“Why do the Utah Jazz, in the Mormon capital, play ‘Hava Nagila’ after wins?”

“Why do the Utah Jazz, in the Mormon capital, play ‘Hava Nagila’ after wins?” May 3, 2022

 

Golden domes on Jabal al-Zaytun
The Russian Orthodox Church of St. Mary Magdalene, on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem
(posted as a public domain image on Wikimedia Commons by Sustructu)

 

***

 

As mentioned in an article from the Times of Israel, this is a weighty issue that recently drew attention here in Jerusalem:

 

“Why do the Utah Jazz, in the Mormon capital, play ‘Hava Nagila’ after wins?  Use of centuries-old Jewish folk tune to celebrate NBA victories draws confusion, support and accusations of cultural appropriation from spectators”

 

And here’s another divisive issue out of Jerusalem.  This one involves a Russian Orthodox church — though not the one shown in the photograph above:

 

“Amid Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine, Putin Demands Jerusalem Church As Israel Promised”

 

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Fairly commonly, I encounter the claim from disaffected member x or apostate former believer y that the Church of today is no longer the Church in which x or y was raised.  Or — a variant of that claim — that the “apologists” have so modified the claims of the Gospel that it’s no longer really the same religious faith.  Or — in another slight variant that was once rather popular in a certain odd corner of the web — that “apologists” effectively belong to an entirely different church (“Internet Mormonism”) than the one inhabited by most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e., “Chapel Mormonism”).

 

I recently saw such a claim yet again.

 

I disagree, but I get it.  There is a sense in which I now live in a different world than the one in which my parents grew up.  My grandchildren will inhabit a different world than that which I knew as a child.

 

Modern-day “apologists” tend to believe that the narrative of the Book of Mormon focuses on relatively small groups concentrated in relatively small areas in the Americas, rather than on the total population of the entire Pre-Columbian New World.  That’s probably not what many Latter-day Saints have historically thought — although limited-geographical models of the Book of Mormon have been around for a very long time.

 

Most modern, college-educated Latter-day Saints probably accept some form or other of biological evolution, which surely wasn’t the case in the very biblicist, pre-Darwinian days of the founding of the Restoration.

 

And many modern-day scholars think that Noah’s flood was likely local, at least in an important sense, rather than involving the submersion of the entire planet under hundreds if not thousands of feet of water.

 

But are such questions really at the heart of the Restored Gospel?

 

The claim that Church doctrine has been fundamentally transformed in modern times — or essentially rejected by modern “apologists” — has always seemed to me a frivolous and, actually, a disingenuous claim.

 

I suppose that I qualify as well as anybody to represent the genus “apologist,” so let me speak here for myself:

 

I’ve served in many capacities in the Church, including high councils, a bishopric, as a bishop, on the adult curriculum writing committee for the Sunday School, and as a perennial adult Sunday School teacher.  I’m aware of no disharmony between me and my local ward nor — for that matter — of any between me and the General Authorities of the Church (with more than a few of whom I have had and continue to have excellent relationships).

 

I believe in God the Father, and in his divine Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

 

I believe that, for us and for our salvation, the Son Jesus Christ descended from heaven and became a mortal man, much (but not entirely) like ourselves.  He suffered and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and was buried.  On the third day he rose again — physically and literally, and not just metaphorically — as the Scriptures record.  He ascended to heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will never end.

 

I accept the Son as the Savior and Redeemer of all humankind, through his Atonement, and as the only way for us to return to the presence of God.

 

I believe the Father and the Son to have physical bodies, and the Holy Ghost to be a personage of spirit.  I believe that the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith in a grove of trees in New York in the spring of 1820.

 

I believe in the restoration of the Gospel in the latter-days by means of the ministration of angels who, among other things, conferred unique priesthood authority upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery — from whom it has continued to flow down to the present day within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

I sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — currently Russell M. Nelson — as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys.  I sustain the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.

 

I believe the Book of Mormon to be the translation of an authentically ancient account of the interactions with God and each other of groups of Pre-Columbian peoples in the Americas.  I believe that it records a genuine visit of the resurrected Christ to the New World.

 

I believe that all human beings are spirit children of God the Father who lived with him in a pre-mortal world, and that all have the innate, ultimate capacity to become like him.  I believe that all of us will be physically resurrected.

 

I honor the early Saints of this dispensation.  Whether or not we’re biologically related, these are my people.  Their story is my story.  Their beliefs, largely and fundamentally, are my beliefs.  The cause that they lived for, and for which some died, is my cause.

 

Those are a few thoughts.  There are many more points, obviously, on which I could write.  But this should be enough to make my point, which is that it seems to me silly and unserious to claim that someone who affirms what I’ve affirmed above belongs to a “different church” or believes in a “different faith” than than that of the nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints.

 

Posted from Jerusalem, Israel

 

 

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