I recently attended the funeral of the youngest son of a friend and neighbor. While it was a sad event, the funeral was short and the speakers did a good job. The sermon by the Bishop was short and to the point. After the Bishop spoke, another neighbor (a former Bishop who is now in the Stake Presidency) made a few brief comments about the deceased. Here is where it got bizzare for me. He related the following story.
He (the former Bishop) was headed to SLC to visit a young ward member who was in the hospital (a 5-year-old girl suffering from an inoperable brain tumor). After leaving Orem (located 40 miles south of SLC), he noticed he was out of gas. But he didn’t want to gas up, because it was a Sunday and he didn’t want to do business on Sunday. (About this time in his story, our former bishop started to weep.)
In his story, he prayed that he could make it to the hospital without running out of gas, which, in fact, he was able to do. After visiting the young Ward member in the hospital, he was then able to drive past Orem to Spanish Fork (located 10 miles south of Orem) and visit my neighbor’s son at his apartment. He then returned to his home without gasing up. Thus, he was able to travel approximately 80 miles on an empty tank of gas. This “miracle” was attributed to the intervention of God.
I’m not trying to mock my former Bishop here; he has related similar stories in the past. The interesting point to me, is that Mormons have a very ill-defined definition of God and his role in the universe. I personally have a rough time relating to a micromanaging, “omni-” God, yet this is the God of President Joseph Field Smith and Mormon Doctrine. The other vision would be that of a progressing, largely hands-off God of some liberal Mormons. The conservative view seems to be the more accepted view at the moment.
It would seem on the surface, that these two images of God are not very compatible. And further, that the idea of a hands-on God is becoming increasing incompatible with the progress of science. This might explain some of the current dissatisfaction among young Mormons with their church.