Sunday, July 3, 2011

One Nation Under Babylon

Previously: Re-inventing Your Sundays Part 2: An Alternative To Staying Home

This July 4th I'm planning to attend my ward's Independence Day pancake breakfast. I'm relatively new to this ward and have not yet attended any fourth of July events, but in previous wards I've belonged to it was not uncommon at some point for everyone to gather together for group idol worship. I'm curious to see if that happens here.

At least the festivities usually kick off with an opening prayer to the true God, though the person offering the invocation can usually be counted on to offer something about how grateful we are on this day for all the wonderful freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

Never mind that with each passing year, what few freedoms we still possess are rapidly being stripped from us, and that those who have hijacked our republic are moving at full throttle to install a police state in its place. This is Independence Day, after all, and fooling ourselves into believing we are as free as our grandparents were is all just part of the game. Deceiving ourselves into thinking we still have anything to celebrate is essential to the illusion. What fun are fireworks and watermelon if we're just going spend the day depressed?

At most fourth of July celebrations I have attended, at some point the scouts arrive as a color guard, and that's when the members place their hands over their hearts and say a prayer to the false god that wants to imprison them.

I won't be participating in that prayer.

I'll stand quietly and respectfully as I always do while the crowd practices their peculiar religious rite. My reasons for declining to participate are simple: as a patriotic American with a deep reverence for the men who put their names to the Declaration of Independence, I try not to participate in any activity that would horrify them.

And there is little question the pledge of loyalty many Americans routinely and cavalierly offer up to the government would absolutely horrify the men who sacrificed so much to found our nation. They considered the central government to be a potential monster that could easily swallow up our liberties if not constantly kept in check. If we expect to remain free we must maintain eternal vigilance against our own government, not swear an oath to love and obey it. Even in its most benign state, government is something we must keep a close eye on.

“Government is not reason,” George Washington reminds us, “It is not eloquence. It is fire. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master.”

Or, as Edwin Black has more recently put it, “That which warms us can also incinerate us.”

Like every other child growing up in America, I just naturally assumed the pledge of allegiance was as old as America herself. For all I knew, George Washington stood up at the beginning of every session in Philadelphia, faced the flag, and led the rest of the delegates in reciting the pledge. It made sense to me that America's greatest patriots would perform this ceremony every day without fail.

The possibility that the founding fathers would have considered the pledge of allegiance to be a slap in the face after all their effort was something that simply would not have occurred to me.

Identical Cousins
Far from having any roots in the principles of liberty, the modern pledge of allegiance was the brainchild of men whose every waking goal was to convert America from a land of free individuals into a society of cheerfully oblivious drones.

Edward Bellamy was the author of a very popular novel published in 1887, titled Looking Backward: 2000-1887. Its protagonist was one Julian West, a Boston gent who goes to sleep in 1887 and wakes up in the year 2000 to find a perfect world run by the federal government. “Wasteful competition” has been eliminated because now one giant company owns everything. Everyone earns the same amount of money, and jobs are assigned according to ability (if you have a hard job, you work fewer hours, and if you have an easy job, you work longer). Somehow, because everyone makes the same salary, there is no crime or theft. (Don't ask me to explain why that is.) Those few “morally deficient” individuals who don't care to go along with the program are imprisoned, re-educated, or simply “eliminated.” For everyone else, life is a cabaret.

Reading this novel in a post-Soviet society, one is struck by its silly unworkable idealism, and those familiar with the futuristic works of Phillip K. Dick might expect to find that in the end everything falls apart and the hero narrowly escapes what is in truth a gulag in disguise.

But no. Bellamy was serious. This was not a dystopian society, it was Utopia; a minutely managed nation where every individual's will is subsumed under the collective. To Edward Bellamy, paradise was a well-regulated corporate military machine where everyone did as he was assigned and no one thought to ask questions. In Looking Backward, West finds true love, the workers are content, and they all live happily ever after.

Bellamy's novel was hugely popular in its day, and is considered by many to have been a key influence in the socialist movement in America, as well as inspiring the emerging socialist movements in Russia and Germany. Bellamy convincingly showed how the perfect society could be attained. All you had to do was convince the individual that the life of the hive was more important than his own.

But where Edward Bellamy only wrote about socialist theory, his cousin Francis was intent on seeing it put into practice. Francis Bellamy was a Baptist preacher who was constantly preaching that Jesus was a socialist. He was apparently unable to grasp Jesus's teachings that altruism must spring from within the individual, not have it forced upon him from an outside authority.

Apparently not all Baptists were stupid back then, because Bellamy kept getting fired from his congregations for his radical interpretation of scripture and his increasing socialist activism. Eventually he landed a job on the staff of The Youth's Companion, the pre-eminent children's magazine run by Daniel Ford, who was a strong supporter of Bellamy's socialist views.

Beginning in 1888, the inside back cover of every issue of The Youth's Companion contained a full page ad promoting the magazine's campaign to sell flags to public schools as premiums for subscriptions.

Up until this time no one had seriously considered flying federal flags over a schoolhouse; flags were more appropriate to military installations. But to Bellamy and his socialist cohorts at Youth's Companion, instilling schoolchildren with a sense of national pride was a necessary first step toward a national population that could be managed and controlled.

Francis was also a key player with the National Education Association, an organization intent on converting the American school system into something more closely resembling the Prussian model. Whereas in the many private and religious schools in America, children were trained in critical thinking so that they might one day go forth and make their way in the world, the Prussian system, as described by John Taylor Gatto,
“reduced human beings during their malleable years to reliable machine parts, human machinery dependent upon the state for its mission and purpose.”
The Prussian system, writes Rex Curry, “trained the young to report to a central government facility, to memorize shallow identical opinions, and to march at the sound of government bells.”

The “success” of the Prussian model of education was eventually demonstrated by Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, when those nations went to war against each other. Both countries' soldiers had been schooled under the Prussian model, and though their leader's political philosophies were virtually identical (the argument came down to which leader should be dominant, Hitler or Stalin?), the actual participants in the war were incapable of examining the reasons why they were fighting and dying. They understood only that their country demanded sacrifice, and they willingly fell into line as they had been trained to do since childhood.

But long before that, Francis Bellamy was advocating for state control of the minds of American youth. “The training of citizens in the common knowledge and the common duties of citizenship," Bellamy insisted, "belongs irrevocably to the State."

“Citizens,” to men like Bellamy, meant docile subjects of the state. “If the individual is led to surrender certain of his freedoms for the good of all, he surrenders to a paternalism of all the people.” Again, Bellamy confuses the teachings of Jesus with his own earthly philosophy. Where Jesus taught that surrendering to Him would bring the spirit to life, Bellamy's advocacy of surrender to the state leads to spiritual death. The guy was a moron, yes, but a dangerous one.

Benjamin Franklin had a counter argument to that over a century earlier. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Bellamy soon went to work with editor James B. Upham on a scheme for a day of national patriotism to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Columbus day. The Youth's Companion vigorously promoted the idea with contests and promotions. It's impossible to underestimate the influence of that magazine in its day. Virtually every schoolchild in the country was either a subscriber or had access to it through friends or school. The NEA soon appointed Francis Bellamy as chairman of the upcoming celebration. President Benjamin Harrison encouraged the entire nation to join in and participate. It was decided that on the 400th anniversary of Columbus' birthday, every school in the country would prominently display the American flag (purchased through Youth's Companion, of course), and at a given time, two million schoolchildren all over the country would salute the flag in unison. This thing was going to be big.

But what about that salute? How should it be done? A simple military salute seemed less than satisfying. It was decided there should be some type of words to go along with it.

Three years earlier, a New York principal named Colonel Balch created a salute he taught to his kindergarten class, mostly children of immigrants. It was designed to be simple and aid in their assimilation. It went like this:

"We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country: one country, one language, one flag."

If this was what Americans said today when saluting the flag, I wouldn't be writing this article; I have no quarrel with those words. In the Balch salute God comes first. Secondly, it expresses a sentiment without demanding the child engage in oathtaking.

But Francis Bellamy didn't like the Balch salute. He wanted something that would condition the children toward a sense of nationalistic unity. You can't raise an army of nationalists unless you can get them to commit on an emotional level. For Bellamy, a simple salute wasn't going to cut it. He wanted the kids to swear a sacred oath. No matter that they wouldn't understand what they were swearing to; constant repetition would, over the years, endear the children's hearts to the State. Eventually Americans wouldn't even question what they were pledging to; they would just repeat it on demand.

Here is the pledge Francis Bellamy put together:

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

There was, of course, no mention of God in there. That wouldn't come for another fifty years, a sop thrown to those Christian holdouts who were suspicious of the secular nature of the pledge. When "under God" finally appeared in the pledge, it was as if someone had decided, "let's throw those crazy Christians a bone and see if that shuts 'em up."

It did. Nary a peep of dissent has been heard from religious leaders since, until recently when the possibility arose of that phrase being removed. Religionists are easy to mollify. Just give 'em something meaningless that sounds divine, and they'll buckle every time.

The Bellamy Salute was delivered by the children with a straight-arm tribute pointing up toward the flag. By 1942 when it became apparent that the way our kids saluted the flag was exactly the same way the children of the our Nazi enemies saluted theirs, Americans changed over to placing their hand on their heart as we do today. Wouldn't want an obviously fascist ritual to appear fascist now, would we?

Except for that part about the Nazi salute, the pledge seems pretty innocuous, right?

Well, there's nothing innocuous about any pledge, especially when you don't know what you're pledging to.

Whether you realize it or not, when you pledge allegiance to anything, you are swearing an irrevocable oath binding yourself as a slave to that thing forever. “Allegiance” is related to the word “liege.” In the middle ages a liege was a rope or a tether that was tied to a slave on one end and his master on the other. (If the word “Leash” comes to mind, that's no coincidence; “Liege” is middle french for our modern word “leash.”

You may recall old movies from the 1930's with Ronald Coleman or some other subject bowing and scraping his assent to the king, “Yes, my liege.” He was establishing the master-servant relationship. He was affirming (pledging) his allegiance to the true king. According to common law, it is impossible to bear allegiance to more than one entity at a time. There is truth to the scripture that says no man can serve two masters.

Ever wonder why you don't go around pledging allegiance to anyone else in your life? You may love God, your spouse, your children, or even your job, but how often do you actually recite a spoken pledge of singular loyalty to any of them? There's only room in your life for one master, and you tethered yourself to that one way back in grade school. You've been giving the federal government first dibs on your life almost from the beginning. What do you think that social security number means?

A pledge of allegiance to anyone or any thing is such a serious matter that only a fool or a child would enter into such an arrangement without thinking. That's why it's all the more insidious that we allow any pledge to be introduced to our children. Remember how seriously the people in the Book of Mormon took their oaths? Oath taking is not something that should be entered into by children.

Liberty And Justice For All?
So let's think about this. When we're pledging allegiance to the flag, we are pledging undying loyalty to something, but what? Certainly not a piece of cloth. It must be what that piece of cloth represents.

Is it America? That's kind of vague. What do we mean by “America?” Is it your friends, your family, your job? Is it the land? Or all the people who live on the land? (Do you really want to declare yourself a slave to a bunch of people you don't even know?)

Oh, here it is: “and to the Republic for which it stands.” Okay, so you're pledging to be a slave to the Republic.

Except not one American in a thousand can even define what a Republic is. (Most Americans blithely believe we live in a democracy.) But let's settle on that. Let's assume you're pledging your personal allegiance to the Republic. Well, that creates a problem. If you are declaring yourself a slave to the Republic, you don't live in a Republic, since a Republic is a form of government where everyone is equal under the law. If there are slaves in your republic it isn't a true republic now, is it?

So here's what I think the problem is with the pledge: Even though most Americans don't really think about what they are pledging to when they perform the pledge of allegiance to the flag, they are indeed participating in an emotional process that over time affects them at the very core of their being, whether they realize it on a conscious level or not. Somehow they find themselves bound to that flag on a gut level, and they feel it. They will follow that flag wherever it goes. Never mind the possibility -as the founders warned- that the government that was created to protect you could one day be hijacked from within. If that flag goes somewhere it shouldn't, as a symbol of empire conquering and engulfing other nations, your heart goes with it. Your love of the flag hampers your ability to critically assess whether your government's actions are proper or not. Love the flag, love the empire.

Or to paraphrase the words of Jesus, where your flag is, there will your heart be also.

I've run into people -good, faithful LDS people- who see nothing wrong with holding blind allegiance to the United States government. In fact, they insist it's doctrinal.

But as apostle J. Reuben Clark has affirmed, "God provided that in this land of liberty, our allegiance and the only allegiance we owe as citizens or denizens of the United States, runs to our inspired constitution which God himself set up."

Now, that's scriptural. In D&C 98, Jesus himself says “I the Lord justify you...in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; and as pertaining to law of man, anything more or less than this cometh of evil.” (Verses 6 and 7.)

Did you get that? Anything the government attempts that does not line up with the constitution comes of evil. That's pretty clear.

Which brings us back to the $64,000 question: After all is said and done, isn't the pledge of allegiance just a harmless recitation? It's just a little ditty we teach our children, isn't it?

Well, leaving aside the question of whether or not you believe in being your word, let me answer that question with this one: Is the primary song “Follow the Prophet” harmless? It's just some little ditty we teach our children, isn't it?

We are now seeing a second generation of Mormons youth being raised on that pernicious false doctrine, a Luciferian teaching that not only can not be found anywhere in our scriptures, but is completely antithetical to all scripture and the words of all the prophets prior to Wilford Woodruff, who blurted out that little fib one day when he found himself in a tight spot. I'm certain he never expected the saints to be repeating his little white lie a hundred years later as gospel.

Do you feel that little primary song has done no harm to the church? Primary children grow up to be adults, believing that wisdom, knowledge, and salvation lie not in Christ, not in the scriptures, not in the Holy Ghost, but in hanging on every word of the president of the Church no matter what.

This false teaching that the prophet can never lead the church astray has been refuted over and over through the word of God, yet the teaching is so persistent that it was declared recently in a conference talk by a new general authority who hadn't gotten the memo that it shouldn't be taught. When such palpably false doctrine is delivered over the pulpit during general conference and no one refutes it for fear of giving offense, you know the Church is in trouble.

Harmless? Not by my reckoning.

The Pledge of Allegiance has been recited by American adults and children non-stop for the past 119 years. Consider the damage that has done to our country. We've raised generations of citizens who have no idea what the constitution is about, but who believe loyalty to government is their highest civic duty. They are taught that nothing can go wrong because the government has three branches constantly performing checks and balances on itself.

When the bankers who hijacked our government tell these dumbed-down Americans that the country will crash and burn if they don't immediately agree to fork over their taxes to pay for the banker's bonuses, these Americans dutifully fall into line and pay up. When rogue presidents send the American flag into foreign countries to conquer, kill, and occupy, these American's hearts follow that flag and swell with pride for “all the good America is accomplishing overseas.”

Some of these people will actually sacrifice their own children to the State, placing them in a uniform where they are shoved into harm's way, proud of the fact that their child may die to defend the freedom of Americans at home. (But ask them to explain exactly how their child's death or disfigurement contributed to the defense of freedom in America, and all you'll get are blank stares.)

Slow, gradual conditioning is amazingly pernicious. The fact that some people reading this will be offended that I have challenged their precious pledge is itself a witness to how deeply ingrained that conditioning is. Francis Bellamy understood the scripture that says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not depart from it.”

Conversely, Bellamy knew that if you train up a child in the way you want him to go, when he is older he will not depart from that, either.

The pledge of allegiance is anything but harmless. It creates a pavlovian response that has resulted over and over in a mindset that rejects critical thinking and defers to the government position in all matters.

It was this mindset that compelled Gordon B. Hinkley, on the eve of America's invasion of Iraq, to declare that “as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally.”

So here we have the purported Mouthpiece Of The Lord telling us that he doesn't have any message for us from the almighty at the moment, but that we should defer to the wisdom of politicians.

It is now well known that those national leaders our prophet declared the people “under the direction of” deliberately lied to the nation about the causes and need for the present war. And yet the wars continue, and increase in number, and few people since have asked these two simple questions:
1. How is it that the Prophet of God could not see through the clear deceptions being foisted upon him by deceitful politicians
and,
2. In advising us to defer to our national leaders instead of upon the word of God (such as D&C 98:33 where the Lord strictly prohibits his people from going to battle in foreign lands), and subsequently learning that those leaders deceived us; is it not apparent that the prophet has led the members of the Church astray?
How about when he incorrectly declared that “those in the armed services are under obligation to execute the will of the sovereign. When they joined the military service, they entered into a contract by which they are presently bound.”

Did Gordon Hinckley really need to be reminded that in this nation, The People are sovereign, and not the president? Polls taken at the time showed an overwhelming majority of the people opposed the unprovoked attack on the Iraqi people, yet when congress refused to issue a declaration of war as required by the constitution, the president declared himself the new sovereign (“I'm the decider!”) and executed the war himself in direct defiance of God's decree that anything more or less than that which is permitted by the constitution cometh of evil.

Further, the Prophet of God directly deceived latter-day Saints serving in the military when he insisted that they are duty bound to follow the orders of their superiors no matter what. In reality, no soldier has any obligation to follow unconstitutional directives. Absolutely none. President Bush, and now President Obama, have converted the American presidency into an empirical post. They deceive the people, and the Presidents of the Church lead the people astray by going along with that deception.

Why is it, I wonder, that ancient prophets like Nathan, Abinadi, and Captain Moroni were known for boldly calling civil leaders to repentance, while the prophets today appear to enjoy hob-nobbing with the powerful on the public stage?













But I digress.

Just Opt Out
I've talked to people who would love to not participate when the pledge of allegiance is taking place, but are afraid, or just don't know how.

If you were to attend Catholic Mass with a friend, you would not feel any obligation to genuflect and cross yourself while there. This is someone else's religious ceremony, so you remain where you are and smile politely. You don't have to take part, and you don't have to make a scene.

It's the same with the pledge. Because I respect other people's religious beliefs no matter how odd they may seem, when the pledge is announced I stand politely with my arms to my side, saying nothing. That's all there is to it. I don't rant and rail about the impropriety of it all, because after all, I was once a devout believer in the State religion myself. People don't take kindly to being confronted about their religious beliefs, and believe me, Flag Worship is a pagan religion.

You'll rarely come across people more attached to a religious ceremony than some people are to the pledge. It's more precious to them than their baptism. Decades of placing the hand over the heart and swearing undying love for an inanimate object is going to result in deeply ingrained emotions toward that object. So cut these people some slack. Remember that not long ago you were just like them.

I love our national anthem, along with all the other hymns to America. They celebrate the country, the land, and the people. If I get the chance to sing any of those songs this weekend I'll be belting them out at the top of my voice (I still have the range to sing the national anthem, I'm proud to say.)

Just don't expect to see me with the rest of the apostates in promising fealty to a false god. To mash a quote from both Patrick Henry and the prophet Joshua, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

                                                                 *****
For two more excellent and insightful pieces on the Pledge from a Mormon point of view, see here:

"Why I Do Not Pledge Allegiance To The Flag," by Connor Boyack

"Misguided Patriotism," by Riley Drey
 

95 comments:

Cap'n Moroni said...

Once again you force me to examine my most deeply held beliefs, Rock. Will you never let up?

morgbotalpha said...

Today (07/03/11) the opening prayer in sacrament mtg included the phrase "bless us as we worship our nation and the freedoms granted". Yep - idol worship is alive and well.

morgbotalpha said...

I post from the CST - so I was in the clerk's office during sacrament mtg trying to avoid the boring crush of "i love you" testimonies. We got a new bishop so all the crazy just came pouring out.

dovh49 said...

Great post. I too have recently decided not to say the pledge of allegiance for about 9 months now. I do the same as you and just stand quietly while everyone else recites it.

I've told my concerns to a couple of people with like minded beliefs and they opted to continue because it says "under God". You are much more eloquent here than I am. I would send them this article but they would get quite offended by the prophet parts. Put I don't see any illogic in that either.

From what I understand the Washington quote is an urban legend quote, it can't be proved that he ever said that (although I do like the quote). See:

http://volokh.com/2010/04/14/government-is-not-reason-it-is-not-eloquence-it-is-force/

I think you would like this quote from David O McKay (1943 General Conference):

"If and when the time ever comes that parents shift to the state the responsibility of rearing their children, the stability of the nation will be undermined, and its impairment and disintegration will have begun."

I don't know if he was referring to g[u]nverment schools but when I read it that is what I think, from head start all the way through college, including extracurricular activities, etc. We, as a people, have definitely turned our children over to the state. As for me, I hope my children will never choose to go to such an institution (except for college, if they choose to do a technical field that doesn't let you get in without a piece of paper that says they can).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! I see I'm not the only one who has this experience. I was talking with my wife just this morning about how this is the day where in fast and testimony meeting every one will be gushing about how thankful they are for our freedoms. Makes me want to laugh and mock them. What freedoms? I have come to understand that many people confuse prosperity with freedom. I suppose having plenty of money to buy just about whatever you want is a certain type of freedom, but that is different from the freedom that comes from limited state power. We have none of that.

I won't do so for fear of alienating myself from ward members, but I feel like getting up in fast and testimony meeting and talking about the great example our forefathers gave us on July 4, 1776 when they asserted their God given right to be independent of oppressive empire and that I pray we may find the courage to do the same in our day. Wouldn't go over well. So I will be quiet.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Who cares how it goes over? Say it anyway!

ff42 said...

Thank you for putting in the effort of producing this excellent post.

Jeremiah Stoddard said...

I'm making a pizza right now that I'll be taking to our gringo Independence Day celebration tonight down here in the Rosarito, Mexico ward. I don't dream of celebrating our government, but I like to think of myself as celebrating the ideals of individual independence and self-government.

The pledge of allegiance itself is in direct contradiction to Jesus' commandment not to participate in oaths (Matthew 5:34), at least if you take Jesus literally at his word and don't think that human government supersedes the Divine Sovereign. Oddly enough, as a church we've rejected Peter and John's council to put God before government (Acts 4:19) and regularly preach the abrogation of "Thou shalt not kill" for the sake of obedience to men. Funny, I didn't see any record of the early latter-day saints being so eager to kill each other under Governor Boggs.

Well, the Jehovah's Witnesses got something right when it comes to the pledge. Once I realized this I stopped being so antagonistic to them (or any other faith). I don't even consider those who take the pledge to be evil; each has to take his own spiritual path, and who am I to say that my exegesis of Christ's teachings is the correct one, when I've been wrong so many times before?

Meh, I'm rambling. I guess the point is, "thanks for the article."

diogenes said...

Rock,
Awesome as usual!
I heard Stephen Colbert use the word "Flagophilia" during on program. It inspired me to make my little effort to have that word added to our dictionaries. You inspired me to re-post an older post on this American Exceptionalism weekend: http://themormonworker.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/national-flagophilia/
Thank you for your tireless effort....

Macha said...

This is great! I agree with you, but I'm afraid of offending family and close family friends who served (or are serving) in the military or who had close family members die in the service.

Just curious, what do you think of saluting the flag for the Star-Spangled Banner?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I don't think I have a problem saluting the flag, Macha, especially during the anthem. I just won't pledge to it.

As for your friends whom you are reluctant to share this with: Everyone deserves to be awakened. Just send it to them and ask for their opinion on it. Then you won't seem to be pushing your thoughts on them.

You may be surprised at how many Americans in the military are waking up and re-assessing things these days.

Steven Lester said...

From that last comment "You may be surprised at how many Americans in the military are waking up and re-assessing things these days" I am led to point out that the soldier, by and large, fights and dies or will willingly allow himself to be injured, not because of flag or country or the hate of enemy, but for the group of guys (and women, possibly) with whom they serve. Their brotherhood. Ask any soldier in the hospital what their chief, even sole desire is, and it will be, practically without exception, to get back to his unit, his guys. The military has understood this since WWII, and focuses on unit cohesion from the very first hour of basic training. This might allow the generals to hold unfettered power, but it also allows the grunt within some group into which the general would never be allowed, to think for themselves. Oh well.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Diongenes, that was a great piece at the Mormon Worker. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

THurts said...

Rock:

The Prussian system, writes Rex Curry, “trained the young to report to a central government facility, to memorize shallow identical opinions, and to march at the sound of government bells.”

The exact same thing could be said about the LDS system;

The LDS curriculum ... train[s] the young to report to a central [hierarchy], to memorize shallow identical opinions, and to march at the sound of [leadership] bells.”

But, though Boyack's piece on the flag may be spot on, he has likewise parroted the "Prophet will never lead us astray" meme frequently.

Boyack ended one piece by reminding us:

I’m grateful to have a prophet today who knows the mind, will, and voice of the Lord. I will follow him, for “he knows the way”.

Now we have a prophet, in the latter-day,
He is here to guide us in so many ways.
If we choose to follow all that he may say,
We will have the Spirit with us every day.


And, in another separate piece, gave us these words of wisdom:

When I read this quote [a discussion on the girl who refused to let go of her 2 sets of earrings after Hinckley stated that only 1 set was necessary] I felt the Spirit testify of its truthfulness. How does somebody who disregards this counsel from the Prophet expect to have the desire or ability to obey him when much harder things are required of us? Does such a person think it’ll be that much easier to obey when we’re called to congregate together in Zion, or something of similarly large proportion? I propose that such a person who disobeys the seemingly “trivial” matters will be like the five virgins without oil in their lamps. They will lack the preparation, obedience, and Spirit that comes from following the Prophet of the Lord.

I hope we all can listen to the Prophet and obey his every word, so that as Pres. Packer says, we may not go astray.


So, while Boyack may be onto something with his piece on the pledge of allegiance, his thoughts on the gospel and the prophets are at odds with both the scriptures and the restoration. So be it.

Good piece, Rock.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

THurts,

It is indeed unfortunate when good members adopt the belief that God wants us to blindly obey the prophet absent a clear revelation.

In my opinion, Brother Connor's logic is inverted. If we are so ready to accept the word of a prophet as though it were a commandment on something as trivial as fashion accessories, how will we be able to discern if he speaks for the Lord on larger issues such as gathering to Zion?

Joseph Smith reminds us that sometimes a prophet can be wrong. Our entire history is replete with examples. Suppose one day a prophet in feeble health announces something big that originated in his own mind and not from the mind of God? If we don't exercise discernment in the small matters, how can we recognize it when it counts?

I do not feel God issued the counsel on girl's ear rings, neither did Hinckley claim the counsel was from God. Nor do I believe that God "tests" our obedience in this way. On the contrary, God teaches against blind following of the leaders.

THurts said...

Rock:

What's amusing about this - as you mentioned above - is that somehow we're to believe that God had an interest in how many earrings a lady or man has, but that God had no say on the wars/envasions that happened shortly after Hinckley uttered his opinion.

I'll restate your words for emphasis:

It was this mindset that compelled Gordon B. Hinkley, on the eve of America's invasion of Iraq, to declare that “as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally.”

So here we have The Mouthpiece Of The Lord telling us that he doesn't have any message for us from the almighty at the moment, but we should defer to the politicians.

It is now well known that those national leaders our prophet declared the people “under the direction of” deliberately lied to the nation about the causes and need for war.


So the President of the Church who parades around, and is lauded by fawning admirers worldwide, as a "prophet" and the earthly mouthpiece of the Lord/God had absolutely nothing to say other than that we need to defer to the politicians on the matter of a war that would last decades, and yet the Lord/God had time to tell the president - enough to issue an official statement - that earrings are to be disposed of?!

It's phenomenally bizarre.

Me from Cali said...

I read everything you posted, but here are my thoughts:

When I married my wife, I pledged my allegiance to love her, protect her, etc, and I am positive that God is okay with this because it falls within the notion of “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Similarly, I don’t have a problem making a pledge of allegiance to my country, i.e., to love it and to do what is required of me to serve and protect it. Your definition of ‘allegiance’ is archaic (feudal). I think most people today would NOT ascribe to the notion that ‘allegiance’ means being a slave or tethered to a master who has absolute power and control over you, but rather it’s about being loyal as a subject to his or her sovereign country. Are you suggesting that those who fought as citizens pledging allegiance (going to war; obeying their leaders) to the United States in WWII did the wrong thing? Yet, had the United States not intervened and Hitler prevailed, do you really think the world would be in a better state today? And as far as the Iraq war, sure, perhaps this war isn’t/wasn’t *justified*, but maybe it is/was *necessary*. The world is a complex place and I don’t know with capital ‘C’ Certainly whether these wars are or are not the right thing, and neither does anyone else, even retrospectively. Would you, Rock Waterman, give your life for the preservation of your country? I would certainly hope so. So it follows, how do you capital ‘A’ -- Absolutely know that what has been accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan has not done something for which had we not fought against this cancer and blight in the world called ‘terrorism’ and ‘Taliban’, etc, hasn’t staved off another type of 9/11 catastrophe? Of course no one can answer that question, but the adage, “I’d rather do something and fail miserably than do nothing and succeed beautifully.” is apropos and I will be ever grateful to the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice in these wars to ensure that we have been safe up until now on our soil. I choose to believe their sacrifice has done something meaningful, at least for the fact that no one knows with capital ‘C’ Certainty that it has or hasn’t. But I sure as heck know NOW that the United States made a positive contribution to the world with regard to WWII. So, even though we know NOW that the Viet Nam war was wrong, maybe one day we’ll know with regard to these current wars whether they were right or wrong. But right now we can’t see the forest for the trees; our leaders are just doing what they, notwithstanding their human limitations, is the right thing to do for the good of our country and the world right now.

Please permit me to say this as well: I am a new American citizen. One question I had to reconcile within my heart and mind was, “Would I give my life in defense of this county if called upon by the sanctioned legal authority of the county?” I decided that I would and this became my ‘pledge’ or my ‘oath’ and the culminating reason to become a citizen of the United States of America. I have travelled the world and there are a lot of great places ‘out there’ to live in, but in all practicality (notwithstanding the notion of ‘duel citizenship’, which really isn’t all that ‘practical’ because of taxation laws and other reasons) I can really only live in one country, yet I can’t think of any other place in the world where I’d rather live other than the United States of America. Sure, it’s politics on all levels, some of it’s laws, and other aspects of its many diverse cultures and societies are problematic, but as far as I am concerned it’s still the greatest country in the world (especially SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!!) and I pledge my loyalty (allegiance) to it and feel honored to do so. con’t

Me from Cali said...

con’t
Might I also state that when someone recites the Pledge of Allegiance, nowhere in that pledge is that person swearing an oath to obey anything unconditionally. You mean to tell me that you wouldn’t pledge allegiance (NOT ‘liege’, as you state) to a country that stands for “liberty and justice for all”? What’s the difference between “"We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country: one country, one language, one flag." and the current Pledge of Allegiance? “We give our heads (minds, intellect, will); we give “our hearts” (spirit, love, loyalty, will) is no different than the phraseology in the PoA. How does “one county,” and “one language” and “one flag” differ from the PoA? You stated that you are okay with Balch‘s pledge, but not Bellamy’s because: “He wanted something that would condition the children toward a sense of nationalistic unity.” What are you saying? BOTH RECITATIONS ARE STATING ESSENTIALLY THE SAME THING!!!!! And I certainly don’t feel like I’m one of “Hitler’s youth” when I recite the Pledge of Allegiance for the simple reason being I don’t get hung up on semantics, e.g., I’ll recite a ‘pledge’ but not an ‘oath’, or not really a pledge but gratitude or acknowledgement, but only to this part or to the flag, but not this or that, and... whatever.

I think your issue is really with the Mormon church and pledging allegiance to *that* institution and its leaders. I think you are making an erroneous comparison between the government of country and the government of church. And it is on this point, i.e., we are not to pledge allegiance to a man, be him even a true prophet, that I am much in agreement with you on many points. I would venture to say that President Obama wouldn’t want me to pledge allegiance to him *unconditionally* and I would venture to say that God wouldn’t want me to pledge unconditional allegiance to any of His prophets IN THE SENSE that they are infallible and I am not to have the liberty to think and choose for myself. Yet, so many intellectually and spiritually lazy ( and Nazi) members of the LDS church recite the mantra “follow the prophet” as if the prophet was God or infallible. THIS is the hallmark of a cult church.

Anonymous said...

Rock, there's so much here, I hope you won't mind a few disconnected observations.

I don't know about "one country, one language, one flag"; so much depends on context and interpretation. There was a somewhat similar Nazi slogan, Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer (one people, one nation, one leader). By the same principle, I think you may be overstating the actual effect of "allegiance" today, whatever its medieval connections.

You say the pledge does not entail loyalty to "a piece of cloth". In this you may be more rational than a certain US Supreme Court justice:


Millions and millions of Americans regard it [the flag] with an almost mystical reverence....I cannot agree that the First Amendment invalidates...laws...which make criminal the public burning of the flag.


That's from Renhquist's dissent in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989) (scroll down to CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST, with whom JUSTICE WHITE and JUSTICE O'CONNOR join, dissenting" to read the whole very, very idolatrous thing). It think it's fair to ask if he felt allegiance to the piece of cloth. Of course the entire dissent only reinforces your larger point, with which I am in agreement.

One thing I'll say for our national civil religion: it's a potentially valuable counterweight to another national idol, Mammon (or as we call him today, Market). This is why it is so unfortunate when the likes of the pledge, blind militarism, and a fusion of government and "market principles" crowd out ideas like a commitment to liberty. It was a disappointment to me when then-President Bush urged us to stand up to terrorism by going shopping after 9/11. Shopping is ok, but really, would Washington or Lincoln have said such a thing? How about go out, and shop, and vote? It was an off year, but still there were elections coming up in November. Why not add Franklin's quote that you cited to "they hate us for our freedom"? Never mind, I guess that one's obvious in retrospect.

I haven't read Bellamy, but your description reminded me of Thomas More's Utopia. Yuck.

Jeremiah Stoddard said...

Me from Cali, I'm not as convinced as you are that the pledge of allegiance is harmless. We've raised up a populace believing in these principles of patriotism that have shut off their brains -- any dissent against what the government wants to do is "unpatriotic" which, I think, can probably be traced back to quasi-religious rituals such as the pledge.

The strip-search scanners and the feel-ups at airports provide a good example. Those who complain and don't want to submit to the government are literally despised by the general public. "It's for our own good," "if you don't like it, don't fly," and "you don't have a right to put the rest of us at risk just for your personal comfort" are parroted again and again in interviews with citizens at the airports. Liberty? Sometimes we confuse prosperity for liberty. We still have some of the former, but it's silly to think that we have much of the latter.

Because of this government-deifying mindset we end up supporting wars in places like Iraq. Your argument that _maybe_ something bad would have happened if we didn't is ingenious. People are dying in the Iraq war -- most of them innocent civilians. It is a serious matter: people get killed. If we didn't go to war, people _might_ have gotten killed. That means we were so interested in making sure people died that we took the one route that made it a certainty. The common argument of "better over there than on our own soil" is horrific -- we place greater value on the life of our own than on the lives of innocent Iraqi citizens. That's not exactly what Jesus meant when he said "Love your enemies [that is, foreigners]."

In order to justify the horrors of war, we ought to have a much stronger argument that it will protect us than we had in order to invade Iraq. Even if we were being told the truth about Saddam Hussein and WMD's, stopping to think for a while would have told us, so what? We have them too, and history doesn't show that Saddam was particularly more warlike or bloodthirsty than the heads of our government, or of any other government in the world with weapons of devastating power. Anyone who stepped back to look (which didn't include me at the time, I regret to confess) noticed that we were being fed the same war-promoting propaganda that we had been fed at various times in our nation's history. We fell for the same ruse that every president that had an interest in war has given us.

Why do we fall for the same things over and over again? Why do we despise those who disagree with us, and tell them "if you don't like it, then leave"? We've turned our government into a religion, and among the solemn rituals that make it possible to inculcate that religious mindset into the citizenry stands the pledge as the central sacrament. No, "leige" or not, I don't think the pledge is harmless. No matter what you mean by it, it's a thought-impeding ritual that strengthens your membership in the cult.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

Rock and THurts,

Connor is a very interesting fella, that's for sure. I fine myself greatly appreciating his words regarding liberty, freedom and politics, only to continually be shocked at his lack of similar application towards the bureaucracy andleadership of the church.

On the other hand, Mormon's are famous for this. As a whole we tend to distrust government. We think they are lying to us, or taking advantage of us or something else. Yet we refuse to ever question the honesty of church leaders, the "brethern" always get the benefit of the doubt that we refuse to allow for politicians. Something that is second nature to political leaders we feel is impossible to apply to religious leaders, or at least Mormon religious leaders at the top of the pyramid.

Just have patience with him. I would guess that if he stays on this road he has a 50% chance of changing his viewpoint regarding the prophet never leading astray, in the next 10 years. You simply can't be consistent to yourself and continue to employ logic and reason without eventually coming to that conclusion, it just takes a bit of time for the brainwashing to wear off.

Of course, Connors Conundrums might be the perfect name for his blog because it is truly is a conundrum that he can be that way, at least to me=)

dovh49 said...

Jeremiah Stoddard,

A larger problem than the pledge are the government schools. We don't trust government to run our churches, yet don't blink an eye when they raise our children in the government propaganda machine.

Eliza R. Snitch said...

I quit saying the Pledge of Allegiance in high school for similar reasons. I find patriotism as it's interpreted today-- unwavering loyalty to the military-industrial complex and the Christian God-- to be completely baffling. I just don't get it.

TruthSeeker said...

Good for you Eliza! It took me a lot longer to find the courage that you found at such a young age!

Great post Rock! Well thought out and brilliantly written yet again! I wonder when you are going to write your book(s)?!! I will buy it or them! :)

Carl Youngblood said...

Rock, Many of the points you make are good but just interpreted from a perspective that strikes me as too fundamentalist. You seem to take specific scriptures and doctrines and not allow them to evolve and be adapted to changing times and circumstances. This is just the way human systems work. We don't always remember the reasons we used to do things, and spokespersons from one era frequently end up contradicting those from another unintentionally. Our own conception of God, goodness and even truth itself changes and evolves as time goes on. We should not expect these things to remain static. If they did, we would have ceased to progress.

All that said, I think that many of your criticisms are valuable, but not subtle or nuanced enough to see many of the real reasons why they happen. You attribute too much to malice what can better be blamed on ignorance, incompetence, cultural inertia and other bad but less deliberate problems. I think you would be more effective at improving things if you had a better understanding of their causes.

John Coltharp said...

It's funny you posted this, because I've been debating this very subject with people all weekend.

http://www.facebook.com/brianmecham/posts/10150227423598434

Here are two comments I posted on that thread earlier:


Did you know, that when Americans originally did the pledge of allegience, they put their hand and arm straight out (like the Nazis). Hitler idolized the United States. He patterned his new socialism after FDR's New Deal, and he adopted the "Hitler Salute" from the United States as well. After WWII, to distance ourselves from the Nazis, we changed the way we do the pledge of allegience to holding our right hand over our heart. I have several photographs of school children in pre-ww2 america, and they are all "hitler saluting" the American Flag.

When people put America above God and his commandments (I will kill innocent people because Uncle Sam asked me too), it's idolatry. When people watch villages burn, with children crying in the streets, and it makes them proud to be an American, it's idolatry. When people willingly surrender their freedoms, and the freedoms of their family to their government simply because it's "patriotic," it's idolatry. When people pledge allegience to a Kingdom of Babylon that is in direct and hostile opposition to the Kingdom of God, it's idolatry and treason against the Priesthood you hold. You are pledging allegience to the very instrument Satan used to drive the Saints from place to place, deprive them of their rightful lands, imprison their apostles and prophets, confiscate their temples and meeting houses, and outlaw the commandments of God. When you pledge allegience to the flag, and, more importantly, to the Republic for Which it Stands, you are pledging allegience to the very enemy of God and of the Constitution.

superwiselifeninjaguy said...

Idolatry is about the feeling behind an act, not an act itself. So pledging to a flag can be idolatry, or it can be inspired. Similarly, not pledging to a flag can be idolatry, or it can be inspired. Intent is everything. Follow your heart, and you will not be led astray.

John Coltharp said...

superwiselifeninjaguy, you said: "Follow your heart, and you will not be led astray."

That doesn't sound like very good philosophy. Everyone's heart is righteous and pure? I'm sure some of the most evil acts that have ever been committed in this world were done by those who were following their hearts.

We should follow what is right.

Idolatry, as I used the term, is whenever we place anything above God. And whatever that thing is, it, in effect, becomes our God. When there's a conflict between the desires of the Government and the desires of God, and I choose to please the government, then I guess you could say I'm guilty of idolatry, and that the government is my god.

superwiselifeninjaguy said...

The path of happiness is to follow what is right. And what is right? Only your heart can tell you. At some point, we will allow God to earn our trust, and in that trust, we will not fear to follow our hearts. Until then, we are left to fear others hearts (and God's, for our relationships with others are merely a reflection of our relationship with God.) The age of fear is coming to an end, an era of faith is ushering in. Praise Jesus!

superwiselifeninjaguy said...

And John, my ego asked me to point out to you that some of the most evil acts that have ever been committed in this world were done by those convinced they were doing what was right. So, by your standard of sucky philosophies, your philosophy is at least equal to mine in suckiness. Boyeah! ... and please forgive my ego. he can be a real asshole sometimes.

John Coltharp said...

I mean do what's right, according to the truth, according to God. I don't believe truth is relative to each person. Truth is absolute. Our task is to discover, through the Holy Ghost, knowledge of things as they are, were, and as they are to come. The Spirit will guide us into all truth. Sorry for not clarifying.

superwiselifeninjaguy said...

You were perfectly clear the first time, and in a sense we are saying the same thing. But we are also saying very different things too (it seems, though I'm bounded by my very flawed lens).

The search for absolute truth is too often raised up as an idol. We fear "relative" truth because it feels uncontrollable. Indeed, it IS as uncontrollable as God himself, because it is God himself. God is love, and that which love mandates is situational. Ah yes, situational ethics. A bad word in religious circles, to say the least. But it's clear that how love is manifest, how it looks as a rule or a physical form, can change from situation to situation. Love (i.e., Jesus), is the only thing that never wavers, the only solid foundation upon which we can build.

Even the scriptures bear out the relative nature of truth. It is bad to kill. Unless it is not. (see Nephi, Israelites, etc.) It is bad to have sex with more than one woman. Unless it is not (you get the point). Truth is only comprehended through the lens of love, or no truth is comprehended at all. Without the context of love, to call something true is utterly meaningless (thanks Paul for this amazing insight). Thus, in a sense truth IS love, and love IS truth. And God, the embodiment of both love and truth, not suprisingly refers to himself as love and truth.

So, is there any absolute truth? Of course. The #1 absolute truth being that love is the most important thing ever, and everything else hangs on it. Jesus laid waste to the philosophies of people fixated on what they perceived as absolute truth from God. It was in their scriptures, for crying out loud! Of course it was absolute truth. Or was it? Too often, when we think we have truth, as a result we end up focused on being right rather than focusing on love. And when being right supercedes love, ironically we are always wrong.

So how can we tell if we are interpreting anything, including any particular scripture, is true? The spirit of God, which bears of fruit of love by it's very nature. So the only path to truth is through love, our hearts. But following our hearts can look like a very evil act on the outside to others. Ah, damn the focus on the outward, it's so deceptive. The exact same outward act can be done out of pure love in one instance and pure fear in another. So what is the common thread, the absolute truth? Love, and nothing more.

When I started my search for absolute truth, I eventually realized that my lens was broken, and that everything I perceived through that lens was skewed. I thought that, until I fixed my broken lens, I would be unable to perceive truth, and that I had to have truth because truth was love. So how do I fix my lens? I tried and failed many times before giving up. In that state, pure love, pure charity, seemed out of my reach because truth was out of my reach.

But slowly, God has shown me a better way. Trying to fix my broken lens was egocentric. It was about me being right. I discovered that, for me, allowing God to love me came first. Allowing myself to love myself despite my broken lens. Yielding to God, to the flow of life, has become my purpose. And within the state of yielding and allowance, I have discovered more love and peace that I ever did in my earnest search for absolute truth. And the ironic thing is that I feel I understand more absolute truth that I did when, as a pharisee, I was sure I understood all of the most critical of God's truths.

superwiseandhumblelifeninjaguy said...

cont'd:

And I also realized that my lens is uniquely broken, as is everyone elses, and I cannot expect my outward path to look the same as anyone elses. In this sense, truth can seem very relative. But it only appears relative on the outside. On the inside, all truth is the same--it is something borne of love.

So, John, my intent isn't really to argue with you, or to agree with you for that matter. To me, that is beside the point. That has to do with who is right, and is a matter of the ego, the outward, and of personal lenses. So what was the point? It was that I, for whatever reason, felt better, felt love within myself, writing this. And thus, my comment is a means unto itself with no other purpose. Except for whatever other purposes love intended, if any. *end disclaimer* Amen. lol. I am awesome.

John Coltharp said...

When I speak of absolute truth, I'm referring to the material universe. This thing exists. That thing exists.

I do not believe that right and wrong are absolute. Right and wrong are relative. Joseph Smith taught this himself. He says something to the effect of, "What's wrong under one circumstance may be right under another." But the circumstances in this material universe are absolute, and those cirumstances, or the truth about the way things are in a given situation, are the starting point for determining what is right and wrong. For example, we must discover all the facts about something before we pass judgment, or else we may be judging unrighteously.

In the most general sense, that which tends to build up, organize, preserve, and promote the happiness of the human family is good; and that which tends to disorganize, destroy, and make miserable is evil. But this is only a general statement. It's not black and white.

I am a materialist and a realist. I believe that material existence is absolute truth. The laws of mathematics might be considered absolute truth, or rather a way to quantify absolute truth. There are of course other absolute truths as you mentioned. The eternal existence of the Priesthood, the laws of salvation, love, etc., are absolute and eternal truths.

Anthony Bennett said...

As is common on this blog's comment section (and in discussions of the religion pertaining to it), Jesus's comments on oath-taking are taken out of context. Oaths are common in the Old Testament and in the letters of Paul, and Jesus was Himself placed under oath by Pontius Pilate. What Jesus actually forbade was the swearing of oaths by anything except God; to swear by common objects, or "at all". Essentially, Rock eloquently (if inadvertently) explained what Jesus was saying: "Remember how seriously the people in the Book of Mormon took their oaths?"

superwiselifeninjaguy said...

Amen about right and wrong being relative.

But the material universe is anything but absolute, and I don't know what it means that something exists. Math is just a model to describe our observations, and those models break down again and again as our ability to observe increases. Newtonian physics completely fails on a quantum level. Quantum mechanics are pretty useful, but don't explain the oddities in things like the double slit experiment and entangled pairs. String theory maybe? Yeah, but what is a string, and what is vibrating? And what is matter? We don't even know why things have mass. We are made up of atoms, which are empty space except for hadrons, which are empty space except for quarks, which are empty space except for higgs bosons (?), maybe? Hell, we don't even know why gravity or magnetism work-all we do is observe their effects and come up with some math that describes what we observe. And our observations are limited by our imperfect lenses, whether those lenses are physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.

Maybe there are absolute truths other than love. I honestly have no idea. The only truth that feels solid, secure and centered to me is that love, the intent of our hearts, is all that matters. Is priesthood absolute? Maybe. I don't know much. But what is priesthood. God's authorization to use his power? But then how does my new age friend heal people when she hasn't been authorized? How does my christian friend lay her hands on the blind, and cause them to see? Priesthood seems like a lens to me, as does one's concept of salvation.

Jeremiah Stoddard said...

Anthony,

Thanks for clarifying. I didn't understand until you pointed it out that Jesus was such a poor speaker that he couldn't say clearly what he meant. "Swear not at all" apparently was meant to come with an exception -- that it's okay to swear as long as you do it by God. Thank goodness we have someone like you to correct Jesus' words and help Him say what he really meant to say.

(Sorry for the sarcasm -- I realize it may sound like a personal attack, but that's really not what's intended; it just seemed offhand the clearest way to get my point across.)

Also, where do you get that Jesus swore an oath before Pilate? None of the gospels mentions it; they all have Pilate immediately beginning questioning. Matthew, Mark and Luke indicate Jesus remained completely silent for most of the questioning. John has him conversing with Pilate, but nothing is said that can even be considered an oath by a stretch of the imagination...

dovh49 said...

@superwiselifeninjaguy,

Mathematics is absolute, engineering isn't. Mathematics uses logic based on axioms (principles) that discover more truth. Engineering uses the mathematics to model the physical world and then things get messy. Likewise, there are principles (axioms) that we take as truth and then apply them to the physical world where things get messy.

Anthony Bennett said...

Jeremiah,

You're right. Only the KJV translators have the right to interpret "ei holos", and their word must be absolutely correct and above reproach. After all, it's really easy to translate first-century Greek into 17th-century English, from which no changes in language have occurred. Follow the translators. They will never lead us astray. (Please apply the same disclaimer you used.)

In Matthew 26:63, Jesus is "adjured by the Living God" before answering by Pontius Pilate, meaning that His answers were under oath. It's very odd that Jesus (who, as you correctly pointed out, is watching His words carefully) wouldn't take exception to a practice He considered sinful.

superwiselifeninjaguy said...

@dovh49

Okay, so in theory math is absolute. But not absolute truth. The only reason it's absolute is because we defined it as being absolute, so it's absolute because we said so. Math is entirely man-made, and as a theoretical absolute does not provide any understanding into anything but itself unless it is applied to something.

And whether math works to effectively describe the thing to which it is applied is completely relative. To think of math as truth is silly. Math is just a set of symbols that man made up to try to describe his experience, just like language. Math is no more true, or no less true, than English.

To the extent you feel love when you are cranking through your multi-variable calculus, you are finding truth. Otherwise, forget about it. Cause truth is discovered, defined by, bounded by, and lives through love, not math or any other man-made construct.

But still, the truth is not the math. At best, math can be a pointer to truth. But, as Buddah says, the finger that points to the moon is not the moon. It's high time we stop practicing idolatry by staring at the finger that points to the moon and sit back and enjoy the view of the moon itself. Cause that's where the love's at.

Jeremiah Stoddard said...

Anthony,

I don't understand why you make the assumption that I only read the KJV, and the implied assertion that their translation is wrong in this case. Ancient Greek happens to be a hobby of mine, and I was one of the top in my Ancient Greek class in my university days. It would be a huge stretch to translate ὅλως (holos) in this context as anything other than "not at all" -- for their occasional errors, the King James translators didn't seem to mess this one up...

"I adjure you by the Living God" shares some language in common with Jewish oaths, but it is obviously not an oath in itself, rather an emphatic request -- not do I think the High Priest thought to swear an oath vicariously in behalf of Jesus, even if he could.

"Not at all" stands in translation, and your example doesn't seem to have any relevance to the argument. It seems pretty clear that Jesus meant what he said in "Do not swear at all" -- that is, unless you have a more compelling example as to why we shouldn't take Jesus at his word...

Anthony Bennett said...

I don't mean to paint you as a KJV-onlyist, but quoting the KJV is an awfully odd practice for someone claiming that no man has the right to seek translations of Scripture.

"Holos" does translate as "at all", but also as "commonly". I don't see why it's such a "huge" stretch to assume that Jesus meant "don't swear commonly", especially given the numerous examples in both the Old and New Testaments of oaths being taken and advised.

I concede that the High Priest example may not be, strictly speaking, placing under an oath; however, it's the same principle (an invocation of God to testify to truthfulness), and I don't see why one is forbidden while the other is not.

If you want to continue wielding three verses of "Jesus's word" like a sword, you have far more formidable opponents than I, namely Paul (who frequently used 'God as my witness' and other such invocations) and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (who calls an oath "a confirmation to end all dispute"). Are we to assume that authors critical to the New Testament didn't understand Jesus?

Steven Lester said...

What is love? Describe the taste of salt. What color is an orange?

Jeremiah Stoddard said...

It's a stretch because there's no Ancient Greek scholar I know of who would translate it as commonly when used in conjunction with μὴ -- in a negative sentence it is _always_ "not at all", "never", or "by no means." I don't mean to say no man has a right to seek translations of scripture -- I merely mention that Jesus said something pretty clearly in this case (and it's pretty consistently translated, being the same in the Vulgate, the KJV, the Reina-Valera, and the more modern English translations at my disposal).

I'm not saying that what the High Priest did was forbidden -- although it is not directly related to any commandment against oaths. Putting Jesus on trial and crucifying him was probably a sin too -- at that point he didn't speak out much against it anymore. If he was going to chastise someone for a sinful choice of words, you'd think he'd be doubly concerned for the greater sin that was about to be committed.

"God is my witness" is closer to the Hebrew oaths, but not quite near enough that we could say affirmatively that Paul was swearing an oath. Even so, the apostles weren't perfect. Remember, Peter also swore that he didn't know Jesus. Yes, Paul was much closer to Jesus than we, but James was even closer and repeated Jesus' direct commandment saying μὴ ὀμνύετε -- simply, "Do not swear."

Hebrews 6:16 is simply a statement that people swear oaths -- doesn't seem to mean an approval in any way.

Look, you can interpret Jesus how you want; I don't even care if you take him literally at this commandment. I have just as much respect for a metaphorical as well as a literal exegesis of said verse. However, the statement itself is pretty clear; if you do want to take him literally then there's not much room for any other translation of that commandment...

Dude said...

"Are we to assume that authors critical to the New Testament didn't understand Jesus?" That's probably a pretty good assumption. Jesus' apostles failed to comprehend a lot of stuff that he told them. Plus, can we trust that the writers heard Jesus correctly and remembered the words correctly (especially when they wrote the words down years later in all likelihood - I challenge you to write down a conversation you had even a week ago verbatim), or that the words were even from Jesus or that the writers were who they claimed to be? Or that Jesus wasn't just joking around with them to see whether they really had the spirit of discernment? Quit worshiping the Bible as an idol, ye nation of idolators! Follow Jesus, in spirit and love, which is the only way to get anything from reading the bible.

Anthony Bennett said...

"Plus, can we trust that the writers heard Jesus correctly and remembered the words correctly (especially when they wrote the words down years later in all likelihood - I challenge you to write down a conversation you had even a week ago verbatim), or that the words were even from Jesus or that the writers were who they claimed to be? Or that Jesus wasn't just joking around with them to see whether they really had the spirit of discernment? Quit worshiping the Bible as an idol, ye nation of idolators! Follow Jesus, in spirit and love, which is the only way to get anything from reading the bible."

I'd like to think this is a better argument AGAINST blanket prohibition than FOR it.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

"Quit worshiping the Bible as an idol, ye nation of idolators! "

Amen, amen and amen!

It blow's my mind how many people there are that will rail against "idols" in the modern world yet set up their own idols at the same time. For example, I have many friends that I feel have come to "idolize" the book of Isaiah (they put it above anything else including love, logic, compassion, or reason). There are also certain other "mormon's" that maintain blogs that I feel have created a very strong legion of people that follow after them, idolizing them to the point that the slightest disagreement regarding the individual will be met with anger, derision, and ignorance on the part of their followers.

It is not uncommon for me to feel that those that most often use the word "idol" in judging the actions of others, especially society, are those that have the real problem with idol worship, but in their case their idols are their scriptures, their interpretations, their "prophets" and more.

I only speak so forcefully because I saw it in my own life for a while and I am so grateful to have left it behind.

TuNeCedeMalis

whitehusky said...

//They considered the central government to be a potential monster ... If we expect to remain free we must maintain eternal vigilance against our own government, not swear an oath to love and obey it.//

I don't have a problem swearing allegiance to one nation under God, but since America has largely turned her back on Christ, you've got a point. If we don't pledge our allegiance to a nation run by God, we're pledging allegiance to a nation run by men ... and evil ones, at that. For only an evil man would try to take power to himself instead of answering to God.

Unknown said...

I'd like to comment on this statement:"To paraphrase the words of Jesus, where your flag is, there will your heart be also." First of all, most Americans do not recognize the symbolism of the flag. You know how flags carry royal insignia? Well, on ours the stars stand for the King of Heaven. In other words, America has no King but Christ. By his stripes we are healed. In case anyone missed the fact that Jesus is the King of Heaven, the stripes are there for all to see. They're red to indicate that the Lord himself shed his blood for us.

Do we hear this? NO! We hear secular messages. Oh, keep Jesus out but let government in! But in fact we have no government without Christ. What we have is oppression. Falsehood is taught as truth.

Similarly, if people blindly follow the prophet, they will soon be too lazy to check with Jesus as to whether the prophet said anything in the first place! So you get falsehood taught as truth. I can't tell you how many people in the church say that I am contradicting the prophet when I say we can pray to Jesus. What prophet? Where? All true prophets have said that Jesus is the Lord. And the scriptures say pray to the Lord always. We pray to the Lord, right? Then we pray to Jesus.

Try it on for size. Check anything out with Jesus, get the answer, and you'll be told you're disagreeing with the prophet. What prophet? When? Only a false prophet would disagree with Jesus. Moses had it right when he said that all those who follow Christ should have his Spirit upon them, becoming like prophets of God.

Personal revelation is the only way to go. And no, I'm not advocating weird ideas that people come up with on their own. I'm talking about getting your info from the horse's mouth ... Jesus himself!

Where are the people in the church interested in doing that?

~Clint~ said...

I think there are a lot of valid points here, that exist even outside of any religious context, especially in this age where non-human entities are given legal human rights and systems like government (which are supposed to be subject to the people) have a tendency to elevate themselves above people.

Almost all religions have a principle similar to the answer Jesus gave when he was asked what the great commandment was. But ... loving thy flag, or government, or even church as thyself just doesn’t ring true, because these are not people, they are just symbols which represent non-humans and try to pass themselves off as entities with rights, and in many cases, more rights that individual humans have.

Upon looking at my last statement it is not entirely accurate, but I will leave it as is, just to illustrate the point that it is almost impossible for me (for all of us?) not to personify organizations. Obviously when I comment that entities try to pass themselves off as people, what is really happening, is that there are people who are using a symbol or organization to gain more rights for themselves and a few select others, while taking human rights (or sadly sometimes we just give them away) from those not in their select group.

So called patriotism, for example: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”, sounds motivational and profound at first, but who are the people this is talking about. The country has no value without the people, but our macro thinking on such subjects has forced us to take people out of the equation and replace them with organizational concepts that are (supposedly) greater than people.

I am always slightly bugged by the Benjamin Franklin quote used in this article, because I think that all people deserve liberty and safety. On the other hand, I know that if institutions and governments are allowed to take that away from people they will, so I do understand the point.

If an institution tries to put itself above people, I don’t think we need to pray to God to know whether that is OK. What to do about it, on the other hand, is a much more complex issue, and if anyone can tell me actual things that I can do to stop the government from the trend of making laws that take away human rights, I would be very happy to hear it.

PS. superwiselifeninjaguy,That is quite an argument that has math ending up being idolatry, I will freely admit, I did not see that one coming.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

"Well, on ours the stars stand for the King of Heaven. "

That is absolute bull. You can interpret the stars anyway you want in your own life, but please don't assume that your interpretations are true to anyone but you. The main symbolism of the stars are based on each of the states. I have no problem believing things that are considered "strange" to others, but even I know about the stars.

First there were 13, then 48, then 50. Did the king of heaven increase in those numbers at the same pace as the states?

Study the real history of the founding fathers. Many of them were not devoted Christians.

John Coltharp said...

Me from Cali,

I would give my life for my family, and for a country that believes in freedom and liberty. But the United States no longer stands for "liberty and justice for all" as you have erroneously stated. I wouldn't fight for this country. Why would I fight to preserve something that God plans on destroying? When God says he will destroy the United States, he says "no power can stay my hand" (see Sunset Arizona revelation to Wilford Woodruff). Why would I waste my life trying to stay his hand? Would I join an invading enemy then? Of course not. There are NO countries, nations, or military powers on earth that support freedom and liberty. There are NO nations that are on God's side. In these last days, "the wicked will slay the wicked." There are no good guys. It is bad guys vs. bad guys.

I will join none of them. I will simply withdraw myself, and watch with sadness as the world destroys itself.

The America you are thinking of doesn't exist anymore. It hasn't for a long time. The real United States that we have now is about as similar to the one you're imagining as Satan is to Christ.

I'm not saying it's wrong if you give a conditional pledge of allegience to the United States, supporting them in the cause of freedom, etc. I'm just saying that you're wasting your time, because the United States is NOT interested in doing good, or supporting liberty. It's like telling Satan, "I pledge allegience to you, so long as you do good." What a pointless pledge.

You said, "I don’t have a problem making a pledge of allegiance to my country, i.e., to love it and to do what is required of me to serve and protect it. . . . [I]t’s about being loyal as a subject to his or her sovereign country."

Why would you love, be loyal to, serve, and protect the enemy of God?

The modern General Authorities have taught us that it's noble and righteous to be loyal to Satanic governments, but that's because they've joined hands with the wicked and have apostatized.

John Coltharp said...

"THUS SAITH THE LORD unto my servant Wilford Woodruff: I have heard thy prayers, and will answer thy petitions. I will make known unto thee my will concerning THE NATION WHO ENCUMBERS THE LAND OF PROMISE. . . . My purposes shall be fulfilled upon this Nation, and no power shall stay my hand. The hour is at the door when my wrath and indignation shall be poured out upon the wicked of this Nation. Their murders, blasphemies, lyings, whoredoms and abominations have come up before my face and before the heavens and the wrath of mine indignation is full. I have decreed plagues to go forth and lay waste mine enemies and not many years hence they shall not be left to pollute mine heritage. The Devil is ruling over his Kingdom and MY SPIRIT HAS NO PLACE IN THE HEARTS OF THE RULERS OF THIS NATION. . . . THE NATION IS RIPENED IN INIQUITY and the cup of the wrath of mine indignation is full, and I will not stay my hand in judgment upon this Nation. . . . And I say again wo unto that Nation or House or people, who seek to hinder my people. . . . for whosoever doeth these things shall be damned, saith the Lord of Hosts, and shall be broken up & washed away from under Heaven by the judgments which I have sent forth and shall not return unto me void. And thus with the sword and by blood shed and with famine & plagues and earthquakes and the thunders of heavens and the vivid lightnings shall this Nation and the nations of the earth be made to feel the chastning hand of an Almighty God until they are BROKEN UP AND DESTROYED, and WASTED AWAY from under heaven, and NO POWER CAN STAY MY HAND." (Revelation to Wilford Woodruff, received 26 January 1880 at Sunset, Arizona, recorded in his journal at the end of his entries for the year 1880; emphasis added.)

Wilford Woodruff: "The American Nation as a United States Government is doomed to destruction and no power can save it. They have forfeited all right and title to Redemption or Salvation at the Hand of the Lord or his Saints. It is decreed that the measure which they have meeted out unto the Saints shall be meeted unto them and they are hastening unto their work of desolation, war, bloodshed, & destruction, and wo, wo, is ther doom. . . . Let the wicked slay the wicked untill the whole land is clensed from the corruption, sin, abomination, and wickedness which now reigns upon the face of the whole Earth. May thy judgments continue to be poured out upon this land of North America until the blood of prophets & saints is avenged before the Lord and thy words fulfilled upon the Land of Joseph. Take away the sceptre, rule, and government from the wicked & corrupt and give it into the hands of the just, even thy Saints, that they may rule in righteousness before thee. Give thy oppressed people O Lord the privilege of appointing there own Governor, Judges, and Rulers, from this time forth that thy Kingdom may be Established upon the Earth, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." (see end of entries for year 1861, in Wilford Woodruff's journal.)

Orson Pratt: "The great American Republic is now one of the most powerful Governments in the world. It has a population of over thirty millions, and resources that are almost inexhaustible. But that great—that powerful nation is destined to an utter overthrow. . . . They must suffer; the decrees of Jehovah have gone forth against them; the sword of the Lord has been unsheathed, and will fall with pain upon their devoted heads. . . . Thus by the sword, and by pestilence, and by famine, and by the strong arm of the Almighty, shall the inhabitants of that wicked nation be destroyed." (“American Nation’s Doom,” Millennial Star [6 Oct. 1866], pp. 633–34.)

dovh49 said...

Interesting quotes, I haven't heard them before. So what do you think of Mormon defending the wicked Nephites? I think he was a pretty charitable guy, to love his country men even though they were so wicked. Personally, I'll just follow the Spirit and do what God wants. Personally I would prefer not to fight though, I don't like war.

Here's my version of the "Pledge of Allegiance":

As a child of God,
I seek for the well being of my fellow countrymen.
I seek to uphold the eternal truths found in the constitution.
I pray to God for His guidance and blessings.

Steven Lester said...

Yeah, yeah. Yadda, yadda. Yet another "prophecy" by a Mormon bigwig that never came to pass. Except for that lucky guess by Joseph Smith concerning where the Civil War would start, nothing else ever became anything else but a sham. Now, of course, that we have more money and power than even Brigham Young could dream about we no longer have to warn our superstitious enemies about God's damnation in order to get our way. We just pick up a telephone and call up one or two of our brothers in crime. What a crock! Why do you all hold on to all of these failures so tightly, anyways?

John Coltharp said...

DOVH49, I don't think God required Mormon to fight for them. I think he chose to do it because he loved them. They certainly didn't deserve his leadership though, in my opinion. If they were righteous enough to deserve it, God wouldn't have suffered them to be destroyed. Moroni chapter 9 tell us they were raping and canibalizing their victims. Sounds like they were even more wicked than the lamanites (God allowed the lamanites to survive).

STEVEN LESTER, those prophecies regarding the destruction of the United States will definately come to pass. Since the time that those words were spoken over a hundred years ago, every move the United States has made has brought them one step closer to the edge of the cliff. Some prophecies takes time to be fulfilled. A powerful country like the United States will not be destroyed over night. We will slowly destroy ourselves, but surely this process of destruction will exponentially pick up momentum as time progresses. I personally think we only have a couple of years left, at most. I guess we'll see.

John Coltharp said...

Wilford Woodruff: "When I contemplate the condition of our nation, and see that wickedness and abominations are increasing, so much so that the whole heavens groan and weep over the abominations of this nation and the nations of the earth, I ask myself the question, can the American nation escape? The answer comes, No; its destruction, as well as the destruction of the world, is sure; just as sure as the Lord cut off and destroyed the two great and prosperous nations that once inhabited this continent of North and South America, because of their wickedness, so will he them destroy, and sooner or later they will reap the fruits of their own wicked acts, and be numbered among the past. I cannot help it; I would to God they would repent, that their eyes might be opened to see their condition; but the devils has power over them; he rules the children of men, he holds Babylon in his own hand, and leads the people whithersoever he will. There are changes awaiting us, they are even nigh at our very doors, and I know it by the revelations of Jesus Christ; I know it by the visions of heaven; I know it by the administrations of angels, and I know it by the inspiration of heaven, that is given to all men who seek the Lord; and the hand of God will not stay these things. We have no time to lose." (1 Aug. 1880, in Journal of Discourses, vol. 21, p. 301.)

Wilford Woodruff: "The Lord has pointed out the fate of this Nation in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants. He has said that when they became ripened in iniquity they should be cut off. That day has come. Their cup of iniquity is full. The whole Nation, rulers, and people are filled with corruption before god." (see end of entries for year 1861, in Wilford Woodruff's journal.)

The Civil war was the beginning of the endless train of conflicts that would plague the United States until finally these unstoppable causes would "make a full end" of Babylon. This is clearly laid out in the D&C.

~Clint~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
THurts said...

Here's one thing that bugs me, and then I'll retire to lurker status: blindly posting and relying wholeheartedly on quotes from either dead or living people who were formerly leaders in the LDS church... as if an administrative role in the church could augment the power of truth's words. If something is true, then let it be true. Some dude from an advanced age in a respected administrative position in the church (apostle, president of the high priesthood, etc) is just some dude with a fancy title in front of his name.

Stop worshipping the men who make it to the position of apostle or president of the high priesthood, and start refocusing your attention where it should be.

Coltharp: I've seen you do this on multiple websites and I'm not sure if your intent is to add "weight" to your own ideas or what (I'm guessing that's the only reason to do so), but I - for one - would much rather see you think for yourself and come up with something useful to say without quoting someone.

The LDS (both current and former, in whatever form that takes) are incredibly addicted to quote whoring. If we want our viewpoint to be more accepted, we select a quote from some prophet or apostle and say, "Well, so-and-so said ... " and if that person (including multiple people) said it, then it must be true. The other party will likely pull out a different quote from a different prophet or apostle and play the same game. The discussion will go round and round like dogs chasing their tails, and in the end no real love is felt. It's all about convincing the other side of your argument through quote whoring.

If TuNeCedeMalis is correct - and I think s/he is - then it's only another form of idolatry. Pure and simple idolatry, parading around as some "authority" argument.

An author Rock quoted in his opening OP is notorious for taking long, quoted passages and using them to buttress his argument. One "talk" I remember this man writing was comprised of over 50% quotes (and it was a LONG talk).

It's almost as if our society can't come up with any original thoughts, as if we can't have any original ideas or postulations... as if we're still living in the past because we can't reconcile our present or future.

Whatever.

Carry on, idolaters, carry on. ;)

~Clint~ said...

I'm with Steven on this one.

I mean, I can certainly understand why Wilford Woodruff was angry. He was constantly hiding from the long-arm-of-the-law for his polygamous practices, and I am also quite sure that at the same time the Government was making a strong effort to make things financially difficult for his church. But, just listen to his verbiage:

"The American Nation as a United States Government is doomed to destruction and no power can save it. They have forfeited all right and title to Redemption or Salvation at the Hand of the Lord or his Saints."

Understand that at the point he says this, Utah isn't a state, and he probably thinks it never will be, but ironically he is the one who resends polygamy in 1890 to make this possible.

This is just him wanting the people persecuting him to be punished, this isn't from God. "They have forfeited all right and title to Redemption or Salvation". That isn't his call, and it is completely ambiguous who he is talking about anyway. How can a government get salvation or redemption, it isn't a person, it doesn't make any sense.

And once again the great irony is that at that time he probably thought a lot of the wickedness of the Government (or Gentiles, or whatever he termed his enemies) is that they fought polygamy, which he himself eventually stamped out.

The only thing that saves this at all is that it is ambiguous, not putting dates is the best way to not prove supposed-prophesy false. But he clearly couldn't see the future, he had no idea how things were going to turn out, and isn't that what prophesy is supposed to be about in the first place?

THurts said...

I lied... couldn't resist one more comment to Coltharp. You quoted Woodruff several times, but you took his comment out of context. \You quoted him saying, "The Lord has pointed out the fate of this Nation in the BoM and D&C. He has said that when they became ripened in iniquity they should be cut off. That day has come. ..."

Well, funny enough, Woodruff was one of those guys who thought that every year was THE year that would start the 2nd coming. Dude thought the world was going to end nearly every d@mn year that he was either an apostle or at the helm of the church... as the quote you selected indicates (note the bold font). Seriously, dude had no idea what he was really saying, and yet he kept saying it hoping it'd be true...

To gain a grasp of Woodruff's anticipation and dreams, pick up a copy of Waiting the World's End by Staker and read the introduction, and nothing more. It will give you a glimpse into exactly how he thought the world (and nations) was going to come to a calamitous end, with the LDS folk triumphantly walking into the millenium.

Why didn’t you quote Woodruff's 1868 "revelation" and "prophecy" about Brigham Young being President of the US (the pop. of the US would call on BY to "take the Presidency of the United States to save the Constitution & the remnant of the nation from utter destruction."... oh, and Woodruff said that would occur in 1898 (BY confirmed it was a "revelation" in fact).

I'll quote whore one more before I'm off to bed (from the Intro. to WtWE, emphasis is mine):

In fact thirty years later on 27 August 1898, Wilford was in heathen territory – at a meeting of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco, California – rather than in New Jerusalem’s temple in Jackson County, Missouri. He died in San Francisco a few days later on 2 Sept. The distance could scarcely have been greater between the scenario predicted by Wilford and warranted by Young and the very different story which unfolded for Wilford and the church during the 1890s (with Wilford not Young as prophet). A temple did stand on the Logan bench as Wilford predicted, but in an ironic twist, temples, rather than the signs of power he predicts, displayed church weakness within fin-de-siècle political and economic arenas.
The national campaign to force the LDS church to abandon polygamy became the first sore test for Wilford’s waiting. Year after year he continued to predict God’s imminent intervention in the church’s struggle with the federal government. For example, on New Year’s day 1886, he wrote, “But we still maintain that God reigns & will until He puts all enemies under his feet, and He will fight the battles of his saints and He will bring Judgment upon our enemies & destroy them in his own due time. This is the testimony of Wilford Woodruff. At the close of the year look to this page & see what the signs of the year have been.” At year’s end from inside the St. George temple, where he was hiding from U.S. marshals pursuing his arrest on polygamy charges, he wrote: “This New years day [1887] finds scores of the leading men of the church in prison and the presidency & Twelve & many others in exile for obeying the Law of God … But the God of Israel still reigns and He will protect the righteous and defend his kingdom and fulfill his promises. Where the end of this year will find the Presidency & 12 apostles of the Church & myself in particular time will determine.” In each new year Wilford would find the hope of the church’s triumph and God’s end to the world, in each year’s end another round of quiet revisions and deferrals.

Carry on, fellow idolaters.

John A. Coltharp said...

I don't blindly quote Church leaders. I do think for myself. That's why I think Thomas S. Monson and Gordon B. Hinckley are fake prophets, and that hey are imposters.

I don't believe everything Wilford Woodruff said, or believe with everything he did. But I do believe what the Lord said through Wilford Woodruff, in the sunset, arizona revelation, and that is that the United States will eventually be destroyed.

Obviously Wilford, and almost every other prophet, was way off on their timing. They always thought the 2nd coming and final calamities were just around the corner. I don't take 100% of everything as absolute truth. I accept and reject certain doctrines in the Book of Mormon. I'm a picker and a chooser.

I like to quote people I agree with. But I don't believe quotes prove anything. Some people just say things better than I could.

THurts said...

Coltharp:

I get the picking and choosing of doctrines, scriptures, etc., but I think there is a fundamental difference between that and taking a comment from Woodruff so totally out of context that Woodruff himself would be appalled by the application.

Woodruff was both consistent AND insistent that what he said was the Lord's words. That what he said was a revelation, including the timing. He said that BY (then President) said they were revelations from the Lord. The backdrop to all these revelations is that Woodruff insisted they were to happen THEN, not now. That's more than timing being a little off - Woodruff was framing his revelation to the then present, not to some unknown future date. In fact, I think Woodruff would vehemently oppose any other timetable, because he WAS certain that it was happening then through revelation. In fact, he would have vehemently disavowed any idea that today (the year 2011) would even exist in it's current structure because the Millenium was starting in the late 1800s - peace aplenty and destruction of the unjust already done.

I'm not saying the nations won't all go the way of all the earth (the D&C suggests they will), but I am saying that using Woodruff to make your claim is patently erroneous... and taking his comments and applying them to a date and time that he would never approve of or have done. If ever there were an instance of taking something drastically out of context, this is that instance.

Perhaps we should all stop relying on "Wilford, and almost every other prophet" in regards to anything and start taking charge of our own pathways to God. The more we rely on them, the more dependent we become. The more dependent we become, the weaker we get. The weaker we get, the more fearful we become. The more fearful we because, the more we cling to every word these men state and await in anticipation for their words to happen and come to pass. Then, when they don't, we say the message was right, but the timing was wrong [a timing they say was part and parcel of the message].

John Coltharp said...

I quoted the Lord speaking in the first-person through Wilford Woodruff: "Thus Saith the Lord."

But whatever the case, Wilford made his first comments, if you look at my reference, in 1861. The Civil War, as I mentioned, was the beginning of the whole train of events that would make a full end of the United States. This is clear from the D&C, that it would begin with the civil war. The day HAD indeed come, and since the 1860s, the United States has been slowly getting destroyed. Perhaps you think I'm misinterpreting or excusing Wilford's bad timing by saying its a long drawn-out process instead of a sudden and quick destruction that would take place in the 1860s. I'm just giving you my own views about the timing, whether wilford agrees with me or not.

I think the ancient apostles, during Peter and Paul's time, were way off on timing too. When you read the new testament, it sounds like they thought the 2nd coming was right around the corner. And yet we still quote the new testament verses about the 2nd coming, about the events that preceed it, etc., even though the apostles who wrote these verses were entirely mistaken about when it would happen. I'm simply doing the same with Wilford Woodruff.

Amen to THurts said...

"Perhaps we should all stop relying on "Wilford, and almost every other prophet" in regards to anything and start taking charge of our own pathways to God. The more we rely on them, the more dependent we become. The more dependent we become, the weaker we get. The weaker we get, the more fearful we become."

And when the storms come, our sandy foundations will be washed away. Thank God!

TuNeCedeMalis said...

Agree with THurts...

It seems that anywhere I look online I see either main streamers or fundamentalists. They both worship men and words. The only difference is that they disagree on which men and which words.

It would be best if we stopped worshiping any men and any words and just focused on living a life full of love and wonder.

TuNeCedeMalis

Unknown said...

There is no liberty as long as people subject themselves to the dictates of men instead of going by the will of the Lord.

And church members are not only guilty of bowing to men, they go by mere hearsay. "Oh, I heard that the prophet said ..." Where? When? Which prophet?

And if you say something that agrees with scripture, you are supposedly disagreeing with the prophet. Which one? How?

Good luck getting a salient answer. It's just a matter of hearsay over scripture. Someone somewhere thought he heard a prophet say something, so now he thinks he's an authority above actual scripture ... with a handful of indeterminate hearsay he calls "doctrine."

Dave P. said...

I heard a doozy of a "new doctrine" this weekend. Apparently there's a 3rd priesthood that none of us ever knew about until that speaker opened his mouth.

According to him, there's a "Patriarchal Priesthood" reserved only for those who marry in the temple (using Masonic signs and tokens, mind you) and the offices are husband/wife, father/mother and god/goddess.

Is it just me, or are they getting more desperate to get tithing money from us singles? I was in a meeting a few weeks ago wherein a church official admitted that tithing donations steadily decrease among young single adults as they get older, and the only sure-fire way to get them back up is for the singles to get married.

John Coltharp said...

I believe a person's words (whether he's a prophet, or a non-mormon), if his words are logical, make sense to me, and seem true.

I pick and choose, based on whether or not I think a person's words are true.

When I want to express myself, if I came up with the idea myself, I simply say it. If I heard it from someone else first, however, then I quote that person I heard it from, so I'm not accused of plagarism. This should in no way be interpreted to mean that I can't think for myself, and that I blindly follow a man.

Some people are so obsessed with rejecting Church leaders, that they reject everything true those leaders have said in the process. We should be willing to look past the person delivering the message, and accept the message because it's true, whether it comes from the Pope, or from the Mormon President. And when these same men speak falsehoods, we should be just as quick to dismiss and reject those falsehoods.

Steve said...

Some years ago I found it was not in my heart to salute or pledge any more. And this was after over 8 years in the military and being okay with it for many more. I still like to sing the anthem.

Dave P - The patriarchal priesthood is associated with the temple.

Steven Lester said...

Well, how is the Patriarchal Priesthood associated with the Second Endowment Ceremony, that legendary secret ceremony that takes place, in part, only within the Holy of Holies? You know, the one which makes a person's Calling And Election Sure and which can only be activated by the direct permission from the Prophet Himself? Of course, the entire ceremony is recorded on the Internet and can be found simply on Google in .2 seconds, as can all the versions of the ""unchanging" Temple Ceremony from the 1800's onward, for comparative purposes only, of course.

Indeed, I heard that whenever that big vase is moved to the side of the stairs that lead up to the Salt Lake Temple Holy of Holies, that this means the Prophet is in there and is conducting such a ceremony. How cool! Nobody else is allowed in there, except maybe the janitor at night. I wonder what he gets to see?

Anonymous said...

-Lester
The room you are talking about is only part of the Holy of Holies. Anything beyond the veil of the temple is part of the Holy of Holies or celestial room . James E. Talmage mistakenly called the pryer room in the celestial room the Holy of Holies in his book House of the Lord (of which the first edition had pictures of), however in his later book, The Vitality of Mormonism 1919, he corrects this view. All members are aloud to enter the Holy of Holies through the temple veil.

-SufferingSaint

Lee said...

Rock, another great blog post. Keep up the good work! I was shocked about a decade ago when one of my coworkers expressed misgivings about he pledge of allegiance. How could someone not love the pledge? After all, isn't the pledge a representation of apple pie, patriotism, and all that is good?

Fortunately, my eyes have been opened and I to no longer participate in this prayer to the state.

Here is an entertaining take on the pledge by "The Whitest Kids You Know" Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2BfqDUPL1I

karl waterman, brother of rock and apostate at large. said...

those in the "patriot" movement make the pledge all better, by adding at the end:, following liberty and justice for all " who fight for it".

that makes it all nice!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Lee, I like that video so much I embedded it as an update at the end of the article above. Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

This is all so very sad. When I say the pledge of allegiance, I am honoring the Republic that God inspired, the constitution, the idea of America - where man is free and can rule himself as long as he is trying to follow God. Maybe I just had better teachers, but I believe in what America is supposed to be. Anyone who thinks that is Idol worship . . . well I choose that.

I will stand with the prophets for God is the only one who can decide when a prophet is done. This does not mean that I blindly follow them, I was taught to question everything, but that I have faith that even if a prophet is not perfect, He is still the prophet. There are literally dozens of scriptures that warn us to follow the prophet. God has consistently said in the Old and New Testaments that we must follow the prophet and that God would bless us and not allow his prophets to lead us astray. Some may say this is blindly following them no matter what they may say, but it is not. I Choose God. I will put my trust in him.

The 12th Article of Faith state that we believe in being subject to Kings, Presidents, Rulers and Magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. This is a matter of honor and integrity, that you honor laws even when you don't like them. In WWII the First Presidency advised all soldiers to fight with honor. Even the German saints were told to fight with honor. In America we are very blessed to have the constitution that gives every citizen a way to change things. It is called voting. Right does not always prevail but that is not a reason to dishonor the law. It would be wonderful if our government was doing the right things always, and I will continue to do my part through voting and speaking out, but until the government changes, I will continue to honor them.

Again. . . I Choose God's Way.

George said...

Anon:

God has consistently said in the Old and New Testaments that we must follow the prophet and that God would bless us and not allow his prophets to lead us astray.

Can you provide those references for me (Old and New Testaments)? I'd really like to read + study them.

Thanks!

Dave P. said...

Funny, from what I've read, God tends to warn the people about prophets who will lead them astray.

For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord (Jer. 23: 11).

"Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst." Isaiah 5:13

Micah 3: "Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them; he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry Peace; and he putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him. Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded; yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God. But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgement, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and the princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgement, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? None evil can come upon us."

Ezekiel 13: 3-10 "Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel (leaders of the Lord’s House) to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, the Lord saith; and the Lord hath not sent them; and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word...Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying Peace; ("Wo unto those who say All is Well in Zion") and there was not peace..."

Millennial Star, Number 38, Pages 593-595: "We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them (even) if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings...A man of God would despise the idea. Others in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the sins were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves." Joseph Smith

Alan Rock Waterman said...

If ever we required evidence of the insidious damage a lifetime of pledging can do, we need look no further than the post above from "Anonymous," at 10:14, who has reinvented and twisted Mormon teachings so that they conform in his mind with what he believes are his obligations to government.

Thanks are due to Dave P. for refuting the ridiculous idea that "God has consistently said in the Old and New Testaments that we must follow the prophet and that God would bless us and not allow his prophets to lead us astray."

God has said nothing of the sort; As Dave has shown, God has consistently said the opposite.

I stand with George, however, in asking Anonymous for examples of those "literally dozens of scriptures" that he says support his own view.

But that's nothing. His skewed view Church teachings gets decidedly more off-kilter.

"In WW II," Anonymous astoundingly asserts, "the First Presidency advised all soldiers to fight with honor. Even the German saints were told to fight with honor."

This is worse than a simple misunderstanding; it is an outright fabrication. Anonymous has put words in the mouth of the First Presidency under Heber J. Grant, completely distorting what the prophet actually said and what he stood for.

In statements made prior to America's entry into the war, the First Presidency of the church warned vigorously against participation in it, and in April 1942 conference let it be known to those unfortunate latter-day Saints living in Germany and Italy that God would not hold them accountable for being forcibly conscripted into a war that they did not wish to fight. I dealt with this episode at some length here:

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2009/10/follow-prophet-true-or-false.html

It is an appalling thing to claim that German soldiers were counseled by our prophet to "fight with honor." Does the commenter truly believe God wanted German converts to vigorously fight and kill their fellow-latter-day saints from America? What kind of person would promote such a lie?

This monstrously inconsistent worldview equates the will of various governments as identical to the will of God. This worship of political power is the very nature of the idolatry God spent most of the Old Testament angrily inveighing against.

But such inconsistency is compatible with someone raised on blind allegiance to the State. If the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn't fit into his worldview, the gospel is reinvented and re-formed so that it does.

He tells us, "I choose God. I put my trust in him."

But exactly who is this "God" that he has been putting his trust in since childhood? The God of LDS scripture commands us to RENOUNCE war, not to fight wars "with honor."

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

(Continued.)

Anonymous tells us that when he recites the pledge he is honoring the Constitution.

No he isn't, and neither are any of his classmates. The Constitution is not mentioned anywhere in the pledge.

Just as in his own mind his religion stands for false tenets it doesn't contain, so he can imagine fealty for the Constitution while he pledges allegiance to something opposite it.

A straw man argument is created with the statement, "I believe in what America is supposed to be. Anyone who thinks that is Idol worship . . ." then he trails off.

No, Anonymous, what America is supposed to be is laid out in its founding documents, not in some socialist-inspired pledge of obedience. What you believe in, Mr. Anonymous, are things America is NOT supposed to be, such as obedience to tyrants.

Our anonymous poster insists we are required to obey, honor and sustain kings and magistrates regardless of whether their decrees are in conformity with the law of God.

Indeed, he completely inverts the meaning of "the law," presuming that all rules, statutes, and ordinances ever declared or legislated are what constitute "the law," and are therefore subject to obedience.

He seems completely unaware that like everyone else, when Joseph Smith made reference to the law in the 12th article of faith, it was understood by those at the time by the common meaning of the term. It was "THE law," not "the laws," plural. "THE Law" was normally understood to mean "that which was established by God," or that law of man that was consistent with His Divine Law.

Today there are numerous examples of things known variously as statutes, regulations, rules, and ordinances; all are different entities, and not all can be properly called "laws." Certainly not all are consistent with Divine Law. Yet Anonymous is utterly incapable of distinguishing any of them from The Law as referred to in article 12. All so-called laws are apparently equally valid in his sight, we are to assume.

Does Anonymous believe the people living in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia were required by God to go willingly to the camps because those orders were made law at the time? Perhaps he believes God wanted them to face death and slavery with honor.

Does he think it was the will of Jesus that the first century Christians passively allow themselves to be fed to the lions because to resist would have been disobedience to Roman law?

Isn't it a shame Joseph and Mary defied Herod and fled into Egypt rather than have the child Jesus executed according to law? To remain obedient to such a law would have been "a matter of honor and integrity," suggests our friend Anonymous, because "you honor laws even when you don't like them.

It saddens me that there are a number of well-meaning Americans so lacking in spirit and intellect that they believe good is evil and evil good. But what really worries me is that the church I belong to is peppered with members who think just like this guy.

Steven Lester said...

I don't think Anonymous is a guy. During one of my college writing classes the professor had us try to decide as to which sex had written a selection of 10 passages from different papers he had received in the past. Man or Woman? Well, after reading each selection we decided and marked the choice up on the board. It turned out that we were accurate with each one except for the last. That one had been written by a lesbian, but even so, our class was not completely fooled. Several still thought it was a female which had written it.

And so, while claiming that little bit of experiential authority, I felt and still feel that Anonymous is actually a woman. Not a guy. I feel sorry for her, not only because of how she will feel after reading what was written here, as true as it is, but also because from such an attitude comes mobocracy and violence of the extreme type.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

It was written by A DAME?! Well, that explains everything.

George said...

Dave + Rock:

The problem I have with your responses is that it prevents the original author (Anonymous) from digging up the references they promised were there. I maintain that if there are dozens of references in the NT + OT, then I would love to see them.

To say nothing of the differences between how we view a "prophet" and how the OT times viewed a "prophet" [click and follow this link], I think the most compelling evidence in the OT against the ideas set forth in Anon's comment is what we find in TPJS (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith).

“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel – said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church – that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls – APPLIED IT TO THE PRESENT STATE OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS – SAID IF THE PEOPLE DEPARTED FROM THE LORD, THEY MUST FALL – THAT THEY WERE DEPENDING ON THE PROPHET, HENCE WERE DARKENED IN THEIR MINDS, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves ...” -
(TPJS Section Five 1842-43, p.237-38.)

There are numerous examples that I'm aware of where, in the OT, the people are warned about blindly following "prophets" (see Ezekial 14, Ezekial 34 for starters), but I'm open to the idea that there are contrary teachings.

Anon: please point me in the direction of the references you noted exist. If they exist, I (and we all, I presume) would love to read them.

Dave P. said...

I'll continue to wait and see if the author is willing to dig them up. My question is, why didn't she have them ready to quote and present with the original post?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well Dave, you and I both know why. Because those scriptures don't exist.

Still, I hope I didn't discourage Anonymous from offering whatever she can dig up, because I would like to know what people like her are relying on.

Members like Anonymous are dead certain such scriptures exist because...well, they just HAVE to. Their view of "Mormonism" depends on the existence of scripture that backs up their private version of the religion.

I don't mind anyone calling themselves "Mormon" no matter how tenuous their connection to the faith. There's room for everyone. But when someone comes along and claims that this or that is what the Church teaches, when the Church clearly never has, that's when I pull out my whistle and claim it's out of bounds.

It's why I have such a sore spot regarding Boyd Packer and his "Unwritten Order of Things" speach announcing policies which he demands are to be obeyed. There are no unwritten doctrines in this church. We are either guided by revelation or we are not. And for those instances in which we are not, we are not allowed to just make the doctrine up.

God's house is a house of order, and when someone comes along and claims that the same God who decries idolatry and demands the denunciation of war also insists his people fight EACH OTHER in some unspecified "honorable" manner, well, that's when I admit I get a little het up.

So Anonymous, if you're still out there, please do show us your cards. I'm with George. If you have something to teach me, I want to learn.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh, by the way, George, thanks for that link on the definition of prophets. I had seen that before, then forgotten where. Thanks for finding it.

anonymous for this one said...

I like the definition of Prophet given in the last sentence of the "Prophet" entry in the LDS Bible Dictionary (http://lds.org/scriptures/bd/prophet?lang=eng&letter=p).

On a note related to the main post, I was meeting today with the 11 year old scouts, my new and most favorite calling, that is except for one little item dealing with the flag. I did, however, mouth silently the word "constitution" in place of the "f" word at the appropriate moment, since that is what I have actually sworn to uphold by oath both by government service, and by Temple Covenants according to D&C 98, 101, and 134.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

"It is an appalling thing to claim that German soldiers were counseled by our prophet to "fight with honor." Does the commenter truly believe God wanted German converts to vigorously fight and kill their fellow-latter-day saints from America? What kind of person would promote such a lie?"

It is amazing what beliefs can seem reasonable to a person as long as those beliefs were taught to them starting when they were young.

Anon, wipe you mind of all pre conditioning (if only for a minute or two, you can go right back to it when you are done) and see if what you wrote really makes sense to you.

I KNOW it makes sense to you from a church perspective, and a Mormon cultural perspective, what I want you to do is untie yourself from those perspectives for just a moment and see it it actually makes sense to you as a person.

Toni said...

I SO wanted to post as "anonymous" to make all of you think I was "that anonymous" - (Of course, if I haven't figured out the posting system, I'll be "anonymous" anyway - just not that anonymous.)

A search gave me this in response to the search words "prophet" and "follow" - "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
(Old Testament | Deuteronomy 18:22)

I'm confused about the following scripture. Not to highjack or anything, but anyone have a clue about this one? Micah 2:11 "If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people." (I was using search words "prophet" and "do" since "prophet" and "obey" brought up zero results.)

I give up. I'm not finding the scripture references, but I do know that modern advice abounds, and that many consider the words of the general authorities to be scriptures. I am sure that s/he was referring to either that or to the myriad of scripture that promise blessings for obedience to God and cursings for being disobedient.

I personally, think anonymous was being very brave for coming on a site like this and standing up for what s/he believes in. Very commendable.

ke da wei said...

@Anonymous (July 21, 2011 5:06 PM)

Yeah, I wish the American colonists had remained subject to King George, the Pilgrims had stayed in their place in England and the Protestants had remained subject to the political and religious rule that was centered in the Pope. (End sarcasm)

DC 98:5-7
"5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil."

We are subject to political leaders as long as they protect our natural rights. Otherwise, we have the right and obligation to overthrow them. This is the basis for the Declaration of Independence.

Toni said...

You were going to make new posts twice a month. I've been waiting for nearly a month and a half. *taps toes impatiently*

Hermes said...

This post was brilliant. As far as I am concerned, you can bask in your laurels for long time, letting newcomers like me stumble onto the really good stuff.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ah, thanks, Hermes. But as Toni above implies, I've been basking long enough. More stuff coming!

MrHFMetz said...

This pledge of allegiance is being made to the same entity that is spoken of by Daniel in chapter 7; that speaks great words against the most High and that shall wear out His saints, and that thinks to change times and laws (vers 25). But the judgement shall sit (vers 26) and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end.
It must be hard for you American Mormons to endure this conspiracy from both outside your church (the US government) and inside it (the apostles and prophets).
But there is an end to it, as Daniel says. Isaac Newton was his whole life devoted to figure out the meaning of this remarkable Book; but the Mormons should know better.

Ashley said...

Hi Rock. I just came to it this post from your new post today. As I read this I was reminded of a dream that I had back in March along with some scripture verses that came to my mind that day as I reflected on the dream. I want to share it. I recorded it in my journal. This was the dream:

"I was outside with a bunch of people and we were all looking up into the sky. I don't remember how it got there are where it came from but we were looking at these streaks of color through the sky that were red, white, and blue. Everybody seemed amazed and excited about it but as I was standing there looking at it suddenly I felt like it wasn't a good thing like everyone was thinking it was. I had this ominous impression that God was using our countries colors on display as a sign of condemnation. It was weird. I meant to copy the dream down sooner but then got distracted by getting the kids of to school and other things until I came across a calendar on our desk that I hadn't seen before. For whatever reason I just flipped it open to look at it and when I did it flipped open to the July, 2017 page. There was a picture of three jets flying through the sky with red, white, and blue coming out of their jet streams. When I saw it I suddenly remember the dream I had that morning. As I stood there reflecting on the dream a phrase came to mind. The phrase was: "Lifted up in pride above all other nations." When it came to mind I recognized the phrase as scripture and decided to look it up for full context. After writing my dream in my journal I copied these scripture verses down from 3 Nephi Chapter 16:

"And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and SHALL BE LIFTED UP IN THE PRIDE OF THEIR HEARTS ABOVE ALL OTHER NATIONS, and above all the people of the whole earth and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel behold sayeth the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. " I think the entire chapter is relevant to the dream I had. I was trying to figure out how/why the flag was used by the Lord as a sign of our condemnation and I knew it was connected to our pride as a nation. Reading this has clarified that even more for me. We are lifted up in pride and like you pointed out in your blog it is idolatry. We idolize the flag and what it stands for and ultimately we are idolizing ourselves thinking we/our nation is so great. We are nothing though. God gave us all that we have and has extended His mercy and grace to us for a long time even though we have continually been discarding what He has tried to give us. We all need to repent and remember Him and stop being lifted up in pride. God says he will forgive the gentiles in those verses if they will repent. I hope we all will so we don't end up swept off this covenant land as other people have been.