim on the idea of revelation. Anything significant about your relationship with The Lord will be defined for you by Church revelation. Performance-based religion also obviously then includes the insertion of ecclesiastical middlemen into the picture as having authority. If such middle men possess “authority” they are then seen as capable and able to take deliberate actions that impact a supposed eternal relationship with our Heavenly Parents.

I mention Heavenly Parents because in the performance-based religion to which I belong, the Church presumes to tell me I can pray to the Father but that it’s inappropriate to pray to the Mother.

Performance based spiritual priorities are not real nor genuine.

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. ”

These are not performance-based commandments.

These are not duty-driven commandments that imply that the great King of Heaven will be pleased if you obey – even if you have to overcome personal unwillingness.

For me these two ideas represent the most powerful experience and pursuit and loving of the things that God loves. We are to do them because we are at heart good, we are ethical and, like God, we want the highest good of all concerned.

To be honest, after returning to the Church I was disappointed to feel that same sense of being herded that had annoyed me to the point of departure in 1991. Nothing had changed, perhaps with the sense that the Church in many ways strengthens its membership not by gentle “herding” but more by progressively intensified involvement in Church busy-ness: organized stampeding us in directions to which we were not necessarily prepared to travel and did not see as needful.

Repeated references to “testimony” have served to define those teachings or doctrines with which we have disagreed or found ourselves unable to practice.

A literal belief in the Word of Wisdom has not been a teaching that we have accepted and so becomes something of which we have not yet acquired a testimony. I do not anticipate a testimony change in this area.

Another teaching with which I (Lietta can speak for herself) have a total lack of testimony is the Temple, Temple Ordinances and Eternal Marriage as well as the directly connected teaching of Tithing which seems to be the price of admission to the Temple.

Why not then, just leave if the highest ideals and objectives – the point of all that LDS busy-ness – is not something I deem worthy of my endeavor?

Well, I would add that even as there is no testimony of the Word of Wisdom, Tithing or the Temple, there is also no testimony of any “blessings” of ever again willfully walking away from my identity and heritage.

I grew up with a spiritual understanding of my connection to Heavenly Parents that was an anthem to the faith and sacrifice of my ancestors. My eventual alienation from the busy-ness and score-keeping of contemporary correlated Latter Day Saints had nothing to do with the kingdom of God that was alive and palpable within me.

I may drift away from the busy-ness of conformity as a member of a corporate church … but I will not again willingly separate myself from my heritage and my people.

Perhaps then it is appropriate for me to reveal the results of my “eligibility review” as part of why I will not of my own volition walk away from the spiritual way of life that is informed by my heritage.

I do not believe nor accept the majority of the LDS faith narratives …
I do not believe there were ever golden plates …
I know that Joseph dictated the Book of Mormon under a muse-influence while looking at a so-called seer stone in a hat …
I know the Church has acknowledged publicly and on the official web site that he had used the seer stone …
I know the seer stone was nothing more than a rock he found and was nothing special …

I know that Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine and the earliest Roman church fathers created out of their own religious imagination the mental/spiritual constructs of original sin, natural man being evil and born that way, the need for a redeemer and the atonement of Christ.

I know that none of those notions are real and all of them were imagined realities created out of whole cloth.

I know that I do not need a redeemer

I know that Jesus Christ did not die for my sins

I know that the Plan of Salvation is bogus

I know that natural man is not an enemy to god
I may drift away from the busy-ness of conformity as a member of a corporate church … but I will not again willingly separate myself from my heritage and my people.

“So, correct me if I get this wrong, but you’re saying that you do not believe most of the things the Church teaches (in it’s faith narrative) and that those things are not the reason you have a testimony or why you are attending church. Your testimonies are not based on those things at all, but other things important to you?”

He accepted that I have a testimony, uncorrelated as it is.

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