Sunday, September 18, 2016

Botching Zion

Doubtless you've heard of Dave Hall, the wealthy Mormon tycoon who plans to build a Zion community in and around Joseph Smith's birthplace, Sharon, Vermont. Hall's futuristic community is to be patterned after the plat Joseph Smith drew up in 1833 for his hoped-for City of Zion. Joseph's dream for a clean and orderly city was both ingenious and ahead of its time, and had he lived, his model community would almost certainly have influenced municipal trends far into the future. Sadly, the prophet died before his time, and his visionary City of Zion remains unrealized.

Now here was a multi-millionaire with the means to accomplish that dream. Hall's version, which he is calling "NewVista" would be laid out in the same way Joseph had envisioned for the City of Zion, but with high-tech trappings and modern conveniences. When I first read about Hall's ambitious project, I perked up. A wealthy man of means wants to create a cooperative community using as his model Joseph Smith's original plat? What could be more exciting?

Then I read further into the article, and my hopes were deflated. Sorry Dave, this thing ain't gonna fly.

The first red flag I saw was Hall explaining that NewVista would have "a governance structure similar to the Latter-day Saints hierarchy."

Hoo boy.

If Brother Hall hopes to emulate Zion, even if only in structure, that's the wrong way to go about it. Why do you suppose Church leadership hasn't instituted Zion already? Because you cannot create Zion from the top down. By its very nature, a Zion society can be neither governed nor controlled.  I wish all the best for Dave Hall, but if he reckons he can institute anything resembling a Zion society by modeling it on the way the LDS Church is governed today, it's sadly obvious he doesn't have the first clue as to how a Zion community would work.

This is A Holdup-Welcome To Zion
It got worse as I kept reading the article. There is a hefty entrance fee for those hoping to live in Hall's utopia: they must turn over their entire net worth to the corporation.

Oh, Yes. This "Zion" is being structured not as a voluntaryist community as Joseph Smith envisioned, but as a corporation resembling the one the LDS Church was converted to in 1923. The price of entry for this counterfeit Zion is nothing less than everything you own. 

Maybe you're not sure what "net worth" means. What it means is that first, if you sell your house so you can move to NewVista, you have to turn over all the money you got from the sale of your house to the corporation.

Okay, that sounds fair. After all, you're selling your house in order to get the money to move to a better one, right?

Well, that all depends on your definition of "better." Every person who moves to NewVista will be allotted 200 square feet of living space. But don't worry; Robotics built into the walls of your apartment will move the furniture out of the way when you're not using it. Voila! More room to maneuver!

If you have a savings account, or any stocks and bonds, you have to turn them over. Do you have a pension? Retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401(k)?  hand it all over, because it's no longer yours. If your insurance policy has a cash value, that's now owned by the company, too.  And unless there's parking outside the facilities, you'll probably have to turn in your car, because "net worth" means everything of value you own, minus your debts.

This is beginning to look less like Zion and more like a living hell.

By joining this society you will likely relinquish all claim on your "investment."  But don't worry; you'll still have your job to bring in some money. At least you'd better have a job, or you won't be allowed to live at NewVista.  I don't know what happens to you if you lose your job, but since remaining employed is a prerequisite to living at NewVista, I'm guessing you'll have to move out.  I doubt you'll get your money back when they kick you out, either.  It's like tithing: once the money is out of your hands you have no say in what it gets used for.

Zion Doesn't Work That Way
Some years ago the late Hugh Nibley wrote an informative book titled Approaching Zion, in which he lamented the abandonment of the Mormon people's quest for a community of peace. To the early Saints, becoming a true Zion society was the very reason they gathered in the first place. It represented a community ruled by no one and no thing other than unconditional love and concern for the welfare of each individual in the community. Many of them did their best to create Zion in Missouri and Nauvoo, but others in the community tended to sabotage those efforts because they had differing ideas about how things should be run.

By the late 1800's the Saints simply took to calling themselves Zion, or referring to the Utah territory as Zion.  It seemed to make sense because that was the place they had gathered to. And so here we are today. Conference speakers occasionally refer to the Church as Zion, as though the organization has already been perfected. Why not? They also refer to the Church as the Kingdom of God, even though all our teachings affirm that the Church and the Kingdom are completely separate entities.

The unwarranted penchant the Saints have for referring to themselves as Zion was a sorry joke to Brother Nibley; the more we referred to the Church or even Utah as already being Zion, the further we got from understanding what Zion was really meant to be.

Whatever "Zion" meant to the early saints, by the late twentieth century, Church members were content to rely on their leaders to get them there -a promise the leaders can never deliver on precisely because of the structure of the modern LDS Church. In 1830 Joseph Smith formed a congregational religious society. In 1923 Heber J. Grant converted that church by legal charter into the hierarchical model it embodies today. That virtually guarantees Zion will not arrive through ecclesiastical channels.

What Happened To The Original Church?
Most of us who grew up in the Church have a very superficial idea of how Zion was supposed to work. All I ever knew about Zion I learned briefly in seminary. What I was not taught in Seminary is that in Joseph Smith's day there was no top-down hierarchy handling the administration of the Church. There was a First Presidency, whose role -to preside- was not directly involved in day-to-day governing. A separate body, the High Council, was charged with handling the affairs of Church government, and that body generally acted independent of the First Presidency. The High Council was an administrative body not under the direction of the president, though the president could advise from time to time.

This main High Council, headquartered in Nauvoo, was similar to the House of Representatives in American civil government.  They heard the problems and concerns of the members, and because they were the administrative body closest to the rank and file, they were the primary administrative body in the Church.

Unlike the way things are structured in Salt Lake City today, The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were to have nothing whatsoever to do with administering Church affairs. The reason was obvious: those guys were supposed to be out of town. As Joseph Smith instructed them,
"The Twelve will have no right to go into Zion or any of its stakes and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof where there is a standing High Council. But it is their duty to go abroad and regulate all matters relative to the different branches of the church." (William Shepard and H. Michael Marquardt, Lost Apostles: Forgotten Members of Mormonism's Original Quorum of the Twelve, pg 85-86) 
Likewise, the Seventies were an autonomous body. They did not function under the direction of the Apostles as the Seventies do today. The First Presidency, the Twelve, and the High Council were intended by God to function independently of one another. None of these bodies took or gave direction to the other, although of course they did consult and communicate.

Today the Church is a corporation chartered by the U.S. government, and it operates like any corporate hierarchy; from the top down, with the First Presidency at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. Our founding prophet would be alarmed to see today's First Presidency in a position over the Twelve Apostles, and the Apostles in turn acting in a supervisory capacity over the Seventies. He would have been further appalled to see the current class distinctions between members and leaders, with leaders holding positions of rank that require the members to be deferential to them.

The early church was egalitarian; there was no recognized ranking in order of importance. As God is no respecter of persons, those holding office in the church were not considered higher in importance than the lowliest new convert.

(If you're wondering whatever became of the Church's governing High Council, Brigham Young abolished that office after Joseph's death because he saw that body as an obstacle to his ambitions.)

Zion Does Not Charge Membership Dues
It's hard to fault Dave Hall for thinking the only way for a Zion community to work was that everyone had to give up their possessions for the good of the community.  It's a common misconception that when we get to Zion we will have to pool all our belongings for the common good.

But that's not how a Zion community works, and it's not what the Lord requires.  The first thing we get to remember about Zion is that we cannot call it forth; the Lord will call us to Zion in His good time.  But we can create our own Zion communities wherever we live. All it really takes is a pure heart. And that means a heart filled with Charity.

What is charity? The word means much more than simply donating money to the poor.  Charity means allowing the other person to live his or her life according to their own choices, and not according to the way we wish they would. Charity is allowing others to make their own mistakes with their own lives, even if they fall flat on their faces. Charity requires that we not just bite our tongues when others behave contrary to the way we wish they would, but it requires us to not be bothered by their personal behavior, quirks, or eccentricities at all. Charity is being able to live next door to someone whose lifestyle may be completely repulsive to your own tastes, but finding you really, truly love that person anyway.

It's been my observation that, by and large, the kind of people who have this ability to love unconditionally have at one time or another experienced the baptism of fire promised in scripture. They have experienced the mighty change of which Alma spoke; the glorious transformation described by the people of  Mosiah as instilling in them "a desire to do good continually." That's why their love for those whose lifestyle choices differ from their own is absolutely unfeigned. Judgment is absent from these people.

Zion In The Cul-de-Sac
It so happens that in the past couple of years, hundreds of Zion communities have been springing up all over the Wasatch front -and beyond. And guess what?  None of them require moving onto an abandoned farm upstate and living together in some kind of Hippie-Mormon-Commune-Hybrid. And none of these fellowships require you to hand over your property.

In earthly Zion, people retain their personal possessions and property so they can use those possessions to benefit others as well as their own families. Because those in the community are of one heart, they look after each other without being coerced or assigned. Those in the community who have excess are willing to share with those who do not. Those who are working and receiving wages might pool their money together to help meet the needs of other less fortunate members of the community, either monthly or as needs arise, but they don't start out by throwing all money, possessions, property, and things into a central pool and then elect officers to draw it out as needed. Despite what you may have thought, Zion is not a bank. It's a community of friends who look after each other. Nothing more complicated than that.

This is as far from the real Zion as you can possibly get.

I attended my first Zion fellowship the day after I delivered my address at the 2015 Sunstone Symposium, just before I was to return home to Sacramento. (My talk is titled Leaving The Church But Remaining A Mormon: The Rise Of Uncorrelated Mormonism and you can listen to it here if you want.)

The woman at whose house the fellowship was meeting happened to be a hairdresser who heard I was growing my hair long in order to donate it to be made into a wig for some lucky cancer survivor.  She wanted the honor of removing those locks, so she invited me to her home at the edge of a cul-de-sac in Bluffdale.  After my new friend braided and removed my hair, I was invited to stay for dinner.  As we were finishing up, several families began arriving for an informal get-together that included partaking of the sacrament. I counted forty souls in that living room all told. We had the sacrament and enjoyed a nice visit with others who shared similar religious views. A box was passed around containing a note pad and pencil so if anyone present had a need, or knew someone with a need, they could write it down and put it in the box.  Another box was passed where individuals could either donate money or pledge money to go to those in need. I tossed in the few dollars I had on me.

It was all very informal, with people wandering in and out as they pleased, and engaging in various conversations. Eventually everyone hugged and said they loved each other, then went back to their homes. 

And that's key. Like the first century Christians who gathered together to associate with others of like mind, afterwards you go back to your home. There is no community dining hall, no forced living arrangements, no planning and structuring of each other's lives. There are no leaders in these fellowships and no one is in charge.  You get together, same as you would for a neighborhood barbecue; you have a good time visiting with your friends, then you go home. There is no government in Zion except for self-government.

 A Zion community is one where everyone is neighbor to everyone else, even though they may live miles apart. They are usually of like mind and heart, brothers and sisters for whom a devotion to Christ is the common denominator.  Some of the people who gathered at my new friend's home had just come from three hours at church; others had stopped attending church altogether because they no longer felt the spirit in those meetings. They gather at these informal fellowships because that's where they find the pure joy that's missing in the three hour block. They come because they remain devout believers in the gospel and want to be in the company of fellow saints, fellow believers who know what it is to have joy in Christ.

Interestingly, these informal associations are growing rapidly at the very time attendance at LDS Church meetings is shrinking at a rate that is of great concern to Church headquarters.  Church leaders could take a lesson from these fellowships and return to a doctrine that stresses love over obedience.

No property is held in common by these Zion communities.  That has been tried, in this church and elsewhere by better people than we are. It has been tried for thousands of years, and it has always failed.  If you want to see a Zion community fall apart before it begins, the way to make that happen is for the group to go all in together and pool their resources, instead of honoring the agency of each individual to make his own choices. Zion works only when we assist each other as individuals, pooling our privately held resources for the good of the community. When we give, we give of our substance as individuals.

What we do not do in a Zion society is throw all our stuff into a common pile so it is now owned and controlled by some nebulous corporate collective. As needs are recognized, individuals provide their money to other individuals.  Zion is not a bank or a central depository. Zion consists of neighbors looking out for one another's needs. I look out for your needs by giving of my substance. I don't go digging around in some commissary hoping someone else will provide. I help you out directly, and if I don't have enough to meet your needs, I put out the word to my neighbors and collectively we see that your needs are met.

In earthly Zion, people live in their own homes and retain their personal possessions and property so they can use those possessions to benefit others as well as their own families. Because all in the community are of one heart, they actively look for ways to benefit each other. What they don't do is start out by throwing all money, possessions, property, and things into a big pot and then deciding who gets to have it. That's the quickest way for everyone's substance to be drained away. You can't achieve Zion by first dumping everything into a pile and then having everybody take some of it back. 

Since that day in Bluffdale, Connie and I hooked up with a fellowship group a few miles from our former home near Sacramento. For some reason, LDS Church leadership has become alarmed by this phenomenon. I guess they just don't like the competition, because that fellowship has drawn away local ward members -including a member of the stake high council- who prefer the spirit they feel there to the stultifying boredom they've known at church.  If the local Church officers want their members to return, they should find a way to invite the spirit of God back into their buildings. They can start by abandoning the structure dictated by the Church Handbook, and instead conduct their meetings according to the scriptural imperatives found in D&C 20:45; 46:2; and Moroni 6:9.

These fellowships are nothing more than get-togethers between friends, and yet the corporate Church sees them as a threat. Why?  Like the first century Christians, we meet informally in one another's homes. There are no leaders in these fellowships, no formal structure. No one is trying to start a new church.  We associate with one another. We socialize;  We are a society of friends. That's what a religious society is.

If Church leaders think individuals gathering together to socialize with one another and sometimes partake of the Lord's supper represents some kind of apostasy, I'd say they should check their assumptions. And check their scriptures. Because in my opinion anyone trying to stop the Lord's people from gathering on their own and worshiping on their own is acting contrary to God.

In a Zion society, no one is in charge of anyone else.  The minute someone in the community starts insisting "you're not doing it right," or "we should be doing things this way;" that's when your society is doomed to fail.

You want to be part of a religious society that's failing?  You already know where to find one.

                                                                             *****


UPDATE September 21, 2016
Following a couple of conversations I've had with readers online, I wanted to make an important clarification: I am not claiming that these various groups I've referred to as "Zion Communities" represent the actual Zion. That is an entity the Lord will call into being in due time. Rather, these fellowships (for want of a better term) are more like miniature developmental versions of the ultimate volunteer community. They should be viewed as "Zion-like" or "Zion-ish," if you will.  Those who are willing and able to live in a judgment-free community of love and acceptance will be that much more able to make the necessary transition when the New Zion arrives.

 Any individual can start such a community at any time. It begins with the way you treat your own family, then your neighbors, and it fans out from there. Here is a primer, by the way, on how to start your own fellowship.

"The grand fundamental of Mormonism," the prophet Joseph taught, "is friendship." I submit that if we ever expect to be true Mormons, and especially to be Zion Mormons, we ought to start practicing true friendship.

75 comments:

Robin Hood said...

Have to say Rock, I think you have some nerve.
More than a little undignified methinks.

Annalea said...

Robin Hood, I pray the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob come into your life and bless you so abundantly out of the riches of his love that you don't know what to do with yourself, that you see things through His eyes, feel things with His heart, and know things as He knows them in His mind. Be BLESSED, in Jesus' name.

Log said...

Rock,

Run a scripture search for the phrase "all things common."

Log said...

And, while we're in the scriptures, check out the law of consecration as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Annalea said...

Even the early saints had their own things. All things common simply means no one withholds help from the needy when they possess the ability to give.

Log said...

If we actually run the search, we find this.

Acts 4:32
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

Peter Brown said...

I think the eventuality of Zion WILL be that we will have all things in common and that all property will be common as an ethic. I'm not certain it can happen under the legal system we have in most countries. I think that's something that will have to come into being apart from, and away from, the trustee-style property ownership system that is geared towards capitalism. To try to define it terms of today's property rights does not work.

I view that all I have can be yours if you are part of my Zion, but in the state of Idaho, the deed has my name on it.

Scott Stover said...

I'm of the opinion that "leaving babylon" is leaving the desire to control others. I have experienced what happens when people try to control others - how they live ,what they possess, what they do on a day to day basis. It is the desire to control that is the very heart of babylon's lies. We must learn, as Rock says, to give in charity - to link ourselves together in our hearts.

Scott Stover said...

Oh, yeah - if I've learned anything over the past year or two, it's that the Lord Himself is in charge of Zion. It's structure is His, and will be developed by Him. Residents will be prepared and invited by Him. I may be learning SOME of the characteristics that must be developed within the individual heart (mostly highlighted by my own inadequacies and the pain associated with having them shown to me), but the journey to develop those characteristics is between the individual and the Lord. I have no right to insert myself into another's journey in any other way than as an example or as a friend.

I honestly don't know what Zion will look like. I don't know who will be there. I don't get to create the invite list. I hope and pray that I can become someone that the Lord will trust enough to invite. IF that happens, I have to accept His decision on who else is there. The "rules" will be His, not mine. Will there be structure? Leaders? Administrators? That's up to Him, and I must be happy with it. Humility and charity are all that I can bring - IF I'm invited. I cannot force Zion to fit into MY vision of what it will be like - I must be willing to accept HIS vision. I cannot force others to fit MY expectations of how they should behave - I must accept HIS standards.

DeeLyn said...

Excellent message Rock! So happy for you and your recent move to such a nice place.

I agree that Zion is leaderless, except for Christ. For no person, prophet, priest, politician or king in history has ever been trustworthy or righteous enough to be 'over' anyone else. The best can and usually do fall, especially when given power.

Zion is made up of those who are willing and able to govern themselves.

History has shown and the Book of Mormon teaches, how unwise it is to have a king or government over the people, it always soon leads to corruption and destruction.

And we can't achieve Zion or become a Zion people by letting others, even church leaders, take care of the poor for us. We become righteous, loving and wise by visiting and learning the plight of and helping the needy ourselves, personally, and giving money 'pocket to pocket', so we make sure it all gets to those who really need it.

Marilyn Duch said...

Sounds like this NewVista will be a state-of-the-art version of Warren Jeffs FLDS compounds. A money making venture to keep up Dave Hall's Multi-millionaire status.

Waldemar Carlstrom said...

dave ramsey says you can earn 1500 a month delivering pizza

David said...

Log, having all things in common is a result of being a Zion-like person, not a commandment that gets you there. The reason it's in common is because you know that whoever has it would give it to you if petitioned.

DMF MD said...

I thought that the main component of a Zion society was that there should be no poor or rich among them. In that case Dave Hall cannot take residence in Zion, he being a millionaire disqualifies him.

James Lloyd said...

Speaking of helping each other, I heard that Rock Waterman is in a financial bind right now, with the move and all and could use a little help with making next month's rent and other bills. If you would like to help him, his address is 4207 Samuelson Ave., Unit 14, Sandpoint, ID 83864-6067. Please be generous to our dear friend who has helped so many with his insights, study and wisdom he has shared with thousands through his blog.

Ryan Nickel said...

The scriptures say nothing about there being no rich among them

Ryan Nickel said...

Consecration was for those all who had surplus property to give it to the church.

Check out section 119

Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion,
2For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church.
3And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.
4And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.
5Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.
6And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.
7And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion. Even so. Amen.

It wasn't for everyone either. It's was for those who had the holy priesthood. These were high priests after the order of Melchizedek. It was something a little different than what you see today. Which is why God was so displeased with them when they failed to live it.

Allen Levie said...

So many mischaractarizations and misinterpretations of the NewVista plat and model. It is not a simple pooling of resources.

The best place to learn about someone or entity is from that person or entity.

If you have questions ask David Hall or someone connected to the project.

When you make assumptions without questions especially in a situation like this you are likely misinformed and completely missing the mark.

The subeconomy of NewVista is remarkable and is and will be working just fine long before anyone moves in.

Simple mischaractarizations like this fill this whole article with logical fallacies.

DMF MD said...

All references to Zion in the scriptures indicate the absence of poor or rich. 4 Nephi 1:3; D&C 104:16; Moses7 to name a few. If we have millionaires among us then we certainly have poor also and then Zion is not established.

Ryan Nickel said...

I stand corrected.

JankyJoe said...

Rock, so glad you are back online. Have you published a travelogue and impressions of sand point or wherever it is you and connie have skedaddled to? I've been thinking of leaving Utah for Eureka,MT or Bonners Ferry or - just someplace up there with a lot of clean fresh water.

JankyJoe said...

I am aware of about 50 million Americans that would be delighted to turn over their net worth, assets and income, which in total is likely to amount to a stolen shopping cart with a wobbly wheel and brimming with a collection of junk. In exchange they get room and board at the new Dave Hall Zion. Maybe Dave could get a stipend from the big cities for every street person that he lures into his new Zion.

It seems to me that every past Utopian experiment has had their fail when strong centralized authority is imposed and that authority is allowed enforcement powers. The end always begins with the scheming money changers slithering into town and gaining control of the monetary policy. Then it's only a relatively short matter of time until a complete failure of the Utopian society occurs - as I believe will be demonstrated to everyone's satisfaction - THIS OCTOBER.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Rich and poor are relative terms. People with average incomes today are a lot wealthier than the average person in the middle ages, for example. If everyone in Zion was a millionaire, then it would still be an egalitarian society.

Miguel Aveiro said...

What does 'surplus property' mean? Surplus land and buildings? Surplus items?

I'm guessing it's just money and farm produce, because if you were a farmer and you hand over the amount of land that is producing a surplus, then you won't be producing any surplus from which you take out 10%. But if you just hand over all the surplus money and produce, you can continue to give 10% after the initial lump sum.

Am I right, or am I missing something?

Liz said...

I love what you wrote about charity. It truly is the pure love of Christ.

Randall Bresee said...

Rock,
This is off topic, but I don't know how to contact you. Thank you for enlightening me on so many subjects. Would you consider making pamphlets or booklets of your top ten blogs and making them available? Two reasons, 1. EMP of any kind could destroy all digital records.
2. We could use them as handouts to our investigators. I know, it sounds just like LDS paradigm, but the truth may set some of them free. Randall

Amberli said...

Great post, as always! Thanks for keeping it real, Rock! I love it!

LJn said...

@JankyJoe, sadly, the homeless and those most in need of a place to stay will not be welcome if they don't have a job, according to Rock's report - and how many of them do you suppose have jobs? [tear-drop]
Toni

JankyJoe said...

@LJn, I kinda figured "admittance by approval only" would be the case in new Zion. I have to confess that I was being ridiculous in my suggestion that the poor and unemployed would be warmly welcomed into the new Dave Hall Zion. Dave Hall may truly have the best of intentions, but this new "Zion" has a familiar feel to it. It feels very similar to the Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye 700 Club USA Heritage Christian theme/water park and residential complex that was being constructed in South Carolina just before Jim was unceremoniously sent up to prison. Fortunately, financial scammers have never been known to insert themselves into the LDS community :-D
(I was trying for a laughing emoticon).

It just seems sadly similar to how welcome the poor are at the fabulous $1.5 billion City Creek mall across from historic temple square; a project that went forward with today's usual clarity of prophetic vision. Apparently it was another secret revelation which revealed that building a high-end retail mall across from the SLC temple, scheduled to open just prior to the beginning of the worst financial collapse in American history, was an inspired idea. The church PR firm gave us this profound explanation:

...if that construction money is spent to feed the needy, then that money is gone. On the other hand, if the Church reinvests in Salt Lake City's downtown core, this provides jobs and economic stimulus.

Seems reasonable, but to me, that explanation kinda smells corporate rather than divinely inspired.

alamogal said...

Rock, This was a wonderful post. However, I've had to shake my head a bit at the comments bringing up all the various citations, official references, and approved 'recipes' available out there in resource-land to achieve 'Zion'. Methinks those folks may have missed the point a bit...

I stand with you. A true Zion community is not designed, planned, or implemented by any administrative means. Historically, that methodology has never worked (-Does anyone actually think the City of Enoch achieved what it did via a charter?); and spiritually, we have completely missed the boat if we reduce the whole proposition to a series of things to be 'done' (i.e. checked against a scriptural description of an ideal). As an additional aside, it would seem to me that the moment you begin to codify charity, you have lost the very essence of it.

Zion is brought to flower one kind act at a time, by those who individually choose to share in other's burdens and joys; checking their precious egos at the door in the process. In this environment, charity wells up from within, allowing each participant a glimpse of what true, Christ-like love is all about.

I have experienced the feeling of having been briefly 'gathered to Zion' on many occasions in my life. I know many others have, too. When we are fortunate enough to experience all of that potential, even fleetingly, it provides us with a lasting desire to do good and to be kind and compassionate to others. To personify the Charity of Christ. As we seek after this, we find the true 'bedrock' of a Zion community, and the only doctrine necessary.

All the best to you and Connie, Rock. I'm glad you're back online!

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arowberry said...

Just a quick aside from the topic of Zion. I was just at my local Provident Living home storage center to get a few more bags of beans for my food storage. They told me that beginning October that they would no longer be selling any bulk (ie. bags) storage items, the cannery is shutting down and the only storage items available will be the prepacked cans. I asked why that would be and was told that it was announced with no explanation. This is scheduled to go into effect beginning this October. They were told to also expect an across the board price increase on all new inventory, but no specifics were provided.

The LDS home storage is hands-down the best deal in town on bulk macaroni, rice, beans, hot chocolate mix and several other great storage items. It looks like those wonderful days are quickly drawing to a close. There have been rumors that supply chain shortages and disruptions to stores even as big as walmart are on the near horizon because of the rising reluctance of major suppliers to accept the US dollar as a settlement payment.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Allen Levie,
I gleaned the information on NewVistas from the NewVista website and the many articles online interviewing Dave on his intentions for the place. It is of course entirely possible that he was misquoted or misinterpreted by those interviewing him. If I have mischaracterized anything I hope you will inform me of specifics so I can make corrections. Your simply accusing me of mischaracterizations and misinterpretations doesn't give me enough to go on.

Please be aware that I wish Brother Hall well in this endeavor. I think it will be an interesting experiment in a state of the art community for those who can afford to be part of that experiment. He himself has admitted he will not likely live to see it come to pass, but I think his heart is in the right place. I don't think he is throwing all that money at this project in hopes of seeing a profit for himself.

As many people have forgotten, Walt Disney's original plans for his Experimental Prototype Community Of Tommorow was to be a city where people lived, worked, and played in a controlled environment. It evolved after Disney's death into the World's Fair type exposition it is today precisely because it became clear that such a community would require the kinds of control over its inhabitants many people were unwilling to endure. I think that's the flaw in Dave Hall's ambitious plan. Human nature dictates that people do not like being forced to live under a control system.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

James Lloyd, thanks for that kind mention. I'm still debating with myself whether I should add a "Donate" button to this blog. Many have encouraged me to do so, but I'm uncomfortable with the idea of holding my hand out.

That being said, several people have already donated to The Rock And Connie Cause, and we are incredibly grateful for the assistance.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Janky Joe,
I haven't had time to write anything resembling a travelogue about Sandpoint and these environs; in fact I've barely had the time to see Sandpoint. But quite a few years ago I first heard about this beautiful place from a piece by Ben Stein in The American Spectator. Little did I know I would ever have the blessing of friends who would help us relocate here to be near others of like mind.

If you do a search for "Ben Stein Sandpoint" you'll see a handful of articles he has written about the place and the kind of people he has found since moving here. From what I've seen so far, everyone who lives here seems very happy, and I think it's mostly because everyone is happy to be here. I know we are.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

JankyJoe, What's going to happen this October?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Randall Bresee,
I have indeterminate plans to write a book adapted from my the topics covered in what I consider my twenty or so top posts, but when I will get to that I have no idea. In the meantime you or anyone else is entirely welcome to reproduce any of my posts in pamphlet form, or to share and repost them. (Please don't make an entire book out of them, though.)

I ask only for attribution so that the readers will be redirected to my blog so they have the opportunity to learn more.

So though I haven't the time or the ability to publish any pamphlets, I sure wouldn't mind if you did so.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

By the way, Randall, you said you didn't know how to reach me. My email is RockWaterman@gmail.com

However, I have been known to often overlook personal emails because like everyone else, my box is often overflowing with junk and since I don't check it everyday I often fall way behind.

Another way to reach me is by PM on Facebook under the name Alan Rock Waterman. Anyone is welcome to call me at 916-606-6452. You'll probably have to leave a message. I'm not much for texting, but I can receive texts. I'll probably call you back by phone, though.

Anyone passing through or living near our new home in Idaho is welcome to drop in, though a phone call at least two days ahead is a good idea. Our address is:
4207 Samuelson Ave, Unit 14,
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864-6067

Brian Zang (The Zang Family) said...

Rock, since your email is swamped, I wanted to refer you my recent book publication. I make no money off it. http://www.cachevalleybaptisms.org/2016/09/lectures-of-repentance.html Also, Log doesn’t have a way to reply on his blog, but I wanted to mention his key terms at http://logscabin.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-liars-art-fundamentals.html was so enlightening with the definition of “bless” vs “curse”, it earned a footnote in the book. The book can also be put to good use for missionary work. I am hopeful the scriptures involved will speak for themselves through the format of lectures like Joseph Smith's "Lectures on Faith". Putting them in that context became very illuminating, when referencing the topic of repentance instead.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Brian, I'm glad you mentioned your new book. I have a hazy memory of you mentioning it to me before, but I would have been in the middle of preparations for moving, and it got forgotten.

It looks like a very informative book. Thanks for the reminder.

And Brian didn't mention this folks, but it's available on Amazon.

MrHFMetz said...

Hello Brother, it's good to have you back online, I hope you're okay and your wife as well, and hope you have found a good place to live.
About this New Vista, I don't know how Zion will look like, only that Enoch said there were no poor among them. In this Vista you have to give away your income and property, which makes you poor by definiton. I do know how hell looks like: New Vista; what a ridiculous concept. I wonder how this Hall character got so rich anyway.

mormons son said...

The TOPIC of utopia is ageless but yet the true method is recorded, they were one mind and heart in Genesis 5 and the Lord took them Moses 7. Zion is mentioned but in reference to the Savior [God] being in their midst. I am in no doubt that the people also were living accordingly to Gods plan which was, love and charity for one and all having all things in common.It is to my understanding foolishness to imitate something which God can ONLY provide to unite all with before he comes again? Not saying we cannot try but to have in detail at as Dave Hall and his NewVista? well we shall see?

JankyJoe said...

Zion can be a tricky subject because it is a state of terrestial transformation that we try to define in telestial terms. The Lord gives us this advice in both Matthew and then again in 3 Nephi like it was important to repeat:

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.
(Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 13:30–34)

Sounds wonderful, but when we try to apply it to a "sweat of the brow" telestial existence, it doesn't seem to work out very well. For example, we assume that the inhabitants of Zion have to eat, right? So we imagine that there are fields with happy compliant members working the fields while singing hymns and shouting praises to the Lord. And then the food produced by tilling the earth and harvested by the sweat of the brow then has to be transported to a nearby market for distribution to the bliss-filled inhabitants of Zion. But what if one of the inhabitants wants a steak instead of a squash for dinner? Or is on long term disability and can't work? And how is money distributed? And what is the money of Zion? Are there happy Zionist bankers standing by to hand you as many bags of free money as needed? Bankers, pure in heart and praising the Lord God! There's a good one. And why is everyone getting the same pay when I obviously work so much harder than the rest of you bums and I'm using a complex skill in high demand whereas all you bring to the table is menial labor. And that's just the beginning, then the list of complaints and complainers gets exponentially longer with time. How the heck did Enoch or the 4 Nephi folks pull it off? We've tried several experiments in our written history and they always seem to fail miserably. The answer is: that the very state of the inhabitant of Zion has been literally changed or transformed - NOT REFORMED BUT RATHER TRANSFORMED. They are orthogonal concepts (ie. very different or unrelated; sharply divergent). It's a powerful fact that Hollywood and politicians try hard to cover up. But then again, I'm just a southern boy, so what do I know.

Has Ben said...

Lately I have been trying to understand the covenant of consecration and its purpose in establishing Zion. After considerable thought, I determined to look for ways to help in the establishment of Zion in everything I do, realizing that anything that serves to purify, unify, or to have no one poor would qualify. Some of those experiences include cleaning up areas in the yard or house that need it, drying apples for food storage and healthy treats, taking garden produce to neighbors to enjoy, improving the quality of the products and services we offer at our workplace, and connecting with old friends. No one has to assign me to do these things and I have had some wonderful experiences, some of which bring tears of gratitude just thinking about them. Your article reaffirms what I have discovered. Thank you for them.

SB said...

I'm not sure communal ownership necessarily follows from "all things common". I tend to agree with Annalea that this simply means we don't withhold from the needy. That as Jacob counseled, we "Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you." As such, you really could say among yourselves that nothing was really mine, yet still remain in private ownership for the benefit of others. Stewardship? So I think this is attitudinal than the actual nature of things.

(As an aside, is seems a major problem with communal ownership is who gets to decide what to do with what when? By definition I would need to get every persons consent in order to act on anything, since everything is owned by everybody. And then, what if my plans to use something are not the same as ten other peoples plans? What 3rd party resolves this? Ad infinitum)

4 Nephi also says that "every man did deal justly one with another". This seems to imply a great deal of autonomy in how people act in relation to one another for any variety of reasons privately and voluntarily.

Equality also doesn't seem to be a numbers game - a quick search of equality and equal in the BoM yields these results:

Mosiah 27:3 - And there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men;

Alma 1:26 - And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.

Alma 30:11 - or there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.

Mosiah 29:38 - Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.

These seem to coincide with the more classical definition of the term equality.

Log said...

It follows from "neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own." This is clearly stating there was no private ownership among them.

Log said...

I am always befuddled as to why the distribution of stuff is seen as the chief objection to Zion. The covetous - those who want to have stuff, who worry about tomorrow and thus withhold from others today except on exchange - won't be there. Having food and decent covering we will be content.

If we need something which is in the possession of another, we ask for it, and we are given it. Of course, since we aren't covetous (right?) we won't ask for anything from anyone other than that which we absolutely need - food and decent covering is it - and we will be laboring to produce food and decent covering, since there won't be TVs, Nintendos, movies, cars, and the other trappings and enticements of Babylon which suck up our time and drag us into damnation.

"Having adequate nourishment (diatrophas) and decent covering (skepasmata) we shall with these suffice ourselves (arkesthesometha). But those who want to be rich (ploutein) fall into temptation (peirasmon, a test) and a snare (pagida, a trap, noose, decoy), and into hankering for many things (epithumias, a passionate desire to possess) which are silly (anoetous ; mindless, senseless) and harmful (blaberas), and which drag (buthizousi, plunge) human beings down to ruin (olethron, deadly danger) and utter destruction (apoleian). For the root (rhiza) of all evil doings (panton ton kakon) is the desire for money (philargyria, cash–loving), being driven by which people have gone astray, got lost (apeplanesthesan, Heb. abad, stray from the path) from the faith and become hopelessly involved (peripeiran, spitted, engangled) in agonizing situations (odunais, rapids, pangs). But thou, O man of God, keep away from these things" (1 Timothy 6:8–11). - Hugh Nibley

SB said...

Log said...
It follows from "neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own." This is clearly stating there was no private ownership among them.


Perhaps that was the arrangement they made among themselves, as a community, it being their prerogative to do so. 4 Nephi has no such language, only that they did deal justly one with another. Perhaps their community kind of worked things out a bit different, with the same results. Then we have the D&C talking all about property, and stewardships and surpluses etc. So perhaps it is less about formal property arrangements and more about the heart.

Log said...
I am always befuddled as to why the distribution of stuff is seen as the chief objection to Zion.


No objection here. I think voluntary private distribution excels all others.

If we need something which is in the possession of another, we ask for it, and we are given it.

Asking for something in a non-property environment seems superfluous. And I'm not sure why private ownership/stewardship would preclude people from giving like this. I suggest they would, because their hearts have been changed.

we won't ask for anything from anyone other than that which we absolutely need -food and decent covering is it - and we will be laboring to produce food and decent covering

The D&C also talks about wants. I see people doing many other things than just farming and sewing under the system of natural liberty.

Log said...

I'm sure they'll build buildings as well.

SB, do you sell to your wife? Or do you give to her what she needs, if it is in your possession, upon request?

SB said...

Does sex count? :) Or the remote? :)

I really have no interest in refereeing proper or improper voluntarism among free individuals.

Denver recently stated that "Believers are allowed to “organize themselves” in any manner they choose." So perhaps the varying communities will not be cookie cutter.

And perhaps our desire that others act in a certain way, according our concept of how they should, ought to be quelled. We've certainly had our fill with that.

So could it be feasible that one community of believers form on the basis of non-ownership, and another does not? That one distributes needs differently than another? And as these communities meld into one another, there will begin to emerge evidence through experience and trial and error to what works and what doesn't, yet still remain free and autonomous through common consent to enact changes or not, suited to their particuar needs.

Log said...

SB:

How does love behave? If we are of one heart and one mind - think carefully about what that means, literally - then how would we behave in distributing stuff? If we are one, can anything be withheld? If so, on what basis?

This is not a rhetorical question.

Scott Stover said...

Log, SB, the desire to control others is, in my mind, the essence of babylon, and leaving babylon will largely consist of giving up the desire to control others. Few - very few - have any idea how difficult that is or the degree to which that desire is ingrained in us. The methods we use to protect ourselves against the impact of others' decision are myriad and can be very, very subtle.

I currently "own" the RV I live in, the clothes I wear, my guitar, and a collection of records, movies, etc. Others in our community "own" stuff, too. If someone were without clothing and I had some, I would give. I buy socks and thermals and stuff for the group, trusting that at some point it will be needed. Still, we share openly and freely - especially when shopping for groceries and essentials. Nothing has yet been withheld, but neither has there been scarcity.

Log's question may not be rhetorical, but the answer will only be discovered in practical application. Speculation is strictly that, and all - ALL - will be stunned by the difficulty of living in a consecrated community. It's not only about property. It's about vision and beliefs, because every individual is affected by the beliefs and desires of others in the community. They may overlap significantly, but the differences can be difficult to overcome. The practical application will be much more difficult than you realize, this I promise.

Scott Stover said...

We must also surrender the tendency to try to fit Zion into our own box. The Lord will create Zion, and we have neither the right nor the ability to try to force it to conform to our personal understanding of how it will be. The best we can do is prepare ourselves - our hearts - so that the Lord can use us to bring about HIS Zion - and I suspect it will be very different from what each of us have envisioned.

SB said...

I will think on this for a time.

Initial thoughts:
-There are different kinds of love.

-My love for my wife is different than my love of others. I will do things with my wife I will not do with anyone else.

-Is reciprocity a form of love? "This method, which may be termed “solidarity,”
means that an increase in my well-being is achieved in a way which not only does not deprive others of well-being but which yields them, as a by-product of my gain, an increase in their own wellbeing." (Ropke)

-Can anything be withheld? idk. Another round of beer to a drunk man? A sharp knife to a toddler? Are you suggesting that love only and always says yes?

-And are you suggesting that because something has a price, love is being withheld?


SB said...

I agree Scott. It's all rather moot at this point, with no real-time model to look at. The NT model, BoM model and D&C model all ended up failing.

All we have to go on now is to love and help one another the best we can and hopefully learn and grow from that.

log may very well be completely right and me wrong. I just haven't been persuaded yet. Sometimes persuasion can take a while. My thoughts on the LDS church took decades to change.

As always, his thoughts and others have been planted in my mind to perhaps sprout one day, or not.

SB said...

Or maybe it is indeed as simple as Rock suggests:

Zion consists of neighbors looking out for one another's needs.

No need to reinvent the wheel.

PNW_DPer said...

I remember someone going by the name "smudgepot" (wonder how many people nowadays know what that means, I do only because my grandfather and uncle had fruit trees that sometimes would blossom before the end of the frost season and needed protection from late-spring frosts) who would make comments on a now defunct libertarian website, and sometimes claimed variously to be homeless and to live in a trailer park.

He would describe his trailer park ("white trailer trash") neighborhood in terms of all these poor people with all their addictions and problems, but because of their problems they tended to be humble and very neighborly to each other in watching out for each other, and it sounded to me a lot like a true zion-like neighborhood. Maybe it's humble people who don't think they're better than anyone else that can achieve zion, even if they're humble because of their weaknesses of addictions, failed relationships, etc.

DeeLyn said...

The problem with throwing all our goods & property into the pot, is that no mortal has ever proved righteous, wise or trustworthy enough of the power to re-distribute the goods righteously.

Thus why Christ said don't follow anyone but him, for only he is perfect.

For where is or where has there ever been a real person who keeps all the commandments of Christ, so that, as Christ taught, they prove they are a true follower of Him, and even a candidate for Zion?

And our 1st responsibility in life is to make sure our own family and extended family is taken care of 1st and foremost, thus we must stay in control of our substance to make sure that happens. Why would we think someone who doesn't love and know our family like we do could do it better than us?

Christ commanded us to personally visit & give all our surplus directly to the poor ourselves, he didn't say give our money to someone else so they can visit & take care of the poor for us.

For we learn & grow the most when we do such ourselves and get to know the needy and their plight and make sure they are really taken care of, as we take their burdens upon us.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yikes! I don't know what happened, but all my lists of posts have disappeared from the right hand side of this blog, including the extensive Blog Roll. It's going to take a LONG time to try and rebuild it!

Well, at least the Top Ten are still generated automatically. I sure don't know what happened to everything else.

FRC1952 said...

Rock, yours is the second time that Ive read the quote from that book about the High Council. My question is why quote a book that is quoting Joseph Smith instead of quoting Joseph Smith with citations? Shouldn't the actual source be quoted and not a reference to that source?

FRC1952 said...

Rock, yours is the second time that Ive read the quote from that book about the High Council. My question is why quote a book that is quoting Joseph Smith instead of quoting Joseph Smith with citations? Shouldn't the actual source be quoted and not a reference to that source?

FRC1952 said...

I don't know why this won't allow to alter my identifier. I am Randy Claywell, i say this because, right or wrong and I'm open to be proven wrong, I own my opinions.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The reason I cite that book, Randy, is because I want to put a plug in for the book. It's a remarkable and very informative piece of work, with loads of helpful research. But your point is well taken. I should have cited the original source, and added "as quoted in."

I would do so now, but I have recently moved and don't know where most of my books are, including that one, which does have the citation in the footnotes. (I was able to quote it as-is only because I lifted it from one of my previous blog posts. So I'm quoting myself quoting someone else quoting Joseph Smith. And not for the first time, either.)

Glad to see you willing to use your own name when you comment, Randy (although I respect those who for various reasons are not ready to "out" themselves publicly as readers of this blog). As for why the system will not let you use your real name, that's all a mystery to me. I'm still wondering how it is that with all those spam protections, testimonials for witch doctors keep slipping through. It seems I'm deleting one of those every other day.

Amy said...

AMEN!

Meili Tark said...

It seems like most people who are seeking Zion at some point define what they believe are the characteristics of Zion. The problem is, if you haven't actually lived in Zion, you are not equipped to define what Zion looks like and you'd be best to leave it to the few records we have on the subject rather than building your own understanding of what it is. If you try to define Zion in ignorance, you run the risk of creating and inheriting your own personal Zion. That never seems to end well, so I hear.

Perhaps it would be best to focus on the people in the scriptures who inherited Zion. What did they do? What did they believe? How did they prepare themselves? In the Book of Mormon, they had the distinction of being "more righteous" than the people who were destroyed but they still earned some serious lamentation from heaven.

It's interesting that we have many records of people who hadn't yet obtained Zion and very little of those who did. Is this because we would totally misunderstand what was going on if we had those records? Would we perhaps be so offended by the culture of Zion that we would refuse to seek it?

In the absence of any real descriptive definition of Zion by those who attained it, perhaps it's best to admit we don't really know and apply ourselves to the principles laid out in the scriptures: faith, repentance, baptism, becoming like a little child. That is enough to offend the natural man already, no higher ideals needed.

Scott Stover said...

Absolutely, Meili! People want to put God in a box. We want to put each other in a box. We want to put Zion in a box. Then, when any of these don't fit into our self-defined box, we try to force them into it. Zion will be - but it will be Zion, not your definition or my definition or anyone's definition but God's definition. If we want to play, we need to play by His rules, not by ours, and we need to be humble enough to learn those rules as He would teach them to us - otherwise, we're only going to be in the way.

00730116-8c6a-11e6-8568-ef242ce9c5e5 said...

Dealing justly one with another. Okay, the airconditioner in my car broke down and I took it to a garage, which charged me 900 bucks to fix it. The car is 17 years old. Was that just? The kitchen sink plugged up and the plumber charged me 130 bucks to unplug it. Just? My lawyer charges me 20 minutes at 400 bucks per hour to read an email that a 5-year-old could read in 30 seconds. More just, I expect. Ever been to a doctor when you have no health insurance? Boy, you're going to see Just in action, now. Obviously I am so far from Zion that the light from Zion will take about 1 billion years to reach me. I gave a homeless vet 5 bucks because he said he was having a hard time, and I believed him. So, for the confused, I'm agreeing with the author.

JankyJoe said...

Is it just on my computer, or has the Pure Mormonism blog been infiltrated by the financial scammers?

Miguel Aveiro said...

No I've seen em on here too.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yeah, I delete them as fast as I find them, but if you guys see something I've missed, let me know. It's a wonder I get so much spam, considering how difficult it is to leave a comment.

Jake said...

fyi I am bummed about the new blog roll... can we get the old one back please?

Log said...

We actually do know quite a bit about Zion.

3 Nephi 26
17 And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written.

19 And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.

20 And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.

21 And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ.

DeeLyn said...

I believe we only have the teachings of Christ in the NT as a basis of what the standards and requirements of creating & living in Zion would be like.

I believe firmly that the BoM is fiction, though usually very inspiring fiction.

I believe had the BoM prophets been real and true, they would have written about and included exactly 'how' they created such a Zion people, when it's an otherwise seemingly impossible thing to accomplish in any age. I believe knowing exactly how a people created Zion and maintained it and what their standards were, is far more vital than knowing the history and wars of their people.

I don't think that just because Jesus would walk among people and teach them would be enough to help everyone be righteous, let alone for 200 years. For Zion wasn't created where Christ was born, raised and taught, though I'm sure a few people repented and changed because of knowing him. But even most of Christ's chosen disciples seemed to not be able to live or accept some of his difficult teachings (that would be required for such a thing as Zion), despite that they learned from him personally for 3 years.

I also tend to believe the City of Enoch was probably fiction also, for most of the same reasons.

For it seems righteous people (who keep all the commandments of Christ) have always been very rare in any society and it seems 'true prophets' have also been practically unheard of throughout history, except for John the Baptist perhaps and maybe a few of the disciples of Christ during his ministry and probably some obscure people who have

For the majority of the people in any society since Adam seem to always support and desire things contrary to God's commandments. To find even 1 family that is righteous has always seemed like a miracle, let alone to have a whole city of people really keep all of Christ's commandments. And thus such would be front page news in any book of real scripture, especially the 'how' they did it part.

Jason Wharton said...

The author said:
"By its very nature, a Zion society can be neither governed nor controlled."

I disagree that a Zion society is not composed of governance. Anyone who isn't susceptible to good governance deserves a tyrant over them or to be in chaos. Zion is neither the product of tyranny or chaos but of good and healthy governance that has a proper balance between those governing and those being governed.

Since when, and what is the source of, this anti-organization trend in disaffected Mormons?

Scott Stover said...

Jason, I am of the belief that Zion represents a higher form of existence - one where all know Christ, and all look out for the welfare of others before that of themselves. In such a society, government is unnecessary. All forms of government, even within the church, is only required because of the fall. In Zion we will be redeemed from the fall. Now - a further opinion about the fall:

The bedrock of babylon is the spirit of competition, which is the actual spirit of contention that Christ referred to in 3 Nephi 12. It is the imbedded characteristic that we have of comparing ourselves to others, and judging our own worth based on our comparison with others. This attitude by very definition requires judgment - of ourselves and others. It is so ingrained in each of us that to strip ourselves of this (of jealousies and fears - D&C 67:10) is extremely difficult, but it is this characteristic that keeps us separated from each other, and thus keeps us separated from Christ. In the intercessory prayer, Christ first thanked the Father for their oneness, then for the oneness of the chosen 12. Then He prayed for the oneness of all those who heard their words. This oneness is impossible as long as we continue to embrace babylon - this spirit of contention or comparison.

By eating of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, Eve introduced judgment into the world - and with this judgment came contention, comparison, and separation - the very opposite of oneness that Christ prayed for, the very opposite of Zion. This is the meaning of having a broken heart and a contrite spirit. This is the meaning of becoming as a little child.

We only need government until we are redeemed. As soon as there is no longer a spirit of contention and competition - the spirit of babylon - we will no longer need government - we will have Zion; first in our hearts, then gathered in a community.

This is a revolutionary concept, and certainly not what we have all been taught in our families, in our communities, and in our churches. Society is based on this characteristic of fallen man. That is why Zion will be based upon a completely different paradigm - one that is not based on the spirit of babylon. This is what is meant by forsaking babylon, or leaving babylon - it is the forsaking of that spirit of comparison, competition, and contention.