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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why General Conference Is So Dang Boring


Okay, elephant in the room. I’m going to just come right out and say it: LDS General Conference just isn't worth tuning in for anymore.

For decades I have forced myself to endure a practice that was both tedious and tiring, but which I was certain would edify me somehow in the long run.

Today, however, I’m going to break with tradition and confess the ineffable: LDS General Conference has devolved into a dull, boring, stodgy waste of my time.

Apparently it isn’t just me who feels this way, either. Over the past couple of years I’ve confessed to many stalwart member friends that I don’t really find conference all that inspiring, and invariably they reply with “Me neither!" Then almost in a whisper, “I usually fall asleep.”

Most people, I've learned, tend to wander away from the TV after a while to do something else or pretend to be listening from the kitchen.

I’ve spent most of my adult years dutifully trying to watch all conference sessions in their entirety, usually forcing my reluctant children to join me, admonishing them that if they'd just sit still and shut up they might get something out of it.

I was also diligent about dressing up on Saturday night with my sons to go down to the Stake Center and attend the satellite broadcast of the priesthood session, which was so special and secret and men-only that it couldn’t be broadcast on regular television. (Note to you sisters who have wondered what esoteric information we were receiving during those clandestine nighttime meetings: it pretty much always came down to being reminded we should be doing our home teaching.)

When I was younger, my girlfriend and I once waited in line early in the morning for the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of actually attending Conference in person. People in line with us had come from all over the world with the same hope.

My girlfriend and I were lucky that day. There wasn’t room for us inside.

So instead of being cramped in with a lot of other stiff-dressed folks on a hard pew inside the stuffy tabernacle, we got to stroll hand in hand outside around temple square, enjoying the spring flowers and being in love. We were still able to hear the conference going on inside through speakers set up all over the square, so we didn’t miss anything.

Which is to say, had we been inside, we wouldn’t have missed anything, either.

We descendants of the pioneers don't like to admit it, but general conference isn’t what it used to be. It's certainly lacking the revivalist spirit common during the Missouri-Nauvoo period.

To be sure, there have been some notable water cooler moments occur at general conference from time to time, like Jeffrey Holland’s agitated rebuke at last October's session. That one was a waker-upper. Mainly because we’re not accustomed to seeing any of the brethren become even a tiny bit unglued.

(It should be noted parenthetically that Elder Holland was somewhat disingenuous in declaring that Joseph Smith was killed in defense of the Book of Mormon. Although translating and bringing forth that sacred record was the supreme accomplishment of Joseph Smith’s short life, getting the Prophet to denounce the Book of Mormon was the furthest thing from the mind of anyone in the mob that murdered him. Joseph was not arrested over anything having to do with the Book of Mormon; he was being held for trial over the destruction of another man’s printing press. Nor was the mob motivated to kill the Prophet over hatred for the Book of Mormon, which few, if any of them, had read or cared about. They were worked up over various offenses, real or imagined, having nothing to do with latter-day scripture.)

One reason I think the spirit is missing from most conference talks today is that they’re written in advance and then read from the pulpit. And ever since Elder Poelman let slip a bit of awkward truth back in 1984, conference talks are now vetted by committee and approved beforehand. (“The Best Conference Talk You Never Read” documents that little known incident.)

It’s not easy to feel the spirit from a talk that in all likelihood was ghostwritten by a staff member then read off a Teleprompter. In my experience, the Spirit tends to manifest in a much more impromptu manner. (Thus the saying: “in the spirit of the moment.”)

In Utah’s early days, you would have arrived at conference not knowing who was going to speak -it might even be you. Brigham Young often called members without warning directly from the congregation. Most of those unrehearsed sermons turned out to be pretty interesting. The Journal of Discourses holds twenty-six volumes of them.


Show Me The Money

One of the essential purposes for holding annual conferences was for the leaders to make an accounting of how tithing funds were disbursed. It was understood that those donations were the members' money, held in fiduciary trust for the work of the Lord.

For most of its existence, the Church had made a full report of precisely how much money it brought in, how much went out, and for what purposes. Recently, while doing research for a previous blog entry, I came across the report for April conference 1942, and was impressed at how detailed that financial accounting had been. At Conferences in Nauvoo, Joseph Smith, who was supported by the membership, gave an accounting of all his property down to his last goat.

But for some reason, around 1958 it was decided that a financial accounting would no longer be announced at conference, or anywhere else. Where your money went would henceforth be known only to the First Presidency and the Twelve. This change in policy seems to have been a corporate decision, as I have been unable to find any revelation from God authorizing such a change in that long-standing practice.

Which begs another question. Are the Brethren remembering to seek the will of God when making major decisions as to what our tithing funds should be spent on? It’s hard to believe that God would advise the corporate Church to invest in a multi-million dollar hotel on Oahu while neglecting to inform the Brethren that a major recession was about to hit the nation that would seriously cripple Hawaii tourism.

Ditto the Church’s decision to build an upscale mall in downtown Salt Lake City just before the present economic downturn would result in shoppers lacking the discretionary funds required to sustain it. Further, The Brethren were somehow not apprised by the Lord of how much this gargantuan project would end up costing the church. After an initial investment of $500 Million, expenses have ballooned to $3 Billion.

Whether you consider the Brethren to have been wise stewards with the Lord's money is, of course, a legitimate concern. But the question that eats at me is why have we members not heard a word about these investments in any session of the General Conference of our Church? Why did we learn about them only after they were reported in the papers?


Those Were The Days

Years ago when I lived in Provo, I picked up dozens of volumes of the bound conference reports for a dime apiece at D.I. Over time I've enjoyed dipping into them and reading the fascinating things that were said over the tabernacle pulpit in the 40's and '50's. For the most part, the leaders in those days were offering original and useful counsel which at least was pertinent to the times. These talks, on the whole, were spoken without reading or memorization, and they feel genuine. You get the feeling you're being spoken to, rather than lectured at.

Most of those conference talks sixty years ago were hands down better than the pablum we're fed today where everything is milk, and the promised meat of the gospel is always a distant promise away. In many cases the theme of a particular talk in our time is so pedestrian that it could just as well have been delivered by a sectarian preacher rather than one purporting to posses further light and knowledge. Rather than present much of anything new, today's GAs seem to quote each other again and again on topics recycled from one another's sermons. I'm reminded of this cheeky Conference Report on YouTube which parodies the predictability of conference messages.

Then there was this embarrassing encounter in which a member was politely asked the question, “What revelation or prophecy has been made, in your lifetime, that you find the most inspirational?” The poor guy stammered about awkwardly, unable to think of even one.

The sad truth, and the obvious problem, is that we are no longer getting from conference what we are told we should expect. At general conference, of all places, we are missing the one important element that we claim sets us apart from all other churches. It’s that marvelous gift that, as a missionary, I promised my converts that we could provide them.

It is uncomfortable for some to contemplate, but it would appear that modern Prophets are no longer receiving direct communication from God. If they are, they have been failing to pass those communications on to the body of the Church.

Past prophets and scriptures foretold that we would get to this point, so it should come as no surprise to most of us. Yet the realization that we are actually living in the prophesied times does catch some members up short.

How long the institutional church has been driving on fumes, I couldn’t say. “Why” is a matter for deeper analysis at another time. I recall President Benson's repeated warnings that the Lord has placed the Church under condemnation, and that "this condemnation has never been lifted." More recently President Hinckley shrugged it off with “we don’t need much revelation. We need to pay more attention to the revelation we've already received.” Others have suggested that God is withholding further light because the church has rejected the pure gospel as Jesus prophesied (3rd Nephi 16) was likely to occur in His future church.

Whatever the reason, it’s hard to come up with any instances where the church as a body has seen any bona fide revelations for a very long time.

So here’s the $64,000 question: If you told an investigator that the salient thing about our church is that we have a Prophet who receives modern revelation, what specific revelation could you cite if he asked to see a recent example?

The following is a not-so-imaginary conversation that the venerable J.J. Dewey put forward in his fascinating analysis, Infallible Authority:


Where’s The Revelation?

“It is interesting to talk about the principle of revelation with a current LDS member. It often goes something like this:

Voice of Common Sense (VCS) "So you believe in modern revelation?"

LDS Member: "I certainly do."

VCS: Where can I find one of these revelations?

LDS Member: "There's lots of revelation. You don't have to look very hard."

VCS: "Great. I'd like to read just one. Could you show it to me?"

LDS Member: He pulls out his D&C and shows him Section 76. "Here's a good one."

VCS: "But this was given 170 years ago in 1832. That doesn't seem very recent to me. I want to see one of these modern revelations you have been telling me about."

LDS Member: "There's lots of revelation given out in general conference twice a year and others in the Ensign magazine."

VCS: "I see you have a stack of Ensigns over there, many with conference reports. Could you point out a revelation in one of them for me?"

LDS Member: "It's not difficult to do. Revelation is on almost every page."

VCS: "But could you show me just one?"

LDS Member: "Read a couple paragraphs in almost any conference report and you'll see revelation."

VCS: "But I'm interested in what you call a revelation. Could you show me just one?"

LDS Member: He becomes agitated and gives a look that tells VCS that he must be slow mentally. "Pick up any issue and just read!" he says with exasperation.

VCS: He picks up an issue and turns to a page giving the text to a speech by the President of the Church. "I'm reading a speech by the one you call the Prophet, Seer and Revelator, but I can't see any prophesies, seer-ship or revelation.”

LDS Member: "Look again. There's inspiration in every paragraph."

VCS: "Everything sounds pretty ordinary to me, things that could be said by a Methodist leader who does not believe in revelation. For instance, here he is telling members to present a good example to the world. The Methodists say things like that."

LDS Member: He grabs the Ensign out of his hand and reads further into the text. "This is all inspired. Here the Prophet is pointing out the phenomenal growth the church has had and the hand that God has played in it. The church has grown so fast because it’s guided by revelation."

VCS: "So if growth is evidence of revelation, does that mean that Fox News is guided by a prophet getting revelation also? Fox News has also had phenomenal growth."

LDS Member: "Don't be ridiculous!"

VCS: "Well, can you show me a current revelation about the growth of the church?"

LDS Member: He impatiently flips his finger on the article and says: "Open your eyes. It's right here."

VCS: He takes another look. "I don't see any message here that claims to be from God relating to the growth of the church."

LDS Member: "How about this then? Later in the article he talks about the building of temples. They are sprouting up all over the world. The sites were picked by revelation, the growth and building done by revelation and when built they are directed by revelation."

VCS: "Show me one of these revelations."

LDS Member: "The prophet is talking about it in the article right in front of your face."

VCS: "Please point to the line that is the revelation." He hands the member the Ensign.

LDS Member: He throws the magazine on the table in disgust: "The whole thing is revelation. Open your eyes!"

VCS: :"But show me just one thing. One sentence."

LDS Member: "I have, but you won't listen."

VCS: "One Mormon told me that revelation is preceded by a 'thus saith the Lord,' like the Bible prophets used. I've listened to a number of Conference addresses and have never heard an authority use this term. I do not see the phrase anywhere in this article we are talking about."

LDS Member: "The prophet doesn't have to say 'thus saith the Lord.' He can just speak under inspiration."

VCS: "So how can you tell when he's giving a revelation and when he is just speaking as an ordinary guy?"

LDS Member: "It's just obvious when you hear it."

VCS: “I read a statement by a general authority that no member is to accept a revelation for the church unless it is presented to the church as a revelation and then voted on by the members. I believe it was Mark E. Peterson who said this. Now I do not see any evidence that this speech by the President has been presented to the church as a revelation. Wouldn't this imply that this and other talks from conference reports are to just be taken as teachings in the same way that the words of Methodist leaders are taken by their members?”

LDS Member: "Let me assure you there is revelation in conference addresses even though they are not voted on."

VCS: "What is a revelation anyway?"

LDS Member: "It is God speaking to someone here on earth."

VCS: "Would you say that a revelation is something that is revealed? In other words, something that was previously unknown?"

LDS Member: "I suppose"

VCS: "Suppose God himself were to tell us that 2+2=4. This would not be a revelation because we already know it. You can't reveal something that is already revealed. Does this sound right to you?"

LDS Member: "I suppose."

VCS: "In section 76 that you pointed to earlier, it was revealed to Joseph that there were three kingdoms of glory along with information about them. Provided that he did receive this from God, then this would qualify as a revelation, would it not?"

LDS Member: “Yes.”

VCS: "But, if you gave a talk in Sunday school merely talking about what is in this revelation, this would not be a new revelation, for the doctrine is already revealed. Do you agree?"

LDS Member: "I suppose. Where are you going with this?"

VCS: "By the same reasoning then, even if the President of the Church teaches from revelations past, he would not be giving new revelations. Correct?"

LDS Member: "That may be true, but we are told new things all the time."

VCS: "Tell me just one."

LDS Member: "You were just reading about the building of new temples."

VCS: "And Bill Gates just built a new home, but that doesn't make him a prophet, now does it?"

LDS Member: "You can't compare Bill Gates to the Prophet and Temples."

VCS: "I just did. Now we agreed that a revelation is something revealed that was previously unknown. Tell me of one revelation in recent history, say the past 50 years, giving the church new knowledge."

LDS Member: "I'm sure there are lots of them."

VCS: "I'm beginning to sound like a broken record here, but can you tell me just one?"

LDS Member: "The brethren recently placed a revelation to Joseph F. Smith of the spirit world into the standard Works."

VCS: "But, again, this is over 80 years old. Can you give me a modern revelation?"

LDS Member: "In 1978 a revelation was received on giving the Priesthood to blacks."

VCS: "So where is this revelation?"

LDS Member: "It's right here in the D&C."

VCS: "That does not even claim to be a revelation. It merely states that it is a letter. Where is the revelation?"

LDS Member: "It says right here that 'He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood.'"

VCS: "Yes, it does say there was a revelation, but where is the revelation?"

LDS Member: "You're looking at it."

VCS: "I'm looking at a letter saying that there was a revelation. A letter saying there was a revelation is not a revelation. My question is where is the actual revelation?"

LDS Member: "If the Brethren say this is the revelation then that is good enough for me."

VCS: "But the brethren do not say this. They merely say this is a letter which mentions the revelation. Hasn't it been the policy of the church to have revelations binding upon the church to be put in writing as Joseph Smith did?"

LDS Member: "Things can change as the Lord directs.”

Summary: This poor fellow thinks he sees revelations creeping out of every rock, but cannot produce even one. Someone not familiar with the LDS Church would most likely consider this dialogue imaginary, that such a person believing in ephemeral, illusive revelation could not exist in the real world. But such is not the case. There are millions of such LDS members, thinking they see revelation when none is even claimed.”

“Why is this belief in something that cannot be demonstrated or produced so strong and pervasive when no modern written revelations are even in existence?”

“It is because ‘modern revelation’ is a core doctrine of the church, the "rock" upon which it is founded. If members admit that none exist then it would force them to consider that perhaps something is amiss.”


Perhaps Something Is Amiss

I know what it is like to feel the burning of the Spirit. Connie and I experience it frequently, and when it happens, the feeling is both undeniable and indescribable. We have been privileged to experience that glorious witness more and more frequently as time goes on.

I would have thought that if there were any time I should expect to feel the spirit of The Lord in such overpowering abundance, it would have happened while I was listening to a speaker during the General Conference of The Lord’s Church.

Frankly, conference weekend is an all too familiar routine. The Saturday morning session will end without my receiving much of anything in the way of spiritual sustenance. So, I tell myself, surely there will be more meaningful presentations during the afternoon session. Then that comes and goes without anything of import, so I assume the Prophet is saving his big sermon for the next day. Sunday morning, same as Saturday. Later that afternoon before I know it, the prophet is giving his conventional closing remarks, conference is over, and all I feel is relief for having endured it once again.

To be sure, much of what is covered in general conference is useful and of certain value. It never hurts to be reminded of gospel basics or that there may be areas in our lives where we could use some improvement. But don't we invariably receive deeper and more lasting illumination through private study, prayer, and meditation on our own? Truth be told, little of value is presented in conference today that is not also proclaimed through other Christian venues, and often in timbres less stultifying. Sometimes after Conference I can't help feeling that rather than sitting there vegetating in front of the television, my time could have been better spent becoming spiritually fed.

What could I do instead of watch conference? Well, since this is Easter weekend, I think I'll give another listen to Cleon Skousen's The Atonement, the talk that has had more meaning and influence in my life than any other LDS sermon ever. Joseph Smith And The Doctrinal Restoration sits on a shelf half finished; I could read some more of those essays. Also yet unread is Exploring Mormon Thought: The Attributes of God. That sounds deliciously weighty. And it goes without saying that anything I have around here by Hugh Nibley will be of great benefit to my understanding on a wealth of gospel issues.

Nothing against the men who administer the affairs of the Church, but most of them have backgrounds as lawyers and business executives. They make dandy administrators, but I've got a hankering to hear from some actual theologians.

Over the years as I have dutifully watched conference, I have been talked down to, lectured at, made to feel inadequate, and bored to tears. Sometimes I've even been inspired. But I don't recall any instance of an overwhelming spiritual witness that what I was hearing was coming directly from the mind of God. Yet that was was the purpose I was tuning in for.

If conference speakers can't exhort extemporaneously by the power of the Holy Ghost; if they are unable to capture and hold the attention of the Saints with the radiating light of Christ; If they won't give an honest accounting of Church finances; and if, year after year, conference fails to serve as a platform for disseminating revelations from God; then tell me, what in heaven’s name is the purpose of General Conference, anyway?

_

84 comments:

Son of Helaman said...

The purpose of general conference is to retain for the membership a sense of cohesion, to reassure them that there is a central authority running things for them and that although revelation is not readily apparent, all is still well in Zion, "Yea, Zion prospereth".

What many forget is that Christ said the first thing he is going to do when he gets back is to put his own house back in order.

Meanwhile, something is amiss, alright, that's for sure.

awaterlog said...

Hey Dad, I'm finally a follower!

I, too, recall my childhood experiences of your unbearable attempts of restraining us for General Conference. However, I was more focused on my friends playing and laughing outside rather than "the message".

I always just thought I was grounded for the weekend, haha. (I actually snuck out when you fell asleep 15 minutes into the program.)

Great article. Keep it up!

Dave P. said...

Upon thinking about what to type this morning, I was reminded of the best Devotional talk I ever heard while I was at BYU. It wasn't given by the President of the Church or one of the Quorom of the Twelve, but by one of the accounting professors, James Stice.

The talk itself was the standard "Strength through trials and receiving the comfort of the spirit," but the spirit had never been stronger, or as strong in any talk I've heard since because I could feel the power of his love and testimony with the spirit's confirmation.

Now that I'm done thinking about that, I'll resume listening to President Monson using the precious Conference time to talk about his wife's health.

GayBob SpongeBath said...

I don't know what you're talking about, Rock.

I get a LOT from conference Sunday that I wouldn't have if I was stuck in church for three hours like every other Sunday.

I get a LOT more rest, a LOT more reading, a LOT more sunshine and fresh air, a LOT more time to visit with friends, a LOT more time on the computer, a LOT more enjoyment out of life...

The Infinite Bob said...

While I don't disagree with anything you've written here, I would encourage you to be wary of a prideful attitude that might prevent you from gaining insight through the spirit. Thus Saith the Lord: "The current leadership of the church IS divinely inspired." It is incumbent on us to do what we can to build Zion where we live now, and support our church which teaches the Gospel. That doesn't mean being blind to the issues you bring up that concern you, but it does mean teaching the true Gospel, especially to the members of the Church who may misunderstand some things. Like you, I don't learn much in church, but that's not why I go anymore. I go because A) I feel the spirit when I go, B) I have things to offer to others who attend, and C) (and most importantly) I have been commanded by the Lord to attend church and renew my baptismal covenant by partaking of the Sacrament.

As far as conference goes, I enjoy hearing from the leaders of the church, and while it may not be a vital message this time around, I think the Lord appreciates that I'm doing my part to pay attention to any revelation that might come my way, either through direct "Thus Saith the Lord" or indirectly through personal revelation gained as a result of the messages written in advance and read from a teleprompter. It was difficult, but I have realized that humbling myself enough to listen carefully results in substantial gains every single session.

You know I love you Rock, but I think you're being a bit too prideful here. One can never be too humble about gaining instruction from the Lord in whatever form it may take. All things may serve to teach you, and this is one of the most direct routes possible from God.

Yuukanna said...

Your notation that modern revelation seems to elude current general authorities talks reminds me of the Baha'i faith view of LDS history and revelation.

It's just an interesting note to see how another faith based on modern revelation views the LDS church, if you are curious:

http://www.bci.org/prophecy-fulfilled/mormon.htm

and

http://www.angelfire.com/mo/baha/LDS.html

I confess that while I am not a subscriber to the Baha'i faith, many of the statements made reflect some of my own thought processes regarding questions about revelation in the church that I've always just pushed to the back of my mind.

I too have always tried diligently (up until a couple of years ago) to get the most out of General Conference, only to gain lethargy and hunger and a desire to remedy that situation. Until I came to the personal decision to wait until the talks were published in the ensign a month later... but that wasn't usually much better since I ended up skimming over the whole thing.
I guess I'm just much more comfortable looking at source texts such as scripture.

Insanad said...

OOPS, I hit comment but it went to the Hugh Nibley comment post. Sorry about that. If you can transfer it over then feel free.

dbd said...

"what in heaven’s name is the purpose of General Conference, anyway?"

The purpose of General Conference is for those that know they are 'humble' to use as a mallet to strike at those that the know are 'prideful'.

Insanad said...

[Here are the comments from 'Insanad' refered to above which were inadvertently entered under the post under "Hugh Nibley Weighs In On Preemptive War. Her comments are reposted here.]

Well Rock, you've done it this time. I was really going to start going back to church, quit my sinning ways, stop drinking coffee and watching indy films and curb my blatant g-d effing cussing and then I read how uninspired the leadership is and how boring General Conference still is.

You've ruined me for life. I attribute my apostacy to YOU. You and the thirty seven years of drudgery and more drudgery and dull drudgery that was Mormonism. Well, that and the fact that it was boring, lame, pointless, dull, and really pointless. Did I mention that it was dull?

I've had a better time getting a root canal by a crusty fisted halitosis infected tobacco chewing greasy old dentist than I've had watching conference. (I'm kidding. He didn't chew tobacco).

In my lifetime the only amazing epiphanies to come from the LDS leaders was FHE from David O.Mckay, Spencer W. Kimball's non revelation where he prayed that if God didn't want him to give blacks the priesthood he should come and say something, and so God didn't say anything and viola', blacks get the priesthood. Then there was the mandate to not double pierce the ears and wear more modest clothing, no flip flops, less masturbating, and maybe the one about be kind to one another. Yep, cutting edge stuff.

Here's a prophecy, church was boring in the past, church is boring now, and church will be boring in the future.

Oh yeah, your blog is way more interesting than going to a crusty fisted dentist with halitosis and double way more interesting than going to church.

You may find me (Dahli-mama) at: http://insanadfindingthepony.blogspot.com/2010/02/mormon-triathalon-part-i.html

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Infinite Bob,

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

I agree with you that "one can never be too humble about gaining instruction from the Lord", but I differ with your assertion that conference is any longer "one of the most direct routes possible from God" for that instruction.

The most direct route possible from God is through direct revelation, which is alive and well on a personal basis, and is still available at all times through the Holy Ghost.

An example of that is your affirmation above that although you don't learn much in church, you have been commanded by the Lord to attend anyway. I don't question that kind of direct, personal revelation received one-on-one through the Spirit of the Almighty.

Neither do I suggest that the general authorities of the church are devoid of inspiration. Anyone calling upon God for inspiration will surely receive it, and as I stated in my essay, there is much valid and useful counsel promulgated from the pulpit each conference season.

But amidst the plethora of personal revelation among members of Christ's Church, there is a clear paucity of INSTITUTIONAL REVELATION, by which I mean any direct message from God to the body of the church as a whole, or even to the nation and world as was common via prophets of old.

Revelation, as you know, differs widely from inspiration.

To insist that revelation continues as always is to deny the scriptures and the warnings of the ancient Prophets -as well as Christ Himself- who sent us these warnings in an attempt to wake us to the possibility that all is not particularly well in Zion. Something is missing, and the first step in restoring ourselves to God's graces is to recognize when the Church, AS AN INSTITUTION, may possibly be on the outs with Him.

This recognition of our failings is what we call humility. Humility does not consist of a willingness to follow blind authority. That would be the definition of prideful tradition.

I respect your testimony that listening carefully to every conference session results in substantial gains for you personally. It is certainly not my aim to steer anyone from such pleasure.

My position is simply that conference no longer works for me as an avenue for receipt of the promised "meat" of the gospel; that it hasn't delivered for me for some time; and I went on to posit some reasons as to why I think that may be so.

The Infinite Bob said...

I never said I was more humble than anyone. Pride is one of my greater failings. That is one of the reasons it's fairly easy for me to recognize when I see it.

I love Rock and think he's one of the better minds I know, and that's saying a lot.

The Infinite Bob said...

As for the Church being on the outs, I don't disagree with that either, but I'm more inclined to put that on the Utah Mormon Culture (which I am outspoken in my loathing for) than the actual church authorities.

The Spirit has testified to me that the sitting Prophet is truly the man that the Lord wants leading the church right now. My greatest problem with church leadership is when men decide to do things as they see fit instead of listening to the Spirit. I have seen examples of this in several bishops, and I will not say that even apostles are immune (McConkie's "Mormon Doctrine" comes to mind) but the Doctrine and Covenants tells us that he will not let our prophet fail us.

I think that it will be very interesting to see what Christ does with the church when he comes back. :D

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Infinite Bob,

I forgot to ask: In your post above you give the quote "Thus Saith the Lord: The current leadership of the church IS divinely inspired.'"

Can you please direct me to the source of that revelation? I've been looking for such a declaration from God for some time.

TheExaminedLife said...

Of course there is modern revelation - we now know how many earrings in a woman's ear are acceptable in God's sight, don't we?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Infinite Bob, do we know each other? I can't even think of many Bobs I know, and that Infinite thing is throwing me off even further.

Email me at Rockwaterman@gmail.com

Zojirushi said...

Yes, conference is a flowery repetition of ghostwritten uninspired material. I never felt the spirit in conference, not even during my zealous missionary days. In fact, it scared my investigators away like testimony meeting did (testimony meeting was worse though of course). What I find sad is that this is surprising to many members to read an article like this. Let's not just talk about the LDS church though...keep peeling away the layers and you will find that organized religion devolves into this sort of dogmatic drivel.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zojirushi,

Nobody told me, so I must have been the only missionary who thought Testimony Meeting was the best time to bring investigators. I've since learned that all missionaries know instinctively that is NOT the time the ward is seen in its best light.

I somehow believed investigators would see all the people declaring that they KNOW the church is true and that would make my candidates automatically want for themselves whatever it was that made us so sure of ourselves.

Little did I know that we mostly come off as arrogant and cocksure, when we aren't babbling out rambling stories with no discernible point.

I had a similar belief regarding Conference. I visualized some guy somewhere surfing through the TV channels and landing for a moment on conference where he would stop, mesmerized by the power of the priesthood emanating through the airwaves.

Don't ask me why I ever thought this could happen, since I was rarely mesmerized myself. In reality of course, anybody landing for a moment on a channel carrying general conference is likely to skidaddle away faster than you can say "ShamWow!"

Isaac said...

I have been hoping for a few years that the platitudinous state of conference is more a case of not casting pearls before swine than anything else.

Let's say President Monson said in one of his talks that it was time to stop supporting the murderous governments of the world, with both our money and our children. What kind of response do you think the aforementioned Utah Mormon Culture would have? USA! USA! USA! So why bother if no one is willing to hear it? What if he bad-mouthed the state indoctrination facilities called public schools? USA! USA! USA! What if he said (out loud!) that it didn't matter if you wore an expensive suit to church, or if deacons had a clean cut appearance, or if your son made Zone Leader or AP, or if the Relief Society had six self-congratulatory dinners per year? I imagine a bit of upheaval.

I like to blame the apathetic, complacent, prideful, and generally ignorant membership for the overload of platitudes twice a year. And yes, I will put myself in one or more of those categories.

Anonymous said...

I think conference is set up the way it to take into consideration people in other parts of the world whose reasoning skills and knowledge of history is not as solid as U.S. born/raised members. Also, by keeping things generic, the GAs do not alienate those who can't follow the program. While 10% of the people may be like you, the other 90% think GC is the greatest event every 6 months. They should probably have an Advance GC for those who demand more meat. But that's not going to happen. Keep in mind the millions of people who can't go beyond milk. That's the sad truth in society outside the Church and in the Church itself. When an Apostle has to remind young girls and their mothers that flip flops aren't cool for Church,oh well. The problem is the level of critical thinking skills that is lacking among people. So, the GAs dwell on generics so everyone is happy and nobody feels stupid.

Truthseeker said...

As a truth seeker and lover of the truth. I pray constantly for inspiration to know what is of God and what is not. I have prayed a lot concerning your blog, Rock, because it and other things I have recently read, learned or heard, shake my "fixed belief" systems- in a good way.

I truly pray not to offend anyone- but I feel that I must say some things.

I find what you say to be written with great humility, and I get the feeling that you do not write this blog lightly. Somehow I get the feeling that it pains you to write about these "new" truths after a lifetime in the church. I disagree with the former comments- I believe that you are actually a very humble person, who feels to share his enlightenment.

I just finished watching "Jesus of Nazareth". Can you imagine how rebellious and radical Jesus came across?! To come and shake up the masses after they had believed and lived a certain way- stagnant as it was- was not only life altering but was believed to be heretical, to many. I honestly hadn't really pondered the "radical" part, before today. It shook the people to their very core.

I too have sat, year after year hoping for courage from the pulpit- especially about the world we live in now. I believe that it is simply too easy and convenient to give the Brethren a pass, because the masses "need milk" or generic teaching, because their testimonies can not "survive" the MEAT! Where did this teaching even come from?!

I know that that this may sound harsh- but I've waited for more than 30 years for our Leadership to rise above the thinking that we can't handle the "Bigger" truths and realities of life in the world today. We are out here living those realities!I and many others, hunger and thirst for more. People like Rock, feel a "call" I believe from God- to BE brave and call it the way IT IS!

I feel that our church has slowly, yet sadly lost touch with the members. If Jesus came today, do you really believe that he would be worried about all of the people who needed "milk" and not the "meat"?! I think not. I humbly suggest that this is a cop out.

I accidentally listened to part of a sermon, given by another religion, today- as I was skipping through channels, and I felt the spirit so strongly that I found myself on my knees weeping, and asking for forgiveness, for my complacency.

Because, my friends- in the spirit of love and fellowship, I suggest that this is the true core issue with the Brethren AND many of the members!

Thank you Rock and other brave souls like you for courageously saying that all is NOT well in Zion. We all deserve to wake up and take a very deep and courageous look into our hearts and souls...and live the lives that God would have us live. No excuses. Just allowing the light of truth to enter in- even from a source that rankles our personal comfort level.

It is time to wake up, before it is too late.

Suspicious Minds said...

I'm posting a link of this to my facebook! Thanks for your thoughtful review of General Conference and the Church in general. Well done!

Anonymous said...

I just found a discussion about revelation
at http://www.mormonapologetics.org/topic/48778-the-concept-of-revelation-prophecy-more-study/

Anonymous said...

D&C 68:4 "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation."

God's servants do not have to declare their words to be revelation in order for them to be revelation.

I'm watching conference right now, and these talks are dripping with inspiration, revelation, and apostolic testimony.

The most distinguishing feature of Mormonism is not our unique doctrine, but the continuation of the Apostolic ministry. Don't abandon the greater good for the lesser good. Skousen was a good scholar, but he was not the Lord's spokesman. These men speaking right now are.

Anonymous said...

It seems as though you confuse "revelation" with something "novel and new."

You are looking for novelty. Revelation can be quite mundane. Read the scriptures: a good portion of the scriptures are quite mundane. However, they are quite revelatory.

In your search of spiritual thrills, don't rebel against God's chosen servants because they choose not to provide them.

Imaginations said...

I wouldn't call anything that truly comes from God as "mundane" D&C is full of revelations. To gather 13 million people to follow "mundane" revelations sounds bad. Nothing from God is mundane and revelatory at the same time. That's a contradiction of terms.

Anonymous said...

Find me a scripture that defines revelation as "something previously unknown." That isn't the definition of revelation. Revelation is communication from God and His spokesmen, regardless of whether or not we already knew it.

Find a revelatory source for your definition.

152 said...

I disagree with truthseeker. I believe Christ would be very concerned with those who need milk, in addition to those who desire meat.
I also don't believe that the Brethren's tendency to feed milk to the masses is evidence that they (the Brethren) are out of God's favor. They might be, but there are also many other valid explanations to why conference is so boring.
I also don't agree that millions of members' inability to consume more than milk is somehow tragic. (Anonymous April 3) Rather I think this view is a consequence of generations of Exaltation or Damnation thinking. Exaltation is not the only form of salvation. I think the beauty and joy of the Telestial and Terrestrial kingdom are evidence that God loves, and Jesus saved the saint and the sinner alike. Perhaps we should be more cognizant of this idea and less judgmental of those milk-drinkers who are so (sarcasm following) inferior to us meat-eaters.
I like to think of myself as a meat-eater. And in all honesty I get bored out of my mind watching GC. But sometimes I am pleasantly surprised as well. I felt that Elder Anderson's talk "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus" was supremely inspired, and he put ideas that I am constantly trying to convey into words, much better than I could.
I do agree that there is a very likely possibility that the reason we so often get milk, is that we, the congregation, don't get the milk right. Those of us (I hope myself to be included) who do get the milk, have many avenues through which to find meat. And I think revelation is alive and well, both inside and outside of the quorum of the twelve, even if I don't have any more evidence than I just feel that way.

TruthSeeker said...

152, I am sorry to say that I must respectfully disagree with you. Jesus' own life speaks for itself. The very "meat" filled words, deeds and miracles he performed, shook the "milk" loving souls to their very core- but...because it was TRUTH they heard it and changed their lives accordingly.

Jesus Christ was put to death for giving this meat and we owe it to Him to continue to not fear the deeper truths- the meat. I believe that we owe this to our Lord and Savior...to continue this tradition.

The Holy Spirit will and does prepare our hearts and minds to receive the deeper doctrine...if we believe this to be true. I am a walking example of this.

We must honor the Savior, by continuing the very tradition He died for!

152 said...

Truthseeker,

If I'm not mistaken Christ died at the hands of Scribes and Pharisees who argued in great detail the mysteries of God. You are confusing a desire for knowledge with righteousness. They definitely aren't mutally exclusive, but they aren't the same thing either.

Like I said, there is plentiful meat for those who desire it. Similar to you I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more on conference weekend.

My issue is with this comment: "If Jesus came today, do you really believe that he would be worried about all of the people who needed "milk" and not the "meat"?! I think not."

Rereading it I'm thinking you probably didn't mean it quite the way I interpreted it. My first reading of it (and I'd say the default reading of it) was that Christ wouldn't concern himself with the . . . spiritually less developed(?) but would concern him with those of us who are better than them. Looking at it now, I'm thinking that your emphasis was on the information, not the recipient. That being said, I think that the mentality that you are presenting can very easily become judmental. We have enough of that in the church as it is and we really don't need any more.

Tom said...

Loved it. Feel the same way and am constantly wondering if these feelings are my pride or something else.

Though, I do feel the need to discuss a little bit some of the comments above, especially those saying that the leadership of the church are the Lord's spokesmen. Apostles are not called (in the historical sense, though the modern example puts forth a paradox) to be spokesmen for a church per se, but rather for a Christ, the Christ if you will. Their call (IMO) is to witness of Christ, not witness of Church. Richard Scott spoke 20 some-odd years ago about the detrimental practice within the church of teaching members to come to church, as opposed to coming to Christ.

The message is the spokesmen for Christ. That message can come from anywhere, any religion. Christ was so radical because his teachings challenged the established hierarchy of the day (Matt 23 is shocking in how it lays out the hierarchy of that time).

Quote from someone: "“Christ’s message is his authority. His words are what distinguish His true ministers from false ones He never sent. Anyone teaching His truth should be recognized as His messenger. He taught this to Moroni. Those who will receive Christ in any generation do so because they hear and recognize His words (see Ether 4:12). Anyone who will not believe in His words, no matter who He sends to speak them, will not believe in Christ or His Father. Those who trust only institutional sources of truth, whether they are Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, or Latter-day Saint, believe in an institution, and do not believe in Christ. The ability to individually recognize His words distinguishes those who are saved from those who are lost.”

One of the greatest false traditions we have in the church (IMO) is our reliance on the leadership of the church to be doctrinal interpreters. Never, ever intended to happen...but like the lazies we are, we let it happen and encourage it by our adherence to general conference-like events (again, in my opinion only). Don't want to pimp any outside sources here, but if you want to read a write-up on that false tradition, I'll provide a link via my name.

As to the issue of reporting tithing. The church stopped reporting the finances in general conference (in the late 50s, early 60s) because it was running up some serious deficit spending. In 1962, various NY banks were even telling the church that things had to stop...because then they were spending $32,000,000 more than they were bringing in (in today's dollars, that's almost $225,000,000). You may be asking yourself why the NY banks were calling...and that's a subject for another day, but one worth investigating.

The church stopped reporting the deficit spending (brought on by huge construction endeavors) to avoid scaring the members about where their tithing and donation funds were going and how bad of a position the church was really in. Eldon Tanner then came on board, instituted some fancy corporate finance mechanisms, and did a miraculous about face with church finances. Amusingly (or not so), the church never went back to reporting finances. Times were bad, so stop, and they never restarted when things turned for the better. Now there's no way the church will pick back up with their multi-billion dollars in tithing revenues annually.

Now, the church pawns off that they don't build projects with "tithing funds", but it's just a chicken and egg scenario. They build projects (City Creek, the hotel on Oahu) with "investment income" which comes about by none other than investment income on the tithing funds over a 3-year period of investment.

Tom said...

Loved it. Feel the same way and am constantly wondering if these feelings are my pride or something else.

Though, I do feel the need to discuss a little bit some of the comments above, especially those saying that the leadership of the church are the Lord's spokesmen. Apostles are not called (in the historical sense, though the modern example puts forth a paradox) to be spokesmen for a church per se, but rather for a Christ, the Christ if you will. Their call (IMO) is to witness of Christ, not witness of Church. Richard Scott spoke 20 some-odd years ago about the detrimental practice within the church of teaching members to come to church, as opposed to coming to Christ.

The message is the spokesmen for Christ. That message can come from anywhere, any religion. Christ was so radical because his teachings challenged the established hierarchy of the day (Matt 23 is shocking in how it lays out the hierarchy of that time).

Quote from someone: "“Christ’s message is his authority. His words are what distinguish His true ministers from false ones He never sent. Anyone teaching His truth should be recognized as His messenger. He taught this to Moroni. Those who will receive Christ in any generation do so because they hear and recognize His words (see Ether 4:12). Anyone who will not believe in His words, no matter who He sends to speak them, will not believe in Christ or His Father. Those who trust only institutional sources of truth, whether they are Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, or Latter-day Saint, believe in an institution, and do not believe in Christ. The ability to individually recognize His words distinguishes those who are saved from those who are lost.”

One of the greatest false traditions we have in the church (IMO) is our reliance on the leadership of the church to be doctrinal interpreters. Never, ever intended to happen...but like the lazies we are, we let it happen and encourage it by our adherence to general conference-like events (again, in my opinion only). Don't want to pimp any outside sources here, but if you want to read a write-up on that false tradition, I'll provide a link via my name.

As to the issue of reporting tithing. The church stopped reporting the finances in general conference (in the late 50s, early 60s) because it was running up some serious deficit spending. In 1962, various NY banks were even telling the church that things had to stop...because then they were spending $32,000,000 more than they were bringing in (in today's dollars, that's almost $225,000,000). You may be asking yourself why the NY banks were calling...and that's a subject for another day, but one worth investigating.

The church stopped reporting the deficit spending (brought on by huge construction endeavors) to avoid scaring the members about where their tithing and donation funds were going and how bad of a position the church was really in. Eldon Tanner then came on board, instituted some fancy corporate finance mechanisms, and did a miraculous about face with church finances. Amusingly (or not so), the church never went back to reporting finances. Times were bad, so stop, and they never restarted when things turned for the better. Now there's no way the church will pick back up with their multi-billion dollars in tithing revenues annually.

Now, the church pawns off that they don't build projects with "tithing funds", but it's just a chicken and egg scenario. They build projects (City Creek, the hotel on Oahu) with "investment income" which comes about by none other than investment income on the tithing funds over a 3-year period of investment.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Tom,

Your contribution is very informative and most astute. I'm very happy to learn of the Richard Scott talk about the detrimental practice within the church of teaching members to come to church, as opposed to coming to Christ.

I tell ya, sometimes these guys really get it right! Too bad it always happens when I wasn't paying attention.

Also thanks for your information on the Church finances in the early 60's. I recently bought Richard Poll's biography of Henry Moyle, so I'm aware of the part he played in driving the church near the brink, but I knew nothing of the problems with the banks. I recall the Church could barely make payroll at one point, when Pres. McKay finally took Moyle out of that calling.

(Moyle's philosophy was "if we build it they will come" so chapels were constructed first, and when there weren't enough members to make a ward, Moyle would blame the missionaries for not working hard enough. The money to pay for it all was supposed to come from the tithing of all those new members that were expected to arrive to the new chapels.)

While you were writing the above, I was just posting a follow-up piece to this thing about conference being boring, so I hope you didn't miss that. Also, I responded to your post under the chapter "Too Bad I Don't Like Beer".

Nice Post, Tom, and Welcome!

TruthSeeker said...

152,

We may be misunderstanding one another's terms. The way I see it, the leaders today are reluctant to talk about anything other than the basics because there are so many new people who may not be ready for more.

When Christ preached in the synogogue, it was so radical that many of the people wanted to take him out, not just the pharisees. But he didn't mince words and make them easy. He was not selective. Everyone got the same message even if his words were hard.

So I apologize for coming across as judgmental. That was the last impression I wanted to leave. I didn't mean to give the impression that there should be a class that has more knowledge and a class that has less. I feel that Jesus will give us all the same message when he returns. I don't think the current leaders need to worry about talking over anyone's head. The spirit will speak to the hearts of all. Just as when he came before. Maybe some people don't give the spirit enough credit for softening hearts and minds.

Anyway, I think we're actually on the same page here. I just wasn't clear enough.

WasatchIntercept said...

General Conference, the weekly "block" of meetings, scriptural books like Isaiah or the Psalms, my outlook on them all is that they are all long, drawn out, and filled with material than can bore you to tears...but the occasional kernel of knowledge that I am able to glean from them makes it worth enduring.

Come to think of it, many hobbies and outdoor activities are the same way, you put in many tedious hours, anticipating the satisfaction of the final result, or at least hoping for that 30 seconds of excitement when you finally have your prey in the crosshairs.

Tom said...

Just wanted to add one more "hijack" moment and address the tradition we've developed (a false one in my view) where we coddle and treat new members like a bunch of nambypambies. This is, IMO, seemingly based on a condescending attitude built around the idea that you either have to “earn your stripes” or be “seasoned” in the church before you can do or, perhaps more correctly, before you can “know” anything, especially the “Spirit.” It’d be humorous, if it wasn’t so tragic.

170 years ago people – who were all “new members” – were experiencing spiritual manifestations, being ministered to by Christ himself, receiving their 2nd anointing, seeing angelic visions and other “gifts of the spirit” which we haven’t seen used or practiced in nearly a century, if not longer. Without respect to their longevity in the church, without respect to their following of a specific “program” or “manual,” they saw into the heavens and learned more in 5 minutes than we have learned in all the books, books which we now use to instruct ourselves, including the manuals published through the correlation committee. And yet, we’re happy with where we’re at. We’re happy with the “take it slow and easy” attitude. It pervades our very lives, our words, our teachings, our statements and most of the rest of our life. We somehow think we need manuals and correlated materials to learn by the Spirit, to learn how to drink milk.

Instead, what we should be asking is what did they do to have and witness these gifts of the spirit? Did they obtain the gifts by installing governors and blinders to prevent the members from going too fast and learning too much too soon? Did they obtain those gifts by insisting that we learn only from inside of a manual, or only so fast? We assume way too much when we think everyone must (a) go at the same speed, (b) go through the same classes and curriculum and (c) do so in the same way everyone else does. That method is nothing more than the same public school curriculum many people readily decry as pathetic, if not socialist and communist by nature, which serves to destroy any and all creativity and originality in the child. And yet we accept it and, worse, call it inspired. In reality, all that it really does is create conformity, not spirituality. Conformity of action and conformity of protocol. It’s much easier on this institution if we don’t have all these “out of the box” thinkers. Conformity because we’d become jealous if a “new member” starts having spiritual witnesses that we, “seasoned members” of the church have never received.

Are we not being “taught” the same things today in HP or EQ which were taught to us in primary 20, 30 or 50 years ago. A sort of remedial primary for all of us because obviously we didn’t learn what we should have or, if we did, we somehow got scared into believing that searching out doctrine and knowledge on our own was bad. Yet, we call it progress. We say that it is what the Lord wants out of us. And, we call it inspired.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom said...

Sorry about that. Delete that 2nd repost and this one if you can. I don't know how...

Tom said...

Had to clip it in 1/2 to get it to post, here's the rest of my response:

In responding to this I was reminded of a book I read on public education last year, and found the similarities between this holding back of “new” members (or anyone, really) and public school striking, if only in my mind. I understand this train of thought isn’t for everyone, but it’s what I see in this discussion. Below are a few thoughts from that book, entitled: Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling:

“…Bertrand Russell … saw that mass-schooling in the United States had a profoundly anti-democratic intent, that it was a scheme to artificially deliver national unity by eliminating human variation … . According to Lord Russell, mass-schooling produced a recognizably American student: anti-intellectual, superstitious, lacking self-confidence, and with less of what Russell called “inner freedom” than his or her counterpart from any other nation he know of, past or present. These schooled children became citizens, he said, with a thin “mass character,” holding excellence and aesthetics equally in contempt, inadequate to the personal crises of their lives.” – p. 77-78.

“…individuality, family, and community are, by definition, expressions of singular organization, never of “one-right-way” thinking on the grand scale.” – p. 76

“There is abundant evidence that less than a hundred hours is sufficient for a person to become totally literate and a self-teacher.” – p. 103

“American education teaches by its methodology that people are machines. Bells ring, circuits open and close, energy flows or is constricted, qualities are reduced to a numbering system, a plan is followed of which the machine parts know nothing.” -p. 99

“Lurking behind … is an image of people as machinery that can be built and repaired; … saying that the world and all its living variety is just machinery. … If people are machines then school [church instruction] can only be a way to make these machines more reliable; the logic of machines dictates that parts be uniform and interchangeable, all operations time-constrained, predictable, economical. … The Civil War unfortunately demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt both the financial and social utility of regimentation.” p. 98-99

“We are addicted to dependency; in the current national crisis of maturity we seem to be waiting for the teacher to tell us what to do, but the teacher never comes to do that.” – p. 99

Tom said...

Rock, you deleting me on purpose? J/k.

Here's the recreation:

In posting my thoughts on new members I was reminded of a book I read on public education last year, and found the similarities between this holding back of “new” members (or anyone, really) and public school striking, if only in my mind. I understand this train of thought isn’t for everyone, but it’s what I see in this discussion.

Below are a few thoughts from that book, entitled: "Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling":

“…Bertrand Russell … saw that mass-schooling in the United States had a profoundly anti-democratic intent, that it was a scheme to artificially deliver national unity by eliminating human variation … . According to Lord Russell, mass-schooling produced a recognizably American student: anti-intellectual, superstitious, lacking self-confidence, and with less of what Russell called “inner freedom” than his or her counterpart from any other nation he know of, past or present. These schooled children became citizens, he said, with a thin “mass character,” holding excellence and aesthetics equally in contempt, inadequate to the personal crises of their lives.” – p. 77-78.

“…individuality, family, and community are, by definition, expressions of singular organization, never of “one-right-way” thinking on the grand scale.” – p. 76

“There is abundant evidence that less than a hundred hours is sufficient for a person to become totally literate and a self-teacher.” – p. 103

“American education teaches by its methodology that people are machines. Bells ring, circuits open and close, energy flows or is constricted, qualities are reduced to a numbering system, a plan is followed of which the machine parts know nothing.” -p. 99

“Lurking behind … is an image of people as machinery that can be built and repaired; … saying that the world and all its living variety is just machinery. … If people are machines then school [church instruction] can only be a way to make these machines more reliable; the logic of machines dictates that parts be uniform and interchangeable, all operations time-constrained, predictable, economical. … The Civil War unfortunately demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt both the financial and social utility of regimentation.” p. 98-99

“ We are addicted to dependency; in the current national crisis of maturity we seem to be waiting for the teacher to tell us what to do, but the teacher never comes to do that.” – p. 99

(Rock, if you happen to delete this, I've put a URL up which will link to my original write-up on new members).

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Tom, I have been learning more from my readers on this topic than on any other I've presented. Thank you for your very informative insights.

I'm aware of the book you quote, "Dumbing us Down", and had not thought of that connection before between the way the government schools teach and the way the near identical methods used by all modern churches.

Someone commented earlier how conference used an old-school directive method. It seems to me that in the ancient church after the resurrection of Christ, the members of His body got together as a group. Today we sit as an audience being fed by some instructor. It doesn't have that feel of equality that I imagine they felt in the old days, simply getting together as a community and sharing their common beliefs.

[Note to readers: As many of you know, I don't edit or censor comments. Tom asked me to delete three of his comments above because they were duplicates of the ones you've read above.]

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Tom, between the two of us, we have deleted then reposted your stuff so often, we might as well make this your blog.

As far as I'm concerned, it's fine with me that we have re-duplicated your duplicated posts. I recommend people read your stuff twice anyway. I did.

[Note to readers: Tom has an excellent blog of his own, "Truth Hurts" which you can access by clicking on his name highlighted above.]

Roberta Barnes said...

Hi Rock! I am so sad today of all days on Mother's Day, to have my own son, come and throw this over my own scriptures that I have been fed and edified with the Spirit for on or about 41 yrs now! He really wanted just to recap your blog, and so I listened, and then it really began to be quite apparent that he is still trying to find the Waterman instinct to be a member of that great heritage! I know his heart is still wavering in mistrust because of his dad's indiscretions, but about finding or not the revelation that is actually giving by modern Prophets, is a difficult thing to try to explain in Intellectual terms without President Monson's Literary works! I have a Testimony as does my husband and Alisha, who both are return Missionaries! He didn't really want to have a Faith Promoting Experience, but just to spew all of these questions you have posted in this scenario! You might want to send a letter to Benjamin and tell him why you posted this, and explain that all the words of the General Authorities do amount to Revelation and if he would try it for a time and ask without wavering, that he would then see there meaning in his life! I tried and also Alisha bore her Testimony both English and Spanish! He just kept spewing these words from this blog! Sometimes, I really think I have the wrong babies given to me at birth!! Love him as I do, he is so Off Course with this blog! He was seeing what he needed to use as a flaw in our Church and the people would be the Gospel! He always has had a good strong mentor with my family here in Arizona but he just doesn't get it! Pagan is his Goddess! I think it is a great idea to post stuff like this and it is definitely thought provoking, but remember there are those out there who use this as a tool to be apostate! I have asked if he wanted to have his name removed from the Church records, but he didn't seem to interested in doing that, so maybe he will come around yet!

ldsanarchy said...

I can't remember the last time I listened to General Conference, it's been so long.

Your post reminded me of the following post:

http://wanderingforzion.com/2010/04/03/general-conference-the-world-cup-of-camel-swallowing/"

LDS Anarchist

(If the link doesn't show up, here is the url. Just cut and paste.)

http://wanderingforzion.com/2010/04/03/general-conference-the-world-cup-of-camel-swallowing/

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for that link, LDS Anarchy. Some of my readers will be made to feel uncomfortable with what was written there, but that was a very piercing essay. I hope those who read it think about the truth expressed therein. We must be always attuned to our penchant for idolatry within the church. Too many of us are blind to it and unwilling to consider its existence and influence on us.

ldsanarchy said...

Uh, yeah, I probably ought to have put a disclaimer or warning on that link...

LDSA

Steve said...

I posted this to a Yahoo group. Up front I want to say that I enjoy your blogs, and learn a lot from them. The post says the rest.

Steve

---

I learned some things in and around general conference that I wanted to share.

I had read Rock's blog on his passing up general conference and I did not realize the effect it had had on me until I asked my wife if we were going to watch general conference. She said, "Yes", in a somewhat surprised tone. And then it hit me that I had rejected general conference pretty much based on Rock's blog. I'm not blaming him, just stating that I had made a decision without really knowing that I had made one. I determined that I would watch general conference for myself and see what value I could get.

My wife was touched by a number of talks as evidenced by her tears. I typically don't cry much and did not much during conference. A number of speakers seemed to share my wife's emotions.

I was struck by a number of things:
1) 2 speakers in the same session shared Elder Benson's 14 fundamentals talk. I think this was done by design. I remember attending a session in the Bountiful Temple after the most recent ordinance changes and having a statement read to us in the chapel stating that, yes there were changes made, and they were made by the general authorities, and you voted to sustain them. Nuff said. It occurred to me at the time that such a statement was probably a response to concerns or complaints expressed over the changes. I wonder if this was the same. Or I wonder if they are setting the stage for some major changes.

2) There were way too many expressions of near worship of Pres. Monson. I understand that in Joseph's time, this too may have been common. As well as for Moses or any other great leader. At least in their cases, though, they made it clear that the people could enjoy all of the gifts they had. Don't hear that any more.

3) Similarly with the 14 fundamentals, I agree that the prophet is more important than the scriptures (Brigham said the same and Joseph concurred; and it simply makes sense to me) and that the current prophet is more important than the dead ones. Much the same idea. What was missing was the warning that true prophets do not contradict one another. Of course such a warning is incompatible with another of the fundamentals, that the Lord will not allow the prophet to lead us astray. Another fundamental which I find incompatible with other statements of modern prophets, and with ancient and modern scriptures.

4) I appreciated the testimonies of Christ and the urging of the people to seek the baptism and guidance of the Holy Ghost. As well as the gifts of the Spirit and portions of the divine nature.

5) What I looked for and did not see was an apostolic testimony of Christ, that they had seen/dreamed/touched/conversed with Him or heard His voice. I have struggled with this and am trying to accept that: They just don't do that anymore, nor do they see that as necessary or possible. In a similar fashion, obviously the definition of revelation has changed from what it meant to earlier prophets to what it means today.

6) I also found it extremely interesting that while I was listening to conference I was receiving tons of thoughts/ideas/impressions, sometimes so much that I would have to rewind to pick up remarks I had missed while writing. And sometimes my thoughts had nothing to do with their words. I hope this was manifestation of what Joseph talked about pure intelligence.

To be continued

Steve said...
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Steve said...
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Steve said...

7) Later it also occurred to me that I was tired of hearing dirt on the Church and its leaders. Enough. I have been feeling depressed - a condition to which I think I and some family members are susceptible - and I needed to do a better job at policing what thoughts I allowed into my mind. The Church and its leaders are what they are. I can do little about it, although I do pray for them. At the same time I can work on myself receiving the blessings which seem so absent around me and at the top. Mote/beam. I need to concentrate on and have faith that Father has not abandoned me, that Jesus can still save, that He will send true messengers and I trust/hope that I can be a part of that. There were a number of messages in conference that can bless my life and I thank the Lord for them.


Steve

Rea said...

Great post. May I add: as a Young Women's leader somewhere in the early 00's, I attended the "B's" broadcast featuring President Hinckley. At the end of the meeting, President Hinckley prayed for the youth of the LDS Church and the world. I peeked up during the prayer to find that his eyes were open and he was READING the prayer. Like any minister in the world!!! Like speaking and praying by revelation and inspiration with sponteneity weren't the baseline and the commandment given by early LDS prophets!!! I was shocked, even then... and given the opportunity to look inside myself, searching for what was wrong or rebellious about ME, because NO ONE ELSE SEEMED TO NOTICE OR CARE ABOUT THIS IN THE LEAST. Your posts speak many of my thoughts, Rock, and it seriously is good to know I'm not alone. Thank you,

Dave P. said...

Don't worry, Rea, I recall hearing an account of at least one person having a problem with the dedicatory prayer at the Kirtland temple as Joseph Smith read it after it had been received and written down earlier.

And in many cases I'd much rather prefer a prayer written ahead of time than the "prayers" heard in church that refer to things that have nothing to do with the meeting and all end the same way: "InnameofJesusChristamen!" spoken as humanly fast as possible.

John Peterson said...

If the GAs were worried about feeding meat to babes, they would do what Jesus did: teach in parables. Those who have read their scriptures and have the Spirit will be able to decipher the words and those who are still asleep as pertaining to the gospel will continue to slumber.

John Peterson said...

To Anonymous who wrote:

"The most distinguishing feature of Mormonism is not our unique doctrine, but the continuation of the Apostolic ministry."

If such is the case, you should rejoin the true Church of Catholicism... or why not the Orthodox Jews (Pharisees)?

John Peterson said...

The definition for revelation is found in it's base word: reveal. What does it mean to reveal something? To find it or take it out of hiding. Therefore revelation is indeed the finding of something new or novel.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

"Revelation is indeed the finding of something new or novel."

Exactly, John. The constant repetition of topics and re-quoting of fellow G.A.s that have come to be the hallmark of our general conferences do not qualify as revelations. They are talks. Speeches. Stories. Whatever. But they are NOT revelations.

They ain't prophecy, either.

John Peterson said...

Tom wrote:

"Did they obtain the gifts by installing governors and blinders to prevent the members from going too fast and learning too much too soon?"

I'll begin my response with a parable given by the mouth of our Savior:

"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."
(Matthew 13:24-30)

This parable tells so much to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. What is the good seed? What are the tares? Who are the reapers? How will by bind the tares? With physical cords? I would argue the tares are the unbelievers who claim to be members of the Church of God. They are bound by their unbelief and desire to keep sinning. They seek teachers who will teach them that they can continue in sin and not be punished by death. These are those who hate the truth and revile those who love the truth by calling them liars and blasphemers. Thus they are blinded to the truth and bound in the big cities awaiting their burning. Whereas the righteous will do as Lehi and his family did and flee to the mountains for safety.

Tom also wrote:

"We assume way too much when we think everyone must (a) go at the same speed..."

The very concept of there being three kingdoms, indicates that God knows not everyone is going to be of Celestial caliber. The Prophet Joseph told us through revelation that a man can only be saved as fast as he gains knowledge. The higher laws of Plural Marriage and Consecration were never lived by the entire Church. Only a very small percent of them ever lived either of these eternal laws. This goes to show that not all are (or ever will) ready for the fulness of the gospel. God works dilligently to bring all up to the level they are able to endure/enjoy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Good comment, John. I believe you're a newcomer to this forum, so you probably haven't seen my post that shows why my long-held opinion about plural marriage has changed. I am no longer convinced that plural marriage was ever a legitimate requirement. You can find it here:

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-im-abandoning-polygamy.html

Also, a very important follow-up here:

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-mormon-history-is-not-what-they-say.html

I have several friends who are polygamists or who advocate for plural marriage (the latter would include my friend Zomarah over at that blog) and I would not argue against those who choose to live that lifestyle. In fact, I believe the mainstream church should not shut such people out for their choice of living arrangements.

My feeling is that God neither condones nor condemns plural marriage. I simply no longer believe he ever required it of anyone.

Hates polygamy and the suppression of women said...

Thanks Truthseeker (and Rock and other AWAKENED Saints),

Truthseeker complimented Rock for standing up for inspired truth. I second that motion. The concept of cleaning up the church by getting back to Pure Mormonism is of God.

This was when Women and Blacks held the priesthood in the early days of the church and before the infiltration of polygamy or masonry. Do the research, which is easy thanks to the internet (Isaiah's fulfillment of truth being shouted from the rooftops in the latter days).

As a strong advocate against polygamy, which unchanging God called "ABOMINABLE" and caused the condemnation of the church (Jacob, D&C 124), thanks Rock for changing your mind somewhat about that horror and suppression of all women.

Except that God hates the "abominable" practice of polygamy even though he does allows free agency (King David, Solomon, Abraham~lied about his wife Sariah and begat the Christian-hating Muslims through Hagar due to lack of faith..., and Joseph Smith--all men of God who sinned).

The Lord spits those that are lukewarm out of His mouth. Therefore, all those carnal-minded men who soft pedal the adultery, "whoremongering", sexual spiritual slavery that accompanies polygamy, might want to reconsider their acceptance of this practice as the unchanging Lord never did! (the belated addition of D&C 132 to justify polygamy was a political embellishment by men)

When the spirit of God (the Holy Ghost) teaches a person truth, life is never boring and truth comes "line upon line" unlike church which is very boring as you stated.

Guy Noir, Private Eye said...

I feel VERY SORRY for those ppl (mostly Clerks) who get up & say (paraphrase)'All the spending has been for approved purposes' <or Whatever they're saying these days...
THEY KNOW it's shallow/hollow, really Says NOTHING other than a self-serving platitude!

most accountants, hearing that, just Chuckle to themselves!

can you say "Ambiguous", "Non-Specific", "Pointless"?

Some things to think about said...

Sorry, couldn't disagree more! I love conference! The messages, for the most part, are inspiring, informative and many times help me understand things important to me.

Pure Mormonism seems to be more of an attempt to poke fun at members of the church than improve relationships. I guess its okay for me to express my opinion, right?

But thanks for the blog, it was fun to read some of your thoughts. You did make me think a bit about my behavior and I have to admit you made me chuckle! All the best with your bishop...

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I sure hope I don't come off as poking fun at the members. My intent in the essay above was primarily to point out that IF we claim continuing revelation occurs in the Church today, it would be nice if we could find one of those revelations now and then.

I'm not knocking those who benefit from conference. I know there are many who do. But there is a growing number of people who no longer find anything to recommend devoting further time to it, and I think it's worth discussing why that might be.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll read more here.

whitehusky said...

//Most of those conference talks sixty years ago were hands down better than the pablum we're fed today where everything is milk, and the promised meat of the gospel is always a distant promise away.//

Most Mormons, I've found, hardly even are feeding on the milk of the gospel, let alone feasting on the meat.

This reminds me of the highly touted Preach My Gospel. Everyone was saying how amazingly wonderful it was, so I purchased a copy. I read through it. Not only was it so basic as to be practically worthless to a member of the church, but it had several errors in the way it presented Jesus (failing to note that he is the Most High God). Anyway, there actually was one real gem in the book: pray to understand scriptures you are reading. I implemented that immediately and reaped huge dividends with the help of the Holy Spirit.

One of the things I had been puzzling over was Ether 3:14, when the Lord said he is both the Father and the Son. I'd heard the standard explanation (that the Lord and Heavenly Father act as one), but I thought the Lord would hardly say, "I am the Father and the Son" and not mean it. So I sought the Holy Spirit's assistance and learned that Jesus Christ is Father in many respects, but most importantly, he is the Father of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Of course, I already knew Jesus was Jehovah, but what I didn't understand was that Israel knew the Lord as Father and referred to him as such. (Isa. 63:16)

But I've found that other Mormons never even bothered to go beyond the usual pablum they get. They're still treating the scriptures as if they are pretty much mined out, and as a result, they're missing the incredible treasure trove of riches to be found in the word of God.

I think it's absolutely true that church members under condemnation for not valuing the knowledge the Lord has given them. They prefer to run after vain and empty philosophies, including the belief that it is improper to seek out the Lord directly in prayer.

The Lord has invited all to come to him ... directly. To whom has the Lord ever said stay away?

Anyway, as you say, the institutional church has been driving on fumes. How are you going to gas up when you won't even pull into the station by praying to the Lord?

John Peterson said...

whitehusky is right. Ultimately if it's revelation we seek, we should go to God in prayer, just as Joseph Smith did. It's how we got a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's mission. It's how all truth is to be confirmed and all lies detected and cast off.

doyle_megan said...

Nice point, John. If Mormons are just going to each other to get confirmation of doctrine, they're going to go right off the edge of the cliff and straight into error. And they have. If you don't go to the horse's mouth — in this case, the Lord — you might as well forget it.

Jeremiah Stoddard said...

Unfortunately, I think we're on our own for the foreseeable future as far as revelation goes. Back in '97 President Hinckley was asked about contemporary revelation in an interview and responded, "Let me say first that we have a great body of revelation, the vast majority of which came from the prophet Joseph Smith. We don't need much revelation. We need to pay more attention to the revelation we've already received."

"We don't need much revelation" was a revealing statement. Prophets without prophecy is a uniquely Mormon doctrine.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

My chief complaint, Jeremiah. We ought to just admit our presidents don't have the gift of prophecy, rather than continuing to fool ourselves that the church is guided by a living prophet. He is a president, that's all. He presides. If we're going to call him a prophet, let's insist he provide a prophecy or revelation now and then.

Brad said...

If conference is boring for you, then I submit you have the problem, not conference. Conference is anything BUT boring to me. (I'm not trying to say that I'm better than you, just perhaps your approach to conference should change.)

As far as that I'll say interesting "conversation" about revelation, I think you do not understand what revelation or a revelator is. The most important function of a prophet is to be a forthteller, not a foreteller. And in that context, conference is 100% revelation.

Brad said...

And @Alan Rock Waterman, you and some others say that that prophet should "provide a prophecy or revelation now and then." Read my previous post above.

Also, you are asking for a sign that a prophet prove that he is a prophet.

@Jeremiah says that "prophets without prophecy is a uniquely Mormon doctrine." Oh really? I've never heard of that "doctrine" before. And that is NOT what Pres. Hinckley said. He didn't say that he does not receive revelation. He said that we should be living better the revelation we have already received. Why should the Lord give anymore revelation and prophecy when we don't live the vast revelation we have already received?

But again, the best revelation we receive is that of the "forthtelling" kind. And that is received and given all the time.

Steve said...

Brad - Do you know of any revelations received by the president and presented to the membership since 1889? I do not and saying this brings no joy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'm not seeking for any signs,Brad. Just evidence to back up what I taught people on my mission: that we have a prophet on the earth today to guide us in these troubled times.

Our big selling point was The Modern Prophet and Contining Revelation. In my set of discussions, that took precedence over everything else, including the Book of Mormon. THAT was the thing that supposedly made us stand out above the other churches.

This was the salient point of the first discussion circa 1970's, the reason I was in Mr. Brown's home. It was the message I had come to deliver. We were there to declare that what separates us from the church our prospect was attending was that God is continually communicating new information through a modern prophet, which he in turn relates to the world. The prophet can give us information that will have immediate bearing on the particular issues of the day.

We can see the emptiness of those promises just by reading the conference talk of Gordon Hinckley following America's pre-emptive attack and invasion oof Iraq, where he admitted that he didn't know what the future holds, but advised us to defer to the politicians on this matter, because they know more about these things than we do. He didn't even mention that our scripture prohibits us from participating in such preemptive warfare.

Today in conference the GAs quote each other endlessly, giving counsel you can hear from the pastor of any neighborhood church.

Which brings up the question: If the counsel a non-member investigator gets watching our conference, (i.e. love your wives, do good, avoid destructive substances, etc.) is no different from what he can get sitting in the pew of his own church, what exactly is it that would impel him to switch over to ours?

Steve said...

I have a friend whose missionary son wrote/spoke with him father about this very thing. The son had an investigator which wanted to see a new revelation. I had nothing to recommend. The newest vision in our scriptures is from Joseph F. Smith from almost 100 years ago. The last revelation that I know about and have read was to Wilford Woodruff in 1889 instructing him to make no promises to the feds.

Dave P. said...

Steve,

That 1889 "revelation" was not from God. Court records show that three people, including Wilford Woodruff's personal secretary, testified to writing it.

As for the last revelation prior to that was to John Taylor, claiming that he received it and was told that plural marriage was of God. Why is it not in our scriptures? The Quorum of the Twelve voted it down so it wasn't even ever presented to the church membership while those GAs who were in support of the revelation fled to Mexico to establish polygamous communities.

Steve said...

I had heard that others wrote the Manifesto. I'd be interested in your cites regarding the 1889 revelation. Without more evidence I would tend to believe the 1889 revelation.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Are you guys talking about the manifesto here, or some revelation that preceded it? I recall reading a series of revelations in the book "Unpublished Revelations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" that were extremely adamant that the principle was not to be abandoned.

As for the Manifesto, that was carefully worded by attorney Charles Penrose, and was merely presented by Woodruff. Don't ask me to cite my source though, Steve. I don't remember.

Elder Scott Senior said...

Hello there. I hope I haven't submitted this comment a thousand times...

I realize that this post is a year and a half old and that the conversation it has spurred is near dead. But I had some thoughts as I read this and I was hoping that someone would be able to answer my questions and correct me if I am mistaken.

Maybe I have a different perception of revelation and prophecy and if my interpretations are incorrect please correct me, but I feel like we have received forms of both prophecy and revelation from those we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators.

Back in 1967, President Kimball spoke in a BYU speech of Peter, James and John. He said that though they would be considered ignorant and unlearned in today's world, they were granted a period of time on earth in which they needed to learn all the gospel truth that they could to both fulfill their foreordained responsibilities as well as work towards receiving eternal life through the mercy of the Atonement. He went on to say that they have had 19 centuries since in which to study and learn the geography, biology, chemistry, zoology etc. that they would need to create their own worlds. Now to me that is a portion of revealed truth, albeit one that may have been logically discernible. But I can't think any precedent for it other than possibly Orson Pratt, he was always speaking about what is going on "on the other side."

Elder Scott Senior said...

While we don't have record of the revelation, revelation was inherently involved in extending the priesthood to all worthy males.

Another thought I had is that the Proclamation to the World regarding the family, if not revelation itself, certainly contains new revealed truth. What comes to mind that gender is eternal, the same forever from the time of our spiritual creation. I can't think of any precedent in scripture for this one either, be it ancient or modern.

Lastly, I felt that Elder Packer (I hope you don't just immediately discount everything he says) spoke revealed information in his General Conference concerning homosexuality, where he said that it is a product of agency, not of creation. I haven't been too interested in the topic and therefore haven't sought out confirmation of it through personal revelation, but I am inclined to believe it. And if it is true, then it most certainly is revelation or new revealed truth given by a revelator.

So I feel like the leaders of the church are indeed receiving revelation for us in our day, we just don't receive it like they used to give it. If the revelations are recorded, we don't get printed copies anymore.

I also have always felt that the prophetic counsel to acquire food storage and to eliminate our debt were forms of prophecy, warning us of the impending challenges many would soon face as well as instruction on how to protect ourselves from it. And being able to look back on the last 20 years and I feel the purpose and need for that divinely inspired counsel is apparent.

I have read many of your entries and love what you have said about it being the gospel that is true. I spent several years out of activity because I could not come to grips with member's worship of the "UPS man." I unfortunately let my loathing of this really let get out of hand, affecting my activity, my testimony, and at one extreme point leading me to mockingly and blasphemously begin a prayer given in a group setting with, "Dear Joseph Smith." I often thought about working to get the hymn "Praise to the Man" removed from the hymn book because I believed that we should only be singing praises to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I share many of the concerns you do regarding the church (it's corporate status, the blinding pride of those in leadership (read: Elder Packer), questionable use of supposedly sacred funds, lack of visibility regarding finances etc.) Despite all of that, I sat in on a private Q&A session with Elder Christofferson this past weekend, and I asked him to share with us his special witness of Christ. Now he spared the intimate details, but he bore powerful testimony of the reality of the resurrection, and also that the Savior is an active leader of the church. Which led me to believe that Nebuchadnezzar's dream/prophecy is being fulfilled (v. 44) that when God's Kingdom was last set up, it would not be left to the hands of others. As Elder Christofferson testified to these points, the spirit bore a powerful confirming witness to me. So while it is the gospel that is true, and not necessarily the church, the church serves as an important vehicle for the priesthood which enables us all to receive the saving ordinances. But I also deeply studied the passage of scripture quoted somewhere on this site, Mormon 8:35-41 and I will be very interested to see what cleansing the church will receive when the Savior returns. I just need to make sure that I am not among that which will be tossed out.

Elder Scott Senior said...

Lastly, since this is my first time commenting and none of you know me, I feel it's appropriate for me to include my testimony so you know what I believe and where I come from. I have a testimony that God lives and that Jesus Christ is His Son. I testify to the reality of the Atonement. I have been relieved of all my guilt, shame, regret and suffering as I have applied it in my life. I can testify of the power of the priesthood, that God has indeed entrusted the powers of heaven with men because I have seen it bring about mighty, mighty miracles. I have studied and pondered and sought spiritual witness regarding the Book of Mormon. Those prayers were answered affirmatively and I therefore know that the gospel and priesthood was restored, and my line of authority does indeed go directly to the Savior himself. This is the testimony that has been borne to me by the Spirit of God and has filled my soul and changed my life. And I happily, gratefully share it in the name of Jesus Christ.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I like you, Elder Scott. From what you've written, I believe if you and I were to sit down together we would have a lot in common to talk about.

The examples you give of revelations strike me as more representative of good counsel and valuable advice rather than bona fide revelation, though. As for the Proclamation on the family, that could better be described as a position paper than a revelation. After all, it is entitled A Proclamation.

In the announcement of the lifting of the priesthood ban, we are informed that a revelation was received, but we have never been shown that revelation. The announcement of a revelation without ever producing the revelation is something the Lord never countenanced before.

More likely, this is an example of reversal of policy -of a previous reversal of policy. Under Joseph Smith, all men, regardless of race, were entitled to hold the priesthood. Under Brigham Young, that practice was reversed. It was long believed that Brigham Young had received revelation to that effect, and that Joseph had erred in ordaining black men to the priesthood.

David O. Mckay commissioned research to find the source of that policy, and came to the conclusion that there had been no divine mandate, but that Brigham Young, as a product of his times, had merely instituted the policy on his own. However, McKay was unable to get enough votes in the quorum at the time to reverse the policy.

Kimball was successful in doing so, but he probably shouldn't have said he did it by revelation if he couldn't come up with something in a "thus saith the Lord" vein. I think it was more divine inspiration. Since no revelation was given banning blacks from the priesthood, no revelation was necessary in reversing the policy.

A beneficial policy or a moving talk should not be confused with an actual revelation or prophecy. Inspiration is one thing; Revelation is another.

For what I consider an excellent breakdown of what constitutes revelation and prophecy, I refer you here to Zomarah's analysis entitled "Thomas S. Monson: A Seer, a Revelator, a Translator, and a Prophet":

http://zomarah.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/thomas-s-monson-a-seer-a-revelator-a-translator-and-a-prophet/

Good luck with your blog. I'm really glad to hear an active missionary is being allowed to produce a blog; as you're doubtless aware, you guys are usually dissuaded from spending any time online. I'm heading over right now to check out your stuff.

Dave P. said...

Let us also not forget that women also held the priesthood during the time of Joseph Smith. That has yet to be reversed back to its original situation.

Erin said...

I'm a convert. I love General Conference. I love Sacrament Meeting. I love Sunday School. The only times they are boring to me is when I haven't had enough sleep or am not spiritually in tune. I don't care if people are singing half-heartedly- it doesn't keep ME from singing with my heart and soul. Worship is what I choose to do.

General Conference is totally exciting to me. Even 15 years after being baptised. I LOVE it. I learn so much. My vision grows and my understanding deepens.

The food is on the table. Just being in the room isn't the same as eating it though. Just looking at the food isn't enough. Just opening your mouth and hoping someone will feed you isn't enough. Feasting is an active process. Listening is an active process. Learning is an active process.

I'd like to hear more about reasons you may not be learning that are in you. It's easy to critisize others. Much harder to be humble enough to start with ourselves. That would make a much more honest blog.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I do spend quite a bit of time in circumspection to make sure I'm not just howling at the moon, Erin. I think the problem many of us lifers have is the recognition that the promises of our youth are simply not realized in general conference.

Chief among those promises was that we have a prophet on the earth today to guide us through all the difficulties we see in the world. I always took that to mean more than simply advise us to love our wives and avoid temptation. The prophets of old stood up to the political leaders of the day and called them to repentence. Today, they seem to enjoy their company.

Glad you enjoy conference, Erin. I hear from others like yourself from time to time. But I hear from many more who are disappointed at the hollow boasting of being the one true church, but not offering anything of substance that cannot be found elsewhere.

In other words, what is it that makes us distinct?

Commander Gidgiddoni said...

As far as Gordon Hinckley's quote, it fulfills the prophesy in the Book of Mormon:

29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!

30...for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Kevin said...

I'm reminded of my own experience on a mission in southeast Asia, Rock. I remember explaining to our Buddhist investigator friends the official line that their belief in reincarnation was not correct. Never mind that it has been a part of their culture longer than Christianity had been in existence and offers a much broader, more reasonable scenario for souls to become like Jesus Christ than a single shot at a telestial mortality.

When I returned home from my mission I came to resonate to reincarnation, thanks in part to reading Brigham Young use the phrase, "eternal lives" over and over in his compiled teachings. I don't fixate on the concept–I just accept it as an idea that I'd like to be true. Nowadays there is a lively, articulate case to be made for 'multiple mortal probations.

When I looked for anything resembling revelation on reincarnation from our modern prophets and came up empty-handed I felt a bit foolish. I'd once boldly proclaimed something I no longer believe and for which I can find no evidence of revelation on the matter from our modern prophets.