Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Sacred Writings You're Not Allowed To See

How would you feel if you learned that the LDS ChurchTM claimed to be in possession of sacred writings that it didn't want its own members reading?

Almost 500 years ago a German monk had similar concerns with the medieval Catholic Church that he served under. His name was Martin Luther, and today Mormons honor him for initiating the protestant reformation. We have long recognized that without Martin Luther's reformation, there could have been no restoration under Joseph Smith.

Among the reforms demanded by Martin Luther was that the scriptures which the Church considered proprietary to itself should be available to all members.

Now someone on the internet has, in honor of Martin Luther's birthday last Thursday, made available some records that the ChurchTM provides for its leaders but deems too "sacred" for ordinary lay members. Among other reasons given, the poster believes that since members are directly affected by many of the rulings contained therein, they have a right to know about them. This "sacred record" is the Church Handbook of Instructions, newly revised in a two volume, massive 402 page edition officially released just yesterday. 
Although these volumes are said to represent the preeminent authority for all things relating to church government, policy, and doctrine, unless you are a bishop or stake president, the Brethren at ChurchTM HQ do not want you getting your grubby little hands on them.

Should a bishop be entitled to a guidebook that assists him in his calling?  By all means.  But I'll refer you to the Martin Luther-LDS site if you would like to see just how ridiculously out of bounds that once sensible guidebook has become.  Once meant as a simple guide to procedure, it has completely slipped its tether. 

The real question is, why has the Church become so dead set against the regular membership seeing the contents?  Some of the policies in the current handbook are intriguing, no doubt, but there's no question that much of it is directed downward at the lowly and mundane members.  This is the work they will be judged from.  Wouldn't you think those members should be allowed at least a little peek at the contents? Well, too bad, Amigo. You haven't been vetted. Only those holding rank, title, and office are privy to its secrets.

I'm guessing whoever is the author of the Martin Luther-LDS site is either a bishop or a stake president, as few others had access to the volumes before yesterday.  Then again, it may have been someone on the inside, someone from within the very bowels of the Morg. No matter; he's not the only one who feels this information should be readily available to any who desire it.  Copies had already been leaked to the Salt Lake Tribune, and presumably other outlets already have it, just as previous editions have always been available to those who know where to look.  Thousands of copies go out to Church leaders every time there's a revision, and thankfully not everyone in a leadership position shares the Church's needless and silly corporate obsession for secrecy.

The Two Mormon Churches

Last month I suggested that in all actuality there may two “Mormon” Churches existing in pretty much the same dimensional space: One consists of the believers, you and me, the Saints as a people, or what the apostle Paul analogizes as the body of Christ. The other, as Paul Toscano has described it, is “a church that is preoccupied with exteriorities. It prizes “righteousness” over holiness, “image” over inspiration." 

"The Church," states Toscano, is no longer the Saints, but an increasingly judgmental, puritanical, and authoritarian Corporate entity.”

"Unchecked power," he continues, "has led Church leaders to believe that their authority is not limited by the gospel, but that the gospel is limited, and may be amended by their authority. (The belief evidenced in Apostle Russell Nelson's Ensign article that arrogantly declares God's love to be conditional.) Faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost are rivaled by obedience, respectability, denial, and sycophancy.  The Church is no longer seen as the object of salvation, but its source."

"Christ is not so much author of redemption, as authorization for an aristocracy of apostles who serve less as shepherds proclaiming the gospel, but more as sheepdogs protecting the Church's snow white image from the night soil of human nature."

Standard Operating Procedure
The corporation that owns the trademark to the name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsTM long ago abandoned the idea that the “church” consists of the people who make it up. Those mere members must now be ruled over, supervised, and kept in line by their leaders. Like the medieval Roman Catholic Church, the modern LDS ChurchTM has become a hierarchy that rules by fiat.  The Church Handbook of Instructions is the very proof of that.

Every major corporation has a book of Standard Operating Procedures, or SOP. This corporation calls theirs the CHI. You may not consider it scripture, but the ChurchTM certainly seems to. In an email from the ChurchTM to a local stake authority (I can't quote the precise words from the message because the recipient fears it could be traced back to him), the manual and the work that it represents are referred to as “sacred.”

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism describes the CHI as “preeminent among Church publications in both its preparation and its use as an authoritative guide for local Church leaders.”

Sacred.” “Authoritative.” “Preeminent.” That sounds like the the very definition of scripture to me.  And if the ChurchTM is keeping scripture from you, don't you have the right to ask why?

Bishops are supposed to be guided by the spirit. Nephi taught that it is the role of the Holy Ghost to tell us all that we should do.  But what bishop has need of the Holy Ghost when he can just reach for the SOP manuals on the shelf behind him?

In discussing the secretive unveiling of the new Church Handbooks, LDS blogger Zo-ma-rah also posted a tribute to Martin Luther on Luther's birthday Thursday, concluding:
We should all take a lesson from him and seek to ensure that our church remains firm in it’s scriptural foundations. We may not have Popes and Councils in our church, but we do have Presidents and Committees. Let us not make the same mistakes as our ancestors by allowing such people to do and teach whatever they will, without ensuring that it is in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Two days after links to the Church handbook were posted on the Martin Luther-LDS site, lawyers for the Corporate Church, claiming copyright infringement, were successful in getting the server to kill those links. It would appear that the LDS ChurchTM thinks it's the Church of Scientology, whose members are not allowed to possess any knowledge above their rank.

Shake -Too late! 

Meantime, however, an unknown number of copies of the CHI were downloaded from Bishop Luther's site.  Unfortunately for those bent on control, those copies will continue to multiply digitally until everyone who wants a copy of the manuals should be able to find one somewhere.

Personally, I would advise you not to look.  The manuals are copyrighted by Intellectual Reserve, Inc., which is a subsidiary of The Corporation of the President, which is, of course, the corporation that owns the rights to the name of our churchI am not posting links here, nor am I advising anyone to download them for their own personal scripture study.  Intellectual Reserve maintains a slew of sharks attorneys in its employ, and nothing is as tenacious as a lawyer who thinks he is toiling on the side of God.  I do not wish to tangle with these people at this time, in light of my massive wealth and the substantial assets I stand to lose if I am sued by the ChurchTM. These assets consist primarily of my wife's oxygen machine, some dehydrated bananas, and four cases of canned cheese, so you can appreciate my reluctance to draw undue attention.

(Yes, I've bought three more cases of cheese since last we spoke.)

So if you are inclined to download materials under copyright to Intellectual Reserve, Inc.,  I will offer you counsel similar to that which the Brethren have offered when shooing us away from materials they deem inappropriate and harmful (such as this blog, perhaps):

Brothers and sisters, I say let it alone.  Do not bring such things into your home.  Doing so will only be destructive to your testimony of the Corporation and reap disappointment to you by and by.

Ain't No Thang

Anyway, here's the really big secret: Although the CHI contains some information every latter-day Saint should be aware of so you aren't caught by surprise, most of the information is not that big a deal.  No sacred ordinances are revealed, and you won't find instructions for eating babies in the basement of the temple.  No, the primary reason they don't want you reading the manuals is just plain old fashioned corporate control.  This is the Mormon Talmud, and you ain't no Rabbi.  So just move along, Moishe, and leave this religion stuff to the big boys.

The corporate bullies may have have stuck a cork in it for the time being, but nothing should stop you from reading about the CHI. The Martin Luther-LDS blog is still up, even if the links to the manuals themselves no longer work.  Catch it while it's hot, because there's no telling when even that may disappear, too.  The author delves into some of the more interesting topics from the CHI, along with an airtight argument as to why "scripture" cannot be owned, and why it is imperative that those of us who believe in the restored gospel should know what is contained within the pages of the material our tithing money paid for.

Then again, consider this: Just because you are LDS, you may think you have ownership of everything that comes out of the church. But keep in mind you don't belong to that church.  That is the Corporate ChurchTM. It has a very exclusive membership, and they don't care what you think.  The members of that Church will do whatever the hell they want.
Here's that link again: on-your-own/


Dave P. said...

I could care less about the CHI, but what I want to know is: Where are the brass plates and the Book of Joseph [of Egypt]? The latter is what I'm more concerned about as it's possible that Joseph Smith received that at the same time as the Book of Abraham.

Troubadour said...

Y'all might want to go here for a copy:

Troubadour said...

P.S. the password for that is Mr. Luther's first name (in lowercase).

The Hammer said...

HAHAHAHA YES YES YES. This is exactly the problem I have with that book. It kept me out of the temple when I was worthy, just because the bishop said the book said so. I wasn't over 25, I wasn't getting married, and I wasn't leaving on a mission, so I can't go to the temple, despite direct personal revelation to me that I was to go and the bishop agreeing I was worthy. I went inactive for three years after that. I shouldn't have, but I did.

Erin said...

Awesome! Thanks for posting about this! I checked out the link...incredible!

Count Chocula said...


Do you think the Church(tm) has both of those in their possession - either in the vault or otherwise - at present?

Anonymous said...

Your post in hilarious!!!!! I have never laughed so hard in my life. I just found out today that the "Activities Committee" is no longer, according to that new handbook. Since I am on that committee, I have to ask this: Who in the hell thinks that the Elder's can pull off an activity all on their own????? Can't happen in my ward. They will throw it off on the Relief Society Sisters.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dave and Count Chocula,
Zomarah seems to have come across the Book of Joseph, at least. He posted portions on his site just this minute:

As for the whereabouts of the Brass Plates, I couldn't tell ya.

BTW, if you can't find The Sealed Portion of the Brother of Jared, you must have forgotten to look on Amazon:

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the shout out in your post. Great stuff.

Yeah, I say Dave P.'s comment and couldn't resist. I'm working on a series about lost/found/forthcoming scripture, "From The Dust" In my next one I'll be talking a bit about the brass plates and sealed portion.

But if you can't wait there are two or three versions of the Sealed portion available online.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The sealed portion is available online?!

Looks like I just threw away 80 bucks.

Anonymous said...

I think those are two different versions. There might be a third somewhere.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

"Looks like I just threw away 80 bucks"

What is that? Like eight cans of cheese?

The lawyers might not even bother with you now=)

Dave P. said...

Rock, did you mean to post the same link twice up there in an earlier comment?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ah, yes Thanks,Dave. That link should go to where you can find someone who has translated the entire Sealed Portion using the Urim and Thummim:

Although I joked about ordering the book for 80 bucks (used, and now scarce), I actually do own it. It still cost about 39.95 new a few years back, but curiosity got the best of me. Very interesting forward regarding the translation process, but I couldn't get into the book itself. Dull and incomprehensible, if I recall correctly. Very long, too.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

There is now a volume two of the Sealed Portion, selling used for up to 175.00. Just how big was that sealed portion, anyway, to warrant a sequel?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Progress! As announced by the administrator of the Martin Luther-LDS blog:

"Though the LDS Church announced today that Book 2 will be available for everyone to read online, and that the training session will now be available online following said session (which are two important advancements), Book 1 will continue to be reserved for those in the “need to know” leadership positions."

Quoting the Church Spoksman:
"The handbook includes two volumes, one of which will be provided to hundreds of thousands of men and women who shoulder significant responsibilities in administering local Church programs and congregations. It contains the vast majority of revisions and will be posted online Saturday at, the Church’s website for members, where anyone can view it. Complete video of the worldwide leadership training broadcast will also be posted online late Saturday evening, Mountain Time.

"The other volume of the handbook, which contains relatively few changes, will be used primarily by bishops and stake presidents (leaders who oversee the work of several bishops). It will also be placed on the Church’s website with other resources specifically used only by these leaders."

Martin Luther 537: "Though I appreciate these changes, I still maintain that both books should be available for all to see, read and ponder. I think my thoughts and reasons on this matter are adequately represented in the original blog entry."

karl waterman said...

I am still looking forward to the day when his holiness the pope tells and shows the world that the complete library of alexander exists in the catacombs.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

"I am still looking forward to the day when his holiness the pope tells and shows the world that the complete library of alexander exists in the catacombs."

I bet there is a lot of cool stuff in Salt Lake as well=)

Dave P. said...

I think Rock did mention something about some journals being recently discovered and then quickly "undiscovered" again after they were read. I'm not 100% sure as it may have been on another blog.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dave P.,
No, that wasn't me. I did mention that Zomarah has excerpts of what someone else claims is the Book of Joseph. He does not claim that's what they are, but offers them on his site for what it's worth. Was that what you were thinking of, or something else.

My brother above has heard rumors to the effect that the contents of the library of Alexander is in the Vatican, but my understanding was that the library was completely destroyed by fire. The "books" if memory serves, were not paper but clay tablets, so who knows if some survived?

Dave P. said...

If I find it again, I'll post the link here then.

And if I had the time, I'd end all of my comments in rhyme.

Anonymous said...

Thought you might like this article.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Many thanks for that link. That's essential reading for all readers of this blog.

Anonymous said...

Nice thread Rock,
As a crazy fundamentalist-type, I believe the CHI is small-potatoes to what there is that they really don't want anyone to see. Case in point...John Taylor's diary...they have admitted that it exists, even admitted that it's in the 1st Presidency's vault but just try and get access to it. Even his descendants have tried and can't.
Was it Neal Maxwell that said something to the effect that "everything that is true is not necessarily useful"...?
Just sayin...

Bruce in Montana

andrew said...


have you gotten around to that beer yet, rock?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

No, Andrew, but I have a bottle in my fridge for the past two months that's pineapple flavored, so I figured that would be an easy start. Still afraid of tasting it , though. Tasted beer when I was 10, and I believe that ruined it for me.

Bruce, I believe that quote is from our old pal Boyd K. Interesting info on Taylor's diary; I did not know about it.

Dave P. said...

Ah, Bruce, that's what I was talking about earlier. Now if I can just find where I learned about it...

WasatchIntercept said...

A copyright is only as good as it's holder's willingness to defend it. Once proprietary information goes viral, DMCA complaints are about as useful as trying to holding back the tide.

My question for those who advocate unrestricted distribution is how could IRI maintain effective ownership of it's intellectual property, it it is being circulated completely out in the open?

The way things are, any one of us can find a place to download a copy of the "full" version for our own personal reference. We just can't publish it, or any part of it, for our own purposes, without some personal risk.

Now that the "lite" version is out and fully accessible, it will be interesting to watch how those, whose objectives are not entirely in line with the objectives of those who wrote the material, will make use of it.

Eugene said...

The following from an email posted on Instapundit about the TSA perfectly describes Correlation and the modern church, especially in light of how the CHI has become all but canonized scripture:

"The expressed goal was to integrate all of the diverse elements associated with public security into one entity and make them work seamlessly. The only way to do this, however, is through fairly rigid bureaucratic rules and strict policy guidelines. How would you control the behavior of screeners in diverse places such as Minot and NYC? You do it through strict policy and procedures. You simply cannot permit discretion on the part of individuals as this would jeopardize organizational control of these people. This is why the TSA seems mindless . . . the thinking is being done elsewhere, at the time the procedure is written."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

This is consistent with my theory that the gradual dissolution of freedom within the Church parallels the slow transformation of America from constitutional republic to a country where the leaders think they can just make it up as they go along.

Americans are finally waking up to the fact that the TSA assumes authority that conflicts with the constitution just as Many latter-day Saints are beginning to wonder why so much of the CHI presumes authority not given through revelation.

P.S. Someday I intend to get around to reading that book of yours.

Dave P. said...

Since the topic seems to have shifted over to the TSA for the moment, I have to say that I simply wonder if any of the GAs have had the "enhanced pat-down" experience because, like war, I don't see the church denouncing the TSA's molestation tactics any time soon but I hope I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. Hope ya don't get sued. Don't want you to lose your wife's oxygen tank!

Eliza R. Snitch said...

Such chutzpah, Rock! Be careful or the Corporation might try to make you redundant or downsize you or something similarly... corporate.

And Anonymous, it was Boyd Packer who said that some things that are true are not useful.

Dave P. said...

I'll start being surprised if such conflicting and/or contradictory statements that continue to pop up or will pop up in the future don't come from Packer. I've only heard these from word of mouth but they're both from BYU:

First, Packer was assigned to speak at some conference in the Mariott Center, but claimed that the audience was basically "unprepared" to listen to the "special message" he'd written because- *GASP!* they didn't follow his directions to move down to the front rows!

And the second is one I've mentioned before: A history professor was denied a position at BYU by Packer because he insisted that the professor only teach "faith promoting" history (likely of the church) instead of facts and arguments, you know, based on the professor's research.

Joseph Smith flat out said that the church wouldn't last five years if Sidney Rigdon took over. God help what's left of it today if Boyd K. Packer is still alive to succeed President Monson.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

In my opinion Packer has slowly been becoming more... genuine. He used to drive me crazy, now I see him as a regular guy like me that truthfully wants what is best for the members of the church and realizes that some of his actions in the past have hurt others.

This is just a hunch that I am getting so I am not going to back it up with facts or experiences. I just wanted to notify readers of this blog that there is at least one person out that that thinks Packer might be coming around a bit.

John Peterson said...

I found this quote on the Hugh Nibley wiki page apropos:

"The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism... the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances."

Dave P. said...

As part of a challenge from my stake president I've been re-reading the first four books of the New Testament and it's definitely been a refreshing change of pace to read the words of the Savior and his harshest words were always, ALWAYS against the scribes and pharisees. Such words included pointing out their hypocrisies, calling them children of the devil, saying their leaven (teachings) were poison, denouncing their supposed authority, told them flat out that harlots and sinners stood a much greater chance of entering His kingdom than they, and pointing out that the worshiped the law rather than the lawgiver. The common people whom Jesus taught had a reaction along the lines of, "Wow, this guy's got guts to denounce the pharisees like that," especially since those same people were very likely sick of their actions too but just didn't speak out.

whitehusky said...

//"Unchecked power," he continues, "has led Church leaders to believe that their authority is not limited by the gospel, but that the gospel is limited, and may be amended by their authority."//

That pretty much describes the attitude I've been getting from Mormons online. They seem oblivious to the fact that Jesus is the Lord, and that it is the Lord we honor, worship, and pray to. Any time I bring up scriptures showing that Jesus Christ is the Most High God and we can certainly pray to him, they say to come up with an example of a church authority saying it. When I provide examples of church authorities (even Pres. Monson) saying that we should pray to the Lord daily, these Mormons claim that Jesus isn't really the Lord then, but it must be another member of the Godhead.

They parrot false doctrines and say "I've been taught this in the church" and "the church says we worship Heavenly Father, so I don't care what the scriptures say."

Basically, these Mormons have sold out to what they perceive as the corporate stance, calling it "Mormon doctrine," while abandoning the most basic truths of the gospel.

If you don't know that Jesus Christ is the Lord your God, what's left? You might as well go out and fall asleep during general conference, then tell everyone you were highly edified by talks you never heard. After all, who needs the scriptures when we have the Ensign?

Anonymous said...

I notice on many of the blog sites, Pure, Weeping, LDSA, Denver etc... while its clear that they all notice the discrepancies between current LDS version of the Gospel and the original restored version.. I've noticed that everyone pretty much all of them are sticking with this church and its leaders.... and that they are sharing a message to free people from the tradition rather than from the church TM, and encouraging each to receive the gospel as spelled out in D&C 39:5-6. Awesome!

Anonymous said...

What is the title to Russell Nelson's talk? The link provided does links back to Blogger.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for reporting that broken link. Here is the talk:

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adam said...

it should be noted in case anyone reads this that the sealed portion of the book of mormon as linked to in the comments and found online is a complete fake. a well done fake but a fake none the less.

I'd stay far away from that.

the guy that wrote it is a known liar and I think even has a few felonies. granted this isnt proof of a false prophet in and of itself but still the fact is the guy that wrote it lied about writing it. if we compare to say Joseph Smith who never denied the book of mormon the author of the sealed book of mormon is on record at times of denying it.

Al Christensen said...

I think the main reason for keeping the CHI out of general membership's hands is so that they won't be able to call "Bullsh!t" on bishops and SPs who make up policy on the fly. When you're running an authoritarian institution, you can have your authorities exposed as incompetent or renegade.

silvije said...

I am kind apostate member also, but still believe that Church has more scriptures for us in store, but since we are not honouring our current covenants (Book of Mormon) we are not entitled to new revelations untill we repent. It has nothing to do with church authorities hiding something to us (like Catholic church) but they are probably under obligation not to reveal them to us until we collectively repent

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