Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How personal or detailed should one be when describing the Spirit?

How personal or detailed should one be when describing communications from the Spirit on a blog entry?

I can tell from my hit-counter service that I have some regular readers, so I'm directing this question mainly to them. I've turned on anonymous comments if any non-Blogspotters want to comment. (Comment moderation is still in effect, so comments won't appear until I approve them.)

In the scriptures, the prophets basically say "The Lord (or the Spirit) told/commanded me." Today, the Brethren usually say "I was/felt impressed" or "I was/felt prompted."

Being prepared for, and sometimes seeking out book-placement opportunities has allowed the Spirit to teach me of ways in which he works that are new to me. I now believe the Spirit can vary the types or methods of inspiration/revelation in addition to the strength or volume. In previous entries, I've described "tugs" where I feel pulled to a place that's within eyesight. Sometimes it's more of a "visual focus" such as when a particular person or place "stands out", and my attention is drawn to them. Sometimes a person appears to give off spiritual light, and I can perceive it radiating from them.

A big lesson for me was learning that the Spirit can implant ideas that feel like my own ideas. These are neither whisperings nor promptings. If I'm in tune with the Spirit, I can identify a whispering/prompting as a something that originates from outside of me and is being communicated to me from the outside in. But the "implanted idea" is something that wells up from within, as an internal desire.

Do you think I should include full details of spiritual thoughts and feelings and how I analyze or discern them when describing these events?


At 2/15/2006 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Ian said...

Well, going with your spiritual discerning theme, what does the spirit tell you? :-)

At 2/15/2006 01:52:00 PM, Blogger C Jones said...

This is a good question for anyone writing an LDS-themed blog. Being led by the spirit is a central point of our faith. If we never talk about it, we risk the giving the impression that it isn't really important to us, or that it really doesn't often (or ever) happen. But how do we know if it's appropriate to share these kinds of experiences so publicly?

I think motivation is significant-- are you mainly writing to document your Book of Mormon contact experiences, or to extend that missionary service to the internet, or to seek community with likeminded people, or ???

And I guess it somewhat depends on who your readers are. A determined non-believer probably won't be very convinced by an account of a spiritual prompting, but believers will recognize similar experiences in their own lives and be strengthened.

Personally, trying to recognize and follow the promptings of the spirit is a guiding objective in my life and I like it when people discuss these kinds of things- at least as far as they feel comfortable with (which should of course probably be determined by the spirit :-)

At 2/15/2006 03:00:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

Ian: I should have seen that coming. :)

The three things that come to mind about it are:
1. Liken ourselves to the scriptures.
2. Follow the Brethren.
3. Follow the Spirit.

Deciding how much to include has often been wrestling with my own fears. I believe that fear of being mocked should be ignored. Yet fear of being prideful is a healthy fear.

I have a tendency to judge ideas strictly by good/bad. But when the idea is neutral or in the grey area, the truer or higher way to judge is to discern the source of the idea. In this case, the idea of how much detail about a spiritual communicaiton to include.

1. Maybe I haven't delved deep enough, but the prophets in the scriptures (Bible and Book of Mormon, not the D&C) don't seem to nuance their spiritual directions. Yes, there's the "still small voice" but the detailed accounts are more along the lines of being commanded or told. It wasn't until the DC that there appeared things such as "speak peace to your mind" and "idea of baptism for the dead pressed itself on my mind" and the "yes/no/no-answer" response to prayers requesting confirmation.

2. Today, the Brethren play it pretty much close to their chest, just speaking of promptings or impressions in the general conference talks. But on rare occasions in print or in other talks they say "The Spirit told me..."

I think General Conference talks are more "held back" than those broadcasts which are more sure to have a members-only audience.

3. I have held back from including all the details when posting some events.

CJ: My main goals are to encourage others to do likewise, and to publicize/document a vast untapped "market" out there that is eager for bi-lingual material in spite of it being religious in nature. Even if people read the Book of Mormon for the "wrong" reason, doing so will likely bring people to ponder "Is this true?"

I want to encourage others to do likewise by showing how easy it is, both in the finding, and in the presentation.

My target audience is active LDS. But I know others read it, including ex's and anti's. At first, it stung a little bit to read the mocking comments when I traced the referring link, but I realized that when the mockers mock, it means you're doing something right, otherwise they'd leave you alone.

I don't want to claim any worthiness or status with "the Spirit indicated for me to..." kind of remarks. I don't always succeed in keeping my heart pure and mind clean. The communication with the Spirit does taper off when I'm not in tune. But on rare occasions, it's like he "cranks up the volume" to overcome the static of my sin, in order to get a message through. Those experiences can be painful. I assume those instances are important cases where the Lord can't wait for me to be more worthy.

Which teaches me a lesson about priesthood leaders. There aren't enough perfect or nearly perfect men to fill all the leadership positions in the church. (A divorced female friend once told me: "Perfect men? There's an oxymoron.") Just because we see flaws in our leaders doesn't mean they can't be inspired. I mean, here I am in my unworthiness, and the Lord told/led me exactly where to go to find someone who wanted a Book of Mormon.

Now I have no excuse in believing a leader is uninspired just because I see one of his flaws.

Most of the placements are due to seemingly random encounters with the many immigrants in Indianapolis. When you shop, buy gas, or go to the laundromat, you're bound to encounter people.

But the Psalms (105:1 specifically) has admonitions to "make known his deeds among the people." So on those rare occasions when it's obvious that the Lord "rings me up" and by the Spirit tells me which street to take, and then tells me which business to stop in at (#521 and #522), is that then a deed of his that I should make known?

I think so. And I believe it illustrates many other gospel principles, such as his omniscience, his knowing every human being and the thoughts of everyone's heart and who's ready to have a seed planted. It illustrates how he sees the future, and how he has his hand in all things.

At 2/15/2006 05:43:00 PM, Blogger RyanMercer said...

Yes, I believe you should. I really would enjoy seeing them... helps me keep some faith when I see the Spirit working through other people

At 2/16/2006 06:46:00 AM, Anonymous Tammy said...

We bear testimony of the Spirit's dealings with us all the time. In casual conversation, lessons we give within our family or at church, we bear testimonies at fast meetings, so talking about how God deals with us isn't so unusual for us as members. Maybe we don't see it as often written on a public page but we certainly write about it in our journals or we should. I will admit at times I don't understand how you feel those promptings but I think that is because I have never felt not because of non blief. Hope this helps.

At 2/16/2006 08:47:00 PM, Anonymous Ariel said...

I don't remember who said it, but there's a GA quote to the effect that we would recieve more revelation if we didn't share all of it with others (unless, of course, we are prompted to do so.) I find that sharing personal spiritual experiences with others can either make them more special to me or less special to me, depending on how and why I share them. I always feel uplifted by your posts, but if you don't, that's an indicatior that something is wrong.

Your blog is my favorite. I read the rest of the MA and enjoy most of it, but this is the one that really makes my day. This is a blog that builds testimony.


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