Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Well Schooled . . .

As a keen observer of goings on in the Restored Church of Jesus Christ (formerly the RLDS, formerly the LDS, formerly the — never mind) we are nearly overcome with the activity in our midst. Since we moved nearer to the center place three-and-a-half years ago, we left behind the quiet scriptural debates and heartfelt worship of a peaceful living room in Las Vegas (a city renowned for glitter, flash and noise.) We came as innocent freshmen to the “University of the Faith,” which is the Restored Church milieu here in Missouri. Our first year courses included: "Acronyms 101, Bob’s Rules of Order 213" (for those who successfully challenged the prerequisite: "Roberts Rules of Order",) "Fundamental Branch Organization 102", a review of "Financial Law 101" (for those not involved with formal congregations for nearly twenty years) and "Basic Bible Study 104". These courses were augmented by refreshers in "Property Maintenance", "Sacred Music", and "Meal Planning for Large Groups" with hands-on labs for each. All in all, a challenging curriculum for renewal of a regulated church life.

It was a challenge we embraced. We dropped no courses and, I hope, got reasonably good grades in everything. Not “cum laude”, but acceptable with, ultimately, God giving the final grade. Now going into the eighth semester, we continue to learn. It was much easier for me because I had been exposed to all of this in several faithful branches and congregations pre-Sec. 156. For Jan, who was baptized in Las Vegas, it was much more difficult because she had to learn much of it from scratch. She rose to the occasion in spite of having to work as well as learn. Looking back, there were a couple of courses that were particularly outstanding.

One that comes to mind is "Failure of the Gentiles 401" under the excellent tutelage of Professor John Moody. His expert teachings about the recent history of the RLDS and the resultant Restoration provide a foundation for any serious student of the church. I have always favored any course under the guidance of the author of the text. I understand that it is available publicly from Deborah Bergquist at: 816-916-0543. Once you read this, you will realize why I believe it shines more light on our current affairs than any other text other than the scriptures.

A favorite instructor has been Ray Treat. Whether lecturing on the poetry of the Book of Mormon or plumbing the depths of Isaiah, his insights are invaluable. If you are looking for a role model, he may be the ticket—if you can keep up! You may also be fortunate enough to meet his delightful wife, Jean.

As I recount my most meaningful learning experiences I find I may risk leaving out some very important figures. Professor Arthur Hawley offered so very much in his sought-after course, "Hierarchal Bureaucracy 303". The superannuated Seventy Tommy Thomas and his ever popular "Build Zion Now" Symposium. I am still taking Chuck Miller’s, "Our Responsibility in Challenging the Adversary 407", but it promises to be comprehensive and in every way outstanding.

There are others I would be remiss to ignore. Our spiritual advisor and mentor Hartley Stanbridge, although not teaching formally, has given us direction, encouragement, and advice in accordance with the directions of God. At different times I have enjoyed some exceptional Biblical scholars in learning more about our three books.

For our fourth year, Jan and I have elected to drop some course work in favor of writing. Although not mandatory, we feel a “final thesis” is required of us. We are therefore, using “Zion Beckons” to formalize the previously mentioned course work. (She, of course, had a head start with her publication of “The Book of Mark” earlier this year.) It is our prayer that this on-line journal will stimulate interest in matters distressing the church as well as repeating some lessons learned with the assistance of others. We promise to not air our family squabbles here but rather glorify the Father and His purposes.

Although we will miss the undergraduate life style, we both recognize the need for further study so we shall submit to the rigors of seeking post-graduate status. Would the Lord ask less ?

Don’t be confused. There is no such formal "university" in the mount of Zion. These, or similar courses are, however, available for the education of the Saints. Unlike an academic setting, we may use our agency to pick and choose to follow whatever direction we desire or feel led, and at whatever pace. We may burn the midnight oil (it is now 1:45 am) or choose the path of “pew warmer.” Some say we need to attend every Sunday. A few even make it to prayer meeting. Of course attendance is required on Easter and Christmas. Does that every Sunday thing include Fall Sundays when the Rams, the Packers or the Chiefs play early? How about the club’s annual golf outing? What about Senator Bluster’s fund raiser on Wednesday night? What about God?

I know many Saints whose entire lives have been a learning experience. It shows! Others say, "I just can’t keep up with everything that’s going on." These are the ones who quietly acquiesced when the church fell into apostasy. They shunned the learning required to be on top of things and make well reasoned decisions. I know this to be a fact. I was one of them. Shame on me! We must study more and learn more about those who would lead us. In this information-glutted age, it is inexcusable not to know. It is also inexcusable to not seek that inexhaustible font of knowledge, God Almighty.

It is widely held that some in the hierarchy try to keep things from the larger body of Saints. Why do they bother? The natural apathy of the body, ignorance of current events, and the provincialism of congregations provides a hot house atmosphere that would grow mushrooms. The only other ingredient necessary is willingly provided from Independence.

Moroni had the answer. It is in a preceding post (A lesson from Alma). If you missed it (unforgivable!) it goes like this: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children” and he posted it on a cloth rent from his own garment where all could see and they clearly understood what their struggle was all about. We must listen to Moroni.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

1 comment:

Patricia Ragan said...

Moroni's was the first flag on this continent. How appropriate! I like it better than the red, white and blue.