If you were to attend a conference in the early days of the LDS church, you could expect to come away with at least two things that we don't get now.
First, the leadership would provide a complete report of the Church’s financial holdings, detailing the amount of tithing funds collected and a thorough accounting as to how those funds were being spent.
Second, you could expect to hear something from the prophet that would truly edify you; some cosmic truth you didn’t know or hadn’t realized before. In short, you would attend conference expecting to take away from the experience at least a modicum of further light and knowledge.
Financial reports were quietly discontinued after 1958, despite no announced revelation from God that such an accounting was no longer required. It was simply an executive decision by Church leaders that these things were not the business of the membership at large. “I don't think the public needs to have that information,” is the way it was put by N. Eldon Tanner, the Church’s unofficial CFO. By “the public,” Tanner was referring to the lowly rank and file members who had contributed the money in the first place.
Besides, the argument went, once it's donated, that money no longer belongs to the members. Tithing money belongs to the Lord. So there.
I Should Have Known Better
I’ve already related what I believe are valid reasons for skipping general conference altogether. Still, I couldn't help tuning in last Sunday morning to see what the president of the Church had to say, in hopes that maybe this time we’ll get something approximating an honest-to-goodness revelation from God.
Nope. Not this time either.
The high point of Monson’s talk was an experience he related that took place 24 years ago at the dedication of the German temple at Frankfort. He says he had the strong impression that he should ask a local Dutch member, Peter Maurik, to speak at the dedication, but after inquiring, he learned that Brother Maurik was not present in the temple that day. Maurik was not scheduled to be present until the next day’s event.
Still, when President Monson got up to the podium, he felt inspired that he should announce Maurik as the first speaker, even though, as Monson says, “this was counter to all my instincts, for I had just heard from Elder Asay that Brother Maurik was not in the temple.”
“Trusting in the inspiration however,” Monson continues, “I announced first the choir presentation, the prayer, then indicated that our first speaker would be Brother Peter Maurik.”
You can guess how this story ends. After the choir and the prayer, President Monson announces “We will now hear from Brother Maurik,” and just at that moment, mirabile dictu, Peter Maurik walks into the room.
Monson tells this story to illustrate the importance of being open to inspiration and acting on it.
Now, I do not mean to downplay Monson’s experience. It’s a nice little story; an inspiring one, and I have no doubt that it is true.
But remember, this is God’s One True Prophet On The Earth In Our Day, and this story that took place two and a half decades ago was the high point of last Sunday's entire presentation.
Boy, You're Gonna Carry That Weight
Let’s imagine for just a moment that all of a sudden the world wakes up and takes us Mormons seriously. All the crushing poverty and despair, the encroaching tyranny, the endless wars -and rumors of yet more wars- have worn the world’s population down to the point where the whole world cries out to God for answers. They are finally ready to listen.
There is a man, they remember the Mormons saying, who speaks directly to God, and can tell us what God wants from us. If we listen to this prophet, God will tell us through him what we should do about this hopeless mess the world is in. The prophet of God has the answers we need.
The world learns that this holy man, whose name is Thomas Monson, makes God’s will known to the world twice a year via satellite, when he addresses his people from Salt Lake City. So because the world is rapidly going to hell in a handbasket, almost everyone on the planet finally takes us at our word and tunes in to October General Conference. Finally they have the opportunity to hear the word of God through his living prophet, just as in ancient times!
And this is what they get. The Peter Maurik story.
Imagine one of these foreigners watching a conference session for the very first time, and later relating this information to a friend who missed it:
“Praise Allah! I saw The Prophet of the Lord on TV yesterday.”
“Oh yes? What did this holy man have to say?”
“He said there was this time he was at a meeting and God told him to announce a particular man was to be the speaker, but that man was not even at the meeting. Then, just when all hope is lost, the guy shows up.”
“That is indeed a miracle. What else did this prophet have to say?”
“He said that when he was a young boy he accidently left a five dollar bill in his pants pocket, and the pants went to the laundry. He prayed mightily to the Lord that when he got the pants back, the money might still be in the pocket.”
“When the pants came back from the laundry, the money was still in the pocket.”
“Wow. Nothing like that has ever happened to me.”
I believe the Lord inspired President Monson to announce Peter Maurik as the speaker, and that God inspired Maurik to race to the temple to get there in the nick of time. For if Maurik hadn’t shown up, it would have been a catastrophe. Monson would have had to fill another hour himself, subjecting those poor German saints to his inane and pointless stories. God can sometimes seem cruel, but he's never that cruel.
Would you like to know what my real problem is with Monson’s conference talk? Okay, I'll tell you. Right there on TV in front of the whole wide world, he made fun of the first commandment of Jesus Christ.
Oh, did you miss that?
It happened earlier during that same conference talk. President Monson began by lamenting the obvious degradation of modern society. “Behaviors which once were considered inappropriate,” he began, “are now not only tolerated, but now are viewed by ever so many as acceptable.”
No argument there. So far so good.
He then quotes an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article by British Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:
“In virtually every western society in the 1960s there was a moral revolution; an abandonment of its entire traditional ethic of self-restraint. All you need, sang the Beatles, is ‘love.’ The Judeo-Christian moral code was jettisoned. In its place came: whatever works for you. The Ten Commandments were rewritten as the Ten Creative Suggestions.”Wait, hold on a minute. Rewind that.
Watch President Monson's delivery of that second sentence, and see how derisively he says the word “love.”
It was delivered in a way meant to get a chuckle from the congregation, and chuckle they did. "All you need is love." How silly. How quaint. Ha ha ha.
But hold on; isn’t the line from that Beatles song simply a rephrasing of the great commandment of Christ? By golly, I think it is.
Matthew tells of a lawyer who tried to trip Jesus up by asking him to pick one commandment as more important than all the others. The idea was to trap Jesus into an admission that all the commandments were not of equal import.
Jesus responded by saying that actually, there are two great commandments, and all of Christianity now recognizes Jesus’ reply as embodying the very core of the gospel itself: We are to love God, and we are to love one another. Upon these two commandments, Jesus declared, hang ALL the law, and ALL the words of the prophets.
Sounds to me like Jesus was saying something very close to ALL you need is love.
Love Is Old, Love Is New; Love Is All, Love Is You
Perhaps Brother Monson and the good Rabbi were under the mistaken impression that the song was advocating free love -unrestrained sexual activity. If so, they are remiss for not checking the lyrics, as the song implies no such thing. Although the phrase “free love” began to enter the public consciousness later in the same year their song was released, sexual promiscuity was not what the Beatles meant by that song.
“All You Need is Love” was composed in 1967 for the first live global television link, which would be connecting 400 million people in 26 different countries all watching the same television program at the same time.
The BBC had asked the Beatles to come up with a number to represent the United Kingdom’s contribution, something containing a simple message easily understood by all nationalities. John Lennon created a message that, consciously or not, reflected the salient teaching of Jesus Christ.
"It was an inspired song and they really wanted to give the world a message," said manager Brian Epstein. "The nice thing about it is that it cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything."
"Cannot be misinterpreted," that is, by anyone other than a Mormon prophet and a Jewish Rabbi. Thomas Monson not only misinterpreted the message, he blew it off as though the very idea was beneath considering. Watch the video of his talk at about the 2:17 mark, as his voice rises mockingly on the word “love.” You can download the talk here. (It can be watched online, but the streaming video is sometimes jerky and you could miss the snarky nuance in Monson’s delivery.)
You have to wonder about the automatic snigger from the congregation. It's as if he gave them a cue, and they instantly responded with scornful agreement. "Love. Yeah, right."
If you continue watching, though, you'll get to Monson's point. He eventually slides into the same tired mantra the leadership is lately becoming famous for: obedience is everything. To Monson, like the Rabbi he quotes, there is nothing more important than the original Hebrew commandments.
Never mind that for those people (Mormons for instance) who are supposed to emulate the Christ, the original ten commandments are intended to become unnecessary. Those who practice unconditional love will never kill, they'll never steal, they'll never take the Lord's name in vain. A person with love in his heart will never think to covet his neighbor's wife.
But the modern LDS Church (TM), as I've harped about repeatedly on this site, has in recent years been taking a series of gradual steps backward from the pure doctrines of the restoration in favor of a more Pharisaical surrogate religion. Is it any wonder that the president of the Church glosses over the doctrine of love and then launches into another dry homily about obedience? And does this also not explain the prophet's lack of discernment for what really was the cause of the disintegration of morality in the 1960s? It was not the message of love that brought about the fall, it was the deliberate corruption of that message by the rulers of darkness who practice spiritual wickedness in high places.
Monson is correct when he says “Behaviors which were considered inappropriate and immoral are now not only tolerated, but viewed by ever so many as acceptable.” And he is correct, as is Rabbi Sacks, in pinpointing the 1960's as the time when our society began it’s rapid spiral into decadence. But are we to assign the blame for this decadence on the message of love? If God is love, then Satan must have been behind the effort to derail that message of hope and peace and turn it into something that the majority of Americans eventually rejected. How that came to pass is a fascinating study in how Satan goes about attempting to thwart the will of God. For if God was pouring out a spirit of peace and love upon the earth at the beginning of the decade, by the end of it Satan and his minions had clearly prevailed.
We All Live In A Yellow Submarine
Our collective memory has conflated the 1960s into one long era of “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll,” but in 1967, the year the Beatles released their anthem to brotherly love, that mantra was not yet on the national radar. Most teenagers still had short hair, sideburns were not allowed at school, and virtually the only man you could find in America with a beard was Sebastian Cabot. Although The Doors had a hit with Light My Fire, a song with a veiled sexual reference, the Billboard number one song for the entire year was Lulu's To sir With Love. Among the other songs in that year's top ten were Windy, Daydream believer, Happy Together, Ode to Billy Joe, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, and Frank and Nancy Sinatra's duet, Somethin' Stupid. None of them were what you could call drug or sex themed, and all of them qualifed more as pop songs than rock n' roll anthems. There was a drug problem in America, to be sure, but it was pretty much isolated among a few pathetic heroin addicts in major cities like New York and Los Angeles.
|By summer 1967, this is about as radical as the typical male looked.
Protests against the war in Vietnam only just began two years earlier, and included mothers and other middle-Americans concerned that president Johnson might be repeating the mistake Truman had when he sent American soldiers into Korea to engage in an undeclared “police action.”
As this “peace” movement was beginning, there were no riots on college campuses, and no clashes with the police. The carrying of protest signs was an odd practice heretofore engaged in by picketing strikers and the odd beatnik, yet even though only a few citizens bothered to engage in protests against the war, a large majority of Americans shared the anxious concerns of those who did. But soon the ranks of the activist protesters were growing, and fast. In April 1965, between 15-25,000 people gathered at the capital, a turnout that surprised even the organizers.
The year before that, Vietnam was on hardly anyone’s mind. In 1961 JFK had sent in 600 advisers, mostly from the CIA; ostensibly to monitor that nation’s internal civil war. Almost no one in America noticed or cared as a few more advisers were slipped in each succeeding year.
Then in 1964, Americans were told that the North Vietnamese army had fired rockets on a passive American patrol boat in a place called the Gulf of Tonkin. Although recently declassified documents show that the Gulf of Tonkin incident had been a complete fabrication, the non-existent attack was seized upon by LBJ as a reason to escalate the war. Now American boys would be drafted to fight overseas in another war that the American people were to have no say in.
Many Americans hoped our government would give the Gulf of Tonkin incident a measured response. Was it always necessary, some asked, to react by escalating the hostilities? Teenagers began sewing flowers on their clothes and wearing more colorful outfits, advocating “Flower Power” rather than conflict. The reaction of middle America to these “flower children” was mild amusement. They were having harmless fun. Most Americans also wanted peace, not war, and a spirit of love was prominent among most.
But as President Eisenhower had warned just before he left office, the United States government was by now well intertwined within a powerful military-industrial complex of bankers, oil men, and arms manufacturers. A wedding of government and corporate industry like that would require a war to keep it thriving, and these guys were looking for a chance to stretch U.S. military muscle.
Listen, Do You Want To Know A Secret?
LDS theology teaches that it is Satan who buys up armies with which to rule with blood and thunder upon the earth. The Book of Mormon shows how secret combinations -men who combine together in secret “to get power and gain”- normally use the structure of goverrnments to achieve those ends. One thing these secret combinations know for certain: there is no money in love and peace. They knew they were going to have to get ahead of this peace movement and neutralize it before it completely took off.
In war, there are essentially two ways to neutralize the enemy. The first thing, obviously, is to take your enemy out. The other is to demonize him so that others do not sympathize with or join with him.
Naturally, the U.S. government could not engage in the wholesale slaughter of Americans to stop them from opposing their war. But there is more than one way to take a person out of the game. Drugs have been known to do the trick.
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
During the second world war, the OSS (forerunner to today’s CIA) was working on the development of a “truth serum” derived from THC in hopes they could come up with a drug that would incapacitate an enemy army on the battlefield. The problem was, no one could think of an effective delivery system capable of getting an entire army stoned all at the same time. Still, they didn’t scrap the project.
recruited to work for the U.S. government under the top secret Project Paperclip, which allowed them to continue the insidious experiments they had been working on under Hitler's regime. Through recently declassified documents, we now also know of Project MK-Ultra, devoted to finding ways to manipulate and control the minds of America's cold war enemies.
Among the drugs developed for MK-Ultra was a lysergic acid derivative, the liquid byproduct of a rye fungus. In How the US Government Created the 'Drug Problem' in the USA, Michael Kreca explains:
"For nearly 25 years, thousands of everyday Americans...were heavily dosed with numerous very potent artificial psychoactive drugs, often without their knowledge or consent."And in their book The 80 Greatest Conspiracies of all Time, Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen tell us this:
LSD turned out to be undependable for creating an army of mind-controlled robots because its effects tended to be unpredictable, sometimes sending the user off on "trips" for as long as three days. However, write Vankin and Whalen, “with LSD the CIA found the ultimate weapon against the youth movement.”
LSD was the perfect answer for taking out a population of idealistic upstarts. Neutralizing all those carefree flower children was a piece of cake. Those dumb kids took to acid like bees to flowers, never asking where all those drugs came from or who was paying for them. LSD was suddenly everywhere, as free as the breeze, paid for with tax dollars extracted from the flower children's own unwitting parents.
She's Leaving Home
If President Monson wanted to pick on a subtly insidious song from the 60's, he might have done better by quoting Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco:
If you're going to San FranciscoThis seemingly innocuous little ballad enticed an estimated 100,000 American teenagers to run away from home to meet up with all the other “gentle people" who were also converging in San Francisco at an area near the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets.
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there
What those kids were met with when they got to San Francisco was pot and LSD, lots and lots of it everywhere, thanks to underground labs set up by the FBI. Soon, those carefree runaways were either high, or arrested for being high. Either way, they were out of commission. Under the influence of acid, pot, STP, and the myriad other substances secretly provided by the government, these young people were in no condition to intelligently oppose the government's unconstitutional foreign policy. When they weren't stoned or high, most of them spent the day scavenging for food just to survive. A good number of these erstwhile innocents ended up addicted to heroin.
Do The Hippy Hippy Shake
Released in May of 1967, McKenzie’s hit “San Francisco” ushered in what was soon dubbed “the summer of love.” In no time the innocent and peaceful flower child was transformed into the self-indulgent “hippie,” a term coined by a clever reporter.
The summer of love was short-lived. By 1969, San Francisco’s famed Haight-Ashbury district had become the most desperate and dangerous part of the city. Unwitting tourists getting out of their cars to get a look at some real live hippies were in real live danger of getting knifed in the stomach by one of the gentle people there.
Meantime, back in 1967, the press was reporting that these hippies, who had begun growing their hair long and dressing truly weird, were completely opposed to middle class values such as bathing and hygiene. They engaged in free love with anyone, any time. They believed the world owed them a living. They were angry and filthy and they hate their parents. In fact, they hate you. Whatever middle class values you stood for, they were against them.
As always, some of this was true and some was not. Regardless, the reaction of middle America to these unsavory freaks was instant revulsion. Joe Sixpack did not identify with anything these hippie types stood for, and if the hippies were against the war in Vietnam, by gum, he was gonna be for it. And so the War Powers accomplished their greatest feat, one they’ve been utilizing ever since to great effect: dividing American citizens against each other over issues they would normally be in agreement with.
Any way you look at it, the CIA’s program of disseminating acid to deflate the potency of the youth “rebellion” was a rousing success. As Martin Lee and Bruce Schlain report in their history Acid Dreams, “by magnifying the impulse toward revolution out of context, acid sped up the process by which the movement came unglued.”
You Say You Want A Revolution
Meanwhile, elsewhere across the nation America’s shadow government was helping societal dissolution along by secretly financing elements of the student rebellion on campus. Calm protests soon gave way to angry riots, typified by the violent takeover of New York's Columbia University in 1968.
The average American watching this anarchy take place on the nightly news was repulsed by these undisciplined ruffians, especially as they burned American flags and announced their open admiration for the communists Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh.
“We are the Viet Cong, and we are everywhere!” announced Jerry Rubin. This revolutionary fervor frightened America’s middle class, as it was designed to. Such angry calls for overthrowing America gave pause to regular Americans who had been voicing their opposition to our overseas adventurism to their friends and neighbors. They may have been against the war, but violent revolution was not what they had signed on for. They didn't hate America like these communist rioters in the street. Average citizens learned to watch what they said for fear they might be thought of as one of these anti-American radicals.
Military service had become a rite of passage for the previous generation that had come of age during the peacetime years after Korea, and most looked back on their military training as having helped shape their character. Now here were these radical, spoiled children of privilege ranting against the institution that had formed them, and threatening to bring down all of America with it. If Joe Sixpack were forced to make a choice between these commie-pinko-hippie-freaks and the United States military, he’d side with the military. Thus was quashed any real opportunity for open civil discourse about the propriety of America’s participation in overseas entanglements.
Baby, You're A Rich Man
One of the student revolutionaries at Columbia, James Simon Kunen, later wrote a book about his experiences titled The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary. He noted how many of the leaders of the campus revolutions, such as Mark Rudd and Tom Hayden, seemed motivated more by future political ambition than with any pure ideals of peace or freedom. What surprised Kunen most of all was that the leaders he and his fellow young revolutionaries took orders from appeared to be taking their orders from Wall Street establishment types -the very people the revolutionaries thought they were fighting against.
Kunen saw some of this influence first hand at what was supposed to be a convention of the radical Students for a Democratic Society:
“Men from Business International Roundtables -the meetings sponsored by Business International for their client groups and heads of government- tried to buy up a few radicals. These men are the world’s leading industrialists and they convene to decide how our lives are going to go. These are the guys who wrote the Alliance For Progress...They offered to finance our demonstrations in Chicago.”
“We were also offered Esso (Rockefeller) money. They want us to make a lot of radical commotion so they can look more in the center as they move to the left.”Jerry Kirk, also formerly of the SDS as well as the Black Panthers, confirmed Kunen’s observations during testimony before congress:
"Young people have no idea that they are playing into the hands of the establishment they claim to hate. The radicals think they are fighting the forces of the super rich, like Rockefeller and Ford, and don’t realize such forces are behind their own revolution, financing it and using it for their own purposes. The idea is to create where the people are so frightened of the violence all around them that they will throw their hands up in the air and demand the federal government do something, and the only choice open will be martial law.”The shadow government did not achieve its plan to impose martial law, as the time was not yet, but the plan did succeed in prolonging the Vietnam war well past the time it might have been halted had "decent" people not been scared off the field. But decent people did not wish to be seen echoing the hippie-yippie sentiments of the unkempt radicals. This was especially true of Latter-day Saints, even though their scriptures commanded them to renounce war and proclaim peace.
It didn’t help the cause of truth when Boyd K. Packer spoke in conference on the Vietnam war, completely misrepresenting the Church’s traditional position.
Packer’s deception here, but suffice it to say that any objections the children of light may have had to this illegal and immoral undertaking were stilled that day by a conference speaker whose agenda ran contrary to all of God's previous revelations on the subject.
Someone should tell President Monson that it was not the message of love that propelled America into the decadent decade of the 60s. It was the corruption of that message. Satan set out to thwart the will of God, and this time Satan won. His minions successfully strangled the newborn spirit of love and peace in the crib, and replaced it with an ugly, repulsive counterfeit that America rightly rejected.
And before you think God’s will cannot be thwarted, think again. If it were not possible for Satan to thwart the will of God, we would still have the Nephite nation living among us. Satan wins the battle time and time again -at least in the short run. Whether Satan triumphs in the long run will be largely up to us.
Even the most well-intended seeker of truth can fall prey to deception. By the 1970's a handful of honest truth seeking hippie-types escaped the pit of despair and discovered Christ. Yet they were easily dismissed by normal people as "Jesus Freaks." Sadder yet, rather than awakening to the situation they found the world in and taking a stand against evil, most of these souls were easily duped by a bestselling book by Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, which promised that Christians need not be concerned about the evils of this world because before it all gets too heavy Jesus will simply come and take them all up to heaven. Thus, some of the most promising of the love generation were further neutralized, persuaded to sit on their hands and wait for Jesus while evil continued to roll forward.
Come Together Right Now
The money powers will always stand ready to neutralize any attempt of the American people to be truly free. The inchoate Tea Party movement, originally a group of grass roots activists opposing the banker bailouts and the middle east wars, was hijacked by establishment Republicans such as Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, and Glenn Beck, all enthusiastic supporters of the banker bailouts and unapologetic warmongers. As a result, the tea party movement lost steam and is now considered by most to be a mere extension of the Republican noise machine. The same thing is happening right now with the movement to Occupy Wall Street,. Those participants must remain vigilant, as big money is even now attempting to co-opt that movement and transform it into an effete left-wing version of the Republican Tea Party.
Let It Be
I don’t know if John Lennon had Jesus in mind when he penned the words to “All You Need is Love,” but it doesn't matter. What matters is that those sentiments echo the words of Christ. John Lennon was famously a spiritual seeker, even though he seems to have overlooked Christianity. This was not because Christianity is invalid, but because what Lennon saw reflected in many of those who claimed Christ, was a lack of love and a lack of charity toward others. Charity means more than simply giving money; it means allowing the other guy to live his own life without your judgment and without your criticism. It means recognizing that each of us is on his own perfect path in life, and that whatever mistakes we make are ours to grow from.
John Lennon, with all his many flaws, was a seeker of truth -and sometimes a speaker of truth. With the song “All You Need is Love,” he reaffirmed the greatest truth of all. John Lennon was a follower of Christ whether he realized it or not.
Some of the sectarian religions insist that one must specifically call on the name of Christ to be saved, that it doesn’t count unless you confess his name publicly. But we latter-day Saints reject that dogma.
What matters I think, even more than our worship of the Son, is whether or not we abide by His word; whether or not we show true charity one toward another. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”
Which raises an interesting question. Can a person be a disciple of Christ even if he never becomes a Christian? Put another way, can you be a disciple of Christ even when you don’t know you are?
Sure you can. All you need is love.