Thursday, June 18, 2009

Too Bad I Don't Like Beer

Imagine there are two guys in your ward, both active in the church and stalwart in the faith. One is a vegetarian who prefers to eat mostly organic food, fresh and in season. He drinks herbal teas, and almost never eats meat. By "almost never", I mean he's not stupid; he'd eat an animal if he ever found himself in a situation where he was starving. But he tries to eat healthy, and he has one guilty pleasure no one in his ward knows about: At the end of a long day, he likes to kick back with a cold beer.

The second guy loves food - all kinds of food. Especially meat. For him, a day without meat would be a day without sunshine. Junk food is a way of life with this guy. He could take or leave fruits and vegetables, and he mostly leaves them. He wouldn't think of drinking herbal teas, because "hot drinks are not for the body" (except hot chocolate). He doesn't smoke, drink, or dance the hoochi-coo. And he looks like Jabba the Hut.

So here's the question: Which one of these two guys would you say most perfectly lives the Word of Wisdom?

Answer: Bachelor number one.

But, you ask, what about that daily beer?

I said most perfectly. Because, along with his other positive habits, he drinks beer, he's the one most perfectly living the Word of Wisdom. God tells us in Section 89 that beer is one of the reasons He gave us barley.

If you didn't know that, it's probably because like many latter day saints, you learned all about the Word of Wisdom in Sunday school, but you've most likely never gotten around to really reading the thing.

So let's look at it again. Remember the part describing the purposes of the various grains, the one that begins "Nevertheless, wheat for man..."? Open your scriptures to Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 and turn to verse 17. Let's read, in God's own words, what he created barley for: "...and barley for all useful animals and for mild drinks, as also other grain."

The early saints would have been astounded that future members would ever conflate their mild barley drink -beer- with the "strong drink" advised against in verses 5 and 7. Early Mormons regularly consumed beer without compunction, as had most of mankind throughout recorded history.

In 1843 the church's newspaper, the Nauvoo Neighbor, advertised ale and beer available at the Nauvoo Brewery. Joseph Smith oversaw a fully stocked bar located at his home in the Mansion House. In an 1844 journal entry Joseph Smith mentions that he stopped in and "drank a glass of beer at Moesser's". He mentions this in passing as if it was no big deal, because to him it wasn't.

This was eleven years after Joseph received the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom, so you can't say he didn't know better. The fact is, beer was not proscribed by Section 89; it was prescribed.

Within three years of the saints' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, breweries were operating at the mouths of every river canyon from Logan to Nephi. Most of the saints were immigrants from England, Denmark, and Germany, and these Teutonics brought with them their old-world brewing skills. A sizable brewery once sat close to where the Provo temple is now, and the Henry Wagener Brewery took up a massive 150 acres just across the street from where the "This Is The Place" monument now stands. So many breweries appeared so fast that by 1851 the smell emanating from all these operations provoked the city council to declare them a nuisance. Yet they continued to operate.

Beer was manufactured and consumed by faithful members of the church who never gave a second thought to the idea that there might be anything wrong with it. Most would have applied Benjamin Franklin's famous declaration regarding wine to their beer and ale, that it was "proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy".

By the time Johnston's Army arrived in 1857, ushering in a steady stream of thirsty gentiles through Utah, things really took off for the Mormon brewers. Beer was available everywhere, including the church owned ZCMI where both Mormons and gentiles could stop in to grab a brewski any day but Sunday.

So how did the LDS church membership devolve from an appreciation of beer as a gift from God, to our present-day anathema toward it?

Well, we got the idea from the protestants.

Temperance Nation

By the time of the Manifesto in 1890, the LDS conversion rate was practically nil. All anybody knew about Mormons were that they were that crazy bunch of polygamous weirdos off in the desert. Any growth the church experienced was primarily internal, as pretty much the only baptisms Utahns were performing were on eight year old kids who already lived there. Certainly nobody new wanted to join.

The united states government and the eastern newspapers had painted us such pariahs that we couldn't get anybody to take our religion seriously on a bet. Missionaries couldn't get anyone to take a pamphlet, let alone read the Book of Mormon. Proselyting was at a standstill. We needed to find some way to get our numbers up.

Meanwhile back in the states, a huge temperance movement was sweeping the sectarian religious world, a backlash against decades of unbridled American alcoholism and public drunkenness. Public vows of abstinence were all the rage. It was no longer cool to profess Christ on Sunday if you spent Saturday night in a saloon; now a man's spiritual measure was taken by how vociferously he denounced the demon rum.

The motto of virtuous young women everywhere was "lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine", and young men, whose lips desperately wanted to touch the lips of young women, dutifully fell into line. It was futile to argue with these women that beer and ale, which were brewed, did not belong in the same class as hard liquors such as whiskey, which was distilled. These young ladies had zero tolerance for any of it, it was all the same to them. Talk to the hand, 'cause the lips ain't listenin'.

There was a pious war against booze raging in Christian America, and mild drinks were getting caught in the crossfire.

The debate spilled over into Utah where, though public drunkenness was strictly forbidden, wine and distilled spirits had always been available (some members paid their tithing in wine they made themselves; the St George tithing office reported collecting 7000 gallons by 1887). Still, hard liquor was hardly tolerated by Mormons the way beer had traditionally been.

By 1900, the parsing of the Word of Wisdom was well under way in debate among the leaders of the church. According to BYU Professor Emeritus Thomas G. Alexander:

"...All general authorities were not in agreement on all aspects of the word of wisdom...After he became president of the church, Lorenzo Snow again emphasized the centrality of not eating meat...and in 1901 John Henry Smith and Brigham Young, Jr., of the Twelve both thought that the church ought not interdict beer, at least not Danish beer." Apostle Anthon H. Lund, who happened to be Danish, agreed, especially with the part about Danish beer. So did did Mathias F.Cowley and others.

Over the next couple of decades, the Mormon people as a whole jumped on the Temperance bandwagon, and in 1919 Utah enthusiastically ratified the 18th amendment prohibiting all alcoholic beverages, including beer. Utah breweries closed down and before long all traces disappeared. In time, the descendants of the pioneers forgot they had ever existed. Land once occupied by the sprawling Henry Wagoner Company eventually became home to the Hogle zoo.

The Mormon support of prohibition had a positive effect on missionary work. We could boast to teetotaling Christians that we were way ahead of the curve on the evils of alcohol, having been hip to that scene as far back as 1833. With the hub-bub over polygamy having pretty much quieted down, the church was experiencing a re-branding. Missionaries were no longer fearsome devils come to steal your daughters; they were now those nice young men who didn't smoke or drink.

Looks like we'd found our gimmick.

After America came to its senses and repealed prohibition in 1933, many Christians no longer saw any harm in the occasional beer, but by this time Mormons were so proudly tethered to their image as the fermentedly free that they couldn't let go. It allowed us to remain a peculiar people, but now in a good way. Our image as strict non-drinkers was what was now defining us to the rest of the world. It was the thing that was getting us in the papers.

And within the church the Word of Wisdom gradually transmogrified from a gentle principle with promise to That Doctrine Which Must Be Obeyed.

The Commandment That Never Was

Anyone who actually reads the Word of Wisdom is struck by the dichotomy between what is declared in its opening verses and the way it's promulgated by the church today. The actual revelation is very clear in its wording that what is to follow is "not by way of commandment or constraint". It's a guide to healthy living, a principle with a promise attached for any who choose to follow the wise advice therein.

A modern member might hear about the Word of Wisdom all his life and never know of the counsel it gives regarding food -what should be eaten and what should not. The emphasis today is always on the four negatives we are to avoid: alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco (and sometimes Pepsi, according to some). A person can think he's living the Word of Wisdom to the letter without ever having read it, and actually be in egregious violation of it, like Brother Jabba above.

So, who changed the Word of Wisdom? How and when did the Lord declare unquestioning obedience to be so paramount that almost all other doctrines and practices take a back seat?

In Seminary I was told that some years after the saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young announced that the saints had now had plenty of time to quit using tobacco, liquor, tea, and coffee, and that henceforth the Lord had declared they were to live it as a commandment.

But is this true? Did Brigham Young ever make such a declaration? More importantly, did Jesus Christ, author of the revelation, tell Brigham Young that it was no longer voluntary?

When Joseph Fielding Smith was an apostle, he authored a set of books entitled "Answers to Gospel Questions". Here's where we get our modern interpretation:

"September 9th, 1851, President Brigham Young stated that the members of the church Had had sufficient time to be taught the import of this revelation, and that henceforth it was to be considered a divine commandment. This was first put before the male members and then before the women, and by unanimous vote accepted."

With all due respect to the late President Smith, if an anti-Mormon had tried to pass off such a misleading statement about Mormon history as this, he would have been accused of distorting and twisting the facts. Nothing like what president Smith avers occurred at all. Brigham Young didn't convert the Word of Wisdom into a commandment, nor did he claim the Lord did. Nor did the body of the church ever vote to accept it as a commandment. Here is what actually happened as recorded in the Millenial Star:

"President Young rose to put the motion and called on all the sisters who will leave off the use of tea, coffee, etc., to manifest it by raising the right hand; seconded and carried.

"And then put the following motion; calling on all the boys who were under ninety years of age who would covenant to leave off the use of tobacco, Whiskey, and all things mentioned in the Word of Wisdom to manifest it in like manner, which was carried unanimously."

As Robert J. McCue makes clear in his analysis "Did The Word of Wisdom Become a Commandment in 1851?", the vote was simply a personal commitment by those present to abstain from items condemned in the Word of Wisdom. It wasn't until nine years later that Brigham Young himself gave up tobacco, although he had long considered the habit uncouth, filthy, and offensive. In 1860, nearly a decade after he was supposed to have declared the Word of Wisdom a commandment, he advised the Brethren, "If you must use tobacco, put a small portion in your mouth when no person sees you, and be careful that no one sees you chew it. I do not charge you with sin."

The evidence is that Brigham Young regretted his earlier call for the young men and women to commit to stop using these substances, for it appears that many caught up in the fervor of the moment were unable to keep their resolutions for very long. Years later, President Young made this statement:

"I will not call upon you to make a covenant to do this, for some might break their covenants, and that would be a sin."

Brigham Young made many statements condemning the use of hard liquor and tobacco, but never claimed a commandment from the Lord on the subject. Indeed, Thomas G. Alexander affirms that there never has been a revelation from the Lord requiring obedience to the Word of Wisdom, or converting it from voluntary to mandatory.

This is not to say that these substances are not harmful; there's no question that they are. But God only commands us regarding our interactions with others. He does not interfere with our free agency to make our own mistakes regarding how we treat ourselves.

Beer For The Body

Raised as I was to believe that beer was the devil's brew, I was really caught up short awhile back when I read something in a newsletter by a very Godly natural health expert whose opinion I had
always trusted. This author is read by religiously hard-core vegans and food purists who strive at putting only pure raw foods into their bodies and avoiding all harmful substances in their search for both physical and spiritual perfection. He told his readers that most of them were neglecting an essential nutrient that God had provided for thousands of years: Beer. More particularly, fermented hops, an essential ingredient in beer.

According to this expert, for at least the past four thousand years, mankind drank beer at the end of the day to relax, and there's a reason: God meant for it to be that way. God gives our bodies the means to accomplish what's necessary throughout the day. Our bodies create stress so that we can get things done. Stress is what enables us to get up, go, and keep going.

But at the end of the day the body needs to let go of all that stress, otherwise the nervous system remains to some degree highstrung; it never truly unwinds. The pollinated hops flower contains anodynes and soporifics that relax the nerves in a way nothing else can, and a beer made of fermented barley is the best way to deliver those hops to the nerves that need them. The small amount of alcohol in a pint of beer assists in that delivery.

And this is key: one beer is all it takes; more than a pint or two is too much. An excess amount of beer can be detrimental to the liver and other parts of the body. That's why Section 89 calls for moderation.

It may not even be necessary to have a beer every day. For some people a pint at the end of the week does the trick. The point is to reverse the stress buildup and relax your nervous system. Beer has antibiotic properties, it helps you sleep, and the barley contains important B vitamins and other nutrients. Those who stress all day and do not provide their bodies with the means to undo all that stress before bedtime are asking for trouble.

Are there other ways besides beer to cope with the stresses of life? I suppose. Antidepressant drugs are prescribed in Utah more often than in any other state, and at twice the national average. I would guess one reason is because, unlike the rest of the world, we refuse to recognize and use a natural substance God gave us to cope with stress, even when our own scriptures provide for it.

If we are to believe the statistics, Mormon women are the country's unhappiest creatures. Wouldn't it make more sense if, instead of ingesting a dangerous drug twice a day, you simply followed the counsel of the Lord and sipped at a bottle of beer while reading to the kids? You could help them learn what the Word of Wisdom really says, while at the same time affirming to them Ben Franklin's adage regarding the proof of God's love.

Or are you more comfortable rejecting the counsel of God in favor of obeying the doctrines of men?

What All This Has To Do With Me

Even though I now know it's good for me, I confess to not drinking any beer myself yet. The thing is, I tried beer some forty years ago and couldn't stand the taste. I just don't understand what anybody sees in it. It's horrible. I'd sooner drink my own urine.

But I've decided I ought to give it another try, though this time with a quality brew. The problem is, I haven't the slightest idea how to go about selecting a good beer. I know nothing about it. I'm the squarest square in Squares-ville.

Actually, it's not so much quality I'm looking for as something that would just taste acceptable to me as a first time beer drinker. I sure don't want to buy a twelve-pack of something with a fancy label just to find out it tastes like crap. I don't know how to tell one brand from another.

I went to Smart & Final to read the ingredients on labels, but guess what? Beer labels don't tell you what's in the beer. I suppose it's assumed that all beer has the same ingredients, but since I wasn't sure, I didn't buy any. I did see that some labels say they're made with wheat, but I don't know if that means wheat only, or wheat in addition to barley and hops. Would wheat and barley and hops taste better than simply barley and hops? And how would I know which is which?

What I think I'm looking for is a traditional brew made with hops and barley, so I can have the kind of beer Joseph Smith himself would have drank. But I want it to taste decent, so I'm open to suggestions.

I know that some of the readers of this blog are Jack-Mormons (excuse me, "less actives") who may have discovered the joys of beer already, so I'm counting on you to help me out with this so that I can finally, truly start living the Word of Wisdom.


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Dave P. said...

This has been bugging me for a while, especially since BYU's Daily Universe inevitably has a Letter to the Editor argument over the morals of eating meat (and hunting) that always goes back to the Word of Wisdom and it being treated as something from the Law of Moses.

What they fail to remember is that Christ's celestial laws aren't "You can do this and can't do that" types of laws, but they're based on the principles that govern those laws.

The Word of Wisdom is a guideline for the principle of self-mastery and retaining things in moderation. I eat foods that have been cooked in wine, and they are absolutely delicious and flavorful while being far from enough to get drunk on. Not to mention that Christ Himself has said that He will come to partake of the "fruit of the vine" with us.

Rick Waterman said...

Best article on beer and the word of wisdom I have ever read. I'll toast a nice cold one to that!

As far as beers go that I would have to recommend, Blue Moon is a great start. Still, I'm like you and would prefer other drinks (I like soda frankly) but if you are really thirsty it goes down nicely when it's cold...all the better if you can find Blue Moon "on tap" (beer on tap is always better). Alternatively, try those Mike's Hard Lemonade drinks (technically are beer...not hard liquor).

Dustin Wills said...

So I've never developed a taste for beer either... and I've tried "Good Ones". Everyone I know who drinks a beer at the end of the day says it's an aquired taste...

But when I go to BJs bar and brewery, I like to order a Berry Cider... That relaxed homey feeling is definately something that is a shame to miss out on.

Oh BTW, funny that you mention Ben Franklin, one of my heroes... Everyone quotes Ben the same way, but it turns out that he didn't have a taste for beer either... the Brits called him the "Water American", and he was a 'smart' vegitarian too... meaning that he would eat meat only when he was starving.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I didn't know that about Ben Franklin being called the Water American by the brits, and I thought I knew the guy. He did have a taste for french wine.

This Berry Cider doesn't contain hops and barley, does it? Sounds closer to a wine.

What I really with the word of wisdom called for was root beer; that I like.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The above should have read "what I really wish", not "with".

Alan Rock Waterman said...


I looked into Mike's Hard Lemonade and was surprised to learn it's made with malt barley, so it would seem to be a mild drink. But then I learn that it's distilled, and I think anything that's distilled would fall into the category of 'strong drink" which the word of wisdom advises against.

Also, I couldn't find out if hops was included, which a necessary ingredient for the justification of drinking a brew, in my opinion.

Blue Moon is one of those beers that lists wheat in the ingredients but doesn't say whether it also contains barley and hops.

Anybody know what "malted" barley is and how it differs from regular barley?

Gordon said...

Hey,Rock! Great article that touches on some things that have concerned me since joining the church 12 years ago. While I do indeed feel that I belong to the church that rightfully bears the name of the Savior, I wonder how many of US rightfully bear that same name. Or, how often do we try to mold the teachings of Jesus Christ after "our own image" instead of striving to understand revealed truth. Someone once told me, "The Gospel is perfect, even if we are not". How true.

cheryl said...

Never cared for the taste of beer myself but it did taste a bit better fresh from the Budweiser Brewery back in '73!! Reading your blog I can see you have put a lot of thought into this. Maybe too much!! ??

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Har, har, Cheryl; methinks your gentle chide is to infer I might be attempting to justify a propensity for That Which Is Forbidden.

I'm serious when I say I can't stand the taste of beer, and I'm still very reluctant to reintroduce it to my taste buds. The motivation for my research into the history of beer and Mormonism came after reading the advice of that noted health expert that those of us who neglect ingesting beer and ale do so at the peril of our well being.

As a lifelong member of the church, I was conditioned to believe that beer was harmful and forbidden by God. Turns out that belief was the result of "the philosophies of men mingled with scripture".

Becoming familiar with the difference between what the Lord said and what he didn't say is the bigger lesson here.

Dustin Wills said...

I don't know if the Berry cider has hops or not, just that I liked it.

As for Ben Franklin and beer, my reference to Water American comes from Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography... it's a good read.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Sheesh, how did I miss that, Dustin? I did read Ben Franklin's autobiography many years ago. I didn't actually "read" it, though; what I did was listen to it on tape.

That's what I get for taking in the classics aurally rather than visually. You miss so much that way. For instance, I don't recall hearing anything at all about Ben Franklin's presidency.

(That was a joke, folks. Sorry I had to explain it, but I appear to be the only person on the net who doesn't place a smiley face or type "lol" after extruding a bit of drollery.)

Jonas said...

Rock, You rock!

Awesome article! "Talk to the hand, becasue the lips aren't listening." I deserved a good laugh this morning, and that statement provided the second laugh of my morning. Thanks brother! (As a side note, would you like to read the first laugh of the day? It is the subject line of an email I received. It said, "demand Engalish".)

I'm no expert on beer, I just know that now and then I like to have one - maybe two on a rare occasion. I know that I like some brands or types and others do not suit my taste.

What's important is that I no longer feel guilty having a brew. I know my team of angels have more important things to do than keep a tally sheet of my brew intake - or anything else for that matter.

Thank you for being bold and taking a stand. I stand with you.


cynfulknits said...

I think you're onto something here. I can't digest hard liquer. Wine makes me deathly ill. I'd never be able to partake of Christ's sacrament-let's just say he'd need his feet cleaned when I got done. But I make a great beer stew with dumplings. My kids love it. And a swig before I pour the bottle into the pot tastes good too. Based on my life experience, I would have to say that the guy who came up with that whole Word of Wisdom thing might have been onto something.

cynfulknits said...

by the way, try Samuel Adams. Stay away from dark beers-way too heavy in body and taste.

Anonymous said...

Great article, if I do say so myself (non-LDS, but Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed, and Evangelical - mere Christian). I'm glad that what enters my mouth doesn't defile me , because what I have inside my heart is damning enough. That said, I would offer one corrective that is of the 'genus/species' category. We Protestants, as a whole, are not properly responsible for the anti-beer and anti-alcohol drive as you suggest (eg. see "Drinking with Calvin and Luther," by Jim West). The particular Anabaptist and radical separatist wing were those that propounded such unhistoric and un-Biblical practices; practices initially resisted by all Protestants until they were perverted by prohibitionist Liberalism later on, and then only after compromising the gospel first. Believing that sin was in large measure in 'things' rather than within, it is no surprise that such 'environmental' prohibitionist impulses flowed from them. Prohibitionism is rebellion against God's Word. It is self-righteousness. Personal taste, however, is another animal altogether.

I like good beer. Perhaps I could be of some assistance one day in sharing with you God's good gift of beer, which is to be received with thanksgiving and not rejected. And some tastes are acquired by "those who by reason of use have their senses exercised," as the Apostle has said (Heb. 5:14). There is no unclean thing in itself. Stand fast in the liberty within which Christ has set us free. Thanks be to God.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Very astute and intelligent comments, Anonymous. I felt echoes of the wisdom of the late Reverend R.J. Rushdoony while reading this.

That was welcome information regarding there being a rebellious wing of Christianity that was pushing for prohibition. I'm guessing these were the same Christian Progressives who pushed for our entry into World War I in a misguided drive to "make the world safe for democracy" by force of arms of which Woodrow Wilson was their chief advocate.

The decidedly anti-Christian spirit of the crusades -advocating the use of force for Christ- will ever be with us, I fear. It wounds me that I see so many of my LDS brethren buying into this dogma of holy coercion.

Dave P. said...

I should mention that my best friend from high school is learning the lesson of the health benefits of moderate drinking. He's been pretty ill lately and his doctor prescribed a set amount of red wine three times a day.

It's been helping immensely.

Isaac said...

"all the boys who were under ninety years of age" Great line.

Very interesting piece. I lectured my Sunday school class a few weeks ago about the general ignorance of the "do" list in the Word of Wisdom and the attendant focus on the Big Four Dont's. Can you imagine the little ones reporting a pro-beer lesson to their parents? I think I'll try it sometime.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I think you should do it, Isaac, and let me know how it goes.

You certainly can't be accused of being unscriptural...

isaac stanfield said...

Well, I just had my wife read it, and it didn't go so well. But heaven forbid some 15 year-old kids should think on their own and form their very own testimonies, right?

I'll keep you posted on the response.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Isaac, you're in a great position as a teacher of 15 year olds. I used to teach that very age, and they're ready to start thinking. Hope you can have a fruitful experience helping them to avoid the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

If I was teaching "the youth" today I would remind them that "the iron rod" is not the church, as so many believe it is, but it is "the word of God".

If we can get people to stop holding to the church and instead start holding to the rod, we might be ready when the Lord comes the final time to "put his house in order".

Too many LDS lose that distinction and the church is worse off for it.

Dave P. said...

The Opinion section of BYU's Daily Universe truly is a great source of entertainment. One of the more recent "controversial" letters involves the fact that Cafe Rio uses Coke in one of its pork recipes. The comments and reactions speak for themselves:

PS: I left a couple of comments in there attempting to educate those guys regarding a few of the points made in this essay. The reaction was predictable.

The Infinite Bob said...

I think you're probably right about all this, but I also think that because we are currently asked not to partake of alcohol that we will be rewarded for obedience to that request. Part of what I'm working on is supporting my leaders even when it's a bit silly. I don't feel it's wrong to point out or discuss something that we think is a mistake, but we should still strive to humble ourselves and do as we are asked as long as there is no harm in it.

There are several bishops I'm aware of that I believe the Lord will take to task for their outlandish behaviour, but it's not my place to judge them. I'll leave that to the Lord. Same goes for any general authority that makes up "doctrine". I have always had a problem with Bruce R McConkie for the book "Mormon Doctrine" which is no such thing, but that's really between him and The Lord.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dave, I certainly do hope that letter you cited was a hoax, for I must admit it's the most convincing example of a BYU "I am appalled" letter I've seen in a long time. If satire, it so perfectly straddles the line that one doesn't know whether to take it seriously or not.

I assume you are David Paradise; if so, I commend you for your intelligent responses. I didn't notice anyone commenting on the obvious, however: Even though God has never given his opinion on cola drinks, he has been very specific on pork, so the writer who is alarmed that the pork he is eating was marinated in (gasp!)coke is really missing the mark. Unless that was the subtle joke.

Lorenzo Snow said he would rather a saint drink coffee than eat pork. That prohibition is a health law that God never rescinded, and unlike the word of wisdom, it was very much given as a strict commandment. Pigs are nature's garbage disposal, charged with disposing of filth. We should avoid them.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Infinite Bob, I certainly agree with you regarding McConkie's Mormon Doctrine (which horrified President McKay), but then I wonder why you feel God would approve of our obeying leaders when they make stuff up and palm it off as coming from the mouth of God.

If something seems a bit silly, and it is not the result of pure revelation from God, but rather the opinion of mere men who happen to hold rank, don't you think the Lord would prefer you ignore it?

No man has the right to supersede the word of God, no matter what his title or no matter how humbly he stands before the congregation spouting drivel.

Peter said "we ought to obey God rather than men", and I'll follow that advice not only because it rings true, but because as far as I'm concerned, any apostle that knew Jesus personally trumps one who never did.

Dave P. said...

Yes, I am David Paradise (I only use my full name online when it's required).

There's a response to that letter as of yesterday that basically outlines what you said in your last reply, but sadly fails to mention the prohibition of pork:

The one common thread I definitely see in regards to those who argue that, "The Word of Wisdom is a commandment because it's part of the temple recommend interview," apparently don't understand how the church operates. As is mentioned in the essay, Brigham Young never claimed to receive revelation concerning the Word of Wisdom becoming a commandment nor was it ever presented to the church for a sustaining vote with that being the key component. Both of the Official Declarations at the end of the Doctrine and Covenants would be worthless without the phrase, "The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous," at the end of each. (I wasn't born when President Kimball received the revelation on allowing blacks to hold the priesthood, but I do know that, soon after it was announced, some "concerned members" submitted a 2-page petition to one of the local papers voicing concerns about it.)

Also, too many people assume that the temple recommend interview is an all-or-nothing thing: You get one wrong and no recommend for you! That's not how it works. By design, the bishopric member, who is acting as judge, makes the final call based on what the spirit tells him, same with the member of the stake presidency. I have a friend who was struggling with porn and smoking even after he joined the church, confided in me that he told his leaders in his interview that he was struggling with the Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom, and thus didn't feel worthy to enter. But because of his efforts to overcome those addictions AND because the blessings of the temple would help him with that, he was given the recommend and has kept those covenants. Why did Christ Atone for our sins if we aren't even given a chance to apply it to our lives?

Anonymous said...

Glad to see I'm not the only one.

I am in my late twenties. I am a faithful Latter Day Saint. I attend church regularly. Happily married. And I enjoy a nice cold beer once or twice a week.

To answer your question, although a few months late:

My favorite beer is a Guinness. It is flavorful, mildly sweet, and goes down easy. It is a stout, which is the darkest form of beer. It can be a little strong if purchased from a liquor store, but from the supermarket in the can (with its nifty nitrogen ball) it is quite good. Be sure to poor it into a glass first.

Bass is a close second, it is an amber, and I like it for very similar reasons. For a special treat, try a "Black and Tan" which is Bass or Harp on bottom, and Guinness on top.

Of the Pale Ales my favorite is Beck's, it has a good flavor.

Corona with a slice of lime is a classic, although it tastes a little watery. Might be a good one to start with.

I don't know why some people like Blue Moon, it must be the wheat content but it tastes grainy to me.

Of the major brewers Miller Genuine Draft is the best, Budweiser is a close second. Coors tastes like horse piss.

In order to be labeled as beer, it needs to contain three main ingredients: Barley, Hops, and Water. All beer uses malted barley; a pivotal part of the beer-making process is malting the barley. So yes, Blue Moon uses barley. See for more information - special attention to page 2

Hope this helps.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for your very helpful comments,and I'm glad to see another active Mormon has the good sense to live the word of wisdom the way God intended.

I was surprised to see your endorsement Miller's and Budweiser, because I had been told they were not the best ones for a novice. Bland or off-putting, is the way I heard it. Thanks for all the good suggestions. Now if I can only get up the nerve to try some of them...

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't think I would call it an endorsement. Just saying, if you had to pick one, thats the way I would go.

For a novice I would probably start with the Beck's, or if you really wanted to ease into it the Corona with a lime.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to me that I could do a search on this page and not once find the word "prophet". This is a very interesting discussion, but Alan, to me, you are doing exactly what you are accusing non-beer-drinkers of doing. You are taking scripture and mixing it with the philosophies of men. You are looking at section 89 and YOU are deciding what it means.
We have a living prophet on the earth today. What do you think he would say if you asked him whether or not you are living the Word of Wisdom by drinking beer? Just curious. Mentioned above is something to the effect of obeying God instead of obeying man, insinuating that we shouldn't listen to current prophets, seers, and revelators, but that we should read section 89 and obey that. But again, YOU are determining what it means and passing it off as God's will.

There is a reason that we have a prophet on the earth today. Usually they teach us doctrines and principles, and we are supposed to be smart enough to get our day to day rules from them. However, occasionally (and reportedly regrettably) they have to give us very specific rules. An example of that was when President Hinckley said that there were to be no tattoos and no earrings for guys, and only one set of earrings for girls.
We have had many recent prophets say that alcohol (uh, which includes beer) is a part of the word of wisdom. To me, it really comes down to whether or not you believe that the church is true, and if you believe that there is a true and living prophet of God on the earth today.

In fact, let me take it one step further. If the living prophet came out and added something specific to the word of wisdom, would you (speaking collectively) be willing to follow it, or would you count it false because it wasn't mentioned in section 89?

Anyway, I'm no scholar, but I do have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of a true and living prophet on the Earth today, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. Certainly we have 100% imperfect people in the church today, but the truthfulness of council given by the mouth of a prophet to the world is not up for debate. The only question is whether we are prepared to follow it.

I hope I didn't come off argumentative. I just felt like bearing testimony of the great news that there is a prophet of God on the earth today! It's awesome!

Or am I taking you too seriously, and this is all a joke? :)

Anonymous said...

try a Belgian Lambic beer, i recommend the raspberry!

Anonymous said...

Great Article. One question though: When was beer actually banned?
Your article says that joseph fielding smith made a false reference to brigham young commanding it, but i didn't see the actual date a prophet/apostle said no more beer.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well that's just it, there never was one point in time when beer was officially declared off limits. It was simply an outgrowth of prohibition.

Prior to the federal banning of all liquor (including beer), the Wasatch front was covered with breweries and wineries (and a few distilleries). Prohibition put the kibosh on all of that, and when prohibition was repealed all of those establishments were long gone.

In the meanwhile, the church leaders had joined the protestant bandwagon in speaking out against alcohol, not differentiating between distilled liquor, which the WofW prohibits, and mild drinks, which the WofW prescribes.

So what it all comes down to is that the traditions of men trumped the word of God (that's been known to happen a lot).

For more detail I would recommend Thomas Alexander's "Mormonism In Transition: A History of the Latter day Saints from 1890-1930". I could give you exact dates of who said what and when if I could readily find my copy, but it's boxed up somewhere in the back room with most of my library.

"Mormonism in Transition" unfortunately is hard to find these days; my hardcover edition is apparently selling for upwards of 147 dollars, and even a used paperback edition will set you back more than forty bucks.

I can't tell you why it's so scarce. It is one of those books that's chock full of fascinating information that's hard to find anywhere else. Once folks have a copy, I guess they don't want to let go of it.

If you Google Thomas G. Alexander you may find an article or two of his. I think my posting above links to two of them. But there doesn't seem to be much by him online. The book is where the real treasures are, including one of my favorites:

Someone mentioned to one of the presidents (I think it was Lorenzo Snow) that he didn't think brother so-and-so should be teaching Sunday school because he was a coffee drinker.

The prophet replied, "I'd rather he drank coffee than ate pork."

Anonymous said...

Nice. Way to avoid all of the points above of having a living prophet.

simplysarah said...

I absolutely LOVE this post. Informative, witty, and just generally good reasoning.

I'm assuming you've found a beer you like?

As for me, I no longer believe in the WoW at all (though I do believe in a healthy lifestyle and in general moderation), so I've been doing a bit of experimenting. I've tried 3 kinds of different wines (grape, rice, cherry), 1 kind of beer, and some vodka-spiked punch. I've hardly been able to tolerate a sip of anything but the punch.

And after tasting some of my date's beer, I can totally relate to those prohibition women. I did NOT want his lips touching mine with that taste still on them! ;)

Dave P. said...

I found out some more information especially in regards to a lot of articles I've been reading on how some different blends of coffee and tea, especially herbal and green teas, are wonderfully good for the body. Basically it was a caution against heating up the tea too much, turning it very acidic and thus ending up doing harm for the body.

That's why the Lord in His infinite wisdom simply counciled against "hot drinks" in Section 89, but the general membership of the church had to go the Law of Moses route and need to know complete specifics, hence leading men to interpret it as "no coffee or tea" whatsoever. Even as a young deacon I was told that it wasn't because of the caffeine in the drinks, but because of all the tanic acid that's produced when the drinks are heated too much.

Next time I go to my favorite Chinese place in town I plan to ask how hot their green tea is and, if it's no hotter than the hot chocolate I drink routinely, I'll give it a try. The flavor will determine the final outcome.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'd read years back that it was tannic acid that was the real culprit, but didn't know that it was the heat that released it. Thanks for the info. Hot liquid is apparently very unhealthy for the esophagus and the stomach lining, from what I hear.

In high school one morning I sipped a hot chocolate so scalding that it peeled the flesh off my upper palate. I felt that for more than a week, I'll tell you.

I've gotta agree with you, Dave, that when the Lord said "hot drinks" he meant HOT liquid, not just some particular drinks that are traditionally served hot. You would think that a latter-day revelation given to us in English would not require Talmudic interpretations, but then there's no pharisee like a Mormon pharisee.

And so we get "hot drinks" interpreted as describing ice tea and cold soda. Some people don't seem to think God can speak English.

Dave P. said...

Of course these days common sense and further scientific research have warned us against the high-fructose corn syrup in most sodas and the insane amounts of caffeine in so-called "energy drinks." But no matter the day and age, the Word of Wisdom's principles of moderation and self-mastery apply to anything we consume.

Dave P. said...

While I missed the chance to make it to that restaurant today, I did try a local smoothie place's menu item that has green tea powder as one of the key ingredients and it was a lot better than I expected. I've read a lot of conflicting accounts on whether or not most teas in general even contain tannic acid, but plenty of support for evidence of increased throat cancer risk for drinking anything that's too hot.

In a further attempt to find something warm to drink other than hot chocolate for my current cold I also picked up a package of some various herbal tea blends. Brewing them properly without a teapot will be a challenge but the lemon blend with a little honey and sugar has been the best thing for my throat so far.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

So I guessed you failed to take my advice and get some Anti-Plague syrup, huh Dave?

That stuff has already saved my wife and I twice each from full-on colds since I wrote that piece at the beginning of fall season("How To Avoid The Swine Flu Panic").

You ought to keep some on hand, and at the first sign of a cold, take a couple of doses and the cold is gone. Only if you're already in full-blown flu or cold mode do you need to take it every waking hour, but either way you should be all better by the next day.

Tea's a good therapy, though you have to keep drinking it constantly and that leaves little time to rest. Here's a way to do it:

Brew six cups of tea and take the kettle into the bathroom with you on a chair next to the tub. Peppermint or Ginger teas are recommended because they really help you sweat (especially the ginger), but I've taken a liking to the Liver Cleanse Tea from -same place that sells the Anti-Plague stuff.

Take along a portable heater and turn that sucker up high. Close the bathroom door. Sit in a hot tub of water for as long as it takes you to finish the tea (take your time). You've turned your bathroom into a sweat lodge, so be sure that your reading matter is disposable like a newspaper, because you're going to ruin any books or magazines you try to read.

I always have a couple of hand towels handy to mop my brow and dry my hands. Keep the water in the tub HOT as you can stand it. The tea flushes the toxins out as you sweat.

Dry off, bundle up warm, get into bed, sleep like a baby, and when you wake up -all better!

The most interesting thing I find is that my nose stops running and sneezing by the time I'm in bed because I've sweated out everything that usually has to make its way to the sinuses and out.

Don't bother with tea bag tea. Scoop your herbal tea right into the pot, then when it's done pour it out into a hand sieve or strainer into your cups. I mention this because it was years before I tried herbal tea in any form except tea bags; I didn't know any other way. That's usually the least potent form to take it in.

Also, glass or stainless steel teapots only. Aluminum and porcelain leak toxins.

This bathroom sweat lodge method has worked every time I've tried it; the only problem I've had is that by the time I realize I should have done it, I'm too sick to put out the effort. So do it the first sick day, and you're all better.

If you think this method is too much trouble, then just take Anti-Plague Syrup and you won't have to.

(These guys at Western Botanicals should send me a free bottle, for all the plugs I've given them.)

Dave P. said...

I'd actually forgotten about that. Silly me.

Dave P. said...

I forgot to mention that I indeed got over that cold, but I can tell you the exact point wherein I felt the difference from feeling sick to feeling better.

I went to that Chinese restaurant that I mentioned and got a nice lunch platter with hot and sour soup (full of cabbage, onions, and ginger), the best General Tso's chicken that I've ever had, and a pot of green tea (plus the rice and wontons as part of the platter).

My nose ran like crazy while eating it and I saved most of the tea for the end, but after I finished it I felt a strong soothing feeling come over my body and realized that pretty much all of the symptoms from the illness had basically been delivered a KO punch out of my system.

The gal who served me said that's what she always gets when she gets sick, so I can't take credit for the original idea. I've recommended both that approach and the Anti-plague Syrup to a few people I've spoken with since.

Rock Waterman said...

Another Asian dish I recommend for a cold is a big hot bowl of Pho available at Vietnamese restaurants. It's chock full of hot and spicy deliciousness. Ask for the vegetarian because you really should avoid meat when you're sick. And squirt in lots of Spirocha sauce and any other chili sauce that's on the table. And ask for extra Jalapenos. And more mint.

You'll be glad you did.

One caution: I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get the staff at one restaurant to understand what I was looking for, because I pronounced it the way it looked, "Fo". It's pronounced "Fah", and if you want to do it right, you have to turn the word into two syllables and make your voice go up on the second so it sounds like you're asking a question, "Fah-ah?".

Chicken Pho is pronounced "Fah Gah". Both words turn upward at the end, like this: "fah-ah? Gah-ah?". Fun to say, but I always feel a little silly ordering it.

Matt Thurston said...

ARW said: 'Well that's just it, there never was one point in time when beer was officially declared off limits. It was simply an outgrowth of prohibition."

Wasn't Heber J. Grant the guy who finally dropped the hammer on the Word of Wisdom, irrevocably changing it from a moderation principle to an absolute principle?

While the tide was indeed changing from the late 1800s thru the early 1900s, it was Grant's decision in 1921 to include strict adherence to the WoW as an absolute requirement for a temple recommend that ended the wishy-washy interpretation that had existed for the prior 30 years.

Besides Thomas Alexander's fine "Mormonism in Transition", Paul Peterson's "An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom" is another great resource for people interested in this subject. I'm pretty sure it can be read or downloaded online.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks, Matt. Matt is a blogger on Sunstone Online; readers can access that blog by clicking on his name above.

That link to Paul Peterson's Master's Thesis, "An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom", can be found here:,9141

Dave P. said...

"While the tide was indeed changing from the late 1800s thru the early 1900s, it was Grant's decision in 1921 to include strict adherence to the WoW as an absolute requirement for a temple recommend that ended the wishy-washy interpretation that had existed for the prior 30 years."

I absolutely love that sentence, and I'm not being sarcastic here. If Heber J. Grant indeed made that a requirement by his own decision, we immediately have to ask the following: Did he receive revelation to guide that decision? Did he even consult with the Lord? Did he consult with his counselors or the Quorom of the Twelve? If any of the above is true, is there a written account of the church accepting the idea of turning this principle with promise backwards into a provision of the Law of Moses?

I tell people all the time that the Word of Wisdom is NOT the Law of Moses, it is a principle with promise as stated directly in Section 89. The promises that are reserved for us by adhering to the Word of Wisdom are listed at the end of the section (and I don't see entering the temple listed as one of them). As for what happens to those who fail to adhere to the Word of Wisdom, Section 82:10 says it all, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." That's it. The Lord doesn't condemn the smoker, but He also won't give the promised blessings. Does that make the man a sinner? No!

There was a very spiritual, faithful brother I taught on my mission who was more than ready for baptism, but so long as I was there, the bishop wouldn't allow it because he was having trouble with overcoming his smoking habit. At this same time, how often are the brothers "Jabba the Hutt" allowed to be baptized or given a temple recommend when their failure of adhering to the Word of Wisdom and subsequent defilement of their bodies as temples (1 Cor. 6:19) is just as great, if not greater than what long-term smoking can do? If there's one thing that really raises my ire, it's hypocrisy, and this is one category where the church is just brimming, nay, overflowing, with it!

Rock Waterman said...

Amen, Dave. Well said!

Dave P. said...

One thing I find deliciously ironic is that I graduated from BYU and currently work for the church in its Riverton building. I don't know about the actual church office building, but here (unlike BYU) I can find caffeinated beverages AND red wine vinegarette salad dressing.

Although I'm trying to cut back on soda in general, given how high fructose corn syrup and aspartame are far worse they are than the caffeine amounts in those same drinks.

Dave P. said...

"are far worse than the caffeine, regardless of its amount, in those same drinks."

I was really in a hurry when I wrote that the first time.

Anonymous said...

I much prefer the Buddhist precept: Avoid Intoxication. Nothing more or less.

It is up to each person to define what that means. Some define that as no alcohol. Others see nothing wrong with a single beer or a glass of wine. But it's more than that. It includes things that cloud our mind. It includes drugs. It includes really anything. But it's up to us as we learn and grow from it.

Dave P. said...


Exactly! Whenever this topic comes up in either of Priesthood or Sunday School in church, I remind people that the Word of Wisdom is based on the principle of self-mastery and moderation, and if the people feel that they don't have the self-control and discipline to indulge in some things that need to be taken in moderation, then it's much better to abstain from it completely. The other side of the coin is that we still have our own agency and thus we have no business in imposing our application of the Word of Wisdom onto other people. Too bad I didn't understand that a few years ago when I was VERY judgmental of people over their adherence.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

"...when I was VERY judgmental of people..."

Boy, you and me both, Dave. You shoulda seen me. I wasn't very likeable. Or very Christlike.

Well, that's what this ol life is for, so we can live and learn.

Tom said...

Alan...beautiful post. What has become of your personal quest? Did you partake of the forbidden elixir?

Couple of other thoughts:

(1) I don't recall seeing your response to the guy responding for the need for a modern day prophet, and since they (the "moderns") have nixed it, it should be nixed and there should be no more questioning it. I don't agree with that logic, because it does contradict the standard works, but there are many who say a modern prophet trumps the standard works in spite of what JFS said.

("Whenever you find any doctrine, any idea, any expression from ANY source whatsoever that is in conflict with that which the Lord has revealed and which is found in the holy Scriptures, you may be assured that it is FALSE and you SHOULD PUT IT ASIDE and stand firmly grounded in the truth in prayer and in faith, relying upon THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD." - Elder Joseph F. Smith, CR Apr. 1917.")

Only asking, because that response perfectly describes what my wife says/would say, and I still can't figure out how to respond to her. :)

2) I tried it once, recently, and was utterly disgusted by it. I couldn't get more than a drink or two down before I poured the entire thing down the drain. I was at some chinese restaurant at the time and bought something they had there (tsingtao). Repulsed is a better word, methinks. Made the decision consciously, and have no regrets. May get back into it if I can find something that tastes good, but until then taste trumps health. :)

(3) I think the WoW comes down to one thing for me personally. That is judgment. Like the last couple of comments suggest, we tend to be very phariasacal (sic?) when we have things turn into such strict commandments. I've judged countless people over the years for their caffeine intake, their coffee intake, their smoking, etc., feigning a holier than thou attitude because I didn't have those issues. Heck, we even baptized a guy on our mission who smoked like a chimney stack, stopped for 2 days, got baptized, then resumed smoking. He stopped coming to church and we made him feel so bad for it (his smoking)...looking back on it all, it doesn't really matter. Sure, our health is important, but it's strictly individual and, if we believe the N.T. at all, there's nothing that goes in our body which can truly defile it.

Even for the Jabba the Hut types. Who cares if that's how they want to live? Their health is their issue and living with it is punishment enough. The more I learn about the WoW, the more I realize I've been judging WAY too much...and the more I learn about it as it's contained in the scriptures, the more I feel the need to turn inward and let go of what others eat, drink and ingest around me.

I used to be one of those uber-high fructose guys, too, decrying its use and telling others they shouldn't be drinking or eating this or that because of it. Now, I like nothing more than a cold soda on a hot day, even if there couldn't possibly be anything worse than that to drink.

Anyway...thanks for the good write-up. Enjoyed it.

Alan Rock Waterman said...


No, I have STILL not yet partaken of the forbidden elixir! Still afraid to taste the stuff.

My hat is off to you for even trying the Chinese beer. I spend a lot of time eating in Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, and when I've seen the descriptions of the drinks on the menu, I wonder what the attraction could possibly be. Most seem to consist of some Asian beer over a scoop of snow cone ice and mixed with bean curd juice and coconut milk.

If I have the right guy, you're asking about the person who commented and asked what I would do if the prophet came out and changed the Word of Wisdom to definitely include beer.

I provide a pretty thorough response and analysis of that entire letter in my piece "Follow The Prophet: True or False" which I think you can find here under the October Pulldown menu. Or cut and paste here:

I hear you on the judgment thing. My traditional view of the WofW caused me back in the day to write lots and lots of good people off as unworthy of my time or friendship. What a shame. And what a jerk I was for years and years.

I still see the WofW as the biggest stumbling block keeping many Saints from being like Christ. And they'd never know it.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

I am a temple recommend holding member and just tried "Fat Tire" beer last night. It was wonderful and mild. I loved it! Naturally my bishop does not know but when he asks if I follow the WOW I can say "Yes" just like everyone else because I have read section 89.

Anonymous said...

You asked about Malted Barley.

Malted Barley is barley that has been sprouted and then dried to halt the sprouts at an early stage. This changes some of the starch in to sugars, which can then be more easily converted to alcohol.

andrew said...

temple recommend holder the article

i don't like fat tire. it tastes grassy and metallic to me. mark one again for sam adams, their regular lager or light, with my all-time favorite being winter lager (nov - jan/feb). guinness is great but the darkness might put people off, but it's smooth and creamy and much sweeter than one would expect. get the pub cans if you don't get it on tap. bass is good but might be too bitter for a first-timer. boddingtons is the lighter version of a guinness, might also be a good start. the more hops the more bitter the beer. try an IPA with some spicy mexican or indian food (after you have acquired the taste first...some IPAs are lip-puckering-ly bitter). it is a balance to the sweetness from the roasted and malted grains.

anyway those are my suggestions. good luck to you

Tom said...

Some of you may have seen this, but thought it might be of value for some:

Tom said...

Another interesting comment here. I was reading an article about what kind of Jew an Orthodox Mormon would be. In the author's view, the Word of Wisdom helps explain his conclusion, but only based on the following:

"The Word of Wisdom, our well-known dietary code (no alcohol, tobacco, tea or coffee, moderate meat consumption), is a practice that has become a binding commandment on all members of the Church. It was revealed in 1833 to Joseph Smith and canonized in 1835. However, it was only 18 years later that the revelation was made a commandment by Brigham Young, the second President of the Church. Today Church members who violate the Word of Wisdom cannot receive permission to enter an LDS temple. However, I do not classify these prohibitions as fixed doctrines since some righteous biblical figures (e.g., Noah) drank wine."

What was that? Made a commandment in 1851? Hmmm. What would you say about that, Rock?


Anonymous said...

Wikipedia has some good information on beer.

Great blog post!

Suspicious Minds said...

Alan, it looks like you forgot one aspect in this article. Wine. The modern day mormon church uses water instead of wine. But this policy contradicts canonized scripture in D & C 89: 5-6 that says wine of your own making can be used for the sacrament emblem.

That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him. And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.

D&C 27 5 reads Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Suspicious Minds,
You're absolutely right that there is no excuse for not using wine in the Sacrament, and there is certainly no scriptural reason for using water.

I didn't get into the wine controversy because I couldn't really determine the validity of its use as a beverage. Whereas there is no question that God expects us to drink beer, wine was a bit iffy to me. Even though wineries were nearly as prolific as breweries in 19th century Utah, I can't tell from the scriptures if wine falls into the category of "strong drink" or not. The scriptures seem ambivalent on that one.

I tried a sip of wine about a year ago, and ugh! I don't even know if I COULD handle it in the sacrament.

I do imbibe a small amount of alcohol quite frequently with my herbal tinctures, but I have to follow it with a swig of grape juice to chase the taste out.

Thanks for the link to Wikipedia. I don't know why I didn't think to refer there in my research.

Anonymous said...

This entire thread is absurd. You all seem to not understand; Joseph Smith is a charlatan, a blatant fraud, dressed as a martyr and revered as a demigod. ...Apollonius Christ! Wake up people!

GayBob Spongebath said...

You got it wrong, Anonymous. Most of us Mormons don't consider Joseph Smith to be a demi-god, but a flawed man who recognized his shortcomings, yet tried his best to do God's will.

But Thomas S. Monson: Now THERE is a demi-god. No flies on him, no sirree.

Here's how you can tell Monson is better than Joseph Smith. In several places in the Doctrine & Covenants, God gets angry at Joseph Smith for some of his bone-headed mistakes.

On the other hand, we have no written revelation showing God was EVER critical of Monson whatsoever, and in general conference all the other G.A.s are always talking about how wonderful he is.

There's your demi-god. Perfection and infallibility personified. An angel on earth, sent down here disguised as a pudgy arrogant bastard.

Dave P. said...

You make an excellent point there, Spongebath. I can only imagine what the reaction would be if God commanded someone to outright proclaim that the church has been led astray by its current leadership (not to mention having been led astray for several generations of leadership, but that's covered in other posts).

John A. Coltharp said...

This may be of interest to everyone. In a July, 1901 meeting of the Twelve Apostles in the Salt Lake Temple, there was some discussion about whether or not our interpretation of the Word of Wisdom on the subject of beer is too "extreme":

"Quarterly conference of the Twelve Apostles. Apostle Jno. H. Smith said, The revelation on the Word of Wisdom speaks of barley for mild drinks. It is a question that demands serious thought. Have we taken an extreme view of the word of God? Where can we strike the limit, where can we reach the spirit of the Word of Wisdom? (Apostle Heber J. Grant asked Apostle Smith if beer that is intoxicating is to be considered a mild drink. The revelation, he said, forbids the use of strong drink.)
Apostle Smith continued and said that the German beer was very light and mild and would not intoxicate, though he conceded that the beer of the United States is of a very different character and will cause drunkness." (In Register of the Papers of Rudger Clawson, Special Collections, University of Utah Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, p. 78.)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for that contribution, John.

It seems apparent to me that "strong drink" refers to distilled alcohol, which would exempt beer and wine, which are fermented. The Saints never thought to include beer and wine in the classification of strong drinks until after the prohibition frenzy resulted in everything being lumped together. The prohibition fanatics of the 1930's remind me of those today who can't differentiate marijuana from heroin, or the coca leaf from processed cocaine.

John A. Coltharp said...

After I read that quote for the first time, I literally went and bought a german beer and drank it. It was pretty nasty. I won't be doing that again.

Anonymous said...

Hm. I know several people who have started on the road to alcoholism with a few sips here and there of beer. The entire point of the Word of Wisdom is to help us prevent our physical, "natural man's" desires from overcoming the desires of our spirit. If you're addicted to something, that prevents you from "putting off the natural man," which IS a commandment. In addition, alcohol in any form can harm the liver. Self-medicating with a harmful drug without a doctor's orders and watchful eye is never a good idea, and I'm surprised that you'd suggest it.

Dave P. said...

Unfortunately there is no single "one size fits all" program in regards to this issue because everyone is different. We all have our agency and choose to exercise it in different ways. Not only that, but our bodies handle things in different ways as well, including how we handle our alcohol. A friend of mine joked today that he knew several guys who managed to drive better after a couple of drinks than most people he knows while sober.

But I'm afraid you missed the point of Rock's post. It wasn't that, "Hey, let's all start drinking beer!" it was the fact that the Word of Wisdom is not nor ever will be a commandment. If people are able to drink responsibly and reap the benefits, more power to them. But if others fear that they'd do something reckless and choose to abstain from the alcohol completely, more power to them as well.

Anonymous said...

Spongebath:an excellent comment, wonder if the title of his recent autobiography "To the Rescue" with his smiling face on the front could be any more outrageous. On W of W: A full length book could be written on this issue in order to be comprehensive. I am in excellent health, an life long high end athlete I am very in tune with my body. Still I am improving my diet and habits: now in my 30's I eat very little, have, eat better (preference of vegetables over meat), and feel great. I would put my body and healthy habits up against any red blooded, red meat 300 pound mormon pharisee who would cast me out for my responsible throwback observance to the Pioneer era of LDS beer and wine consumption. The arguments that its not just a strict adherence to see if you are obedient are bull. The church's drift towards puritanism and false doctrine is so prevalent that it has infiltrated every aspect of pure belief and practice.
Note as well: The 1st 3 versus of section 89 were not part of the original revelation but written I believe 10 or 12 years after by JS himself. Read it carefully and you can tell the difference in tone, and speech patterns as well cases. Why did he bother to write such a temperate into? Because church members at the time were knocking themselves out trying figure out if the section should be taken literally & lived with exact compliance. Joseph obviously knew it was not intended to be a Law of Moses commandment & yardstick of faith. I believe the Spirit clearly indicates this to be the case and I would gladly state as much to church authority at any level who claims otherwise regardless of position or supposed authority.
As for what section 89 actually says many good points have been made here which I'll recap, 1) Actual observance should include just as much observance of pre and proscriptions. 2) What is actually pro scripted:I believe strong drink is hard liquor, decide for yourselves what that is. I can sure tell. If it taste like paint thinner and going down you know it is stripping your insides out then its too strong. Hot drinks are just that, drinks that are too hot although back in the day that specifically meant coffee and tea because they were served scalding hot (bad for the digestive tract) doesn't mean you couldn't drink them cold. 3) The section is remarkable in its call for a temperate lifestyle - it does not call for "moderation in all things" which most believe it does. That is a principle of Confucius so commonly misattributed to section 89 that most saints believe the phrase actually appears in the text which it certainly does NOT. Yet it does correctly identify the overarching theme which the Lord and JS apparently wanted to get across. As for your beer question: As an believer, Christ loving, mistake making, and member of the body of believers that we call the 'church', as a saint: I tell you I love *one* good beer with a meal, maybe a couple times a week. I've never been drunk in my life and do not care to ever be, which I believe is not in keeping with the life of a disciple. I like Heineken and many other types. Probably not up to snuff of some high end beer drinkers but it suits me. I love wine too. Delicious. Not because I want to get drunk, but because of the taste. I cannot stand soda for the most part. Ultra sweet, high fructose corn syrup poison is not only terrible for you but gives me a sugar headache. I prefer salty over sticky sweet, I prefer water over almost every available drink. It just suits me and is good for my body. I feel perfectly at peace about drinking beer & would gladly share this information with Thomas to his face. My guess is he would confess he wishes he had enjoyed life in a responsible way with a beer instead of ruining his body over the years by consuming huge quantities of 'approved' vices like sweets which has caused him to suffer from type II diabetes which he has.

James said...

Hi Rock,

Recently found your blog and I must say it's extremely refreshing. You've inspired me to start my own blog, though with slightly different content (I won't link to it as it's not quite ready for public consumption).

Any way I just wanted to let you know that I recently read your blog post regarding the word of wisdom and it impacted me greatly. I became very interested in the topic and did a lot of studying and pondering over the points you brought up. I'm an active member and have never in my life veered from the word of wisdom, at least as far as the 4 don'ts are concerned.

I've been less diligent in the meat categories, as well as in the food in season bit, but my reading has encouraged me to try harder to live that way and I've been cutting gradually meat out from my diet.

Now I want to tell of an experiment I performed. Your comments on beer intrigued me greatly. I thought about them a lot, and eventually even prayed about it. I realized I needed to try it for myself. I went to store and bought one bottle of beer and drank it with my lunch. Now let me tell you what happened...

First, it tasted very good. Like a non-sweet soda. Very malty, yeasty and rich. I really liked it! It was a Shiner Bock if you're interested.

Second, I immediately searched my feelings, tried to discern if the Spirit had left me, or if I was spiritually impaired in any way (I certainly wasn't physically impaired). I found that I wasn't. I truly felt no guilt or shame at all.

Third -and this was really interesting- I felt extremely calm and happy. I came home later that day (several hours after lunch) and even my wife remarked at how good and patient I was with our toddler (normally I'm not after a long day at work) and truly I felt a sense of well-being, an increase of love and kindness for my family. This part was totally unexpected. I thought I was going to be racked with guilt and self-loathing for at least a week.

I can honestly say I believe that beer is the "mild drink" prescribed in the word of wisdom. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be partaking as my family would not understand and I'd rather not rock the boat over a small enough matter. I'm a little conflicted over how to teach the upcoming word of wisdom lesson in my elder's quorum, because I feel like I'll have to betray my own beliefs a little to follow the written lesson plan but hopefully we can dwell more on the do's than the dont's.

Anyway, I'm sure you get a lot of angry and defensive email so I just thought you might like to hear from an active, believing member who agrees with your thoughts on this topic and indeed can even confirm the health and spiritual benefits as advertised.

Now I just have to overcome my fondness for cheeseburgers.

Keep up the good work!



Dave P. said...

James, your comment really inspired me. Sadly, I currently work for the church so getting a Shiner Bock with lunch is out of the question, but it sounds like one that's worth trying.

As you've shown yourself, there's no need to feel guilty about having a beer, but why would you want to allow yourself to feel guilty by conforming only to the written (through correlation) lesson plan? The fun part of waking up like this is to actively challenge uninspired policies with what's actually written in the scriptures. All you need for your lesson is Section 89. (After the last General Conference, I came right out and told people that the "14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet" was false doctrine.)

I also love a good cheeseburger too, so you're not alone there.

James said...

Dave P. you're right I shouldn't feel guilty about the lesson. That's just fear of men that I need to overcome. I do plan to dispense with the lesson manual and teach straight out of section 89. Should get pretty interesting...

Dave P. said...

I'm curious to hear how well that turns out. Right now I'm trying to find a place that sells Shiner Bock by the bottle. My local Smiths has it in 6-packs and cases, but I don't want to spend the extra money if I end up not liking it.

James said...

Unless the six-pack is shrink wrapped or something you should be able to take just one bottle to the cashier. That's how I did it at Whole Foods. In fact I noticed several six packs with empty slots. I wonder if the cashier felt a little cognitive dissonance when she asked for my ID and I pulled it out and underneath it was my recommend holder with the words "families are forever" in bold font. If she only knew...

Dave P. said...

A different store policy than Smith's as I wasn't able to purchase the individual bottle from there. The nearest Whole Foods is, sadly, on the other side of the valley near my uncle's place. But then again it's also near one of my favorite restaurants that I haven't been to lately. Maybe I'll give it a try this next weekend.

PS: Hope your lesson went well.

David said...


I love hearing your story and about the adventure you're setting out on. I began the same journey a couple of years ago and hope you find some excitement in what you're doing.

My brothers and I came to this discussion (beer) at the same time and it's had an interesting result. One brother turned into a lush, more or less, drinking any and every time he could. Another one didn't drink quite as much, but frequently (i.e. a couple of times each week). I tried it a handful of times over the course of 12-13 months and simply couldn't stand it. Taste wise, it was brutal.

That is 1/2 the story. The other 1/2 is all the family drama that ensued. Divorces threatened, stake presidents and bishops consulted, etc., etc., all over a "small enough matter" and something that was never intended to be a "requirement" or commandment. It was a veritable family drama fiesta. Everyone was worried about the "apostate" brothers losing their "testimony". Same brutal taste, IMO, if not worse.

I think it showed me how driven we are as a culture and church to present the correct image. Beer, for all intents and purposes, isn't bad. There's nothing in it to even compare to the crap in your diet coke, or pepsi or mountain dew. There isn't tablespoons of sugar; there aren't carcinogens nor formaldehyde or whatever is in the beverages these days.

And yet, due to the fearmongering, it gets a bad rap. Outside of good, clean water (chlorine + fluoride free) and my raw milk (all natural, grass fed), there's little that can compare to the simplicity of beer or wine. And yet, it's taboo. Evil. Boogey monster-esque.

If you showed up at a ward function and everyone was drinking diet cokes, no one would bat an eye. But if only one person was swigging on a "dark bottle" of something, he'd be hauled into the bishop's office in a matter of seconds.

Not to rail on Diet Coke, but here are its ingredients:

Carbonated water
Caramel color
Phosphoric acid
Potassium benzoate (to protect taste)
Natural flavors
Citric acid

Your average beer:
water, malt, hops, and yeast

Now, I'm cool with whatever choice you choose (Lord knows I love me some Mountain Dew), but I can't fathom how we can pass it off as something we do for "health reasons" or because it's what we interpret as the "Lord's Law of Health."

One is natural, as nature intends it, and the other manmade as man intends it.

Who knows... I just think we put WAY too much emphasis on a few aspects (beer, coffee, etc) and in the process lose much of the spirit of the Word of Wisdom. Then again, maybe we like to be commanded in all things.

andrew said...

you know, i would LOVE to find a location central to all of those that post here and go out for a nice cold beer. preferably from a local provider. maybe we can make it a group effort and find something that rock likes

online interactions are great, but sometimes you need a little physical human interaction for affirmation that there are real people behind the keyboards

anyone in the phoenix area?

Dave P. said...


I have indeed heard members of the church say that energy drinks are okay because the "brethren" haven't said anything about them being forbidden by the Word of Wisdom. And whereas some claim that caffeine violates the WoW, I haven't seen very many arguments against the amount in sodas as compared to high fructose corn syrup and aspartame. But for those who expect the GAs to tell them yes/no regarding everything, I'll just quote D&C 58:26, "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward."


I'm living in the midst of Babylon (a.k.a. Salt Lake City) but I'll hopefully be moving down to St. George before the end of the year. That will definitely put me closer to the Phoenix area.

A good friend of mine also suggested Franziskauer HefeWeizen (and I'm 99% sure I spelled that wrong) as a good first-timer beer as he said, compared to Shiner Bock, it's lighter and sweeter for those who dislike bitter. Ironically there's a state liquor store right across the street from the church-owned building where I work.

James said...

DISCLAIMER: I seem to have a taste for all things malted (my favorite ice cream growing up was Thrifty's chocolate malted balls ice cream) so your mileage may vary.

Tried another one, this time a draught beer at The Bohemian, which is a fine restaurant here in the Salt Lake valley. The Bohemian is also a brewery, so they only have their own beers on tap, brewed right next to the restaurant.

I had a bowl of spatzle (a totally non-meat dish) paired with their Viennese Lager. It was heavenly. Malty, smooth, rich, very nice aftertaste and paired extremely well with the mushroom ragout on my spatzle.

And I haven't taught the WoW lesson yet, that's not till March. Just thinking a lot about it. Doing a little pre-work beforehand though. I had a "home teaching interview" (whatever that's supposed to be) with one the counselors in the elder's quorum presidency and I told him "as elders in this ward we have the opportunity to shake off the foolish traditions of our fathers and usher in a new era of faith and focusing on the pure religion, on service and community in our ward."

He really liked that idea so I think the lesson will be very productive.

Dave P. said...

My bad, I was under the assumption that the lesson was taking place this past Sunday.

In another post on the blog I asked the question earlier on what gives the church leaders the authority to determine what or what doesn't constitute sin and this thread is the perfect place for an example I thought of. John the Baptist lived in the wilderness, ate locusts and wild honey, and didn't drink; the Pharisees called him crazy and a sinner. Jesus Himself lived among the people, ate what they ate, and drank wine; the Pharisees called him crazy and a sinner.

Homer said...

I'm another St. George resident. Y'all are welcome to come and visit anytime.

Anonymous said...

Followers of Jesus Christ never needed the word of wisdom to know that drinking alcohol wasn't a good idea. Two of the most basic principles of God's plan are 1) the ability to choose, 2) knowledge of good and evil. Alcohol limits both of those basic principles because 1) A person that drinks alcohol does not have the same capacity to choose as those people that do not drink alcohol, and 2) a person who has been drinking alcohol is not able to discern between good and evil as clearly as someone that has not been drinking alcohol.

We have no indication that "eat, drink and be merry" has any reference to alcohol. If such a phrase did indicate the drinking of alcohol, then by the same reasoning we can conclude that they must mean that "eat" is in reference to eating ganja leaves or marijuana leaves, because such eating also constitutes "merry[ness]."

As I have been reading your blog, I tend to agree with so much of what you assert. However, I also notice that, like I have asserted above, so often you miss some of the most general and basic underlying principles of the gospel that underpin the Church of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, I am unaware of your current standing in the church (maybe I need to read more of your blog :)), so I will assume you believe the LDS church to be true, just some of the members not "pure." If the church is true, As Jesus says it is in the D&C (which I understand you do believe in the D&C b/c it is "true" revelation), and the church leaders have been asserting too much of their own opinion (alcohol, tattoos, dress of missionaries, etc. etc. etc.) and not "true" revelation from the Lord, then isn't the Lord by virtue of not correcting them supporting what they have advocated, even if it is the leaders' own opinions? In other words, if the leaders of our church advocated things that weren't really the Gospel of JEsus Christ, but just their own opinion, and the Lord had a problem with this, He would simple tell them to correct themselves. And if you believe that this Church is still true, and you believe the D&C and Joseph Smith that the Lord will never allow the LDS church to go astray, then you must conclude that Thomas Monson is a prophet and that he therefore has the capacity to receive revelation--in which case it would be fully possible for the Lord to correct the prophet through direct revelation.

that was kind of convoluted, but I don't want to go back and make it clearer--I think you get my drift.

However, although I disagree with much of what you write, I appreciate and agree with some of what you write. As far as your overall assertion that Mormons should practice what you call "pure mormonism:" I think Mormons that read and study for themselves, ask questions and come to conclusions based on the guidance of the Holy Spirit get at "pure Mormonism" anyways. This is a process that comes from finally separating your testimony from that of everyone else's, separating culture from doctrine, truth from opinion. "Pure mormonism" isn't anything different from "actual mormonism," it just takes most members a long time to get there.

Anonymous said...


Lastly, in conclusion for anyone who is still reading this post, there is danger in thinking that we have discovered something peculiar and unique to "mormonism" when we have discovered "pure mormonism." The danger is in the thinking and thought process. We discover something new and pure, we take some personal credit for the discovery because of our "unique" ability to study and see past all the "BS" the church puts out, and before long we begin thinking that only the "pure mormonism" came from the BOM, D&C, PofGP, Joseph Smith, etc. and we rationalize away some of the current commandments and modern day teachings by jumping through hoops to prove current teachings wrong, and by comparing them to old prophets' teachings. When we hear things like "the current prophets teachings are more important than any prophets teachings in the past" (exact quote unknown) we find ways to argue that this isn't always true, thus forgetting a basic principle of our belief system: Jesus Christ is the head of our church, and if information is given to the members that Jesus doesn't approve of or believes needs to be corrected, it is HIS job to do it, not anyone else's (including us; meaning Alan Waterman or myself).

Living the Gospel as it is preached by Modern Day Prophets, studying ALL scripture (general conference not excluded) and seeking revelation personally from the Holy Spirit will get you to the most pure form of mormonism. Whenever we start living in a way that makes us ineligible for temple recommends, to take the sacrament, or in any other way not be in full standing with the church, we can most definitely assume we are violating the principles of the gospel that are making us inelligible. It is both silly and untrue to believe we are living "pure mormonism" but unable to participate in mormon rituals (sacrament, temple). As I said before, and will stress one last time, by virtue of Jesus Christ remaining silent on an issue validates that issue. Having a few minor exceptions here does not prove the entire theory wrong. His church, His rules. If the apostles and Prophets were running the show and creating commandments based on their own opinions, the church would cease to be the Church of Jesus Christ.

James said...

"a person who has been drinking alcohol is not able to discern between good and evil as clearly as someone that has not been drinking alcohol."

Not a correct statement. As I posted earlier, after much study and prayer I decided to experiment and find out for myself what would happen if I drank one (only one) beer, as prescribed in the word of wisdom.

You know what happened? Absolutely nothing. I didn't get drunk. I didn't get tipsy. I didn't get anything except full. My ability to discern good and evil remained completely intact. One drink simply isn't enough to cause drunkenness that might impair one's thinking.

Now drunkenness is often looked down upon in the scriptures, so it just makes sense in the word of wisdom that mild drinks are good for man and strong drinks are not. But again, one beer simply cannot lead to even the broadest definition of drunkenness, a fact which I can personally confirm.

And speaking for myself, I will have absolutely no issue with telling my bishop that I live the word of wisdom, because indeed, by my own study of the actual scripture, I am.

Dave P. said...

Anonymous, there's one misconception that I'd like to clear up: The Lord has given us stewardship over the church and, because of our agency and the fact that He'll never deny it to us, we have the choice to either cause the church to prosper in righteousness or run it into the ground. If the leaders begin preaching false doctrine and leading us astray, it's our job to recognize that and call them to repentance. If necessary, the Lord will call an Abinadi to come from outside of the hierarchy as both the leaders and the people have fallen by the wayside.

The members of the church today are basically brainwashed into believing that, "The prophet will never lead us astray. And if he did, the Lord would strike him down." That's not how the Lord works. He gave us our agency and expects us to use it. We have to obtain and study the word in order to speak out against false doctrine proclaimed by our leaders and call them to repentance. As Elder Scott said, "Everyone needs to repent, no matter their place or position." So instead of immediately striking a false prophet down, the Lord gives him ample time to repent in order to basically give him enough rope to hang himself with if he doesn't. If he doesn't, then I wouldn't want to be him at the judgment bar.

Anonymous said...

I responded to James' comment twice now, and both times my comment was deleted. Therefore, I am through replying to people on this website and adding my knowledge--knowledge which would be useful in enabling people to pit their arguments up against someone who disagrees so that we can all raise to higher planes of thinking, but, as it appears, the mod or writer or whoever of this website wants people talking who only agree with each other.

However, I will briefly respond to Dave P, and only briefly b/c I don't want to spend 15 minutes writing only to have my comment deleted.

"There is nothing but what He knows." The Lord is not so short sighted, and not so stupid, as to call a prophet who preaches false doctrine. Let alone continuously call prophets or apostles who preach false doctrine. The Lord loves a prophet no more and no less than he loves a non-prophet--if the Lord can strike down an Alma the Younger, or a Saul, He can do the same thing to a Thomas Monson. If the Lord wants to change something in His church, it is His privilege to do so. I think most of you quote Joseph Smith more than you actually read him, because if you read him, you would certainly find many references both proclaiming the truthfulness of this church, and that the Lord will never let it go astray. It is silly to pick and choose one comment of Joseph's to believe implicitly, but then reject another because it doesn't fit your M.O.

May the good Lord bless you all, and may we all learn the Gospel...not just the words, but also the patterns, patterns which fit this website like a glove.

Anonymous said...

@ Dave P...

And, by the way, if what you argue is true, that it is the members duty to oversee the prophets and apostels and make sure they do not preach false doctrine, it undermines an essential pricinple of the original plan of the church, which is to have one prophet on earth. This simple principle is undermined because it assumes that members can simply disagree, and then call the prophets on their false doctrine. What would stop members from simply proclaiming their own views on the gospel and then validating them by saying, "I've prayed and I know the prophet is wrong."

I can't think of a better way of running the church into complete chaos than leaving it up to the members to disagree with prophets, and then trying to basically impeach them "because we have agency."

Just like the writer of this blog, you guys have good argumetns, but you jump through so many hoops without ever getting at the underlying pricinples of the gospel, that your arguments become void once you follow them past the first couple of surface layers. Follow your arguments deeper before you make them, and you will realize their problems before you make them. The best way to do this is to ask, "if - then." If this were true, then this would also have to be true.

Thus, if members had the privilege of simply correcting prophets, then we must assume that every member has teh same privilege of knowing whats best for the church just as a prophet does. "Believe in God, believe that He is and that He created all things...believe that man doth not comprehend all that the Lord comprehends." "My thoughts are not your thoughts."

Some may say, "Mr. Anonymous is just following blindly. He can't think for himself. He is brainwashed just like all the members of the church that our prophet today is a god and we are to follow him implicitly no matter what." The problem is, a part of the gospel is giving up our agency, and giving it back to God. We have heard before, all that God has given us is really just His anyways, but the thing that He has given and remains ours, never to be taken away, is our agency, so to give God our agency is to give Him all that we have. Giving God agency means also giving our agency to the prophets. Hate that as much as we might, it is part of faith. To assume that every time a prophet speaks, members of the church have a duty to compare and contrast the prophets teachings with all the past teachings and think about them and try to coincide them with our own beliefs is to enable members to step far beyond their bounds to the realm of a prophet themselves. And, since we have not been called as a prophet of the church, we have to follow the Prophets teachings. If you think that the prophet is not teaching truth, it is time for you to get back to the basics. Spend more time praying about whether the church is still true, and if you can't come to that conclusion, switch churches or start your own. Because, essentially, if you have your own belief system apart from the Church of Jesus Christ, you're starting your own faith anwyays, simply still attending your old one.

James said...

"it undermines an essential pricinple of the original plan of the church, which is to have one prophet on earth"

But this isn't true either. Not in the least. For example:

"...would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:29)

And then we have the Savior going around telling everyone to preach His gospel, which is exactly the role of a prophet. And all kinds of stuff about how we can all become saviors on mount zion et cetera et cetera. That isn't just poetry, it's what we're all supposed to be.

And besides, this has nothing to do with the original plan of the church. What is the original plan of the church? Why, it's the same as the plan of salvation: repent and come unto Christ. That is the only message of a prophet. That's it. There's nothing else to say, the rest is all bonus material.

In addition to that, there's a very clear pattern from the beginning of the Book of Mormon where pretty much everyone is questioning the proclamations of prophets. Lehi does it, Nephi does it several times. Enos does it. Alma, Amulek, Zeezrom, I could go on.

My favorite example is how many times Nephi hears what his dad is saying and doesn't just accept it. He goes off on his own to study it out in his own mind and receive a spiritual confirmation. Why should that pattern exist in the Book of Mormon, which we know contains the fullness of the gospel, only to be discouraged as borderline heretical in our day?

If you aren't questioning everything that comes down from a pulpit you're being derelict in your own duties "experiment upon the word". (Alma 32:27)

It is not our privilege to accept without consequence every word uttered from the mouths of the Lord's servants. Rather it's our duty to do the Lord's will so we will "know of the doctrine" and whether it is of man or of God. (John 7:17)

Even our own modern church leaders continue to reiterate that the standard works, and especially the Book of Mormon are the golden reference, the bar against which everything is compared. That's why we call them the standard works. Notice that the standard works don't include anything other than the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. Even the Bible Dictionary takes pains to explain in its introduction that it is merely a study guide and contains no official statements of doctrine.

By extension, while General Conference talks and letters read from pulpits and Ensign articles and anything else may be inspired, they are not considered the standard works. They are not canon, and if one of the brethren says something that contradicts the Book of Mormon or one of the other standard works, guess what, he's wrong.

Anonymous said...

@ James...

Most of what you have said, I agree with. You have failed to address any material point, except for your point about prophets, which I will address.

"...would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:29)

There is an obvious and understandable difference between a prophet in this context and an "ordained prophet." A prophet has the same duties as a member does, but a member does not have the same duties as a prophet does, for if this were true (once again getting back to the "if, then" statement), then we would not need prophets. Joseph Smith had privileges to make decisions for the church as a whole, to establish doctrine for teh church, to receive revelation for the did Alma, so did Samuel the Prophet, so did Moses. Every member = ordained prophet = no need for a prophet at all

James said...

But it doesn't follow that because we recognize someone as the Prophet that we must submit to his will. We still follow God, same as the Prophet, and we do God's will. As the Prophet, one would expect his proclamations to be in line with the Lord's will, but if that were 100% true we would have no need for the scriptures. Why keep a record if you always have a living mouthpiece? I realize there are some very good practical reasons for having a record but my point is that the old chestnut of "if modern policy contradicts written scripture that's OK because we have a living Prophet" doesn't really work and it doesn't excuse us from living the actual doctrine.

Time and again our leaders tell us to use the scriptures, follow the scriptures, live by the scriptures because they're the standard for EVERYTHING, so what do we do when we find something (such as the prescription of mild drinks in the word of wisdom) that seems to fly in the face of modern policy? If modern policy trumps the written scripture, shouldn't it be made canon? That's what we've done in the past, and it seems like a pretty solid concept.

Speaking of modern revelation, here's a very small, workaday example: you know how we always sustain a new person when their called to a position in the Ward or Stake (or a general authority for that matter)? Why do we do that? It's not just a pledge of support, otherwise we wouldn't ask for opposing votes. It's a vetting that all the "church" are in agreement that the calling was indeed "by prophecy."

If we do that for simple callings, why don't we do that for policies that change the fundamental meaning of written scriptures? If we already believe the Book of Mormon to be true, why should we have have to sustain anything again, because by previously mentioned logic, if that's true everything else must be true too and thus requires no further thought (you know, just submit because it all comes from God)… but again I just don't see that ever actually happening in the scriptures and the lives of the Prophets as recorded therein.

Anonymous said...


It's difficult to have a conversation that leads to some kind of more accurate thinking if you jump from one point to the next. I responded to your post about what a prophet is, and you simply jumped onto another point that could potentially take pages and pages to address in and of itself.

I am posting on this website because I find it very intellectually stimulating to address with other forum members some of the assertions posed here. However, I am not interested in bickering about the hundreds if not thousands of points of doctrine that are potentially debatable with the forum members on this website. In other words, I'd be happy to continue addressing this issue with you if you want to stay on topic. I mean no disrespect to you by this at all--you're obviously capable, I'm just not interested in this kind of conversation.

(And again, I tried to respond directly to your post about alcohol twice--I spent nearly 30 minutes clearly writing a response that was on target, but it was deleted both times. So I apologize that it seems I jumped issue to the "prophet" issue).

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I don't delete comments here unless asked to by the poster. Sometimes if a post is too long, it won't post at all. It's a good idea to copy your comment in case it gets lost. It may have landed in my email box even if it didn't post, so I'll take a look and it it's there, you're back in.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you that 1 beer usually does not cause drunkenness.

However, going one step further, how does one come to believe that they are able to receive revelation from God that directly contradicts dozens of apostles and prophets confirmation that both alcohol and beer should be avoided? Does one find slippage in language to dilute plain meaning?

If one were to argue that it was truly possible to receive revelation that contradicts clear, concise, repeated, commandment to not consume beer, one would be arguing that Jesus Christ has both chosen a head of His church that has the gall to give official statements for His church, declare oft repeated commandments, and counsel His members to do something that was not within Jesus Christ’s own beliefs and principles.

If one were to argue that apostles and prophets are simply adding their opinion to D&C 89, and such opinion is not warranted as “direct revelation” from the Lord, one must then look back to ALL the prophets and apostles who have verified this teaching, and then ask, “if they are not speaking under the direction of God here, when are they speaking under the direction of God?” For just as Joseph Smith well put it, “One need not exclaim thus saith the Lord” after his remarks for those remarks to be taken as directly from the Lord Himself.

Further, it is not our prerogative to pick what we will follow and what we will not. As the author of this blog puts (and puts well, I might add) we are not to follow the prophet blindly, or follow him as one would “follow the leader,” but he is indeed a guide, and one who has the privilege of receiving direct revelation from the Lord in order for the Lord to lead His people and clear up inconsistencies, or to clarify scripture, or to do whatever the hell it is that the Lord wants done. “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same,” is not a scripture we choose to believe when Joseph Smith speaks, but one we don’t believe when Gordon B. Hinckley speaks. Any time the official church stamp appears on a teaching, it is just that, official, and thus from the Lord.

Posted by Anonymous to Pure Mormonism at March 1, 2011 9:54 PM

Alan Rock Waterman said...

There it is, Anonymous. I wish I had an explanation for the glitches that sometimes happen here, but it seems to be inherent in the Blogspot system. Try posting other than "Anonymous." At the drop down menu, choose Name/URl, enter a username and ignore the box that asks for the URL. That'll work for you.

TruthSeeker said...

To Anonymous @ March 1st, 2:30 and 2:31 PM.

A true story. My dear friend was prescribed liquid morphine for a painful condition that was not life threatening. Now after a fairly short time, my friends' kidneys are failing. Now friend is told they are dying, because of this medication. By your reasoning, 1 beer a day is more sinful, than a legally prescribed medication, that not only been proven to be harmful, but extremely addictive. Perhaps this Mormon friend of mine could have been helped by marijuana or even a "mild" drink, herbs and other such things that are the DO's of the word of wisdom...BUT...

This friend of mine would rather concentrate on only the DON'TS of the Word of Wisdom and not risk losing their temple recommend. Does this make any sense to you at all- because it sure does not to me.

I see obese Mormons everywhere, eating meat, taking the highest rate of anti-depressants in the nation- etc., thinking that they are in full compliance and their Bishop's giving them their signed Temple entrance cards. Does THIS make sense to you?

I would suggest to you, that the Lord said that if His people were not in compliance with HIS laws, He said that He would give them or the GOSPEL to another people.

This church has become a Pharisaical nightmare. No, the Lord is not correcting the Leader's because it just might be that He just is not striving with people who have become like the very ones that killed Him to begin with.

I would suggest that you read the well documented and humble post's that Brother Waterman has written concerning Elder Poelman's talk (The best conference talk you never read" and the one on Corporatism. Also, "Living The Gospel or Living In Zombieland", before you judge him unrightously any further.

One hint, know your subject well, before you comment here again. Truly, I say this out of love and concern for YOUR immortal soul.

Posted by TruthSeeker to Pure Mormonism at March 1, 2011 11:08 PM

James said...

"Any time the official church stamp appears on a teaching, it is just that, official, and thus from the Lord."

But who gets to make that stamp? Remember the law of common consent:

"And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen." (D&C 26:2)

And this is borne out by the common practice of sustaining leaders in our meetings. It's also evident in our canonization process. In 1880 the whole church consented to the canonization of the Pearl of Great Price. Same thing happened with the official declarations. And we haven't done anything like that since canonizing official declaration 2. So the official stamp of the the church is and always will be the common consent of all the church, not just the quorum of twelve apostles.

Now you're absolutely right the the prophets and apostles can and do receive inspiration to guide us and clarify things, so I'll just add this inspired statement from the prophet Harold B. Lee:

"It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they speak and write. Now you keep that in mind. I don't care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator—please note that one exception—you may immediately say, "Well, that is his own idea!" And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard works (I think that is why we call them "standard"—it is the standard measure of all that men teach), you may know by that same token that it is false; regardless of the position of the man who says it."

And yes I note the exception about the prophet, seer and revelator, which is fine, but it still has to pass the law of common consent, unless there was a memo that came down saying the law of common consent is now void.

I see policy and indeed much exhortation about the word of wisdom and while most of that is very good stuff some of it is in direct, clear contradiction to the statement in our scriptures that mild drinks are good for us. So again, did I miss the memo in which the whole church consented to the current definitions of the word of wisdom, and if so, why has that clarification not been added to the standard works?

Dave P. said...


While Harold B. Lee wasn't yet president of the church when he said that - The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator [address delivered to seminary and institute of religion faculty, 8 July 1964], p. 14. - It still rings fully true and is the perfect Catch-22 against those who would claim that every word spoken over the pulpit in conference is automatically scripture because "They always speak by the power of the Holy Ghost" since they aren't given assigned topics, pray about what to say, and write the talks ahead of time. Last I checked the scriptures relate speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost to not knowing what will be said until the very moment you open your mouth. And, especially in the case of Packer's recent controversial talk, if it was by the power of the Holy Ghost, why edit it to "soften it up" for the printed version in the Ensign?

The excuse I heard dealt with the Book of Mormon statement of, "If there be any mistakes, they were the result of man." Right there Moroni refers not to the pure words spoken by the prophets, he's talking about those people who wrote them down or transcribed them to another source, potentially including him or his father. So why then would a talk supposedly given by the power of the Holy Ghost and recorded from multiple sources need to be edited to make it sound more acceptable to the world? Then again I just answered my own question.

Going back to the original quotation, I also wanted to add this quotation from President Howard W. Hunter given in the October 1994 conference, "When a President of the Church is ill or not able to function fully in all of the duties of his office, his two Counselors, who, with him, comprise a Quorum of the First Presidency, carry on the work of the Presidency. Any major questions, policies, programs, or doctrines are prayerfully considered in council by the Counselors in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. No decision emanates from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve without total unanimity among all concerned." [Emphasis added]

What's interesting about the talk as a whole is that it was basically taken word-for-word from a research paper that a friend of President Hunter's wrote around 20 years beforehand. That quoted portion also makes two great points: First, the president of the church can not make imperial decrees that change doctrine or church policy (Brigham Young and Heber J. Grant were notorious for this). Second, this can be used as an argument that there is no need for the First Presidency at all. In other threads I've commented that, after Joseph Smith's death, Parley P. Pratt received revelation informing him that the Quorum of the Twelve was to lead the church as a group. How would they have to do so? By the same process of total unanimity from the whole quorum (and, to ensure the fact that Lord sees them all equally, there would be no "senior" or "junior" apostles).

Dave P. said...

I found the source of the Harold B. Lee quote that James cited in the D&C student manual online. While searching for a statement that I believe is in there, I decided to read what the manual said regarding Section 89. Here's the portion on if the Word of Wisdom is a commandment or not:

Although the Word of Wisdom was received on
27 February 1833, its acceptance by individual
members of the Church was gradual. On
9 September 1851, some eighteen years after it was given, the Patriarch to the Church, John Smith, delivered a talk in general conference on the Word of Wisdom. During his address, President Brigham Young arose and proposed that all Saints formally covenant to abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, whiskey, and “all things mentioned in the Word of Wisdom” (“Minutes of the General Conference,” Millennial Star, 1 Feb. 1852, p. 35). The motion was accepted unanimously and became binding as a commandment for all Church members thereafter."

Notice how that last sentence suddenly jumped from the saints who were present in that meeting making a personal covenant to it becoming a commandment to all church members without anything to bridge the two ideas? Also notice that the covenant wasn't to live the Word of Wisdom, but just to abstain from all things mentioned in it? I'd go into more details on this event but Rock already covered those. I also noticed that the manual conveniently omits commenting on the "mild drinks" part.

I would also argue that Brigham Young had no authority to place the church under covenant like that, but that's too big a subject to discuss here.

James said...

That's very interesting, Dave P. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, though I certainly don't have the research knowledge that many others here have.

Now I'm not well versed in New Testament scripture so I could be very wrong here, but it seems to me like this kind of happened with the original twelve apostles as well. Jesus prayed for them to "be as one" but then it ended up that they never did act as one and they ended up having Peter appointed as head. But it seems to me like it was entirely possible that if they could have remained as one there would have been no need for a president to be appointed.

And then I start thinking about things like the city of Enoch, and I wonder, if everyone there was basically so good they were ready to be translated, seems to me there would be no need for a church organization anymore, because again, they'd all be of one mind concerning the Lord's will and there would never be a need for one person to be the mouthpiece when the veil was lifted for all. And isn't that the kind of place we should all be trying to get to?

James said...

Nice find, Dave P.! So if this was a binding covenant for all members, seemingly confirmed by the law of common consent, why isn't in the Covenants section of the Doctrine & Covenants? How can we be bound to a covenant we never had the opportunity to read and accept for ourselves? Very interesting stuff...

Dave P. said...


It only gets better from there. If you think about it, the covenant people in nearly every dispensation has rejected the Lord as their king. Moses invited the children of Israel to go up onto the mountain with him, they refused and so the Lord gave them the lesser law. Israel rejected the Lord in favor of a king and all three of the first kings whom the Lord hand-picked all fell (though David repented). The Savior never established a First Presidency, but it's assumed that Peter was in that "king" position. Same with the modern-day church. Joseph Smith was only ever called as the first elder of the church and as an apostle (which Paul mentioned as being greater than a prophet), but for whatever reason he did not accept the call to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and instead established the First Presidency, that same "king" position. The Lord played along because he'd given Joseph the warning that he'd be like Joseph of Egypt by having seven years of plenty and seven years of famine in a spiritual sense to act as a learning experience. After 1844, when Joseph began to repent, the Lord warned him to flee to the Rockies to complete his repentance. He feared man more than God, lost the protection of the Lord, and was killed in Carthage.

Shift the narrative over to Parley P. Pratt and his revelation (recorded in his autobiography) that Joseph still held the keys of the dispensation and that the Quorum of the Twelve was to lead the church as a whole (with the presiding bishop handling the temporal affairs), by witnessing of Jesus Christ, preaching the gospel, and teaching the members correct principles so they would govern themselves. This worked for the next several years until Brigham Young decided to re-establish the First Presidency with himself in that "king" position (and it's quite possible that he did this under threat of force from the Danites, I'll need to look more into it), but had absolutely no authority to do so because he did not have the keys; Joseph Smith still had them! This is the start of the fulfillment of Daniel 7:24 with Brigham Young as the first of the ten kings without kingdoms. Joseph Smith may have given the Quorum of the Twelve the authority to exercise the priesthood keys as a group, but he did not give them the authority to collectively hand them over to one person. The most senior apostle is still the president of the quorum, but the affairs of that office are still only limited to within the quorum itself.

However my main point is this: The church is not supposed to have nor does it need a "king" position because Jesus Christ is our king. By maintaining that we need a "prophet" to lead us, we reject God and revert back to being the children of Israel who had to be commanded in all things and were given the Law of Moses as a result. I've come to learn that wanting someone other than God to be its "king" is one of the follies and abominations that the church needs to repent of.

Water said...

P.S. The link for the article on the Priesthood can be found here:

In there, you can find an article Nibley published in Sunstone back in 1990. ONe of the best things I've read on Priesthood and the source for the quote above. But, in order to understand the "he will never lead us astray" idea, you really need to read the Native American link in my previous comment.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Note from Rock: Below is the third post (that I know of) that landed in my email box, but somehow did not get posted here where it belongs. The P.S. from "Water" references the following comment.

This particular venue -this one on beer- seems to be experiencing some real glitches. If you have posted a comment and don't see it, email me at and I'll find it and paste it back here where it belongs.]

Dave P. said...

I'd never had that happen before until today. I posted a second comment after my 8:58 AM one that initially appeared but has since vanished.

Dave P. said...

However the gist of my previous comment was just talking about how I often end up saying a lot more than originally intended as I feel inspiration that connects various points together.

And James, since it sounds like you also live in the Salt Lake Valley we should meet up somewhere, have a beer, and I can show you what I've been researching lately.

James said...

That's a great idea Dave P.! Send me an email at

Dave P. said...

On another side note, I just have to say that all of these discussions on this blog have been awesome because I'm able to learn so much from the people here and be inspired with new ideas when I'm prompted to reply. I usually start out to only make a single point in a sentence or two, but I continually feel new ideas and new inspirations to make all these connections come to mind so most of my comments end up being much longer than originally intended.

I'm not very good at original research either, but thanks to people like Rock, Zomarah and many others who I've yet to meet who provide great foundations to expand on, I'm able to do what I can with the gifts I've been given. I'm guessing that you're also living in the midst of Babylon (the Salt Lake Valley) too, James. We should get together, have a beer, and I can show you what all I've been studying lately.

I carry a backpack with at least 30 pounds of books with me to the church block and other related functions so I can have something to learn from other than what's being spoon-fed to us. One account I recall learning about had Joseph Smith tell his mother that he would rather take the family Bible and study in the woods rather than attend one of the local congregations as he would learn more in one hour of personal study than over a great length of time (either a month or a year, I don't recall), and I've felt the same regarding spending the entire block outside of the classroom, sitting somewhere quiet (usually the chapel), and just reading. I believe this statement's been highlighted a few times, but there are several of those out there who have rightfully said, "I never left the church, it left me." And for those who believe that the church can never fall away no matter what, why then was the original church lost and the Nephites wiped out?

Posted by Dave P. to Pure Mormonism at March 3, 2011 9:10 AM

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Above is Dave P.'s lost comment. I'm still having trouble posting a comment Water made here; it just won't stick, so I'll put it in here under my name and see if it works. I'm cutting it in two Here is the text of "Water's" comment:

Water has left a new comment on your post "Too Bad I Don't Like Beer":

I just wanted to post a couple of my comments to the Anon on the role of "ordained Prophets".

The best thing I've ever read on the subject was:

I highly recommend it.

Secondly, on the nature of "prophets," I would suggest that LDS are wrong. I'd been struggling with Amos 3:7 - wrestling with it, as it were - trying to figure it out. It didn’t make sense until I went back to the original Hebrew. Amos 3:7 - the scripture about the Lord revealing his word through his duly ordained prophets – is a classic missionary scripture. A couple of things (which will require further reading on your part) that coalesce together and help better understand this scripture:

1. A well laid out comparison of the differences between Priesthood and Authority:

“Who can deny such a power to another? No man. Who can bestow it on another? No man. We like to think that the Church is divided into those who have it and those who don’t have it; but it is the purest folly to assume that we can tell who has it and who does not… The result is, that if there is anyone who really holds the priesthood, no one is in a position to say who it is—only by the power to command the spirits and the elements is such a gift apparent.” - Hugh Nibley

2. From there, head over to this discussion on 10 “tidbits” on both prophecy and prophets from the OT:

“The word “prophet” is a very bad translation of an obscure Hebrew word, navi. Nobody knows what it means. But today they’d be called dissident intellectuals. They were giving geopolitical analysis, arguing that the acts of the rulers were going to destroy society. And they condemned the acts of evil kings. They called for justice and mercy to orphans and widows and so on.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

"Water" Continued:

I don’t want to say it was all beautiful. Dissident intellectuals aren’t all beautiful. You read Sakharov, who is sometimes appalling. Or Solzhenitsyn. And the nivi’im were treated the way dissident intellectuals always are. They weren’t praised. They weren’t honored. They were imprisoned like Jeremiah. They were driven into the desert. They were hated. Now at the time, there were intellectuals, “prophets,” who were very well treated. They were the flatterers of the court. Centuries later, they were called “false prophets.”
3. This led me to a search of the Hebrew meaning of the word. For help, I emailed The Chronicle Project (those re-translating the Bible based on the idea that Hebrew is a self-defining alphabet which is terribly hard to mis-translate, yet we’ve managed to do it; Strong’s, for example, has proven erroneous in between 40-50% of the references they’ve studied). Anyway, the owner of that site was gracious enough to reply on just what the word “prophet” really means (I gave Amos 3:7 as the reference). This is his reply:

“Okay, on your word.
NB means…to prophesy
The Y (this is by sounds) means…to manifest or have occur
The A means…to activate, or to begin.

So the word you have is (remember western English states backwards to Eastern sentence structure): "to begin to manifest to prophesy or a prophecy which comes true. To fulfill a prophecy."
It is translated as prophet, but it’s a description of an action, not a noun. So you can be known as one who prophesies, but not a prophet.

This word should not be translated as prophet even though it is over 300 times. We checked a couple of the placements and none should have had the word prophet.

This is the EXACT description from the Hebrew you sent. There is no other translation that can be pulled from it.

Unfortunately it is not man’s power of observation that is his great weakness, but his ineptness at conclusion.”

Anyway, that was something I thought I’d share. There is a HUGE difference between what we think of as a "prophet" and what a "prophet" actually is.

Posted by Water to Pure Mormonism at March 3, 2011 9:15 AM

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'm crossing my fingers that no one else will have any problems posting here. This glitch only seems to be happening here under "Too Bad I Don't Like Beer," so let's hope whatever is causing this disorder is not contagious. Again, if anyone has any problems or finds their comments missing, email me at and I'll fix it.

Anonymous said...


Do you have a source for that Joseph Smith statement about going into the woods with the Bible?

Anonymous said...


Here are the links I wanted to post with my comments:

(1) Priesthood

Dave P. said...

Indeed I do, and I'm glad I found it since what I mentioned was definitely an embellishment. From the book, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, page 46:

"The year after Alvin's death [1824], a revival struck Palmyra and nearby towns. Even Joseph Sr. attended two or three meetings before refusing to go again, but Joseph Jr. held back. He told his mother he could learn more in the woods from the Bible than from any meeting. He saw too much greed among purported Christians to be comfortable in church." [Emphasis added]

Brent said...

VERY interesting read, Rock! I'm like to suggest that your next article be about marijuana.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Whoaa, Brent! That would be AWESOME, Dude!

Brent said...

Ha ha ha! I'm completely serious! (and btw, I've never smoked it myself)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

In all seriousness Brent, you're right, that herb does deserve the Pure Mormonism treatment sometime in the future. Like you, I've never smoked the devil weed myself, and when I was a young baby boomer (one of the few non-users of my generation, I gather) I actually thought that it was one of God's mistakes. Why would He create such a dangerous plant that grows virtually everywhere and is capable of doing so much damage?

Of course, now I see it as a beneficial herb, a blessing to all, and not just the ill. It is very telling that the leadership of the Church has never taken God's side on this issue. Instead, they take their lead from fiat decrees of an obviously corrupt government. Since the politicians have decided the people are not to partake of an element of God's bounty, the leaders also order the flock to abstain, and list marijuana as one of the great evils. That is not Godly thinking.

Dave P. said...

My dad recently obtained a copy of "Setting the Record Straight: The Word of Wisdom." I had my doubts about it since the series as a whole has not received favorable reviews on Amazon.

I skimmed the chapter entitled, "When the Word of Wisdom became a Commandment." It was mostly a collection of stories where the WoW was used to judge a person's worthiness- Joseph Smith and a council of six being the first in deciding to forbid elders who weren't keeping it from administering the sacrament, since the congregations weren't partaking from those people anyway.

However the book lost all credibility for me at the end of that chapter when it can be summed up like this: "So when did it become a commandment? Well, that depends on your definition of commandment. It either was one from the beginning when the revelation was given (Only it wasn't!) or the church adopted it as such when it became part of the temple recommend interview (Which was an unauthorized action by Heber J. Grant)." So much for setting the record straight because the record speaks for itself but it's the interpretations and judgments of men that have created the current mess.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yeah, Dave, so much for "setting the record straight", huh?

The fact is, there is no record of it ever being made a commandment. Like so much else (the so-called necessity of having a temple wedding rather than a public one, for instance), these "commandments" seem to appear at the whim of the leadership rather than from the mouth of the Lord.

Water said...

Brent + Rock:

As for Marijuana, I wrote a piece some time back that you can read... and critique as needs be.


Water said...


Rock, we had our lesson in EQ on the Word of Wisdom a couple of weeks back. The backdrop to the entire lesson, on a white board, was D&C 29:35. The entire discussion flowed along those same lines.

P.S.S. For a clif notes version of what I wrote about in the Marijuana article: I see nothing in the Word of Wisdom or all of Scripture that would forbid the use of it. In fact, I have at least 2 brothers you use it recreationally (both members of the LDS church)... though they got that far on their own and through no help from me.

andrew said...

i can testify of the healing properties of this 'devil weed'. next time you are hurting from some stomach ailment, be it viral or food-borne, try a hit or two (or three, four :) ) and see if your condition doesn't subside within an hour. has always worked for me

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Water, I'm about halfway through your piece linked to above, and just wanted to stop and and tell you how I appreciate that, plus the recommendation of the Botoany of Desire, which I will now seek out. Also, the link to Denver's post which I believe I will quote from in an upcoming post.

What I wanted to comment on before I forgot is the EQ discussion you mentioned using the backdrop of D&C 29. Presumably, the lesson was attempting to demonstrate that since all commandments are spiritual, section 89 has validity as a spiritual commandment. Clearly, someone forgot that the Word of Wisdom was not a commandment, and had never been declared one. So, that thesis fails.

Water said...

Michael Pollan has been a godsend of sorts for me. The Botany of Desire has easily become one of my favorite books. I was totally taken aback by how interesting and information the Botany of Desire was.

D&C 29 did indeed serve as a backdrop to suggest that there are no temporal commandments, only spiritual commandments. And the vast majority of the comments had to do with how blessings flow from obeying commandments... not one person (myself included for various reasons) stated anything contrary to what our distorted modern version suggests (i.e. we're a better people than everyone else because we obey commandments like the Word of Wisdom - all in spite of what the actual section reads).

For those interested in another Pollan article, I'd suggest this one on Opium:

Another one to make you think...

Dave P. said...

That one verse is definitely what I needed to read this morning as it helped everything to fall in to place as it effectively proves and acts as a second scriptural witness that the Word of Wisdom is not a commandment- because it is a temporal principal!

Our sacrament meeting talks yesterday dealt with agency and the first two were, at best, uninspired (despite being given by two newly-returned missionaries). And one of them made the correct statement in cautioning us against making choices that would cause us to limit or surrender our agency, but his follow-up is what made me roll my eyes in disgust: "That's why we're given commandments like the Word of Wisdom. Drunkards and drug addicts have lost their agency" and proceeded to cast holier-than-thou judgment on those poor souls who are in that type of situation. Have these TBMs ever stopped to think about how these people might be using such vices as an escape from a reality where they're friendless or wherein the "Christian" people around them cast judgment upon them for not being absolutely perfect?

Just like the Pharisees of old, today's members of the church seem to love to cast judgment on those based on temporal actions/circumstances rather than listening to the Savior who said, "Judge not. First cast the beam from thine own eye. And love one another." Not to mention, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

On a side note, I'm going to start correcting people who claim the first law of Heaven is obedience. It's not. Agency is. Because without it, we must be able to choose and act for ourselves to obey God's commandments. Obedience without that power to choose otherwise is, once again, what Lucifer wanted from the beginning and what all-too many church members like to preach nowadays.

Dave P. said...

Now that I've thought about it, why are so many people in such a rush to judge based on temporal criteria rather than spiritual? My theory is that a lot of people subconsciously want themselves to be judged by having "good" outward appearances and worldly accomplishments while using those same criteria to belittle those who may be having issues with one thing or another, or who are just in unfortunate circumstances.

Are people so insecure in following the principles of the gospel that they have to create self-gratification by returning to the Law of Moses? Even a church leader's worldly accomplishments are pretty much flaunted whenever they're introduced as a fireside speaker. Are these not the people of whom the Lord said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven." The Savior always urged us to conduct our alms in secret and to first cleanse the inner vessel. Those who flaunt themselves to be seen of the world may well also be the greatest offenders in judging people on a worldly/temporal basis. However, thus saith Jesus Christ, they have their reward.

whitehusky said...

Sure, temporal criteria are popular. Typically, you're judged by church attendance, visiting teaching statistics, and even number of kids. Would some of these people pay more attention to obeying the Lord and being guided by the spirit than in being corporate zombies? No. These are the same people who don't even know that Jesus Christ is the Most High God. They huff and puff and say that Heavenly Father is above Jesus and that I'd better consult the bishop, because I don't understand the Godhead. To this I reply that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, which makes him the Father of Heaven and Earth and the Most High God. They'd better consult the Holy Spirit before they think the bishop trumps him.

Doesn't anyone listen to the Holy Spirit anymore?

andrew said...

i watched a couple of shows last night on natgeo, called 'drugged'. the first one was about marijuana and the second, mdma, aka ecstasy. while the bulk of the latter was about the rave scene and what it does exactly to a person's mind that fits in so well with that , there was a small section right in the middle about how it was used to help a couple cope with a husbands terminal illness, helped them to bond, come to terms with what was ultimately going to happen, and helped the wife with closure. and she is not a regular user. she got through with it and was done. it was utterly fascinating. then i immediately thought of what water had posted above

doyle_megan said...

Whitehusky, listening to the Holy Spirit requires humility, and a lot of people simply don't have much of it.

Dave P. said...

Well, it's taken nearly two years since Rock posted this, but I'm satisfied to say that I had my first beer tonight. I went with James's suggestion of a 12 oz. bottle of Shiner Bock and, even though I had to buy a six-pack (which is also why I waited until I had the house to myself for two weeks) I could say that, for the first one, I neither liked nor hated it and can understand why beer is such an acquired taste. And at another friend's suggestion I enjoyed 1/3 of a large pizza with it (he suggests something fatty in general).

I've promised myself that I will not drink the 2nd one until after I've had a full night's sleep (whether or not I drink the other four after that is yet to be determined). And since there's plenty of leftover pizza I already know what I'll be having for dinner tomorrow. All in all, I feel fine after drinking it.

Dave P. said...

Oh, and I have to add, that the only disappointing thing about tonight is that I didn't get carded. I'm only 28! XD

James said...

Good on ya, Dave P. Since suggesting the Shiner Bock I've found that for my tastes, the darker the beer, the better. My new personal favorite is King's Peak Porter from Uintah Brewing Company.

Stay away from the pale ales unless you like lots of bitter, "pine-tree" flavors.

Dave P. said...

I haven't tried anything else since but a friend suggested the Blueberry Hefe at Iggy's, so that'll likely be next.

Dave P. said...

That was indeed next as I tried it tonight and, after weighing in on it and my previous tastes...

I don't really like beer either.

I was more excited about getting carded tonight than actually drinking the stuff.

Anonymous said...

I've just recently started drinking beer and I will have to admit there have been more than a few nights that part of my evening paryers have included thanking God for beer.

I would suggest Sierra Nevada Kellerweis or New Belgiums Fat Tire for beginners. Very low bitterness. But Wasatch Brewery Poligamy Porter is a must try for all Mormons. As the lable says "Why have just one?"

Dead Poet said...

Because the comment section is so long, I didn't read through all the comments, so please forgive me if this has been mentioned already.
You don't have to drink beer to get the relaxing effects of hops.
I'm not contesting your article, and saying that you shouldn't drink beer for whatever reason, I'm just saying there are other options. You can drink it as a tea, either by its self, or mixed in with other herbs, and you should have the same relaxing effect.
Though one turn off that beer has for me, besides the flavor (I don't like it either) is that the hops used for making beer is treated with sulphur oxide to prevent it from turning brown, or starting to stink (which it does the longer it's stored). I'm kind of a natural health nut, and that's not something I want to put in my body.
Anyway, if your interested, I can send you some information on hops, and also a couple of recipes for relaxing that use hops in them.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks, Dead Poet, I'd like to see them.

I've tried hops as teas and as tinctures and find them just as distasteful as I do beer. Capsules don't seem to have much of an effect, as since you probably know, alcohol is necessary for the chemicals in most herbs to be properly extracted.

That was news to me about the use of sulphur oxide. Perhaps a reason people should brew their own?

Dead Poet said...

Sorry it took me so long to get back here. I've been busy being, well, busy. And yep, I do know that alcohol is usually the best extraction form for most herbs. I don't know if what I send you will taste any better, but they utilize other herbs meant for relaxation as well, so maybe the hops won't be so overpowering (I haven't tried them yet due to nursing; most are contraindicated for that). As for brewing your own without the sulphur oxide, that would work great if someone finds something better that does the same thing, namely, keep it from stinking after a while so it's still drinkable.
I'm e-mailing the information to you, if I can get Word to stop freezing on me.

Charlotte said...

Beer tastes better when I drink it by itself, rather than with food. I can't explain why, but my husband and I both agree beer is almost unpalatable when we have it with our meal. We prefer to have our nightly bottle after the kids are in bed and we are relaxing on the couch together.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Maybe that's what I should do, Charlotte. I tried a bottle of Sam Adams, but the taste was so awful I only took swigs between bites of food. I'm really going to have to hold my nose if I'm to drink a whole bottle by itself.

Charlotte said...

Do you usually drink soda? Beer definitely isn't as tasty as Sprite or root beer. I think adding a few tablespoons of white sugar to your beer would make it more palatable and would be better for you than soda, although I haven't tried it yet.

If you don't like the carbonation, pouring it into a glass before drinking it will help get rid of some of the fizz.

Try for half a bottle at a time until you learn to like it. Trying to get a whole bottle down when you hate every sip will just make you hate it more.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just started reading your blog today and have enjoyed the experience. I know this article is a few years old, but if you still have questions about beer I am a Mormon, and an active homebrewer and would be happy to give you some info. My most recent batch was totally from scratch, I even malted my own barley. I am growing hops in the garden. It has been a lot of fun to learn this art. I feel that it connects me to my ancestors.
Thanks for your work.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm super late to the conversation, but I want to second Blue Moon. It also tastes great with a slice of orange or a little bit of lemonade added. Shock Top is really great, too. I think you'd probably want to go for a hefeweizen. The taste is less strong. Those are my husband's favorites. (Me, I love dark/amber beers.)

Also, I feel like beer is an acquired taste and needs the right type of foods to go with it. German cuisine, for example, all pairs so well beer.

Good luck with your quest!

Jean said...

Between him and the Lord????? It was published for the Saints benefit. How does that make it between him and the Lord? Do you know how many people have been led astray by that man's teachings? Or Brigham Young's on Adam being our God.
These prophets and apostles are required to preach and publish the truth.

Why would you want to support something you see as silly? "The thought makes reason stare." Why would God reward you for believing and obeying something silly when he has given you a good brain and possibly a blessing with which to discern truth from error?

Carey Foushee said...

That link didn't work for me.

Anonymous said...

Every alcoholic started w/ a few sips of something. That statement is just dumb. Most "drinkers" are not alcoholics. It's not as if 50% of those who have a beer become addicted and an organization or culture that leads you to believe that is disingenuous.
Beyond that, there are plenty of studies that show that alcohol, in moderation, is good for you.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks, but I've pretty much given up on ever being able to stomach the stuff. I've tried four or five of the brands recommended to me by readers here, but I think it's the carbonation combined with the awful taste that makes it hard to get down.

In my fridge I have a bottle of Lemonade Joose, which I would try if I knew it contained beer. It does contain 6 percent alcohol, but if that alcohol is vodka or something other than a barley based beverage, I don't want it. Can't find anything on the label to inform me.

Anonymous said...

I've been a strictly non-alch drinker( ie < 0.5% ABV). It does seem that from batch to batch there is a variance in the 'skunky' flavor. So often, one bottle can be smoother than another. Is it the same w/ regular beer?

I agree that the flavor is better by itself, especially when one is thirsty. So much more satisfying than a sugary drink.

I've drawn my own line after the near beer. My personal interpretation is that drunkenness is to be avoided. I’d probably die from water poisoning before I drank enough O’Douls to get pissed. The most I’ve ever consumed within a 24 hr time frame is 3 bottles.

My wife interprets my liking for the flavor to mean "I don’t love you” or rather as a symbol of that defiance against and rejection of God that we Mormon’s often associate with anyone who drinks or smokes etc, regardless of what kind of person they really are. That’s one area where it rubs me wrong.

We’ve all heard the wagon and cliff story. My thought is that in our over-zealousness to avoid the cliff’s edge that we’ve in fact pushed the other side too far up the slope and tipped the wagon over (looking beyond the mark). OK we’ve avoided the cliff, but we're still stranded. I think the moderation argument fits well here.

Let’s not forget the greatest commandments.

ashaffer said...

Dear Rock, thank you for this insightful article. I have lived for years wondering if I was the only one that knew what you have outlined above. I am an active member that is also a beer connisuer. I think that you should try a Kronenburg 1664. It is a true beer with a light clean taste. Stay away from joose or anything connected to lemonade as their ingredients are suspect. "Wheat beers " on the other hand are true beers that are crafted in a style that originated in Belgium. When I first decided to drink beer my hellion brother gave me a rolling rock. That beer has a very mild flavor and tastes just like soda water. I guess that is what pale lager means. Another word of advice: never drink IPA or India pale ale.

Wildrose said...

Years later, here I am to add a bit to the discussion. I've been told, but haven't done any actual research myself, that the alcoholic drinks available today are made to get people addicted and that they aren't the same as the homemade stuff of yesteryear. I don't know if that is true of every alcoholic beverage available in stores these days, but it might be something to keep in mind for those thinking to try alcohol. It would be worth checking into the alcohol content of individual drinks before partaking of them. Traditional drinks were supposed to be something like 1-2% alcohol.

Charlotte said...

I can't stand Sam Adams either, and the carbonation of any brand is too much. I get a basic Miller (cold) and pour it into a glass to get rid of some of the carbonation before drinking it. Oh yeah and I'm in Utah so the beer at the liquor store is harder than the beer in the gas station or grocery store. The grocery store beer is limited to 3.2% alcohol, so the flavor is probably milder.

Last week I tried full-strength (liquor store) beer mixed with apple beer (which isn't beer at all but is just soda) and it was pretty tasty.

Anonymous said...


Stumbled across your 'blog and thought I'd chime in. In full disclosure, I'm not an LDS; in fact, I am an atheist, as so many of my Oregon brethren are. I found your post quite interesting, though, as I have a number of Mormon friends who are quite skittish about alcohol in any form and have always wondered why they didn't know the text of the Word of Wisdom and its stance on "mild" drink, as well as the history of Mormons and alcohol. Churches can be a funny thing, no?

That being said, as an Oregonian, I do know a thing or two about beer. First and foremost: don't drink that mass-market swill on the supermarket shelf, even if it is marketed as "craft beer"; most of it is Astroturfed Budweiser. I know that UT has some pretty restrictive laws, but, if you find yourself in Colorado or - should you be so lucky - the Northwest, try a pint of some microbrew or locally manufactured mid-scale. If you're not into bitters and still want the barley, I'd suggest an amber ale as its not too strong on the tongue yet still is more mouth-full than what wheat beers (think Blue Moon) tend to offer. Stouts are good, too, if you want to go a bit more sweet. Rogue, Full Sail, New Belgium, and a few others make some good brews; any good pub specializing in 'real beer' will be more than willing to give you guidance and a few 1 oz. samples to try so that you can see what fits your taste.

Beer is, indeed, proof that God - whatever its form - wants us to be happy. Hope you find what you're looking for.


Brett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Brett said...

I don't think it's just mild barley drinks, I think all grains may be used for mild drinks.

17 Nevertheless,
WHEAT for man, and
CORN for the ox, and
OATS for the horse, and
RYE for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and
BARLEY for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

It looks to me that each grain has a designation, and barley's is for all useful animals AND mild drinks--as well as other grain. I think "as also other grain" is modifying the mild drinks.

There are beers with fermented wheat and oats. I'm not a beer expert but my work just had a chili cookoff and one guy told me he used a beer with an oatmeal stout in his chili. Before that, I didnt know oat meal could be used for beer. I just googled right now and I guess you can make beer out of all of these grains.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all these comments, but isn't there a Brigham Brew made at the Salt Lake Brewing Company? I think that would be appropriate! :D

Anonymous said...

Interesting article.
It is worth remembering however, that the beer that was drunk in Joseph's day was very different to that which is produced now. In those days the alcohol content was quite small - around 1%. Today's beers start at around 4% and can be as high as 8%. That's between 300% and 700% higher alcohol content than in Joseph's time.
We are not comparing like with like.
And to say that the WoW directs us to drink beer is a bit of a stretch. There are other drinks made from barley (that do not require hops - the WoW never mentions hops). Here in the UK for example, we drink lemon barley water.
And who can argue that beer drinking is not a major problem in western society? And consider all that barley which is used in it's production which could otherwise be used for food in a world where many millions are starving.

dan said...

Rock, I've sent dozens of people over to this post, along with the one I did on the word of wisdom. Just wanted to tell you thanks, you do a wonderful service.

Just had to ask, now that so much time has passed, Do you like beer yet? If not, we need to talk. I wouldn't touch any of the big box stuff, but many micro brews are incredible. and in reality, I make my own. Enjoy and thanks for all your effort over the years. :-)


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for the plugs, Dan! And no, I pretty much gave up on trying to develop a taste for the stuff. I think it's the effervescence that bugs me as much as the taste. If it beer wasn't bubbly, I might be able to down it quickly like folks do a shot of whiskey (I've never tried the hard stuff; I just think that would be a faster way to get beer down.)

I have tried micro brews but gave up after only four brands. I have 3 or 4 bottles of various beers sitting in my fridge that have now been there for at least 2 years waiting for me to get up the nerve. I should probably use that space for juice.

jenheadjen said...

We've so very thoroughly enjoyed this post in our home tonight! I read it out loud to my husband and mom. My husband jokes that he's going to get a 40 out tomorrow night, and my mom is already facebooking her friends about beer alternatives. I would have never, ever thought we'd be thinking or joking about such things! Thanks for all the links on sources. Looking forward to exploring a lot more!

Spider said...

Try Seagram's Escapes, it's a flavored beer. I like it in Wild Berries.

Lucas said...

Yes, great article. I have recently looked into become active in the church again (Consider me a non-member to give you an idea of where I'm at) and am having a difficult time of the idea of giving up something that has always been a harmless joy for me and many friends. I brew my own beer and it is a hobby that brings me closer to the way things in our world should be. Like, making your own food, growing your own vegetables, hunting your own meet, etc.

The question is, how do I do an effective job at helping explain these things to other members who will undoubtedly question my ways?

Lucas said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

After a century of conditioning, most members of the church are convinced the Word of Wisdom prohibits beer, so discretion may be your best recourse. Or you could direct your friends to this post and ask them when it was the Lord changed his mind about barley drinks.

Lucas said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Lucas said...

Hello Anonymous,

Actually, that is quite the contrary. Beer back in the day was just as strong as it is today. We have no new methods of beer recipes (different flavors have been added, like spruce tips, or molasses, or licorice, etc), but the beers of today do range within the same parameters of how it was made then as well. The only way that beer would be 1%, is if they literally deluded it with water, which would have conflicted with one of the reasons why beer became so popular to human beings in the first place; and that was for the sake of drinking a beverage that could kill off the contaminates that was often found in the water supply. 1% alcohol would not kill off contaminates. There were many instances in human history where beer was the only liquid that was consumed because the water supply was so bad. It was often used as payment (historic documentation proves that most the labor force that built the pyramids were paid with beer)

I'm not saying there aren't 1% beers out there, but most all of the beer recipes that you will see from hundreds and even thousands of years ago, that have been remade today will usually fall between the 4% to 7% alcohol range.

I just wanted to clarify that in most cases, we are comparing apples to apples here. My information comes from a lot of research, as well my own personal home brewing knowledge of the beverage. If said beer was so low in alcohol content, then it would be almost impossible to become inebriated off it, given the simple fact that you'd have to fill your belly with way too much liquid before any type of alcohol could impair you to the point where you could become drunk (however, I'm sure a child or smaller man or woman could probably feel the effects slightly moreso than an average sized person) Most people will stop consuming any food or drink when their bellies are that full.

Lucas said...

Hey Rock,

A lot of beer back in the day had no carbonation to it. Although the natural fermentation process of beer provides the fizzy bubbles, a lot of brewers used an open fermentation process which allowed all the C02 to escape, with the end result being a completely flat beer. I have had flat beer before, on purpose, and I have to say, in some instances, it was quite delicious.

Dump your bottles. That is far too long for a low alcohol beer to sit in the fridge. It will not have gone bad, but it's flavor will certainly have changed and will not be what the maker intended for it to be. In fact, most low alcohol brews, including the Shiner Bock (owned by Budweiser I believe) are just a slightly better interpretation of the extremely low quality lager beers that America has been known for.

The best way to describe American beer is that it is the besdt beer in the world, as well as the worst. There are so many brands and makers out there, that for quite some time, especially after prohibition, the only ones making beer in the U.S. were the big three breweries who pretty had the market dominated for the simple fact that they had more money.

I'm from Salt Lake, but now live in Washington, where you'll hardly ever see someone drinking a Bud, Miller, Coors, or other commercial type brews that comparatively to other micros, are extremely low quality in their ingredients, etc. If you had a good ole fashion Mormon made beer from back in the day, you'd probably be hard pressed not to find something that you enjoy.

With that said, my advice for when you decide to try it again; go to liquor store (heaven forbid!) and buy beers that are not available in UT or many other states, which may possibly have a higher alcohol content, usually up to 6%. Consider it a learning experience and spend $10 bucks on 4 or 5 different styles of beer. Try to stay away from Lagers and Pilsners at first because this has more than likely been your experience so far. Grab a stout (porter is the same), an IPA, a Pale Ale, A Belgian (the fruitier the better, and the label will usually tell you), and anything else you feel the need to try.

When you try the beers, poor a small amount into a glass and taste it. If you don't like it, put it in the fridge and let it sit for a day or two, which will get rid of most of the fizz. If you don't like it, dump it out and try the next. Remember to savour it, it's not like drinking a soda pop, or a glass of lemonade. It's meant to be appreciated. There are always flavors that are very subtle that can often go unappreciated or unnoticed if one doesn't look for them.

Another suggestion would be to gather a few of your friends you've made on here, and have everyone bring a beer or two. Sample them all together. This way you get a chance to have 4 or 5 beers while only consuming one or two.

continued in next reply...

Lucas said...

Wow, I didn't realize that I wrote so much.. Here's the rest.

One thing that I haven't seen in this post, is the "why". Why is beer so important to so many cultures? For that simple word alone; culture! Just like food, beer helps bring people together. Sure, it can be abused, just as anything else in the world, yet it can bring people together after a long hard day. To consume something that helps unwind everyone while enjoying conversation and ideas about the world, etc. is an experience I have always enjoyed during my experiences with beer. How could this be a bad thing?

With that said, I want to thank you for such an awesome post. I believe that you've helped put things into perspective for me as well as lot of others. Consider me an investigator. I've always dreaded the idea of telling my very good friends that we cannot go out and have that fresh beer on tap at the local tasting room because I can't consume it anymore.

I believe that you've helped close the questionable gap between inbestigators and the church; the gap that turns a lot of those investigators in the opposite direction. You've also helped people use their common sense a bit more, while enlightening us in the idea that something that has been so chastised in the church, doesn't have to be considered sinful.


Lucas said...

Another point I'd like to make is that; yes, alcohol can be abused. But I have no seen any studies on the ill effects that beer (not wine or hard liquor) have had on western society. People in the world drink just as much (and possibly less) beer than ever before, probably for the mere fact that with modern industrialization, there are so many beverages to choose from, whether it be coke, pepsi, lemonade, etc, etc.

If you don't mind me asking, what constitutes a major problem in western society? Does this information isolate beer in itself, or is referring more to harder alcohols? Also, in the word of wisdom, I see no reason for the word "mild" to be put into the sentence if it were not speaking specifically about alcohol. Otherwise, a lemon barley water is simply that; a refreshing water with some lemon and barley in it.

One thing I observed is that the word of wisdom specifically talks about 3 types of alcoholic beverages. Strong drinks which are used for cleansing (beer was never used for washing wounds,etc), as well as wine, which is not to be avoided unless used in sacrament, and also mild drink, which seems so obvious that it must be talking about beer. There are only three types of alcoholic beverages that exist; beer, wine, and very strong drinks such as whisky, rum, brandy, vodka, etc. (all which are distilled which is the seperation of alcohol from water in order make the alcohol to water ratio higher or more concentrated).

Is that really a coincidence? I all seems to make sense to me.

Lucas said...

I made a mistake. Wine IS to be avoided unless partaken for the sacrament.

Lucas said...

I agree with you 100%, Alan. I think that is the way of most man. It's just unfortunate that, if after all of my searching, I decided to be a member of the church, that I will be "the Jack Mormon" with a beard who drinks beer!

When you think of it in the grand scheme of things, it's actually kind of funny. Although I think it's a serious issue that many members, and even non members, often don't think for themselves, I'll bet the Lord get's a chuckle out of the ideas that the human race will come up with now and then. :)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Lucas, I appreciate the advice to throw out those old beers. They must have been in my fridge for more than a year; I guess I just needed someone to tell me they have lost their savor.

One of them is a bottle of Kool-aid looking beverage called "Joose" and I never was able to tell if it was beer or something more akin to Mike's Hard Lemonade.

And on the subject of Mike's: is that beer? The label doesn't specify. I thought I might try that, but for all I know it's spiked with vodka, not barley and hops.

I was thinking that since I like lemonade, I might be able to tolerate Mike's Hard, but only if it is a hops and barley drink.

kishkumen said...

Here, here! I drink a beer almost everyday and I have no plans to discontinue it. I am a lifelong Mormon too and I have no plans to change that either.

kishkumen said...

I think I want to try Pay Lay Ale next....

Sharon Burress said...

And wine could be drunk if it is of our own making. But to pass the Temple interview, one must attest to living the Word of Wisdom and I believe they mean with no need to explain and argue a point about it. If there is any question, perhaps it would not hurt us to err on the side of caution. Beer today is not mild. If you make it yourself or buy it in a "dry" state, then yes, it may be relatively mild. But one has to acquire a taste for it, and I think everyone knows someone who is addicted to beer and who gets very ungovernable, loses his self-mastery while imbibing. I don't think this is what Christ had in mind. Once hooked, it is difficult to recognize and to break.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That's why section 89 advocates for moderation. Throughout history it was common to unwind at the end of the day with a pint of beer, ale, or lager to relax the nervous system. Guzzling a sixpack is something else again.

Nevertheless, as someone has pointed out above, it is not very common to become an alcoholic from beer drinking. Hard liquors, or as the Word of Wisdom puts it, "strong drink" is what usually leads to serious trouble.

At any rate, I would have been greatly helped if the Word of Wisdom had warned against overindulgence in chocolate, and particularly ice cream. I have been much more harmed by those vices than I think I ever would have had I taken up mild barley drinks.

Ashley said...

I have to say I agree with you on this Rock. I had a few thoughts to bring up on the wine part of the subject. Personally, I don't think we are on some higher moral ground by using water in our sacrament but nevertheless seeing as how many members have not truly been baptized or received baptism by fire I think its a good thing we only do it with water as a whole. Partaking unworthily is to drink damnation to our souls and I think that is a serious matter. So it would seem the overall consumption of water perhaps ends up serving as a form of protection. Partaking of actual wine actually has such beautiful and perfect symbolism. Wine is truly a bitter thing to drink. If done so with wine we would be symbolically partaking of the bitter cup along with Christ. It is not easy to drink because it's bitter. But after the bitter comes the sweet. After submitting to the bitter comes the gladdening of our hearts. I believe if done reverently and in moderation it could be quite the spiritual aid and is quite beautiful. It's something the Savior did. I believe it is how it was meant to be. The levels of symbolism are practically endless as with all ordinances.

That being said, someone made the comment that wine was not to be drink other than during the partaking of sacrament. I know what section 89 says and so I have thought that seems accurate. But then we also know that wine was used and drank during other feasts and celebrations as well such as at wedding feasts. At one wedding (possibly his own?) Christ even provided the wine by turning the water from wine. I just wondered if others wanted to weigh in on that? Personally since I joined the church I have never partaken of any wine or beer though I agree with the sentiments mentioned here. I think our church is very pharisaical about many things. We like to strain at knats while swallowing a camel.

Personally I have a family history of alcoholics so its something I'm more inclined to stay away from but I try not to judge people for drinking. Especially when its done in moderation. I just don't think its a big deal when done in moderation. But to each his own.

Heavy Metal Butcher said...

A nice lager style beer, lighter in color, will be a good starting beer. The too numerous to mention 'top shelf' or specialty, hoppy brands needs to be tried a little at a time. It's simple chemistry in the end. Try singles of Bud, Coors, Miller, and the lot. But a good 'ol PBR out of a can really has the full taste the old saints probably enjoyed.

Brian said...

Let's say I have an active LDS friend who agrees with your point of view - not just on the WOW, but on prophets, priesthood, tithing, etc. Do you have a blog post that answers the question of how you work through a temple recommend interview by today's standards? Is it possible? I'd love to hear some of your advice. Again, asking for a "friend" :)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

If you drink beer, you are keeping the word of wisdom more fully than those who don't. Most members ignore the pertinent parts about what they should be eating and not eating, anyway. "Do you follow the word of wisdom?" these days only means is one abstaining from the vices.

What constitutes a full tithe is up to the individual and no one else.

Sustaining the President of the church as having the keys of prophet, seer, and revelator would not be a problem for me. Of course, the question of whether those keys are in operation is another question entirely.

Wade The Rascal said...

There really are some great-tasting beers out there. You just have to find what pleases your taste buds most.

My favorite dark beer is Wasatch Brewing's "Evolution." It's got an awesome label with Charles Darwin on it. And for a dark beer, it's not very bitter and has a nice, rich taste.

I like about any Heffeweisen.

A Corona Light with a lime is every bit as good and refreshing as the TV commercials would have you believe.

If you want to ease into beer and have something with a hint of familiarity, I LOVE Shock Top's Raspberry Wheat ale and regular Shock Top, which is orange/citrus tasting. Very good and easy on the pallet.

Stay away from Bud Light, Coors, Natural Light, etc... I'd rather drink my own urine as well ;)

Doc said...

clearly we have a problem with the word of wisdom, and we always have, and we always will...because Christians like concrete commandments, for some reason preferring the Old Testament to the New, preferring Jehovah's fear-religion to Jesus' love-religion -- perhaps it is easier to feel good about yourself when you have a list of do's and don'ts, rather than the Sermon on the Mount, that has stuff in it about loving your enemy and giving your cloak after your coat has been taken, and giving up everything for the Lord, and really taking care of the poor, sick , needy and afflicted, no matter how they got that know, the really hard stuff that we don't want to have to really do! We have no explanation for 'hot caffeine vs cold caffeine' -- and we appear to be without any logic -- we don't live the bulk of the word of wisdom, only the easy 'don't touch' parts. When I was young, my grandpa's beers = Olympia and Lucky Lager = tasted pretty good; however, all the modern beers that I have tasted since growing up ALL taste horrible...really bad. I say that if you "have to develop a taste" for something, what's the point? And the WofW in some LDS communities is more important for personal salvation than Christlike qualities, like integrity, meekness, forgiveness -- whoever got to that point? Like a cigarette or a beer is more harmful to your salvation than lying or vengeance or any kind of hatefulness? Thank you for a thoughtful article -- and the quotes of the prophets will keep us on our toes for a long time -- they don't seem to be so discordant when it comes to the atonement, do they? ha ha

Anonymous said...

Ain't that the truth. people always looking down their nose at the smell of cigarette smoke in church, most likely from a visitor. And it's usually these same people, fathers and husbands, that lock themselves away from their family for a session of pornography and self-stimulation.
Hypocrites all.....

Anonymous said...

The main reasons I don't drink beer are : 1. It hurts a persons ability to feel the holy spirit. 2. There is a good chance it could lead to adiction and we are tought to be beholden to nothing but God. 3. It loosens a persons ability to make clear descisions, leaving the door open for Satan to mislead. It is sad that few people actualy understand why following the word of wisdom is important, that is also the biggest problem with most LDS members. They do not have a clear undertanding of the why of everything they are taught. I was guilty of that for a while myself, not that I am perfect now, I am still working on it.

Steve said...

I love it! I've had all the same questions. Your thoughts and research are great and going strong 4 years later!

Three thoughts:

1) Aren't there other ways to relax at night besides fermented hops and prescription antidepressants? What about a book, exercise, meditation, talking a walk, or having sex?

2) You mentioned that Brigham Young committed all the young men and women to give up these substances, but they couldn't, because they were all evidently too addicted. Wouldn't you consider it a good thing, then, that the prohibition eventually freed the entire church body (generations of Mormons) from the addiction? Isn't it a good thing — not to rub it in others' faces — to know that so many youth today are free from that addiction? (I realize those same youth are nearly all addicted to the much more destructive vice of lust, but unless you can show that freedom from alcohol and tobacco addiction actually causes lust addiction, that point is irrelevant.) And doesn't the story indicate that prophets as early as Brigham Young (and probably Joseph) WANTED all the saints, including themselves, to leave off using these substances, but they had no way to break everyone of their addictions? Wouldn't they be happy with today's freedom from these vices, which THEY couldn't eliminate?

3) Does the fact that the entire quorum of twelve and first presidency unanimously accept and teach it as a commandment and doctrine and they cause it to be printed in all missionary and Sunday School material — as well as Church handbooks and temple recommend questions — have ANY bearing on whether or not it actually IS a commandment? Is the unanimous voice of God's 15 prophets, seers, and revelators not enough to make something God's voice — or at least official Church Doctrine?

Anyone who thinks they are better than someone else because they don't partake, or anyone who thinks Mormons that smoke and drink are the worst Mormons, is terribly mistaken. I'm grateful my sins don't have a smell, because I would stink far worse than smokers and drinkers. I'm certainly no better than them.

But if I'm free from those vices, or any other addictive vice, shouldn't I keep myself free from it, and spend my time worrying about other things, like serving others? Isn't that what Joseph or Brigham would want? If I could raise my hand at Brigham's meeting and actually make AND KEEP a covenant to forever abstain, wouldn't he be happy?

I look forward to the day Jesus will come and say, "Friends, beer and wine are no big deal." I DO believe it will happen some day. But until then, I don't want to trade my birthright for a bowl of pottage. Who knows if it's important to follow God's servants on this point or not, but I'd rather err on the side of conscientiously following than err on the side of not following, because I decided the prophets, seers, and revelators were misguided.

Oh, and I'm throwing my vote in with whatever President Uchtdorf has to say on the subject every time. When he starts drinking beer, so will I!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

You're forgetting the admonition to use moderation. There's a difference between drinking at pint to relax the nervous system, and drinking so much you're impaired.

I would submit that the widespread use of anti-depressant drugs in Utah impairs our fellow Saints far more than a glass of beer would.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

To answer your questions, Steve:

1)Yes there are other ways to relax at night, but hops create a chemical reaction delivered to the nervous system specifically to reverse the day's stresses that the body needed to function earlier at high capacity. The small amount of alcohol in beer and ale serves to conduct those chemicals to where they are needed. The widespread use of beer, ale, lagers, ciders, etc in every civilization and people throughout recorded history is evidence to me that these substances were put here by God for man's use for that purpose.

2)Brigham did not call upon the boys to leave off the use of beer, likely because it was not among the vices considered addictive, and likely because the Word of Wisdom did not warn against its use. Brigham called upon the boys to "covenant to leave off the use of tobacco, Whiskey, and all things mentioned in the Word of Wisdom." Mild Barley drinks, though mentioned in the word of wisdom, were mentioned as being beneficial. Tobacco, in particular was considered a vile, nasty habit, as in pioneer Utah the preferred method was chewing and spitting. Brigham wished to get the young men to clean up their act, which is why he asked them to covenant. Unfortunately, because tobacco is so addictive, the young men were not able to keep that covenant, and Brigham repented of having asked them to make it.

Also remember that Brigham continued to chaw for another twelve years after asking the boys to covenant to quit.

I believe other commenters on this post have presented evidence that beer is not considered addictive and that alcoholics are dependent upon strong drinks; beer is not in that class. Used in moderation, it is as natural and beneficial as an herbal tincture.

3)The First Presidency and quorum of the twelve and all the seventies can declare anything they want, but that doesn't make it a commandment. That makes it a vain tradition of men. Only God is authorized to issue commandments to his children, and unless he reverses himself THROUGH REVELATION regarding mild drinks, all the members of the church combined cannot change the doctrine.

If we are to take seriously our assertion that what makes us different from other denominations on the earth is that we claim to be guided by direct revelation, and not by the whim of men, then we ought to start considering direct revelation the only legitimate criteria upon which we claim our doctrines.

Steve said...

Thanks for the reply! I could be persuaded to concede points 1 and 2.

I believe you are wrong about #3. D&C 102, D&C 134, and D&C 107:21-32 indicate that in God's church, we believe in revelation that comes by way of unanimous vote of councils and quorums. Richard Lyman Bushman explained this concept in Rough Stone Rolling. Joseph gave the same validity to the unanimous decision of councils as he did to his own personal revelations— that's why he placed these sections in the D&C, right alongside the personal revelations he had received. The way to overturn unanimous decisions is similarly prescribed in the scripture. It requires another unanimous decision.

It's certainly a precarious position to point fingers at the Lord's anointed, whom you have covenanted to sustain, and declare that they are teaching the philosophies and doctrines of men, just because you interpret scripture differently than they do. I would not do it lightly. However, Joseph also spoke against church leaders of his day. He was called by God in vision to call the leaders of his day to repent. Have you been similarly called?

My understanding of revelation by unanimous vote, helped out by Brother Bushman, is that if the Quorum of Twelve or First Presidency make a unanimous decision (not just something one member of them says), it is revelation for the Church. If the Stake Presidency or High Council make a unanimous decision, it constitutes revelation for their stake. If the Bishopric makes a unanimous decision in all humility and righteousness, it constitutes revelation for the ward (that's why church callings ARE, in fact, revealed, especially once you add your unanimous acceptance— because they come from the Bishopric, not just the Bishop).

And if you and your wife make a unanimous decision for your family, I believe that is revelation for your family.

That's governing by council.

What does your wife think about your decision to imbibe, Rock? Is she in full and complete support, without reservation?

Before anyone on this blog decides to take a drink, I believe they must have the full support of their spouse — not to make it revelation, but because to hide it from your spouse would show your complete lack of integrity.

I believe the following words apply directly to the principle of revelation by unanimous council (and by marriage couple): "I say into you, BE ONE, and if you are not one, you are not mine."

Steve said...

If the 15 revelators cannot receive revelation by unanimous decision, then they are no more revelators than 15 young missionaries are. Either group can receive a vision from God, but only one group can make a unanimous decision that is binding on the body of Christ, because that group holds the keys.

Steve said...

Well, after two days of pondering and reading this one blog post and attendant comments, I must turn my attention elsewhere. I finally looked around the rest of your site. I can see my comments on the doctrine of revelation by unanimous councils will have fallen on deaf ears. It appears you have no interest in supporting Church leadership unless they follow your own council.

May God bless you always, friend, in your personal quest to seady the ark.

Anonymous said...

A few words from a grumpy former Gospel Doctrine teacher. "Revelation" does not come by any sort of vote. Revelation comes to those who are worthy, and in the position to have the authority over what they are getting a revelation for. A mother is perfectly entitled to seek and receive revelation concerning her course in life and her dealings with her children, for example. The ONLY person entitled to receive revelation that covers the entire church is the Prophet. No other individual or group, no matter how high-ranking, can 'make a decision,' and then call it revelation. Such a decision may work its way through the church and become church policy or practice, but it is not revelation. The vote comes in where various bodies decide whether to accept the revelation or not. This may happen at more than one level in the church. In no case does consensus serve as revelation. Common consent and revelation are two different things and it is important to understand them both. "The prophet as head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all other persons who preside in the Church, including General Authorities, stake presidents, bishops, general presidencies, and parents, may receive revelation for the benefit of those over whom they preside. ... Presiding quorums in the Church are entitled to revelation for the Church on matters of doctrine, policies, programs, callings, and disciplinary actions, as each might be appropriate to a given quorum. "
See also: The only person who may legitimately seek and receive direction that pertains to the entire church is the prophet. This does not mean that the ideas of men are bad and to be scorned. Mormonism considers the Constution to be inspired as well. That Joseph Smith included ideas that had been discussed in the rulebook for conducting the life of the church does not make those ideas revelations. Many rules and practices of the church are not covered by revelations but by common sense, expediency, and the needs of the time.

Anonymous said...

In every tome of scripture that the LDS faith deems to be the basis and foundation of it's doctrine, the use of wine is instructed to represent the Atoning Blood of the Savior in sacrament. Yeshua (aka Jesus)drank wine with his disciples, and with the hosts who provided the hospitality of their homes for meals, and for bed and board. The Word of Wisdom itsleve instructs the use of wine for sacrament, as does the D&C. Joseph Smith drank alcohol and used tobacco until the day he was killed in Carthage Jail. Not only that...but within 10 years of introducing the WOW, and as Mayor of Nauvoo, he granted himself a license to manufacture, sell and distribute wine and liquor, and his wife Emma served coffee and tea to guests in their home. In my decades of study regarding the history of the LDS church and it's leaders, I found this to be very interesting. That Joseph Smith preached from the pulpit that 'any man who had been properly taught regarding the WOW who failed to obey it's principles was not worthy to hold a position of leadership within the church'. Which brings a question...since Joseph Smith claimed to have been taught the principles of the WOW by a Deity...he had no excuse for violating the principles throughout the rest of his life. his own words, he wasn't worthy to hold his position as leader of the Mormon faith. And on top of that...the man had absolutely no problem with excommunicating the average member for doing exactly as HE was doing.

Janice Gordon

Anonymous said...

It may be that the reason wine has made you ill was due to the sulfites and sulfates used in manufacture. Have you tried kosher wine? Kosher wine is made without those ingredients. My personal preference is Manischewitz Blackberry wine, but it also comes in grape, red current and elderberry. It's a sweet wine. A dessert wine. Very mild and doesn't leave me feeling nauseous like non kosher wines do.

As far as the Word of Wisdom, it offers some good tips for optimum health, but was never meant as a commandment. Only a guideline of suggestions for optimum health. I've only met a handful of Mormons who followed it to the tee, at least where the guidelines for the use of meat are concerned. (and those Mormons are vegetarians) The salient point of the WOW is that God created all of these things for the use of humankind. We are to use them with thanksgiving, and use them prudently. To avoid excess in all things.

Janice Gordon

Anonymous said...

I wish there was a like option for what you said, Jean. The problem with many religious organizations is that they indoctrinate their followers to believe that they must look to their leaders for instructions regarding even the most personal and intimate details of their lives, rather than looking within themselves and making their own decisions. These religious organizations produce generations of people who are dependent upon them for these basic instructions, and in giving over such control to these leaders...the members lose critical thinking skills. When Yeshua Ben Yosef ( aka Jesus the Christ ) instructed his followers in regards of where to go if they sought wisdom...he told them to go directly to God. To retreat to the privacy of their rooms, and humbly petition Him with their questions and the desires of their hearts. He promised that God would not upbraid them, or take them to task for asking, but would provide answer through personal revelations. What Yeshua didn't do, was to instruct them to turn to other human beings for instructions regarding the will of God.

IMPO...of course...the vast majority of human beings deigning to identify themselves as Christians have forgotten this salient point. They believe that saying a certain combination of words, such as...'I accept Jesus as my personal Savior' is going to bring them salvation. They believe that so long as they attend church meetings every week, and parrot what they're told to believe by the ones they believe have spiritual authority over them, it's going to be all they need to do. They believe that rituals, and ceremonies in certain edifices will guarantee them salvation, and in the Mormon's case...exaltation in an exclusive kingdom in heaven. None of these things matter. Not one. I believe that the Lord Yeshua made this clear in his parable of the sheep and the goats. I look at organized religions such as the LDS faith, and I perceive that they have long since abandoned the path of spirituality, and the organization has morphed into a group of corporate businesses. Wherein I see millions spent on building exclusive edifices for pomp and ceremony, and BILLIONS on a mall and high rise condo complex in SLC while even one man, woman or child is going hungry and living on the streets, then something is amiss in Zion. Mormons claim that their church does many charitable works...but since the LDS church is not transparent with it's financial's nothing more than empty claims. I say...prove the claims. Members should demand financial transparency of their religious organization.

Janice Gordon

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the premise on pork. Pork can be very healthy. Depending upon what the pig is fed, of course. For example...a lean cut of grain fed pork is much healthier to eat than beef. Did you know that every time you eat a nice thick juicy steak, it takes your body 4-6 weeks to completely digest it? And during that 4-6 weeks, it's rotting and putrefying within your bowels?

Did you also know that according to Mormon Apostle George Q. Cannon...the WOW prohibition on hot drinks boiled down to the temperature of the drink, and also included hot soups, stews, and boiled cooked grain cereals? Hot drinks referred to alcoholic beverages served hot. Such as hot gin and rum toddies. It never applied to coffee or tea.

Janice Gordon

Anonymous said...

That rules out Saul of Tarsus, Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Janice Gordon

Anonymous said...

The man you believe to be a prophet of God who introduced the WOW never obeyed it's principles and enjoyed his wine, beer, liquor and tobacco until the last day of his life. The WOW was not meant as a commandment. It was a guideline for optimum health, and the prime directive was that human beings should utilize what the Lord had created with thanksgiving, and with prudence. The purpose was to teach them to avoid excess in all things. It doesn't matter what your more recent 'prophets' say about it, because they have never canonized revelation into their scriptures to the otherwise.

Janice Gordon

Anonymous said...

When the Mormons were preparing to make the trek west to the Utah Territory, Brigham Young instructed the Mormon families to include whiskey, wine, tobacco, coffee and tea in their supplies if they were able. When the Mormons arrived in the territory, Brigham Young opened the first saloon, and he also owned a general store which sold coffee, tea, tobacco, and liquor. Also interesting to note...Brigham Young sent Mormon families on 'farming missions' to the south. They were instructed to grow grapes for manufacture of wine, tobacco, and barley and hops for the manufacture of beer.

Janice Gordon

Anonymous said...

The council against hot drinks referred to the hot alcoholic drinks of the time. Such as hot gin or rum toddies. But Apostle George Q. Cannon took it to extremes. He believed that the prohibition on hot drinks referred to the temperature. And so he also instructed Mormons to avoid serving hot soups, stews, and cooked grain cereals.

Janice Gordon

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