Fire prevention awareness has had an unintended side-effect in some parts of the U.S. It has created a stigma about fires, but fire is part of a healthy, natural forest life. For example, regular fires reduce the amount tinder available to burn in a fire. When a forest goes too long without burning off that underbrush, its abundance makes an eventual fire burn hotter and spread faster. Furthermore, for some plants fire is an integral part of their growth cycle. Such as the Sequoia seeds, which are released from cones that burst open with heat. They need fire.
Forest management will burn controlled fires to help maintain balance. These are regulated and managed fires, using techniques like back burns and firebreaks. As you can imagine, it is a risky business, and it is not without danger. But it is vital to the life of the forest, and it has to be done.
I imagine what it must be like, on the edge of the fire, both urging it forward and pushing it back. To see the good work that the fire is doing in its destruction, but also have a healthy fear of its ability to destroy everything. Never mind the task of teaching everyone who has been taught to fear forest fires, that this is the right thing to do.
This is how I feel, living on the edge of Mormonism. It’s volatile, unsafe territory. The constant pushing and pulling between faith and doubt, between history and modern-day, between doctrine and culture. We have gone too long without addressing these issues, and we’ve built up a lot of underbrush. Clearing it out is dangerous work. And it is necessary for future growth because a stagnate doctrine and culture will keep us from receiving the truths the Lord has yet to reveal.
But it is scary at the edge. This kind of truth-seeking can consume everything and leave you feeling like you have no beliefs left. It feels as though doubt will win any second. And it is so exhausting. Being on the fringe of Mormonism is a constant battle, and you can never forget those who would just be more comfortable stomping you out. Sometimes it feels like it would just be a lot easier to let them. I’m pretty sure this is why firefighters work in shifts.
In the end, a balance has to be maintained with this fire, and we have to control the burn.
Leah, when I saw the title of the blog I guessed correctly what your analogy was going to be.
I think this analogy is SO true.
I think the top church leaders are being pressed to do some “controlled burns” (essays) as people leaving due to finding out how much was covered up. Members see the huge difference and they instantly go up in flames (or would that be “go down in flames”?) And many that leave feel very burned (the analogy just begged to use that word) and are angered about it.
But those controlled burns that top church leaders are trying (essays) often get out of control and people end up leaving after just reading these.
No controlled burns will do nothing but put more fuel on the ground and even more explosive/uncontrollable in the future.
I am starting to feel too burned to really stay. I am having a hard time seeing the forecast as anything other than increasing fires.
I feel your pain or burn, Leah. I couldn’t have expressed it any better than you did in those last few paragraphs. It’s a scary place to be after all these years of living in the dark (unknowledgable about church history, Joseph Smith and his polygamy/polyandry shinanaigans, church finances, etc..), but thinking its the light and believing all is well in Zion. I guess I will just keep plugging along until I can decide which way to go, in or out. The Mormon lifestyle is, in my opinion, a pretty good way to live in the world. So I’m not unhappy that we raised our kids to believe many tenants of the gospel. The word of wisdom is wise, I feel. Doing your visiting/home teaching is a great way to serve people, having a calling to teach you how to serve and put together a lesson, etc. Where I’m struggling is the fanatical “this is the only true church on the face of the earth”, “We have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today”, and “You will not be led astray by the brethren”. In other words, just do what you’re told and be obedient and all will be well. Where’d agency go, if that’s the case? If the gospel is to be believed, we fought for that agency in the pre-existence……
Anyway, thanks for the interesting read.
And thank you for this insightful comment. To mix metaphors, I think sometimes we get so lost in this controlled burn that we can’t see the forest for the trees. There is a lot of good and beauty in the church. We just also have a lot of kinks to work out.