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United Brethren is currently on blog sabbatical.

I'm an Anglican Mormon

More confessions:

I used to think that I was Mormon the core. After all, I was born and bred a Mormon and I've done all the good Mormon things. Recently, however, I'm having doubts about my Mormon-ness. I have come to realise that much of my world view comes from other sources. For example, I consider myself a political liberal and I can tell you the day of my conversion to things Left. It was the summer of 2000; I went to my local shop to buy a newspaper and all they had was the Guardian. I had never even picked up the Guardian before having grown up in a Tory home that read only the Telegraph or the Daily Mail. Anyway, that day I read an article about the terrible effects of UN sanctions in Iraq. It was a shock--after all, were not the Iraqis the Bad Guys? Realising that dastardly deeds were being perpetrated by Good Guys (us), my path to questioning the establishment began. Of course, in 2000 the Establishment was the Labour Party, theoretically Left themselves, but if you know anything about British politics you will know that such an idea is laughable.

So, my political philosophy has had little to do with the Church. Indeed, as most Mormons tend to be conservative, I seem to have run counter to my brethren and sisters. That said, I do (like Mormons for Equality and Social Justice), find comfort for my views in the Gospel.

Some of my religious ideas also seem to come from Another Place. (Read my thoughts on the Cross). I consider myself fairly undogmatic and a believer in the inclusive nature of God's love and mercy. Where does this nonsense come from?

In my family, only I and my parents are members of the church. Our family has a Quaker, Anglican, and Methodist heritage, and these other religious streams have been part of my life--no pure Pioneer blood here. Also, I was schooled in Church of England schools. We had a religious assembly every morning and Bible stories every week. Before I learnt the Sacrament Prayer, I knew the Lord's Prayer. Our football coach was the local priest and every Christmas we did a Nativity complete with bewinged angels. Now, in the midst of this I always knew I was a Mormon, and I even got into trouble when smugly telling my teachers that, "angels don't have wings." But I have come to realise that much of this has left an influence on me. At Oxford I remember jokingly saying that we should all come to church in academic robes and say prayers in Latin. I'm only half-joking. I happen to love the Old School Church--when Rebecca and I are on holiday we like to visit the local (non-Mormon) churches. My favourite church service in years was at the magnificent St. David's Cathedral in Wales. So, I'm an Anglican-Mormon. What's to be done?

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Anonymous said ... (February 05, 2005 12:12 PM) 

I think that you're unnecessarily problemitizing the issue. Nothing in the Gospel says that we can't be appreciative of cultural heritage and/or other religious traditions.

Although I am LDS, I also greatly enjoy attending other church services (not evangelical services, anymore--I tried that out in high school and was put off by anti-Mormon sermons delivered straight from the pulpit). One summer after my mission, while doing an internship away from home, I went every week to Catholic mass because I had a friend in my company who lived in the same corporate housing that I did but who had no car. He needed a ride to church and the Catholic church was a 30-40 minute drive from where we were. Instead of driving him and just dropping him off, I just went in with him and greatly enjoyed the mass. I did this about six weeks in a row. It was great. (Of course, that was not to the exclusion of attending my own ward.) Also, while at Oxford, Allison and I very much enjoyed participating in all of the cultural and religious traditions associated with St. Edmund Hall, including attending chapel there in college. It was Anglican and very wonderful. One of our favorite religious sermons ever (whether LDS or otherwise) we heard there. The pastor gave it about the meekness of Christ. Of course, the greatness of his sermon was a little compromised by his anti-Mormonness, as I later found out that he and his colleague had ditched a complete set of the collected works of Hugh Nibley that Jack Welch had donated to the college library a few years before merely because it was a "Mormon" publication from BYU. Out of one side of his mouth he was delivering great sermons on the meekness of Jesus and out of the other he was spitting bile at another religious tradition. Very enlightened.

In fact, it seems that Latter-day Saints are often more open about other religious traditions than those of other faiths. And I refer even to conservative Latter-day Saints. A conservative Latter-day Saint, for example, generally wouldn't pray that evangelicals will be saved from hell, whereas this is a common part of an evangelical prayer, even in the presence of Latter-day Saints or others of other faiths.

I know that the Bloggernacle is full of criticisms of the Church that it is too intolerant of other faiths and the beliefs of other people. I really find this to be inaccurate. Latter-day Saints generally approach the worship of other people of other faiths with a very open attitude. It is true that deep down Latter-day Saints notice what they deem the "apostate" aspects of such worship, such as maybe memorized prayers, burning of candles, icons, crucifixes or crosses, etc. But that is just a function of having a higher knowledge through the presence of the Restored Gospel and living prophets, and in my experience, most Latter-day Saints are not combative when in a situation confronted with these and where it is obviously part of a sincere religious devotion of someone else. 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous said ... (February 05, 2005 12:56 PM) 

JF, well said, as usual. I too would not frequent an Evengelical service because I know they would make me feel very unwelcome. I am also aware that many Anglicans would have a sneering attitude to Mormons. That really sucks: I like them, they hate me. (My parents' local priest called the LDS church the "bubble-gum religion" when they were converting).

But whilst we have no recent history of vitriolic attacks against other Christians (since the Protestant minister was erased from the Endowment), "it is true that deep down Latter-day Saints notice what they deem the "apostate" aspects of [Christian] worship..." and believe that they possess "a higher knowledge". We still condescend, but don't advertise it.

Anyway, glad to see I'm not alone in enjoying other faiths.  

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous said ... (February 05, 2005 12:56 PM) 

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Anonymous said ... (February 05, 2005 2:46 PM) 

Mormonism has the potential of being ultimately inclusive. Joseph Smith used verbiage delineating that Christ would “save” all but the son’s of Perdition. Recently, we have heard language that recognizes the good of all other faiths (often coupled with an invitation to receive more). Personal application of this inclusive potential, however, requires maturity. You have to be pretty confident in yourself and your beliefs to appreciate what is outside of yourself (especially when what is outside of self is antagonistic).

For me, it seems that at a certain point I began to extricate myself from my surrounding culture and started building my own. There is definitely a heritage to be recognized, but I would not “fit in” with my cousins whose parents stayed in Utah, while mine left for greener pastures. Now as I’ve gotten older, I have shed many of the little quirks that I had acquired by proximity (though my parents sarcasm and values remain).

And for the record, I really enjoy mass in Latin and Pentacostal services wierd me out. 

Posted by J. Stapley


Anonymous said ... (February 05, 2005 3:31 PM) 

Having attended both High church and regular church of england services I find them both interesting and enlightening. High church with it's ritualistic form, incense etc. was at first an eye opening experience. The word "worship" comes to my mind when I've attended.

Regular church of england was more comfortable for me, only because it lacked alot of the rituals I wasn't used to.

Attending other churches has inspired me, taught me, and made me thankful for our form of church meeting. 

Posted by don


Anonymous said ... (February 05, 2005 6:27 PM) 

If nothing else, I find the music and the choral work of Catholic mass (or just the choral work of Orthodox mass) infinitely superior to most of what I hear on Sundays. (caveat: good choirs are always appreciated, just exceedingly rare)


Posted by John C.


Anonymous said ... (February 05, 2005 10:10 PM) 

One of the reasons that our church service is so spartan is that we have always placed value in severing our practices from anything that resembles human invention to replace true piety. That said, however, when I've attended Catholic or Anglican services, I always greatly enjoy the ritual and solemnity attached. I guess that is one reason that those things are part of those services. It is a way to inject something ethereal into an otherwise dead practice (dead in the sense of being void of guiding revelation, though that is not to say that individual Anglicans or Catholics cannot experience personal guiding revelation as they seek out God in their lives. I tend to think that such is definitely possible and often even steers them away from true human invention in religion and toward something more pure). 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous said ... (February 06, 2005 8:18 AM) 

I don't think our services are necessrily spartan by design (and our highest service, the Endowment, is very rich), but a product of the non-conformist Christian milieu out of which Mormonism developed.  

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 10:18 AM) 

Hear hear!

Sometimes I wish our church (or at least the temple) were more ritualized. I'd love to have some Latin in there somewhere. One of the thigns I gained from my time wandering all teh different churches in jerusalem was an appreciation for the... awe/reverence/sense of otherworldly mysticism that latin and robes and swinging incense containers engender. 

Posted by Ben S.


Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 11:48 AM) 

Ben S.: why Latin? Why not Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew? If you want to close off the meaning of our worship to the masses, why go with Latin, which is almost as far removed from the substance of our religion as is English? 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 2:38 PM) 

For me, despite the fact that it was in English, the "meaning of our worship" was pretty "closed off" for me yesterday during Fast and Story Meeting.  

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 3:05 PM) 


I am probably on the opposite side of the spectrum as you, and I saw the Iraq government as the problem, not the UN sanctions... All politics aside, (can you REALLY seperate them?) I spent most of my childhood in Methodist, baptist and 7th day adventist churches. My famliy was poor, and it was possible to drive to church every week, so I hopped on whatever bus was passing round first that week. Not to mention the fact that my folks crammed me into nearly every Vacation Bible school they could find, if only to get me out of the house.

You shoul dhave seen the look on my companions faces when in the south, on my mission (florida and Georgia) I knew most of the songs sung by the other denominations... I found them much more enjoyable, and upbeat.

All this experience has left me with an empty spot for a little hellfire and damnation, something we just don't get in our church...(all though I let me Priest's QUarum have it every now and then when we are tlaking about respecting the women of the church).

Every time I see COnference, I am secretly hoping that one of the Bretheren will start pounding the pulpit and asking for some amens from the audience... Maybe a little gospel choir as apposed to MOTAB?

I ache to hear some Amazing grace now and then, and maybe some swing low sweet chariots. I genuinely love those songs and wish we had a little more motivation and movement in the services. Not to the extent of pentacost, rolling in the isles would be a little much, but a raised voice... SOMETHING to make me feel like a sinner... 

Posted by Jake


Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 4:09 PM) 

One of the things I fondly remember about attending the Baltimore branch (back before the mega-ward) is the occasional Amens that would resound from the congregation after the speaker made a good point. 

Posted by John C.


Anonymous said ... (February 09, 2005 1:32 PM) 

John F. :I think Latin over Greek or Hebrew because most of the chants I've heard are in Latin. There's some good stuff on Chanticleer's Christmas CD, which I listen to year round, particularly tracks 2 & 4. Samples at Amazon

Posted by Ben S


Rexmundi said ... (February 21, 2005 3:39 PM) 

"Every time I see COnference, I am secretly hoping that one of the Bretheren will start pounding the pulpit and asking for some amens from the audience... Maybe a little gospel choir as apposed to MOTAB?"


About 10-15 years ago, Hartman Rector, Jr. gave a GC talk that was highly animated. President Hinckley was conducting and when he got up he said something to the effect that there was nothing wrong with the talk; Brother Rector was from Mississippi and that's just how they talk down there. I thought it was a great comment but I don't think Brother Rector was ever asked to speak in GC again and shortly thereafter Elder Scott was called to the Q of 12--ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.


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