I know this is hard to believe for the rising generation, but for some of us “older” folk we can remember a time when the only way to add music to our personal libraries was to purchase an entire album. An album was a physical item – originally a circular disk – on which was recorded an entire series of songs by the given artist. This object was placed in a playback device (turn table or cassette player) and played start to finish. Oh I suppose with a record you could have started anywhere you wanted and with a cassette you just had to start where you left off last time, but prior to the advent of the CD it was extremely difficult to cue up specific songs or play them back in any order desired. Playlists were impossible with records and CDs (though the advent of CD burners helped a little) and with cassettes you were limited to the immensely popular mix tape which still suffered from the limitations of the technology.
But I digress. With this “ancient” and “archaic” technology when an album was released it was intended that it be listened to start to finish, each song in sequence as it was printed on the medium. The listener who chose to do so had a very different experience than the listener who frantically rushed about trying to find only those particular songs they wanted to listen to in the order they wanted to listen to them in. By the end of the album the listener would have enjoyed an entire symphony as the artist intended it to be experienced. Those albums written by the most gifted artists would have been deliberately ordered to present the artist’s message, each song playing its role in directing the listener’s thoughts and emotions to get the point across. In other words, albums could be taken as a complete whole rather than in individual pieces because the artist had a message to give not just in the individual songs, but over the course of the entire album. Thus the songs of an album were never really intended to be consumed individually as we do today with our playlists and shuffle mode, but rather were intended to be part of one whole listening experience. One of my favorite more recent examples of this is Hims 2 by Voice Male where the listener is taken on a journey of establishing God’s existence and love for His children, then travelling through our experience with deepening trials in life, and finally rising up the slope of the reassurance of the sure foundation our faith in God can be throughout those trials. It is a beautifully artistic faith-building experience when listened to as the symphony it is rather than as randomly chosen musical pieces.
When I began this project known as The Russty Mormon Project the first set of posts were intended to be more like an old album – a symphony of thoughts, ideas, and writings intended to be read in sequence in order to set the tone and lay the foundation of the blog as a whole. I had strong ideas of where the project should start and the journey it would take me on and hoped that each new comer to the site would also go down that journey before experiencing the rest of my writings. Years earlier I had recognized that the Lord has blessed me with a degree of eloquence and that some of the things I have written over the years have been a blessing to a few individuals. Now I desired (and it was time) to extend that reach, if it were possible, to others who could and would want to similarly benefit from them.
My intent was to begin by outlining the purpose behind the project and the rules I intended to follow in a few simple blog posts. It was only going to take three posts to do so and then I would branch off into a series of different threads, periodically contributing to each one. As mentioned in the page describing the project I began this blog with a much narrower view of both the audience and content the blog would contain. By the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the scope in both areas broadened immensely when I wrote my first post and I have since found myself on a journey intended to create serious reflection about our individual personal beliefs and why we have them. It is my hope in writing that in the process some of us will find added strength to our faith in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and that perhaps those not of a similar faith as my own could still find benefit and encouragement in developing their own faith as well.
Time has pressed on. Life has changed dramatically and the time between posts got longer and longer. Though the plan still floated loosely around in my head the ideas underlying each of the first posts shifted, affected by adjusting perspectives on life, and the vision of this blog has morphed into something far more personal than I ever expected it would become. Three posts turned into five – plus a video – and that symphony has become something I never dreamed it would ever be. But it has enriched my soul and I hope touched a few others along the way.
I say it has become more personal because in the process of writing these posts I have come to a personal awakening of sorts regarding where I am with my own faith and religious practices. I recognize now that this project has become far more about me and my own spiritual progression than I ever intended it to be. With the writing of The Measuring Stick I began to seriously reflect upon my own faith in Christ – and more importantly see how I measure up to Him – and it has been an eye-opening experience that has filled me with awe, wonder, remorse, sadness . . . and hope. Hope that through Christ I can indeed become the man I was sent to earth to be – a man who lives up to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” I see now that this is and will forever be a life-long process for all who undertake to accomplish it.
And so – taking a cue from Kate’s post about her own spiritual self-discovery – this is the part where I make my own confession and reveal to you and me the truth that this blog really is about me and my own experience with faith – where I have come from, where I am now, and where I hope to go in the future. This “project” is really about giving myself the opportunity to explore the depths of my own faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel.
In so admitting I do not wish to alarm life long friends and family concerning my testimony and faith in Christ: I know Jesus Christ lives today just as He lived on this earth millennia ago – just as I live on it now. I do not doubt the experiences of my youth and earlier adult life. But life has a way of presenting new experiences and new challenges that cannot be anticipated, and with each one I come to see a depth to the Gospel that I was previously blind to and subsequently I receive a more personal and deeper understanding of what was previously just theoretical rhetoric. I find with these experiences that my testimony and faith in Christ are pushed and pulled, tested and strained – put through the ringer as it were – and my blog has in the time since its inception morphed into the means by which I am choosing – and Heavenly Father is guiding me through – to explore these new experiences and questions as they relate to my faith in Him and His Son.
The goal and aim of my blog is still the same: find the things on which we can become a bit rusty in our faith in God and work through them until by the grace and assistance of Jesus Christ we have cleansed the rust and restored our faith to a shining whole. What has changed now is the intended audience and source of the rust: me.
With that said I must now also tell you that my original symphony has come to an end. I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I have. It has been personally edifying and enlightening and I have thoroughly enjoyed writing it. If you’re following my blog from here on out my posts may no longer follow a logical rhythm or pattern as they have so far. I will still build on and add to the subject of Our Rust from time to time. My writing has taught me that there is no end to the ways and subjects on which we can develop, exhibit, discuss, and repair the rust in our faith. So I will come back from time to time and add to this thread. But after this post I will begin contributing – as life allows and dictates – to the various sub-categories I have already and may yet define for this project. This will include posts regarding the Savior Jesus Christ and His doctrine; posts intended to deepen and promote understanding of the Book of Mormon; posts of talks I have written and delivered at various times in my life; and perhaps even a few posts addressing questions – earnest or antagonistic – which other people have presented about our church and our faith over the years of my life. In the process of writing and sharing I hope that many will be blessed with renewed faith in their Heavenly Father and His marvelous plan of happiness even as I hope to do the same for my own.
So I invite you to come with me on a journey through my own faith and I hope to find the blessings of God in our lives grow and deepen as we work to free ourselves from rust that would serve to damage and canker our souls in a way that could prohibit us from one day entering into the rest of our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our Eternal Father in Heaven.