Sunday, October 9, 2011

The 181st Semiannual Bowl of Pap

Previously: Speaking Truth to Power


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.”

“What happened?”

“When the pants came back from the laundry, the money was still in the pocket.”

“Wow. Nothing like that has ever happened to me.”

Nowhere Man

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.

Here's what George Harrison said about why he and his bandmates selected that message:
"Because of the mood at the time, it seemed to be a great idea to do that song. We thought, well, we'll just sing 'all you need is love' because it's a kind of subtle bit of PR for God, basically."

"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.

After WWII, scads of Nazi scientists who should have been tried for crimes against humanity were secretly granted U.S. citizenship and 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:
“The spook scientists suspected that LSD had the potential to reprogram the human personality...Their idea was not to open the ‘doors of perception’ but to convert otherwise free human beings into automatons.”
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 Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there
This 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.

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

For those young people unable to make it to San Francisco, not to worry.  There were also government run drug labs in New York.  Ken Kesey and his group of  “Merry Pranksters” set off on a cross country trip across the US in a painted day-glo bus, distributing thousands of hits of LSD everywhere they went.  Their supplier was Rodney Hadley Stark, a deep undercover CIA operative who is said to have been responsible for the distribution of 50 million hits -and that’s just one guy. There were others. The government had contracted with pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly, so there was no shortage of the stuff. (As Kreca points out, this also made the US government and Eli Lilly the first illegal manufacturers and distributors of LSD.)

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 gave his talk in 1968, quoting excerpts from a statement of the First Presidency that had been read from the pulpit in conference1942, just after the start of world war II.  That original statement condemned war in no uncertain terms, but you wouldn’t know it from Packer’s version.  He quoted selected sections out of context, and added his own opinions until the members were given the view that the war in Vietnam was a noble pursuit that should be supported by every believing latter-day Saint; and that furthermore, God would not hold accountable any latter-day Saint soldier who participated in that war.  I delve into more detail concerning 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 LindseyThe 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.

149 comments:

prometheus said...

Something to consider, perhaps, is the distinction between love and right action: love is the motivating force, but right action is often difficult to discern in complex situations.

I need to think more about this idea, myself, as it has just occured to me, but I figured I would throw it out there.

Jean said...

Excellent blog Rock; you nailed it. Too bad I have to voice my disagreement about Satan. He is not real; he is merely a personification of the evil that is in many peoples' hearts; just as god is the personification of all that is good in people's hearts. At times it is hard to see them separately, because sometimes what is ordered by god sounds more like something that Satan would do, but that is only in the mythical book; the Bible.

Without a belief in that book or that god or satan, I find it easier to know the enemy and I find the enemy is actually religion itself with all of its dire pronouncements and rules and regulations - that is where we DO agree I think. Good people do not need someone to point out their every human mistakes or human behaviors; they need that validating pat on the back.
Evil works; death, destruction and hunger are all around us while religion is rife.

I love the way you used 'our songs' from the 60's to show that young people DID realize that war was unproductive in the evolution of love.

In answer to your 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?" NO, you cannot be a follower of someone you do not believe in; just because you happen to share some of his ideals. Buddha came up with those same ideals but I'm not a follower of his; I follow truth wherever I find it and wherever it leads me. The truth was not restricted to Jesus.

Love you, love your blog and your new pic.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jean,
You sound just like Satan.


(P.S. kidding!)

Jean said...

Someone probably made a hasty phone call to Peter Mourik telling him he had better get his ass down to the temple pronto, 'cos the Big Brother Monson had just said he would be speaking. I don't believe it 'just happened'. Nice blog Rock and I haven't even finished it yet, back to reading...

Jean said...

Jean,
You sound just like Satan.


(P.S. kidding!)

Thanks Rock; I'll take that as a compliment; I have been called a Korihor; I can take it - lol.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Korihor! Who would use such a mean epithet on my friend Jean?

You just keep giving 'em hell, kiddo.

Anonymous said...

Joseph Smith, along with Christ, also seemed to believe that 'all we need is love'.

The test of this life is to see who can be 'deceived' to do or support evil. And Joseph taught that if we just have 'perfect love' it's impossible for us to be deceived to do evil.

The Holy Spirit is just the Spirit of love, which enables us to see & discern clearly & correctly.

A person 'proves' they are righteous & a true 'disciple of Christ' if they possess, preach & practice 'unconditional true love'.

So it's very true 'all we need is love', perfect love & then we will truly be a disciple of Christ & be able to discern who else is too.

"Until we have perfect love we are liable to fall, and when we have a testimony that our names are sealed in the Lamb's book of life, we have perfect love, and then it is impossible for false Christs to deceive us."

Joseph Smith, Minutes of a conference held at Orange, Ohio, 25 Oct. 1831., Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings, p. 105, by Larry E. Dahl & Donald Q.Cannon.

Anonymous said...

I won the lottery this year and got to attend the last session of Conference (actually, a family member from out of town begged their bishop for tickets).

Walking up to the Conference Center, it was pandemonium. Hoards of Sunday-best dressed saints, headed to the great (and very spacious) edifice. Sunday Scalpers were everywhere, many of them "bribing" others with cookies to give them your extra tickets. Also on sidewalks were those free-loading transients. What a racket they had going on! Don't they know that the Church is protecting it's structures (with the new mall) from the likes of them? If money is going to be exchanged in a 4 block perimeter of the temple, it needs to go through the Church's hands! If they would just work through their Bishop and follow the right rules, they could receive enough welfare for their needs.

Precisely 3 minutes before Conference started, the Prophet walked onto the stand. A hush quickly befell the small gathering of 22,000, as we all rose to show our admiration, respect, love, loyalty, and worship of the Oracle of God. The younger, disrespectful crowd pulled out their cameras and started taking pictures of the celebrity in chief.

The talks were forgettable, except that of a humble Japanese man, whose love and spirit I could feel. As the Prophet got up, I eagerly waited the great prophecies that would come from a man who communes with God and is His mouthpiece. I was not disappointed. Here is his prophecy and voice of warning in his own words: "I say farewell to you until we meet again in six months’ time."

To those of you doubting folks out there, keep your eyes open. You will know of a surety that he is indeed a prophet in six months, if we "meet again." Of course, there are many ways that this could be interpreted, but I tend to believe that it means that in six months, we will hold Conference again.

Then again, I've heard that the LDS Church IS a non-prophet organization, so I could be wrong.

goingtozion said...

To scoff at love? That's it. (I was trying to find the best word at dictionary.com, I ended up with scoff, but if there's a better, fill me in). Ya know, if all he preached was love: love your spouse, love your children, love that homeless youth as much as your own child, love your enemies; and called us out on all the things we need to repent of and told us we are going to be destroyed or going to hell for doing so, well then maybe I'd cut him some slack on the lack of revelations and prophecies and visions.

I spoke with the missionaries in my ward a few weeks back when they helped us move and asked them when the last a revelation had been given by the prophet. They are cool guys and are actually open and want to figure things out. After conference one of them came up and said, "i didn't catch any revelation and i was looking. did you?" I responded nope. But I wish I could have mentioned this little bit about Monson that you shared Rock.

lifeofdi said...

Loved this one, Rock. One of my favorite blogs so far. I literally laughed out loud when I read:

"“When the pants came back from the laundry, the money was still in the pocket.”

“Wow. Nothing like that has never happened to me.” "

And the video of Monson saying love with that sneer is more than a little disturbing. Can you imagine people singing "As I have loved you, love one another" with that same sneer?

Ron Madson said...

Rock,
You pack a lot into each post. I want to address a few points you made. One is the deception practiced by Elder Packer during the Viet Nam era--in fact I think it was Elder Featherstone that went further during a speech at BYU and essentially called those that did not support that war as traitors, etc.--and made an allusion as to what Captain Moroni would do with such people (but do not want to go down that path--we see how crazy that got in the last post).
If you watch the DVD the church produced called "Let Not Your Heart be Troubled" which is about an hour long and directed to servicemen, you will find that Elder Packer is the key narrator along with Elder Wickham and Elder Robert Oaks commenting. Their theme is that we/the little followers/peasants/cannon fodder (as Falstaff would call us) need not trouble our little hearts about whether a particular war is just or not--our duty is to obey and the Lord will bless us AND Elder Packer and Elder Oaks endorsed our current wars (as they did Viet Nam) as wars justified by God and for His purposes. Their position is, imo, indistinguishable from Papal Edicts giving crusaders war indulgences.

Anyway, my other comment pertains to the Occupy Wall Street. I spent the first afternoon in SLC with the protesters there and engaged in a somewhat lengthy discussion with four of the principal organizers. I found them very articulate and largely agreed with their concerns. My concern is that this movement will be manipulated/co-opted as the Tea Party has been co-opted and morphed into something less noble.

I will say that those at the Occupy Wall Street/SLC were very passionate and very determined to not have any political party nor personality control them in any way. I was also happy to hear that they are determined to remain Gandhi like and even have their own security positioned to make sure none of their own get out of hand but remain perfectly civil.

we will see how this turns out.

your description of Pres. Monson's talk was spot on and funny. Frankly, I had someone tell me that they have moved beyond being annoyed at his antics to outright embarrassment But in fairness old men (and I am getting there) like to tell stories where they are the hero and easily fall prey to sentimentality. We should cut him some slack in that regard. But as you know I no longer conflate office with the gifts of the spirit. It would be great if they intersect but I see no evidence of it recently--or for some time.

Ron Madson said...

whoops, in the interest of approximating accuracy, here is a paste from a comment I received in a post about Conscientious objector status from a "Ken" describing what Elder Featherstone said and where:

"Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the seventy was in my hometown to hold a regional conference of some kind in the early 70s, at the height of the Vietnam anti-war protests. He took questions from the audience at a priesthood leadership meeting attended by my dad and brother. Someone asked him “what does the church think of young men in the church who object to the war and seek CO status?” Elder Featherstone got very passionate about this and stated something to the effect that “I know what Captain Moroni would do.” The take-home message was that CO’s should be compelled to fight or be executed, and the church certainly would not support them. There may have been some hyperbole in that, but this is how his statement was widely interpreted. We still discuss it today, decades later."

Anonymous said...

You had a much stronger stomach than I did to be able to pay that much attention, Rock. I got disgusted enough just looking at all of their phony smiles that just made them look extremely creepy.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be way too late to awaken the Saints, even the late G.A., Elder Andersen, thought it was too late even 50 years ago.

The Saints don't seem to want more than to hear a few nice inspirational stories at Conference.

So I believe Heavenly Father is giving the Saints exactly what they want.

Those who want more know where to get it.

Anonymous said...

"Love is old, love is new;
Love is all, love is you."
-- "Because" by the Beatles

I think one of the subheadings above needs correction...:-)

But nonetheless, it's one fascinating article. Keep writing.

Rico

Steve said...

A couple of ideas for future posts:
1) What is still right with the Church
2) What to do about the problems

Zo-ma-rah said...

Great! Just great! I never knew that about how those drugs got started. This post was a real eye opener.

I got a sick feeling in my stomach when Monson sneered at the word "love". I also got the distinct feeling that church leaders today look back to the 50's as if it is the perfect example proper culture. I've noticed that almost all of the church standards today seem to point right back to the 1950's.

No offense to anyone alive in the 50's but it just makes me want to do a forehead slap.

*slap*

There I just did it.

Steven Lester said...

I grew up in the 50's, myself, and yes, being white and middle class, things were very good, close, and secure for me and for everybody else I knew. My city (Burbank, CA) was almost entirely white and made up of middle-class folks and so throughout my entire childhood, until my High School graduation itself, there was not a single black person within my experience, except for two housekeepers among several that basically raised us kids while Mom and Dad were off working their bodies to death. You've no idea how insulated we all were. The 1964 Watts riots were some of the scariest moments of my life. I was petrified with fear that "those people" would actually be invading my home with guns very soon. I was only a sheltered 14-year-old at the time, so don't get on my case..

Now that you have mentioned it, Zomarah, that is exactly why Mormonism appealed to me in 1976: it reminded me of home and kind while I was growing up. Unfortunately, I've grown up during the last 20 years and no longer subscribe to 50's ethics. Mostly, anyway. Hence, the Church no longer appeals to me, in the least.

Anonymous said...

Mormon saw our day and perhaps that is why he included the brief words of the scribe Abinadom. The Nephites had fallen into apostasy and it was only the brave and inspired action of King Mosiah I that saved them and the Church.

::Behold, it came to pass that I (Abinadom) saw much war and contention between my people, the Nephites, and the Lamanites.... And behold, the record of this people is engraven upon plates which is had by the kings, according to the generations; and I know of no revelation save that which has been written, neither prophecy; wherefore, that which is sufficient is written. And I make an end. (Omni 1:10 - 11)

Dave P. said...

Actually, Abinadom's words weren't part of Mormons abridgement. They were on the small plates of Nephi that Mormon simply attached to his abridgement after the Lord told him to do so (and we know why in D&C sections 3 and 10).

Anonymous said...

Dave P. Thanks for the correction. It certainly was for a "wise purpose" that this record was included.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for the heads up that I had the lyrics on that subheading wrong, Rico. The correction has been made. "Love is all," I like that better than "me."

If I had been an actual Beatles fan in my youth, I would not have made that error. Quiz me on any Monkees lyrics and I'd pass with flying colors.

Dave P. said...

Anonymous,

No problem. It's amazing just how much there is in the Book of Mormon when you realize that it was written to, for, and about the restored church and its corrupted state today. Perhaps the best example I can give now is reading 2 Nephi 28 and looking at how every verse points to today's corporate church instead of other Christian faiths, as most people think that's how to interpret it.

It just so happens that I wrote a verse-by-verse commentary on that chapter this past week and posted it on the blog that I now contribute to: http://mormonstruthrestored.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-2-nephi-28-tells-us.html

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Steve,
As far as what is still right with the church, I'd say it's the local congregations of individual believers. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ has not been taken from the earth, and the Holy Ghost still operates among and through the Saints.

And as to what to do about the problems, that's built in to the local structure. All we have to do is get the members to recognize their autonomy from the corporate headquarters and begin acting like "the church" as defined by Jesus in D&C 10: 67-68.

In other words, wards must stop behaving as mere franchises of the corporation, and begin to do good works in their communities without looking to the so-called "leaders" at Church headquarters for instruction or approval.

If, however, you are defining "the Church" as that institutional corporate entity located at 50 East Temple and you are asking me for my opinion about what I think is right with that:

Sorry. I got nuthin'.

SLK said...

Great analysis (as always). Much of what you've written parallels my own experience and observations during the late '60s/early '70s.

BTW, I was a frequent visitor to the Haight-Ashbury in 1967, and although (or, perhaps, because) I was only 12 years old, it had a profound and long-lasting effect on me. Furthermore (and not unrelated), my Northern California ward's leaders during that period wrought perhaps better than they knew in giving us Sunday School teachers who encouraged exploration of "hippie-dippy" issues like peace and environmentalism in a gospel context — and I'm still grateful for that.

I suppose the rise of correlation in the years since then would largely prevent that kind of richly "unorthodox" Sunday School experience, but having left the Church years ago I'm in no position to say.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dave P,
I've just been reading your latest post you refer to above, and just have to say that as always, you are spot on.

I haven't finished it yet, but based on what I've read so far I just wanted to come back on here and recommend it to others. For too long we members of the church have been reading the Book of Mormon with an eye on what's wrong with the other churches. But you show that the Book was written for US, the people who would "receive these things", not for the people who did not accept them.

We overlook these warnings at our own peril. Nice job, Dave. Well done, and much food for thought.

Zo-ma-rah said...

I agree. We need to start letting the Spirit back in to guide our meetings. If we are guided by corporate policy and cultural tradition there is not room for the Spirit.

If we look at the scriptures we see that the actual purpose of General conference is for the representatives from the various branches of the church (Not the Church) to meet and report what has been going on. It was more of a priesthood officer's meeting than a "lets sit around the campfire and tell each other warm fuzzy stories time."

The minutes of the very first general conference report prophecies, visions, speaking in tongues, and healings. I dare you to find any of that in the past fifty, nay, one hundred years.

J Madson said...

Rock

enjoyed the post. What do you make of the fact that many studies show LSD and specifically psilocybin actually have very positive spiritual and lasting effects on those who take them? In the NYT obit for Steve Jobs it made note of Steve Jobs contention that taking LSD was one of the most important things he did in his life. Regardless of what the govt motivations may have originally been, certain drugs seem to have the ability to open up people to an entirely new way of seeing the world creatively and spiritually increasing love.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I do not disapprove of the use of any medicines placed on earth by God, but I do believe that the closer to their natural state, the better, whether marijuana, Peyote, mushrooms, or the molds that LSD is derived from. There's nothing wrong with lysergic acid, unless it is synthesized in doses thousands of times more potent than God intended, which was the case with the tabs distributed in the 1960s. Here's what Michael Kreca had to say about it in the piece I linked to in my piece under his name:

"This phenomenon of the obsessive 'interests of national security' expediency combined with our celebrity-obsessed pop culture that gleefully raises and shamelessly promotes snake oil hustlers as well as the pharmaceutical industry’s pricey "pill for every ill" philosophy, was a form of incompetence and arrogance far more hazardous than any synthetic alkaloid ever developed and came as no surprise to those like Dr. Hofmann." [Hoffman was the original developer of LSD in 1938; to his credit he refused to assist the US government in its illicit experiments]

"LSD, invaluable in psychiatric treatment
– actor Cary Grant was cured of alcoholism by carefully administered doses of the drug under close medical supervision – is thousands of times more potent than the traditional herbal mixtures. In fact, it is thousands of times more potent than the milder of the entheogenic alkaloids. It is effective at doses of as little as a ten-millionth of a gram, which makes it 5,000 times more potent than mescaline. It should not be taken without training or supervision."

I wouldn't necessarily insist that a person take LSD only under medical supervision, but I would advise they be fully aware of what they are doing, as it appears Steve Jobs was.

It seems to me that the possible benefits of lysergic acid have been ignored in recent years in favor of some of the profitable psychotropic drugs currently on the market. By the way, to anyone either currently taking any of the popular Big Pharma "remedies" for depression or anxiety, or contemplating going on any of them, I strongly advise taking a look at this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKYAmg5giAE

Zo-ma-rah said...

Rock, you have to quit with these youtube videos. You're blowing my mind!

KABLAMMM!!!!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Take a Xanax, Zomarah, you'll feel better.

No, wait. DON'T!

That documentary "Making a Killing" is a mind blower, ain't it?

Amber Lee said...

What a fantastic post, thank you!

Hermes said...

I love your blog, Rock. You always make me think.

Steve said...

Rock,

I used to believe similarly, but I have reconsidered my position. There is still much that bothers and angers me, but as far as I know the Lord has not established another and if He wants it cleaned out per D&C 87, I suspect He will send someone to do so in His good time. In the meantime my job is to draw near to Him and help others to do the same.

One thing that has helped me is the author of this:

http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2011/10/repentance.html

Steve

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'm not saying the Lord will establish "another," Steve. I just think that rather than getting all weak in the knees and and fawning over our so-called "prophet," we should first establish in our minds whether the Lord has given this guy the gift of prophecy.

The KEYS of prophet, seer, and revelator are one thing; gifts are another. Until God sees fit to speak through the president of the Church, maybe we should get a bit retrospective and consider repenting as a people so that we can be worthy of the further light and knowledge God clearly wishes to bestow upon his people.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

P.S. I'm a fan of the writings of Denver Snuffer also.

Anonymous said...

But doesn't Denver Snuffer believe that Joseph lived polygamy & that it was ok for him to do that?

Steve said...

Anonymous (9:35 am): Yes and yes.

Rock: You know, it's odd that even given my less-than-all-is-well feelings toward the Church, it was while watching general conference 1 or 2 conferences ago, that I had a slew of ideas come to me. Now they weren't strictly on the topics being discussed. However, Joseph mentioned a flood of intelligence as one of the signs of the Spirit's presence and that is the best way I can describe what happened to me.

Odd

Steve said...

Guess I'm on a roll.

It's been mentioned that none of the president's of the Church since Joseph have publicly admitted to being a prophet, only that the people regard them as such. Even Brigham did not acknowledge him as such. Rather he pointed to Heber C. Kimball as one who had that gift.

So, maybe it's okay with the Lord that people with fewer gifts than Joseph lead the Church. At least as long as they don't pretend to be more than they are. Or allow others to so pretend. I can't imagine Peter allowing adulation towards himself.

Anonymous said...

run-of-the-mill, uncompromisingly biased, over-the-top youtube propaganda videos are indeed beautiful.

Dave P. said...

Steve,

I recently finished D. Michael Quinn's "Extensions of Power" and, while he doesn't go into direct detail, he does mention that the president of the church wasn't considered "the prophet" for the whole world until the time of David O. McKay, who loved and reveled in his "celebrity" status.

Quinn also theorizes that this was why Heber J. Grant's attempted political influences on the church over prohibition failed while Kimball's over the Equal Rights Amendment succeeded, because by that time, "The prophet had spoken so the debate was over," whereas Grant didn't have that kind of titular influence as he was still seen as just the president of the church without any authority to preach to the world.

In regards to Joseph Smith, his mission was to translate the Book of Mormon and to become an apostle, not a prophet. He sinned by failing to accept that calling. Read more here: http://mormonstruthrestored.blogspot.com/2011/09/lords-church-vs-lds-inc.html

Steve said...

Dave:
That is likely true about Grant and Kimball. I cannot agree with you about Joseph's mission. By the time he had the first vision, he was a prophet as much as any of the early ones and after translating the Book of Mormon he was a seer, which calling is greater than that of a prophet.

Steve

Anonymous said...

Steve, thanks for answering my question, it sounded like he does.

I believe it says alot about a person whether they believe in polygamy or not.

Steve said...

Anonymous (11:40): You're welcome. Not sure what you mean by your last sentence.

Anonymous said...

Well, Steve, I don't believe in polygamy or that Joseph ever lived it.

I believe polygamy is & always has been, the vilest of evils, just as Joseph taught it was.

Dave P. said...

While the apostle Paul didn't say anything about seers, he did say that an apostle is greater than a prophet. You may also want to search the D&C and note that the Lord never, NEVER calls Joseph "my prophet."

In the Book of Commandments, IV:2 the Lord says outright that Joseph had no other gift other than translation - "And now, behold, this shall you say unto [Martin Harris]:-I the Lord am God, and I have given these things unto my servant Joseph, and I have commanded him that he should stand as a witness of these things, nevertheless I have caused him that he should enter into a covenant with me, that he should not show them except I command him, and he has no power over them except I grant it unto him; and he has a gift to translate the book, and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift" (Emphasis added). This got re-written later to make Joseph look better.

Ironically Joseph could not be considered a prophet just from his first vision. In fact, it would be more appropriate to call him a special witness, or apostle, because he could tell people that he'd seen God face-to-face and that was the charge given to all of the apostles called to the Quorum of the Twelve- never rest until you've seen God face-to-face- until around the early 20th century. If you ask any one of the Twelve today if they've seen God, good luck getting a straight answer.

Joseph was warned, "if thou art not aware, thou wilt fall." Joseph blew it by puffing himself up and declaring himself a king/prophet rather then following God's will to accept the calling as an apostle and nothing else after he translated the Book of Mormon.

Anonymous said...

No matter what God considered Joseph to be or not to be, no one can judge whether he fulfilled his calling or not unless they too have seen visions, have visitations, received new books of sacred scripture & founded a Church authorized by God & received God's authority & power.

It takes one to know one. To judge someone correctly you have to be on at least their level, or it's only a guess.

Steve said...

Dave: I searched all of the scriptures and the Lord does not call any man "my prophet". There are sections where he is deemed a prophet. I guess we disagree on this. It is interesting to me how we can judge other men who stood higher than us.

Anonymous said...

I love that an issue with President Monson's tone of voice at a point in his talk elicited such a ridiculous rant. You seem to be very critical of the church leadership because of assumptions derived from the little amount you know about them and what they teach. You assume that since the church handles lots of money and is big, the leadership must obviously be corrupt. And also because they don't teach deep enough things, or have mistakenly taught things incorrectly at times, they must also be uninspired. These are all assumptions that one can make. It seems to go against the empathy that Jesus taught we should have. Yes I pulled out the not-in-line-with-what-Jesus-taught card. Might as well. It seems you get offended because you are quick to judge the church leaders intentions as not good based on what they say, instead of trying to understand why the say things they do that may rub us wrong way. However, yes President Monson probably really does think the principal of love is a total joke. I think that is a fair assumption, and good reason to write a blog.

Anonymous said...

I think the word "prophet" means so many different things to so many people. Didn't one of the GA's somewhere say that Mohammed, Buddah, Confucius and others all provided light to people?

But I kind of have to agree with Alan. I was a missionary in the 70's and carried around my flip chart and pointed to the first presidency & the 12 and said, "look, we have "a" prophet now here on earth. He reveals to the whole world what we need to know, you need to joing our church".

with all the turmoil that is going on in the world today isn't there more than this? I always felt like I was the odd ball after conference... other LDS people were highlighting stuff in talks that were kind of basic principles and saying "did you catch so and so's talk? Wasn't it amazing! And I would just kind of think, well, isn't this what you already know?

I'm not looking for some kind of spectacular, marvelous revelation but it seems quite boring I have to agree.

Mountain Man

Dave P. said...

Mountain Man,

Hinckley said that about the group you mentioned.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Actually the Doctrine and Covenants tells us that is it wisdom that the President of the Church be a Prophet, Seer, Revelator and Translator. So apparently it is not a requirement just a wise thing.

But we also need to consider the right to succession. Brigham Young started the leadership of the L-DS branch of the church by claiming that the Twelve Apostles should lead the church without a first presidency. Only after reaching Salt Lake did he organize a first presidency. So it seems that the L-DS branch only has the right to the Quorum of the Twelve. Now that's the church(meaning membership) not the Church(the corporation).

The first presidency would have gone with Sidney Rigdon except for the office of President of the Church. The Office of the President of Church went first to James Strang who was a prophet, revelator, seer, and translator. These are evidences in his fruits.

After James' death the office of the President then belonged to Joseph Smith III when he was old enough and it was revealed to him.

This is the mess the succession crisis caused. My current belief is that we must drop all this corporate bullcrap, dogmatic garbage and basically start over. The church as a whole still exists in the baptized members of the divided sects. We need to come out from the oppression of the corporations and unite together as a whole.

I agree with the above comments that a apostle is greater than a prophet. Because Apostle is a priesthood office. There is not priesthood office of "Prophet." There is the President of the Church. A prophet is someone who manifests the gift of prophecy. This gift can come to anyone so being a prophet is not in any way tie to the office of Apostle.

To Dave P.: My question is that how could Joseph have received the revelation telling him that he was only a translator unless he was also a prophet(or revelator)? To me it seems that if we was only supposed to be a translator then he would not have been able to receive the revelation telling him to only be a translator. If that makes sense.

To Anonymouse 12:51: I really don't want this to turn into another Plural Marriage debate so I 'll keep it short. I disagree that Plural Marriage properly practiced(unlike Brigham and his buddies)is the vilest of evils. If you feel the need to debate me on it let's do it on my blog instead of turning this thread into another polygamy party. I have the same free speech policy as Rock.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Haha. I just realized I typed Anonymouse! Hahaha!

Anonymous said...

Are Conferences just as good as the people that attend them in person? If the Prophet was able to or got too deep into the deeper things of the universe, I'm afraid he would 'lose them.'
Not everyone has a sharp mind and a taste for meat. A shallow generation ends up getting shallow information. Most people in that conference were probably more worried about how they looked and the lunch break than the deeper things of the kingdom. Look at our society today: as shallow as a dry backyard pond.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 3:03,
I appreciate when people take issue with me, but it would be more helpful if you took issue with me for something I actually wrote in my article. You say to me:

"You assume that since the church handles lots of money and is big, the leadership must obviously be corrupt."

I'm pretty certain I did not make that assumption in the piece you just read. I merely pointed out that prior to the last half of the 20th century, it was common practice at conference to let the whole church -that is, the members of the body of Christ- in on what was being done with their money.

I have no way of knowing if there is actual corruption involved in the disbursement of tithing funds since there is no transparency in the process, but I do believe that if the members were let in on the process there would be less chance of waste.

That is a far cry from an accusation that the Brethren are corrupt. I would require evidence before I made such an accusation, and you would require evidence from me that I had made that accusation.

You state your belief that what I believe is "because they don't teach deep enough things, or have mistakenly taught things incorrectly at times, they must also be uninspired. These are all assumptions that one can make."

Yes they are, and you have done a good job of making those assumptions. I made no mention of Monson teaching things incorrectly, or of even being uninspired.

In actual fact, I conceded that Monson's story was an inspiring one. What his talk did not include, however, was any evidence that President Monson had received a revelation that he intended to convey to the membership that morning. Yet is that not why we have been taught to hang on to his every word -to hear a direct message from God to his people?

I did clarly rag on Monson a bit, but I would classify that engaging in a bit of good-natured ribbing, rather than call it being "offended" as you assert. There is certainly no indication that I am "offended" by his stories; I simply found them lacking the import and effect that the membership on the whole has imbued Monson with, against all evidence.

As Mountain Man mentioned above, we missionaries proclaimed to the world that what makes us distinct from all other religions is that we have "a prophet of God on the earth today to lead us through these troubled times." We should admit to ourselves that although Monson gets up in conference and does a decent job of relating inspiring anecdotes, he is not actually providing the world with any substantive new message from the Almighty.

The point of my piece which you failed to grasp is that until God actually decides to bestow an actual revelation on the president of the Church, perhaps we should stop hyping the man as the one who can lead the world through the wilderness. He is showing no more adeptness at that than our current crop of politicians.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

After mentioning above that I am a fan of the writings of Denver Snuffer, someone wrote, "But doesn't Denver Snuffer believe that Joseph lived polygamy & that it was ok for him to do that?"

I can appreciate a good deal of a person's body of work while disagreeing with him on some things.

Besides, the mistaken idea that Joseph Smith sanctioned polygamy is so ingrained in our teachings that I don't fault anyone for assuming it's true who has not been exposed to the other side of the story. This is the case with a lot of our early history; we tend to not question things that no one else seems to have questioned.

Todd Compton wrote a marvelous book detailing the miserable ends of many of the women who had devoted themselves to a life of plural marriage. Contained within the book is the assumption that some of these women had actually been married to the prophet at one time because they said so. But that is simply because Compton accepted what most of us have assumed was a "given", that these women really HAD been married to Joseph Smith at one time.

What we actually know about them for a fact is that they had been plural wives to later Church leaders, and that was what had made their lives miserable in the end, not any imaginary association they might have had earlier with Joseph Smith.

George Smith's recent book, "Nauvoo Polygamy" is another example. Was there polygamy taking place in Nauvoo? Most certainly. Did that prove that the prophet, who continually denounced it, was actually a secret perpetrator? No. It merely affirms that the practice was going on.

Of course it was being practiced in the city. It had been brought in by polygamous converts from the Cochranite faith, and certain people close to the prophet were being converted to this way of life over his objections.

Plural marriage was a fact of life in the early church. That is not questioned. The real question is whether or not it was sanctioned by Joseph Smith. My research convinces me it was not.

Anonymous said...

I am aware of what's in the article. I also read some of your other ones so I guess we both know what those talk about. There's a pretty clear focus on the leadership becoming corporate and uninspired. Losing touch. Maybe its the opposite and I'm reading it wrong. Either way, couple thoughts: It seems that when the leaders make bold statements or go against the grain of the world, we wish they would keep their mouths shut. On the other hand, we get mad when they don't seem to be saying much. What do we want? Second, Prophets have had fairly different roles for ages, just looking at what I've read in the scriptures. The early ones in this dispensation did a lot of the straight doctrinal revealing ("Restoring" some people say) I would guess that the flow slowing down has more to do with the fact that the framework is mostly layed out, not so much that the leaders aren't doing their jobs. What if, maybe, the most important revelations for President Monson are for wise administration purposes. Addiction recovery programs as an example come to mind. Not particularly glamorous like a D+C section, but something a lot of us need right now and the church does it well.

Inspire said...

Anonymous @ 8:19 said, "I would guess that the flow slowing down has more to do with the fact that the framework is mostly layed out, not so much that the leaders aren't doing their jobs. What if, maybe, the most important revelations for President Monson are for wise administration purposes. Addiction recovery programs as an example come to mind."

2 Ne 28:5-6
And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;

Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.

2 Ne 28:29
Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 8:19,
I'm glad you have read some of my other pieces here. My very early submission, "How To Tell If You Are An Idolator" should give you an idea where I'm coming from. Here's an excerpt:

"I've seen good, humble people who I'm sure would be perfectly at ease in the presence of the Savior absolutely fall all over themselves when given the opportunity to shake hands with A Real Live General Authority. I've heard others excitedly retell stories of having been in the same room with one of these men, and of having been close enough to touch him."

The leaders are only slipping into the role the members expect from them. Do I think the leaders are blameless? No. It would be nice if they came out and admitted that the heavens are silent precisely because the members have been holding to the arm of flesh for their salvation; then there might be an institutional and church-wide repentance.

Blame for our current situation, for the lack of spiritual gifts within the church, can be spread evenly between the leaders and the members. But the first step is for We the People to recognize that things are askew, and change the way we idolize these people. Only by first recognizing our sins can we then repent of our idolatry.

Here's that link:

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-tell-if-you-are-idolater.html

Zo-ma-rah said...

@Anonymous 8:19: I for one wouldn't get mad if Church leaders spoke against the world. I wish leaders would speak out more against corporatism. And trying to have our own secure job and make money to provide for our families while millions of people are starving. I wish church leaders would speak out agains the evils of capitalism and communism and preach the Law of Consecration.

The fact is that the Church is very much in bed with the world. Sure they teach against sex before marriage, and things like that. But why are they not speaking out against state marriage licences, unjust civil laws, the federal reserve, and wars?

I don't think very many people, well myself at least, get mad when they "don't seem to be saying much." They actually say quite a lot. However the question is, is what they are saying revelatory or prophetic?

Sure someone can stand up and talk about having good families, not looking at pornography, and donating the welfare fund, but that doesn't mean those things are prophetic. Because in reality pretty much everything Church leaders say today could be said by anyone.

You talk about the flow of revelation is slowing down. This presents the idea that early in the church a lot of things needed to be restored, but now that we have these things we "don't need much revelation anymore." Now, logically this makes sense.

But another idea is that we are not receiving much revelation because we aren't living what we've been given. So the Thomas Monson is a Prophet, Seer and Revelator, his gifts are just not currently being used because we nee dto live what we've already received. This idea is logical as well.

In the scriptures and from early church history we come to unerstand that the gifts of prophecy, healing, etc must be regularly manifest among the saints. Infact these things were given as a sign by which we can identify true disciples of Christ.

This presents us with a third option that directly parallels the ancient Christian Apostasy. That gifts are not manifest among us becasue we are not living God's will. NOt living His will is why the Spirit is not bestowing these gifts upon many people.

So let me ask you, when was the last time you saw your ward membership prophecying, speaking in tongues, healing and being healed, etc.? I can't remember this ever happening. What does this mean? That nobody in any of my wards manifested gifts of the Spirit. Today in the church as a whole very few people manifest these gifts.

If we look at Church leaders which ones of them have actually produced fruit meet of a prophet, a seer, arevelator, and a translator? I can count the number on one hand, ok, actually I can't count any at all.

Even looking at Official Declarations 1 and 2, where are the actual texts of the revelations?

Continued...

Zo-ma-rah said...

Continuation...

You conjectured that, "the most important revelations for President Monson are for wise administration purposes." This is a reasonable conjecture. In one of my posts I call these "silent revelations" because we don't know if they really exist or not. We must assume that either the do or the don't. I believe we must each ask where are these supposed revelations? Since we don't have them available we cannot base our ideas on them. We can only use President Monson's public actions. And in his public actions there are no revelations, no prophecies, no visions, and no translations. What then can we conclude about his possesion of these gifts when he does not manifest the fruit of them?

It's not that people like me hate church leaders or that we want to fight against them. We are just using the scripturally mandate to prove all things. The scriptures say that if someone possesses a certain gift they will produce the fruit of that gift. If they don't have it then they wont.

So when we look at the fruits of church leaders and ask prophet or not; there is only one conclusion most people come to.

That doesn't mean these leaders are horrible people, they just aren't what the Church wants us to claim they are.

Inspire said...

I often wonder what the people in the days of Abinadi and Samuel the Lamanite were thinking. After all, it wasn't long before that they had prophets in their midst. They must have believed that the men of God were still among them and that their their kings and high priests would never lead them astray.

What drove that nameless individual to pick up a branch and put it on the pile to burn Abinadi? What drove him to pick up a rock and throw it or shoot an arrow at Samuel the Lamanite? Were they so sure about their "rightness" and their belief as to shun these prophets? I'd love to hear their stories. It might teach us a little bit about ourselves.

Steven Lester said...

"We-e thank thee, O God, for a Prophet, T-o lead us in these latter days..." and so forth. Isn't that the anthem that we are supposed to hum to ourselves or more loudly if HE happens to be seen on the street (oh, right), or at that special country club that only special Church folks get to belong to, or while traveling in the special tunnels underneath the streets of Salt Lake City, or when up in the Church Ivory Tower when having his lunch in the special walled off area at the top, or when standing in front of the 22,000 when in the Great and Spacious Building? A good start for change might be to take THAT hymn out of the book and burn it on a public pyre.

Dave P. said...

Inspire,

I hope you read my 2 Nephi 28 commentary that I linked to earlier.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

He did. I was chatting earlier with Inpsire on Facebook, and we talked about your piece, Dave. That link again for those who missed it:

http://mormonstruthrestored.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-2-nephi-28-tells-us.html

Anonymous said...

When we use the term Prophet, I think we have to define also what that means. I mean I've been a member forever and I have to go and remind myself what is a prophet, seer and revelator?

Just to jog my memory, I googled the terms again. Now this is from wiki mind you but I'll go with the definition and you'all can clarify or add to them (to keep the post short, I've just taken "the choicist" parts.

1. A prophet is a teacher. That is the essential meaning of the word. He teaches the body of truth, the gospel, revealed by the Lord to man

2. A seer is one who sees with spiritual eyes. He perceives the meaning of that which seems obscure to others; therefore he is an interpreter and clarifier of eternal truth.

3. A revelator makes known, with the Lord’s help, something before unknown. It may be new or forgotten truth, or a new or forgotten application of known truth to man’s need. Always, the revelator deals with truth, certain truth (D&C 100:11) and always it comes with the divine stamp of approval.

Anciently, prophets seemed to call people to repentence and threaten destruction if the Lord's warning were not followed.

The modern LDS church has said we have a prophet, seer and revelator. Don't we sustain him in GC as such? It is then up to the prophet to define/show the world what that is.

As Alan said, if the heavens are closed because of the lack of faith/disobedience then isn't the prophet's job to call them to repentence and prophesy of specific consequences for failing to repent?

I mean I would be pretty scared if a prophet said, "you better shape up because if you don't, tomorrow fire & brimestone will be turning you into pot ash". And if God wiped out a town (there must be some place in the world that would qualify) and the prophet said..."well, see I warned you..." I guess I would pay attention next time in GC!

Mountain Man

Isaac said...

The Monkees? Come on,man! I'll admit some of their stuff was catchy, but still...

I try to be optimistic about this situation you describe. For now I'm holding onto the hope that the straight truth and revelation for these particular times is too much for the weak-minded general body of the church (awfully judgmental, I know), so it's being held back to prevent our faces from being melted off and the inevitable major embarrassment due to having supported the exact wrong side for so long.

Like Israel wandering in the desert, maybe we just have to wait for the old fuddy-duddies to die off before we can move on. And by fuddy-duddies I mean an entire generation, not a particular group of leaders.

Steven Lester said...

The problem with waiting for the old guys to die off is that the GA's only hire clones to replace them.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Isaac,

Yes, the Monkees!

First record album I ever bought, age 12: Allan Sherman, My Son the Nut.

Second album, age 15: The Monkees.

Third Album, age 15: More of the Monkees.

The only Beatles albums I bought were a couple of instrumentals featuring Beatles songs done in the style of the Classical Composers. That was in the 1980s

I've just never really been that into the Beatles. Their songs were everywhere, though, so I must have picked up a lot through osmosis.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh yeah, since then I've bought every single Monkees re-issue. Thank you, Rhino Records.

Anonymous said...

Church leadership cannot blatantly come out and try to 'lead the world' based on divine revelation. I realize that lots of people like the idea of living Prophets guiding them and the world.

Consider the fact that if a Mormon Prophet began to rattle the wrong cages by preaching against secret combinations, evil regimes, corrupt and greedy bankers, scheming Zionists, the NOW, globalists, groups that oppress the people while enriching themselves, etc., all of that would only bring persecution against Mormons, close doors in foreign countries, make stockholders unhappy - the ones that own stock in church-owned investments - make the church the subject of MSM ridicule and attract the wrong kind of attention to Mormons worldwide. There would be safety issues as well.

The status quo is preserved simply by sticking with the same Life 101 predictable stuff that TBMs eat up time and time again. Mormons are not ready or equipped to fight against Satan's kingdom and dominance in this world. Mormons against empires? Not a chance.

Church leaders are not going to position the church against the powers of this world. That would be stupid. There is wisdom is being superficial and not engaging in topics that would challenge or shake the evil structures that have enslaved societies. The Church is not going to go against the Bildebergs, the Rothschild’s, dictators, drug cartels, Goldman Sachs, Wall Street, etc., Its investment could be In peril if it did.

I don't think the Church wants to rattle any cages by coming out with revelations about war, drugs, evil rulers, greedy bankers or mess with the wrong super powerful that run the whole darn thing.

Sticking with $5 bill stories and finding quarters IS our cup of tea. The responsibility of being a Prophet for the whole world and calling the entire world unto repentance would cause all sorts of problems for the Church or any Church for that matter. Imagine the Pope coming out against all the powers that run the world. How long do you think he would last? That’s why, I think, church leaders stay out of trouble and stick with the basics. Jesus on the other hand, challenged the powers of his time and that’s why they wanted to kill him. He posed a threat to those powers. Same goes for John the Baptist and Abinadi (if such character even existed) and many others.

There is wisdom is keeping things very simple. Milk only. In fact, you get the whole dairy cow.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

Couldn't agree with you more. Jesus for sure rattled the cage. The powers at the time were corrupt, the guardians of the faith were lining their pockets and he called them out.

You could make a pretty good list of the prophets that did this...

1. Noah
2. Elijiah
3. Almost all of the OT prohets denouncing the corruption of Israel.
4. Abinadi
5. Alma

And on and on. The status quo is perpetuated from the pulpit to the LDS classroom isn't it? Stick to the manual, don't bring up any contraversial topics, keep things high level, go vote but don't be so politically active that you bring on any negative publicity.

After Kirtlan, Missouri and Nauvoo the church found isolation was best. It could have remained a Utah kind of thing and probably dwindled pretty much away, but instead it sent missionaries out everywhere and now it is in most of the world.

Missionaries didn't make up by themselves the narrative about prophets, revelation and God now talking to man.

Ahhh, what a dilemma (shrug...what is a prophet to do?

Mountain Man

John Penn said...

Rock,

Was this "All you need is love" post timed to correlate with Sir Paul McCartney's third set of nuptials??

Inspire said...

I agree with the last few posts in that there is nothing short of pushing the reset button that would set things straight again. We got in bed with Mammon a long time ago, and she is a jealous mistress.

We're finally getting some momentum behind the Corporate Church economy, so we can't pull back now. What are the main directives in this "economy?"

1. Change definitions/history - for example, tithing was set up so that we could have a direct hand in lifting others around us who had less. It was based on "in kind" donations, so it wasn't possible to create a lot of surplus and storage (potatoes only last so long). This kept the donations out of the centralized hands of SLC and with the "local" communities. Once tithing was monetized (which was done to pay off debts based on bad investment decisions), then the Corporation could then be free to "invest" back into their own system. Now the "members" don't even know the history of tithing or it's purpose. They think it's to build more chapels and temples and to make interest to invest in other businesses. Oh, and help a few people in need too. But we seem to have other funds for that purpose. Why do we have fast offerings? The perpetual education fund? Or the newly announced fund to help members who can't afford transportation to a temple? Aren't these "funds" the original purpose of tithing? This definition change directive can be applied to many other areas (ie, President=Prophet, etc.)

2. Create an infrastructure - once members are buying into (or donating into) the system, there needs to be a way to keep them coming back. Enter worldwide temple construction. There is a reason why you have to possess a recommend to enter the temple. They need to be sure you are paying into their system. While I believe the rites performed there are important to understanding that we can come to Christ in this life, the Corporation co-opts this and makes it about worthiness and "pay to play." It is emphasized over and over, "Go to the temple, go to the temple...." One can't help but question the motives behind it.

3. Market the Church - we must appear to be not weird in the eyes of the world so that we can get more members and thus, more growth. Like what was mentioned before, the LDS Church is big business. Why do you think ESPN is so willing to broadcast BYU's football games for the next few years? Because they want the Church to grow? Try again. It's because there are so many potential customers out there they can advertise to. In other words, mo money. If we play the world's game according to their rules, they are happy to have us on the field.

4. Maintain the status quo - If we offend the rest of the world, they'll do what was done in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois... send us on our way. Oh, and it will kill off efforts for directives 2 and 3 listed above. So unless we are willing to start from scratch, there is no other choice. In order for the Church to grow, we have to be of the world (because we're using worldly methods to grow ourselves.) Conference DOES have to be pap. We can only be "rebuked" in the gentlest of ways, so that we or the world don't take the truth to be hard. Otherwise, the world attacks our infrastructure and the whole thing crumbles.

Inspire said...

Part II
So what's to be done? That is the Gentile dilemma. The Book of Mormon prophets give the Church no hope, and based on the Corporate economy we have set up, I don't blame them. However, while collectively the Church will ultimately be trodden under, individually there is always the invitation to come to Christ. My personal feelings about this is that the path CAN be through the Church, but it doesn't have to be. I suppose it depends on where the Lord thinks we'll be the most effective doing His will. That's a personal struggle and decision.

So I think Rock's post is mostly a lamentation and an observation about the state of things, because we made our bed a long time ago. There's very little we can do about it as a group now. I don't expect President Monson will be throwing out any "Thus saith the Lord"s any time soon (or ever, for that matter).

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Inspire,
Well said, my friend.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

John Penn,
Are you telling me that Paul McCartney is getting married again?

I can't be keeping up with the Beatles all the time. It's all I can do just to keep track of Mickey Dolenz.

Which reminds me: Just how old IS this copy of Tiger Beat I'm holding?

Shawn C. said...

Rock,

I said I would post, so I finally am. I agree with much posted throughout this blog, as well as many comments. I understand and feel what is trying to be communicated even though the words sometimes may not.

One thing that usually comes to mind is many people work themselves up with language like "we" need to be directed by the Spirit more. When I use the word "we" that's usually an indication that I am somehow relying on someone else to initiate or do it for me. Not sure that is the best. If I work out "my own" salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord, then I should be confident enough in my stance to not need the "we". Hope that makes sense?

Along with the we thing, what are the individuals doing the loudest complaining doing in their individual lives to warrant the spiritual blessings promised to true disciples? Sitting around complaining doesn't seem to be doing it.

Please don't get me wrong, I am behind the ideas and revivalist approach being discussed here. I do many things in my own right and way to hopefully help change the paradigm of myself and so many others around me. But when it all comes down to it, it really is between us and God. My focus is primarily there. I realized that the Church does not owe me anything, and I am in charge of my own spirituality.

Perhaps instead of many trying to pontificate all the pet peeves and issues they we have, focus on you?

That being said, I'm sure you and others are familiar with the many scriptures relating to the last days. I am almost 100% convinced that people of the mind set of some on here, will have a part to play in bringing the Church back out of the apostasy it is in.

all the best,
Shawn

Neanderthal Diaries said...

I figured I knew what the "sneer" sounded like, mocking the idea that "all you need is love." But I just had to see it for myself and I am struggling for words. That is absolutely, bone-chillingly despicable. Why are the automatons laughing? He truly is mocking the very foundation of what was once the message of Christ. How can people still believe the church is what it professes to be when its leaders have clearly lost sight of their own fundamental principles. Disgusting.

John Penn said...

Rock,

As i was reading this post on Sunday, the story blasted from the "telly" that Sir Paul had married for the third time. I thought the timing of his wedding and this post was coincidental. But then I remembered that ther are no coincidences in Rock Watermans world!!!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That's right,John. There are no accidents. Apparently the universe wanted me to write this thing as a wedding present for Sir John and his lovely two-legged bride.

(Paul, if you're reading this, make sure she signs a pre-nup!)

Steven Lester said...

I am so confused right now. Where is the truth to be found? The only experiential truth that I can find is in the accumulated reading of hundreds of NDE reports and they tell a significant different story than I have found during any study of any religion that I have made. Everything else conflicts everything else said before except for the love requirement, which even the NDE insists upon for those who would be the happiest of all. Unfortunately for me, I can't love, except maybe puppies, as long as I don't have to take care of them. So I'm screwed, at least until I die. Religion SUCKS. It just does.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Steven,
I wouldn't worry in this life over your inability to feel love. Your autism will only last for your time here. Believe me, you'll experience it on the other side. If I were you I would prepare for a huge wave of emotion when that happens, to make up for all you missed here.

As an aside, I think it is telling that of all the Mormon near death experience I've read or heard about, as they are ascending to the light, none of them ever tell of passing sentries demanding signs and tokens along the way. So I figure either they are making things up, or Brigham Young was.

Anonymous said...

Where can I read more about new temples being tied to tithing?

Mountain Man

Anonymous said...

Mtn. Man: I'd start with the Church Handbook of Instructions when it talks about the requirements to receive a temple recommend.

Dave P. said...

Mountain Man,

There's also Mormon 8:32 that is a warning about such a thing taking place. It just so happens that I just finished and posted by commentary of that chapter to complement the one on 2 Nephi 28 from last week:

http://mormonstruthrestored.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-mormon-8-tells-us.html

Thanks to those who've left comments there. However I don't get email notifications when someone leaves one so I may not notice them right away.

Zo-ma-rah said...

@Inspire: I disagree with your interpretation of the original intent of tithing. According to Section 119 tithing starts when a person makes an initial consecration of their property. This consecration is to be used for: "the building of mine house[(the temple)], and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church."

After this initial consecration one then gives ten percent of their yearly increase to be used "for [the] holy priesthood".

It was with fasting that the food not consumed was to be given to the poor. Thus by going without food we could help others to have food.

But there is also the pre-section 119 definition of tithing which meant any offering. So if you go post-119 it's ten percent of your increase after an initial consecration. If you go pre-119 then it's any donation with no restriction to ten percent of anything.

John Penn said...

Mtn. Man

The past three times my stake has been blessed enough to receive vists from GA's, they've all, without fail, addressed the possibility of placing a Temple in our city. There are always conditions set forth that must be met in order for the brethren (they never say "The Lord") to consider placing a Temple in our midst. Convert baptisms and Sacrament meeting attendance are usually paid minimal lip service, but by far, the condition with the most emphasis placed upon it is tithing. We are asked to increase the number of "faithful" tithe payers and this will "show the Lord" that we're ready for the privilege of having a Temple. In fact, our stake conference is next weekend, with visitng GA's, I'll return and report with direct quotes.

I haven't the slightest clue the cost to construct a Temple. Even if the cost was an astronomical $50 Million, the church(tm)could build 60 Temples for what it's already sunk into City Creek (and $3B is a conservative estimate).

Inspire said...

@Zo-ma-rah: I was referring more to the Biblical (Old Testament) use of tithing, which included Levites, (who had no lands), priests and the poor. I'm not a major scriptorian, and I often get my dates mixed up, but section 119 had the mandate to build the temple and laying down the foundation for Zion and the priesthood, which never happened. The Nauvoo temple was rejected (because the Saints didn't make their deadline) and Joseph's life was forfeit. Regardless, my point is that tithing as we know today is NOT done the same way as outlined in sec 119 (or before-hand). In my opinion, there is an agenda associated with tithing that was not there with it's original intent. I would think the first thing we would want to do before making so many temples is to come out of condemnation (so that the temples become acceptable, and used for their real purpose... laying the foundation of Zion, and receiving the Lord, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave P. for the link.

John Penn, I'll look forward to your report.

I think I found my answer listening to Damon Smith's podcasts at Mormon matters - the church is correlated and I'm a correlated Mormon!

Hope you all can tolerate some of my naive posts, but I am learning all kinds of things I never knew before about the church, and going through, the last two years quite a crisis of faith, I might add.

In many ways I feel like I am an investigator and I am asking & learning, reading and studying.

Alan, having just found your blog, I really want to thank you for your posts and looking forward to future blogs (I'm still working my way through past blogs).

Mountain Man

Inspire said...

Mt. Man:
Steady as she goes! I think Daymon Smith would even say that the Church provides a great opportunity for charity. From what I've heard, he is a good guy not bitter at all.

I've been like you... an investigator. At one point I took my table of everything I thought I knew about stuff (including my need to be "right"), and just cleared it off. Then I put back Jesus Christ in the center and next to Him, the Book of Mormon. It's been fun to learn things with a new set of eyes. It's been much easier to piece the whole picture together without all that baggage. If I don't quite get something yet, I just set it aside and look at it later, when appropriate. That said, observing and noticing inconsistencies is one thing, but judging people because of it is another. I try to avoid the judging part (I'm working on not judging the "Church" itself, but has been a more difficult task...making progress though).

If I had advice to anyone (not that I know much) it would be to go ahead and try the buffet. There will be good stuff and bad stuff. Keep what you want, toss the rest... But don't throw it all out because of shell shock. I believe there is importance for many to be within the Church and help those who are waking up like yourself. It would be cool if the Church could become a benign place of refuge for those seeking shelter and looking to understand the mysteries and further their relationship with Christ. Although Nephi, Moroni, Mormon and others didn't give the Gentiles much hope. (Back to that individual path!)

Anonymous said...

Mountain Man:

You from Vermont, by chance (or did you live there at one time)? Just curious... I once knew a guy from there who posted under the surname of "Mountain Man"...

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Inspire's idea, "At one point I took my table of everything I thought I knew about stuff (including my need to be "right"), and just cleared it off. Then I put back Jesus Christ in the center and next to Him, the Book of Mormon." -is the best advice I've read all week.

Mountain man, if you prefer not to have to continue to post anonymously, all you have to do is click on the drop down menu where it says "Name/URL." Put your name in there, ignore the URL box and you're good to go.

Mountain Man said...

Inspire,

Good advice. I hopefully can get to that point. Right now for me, I am dealing with the anger and feelings of betrayal towards the church. I'm trying to keep a calm head and not do any knee jerk reactions.

I guess you could call it the 5 stages of dealing with death right? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. I know these are the steps in dealing with physical death and I don't really know if it is the sequence when you go through a crisis of faith, but something has died in me for sure.

Hopefully, I can get through this and come out on the other side a better person with a stronger faith in Christ and the gospel. Right now, I just need to deal with all these new feelings.

No, I'm not from Vermont. I currently live in Colorado. My background is pretty crazy. I don't know to what extent this is a support forum so I'll just say keep it brief and say... been member all my life, mission in mid 70's, temple marriage, BYU education, lot's of different callings...

As I read different web sites & posts it gives me encouragement that I am not unique, in fact, so many intro's begin like mine that it almost seems like the default intro...

Many of you seem to have gone through this and are further down the road. I appreciate all the posts.

E said...

I'm a gay man who has been sporadically following your blog for a few months--It's great by the way. A little over a year ago I arrived at a spiritual understanding that in order to truly be at peace with my Heavenly Father and myself, I needed to informally disassociate with the church after decades of faithful, earnest, and involved activity. Despite the well-intentioned assertions of others, there has been no place of peace in the church for me, despite obedience to the commandments, faithful service, taking all the required life steps, and other, varied Herculean efforts to try and find or create a place for myself.

One of the surprisingly few negative consequences of that change has been that I've needed to work harder to find varied sources of spiritual nourishment because I don't attend meetings any more. I'd been aware that general conference was happening and I had tuned into the talk you mentioned while I was driving in the car. As I listened, I was reacquainted with the familiar, outwardly pleasant--but inwardly hollow--feeling that I'd been subjecting myself to for so many years. I waited in the car for the talk to end so I could hear the full address. As it went on and ultimately came to a close, I felt a bit of dejection at the lack of spiritual spark in my soul that I suppose I'd been hoping to feel. I sighed, turned the key off, and went on with my day--I didn't really take the time to think about what was missing. As I read through your post today, tears came to my eyes as you put words to what I was feeling at that moment.

I'd mentioned that I'd heard the talk to another relative that day, who pronounced the talk to have been "lovely"--a description that struck me as I read your post. At the time, I just smiled politely to avoid an unpleasant conversation about the disappointment I'd felt.

Sometimes I fear we spend too much time saying and doing things that appear "lovely" rather than getting down into the much more meaningful, difficult, messy, humbling, refining business of actual "love". My hope is that things will eventually change focus toward the latter. However, after many, many years being taught the former by example and precept (often at the expense of the latter), I'm not terribly hopeful. I'm grateful, though, that in the last couple of years, I've been working on honestly and fully engaging the latter. It's been far more difficult in many ways, but far more fulfilling.

searching for answers said...

I don't know if this is the place to ask, but perhaps it is because some here have gone through the same thing. I too have been going through a crisis of faith. I have felt that hollow feeling at church and from General Conference for a very long time now, I just always thought there was something wrong with me for not feeling the "spirit" that everyone else feels. I don't even know if what I am going through could be considered a crisis of faith because that infers that I had faith in the first place. I am in my mid 40s. I cannot say that I ever felt the truthfulness of the gospel for myself. I have remained a member and done all the outward things that we are taught to do to be good "Christians and good Mormons" - attended my meetings, paid my tithing (at least some of the time), done my visiting teaching blah blah blah. I don't attend the temple because I have never felt good there. I did get married there because I was supposed to.

So, my question is this. you all talk about starting over, at the beginning, with spirituality and putting Christ first and going from there. What does that mean. I mean, the one thing I do like about the Mormon church, the rules were all laid out for me. Do this list of things and you will go to heaven (the Celestial Kingdom even.) Now what? How do I even begin?

Anonymous said...

searching for answers,

I have found that if we study the scriptures on our own, searching for answers to our questions from ancient prophets, & then praying daily for guidance & further answers & insight, then Heavenly Father will gradually enlighten your mind with all the answers & direction you need.

Try to gain a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith & the Book of Mormon, as well as study & live Christ's gospel that he taught in the New Test & Book of Mormon.

While praying, studying & waiting for revelation to flow into your mind, it will happen faster as you practice 'Christ's unconditional love' with those closest to you.

Good luck on your journey for truth. I know that you can quickly gain the Holy Spirit to tell you the truth of all things, if you seek for it daily.

Anonymous said...

Dear "searching,"
Here is a list for you:

Step 1: Throw away all your lists except blowing where the wind (the Spirit) "list"eth

Step 2: Are you still here? You're supposed to quit following a list.

Step 3: (Sigh) Go ask the Bishop for the list or look the the last few (dozen) conferences. You'll get your lists there. Enjoy the same ol' same ol'.

Anonymous said...

searching for answers - the church does not do a very good job of teaching members how to be spiritual. If you are starting over and are looking for how to begin, I would suggest that what you lack is an awe inspiring mystery. This is the absolute bedrock of all spirituality. You must find this before going back into LDS teachings. I would suggest that to start you may want to learn about the mystery of life (ask, what does it mean that life comes out of life-less matter - that all life is dirt -albeit reorganized- and yet life is something quite different from dirt. You might examine the vast cosmos- or the mystery of the mind verses body debates. Spirituality is not meant to offer answers but is something else all together. Once you establish your interest in mystery, then you can begin to express or experiment through religion. You can ask, what does it that God is portrayed as a gardener in Genesis Chp2, and that Joseph smith chose to go into a grove of trees to commune God? Then we can to participate in creation, planting trees, growing flowers or plants, to witness this mystery called life. Then invite family, friends and even strangers together for meal where you eat what you have grown, giving God thanks for this mystery which not only keeps you alive but which can also bring people together (Jesus went as far as to wash his guests feet). This is only one example but it could help breath life into your LDS experience.

-SufferingSaint

Anonymous said...

opps, my post was suppose to ask, what does it mean that God is portrayed as a gardener.

-SufferingSaint

Anonymous said...

Rock- I reacted to the Love comment exactly the same way. You described the feeling better than i could have though. Lennon was exactly right what viewed in the correct context.

Somewhere here i thought i read a lament about the church not reporting it's finances publicly. I can imagine only two reasons for this:

1. That they don't want to report on expenses that don't relate to the 3-fold mission of the church. (why do we spend money on these external business ventures???)

2. It makes them less of a target for getting sued. (Reporting all that revenue is an invitation for folks to "accidently" slip and fall in our church foyers)

~Clint~ said...

Searching for Answers,
The things I am going to say may not be very popular on this blog, but I want to weigh in none the less.
I find this blog very interesting and have learned much and enjoy it, but I do not share certain opinions of the author and primary contributors. A prevailing attitude here is that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God, and that his words and works are valid as basis by which to live your life, but then things went wrong when other people came into control of the church.

In process of my investigation of the history of the LDS Church I have not found this to be a position I can embrace. The most glaring evidence against JS is that we know he did not translate the Book of Abraham correctly. There is rock solid evidence of this, and while there are apologetics, none of them claim correct translation; they just make excuses for why it is OK that it was not translated correctly.

As far as I know this is the only verifiable translation (or perhaps I should say mis-translation) we have from Joseph Smith, as opposed to the Book of Mormon, which was “taken back to heaven”. There are many problems with the BofM, just a few of which are mentioned here. Since the only verifiable translation of JS is 100% inaccurate, I see no reason to give the BofM the benefit of the doubt, nor the D&C. Even beyond this information, which gives me rational reason to seriously doubt the LDS cannon as scripture, I have known for a long time (but because of religious conditioning was always in self-denial) that I can come up with better moral solutions to issues when I am not boxed into the supposed higher standards of the scriptures.

The last blog here had extensive discussion on the issue of whether it was right for Mormon to execute consciences objectors to a war. My personal belief is that I don’t care whether “scripture” says this is OK. I also don’t care whether it says genocide, or killing children for disobeying their parents (which is not just in the OT, it is also advocated by Jesus Christ), or abandoning your family because they keep one from Jesus Christ, are OK. I dismiss these principles as evil, no matter what “scripture” says.

~Clint~ said...

Finally, as to what people refer to as confirmations of the spirit, in some areas I have never felt what I would call a confirmation from the spirit, but in other areas I have. In many of those areas where I was confident the spirit had testified truth to me, I have now, through study, learned that these feelings were not an indicator of truth. I can still experience this profound feeling that people refer to as the spirit, but now recognize that it is not an accurate way for me to gauge what is true, or what action I should take.

While I cannot tell you exactly what the best method for you “Start Over” again is, I would suggest that you remain skeptical of suggestions like “Try to gain a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith & the Book of Mormon, as well as study & live Christ's gospel that he taught in the New Test & Book of Mormon.” Perhaps you are different than me, but these things just bring back the same problems that I was trying to reconcile in the first place.

Sadly, if you are Utah (as I am) it can be difficult to find social support groups outside of the LDS church. I personally would consider going to the LDS church, but it is intolerable for those that do not believe in strict obedience to its message, or even worse, those who might question a doctrine. I would suggest that you check out sites like postmormon.org to read the stories of those who are in a similar place to you and how they are dealing or dealt with it. As to what social groups could fill the gap the LDS church fills, I would not know much on that, perhaps others could make suggestions there.

I realize that what I am saying and suggesting is far from the list of strict guidelines that you say you enjoyed in the LDS church. I also wish to say that if you think everything I am saying is wrong, and is the opposite of the way you wish to live your life, I would take no offence. I only offer this because it is where my path has taken me and I wanted to present it as alternate thoughts to those I felt you were likely to get. Also this is not necessarily the easiest path to take, especially if you are surrounded by TBM Mormons as you family and friends. Many of my discoveries have been very painful in ways, but also liberating.

May you find peace in whatever path you choose.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Clint,
For whatever reason, the links you have included above loop back to a dead area on this site. I don't know why. I mention this because I don't want anyone thinking I killed your links because I disagree with your posting them here. I intend for this to be an open forum, and I neither delete nor edit anyone's comments. All opinions are welcome.

I suppose those links didn't lead to where they were supposed to because of some technicality in the way you posted them. I don't know what you could have done otherwise to make it work other than to simply post the raw links.

I don't fault those who have chosen to reject LDS teachings, and I am aware of the difficulties you refer to regarding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. Nevertheless, those scriptures ring true for me, as they do for many others here. For me, the spirit has and continues to witness to me the validity of those writings. But I respect your own path toward truth.

~Clint~ said...

Thank you for advising me on the links.

I have re-posted the full address associated with each link below:
Skeptics Annotated Book of Mormon -
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/BOM/index.htm
Book of Abraham -
http://www.bookofabraham.com/boamathie/BOA_TOC.html
postmormon.org -
http://www.postmormon.org/exp_e/

In the past, I had thought I was aware of the issues with the Book of Abraham, but upon continued research they were deeper than I initially realized. I have found no explanation or apologetics that can account for the many issues. It used to "ring true" to me as well, but if I make true = factual, I simply cannot support that stance. There are piles of evidence against it.

However, I believe that people and institutions that are open to debate, discussion and dissenting views are instantly miles ahead of dogmatic institutions or people who refuse to even look at views which are opposed to theirs. Normally I would be more subdued on my opinions, but when I see someone who I think is at a fulcrum on their life journey I guess I want to share what I think has helped me and what I have discovered.

Also, although in reality I do disagree with certain things, you can still count me as one of those people who are a definite fan of your blog and what you are trying to do.

I am genuinely grateful for an open forum which allows debate, discussion and dissenting views, which are all things that I feel the LDS religion does everything it can to squash.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

"I believe that people and institutions that are open to debate, discussion and dissenting views are instantly miles ahead of dogmatic institutions or people who refuse to even look at views which are opposed to theirs."

I absolutely, completely, 100% fully agree with you there, Clint.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Clint, I'm glad you chimed in here. The diversity of opinions here is what makes this place great.

I'd just like to nitpick a bit and say that it not the Book of Abraham that is translated incorrectly. Rather it is the Hor Papyrus that was incorrectly translated. Meh, that's just me being nitpicky.

Steven Lester said...

Now wait. Anybody who knows anything about Egyptology would instantly recognize at least that the facsimile, if not the scraps of papyrus that still exist and which the Church History Dept owns and never reveals (although they did show them one time in the New Era way back in the 90's when NIbley did an article trying to dispute what I am about to say and FAILED) is nothing but the standard book of spells that would usually accompany any New Kingdom mummy to ease his/her way called The Book of Breathings. The facsimile would originally have shown animal-headed Gods attending the deceased during his mummification, but was deliberately changed to show Pharaoh sacrificing Abraham. Amazing that there should also be the challenge for readers to translate the hieroglyphs "if they can", because now we can.

There is also the matter of the workbook that Joseph used to "translate" the glyphs. It was found in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, but was immediately bought by the Church and now sits next to those hidden glyphs in the History Museum, never to see the light of day again. I know. I was tried but never got past square one.

Each glyph essentially stood for a sound and an idea, usually at the same time. At no time did one glyph represent whole paragraphs of information, which is what Joseph assigned to each in his workbook. There weren't that many glyphs to work with anyway, so in order to form a book out of them he had to add stuff like mad. Back then, nobody knew except for one or two men what any of the glyphs meant and certainly nobody in America knew, so Joseph felt safe in creating a product of nothing but his own imagination.

But when I learned this about what Joseph had actually done and recognized the art contained within his forgery I asked myself, "If Joseph wrote The Book of Abraham so skillfully, could he not have also written the Book of Mormon just as well?" Sadly, the answer was a positive one, although its implications were ignored by me for a very long time.

Joseph was brilliant...but he was also a complete fake.

Bryan said...

Clint, thanks for your candid points and thoughts. As you mention, it's nice to have a place to discuss Mormonism more openly than is allowed in meetinghouses. I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents on the book of Abraham and other historicity issues with the church, since it seems the comments have taken a turn in that direction.

I've read and though a lot about the issues you bring up, but I'd encourage you not to necessarily throw the baby out with the bathwater. When I found out about a lot of these issues, I left the church and felt great freedom in doing so. Church felt oppressive to me, and the messy history seemed to confirm to me why things felt the way they do.

But after a while, I realized that while I felt more free in ways than I ever had in my life, I missed the spiritual connection I used to have with God, even though that communion came in the midst of a lot of insanity within the church. So at this point, I've taken the piecemeal approach, an approach it seems a lot of readers of this blog subscribe to. I evaluate each doctrine, each book of scripture, on it's own and take it or leave it based on the spirit that accompanies it.

Let me speak for just a moment to the evidence against the BOM and Book of Abraham. I can't and don't want to try to explain it away. It's out there.

But in my experience, even the most apparently clear and compelling evidence can't necessarily be trusted. I'm an intellectual property attorney and have been involved in cases where we've tried to reconstruct what happened 20 years ago with respect to who invented a particular widget. It seems that it would be easy to reconstruct a clear story of the past in the digital age. It is not, not even close. And we were able to directly examine and cross-examine those involved and examine and handle all the evidence ourselves. But still, some of the most basic facts of the case were in dispute due to contradictory evidence, people who remembered or experienced things differently, etc. And that's just 20 years ago, with hundreds of thousands of pages of documents to examine and dozens of witnesses to talk to. With the church, we're talking a lot more than 20 years ago, and a lot more is at stake than a monopoly on a widget.

Bryan said...

(cont'd)

And if that wasn't enough, people sometimes fabricate evidence (cue joke about Joseph Smith being a fabricator). Consider how Mark Hoffman was able to dupe everyone, even respected historians, into believing his stuff was legit.

Anyways, I'll admit I just cringe when I hear people say that they can't believe something is true because of the evidence against it. I'm not saying that the evidence against the Book of Abraham or Book of Mormon isn't legit. Maybe some of or all of it is. But does that mean this whole work is a sham? Church leaders have set it up like it's all or nothing, but I don't think it is. Maybe Joseph Smith translated the BOM, fell as a prophet, and everything he did after that was tainted. Or maybe we are missing the most critical evidence and explanations about the Book of Abraham. Or maybe . . . I'll stop because I imagine you've thought through all this and probably lots more.

Don't discard your feelings too quickly. I think they are a more valuable guide in this life than we are willing to give them credit for, probably because we're scared they will lead us astray. It's especially scary when we think we've found evidence that proves our feelings are unreliable. But maybe our interpretation of the feelings was a bit of, but the feelings themselves are reliable. And remember, your interpretation of the evidence, as well as everyone else's is incredibly subjective. We all have our own lenses Anyone who claims to be objective is either lying, blind to their own prejudices and intent, or both. The attempt to find objectivity is an attempt to make the flesh trustworthy, and it is futile. You cannot escape your intent (i.e., being motivated by feelings).

There is great goodness in the LDS church (the roots in particular) and the BOM that I cannot discount no matter how hard I've tried. Yeah, there's TONS of messed up stuff too, and I don't pretend to know what is the right path for you or anyone else. But I'll stop rambling and just say that it's probably worth reconsidering whether your feelings about the BOM or Book of Abraham might actually be trustworthy. I don't have any answers and lots of things still trouble me, but I do know where I've found the greatest happiness in my journey and is had not been abandoning the church wholesale.

Your comments and questions have a good spirit (speaking to Clint still), and I hope you stay involved in the dialog here. May you find peace and joy in your journey, wherever it takes you.

Steven Lester said...

Well, in the Church's defense, The Pearl of Great Price was never considered to be scripture, even during Brigham Young's day, until Joseph (the world is only 6000 years old) F. Smith decided to have it be, and so it was done.

By the way, how do you folks like the "I Am A Mormon" ads now popping up around the country? They are certainly showing up on the sides of buses up here in Seattle. You will not see very many blacks, if any, in these ads, nor anybody with bad teeth (since they are All smiling because they are all so happy). The men are all strong and athletic, the women are all good-looking and unwrinkled, and the kids are all above average and cool in every way. It almost makes me want to join up myself, only I already did in 1976, only later to discover what I had fallen into, too late. I wonder what ad agency the Church used or how much it is costing. It could also be a political plot organized by the Romney campaign to ease the public's mind about those Utahans taking over America.

~Clint~ said...

My initial post was primarily aimed to "searching for answers", with the intention to present the idea that if one is to sort the truth of religion/spirituality, that perhaps all of it should be questioned, rather than just accepting starting points, like Joseph Smith and the Mormon cannon of scripture, or Jesus and the Bible.

If "searching for answers" has come back and read since her question, she has remained silent, so I feel that I have said my piece on this, since my only purpose was to present the potential for a level of skepticism that had not previously been addressed.

It is interesting that many of us have gone through similar discovery processes about both the LDS church and its history, and perhaps even the Bible and Christianity. If we knew why we ended up with different conclusions we would likely understand much more of how the human mind/spirit/brain (pick one) functions. Still, I think each of us has the basic understanding that with slight changes to our story narratives, we might well hold the position of the others, or at the very least, our experiences give us a good understanding of why others have arrived at their conclusions.

I no longer feel “there is great goodness in the LDS church”. I think it is a mind-controlling and cancerous organization. There is no room in it for free-thought. It is very calculated and intentionally deceptive. It knows that its core doctrines have big logical and historical holes, and it does everything it can to hide them. It has cleverly managed to both correlate its material and create an environment where it does not have to correlate the members, because part of their responsibility is to correlate one another. It absolves itself of criticism and responsibility, and heaps these on the members who struggle the most. By its own pronouncements, you are either with it or against it. And worst of all, it will tear a family apart without a second thought to protect itself from any level of questioning or criticism.

How much time and energy did I waste trying to reconcile its preposterous and contradictory doctrines? After many years of just accepting that it knew best, I finally decided that I wanted to drill down and really understand certain issues, always suspecting that my doubts were a result of my own weakness and sins, and that I just needed to know more, to understand more, or to be more “righteous”. I don’t think I have to tell you how my investigation turned out.

Well, I had decided in advance that I wasn’t going to rant, and obviously did not do a very good job of sticking to that decision. On a lighter note, it seems like I have had the song “All You Need is Love” stuck in my head a lot lately. It is good song. I can’t help but think how many LDS have destroyed any Beatles albums they have to honor the Prophet. So silly, that this could be targeted as offensive, although I love that I can feel like such a rebel for listening to it now.

Bryan said...

Clint, thanks for your rant. I don't say that facetiously either. Well, maybe a little.

My thoughts below.

"It is a mind-controlling and cancerous organization." Fair enough.

"There is no room in it for free-thought." Free-though is allowed, kind of :). It's the expression of free thought that's suppressed. Big issue either way though.

"It is very calculated and intentionally deceptive." Can't argue with that one.

"It knows that its core doctrines have big logical and historical holes, and it does everything it can to hide them." Mmm, not so sure about that one.

"It has cleverly managed to both correlate its material and create an environment where it does not have to correlate the members, because part of their responsibility is to correlate one another." lol, yes indeed. Very Orwellian.

"It absolves itself of criticism and responsibility, and heaps these on the members who struggle the most." Amen.

"By its own pronouncements, you are either with it or against it. And worst of all, it will tear a family apart without a second thought to protect itself from any level of questioning or criticism." Yes, a huge issue.

Where I'd disagree is that all these things mean that there is not a lot of goodness and truth in the BOM and the restoration. The problem with so many people's criticisms of the church/JS/BOM is that they paint them as black and white, all good or all evil. Sure, the leaders set it up that way, so when we start to see issues it's easy to condemn the whole of it. But then you're just guilty of exactly the same thing the leaders are doing. Just the flip side of the same coin.

So yeah, we just all need a little love and a lot of healing, the TBMs, the not-so-TBMs, the anti TBMS, and especially the lost and blind leaders of the Mormon corporation. Love and healing for us all, that's my prayer.

Dave P. said...

Clint and Bryan,

That list and last October's General Conference of prophet worship was what caused me to ask the question of, "If the church claims to not be a cult, why does its actions and fruits provide all of the evidence to the contrary?"

Another one of my recent posts further analyzes that: http://mormonstruthrestored.blogspot.com/2011/09/corporate-mormon-church-is-cult.html

Anonymous said...

We all have to eventually think like an 'investigator' just being introduced to the Church.

All those born into the Church have to one day search, ponder & pray about whether the Church is true or not, or better yet & more specifically, what scriptures, doctrines & Prophets are really true or not.

God gives members the same right & responsibility to question & pray about anything & everything in the Church, just the same as he allows any investigator that right.

No one, member or not, is obligated by God to accept any scripture, doctrine or Prophet that the Spirit & logic & scriptural proof doesn't prove to you that it or they are true & from God.

Unless a Prophet can 'prove' he is called of God, by 'revelation' (that the Spirit will then bare witness to us too) & by his perfect love, his Christlike actions & what he preaches, then we are under no obligation to accept or believe him.

Being elected by the majority to be the leader, is not proof or a safe or divine way to decide who is the next leader, for usually the majority is easily deceived to fall for evil people.

Thus no one is obligated by God to listen to or follow any Prophet or person who is just voted for by the people.

Prophets again must 'prove' their righteousness by preaching & possessing 'perfect unconditional love' & by never teaching or advocating anything that is contrary to what the scriptures say. We are commanded to judge them by their actions, whether they are truly Christlike or not. Christ said that that is the one sure way to tell a true Prophet or disciple from false ones.

Polygamy, slavery, divorce & remarriage, to name a few, are things that all go against what Christ taught & what the 'original' scriptures taught (1844 versions), & thus Joseph Smith would have said they should have never been or never be accepted as ok. The scriptures prove these things are abominations. (Fornication (not adultery) being the only exception for divorce & remarriage)

Of course though, being given this level of personal agency & responsibility means we are going to be held accountable for making sure we live righteous enough to be able to have the 'real' spirit enough to be able to tell truth from error, right from wrong, devils from saints & true prophets from false prophets.

We must also realize that unless we have 'perfect love' (& marriage is where we really practice & prove we have 'perfect unconditional love') we will probably be deceived to do or support evil & never know it, thinking all the while we are right & righteous.

searching for answers said...

Just to let you know I am still here and reading. This is one of my favorite sites. I find it hard to put into words how I feel so I hold off on responding. I do appreciate the time you all took to respond to me specifically. Clint, I do not take anything for granted as a starting point. I do not know at this point if there even is a God. I have never in my life had personal confirmation of that.

I need to get over the feeling that the reason for that is my own lack of goodness. "If you just pray harder and read your scriptures longer and really really want it, he will answer you." Well, he hasn't answered me. so, either I am not asking hard enough or being good enough or he isn't there.

when I say I am starting from square one I really mean it. I do not take for granted the Book of Mormon is true. I do not take for granted the church or the gospel is true. I do not take for granted there even is a God anymore. It is a very painful process to let go of everything you thought you knew. For the past year or so it has been a letting go process. I haven't even begun to rebuild yet.

I haven't yet gotten over the feeling that I am betraying everyone and everything in my life, my parents, my husband, my children. I have a very long way to go in the process. It is painful to think that your whole life has been for naught. I feel loyalty to my parents to keep believing what they taught me to believe. I feel loyalty to my husband to keep believing in what our life together was based on. I feel loyalty to my children to not turn against what I taught them to believe in.

Anyway, I am rambling now. I just wanted to say I am still reading and appreciate everyone's comments.

Anonymous said...

searching,

I would not worry too much about it. Take it slow. You don't have to announce to anyone your questioning & uncertainty.

You probably sense that there is a God, even if you don't have a sure testimony of him yet. And so just trust him to show you truth, line upon line, here a little & there a little.

Be patient. Love & serve your family, I'm sure you know that that is the most important thing to do that any correct religion on earth would teach 1st & foremost.

But search out different subjects & find all that the scriptures or Prophets have taught about it & see what inspiration comes to you.

True Prophets will never contradict the Holy Scriptures. So I would start by trying to get a testimony of the scriptures, probably the New Test. or Book or Mormon would be the easiest to gain a testimony about.

You will be fine, just keep praying. Heavenly Father loves you & will help you realize what is the truth.

You know more truth than you realize, you just haven't got your own testimony about it yet. Now you will begin to.

whitehusky said...

I'm afraid I can't see the '60s as a decade that was preaching "love the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and souls." It was more like "love yourself and who cares about anyone or anything else." Honor and decency? Forget it. All you need is love, man... the kind of love that is self-indulgent and promiscuous, not selfless and holy. Hippies really were out to obey Jesus and just got sidetracked by Satan? Sorry. Not going to buy it. They were with Satan all along or they would have preferred the word of God to men's mantras.

Monson's condemning the 1960s doesn't bother me. But what does bother me is the whole presidency's complicity in pretending that Jesus isn't the Father when he clearly is. (2 Nephi 25:12-13; Mosiah 3:8, Mosiah 15, Ether 3:14) Would they stop it, already? Quit rewriting the scriptures to pretend that praying to the Lord is praying to anyone other than Jesus.

This week after the yearly tribulation of the Primary presentation (liberally doused with references to Heavenly Father which should have been references to the Lord but weren't), the kids were given a movie to watch on Joseph Smith. Besides being historically inaccurate, it went out of its way to pretend that when Joseph sought answers from the Lord, he wasn't praying to the Lord, i.e. praying to Jesus, but was praying to Heavenly Father. **Damn!@** it all, the Father of Israel is Jesus, and when the scriptures refer to the Father, they refer to Jehovah, not to another member of the Godhead. And Joseph Smith prayed to Jesus. Hello! Jesus is IT, people. Forget about slapping a different exalted being in his place. Jesus, the Son of God, is the very Eternal Father "...he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last..." (Alma 11:39)

Geesh! Will people just get it into their heads once and for all that Jesus is the Lord and there is no other? And that includes all the members of the Godhead.

It makes me wish that the Lord hadn't bothered to bring along another member of the Godhead when he talked to Joseph. Look what people did with that. All of the sudden Jesus can no longer be Lord. And the Lord can no longer be our Father.

The very FIRST chance I get at church I'm going to pray to Jesus, and call him Jesus, and just see how many Mormons get tweaked out over it. And I'm going to call Jesus Father and rub their noses into it. I can just see them squirming now.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

White Husky,

You are the definition of obsession. Take a deep breath, let it go and find something beautiful in life.

TuNeCedeMalis

Zo-ma-rah said...

@ searching: Perhaps you haven't considered one option. You stated that either you're "not asking hard enough or being good enough or he isn't there." I would like to suggest that perhaps it's not up to you. Your thought seems to indicate that you believe if you take greater action on your part you will find God. This makes sense if you're looking for something like house keys. If you look harder you will eventually find them.

But have you factored God's will into the equation? No matter how hard you search, if God is not yet ready to reveal himself to you then it wont happen.

My suggestion would be rather to find spiritual practices that will help bring harmony to yourself. Find some spiritual practices you enjoy. If it's reading the scriptures then that's find. If it's meditation that's fine too. Just find something that fulfills your spiritual needs.

I think too often we get caught up in trying to be right the we forget to find joy in the journey.

I don't know if any of that was helpful. Sorry if it wasn't.

@whitehusky: If Jesus is God the Father then wouldn't praying to God the Father still be praying to Jesus? It makes little sense to get worked up over people who are praying to God but call him by a different name.

whitehusky said...

Would it bother you that your children were calling your brother father instead of you? Should it bother the Lord that Mormons are calling another member of the Godhead Father instead of him? If you knew the Lord, you would deeply feel the pain it causes him and wouldn't dismiss it out of hand as if it were of no import.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Ok, now you really have me confused.

You just asked if it should bother the Lord that Mormons are calling another member of the Godhead Father instead of Him.

But I thought you just said that Jesus IS God the Father. In fact your whole rant was about how Jesus Is God the Father.

But your question seems to imply that there is someone else in the God head besides Jesus and God the Father. If Jesus is God the Father then the Godhead only consists of two beings Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus = God the Father the god head would only consist of Jesus(as God the Father) Jesus( as God the Son), and the Holy Spirit.

If that is the case then what other member of the Godhead are Mormons calling Father? It can't be the Holy Spirit. That only leaves Jesus which means Mormons are praying to God the Father(Jesus).

I hope I don't sound like I'm attacking you but I honestly don't understand what you're talking about. I guess my question is if there are three members of the Godhead and Jesus is the Father, who is this mystery third member you referenced in your latest comment?

~Clint~ said...

Searching for Answers,

Sorry if my comments may have made you feel obliged to respond when you were content to just sit back and enjoy the conversation. You sound a lot like my wife in terms of your thinking process. Being surrounded by religion, she was very reluctant to say that she had never had a spiritual confirmation that The Church was true, or that there was a God. When she confided this in me, I certainly did not fault her, but I thought, maybe it is my job to use the facts to demonstrate that it is true, and at the time I thought the facts were on the side of the church and religion, but I have become pretty skeptical about that.

I think one thing that is pretty confusing can be reconciling peoples claims to religious experiences, and/or the lack there-of. I am going to ramble a little here, but I would frame part of this by my story of entering the MTC many years ago at 19.

When I entered the MTC, I was immediately pressured to share my experience of how I had prayed to know the Book of Mormon was true and received a witness from the holy ghost. (It should be noted that all 11 other people in my group, as well as all 3 or my MTC teachers, stated that they had this specific experience). I had not had this specific experience, and stated so, but added that I had an intellectual testimony of the Book of Mormon. This was not good enough, and caused quite a stir. I received a lot of pressure from both the teachers and my peers, with some comments that I had no business as a missionary without this confirmation. On several occasions I knelt and prayed, and could not get this feeling from the spirit. Finally, I told them I could not get the confirmation because I was praying about something I already knew to be true. At this point they finally gave up.

On the other hand, there have been times in my life when I prayed about things, and experienced a very profound and warm feeling which I took to be a confirmation from the spirit. Some people that I know have had no such experiences, while others have received confirmation from the spirit for nearly everything you could possibly name. So, I think I am kind of a middle ground on this topic.

~Clint~ said...

Still, as I previously stated, I had what I felt was a sure knowledge of confirmation regarding many matters of religion, for which I now feel there is solid evidence that they were not true. This has demonstrated to me that my "spiritual confirmation" was not an indicator of truth, but instead, a natural physiological response that some of us seem to manifest more or less frequently based on our individual biology.

I have recently been reading a blog that I feel has good descriptions of what I believe about this, and if anyone is interested, you can go to the index
here:
and read anyone of the posts under the section "Spiritual Naturalism". This has helped me with my new understanding of what I previously would have refereed to as spiritual experiences.

As far as the comments on the pain of letting go, I understand this very well, both when I first started to let go of my TBM beliefs, and also when I became very skeptical of all religious beliefs, but it has gotten a lot better for me, and I feel exhilaration at being able to accept what I think is truth outside of the confines of limiting factors like scripture.

This certainly becomes more complex when ones spouse is still a true believer. As I previously stated, I think much blame can be laid at the feet of The Church for tearing families apart in an effort to protect itself, and this seems to be an area where one must tread very lightly. The issue of true-believing parents is a complex one for me as well as some good friends.

I have generally always looked for the good in people and believed them to be genuine. I have many questions about life and how it works, and sadly, sometimes this has made me prone to believing that people who claim to have the answers (without a doubt) are the people that really do have the answers. It goes without saying that this has not proven to be the case, and I have had to learn a lot about how confidence often has little to nothing to do with accuracy. Sometimes I have had to trade sugar-coated-falsehoods for painful-truths, but in the end I have always been glad that I did.

Steven Lester said...

There are generally one of two experiences that those who die and see Heaven and then return report on.

The first involves a realm wherein there are no bodies to speak of, only spirits made up of light or a kind of glowing electromagnetism. There are billions of these spirits and just as with the glowing bulges of galaxies being made up of billions of suns, so is this realm a vast and constantly chattering (via telepathy) group of moving or stationary mini-suns of intellect and memory. In the middle of this immense ball of entities dwells the source of all of them, known to all as the Father, a personage of light whose love for everything that is is so overwhelmingly transcendent that it transforms all that it touches into perfect servants who willingly obey Him because the love connection becomes so deeply abiding that their only desire is to be with Him and to be like Him. They can think of almost nothing else. This is the Father.

Then there is the land or lands of the embodied. There is always a lot of grass and many streams with a few walls here and there and many big buildings usually beautified with jewels and gold. Here there is one great leader who seems to have enough time to listen to and be with everybody there individually, in spite of how many must be there. We are talking billions again. He is described over and over and over as being Jesus and His authority is complete and there is never any mention of a Father, only of Jesus.

So, apparently, Father dwells with the unembodied and Jesus runs the embodied world. There you go. Question answered. You heard it here first. I realize that that you will ignore this posting like you ignore all of my other ones, but there is knowledge that exists outside of Mormonism, believe it or not.

Anonymous said...

Steven, I for one do enjoy your posts. They really make me think outside the box. Hard to say if I agree or disagree with you because you talk about things I have not studied but nonetheless, I do think they are thought provoking. Thank you.

Inspire said...

Steven,
I have had dreams of both "realms" that you mention. I think whether this knowledge is inside or outside of Mormonism is irrelevant. While I still go to church, I am well aware of the paradox that exists between the "doctrine" espoused and the actions in SLC. I have come to ignore these "abominations" and just focus on loving others, while still seeking the type of understanding you speak of.

I've decided that if I champion one facet of "doctrine" (like "Jesus = the Father," or "we have to go to church on Saturday, the 7th day"), then I'm risking the opportunity of missing out on other possibilities.

The Church may not be the perfect canvas for what the Lord would have me paint, but I think it's sufficient. Look what Christ had to work with. If I just worry about loving others instead of getting caught up in the dogma, then truth will flow no matter what congregation I hang out with on Sunday.

PS - It would be fun to hang out with you in some setting (probably not Church ;) )

The Arkwelder said...

Just want to add that there are true prophets in our midst. I suppose it isn't what any of us had in mind, but the good Lord is raising them up from without the Church. Read Zomarah's article again and you will see the likes of Chris Hedges are the true prophets in our midst. This video (and countless others) can leave no one doubting who the real prophets are today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfPDp0jCT_U . Thomas S. doesn't fit the profile. He does--as many others do.

The Arkwelder said...

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

Among the most important articles ever written.

Jeanmarie said...

Beautiful, Rock.

Anonymous said...

I think you should re-read the actual talk. Some of the points that you made do not coincide with what Pres. Monson is actually saying, such as where you say he is making fun of the commandments. He is quoting another person who had written and article and then goes on to say that they are not guidelines.
Here's the link where you can read the talk:
http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/stand-in-holy-places?lang=eng

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I WATCHED the talk, Anonymous. Several times. Of course I made it quite clear Monson was quoting Rabbi Sacks. It was Monson's derisive delivery of the word "love" - a scoffing attitude he obviously shares with Rabbi Sacks, that I found out of harmony with LDS teachings. You won't get Monson's disdain for the word "love" merely by reading the talk. It's in his delivery.

I provide the link to the video of that talk in the piece above, including the approximate time, 2 minutes,17 seconds. Please watch it and then tell me if you think I was misrepresenting him.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Alan Rock Waterman still attends church. I've never seen anyone spend so much time and energy nitpicking about every little imperfection.

"...see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous,
I always appreciate being corrected when I am in error; I try not to be rigidly dogmatic in my opinions. However, it would help if you were to point out the specific problem in my essay to which you object.

I feel it's important when reading scripture that we pay attention to every word in the sentence. The key word in the scripture you quoted above is "wrongfully." We are not to "judge wrongfully."

If you have found something in the above essay that is incorrect, unfactual, contrary to doctrine, inconsistent with the teachings of the Restoration, or just plain wrong, please bring it to my attention and I will immediately correct it.

In addition, if you can provide any scriptural citations to the effect that members of Christ's church should shy away from being watchmen on the wall, I would be interested in seeing those, too.

Anonymous said...

As you know two people can view the same talk and come away with opposite opinions of same.

My basic point is you seem to be dedicating this blog to the accentuation of the negative. Blowing things out of proportion, making mountains out of molehills, etc. etc.

Much like my x-wife.

Such an approach tends to tear down rather than build up the things we love.

GayBob Spongebath said...

Sounds like your negative experiences with your ex-wife are clouding your ability to read this blog without adding your own pre-judgments. Where you see only an accentuation of the negative, what I see is Rock's love of the gospel and his concerns that false doctrines are creeping into the church and diluting the true teachings.

Anonymous said...

If I had made my comment before reading his blog then it would be a prejudgment. Fact is, I read his blog before commenting.

My experience with my wife heightens my awareness, it does not cloud my perception.

Anonymous said...

A very interesting article. About LSD, I think that's something that backfired against the CIA.

In an interview, Lennon acknowledged the CIA involvement in proliferating LSD, but he also noted that instead of brainwashing people it set them free to consider other alternatives. I don't think it any coincidence that Lennon was offed in a very similar way that they attempted to off Reagan.

In any case, when I heard that Monson talk I thought it very curious he would quote a rabbi - not that there's anything wrong with that, but there are plenty of contemporary quotes by past church presidents and general authorities who have made similar quotes lamenting the fall of public mores. Do church presidents gain more credibility when quoting a non-church figure? Something else to watch.

Anonymous said...

One thing I forgot to mention is that I read that Lennon began to have an interest in Christianity in his later years, and developed a rapport with some Christian missionaries that Yoko did her best to chase away... FWIW

Anonymous said...

That is an interesting observation, but I do think that the Father is very much involved in the mortal realm. When we look at the Genesis story we see Him very much involved. He takes a step away after the Fall, in which case His Son becomes His primary representative. Nevertheless, the Father is involved with both the embodied and un-embodied spirits. All are His.

Abigail's daughter said...

Add me to the members who were not only disturbed but disgusted when President Monson sneered. Aside from being bad doctrine, it was just plain unbecoming. In recent months, I have heard through the grapevine and read online that Pres. Monson has dementia, possibly alzheimer's. I'm chalking his words up to the ailment and praying that if this is true, he doesn't return to the podium. I say this because there are so many members who will latch onto every word uttered in GC and then build a false doctrine around it, misinterpreting the scriptures to uphold a church leader rather than correcting a church leader so that his words align with scripture and true doctrine.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit I don't catch General Conference often. When you spend your whole life hearing that Conference is this wonderful event where your entire life is changed by inspired words given by mouthpieces of the Lord, and then you listen to it and hear a basic Sacrament Meeting talk fancied up for the masses, you tend to lose interest quickly.

Monson's contempt for love certainly takes me aback, but then again the organization of the Church is looking more and more like the Church of Ammonihah these days, with all its focus on image and fine and expensive structures, and incidentally casting out the poor for being distasteful.

Maybe instead of droning repeats of fancy Sunday School messages we should go back to the Primary ones: Jesus loves everyone and we should too.

Daniel Efosa Uyi said...

hey nice post meh, I love your style of blogging. It reminds me of an equally interesting blog on my reading list which is http://danieluyi.com.
keep up the good work meh and don't forget to also visit my blog and drop a comment even if it's a simple "nice post" reply.
I also accept sidebar link exchange from other bloggers. You can read about it on the Link Exchange page on my blog
Regards.

hajasheriff said...

Thanks for sharing this with us and giving us all the information. I think everyone tries to get a cheaper insurance if possible. That is one of the fixed cost which people find it expensive.
steve jobs 10 commandments | dissatisfaction at work

Curt Bentley said...

Of course, I'm beyond late here...but the, "Is this what we come to conference to hear? Is that all we get from a prophet of God?" can't help but remind me a bit of Naaman. I understand some of the frustration, I do. But we risk looking beyond the mark in always clamoring for some great thing.

It strikes me that, despite the reference to the tone of voice, the driving principles behind most of what President Monson shares at conferences and other times, is, in fact, the two great commandments.

Just a couple observations.

Unknown said...

@Curt Bentley:
"always clamoring for some great thing."
I don't think anybody is always clamoring for some great thing. But is it to much to ask for a prophecy or revelation every once in a while? Not one single Prophet, Seer, Revelator or Apostle has prophecied/revelated/seer'd anything during my entire lifetime. I'm 35 years old and have never heard anything even remotely inspiring from any of the brethren. I have been taught that these 15 men speak for God, yet I'm always told that when they are wrong they are just "speaking as man". Thomas Monson has never prophecied anything - ever. Not one prophecy his entire lifetime. Not one revelation. Not one translation. he has never witnessed of having seen the risen Lord as Apostles are supposed to do. But, at least he can wiggle his ears. That counts for something, right?

Good Will said...

I've just been reading (again) your blog, Rock, enjoying immensely "The 181st Semiannual Bowl of Pap".

That's the funniest blog title I've ever read! I'm peeing my pants just thinking about it!

Thanks, Rock. Now I'll go change.

Tung Nguyen said...

Thanks for blog



thiet ke nha dep
nha xinh


Lenz said...

I'm using this blog post as an example of looking outside oneself to see the problems in the world. Although I don't disagree there are and have always been issues among even those who are "chosen" (you can't study the scriptures and miss that point), as a topic it can be a bit of a distraction. Part of the test of this life is to apply all of the principles we can glean where they make the most difference, and that is always upon the person in the mirror. I had overwhelming insights taught to me when I converted 30+ years ago, but I've also panned for gold flecks through hours of reviewing conference talks and scriptures I thought I heard before. I just wasn't ready at the time, or the effect was cumulative. In any case, writings like this blog are cathartic, and that I support. I'd just ask each reader to consider the personal implications rather than transferring or reflecting one's own shortcomings to anyone else. The real value of such discussion will come in self-examination. "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them" (Numbers 11:29)