Sunday, December 18, 2022

Here's An Oldie But Goodie: Did The Lord Choose Not To Anoint 'The Lord's Anointed'?

Previously: Don't Call Me A Right-Winger

Connie and I had some new friends visit us last week who are relatively new readers of this blog and they told me they check in every day to see if there is anything new here. My intent is to post something new every month, but the last entry was posted in October and I'm currently recovering from cataract surgery in both eyes and probably won't be able to see well enough to write something before December ends, either.  So I thought for now I would share one of my more important pieces in the event anyone else is stopping by searching for new content.  This isn't new, of course, and I hate to come off as a one-note Johnny, but given the direction the current leaders are taking the Church lately, it might be a good idea to take a closer look at how they measure up to our founding prophet.  

This piece was written when Thomas Monson was president of the Church, but everything here still applies. So, to begin:

Did The Lord Choose Not To Anoint "The Lord's Anointed"?

Previously: On The High Road To Apostasy

I have a wonderful cousin who I love like the dickens, but she recently rebuked me online by writing "You are so deceived. I'd rather follow a prophet than someone who is disgruntled, leading others astray. I feel sorry for you."

Well, I get that now and then. But when it comes from someone who hasn't seen me in more than a decade, I feel a correction is in order. So I would like to put my dear cousin's mind at ease and reassure her that I do follow a prophet; a prophet I believe to have been divinely appointed by Jesus Christ to be not only a prophet, but a seer and a revelator as well.  This is a prophet I presume my cousin also looks to as divinely anointed: Joseph Smith, Junior.

On a blog so boldly titled as "Pure Mormonism" you would think readers would be aware of my testimony of Joseph Smith and my devotion to the gospel of Christ he was instrumental in restoring. But it turns out that a good number of active members of the Church -some of whom know me personally- haven't actually read much of my words here, choosing instead to assume I have devolved into a nasty, unrepentant nonbeliever. So I guess a reminder that I remain devoted to the faith, and to the prophet who founded it, may be in order now and then.

This prophet, Joseph Smith, is the only man our pioneer ancestors thought of as the prophet to the church, and he had that sole distinction among the membership throughout the entire lifetimes of the generation who knew him. Even though Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and others attained the office of president of the Church, Joseph Smith was the only one the 19th century Saints ever recognized as the prophet of the Most High.

You can find numerous references to "the prophet" in the journals and writings of the Utah Saints, and even repeatedly in the Deseret News up through the turn of the century. And every time that term was used, it almost never referred to the current Church president, whoever that might have been. When "the prophet" was spoken of, it was in reference to Joseph Smith the martyr, and him alone.

I think where I part ways with my cousin is that although I believe Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, seer, and revelator, I am no longer convinced the same can be said of the men who currently manage the affairs of the LDS Church.  And I think my reasoning on this is sound.

If the Lord intends for us to revere these men the way we revere our founding prophet, shouldn't we be able to arrive at a testimony of them the same way we came to know of Joseph Smith's divine calling? Should we not, for instance, be able to fairly demonstrate that Thomas Monson has been anointed prophet, seer, and revelator by utilizing the same means and criteria that brought us to the knowledge that Joseph Smith was?

Solving The Prophet Puzzle
Every missionary in my day was familiar with a talk by apostle Hugh B. Brown, "Profile of a Prophet." In this recorded talk, Elder Brown outlines the historic and scriptural criteria by which any of us should be able to recognize the appearance of a true prophet of God. It is a powerful and convincing talk, and at only 25 minutes long, well worth your time. You can listen to it here.

For the sake of brevity, I'll list the following characteristics Elder Brown outlines that should be evident in any man who purports to be a prophet of God:
1. He will boldly claim that God had spoken to him. 
2. Any man so claiming would be a dignified man with a dignified message—no table jumping, no whisperings from the dead, no clairvoyance, but an intelligent statement of truth. 
3. Any man claiming to be a prophet of God would declare his message without any fear and without making any weak concessions to public opinion. 
4. If he were speaking for God he could not make concessions, although what he taught would be new and contrary to the accepted teachings of the day. A prophet bears witness to what he has seen and heard and seldom tries to make a case by argument. His message and not himself is important. 
5. Such a man would speak in the name of the Lord, saying, “Thus said the Lord,” as did Moses, Joshua, and others. 
6. Such a man would predict future events in the name of the Lord, and they would come to pass, as did those predicted by Isaiah and Ezekiel. 
7. He would have not only an important message for his time but often a message for all future time, such as Daniel, Jeremiah, and others had. 
8. He would have courage and faith enough to endure persecution and to give his life, if need be, for the cause he espoused, such as Peter, James, Paul, and others did. 
9. Such a man would denounce wickedness fearlessly. He would generally be rejected or persecuted by the people of his time, but later generations and descendants of his persecutors would build monuments in his honor. 
10. He would be able to do superhuman things—things that no man could do without God’s help. The consequence or result of his message and work would be convincing evidence of his prophetic calling: “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). 
11. His teachings would be in strict conformity with scripture, and his words and his writings would become scripture. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).
Elder Brown's impressive outline had a great deal to do with my acquiring a testimony of Joseph Smith's divine calling. But that was not the only way I arrived at my testimony. I found ample evidence that Joseph Smith was called of God, because God himself acknowledged it. Here's one of the first revelations from the Lord signifying He had selected Joseph Smith to accomplish His purposes:
"Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord." (D&C 3:9)
Now, a cynic might conclude that since it was Joseph Smith himself  who wrote those words, Joseph Smith could have been the one making the claim. Only a fool, it might be said, would accept that statement at face value.

Well, I may be a cynic and a fool, but I also like to think I'm a seeker of truth. So I did what we are all commanded to do, and took that statement and others like it directly to the Lord for confirmation. What I received in answer to my prayers was a witness of the spirit that those words indeed came from the mouth of the Lord. Joseph Smith, I was assured, was indeed called of God to do God's work.

We are charged in scripture not to take any man's statement at face value, no matter his rank or title. We are instructed to examine every single utterance that claims to have come from the Lord, then take that utterance to the Lord in prayer to get a witness through the Holy Ghost that the message did indeed come from Him.

We rarely do that. We have gotten lazy, preferring to believe that our leaders somehow are incapable of leading us astray, even though the Lord has never given us that assurance, but has constantly warned us otherwise. Believing without question what management tells us is just so much easier than actually inquiring of the Lord.

Our great failure as a people is that more often than not, once we receive divine confirmation that the Book of Mormon is true, we tend to accept everything else that is preached from the pulpit without thinking, even things that are taught that are contrary to what the Book of Mormon itself is trying to tell us.

The apostle Paul directs us to "prove all things," then "hold fast to that which is good." The word "prove" means to test a thing, to evince by examination. The LDS Church in the 21st century seems to have formally abandoned that instruction. Indeed, the very act of testing, examining, or questioning certain teachings or practices within the Church in our day is deemed grounds for Church discipline, and even expulsion, according to the Church Handbook of Instruction. (Vol 1, pg 57; see also Jensen, Modern Apostasy, 2014.)

Taking It To The Source
Some years ago I came to the realization that not everything I was taught growing up about my religion was entirely reliable. Some of it was error mixed in with truth.

So in an effort to separate truth from falsehood, I realized I would have to set aside my entire system of fixed beliefs, and start over from scratch. So over time, as I re-read the revelations in the Doctrine & Covenants given to us through Joseph Smith, I made certain that each and every one of them was accurate. And I did so by asking God directly, "did you say this?"

And each time I asked I got a clear witness. Yes, those words were the very oracles of God.

Here are a few more verses affirming Joseph's role as God's mouthpiece in these last days. I asked about each one, and got the same affirmation:
"I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments." (D&C 1:17
"Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ." (D&C 21:1
"Thou wast called and chosen to write the Book of Mormon, and to my ministry...And thou shalt continue in calling upon God in my name, and writing the things which shall be given thee by the Comforter, and expounding all scriptures unto the church." (D&C 24:1,5
"No one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses." (D&C 28:2)
Then there was this revelation given to the members of the church in 1830, which I found most instructive:
"Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth..." (D&C 21:4&5)
I noted that members of the church back then were not told to follow or obey the counsel of the prophet, as I was being taught to do in regards to the president of the Church in my day. This revelation says we shall "give heed to all his words." To "heed" means to give consideration to, give careful attention, to examine and ponder.

Quite a far cry from unquestioning obedience.

Something else I noticed in that revelation: we are not instructed to accept everything Joseph Smith ever said as if it were gospel. Only those words he speaks as he receives them from The Lord. It is only those words that come "as if from mine own mouth" that we are commanded to give heed to. While it is true that Joseph Smith, having seen and conversed with Jesus Christ and the Father, doubtless came away from that experience brimming with wisdom and insight; and while Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet personally ordained by God, not every utterance that ever came out of his mouth is to be accepted ex cathedra. Only those words he delivers as coming from the mouth of God are considered doctrinal. Which brings us to...

The Grand Daddy Of All Scriptures
All of us have our favorite scriptures. For most of us it's a direct quote from Jesus Christ, as well it should be.  But there is one chapter in the Book of Mormon that we ought to take as our guide before we consider any other teaching of the Church, and that is 1st Nephi Chapter 8.

This is the chapter that teaches us that the only sure path to God is by holding to the rod of iron, the symbolic guardrail that represents the word of God.  Therefore, nothing we read in our Sunday School manuals, nothing we're taught in Church, nothing we hear in general conference, is allowed to trump the actual word of God. Only our Lord's actual words as revealed through His prophets are the words we should be clinging to; anything not measuring up to the word of God fails the iron rod test.

When we're trying to figure out whether some man's word is to be taken as God's will, it's not enough to simply rely upon what we were taught growing up in the church. We have to go to the source, and that source is the revealed word of God. Harold B. Lee, himself a former president of the church, delineated what he thought was the biggest danger facing the LDS church in modern times:
"I say we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. If only each of us would be wise enough to say that we aren't able to answer any question unless we can find a doctrinal answer in the scriptures! And if we hear someone teaching something that is contrary to what is in the scriptures, each of us may know whether the things spoken are false -it is as simple as that. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think therein is one of our biggest dangers of today." 
"The Lord has given us in the standard works the means by which we should measure truth and untruth. May we all heed His word: 'Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church.' " D&C 42:59 (First Presidency Message, Ensign, December 1972. Emphasis mine.)
So, are we to simply allow men in leadership positions to govern the church of Christ according to the policies and procedures they institute on their own? Or are they required to govern the church only in accordance with the instructions promulgated by God?  We latter-day Saints have a sacred duty to make an important determination, and this determination should be made carefully and prayerfully: whether the men who succeeded Joseph Smith actually are his successors as authorized by God, or if they are there only because our vain traditions call for them to be.

The way to get to the nub of it all is to seek God's word in the matter. It is not enough to simply accept the next guy in line as though he were appointed by God. We should insist on seeing evidence of that appointment.

I had just begun to question my faith in church succession some years back, when Gordon B. Hinckley was president.  In March of 2003, the president of the United States launched an invasion of a foreign country that had done us no harm, in violation not only of the constitution's separation of powers, but also in direct violation of the words of Jesus Christ, who declared in D&C 98:33 that his people "should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them."

So I was looking forward to general conference three weeks later. We were finally going to hear an actual prophet of God lay into the civil authorities for an act of aggression every bit as unwarranted as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, or the German Blitzkrieg on Poland. This should be worth tuning in to!

But when conference arrived and president Hinckley finally got around to addressing this topic at the final session, it was clear he wasn't going to act anything like a true Old Testament prophet speaking old fashioned truth to power. In fact, he admitted he didn't know what to think about this current war, but he was sure the whole thing would be over in a few short weeks. It was the most wishy-washy, non-committal, unprincipled, and uninformed pile of nothing I had ever heard come out of the mouth of a reputed prophet of God in my life. Caught me completely by surprise.

Hinckley did offer one pertinent quote from Jesus,where the Lord commanded his people to "renounce war and proclaim peace." Then he spent the rest of his talk with a metaphoric shrug as if to say, "But hey, whatcha gonna do?"

Thus began my first crisis of faith in modern Church leadership. So I went to the Lord to ask the question it had never occurred to me to ask before: is Gordon B. Hinckley your appointed mouthpiece on the earth?

I don't want to put words in God's mouth, because he didn't answer me with an audible voice. But if I were to reconstruct the conversation in English, it might have gone something like this:

"Is Gordon B. Hinckley your anointed prophet, seer, and revelator?"

Show me some of Gordon's prophecies and revelations and I'll give you my answer.

"But he has never issued any prophecies or revelations."

Well then, there's your answer.

Follow the Whosit?
A while back, when re-reading 1st Nephi 8, I noticed something I had only glossed over in previous readings, then instantly forgotten. The prophet Lehi was describing a dream in which he found himself in a dark and dreary wilderness. Suddenly a well-dressed, important looking man appeared and bade him follow. Lehi would be rescued from the darkness, for surely this impressive figure -a man of God if ever there was one- would lead Lehi back into the light.

But Lehi soon discovered it had been a mistake to follow this man, for he was only led further into the dark and dreary wasteland. Lehi found himself lost "for the space of many hours," until it occurred to him to call on God directly. Only then was Lehi brought into the light. Now he could see many things clearly, among them that rod of iron along the straight pathway to God's pure love. Lehi realized that the only sure path to God was not by putting his trust in any man, but instead to cling tenaciously to the word of God.

As a devout believer in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, I can think of no more pertinent question in our day than to assess whether we are doing the Lord's will in following certain men, or if we are being misled. Even Joseph Smith himself lamented that the people were depending so much on him that they were becoming "darkened in their minds." (Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, pg 51). If the prophet would issue such a warning to the people in his day to back off, why are so many Mormons so anxious to ignore that advice when it comes to Church leaders today?

Brigham Young said something interesting:
"Perhaps it may make some of you stumble, were I to ask you a question—Does a man’s being a Prophet in this Church prove that he shall be the President of it? I answer, no! A man may be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and it may have nothing to do with his being the president of the Church. Suffice it to say, that Joseph was the president of the Church, as long as he lived: the people chose to have it so. He always filled that responsible station by the voice of the people. Can you find any revelation appointing him the President of the Church? The keys of the Priesthood were committed to Joseph, to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth, and were not to be taken from him in time or in eternity; but when he was called to preside over the Church, it was by the voice of the people; though he held the keys of the Priesthood, independent of their voice.” (Journal of Discourses 1:133 Emphasis added.)
Joseph Smith was appointed by the Lord to be the Lord's mouthpiece.  It so happened that Joseph was also elected by the people to preside over the fledgling church. Each of those positions is not the same as the other. Joseph just happened to have worn both hats back in the day; at various times acting as either prophet and/or president.

But it could have easily been the case that while Joseph acted as the mouthpiece of the Lord, some other person -Hyrum Smith, for example, or Sidney Rigdon- could have been elected by the members and sustained as president of the church at the same time Joseph Smith was their prophet.

So the thing we deserve to come to an understanding of in our day is this: how can we know if the president of the church also happens to be a prophet?

How About We Ask The Same Questions?
Obviously, to get an answer to our question we would use the same criteria we used when we came to a knowledge that Joseph Smith was ordained to be God's mouthpiece.  We might first compare the current president to the list of qualifications apostle Brown taught would be recognizable in a prophet. Secondly, we would look for instances where the Lord has declared the modern president to be his mouthpiece, as he did numerous times in regard to Joseph Smith.

Trouble is, we can find no instance where Thomas S. Monson has boldly made the claim that God has spoken to him. Neither has he declared he has received any messages "in the name of the Lord." Neither has president Monson predicted future events, or endured persecution, or met any number of the qualifications recognizable in a true prophet outlined by Apostle Hugh B. Brown above.

Where do we find God's endorsement of Thomas Monson similar to the one given regarding Joseph Smith?  We have no statement from the Lord telling us to "give heed unto all Monson's words and commandments which he shall give unto you, for his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth."

I looked for such an endorsement of President Hinckley, and those who came before him. And then when I got to Heber J. Grant, I read this bombshell from a letter President Grant had written to a Mrs. Claud Peery in 1926:
"I know of no instance where the Lord has appeared to an individual since His appearance to the Prophet Joseph Smith."
Wait...WHAT?! I was always taught that the living prophet met with Jesus face to face on a regular basis in the upper room of the temple. And now here's one of those prophets admitting that not only has he never met or spoken to Jesus, but nobody he knows ever has either!

I felt maybe the thing to do was track this all the way back to Brigham Young. Seeing as how Brigham was Joseph Smith's BFF, surely he had the authority to speak for God, and maybe at least I would learn that authority was somehow handed off to those who came after.

The Trail Dead Ends
It turns out, though, that Brigham Young wasn't really all that close to Joseph Smith, for the simple reason they didn't spent much time together.  Joseph lived in Nauvoo, while Brigham was constantly off laboring in the Eastern States and Great Britain.

We have this idea that Brigham Young was Joseph's second in command, but the records don't support that. He wasn't a member of the First Presidency. The minutes of the Nauvoo High Council don't show him in attendance because he was not a member of that body. His association to Joseph Smith, to the extent it was significant at all, was in company with others, not the two of them alone. There were plenty of other men who had a closer association to Joseph Smith than Brigham Young did. Plenty of others.

The myth that Brigham Young and Joseph Smith were best buds was fostered by Brigham in the decades following Joseph's death, and developed over time into the official Church narrative.

"Say Joseph, do you mind if we get a selfie so I can prove I met you once?"
More surprising, when one looks at the record, is that now and then Brigham Young would pop off with some astonishing admissions denying any role as God's anointed:
"I don't profess to be such a Prophet as were Joseph Smith and Daniel." (Journal of Discourses 5:77)
Like all Latter-day Saints at the time, Brigham expected that one day Joseph Smith's eldest son would take the reins of church leadership. Until then, Brigham would act as a sort of placeholder:
"What of Joseph Smith's family? What of his boys? I have prayed from the beginning for sister Emma and for the whole family. There is not a man in this Church that has entertained better feelings towards them. Joseph said to me, “God will take care of my children when I am taken.” They are in the hands of God, and when they make their appearance before this people, full of his power, there are none but what will say—“Amen! We are ready to receive you."
Brigham Young had been president of the church for 13 years when he made the following statement in 1860:
"The brethren testify that brother Brigham is brother Joseph's legal successor. You never heard me say so. I say that I am a good hand to keep the dogs and wolves out of the flock. I do not care a groat who rises up. I do not think anything about being Joseph's successor." (Journal of Discourses 8:69). 
Someone "to keep the dogs and wolves out of the flock" is exactly what Brigham proposed to be when he went before the assembly that day in August just weeks after Joseph and his brother were murdered. He indicated there would be no prophet to replace the one who had fallen.
"Heretofore you have had a prophet as the mouthpiece of the Lord to speak to you. But he has sealed his testimony with his blood, and now, for the first time, are you called to walk by faith, and not by sight." (Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, (1844, pg 20)
That doesn't sound like a man who believed the mantle of the prophet had fallen on him. And sure enough, he goes on to propose something else entirely:
"I ask the latter-day Saints: do you, as individuals, at this time, want to choose a prophet or a guardian? Inasmuch as our Prophet and our Patriarch are taken from our midst, do you want someone to guard, to guide and lead you through this world into the kingdom of God or not?"
Brigham was attempting to persuade the crowd to reject Sidney Rigdon, the only member of the First Presidency left alive. But if he was hoping to be elected to the top position himself, he was talking them out of choosing him, too.
"All that want some person to be a guardian or a prophet, a spokesman or something else, signify it by raising the right hand."
They must have been confused by the way he worded the question, because the record states no hands were raised.

Brigham ended up suggesting that the best choice for governing the church would be to turn it over to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, acting together as a body. Not one man in particular, mind you, but the whole Twelve would make all the governing decisions as a group. So that's the plan the congregation voted to accept.

Three years later, Brigham persuaded the saints assembled at Winter Quarters to elect him as president of the Church, which they did. Mind you, they did not anoint him their prophet, seer, and revelator. Brigham himself had told them, "You cannot fill the office of a prophet, seer, or revelator. God must do this."

The people never did consider Brigham Young to be prophet, seer, and revelator for the church as was Joseph Smith. They sustained him as their president, the guy whose job it was to preside over the church, not receive revelations for it.

Fast forward thirty years to Brigham Young's death, and now the Twelve are convened to decide what to do next. Brigham had ruled the church with such an iron hand, that once he was gone John Taylor convened the Twelve and said (I'm paraphrasing), "Let's not do that again. From now on, let's all twelve of us be the governing body as originally proposed so as not to risk having another dictator."

And that's what they did. For three years, the Church was run by a twelve-man board of directors, with no president at its head. And then John Taylor decided maybe he would like to try his hand at presiding after all, so he got the Twelve to go along with him and at conference the people were asked to sustain him as their president. Not their prophet, just church president.

In the Spring 2014 issue of the Journal of Mormon History, historian Edward Leo Lyman has documented the slap-dash, make-it-up-as-they-went methods by which the Quorum tried to figure out who should be the next in charge every time one of them shuffled off his mortal coil. (See Succession By Seniority: The Development of Procedural Precedents in the LDS Church).

The way the apostles struggled to work things out over each series of "crises" makes for some fascinating reading. There was still no one in the church hierarchy operating as Joseph Smith had, receiving revelations from God, so they didn't know how they were supposed to handle things. The minutes of the meetings of the Quorum in those days show a lot of debate, infighting, alliances, and jockeying for position. About the only thing the Brethren were ever united on was their agreement that none of them wanted to see George Q. Cannon become president. He was almost universally disliked by his fellow apostles.

By the 20th century, a popular narrative had taken hold in the church to the effect that ever since the death of Joseph Smith, there has always been "a living prophet" at the head of the church to guide us and instruct us in God's will.  Nothing could be further from the truth. None of these supposed "prophets" ever conveyed a direct revelation to the members from which the saints could ascertain the will of God. Check your Doctrine & Covenants and you'll see. The oracles simply peter out once Brother Joseph exits the scene.

There is one more loose thread to this story.  The "preferred narrative" most of us were taught growing up in the church states that before he died, Joseph Smith anointed the Twelve apostles to succeed him, and that he turned over to them all the keys and authority to act in the name of God. That part of our history isn't true either. But it makes an interesting tale.

So sit back and get comfy; we're not done yet.

Who Needs Checks And Balances In The Lord's True Church?
LDS Church tradition claims the “Twelve” were given all the “keys” (whatever that is) by Joseph Smith to control everything. This is said to have taken place in a meeting that was held on March 26, 1844. This claim is contrary to scripture, but has not stopped LDS leaders from insisting it is how the Twelve Apostles came to be in charge of everything “Mormon.”

I say it is contrary to scripture because the great revelation on priesthood (D&C 107) expressly limits the jurisdiction of the Twelve.  Jesus Christ Himself, through revelation to his prophet, directed that the governing bodies of the church are to be co-equal in authority, in order that no single entity encroaches on the responsibilities and commissions of another.

If you were to list them in order of importance of governing authority (and we shouldn't, because the Lord set them up to be co-equal branches), the list might look like this:

 The First Presidency
 The High Council
 The Quorum of the Seventy
 The Quorum of Twelve Apostles

The apostles would probably be last, because they had no governing authority within the church. Most of the time they weren't anywhere near Church headquarters, because the common name for the Twelve Apostles was the "Traveling Elders."  These were the missionaries sent out to all the world to spread the gospel. They were only home occasionally before going back out again. The High Council, headquartered at Nauvoo, did most of the governing within the church, handling the day-to-day administrative affairs of the church.

You may have noticed there is no High Council operating at Church headquarters anymore. That office simply disappeared once Brigham Young took charge of things. Like it never existed.

Under the Lord's plan, the Twelve have no authority within any organized stake. They are co-equal with the other bodies, but with very limited jurisdiction. Yet the Twelve today claim they get to own, control, operate and dictate to all other bodies and to every part of the church, both inside and outside organized stakes. All this because of a meeting that took place on March 26, 1844.

The meeting was held by a group known as The Council of Fifty, or more expansively “The Kingdom of God and His Laws, With the Keys and Power Thereof, and Judgement in the Hands of His Servants.” (See Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records, p. 45.)

 The thing is, this council was not a part of the church. It operated outside the church; independent of it. And that's because it included both members of the church and non-members.

It is important to recognize that the kingdom of God was not the church, and the Council of Fifty was not part of the church. It was separate. It was not a religious society like the church, but a civil organization newly organized in 1844 as a first step toward Joseph Smith's vision of an eventual civil and political “kingdom” belonging to God.  Its intended purpose was to ensure that the rights of all people were protected, regardless of one's beliefs or religious affiliation. (I go into greater detail on the purposes of the Kingdom of God in a previous post.)

Although the Council of Fifty kept minutes, the March 26, 1844 minutes make no mention of the Twelve getting to control everything, or getting any “keys” from Joseph Smith that day. In fact, there is nothing in the minutes to support the claims of the LDS Church that the Twelve were superior to every other church body, and in possession of all the “keys” (whatever that means).

Because the minutes do not support the claims, the LDS Church Historian’s Office wrote an introduction and provided footnotes for the minutes of the 26 March 1844 meeting. The Historian’s Office thinks that is most likely the probable meeting when the “keys” were passed along.

Their introduction begins on page 62, and the minutes run through page 72 of the volume titled Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records. If it were not for the Historian’s Office interjecting the claim into their introduction and footnotes, there would be nothing in the minutes of the meeting to support the claim that the Twelve got all the “keys” from Joseph Smith to run everything on that day.

Essentially the Historian’s Office explains that missing proof does not prove it didn’t happen.

If it did happen as the LDS Church claims, it is a pretty significant omission.  But the omission from March 1844 is not the only proof that this important event did not happen. The story about “keys” got mentioned the following year, in minutes that should lay the LDS Church's claims to rest.

The minutes of 25 March 1845 of the Council of Fifty meeting has an introduction written by the LDS Historian’s Office that attempts to support the traditional story thus:
"Orson Hyde read to the council a two-page statement that he hoped to publish as part of his pamphlet on a 'farewell to Rigdonism.'  The document concerned JS’s 'appointing the Twelve to take the responsibility of leading the church,'  an event that likely occurred at a Council of Fifty meeting on 26 March 1844, and Hyde asked how many council members had been present on that occasion and could sign the document as witnesses. Rather than taking up Hyde’s question, the council briefly considered the content of Hyde’s account. After discussion, Young denied Hyde’s request to publish the document and instead instructed him to focus on Rigdonism in his pamphlet 'and let the Twelve alone.' " (Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records, p. 371.) 
This introduction is not really a fair account of what happened in the meeting or what was in the minutes. Here is what the minutes of that meeting say when it is mentioned the first time early in the meeting:
     Coun. O. Hyde wanted information as to who were here to day who were present Joseph Smith laid the responsibility of leading the church on the Twelve. 
     The chairman said E[lde]r Hyde would have to lay that matter over a little.                        (Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records, p. 375.)
The reference to “The chairman” is to Brigham Young. There follows three pages of notes before the discussion returns to Hyde’s topic. Here is what the minutes say when Hyde’s topic is discussed later in the same meeting:
     Coun. Hyde read a certificate which he had wrote for publication concerning prest Joseph Smith appointing the Twelve to take the responsibility of leading the church. 
     Coun. J. Young moved that the last expression in the article, “so help us God” be left out.
     Coun. Hyde said he had wrote this article and submitted it to this council to find out how many of those here were present at the time it was done, and who can sign it as witnesses. 
     Coun. O. Pratt was present when observations similar to those in the document were made by prest Smith; but would it not be carrying an idea abroad that this was the commencement of the authority of the Twelve. They had the same authority before the time referred to in the document. He should have no objections to the article going forth if the proper date of the authority and appointment was stated. 
     Coun. Hyde gave further reasons why he had wrote the article and requested its publication. 
     The chairman said he should not want the article to go into the history of [Sidney] Rigdon at all. He wants Er Hyde to write his farewell to Rigdonism and let the Twelve alone. He dont [care] whether the world know the authority and power of the Twelve or not, when the time comes they shall feel our power and we shall not try to prove it to them. In regard to Joseph’s remarks, he did not mention anything about the anointing; he said it was this council of fifty which had to bear the responsibility of establishing the kingdom in all the world." (Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records, pp. 378- 380.)
 The last remark by Brigham Young (“The chairman”) puts the matter to rest. There was no “anointing” and the “keys of the kingdom” were not given to the Twelve in any earlier meeting. Instead it was “this council of fifty which had to bear the responsibility.” Meaning that there was nothing uniquely given by Joseph Smith to the Twelve, but instead it was given to the “council of fifty.” The council’s members included both Mormons and non-Mormons. The LDS Historian’s Office adds a footnote to explain the troubling remark from Brigham Young that Joseph Smith “did not mention anything about the anointing” by explaining: 
In his statement Young apparently was not affirming that no anointing occurred but clarifying that JS did not perform such an anointing in the late March 1844 meeting of the Council of Fifty. There is no evidence that any ordinance, ordination, or anointing occurred in any meeting of the Council of Fifty; (Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records, p. 380, footnote 598.) 
I want to make sure you caught that: There is no evidence that any ordinance, ordination, or anointing occurred in any meeting of the Council of Fifty!

According to the LDS Historian’s Office, there was no ordinance passing the “keys of the kingdom” to the Twelve in the Council of Fifty! Nor was there an ordination passing the “keys of the kingdom” to the Twelve in the Council of Fifty! Nor any sort of anointing passing the “keys” to the Twelve!

But the official tradition in the church today remains. The Twelve somehow got the “keys” in a meeting of the Council of Fifty sans ordinance, sans ordination, and sans anointing.

You may ask yourself, “How did that work?” 

And the tradition has an answer. Here is the official way that the Twelve got their power in the March 26, 1844 meeting, according to the LDS Historian’s Office. I've highlighted the weasel words for you:
"A significant event likely occurred in this meeting, probably in the morning session, about which the minutes are silent but which council members discussed a year later in connection with a written summary prepared by Orson Hyde. Clayton’s brief note that JS spoke “on heavenly things, and many other important subjects” likely marks what was later referred to as JS’s “last charge.” This may have been an extension of the charge relating the history, purpose, and rules of the council that was typically given to new members and that JS may have delivered in this meeting. (Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records, pp. 62-63. Emphasis mine.) 
That's a generous passel of "likely"s, "probably"s, and "may have"s in a paragraph ostensibly written by professional historians.

I'm accustomed to reading raw historical data just as it stands.  And when a historian deigns to describe a document to me, I expect him to stick to what is actually in the document he's describing, without speculating and forcing the data to conform to what he wants it to say.

But because traditions of men now dictate that Joseph Smith must have turned over his authority to the traveling elders at some point in history; and because these particular court historians depend upon the corporate Church for their salaries and their pensions, they have apparently decided that this is the moment the invisible transfer of power must have taken place. They chose this moment in history to put words in the mouth of a true prophet of God, so that future "prophets" would have some officially sanctioned event to hang their hats on when declaring their authority to act in God's name. In the opinion of these company men, that meeting in 1844 simply had to be the time and place where Joseph Smith turned over all his authority to the Twelve. It just had to be!

Yet there is absolutely no indication in the record that anything of the sort ever took place.

Would you like to see what Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal on this most momentous occasion, when the prophet of the Restoration reportedly rolled off all his authority onto the shoulders of Woodruff and his pals in the Quorum? The usually loquacious Woodruff apparently hadn't seen anything notable take place that day:
"26th A rainey day. I met in council with the brethren."
     (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, Vol. 2, pg. 371, see also The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History, pg 34)
The Lord's Version 
We do have a record of the Lord appointing someone other than Joseph Smith to be a prophet, seer, and revelator to the church, and that was Joseph's brother, Hyrum. Hear the words of the Lord in this instance:
"And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph." D&C 124:94)
In that same revelation, Jesus appointed Brigham Young to his place in the church:
"I give unto you my servant Brigham Young to be a president over the Twelve traveling council."
And that's it. That is the only calling Brigham Young ever received by the voice of the Lord: director of the missionary program.

This convoluted megillah showing how Joseph is imagined to have given the Twelve full authority to run the whole shebang is more than a bit of a stretch. Note the historian's obscure reference to Joseph Smith's "last charge" to the Twelve, a "charge" that no one has seen in writing, and that is now imagined to maybe be the "charge" Joseph "may have delivered in this particular meeting."

So now “keys” are given by a “charge” to someone? In scripture, normally a “charge” is either an accusation or a warning. For example, as an accusation: I charge you with murder. (See, e.g., Numbers 5:21Acts 23:291 Tim. 5:16D&C 121:11.)

As a warning: I charge you to stay away from Sodom or be killed. (See, e.g., Gen. 28:1; Exo. 19:21Mark 7:36Acts 16:23Alma 35:16.)

If the LDS Historian’s office admits Joseph “charged” the Twelve, but did not give an “ordinance, ordination, or anointing” then how was he charging them? Was he warning them? Or was Joseph accusing them? Either of these would not empower the Twelve, but would caution/accuse them against wrecking the “kingdom”—something which has happened.

If you want to read a good example of Joseph Smith giving Church leaders a "charge," turn to section four in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith This is the section discussed in my last post on this forum. There the prophet goes on for eight pages charging members of the Twelve not to exalt themselves as had the fallen leaders these men were now replacing. He charged them to be humble; to not betray God, to not betray the church, to not betray their brethren; he charged them to be careful. That is the kind of thing we are used to reading whenever Joseph Smith issued a "charge" to the brethren.

This is how Denver Snuffer explained the death of the Council of Fifty and the “kingdom of God” in a post on October 18, 2016:
"The “kingdom of God” is not the LDS Church and the LDS Church is not the “kingdom of God.” They are separate. 
'Joseph Smith stated that the 'literal kingdom of God [that is, the Council of Fifty], and the church of God are two distinct things' as 'the laws of the kingdom are not designed to affect our salvation hereafter.' (Joseph Smith Papers Administrative Records, p. xxiii.)
"So if Joseph rolled the 'kingdom of God' off his shoulders and onto the Twelve, it has nothing to do with giving the Twelve jurisdiction to assume complete autocratic control over the church. There was already a revelation in place (D&C 107) that confirmed the role of the Twelve in the church to co-equality with the seventy, stake high councils, and gave them no jurisdiction within an organized stake. The assertion that the charge allowed them expanded jurisdiction contrary to, and in violation of Section 107 is not justified when the 'kingdom of God' and the church are two separate things. The 'kingdom of God' is 'not designed to affect our salvation' and therefore did not, indeed cannot, subjugate the church.

"Further, even if you accept the charge given to the Twelve, rolled to them the 'kingdom of God,' they abandoned it:  
'The final meetings of the council were held in the mid-1880s. Thereafter the council’s records appear to have remained in the custody of the Office of the First Presidency. In 1922 church president Heber J. Grant reportedly entrusted Joseph Anderson, who served as secretary to Grant and the First Presidency, to safeguard the records. In 1932 Grant and Franklin S. Richards–the last two living members of the council–met together and read through some of the Council of Fifty records. The minutes were also accessed in the late twentieth century. In 2010 the First Presidency transferred the Nauvoo-era record to the Church History Library.' (Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records, p. 6.)
"Thus died the 'kingdom of God' which Joseph Smith probably may have charged the Twelve to possess. They neglected the 'kingdom of God' because they were preoccupied with acquiring complete, unfettered control to dictate over the church and hold at defiance any who dared to challenge them. They reign over the Seventies and stake high councils with impunity. Their autocratic control holds the approximate 30% of those who remain nominally active in the church in complete submission.
"They have the 'keys of the kingdom'–which kingdom has lapsed into complete oblivion. But they’ve parlayed that into dictatorship over the other organization, the Church."
The foundational claims of our religion can be tested by inquiring of the Lord. But the more closely the authority claims of the LDS Church are examined, the more groundless they become.

The Restoration happened. Joseph Smith spoke with God and accomplished things only a prophet could accomplish. But that has nothing whatever to do with supporting the anti-scriptural claims by the Twelve that they have the right to complete ownership and control of a church that was founded through an actual prophet of God.


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Don't Call Me A Right-Winger

I have nothing in common with these two jerks

Previously: Politics and Religion Revisited                                                 

In the introduction to a post I wrote back in April, I noted my agreement with the many faithful latter-day saints who were troubled by the First Presidency's official statement urging Church members to submit to the government's mandate regarding Covid "vaccinations."  

Someone over at the Mormon Stories Podcast Group on Facebook commented on my position, saying that he didn't know who I was, but decided he needed to read no further since clearly the author of the piece (me) was just another ignorant right-winger.

I thought that was an odd thing for him to call me, because it had been the right-wingers in government who were trying to get me to comply with their unconstitutional mandates. My refusing to blindly go along with their dangerous demands doesn't make me a right-winger; it makes me the opposite of a right-winger, since historically right-wingers were always powerful members of the ruling class who tried to force others to bend to their will. It was always the right-wingers pretending to care about the little guy who were the ones trying to punish those who disagree with them.

The right-wingers today, of course, are those who claim to be liberals, but whose actions and motives are opposite of what classical liberalism always stood for. Today's right-wing ideologues are people like Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler, Fauci, and Gates; all of them controlling, power-mad elites just chomping at the bit to rule over the rest of us while demanding we don't give them any push-back. 

If you are confused by what I just said, it's probably because you've always believed "right-winger" was synonymous with "conservative." If so, you deserve to correct your thinking.

In the political realm, right-wing regimes have always stood in direct opposition to traditional conservative and classical liberal values. It was always right-wingers in positions of power who saw the common folk as their enemy to be crushed against the rocks. As recently as the middle of the 20th century, when you heard the term "right-winger," it was tyrants like Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini who immediately came to mind.  Americans who thought of themselves as conservatives would have never thought of themselves as having anything in common with Nazis and Fascists.  

If your political views align with America's founders and the constitutional protections they bequeathed to us, you should vigorously object to being called a right-winger because right-wing actions and policies are completely antithetical to what you believe in. Right-wingers have historically been dictators who stood for censorship, oppression, and the enslavement of the individual.  Such suit-wearing demons never had anything at all in common with conservatives.

So What Is The Difference Between Left And Right?                                                        First, a digression: in a previous essay in this space, I quoted author Jeffrey Tucker on what it used to mean to be a liberal. That definition was widely understood by everyone in this country for over a hundred and fifty years. Back then, everyone knew what it meant to be liberal, and that meaning was 180 degrees opposite of what that term has come to mean today: 

"To be liberal was to favor free enterprise and property rights, oppose slavery, reject old-world caste systems, loathe war, be generally disposed toward free trade and cosmopolitanism, favor the social advance of women, favor technological progress — and to possess a grave skepticism toward government management of anything." (Jeffrey Tucker, Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Status Quo.)

Check your concordances to see how often "liberal" was used in scripture to convey a desirable quality. Or pull up Noah Webster's original 1828 dictionary. As you can see, the classical definition of "liberal"(i.e. the longstanding use of the term as it was always understood from the beginning) bears no resemblance at all to those members of the ruling elite who call themselves "liberals" today. Instead, the qualities of classical liberalism are now observable in those who hold conservative values.

Traditionally, most Americans, no matter what political party they aligned themselves with, considered themselves to have a liberal worldview, which is why liberals and conservatives were found in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Believe it or not, a person could hold liberal views in some areas and still be conservative in others, and vice-versa. In fact, we all should be both liberals and conservatives, otherwise we will not be in balance. For instance, you might embrace traditional, "conservative" values in your personal life while at the same time having a liberal outlook in your dealings with others. You might act to determine your own path in life while allowing others the free agency regarding how they will live theirs. In other words, Americans are supposed to believe in the Golden Rule. Unlike how things have unfolded today, political differences back then were usually not so important that they got in the way of your ability to love your neighbor.  

So if freedom-loving people were traditionally defined as liberals (and later, conservatives), what do we call powerful autocrats and authoritarians who would impose their will on others while censoring those who resist their rule?  Those are the right-wingers; often very wealthy, but never satisfied with the amount of power they have. They're always desperate for more power then more again.

These are the sociopaths who say to those beneath them, "do what I say or else!"  To put a Mormon spin on it, Joseph Smith was a classical liberal, while Brigham Young was a right-winger. King Benjamin was a classical liberal, King Noah was a right-winger.  Benjamin refused to tax his people or boss them around; Noah taxed his people heavily and would set you on fire if you dared to criticize him. 

Make no mistake: as politicians go, it is not just modern Democrats who have rejected the qualities of classical liberalism. Many Republican officeholders such as George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of that wicked cabal of Neocons who plunged this country into two senseless wars twenty years ago were clearly right-wingers as well, as we can all see in retrospect.

This proves the danger that comes from regular people aligning themselves with a political party when they should be aligning themselves with correct principles. Because for so long conservatives identified as Republicans, they simply assumed Republican politicians were conservatives just like they were, never suspecting that those in leadership positions were in reality the right-wing devils they turned out to be.

American conservatives, who in 2003 might have resisted the senseless calls for war if those calls had been proposed by a Democratic president, willingly championed the killing of innocents in foreign lands when those calls came from a president who was a Republican, and all because that fellow Republican told them it was right and proper and patriotic to do so.  In retrospect, we can see how much better it would have been had we looked to scripture for our counsel instead of trusting in the arm of flesh. Utah Mormons are finally realizing that their own Republican senator Mitt Romney is a dangerous right-winger. Ten years ago I warned my readers that Romney was a wolf in sheep's clothing whose ideology is antithetical to the gospel of Christ. Boy, did I call it, or what?

A right-winger can be identified by his or her desire to censor dissent in order to hold onto power at all costs. Again, I direct your attention to the recognized right-wing regimes of monsters like Hitler and Mussolini. If you have nothing in common with those dictators, you should stop allowing others to lump you in with them. 

Where Did The Term 'Right-Winger' Originate?
Near the beginning of the French revolution (this was in 1789, before the criminally violent Reign of Terror began), the newly formed French National Assembly met to hammer out a constitution. The purpose was to come to some kind of agreement on how much power the king would be permitted to retain and how much authority would be left in the hands of the people through their representatives.

Almost immediately the delegates on each side staked out their own territories in the assembly hall, with the anti-royalist revolutionaries choosing seats to the left of the presiding officer while members of the aristocratic class seated themselves on the right. Needless to say, the aristocrats had more to gain by seeing to it that the king remained fully in power, so the right-wingers advocated for the monarchy while the lower classes sitting to the left advocated for the king to have less power.

As you can guess, it wasn't easy for these disparate groups to come to an amicable agreement on how France should be governed, and four years later the the whole enterprise had gone straight down the toilet (that's a French word meaning everything went to shit).

It didn't take long before the easily duped commoners were enticed by a devil named Robespierre, who got his followers to round up all members of the nobility and put them to the guillotine.  Unfortunately, this reign of terror didn't stop with just eliminating the snooty powdered wig set; pretty much everyone who suggested the guillotine might be too extreme a punishment for simply disagreeing with the mob ended up with their heads in a basket as well. 

Thus, by the time the French revolution was over, 17,000 French men, women, and children who made the mistake of feeling it might be better if everyone just calmed down a bit and and talked this thing out found themselves canceled by the woke mob. Quite permanently.

So in the end the revolutionaries had become the ones ruling with fear and force and violence, which is to say they themselves became the spitting image of the right-wing ruling class bullies they were trying to rid France of.  The chaos finally ended when somebody else with enough power to crush that revolution came to power, a self-indulgent little twerp named Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon, himself a wealthy and well-connected right-winger, crushed the right-wingers who had crushed the right-wingers that came before them. Which is how this always works.

What About The Lefties?                                                                                                     You may have noticed I haven't said very much about left-wingers so far. That's because it's a useless distinction. Since right-wingers in high places have traditionally operated as a cabal of wealthy and powerful people intent on ruling over those they deem to be lesser beings, it would do well to recognize that throughout history virtually every so-called left-wing "revolution of the masses" has been funded and controlled by a wealthy right-wing cabal in order to finance the very chaos that they then heroically step in to crush. That is what has come to be known as Hegelian Dialectics: you operate behind the scenes to create an uprising so violent that the people demand something be done to end the chaos, then you step in with your handpicked lackeys to rescue the nation from the disaster you yourself created, which always results in a more oppressive police state "for the safety of the citizens."  Every seemingly "spontaneous uprising of the oppressed" -whether it be the French Revolution, the Russian and Chinese Revolutions, or the George Floyd Riots- has been encouraged and co-opted by powerful individuals who used these incidents as a means of consolidating greater power to themselves.

In other words, every left-wing revolution in modern times was actually orchestrated and financed by powerful people on the right, people who bore no relation to traditional conservatives or classical liberals; people who believe it is their inherent right to rule over everybody else. 

One reason the French Revolution remains a perfect case study is that it has proven to be a microcosm for all the violent revolutions that came after.  For instance, it was long claimed by some that the French Revolution was stage-managed behind the scenes by wealthy people who wanted the power of the throne for themselves, and who figured out a way to engineer the coup by getting the downtrodden masses to do their dirty work for them.  The revolutionaries would dethrone the monarch, leaving a power gap which the secret elites would then fill with some charismatic "leader" under their own control.

For some time, Western historians tended to ignore the evidence presented by researchers such as the
Abbot Augustin Barruel (a French priest who they ignored even though he was present during the revolution) and Nesta Helen Webster (an English scholar they simply dismissed as a kook). These two, and others like them, provided documented proof that Robespierre was actually a front man for the semi-secret Jacobin Club, a group of wealthy upper crusties who were the real architects of the conspiracy to take over the government of France. Mrs. Webster even provided evidence that the Bavarian Illuminati had been backing the Jacobins, which indicated a bigger conspiracy behind the conspiracy. These "conspiracy theories" were dismissed by most Western intellectuals, who felt it was all too incredible to pay any mind to.

But then came Dr. James H. Billington, a Rhodes scholar who taught at Harvard and Princeton before serving 28 years as the Librarian of Congress. Billington had all the proper bona fides, and was highly esteemed by his peers. So when he published his massive tome on the French Revolution, the truth -that the revolution was not a spontaneous uprising by the lower classes but had actually been engineered by upper class elites acting in secret- could no longer be ignored by the stuffy intelligentsia. 

Dr. Billington's 677 page thesis, published in 1980 under the title
Fire In The Minds Of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, didn't stop at the French Revolution. Billington showed how the same pattern later resulted in the communist revolutions of Marx and Engels. Indeed, American Professor Antony Sutton had for years been compiling documents showing how Joseph Stalin could not have come to power in Russia had he not been secretly financed by American bankersthe same bankers who bankrolled Hitler's massive war machine. 

How Conservatives Were Tricked Into Believing They Belong On The Right                                                           The problem with adopting political labels -or worse, imposing such labels on others- is that meanings are fluid and often little understood. For example, while today the word "radical" has a negative connotation, that wasn't always so.  As constitutional

scholar Gordon Wood has shown, America's founders were proudly radical in the true meaning of the word. The word "radical" means "root" (as does the word "radish," a vegetable that is pretty much nothing but a root). In contrast to the monarchies that had ruled all of Europe for centuries, the founders were attempting to return to the roots of proper government, such as had existed with the ancient Israelites.  The law of Moses prized the individual's right to self-determination, which stood in contrast to the monarchies that had ruled all of Europe for centuries since.

One of the things the Founders were aware of was that the Israelites recognized God as their judge, their lawgiver, and their king (Isaiah 33:22). So for more than three centuries the Israelites did very well without an earthly king ruling over them. That was what made them a peculiar people: unlike all the nations around them, the Israelites had no king.

But ask any kid in Junior High if he wants to be seen as peculiar and you'll understand the level of maturity held by the Israelites some three centuries after Moses. The Israelites didn't want to be peculiar, they wanted to fit in like everybody else.  So about 360 years after escaping the tyranny of the pharaoh in Egypt, all the elders of Israel went before the prophet Samuel and told him they wanted to have a king like all the other nations. Samuel was perturbed and took this to the Lord, who told Samuel the people could have their king if that's what they wanted, but from then on things were really gonna suck. It's all there in 1st Samuel 8: 4-20.  The elders said they didn't care, they wanted a king anyway, "that we may be like all the nations."

So that's what they got. All governmental control of the the people -authority that had previously been entrusted to God alone- was now in the hands of one man, Saul, the nation of Israel's first earthly king. So now Saul was the whole megillah: judge, lawgiver, the king all rolled into one.  As all of history has shown us, no man who has ever held such unchecked power has ever exercised it justly. Israel suffered under their kings, as did every European nation since, all the way up until 1776, when the god-fearing American colonists decided to go back to their Godly roots.

Now, the Founders realized that if they were to simulate a godly government where the power was held by the legislature, the judicial, and the executive, they were going to have to split those powers up between three separate groups because, as John Adams observed, men were not angels and could not be trusted to rule justly as God always does. 

The constitution those men hammered out for us is not perfect, and it never was going to be perfect because, as John Adams again reminds us, “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. So in spite of the fact that the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government were created to provide checks and balances between themselves, the government is still not going to police itself. All three branches have to be carefully watched by a moral and religious people to keep them all in check.

How The Right-Wingers Slipped In And Took Us Over                                                     Regardless of whether Americans have voted for Democratic or Republican candidates, we have been gradually losing control of our own government for some time, with the slide accelerating since the end of World War II, just after the United States had triumphed over the right-wing governments of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.  And that is largely because we unwittingly allowed two brothers who both happened to be overt Nazi sympathizers to be in control of America's National Security, one as the United States Secretary of State, the other as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The photo you see at the top left-hand corner of this page is a picture of those two villains. "Ironic" doesn't begin to describe the story you're about to read: almost immediately after America defeated the Nazis in World War II, we put two Nazi sympathizers entirely in charge of America's national security. You read that right: entirely in charge of America's friggin' national security!

As documented by David Talbot, author of The Devil's Chessboard, throughout the 1930s John Foster Dulles "harbored sympathy for the devil himself, Adolph Hitler." A business partner of Foster (both Dulles brothers were heavily invested in German businesses) is quoted as saying John Foster Dulles believed "that Germany's position is morally superior to that of the allies." This is the man who eventually rose to power in the Eisenhower administration.

We could talk all day about the stupidity of American politicians putting John Foster Dulles in charge of United States foreign policy, but I want to focus mainly on his brother, Allen Dulles, who was quick to see the advantages of colluding with Nazis both before and after the war. As Talbot writes,

"Like his brother, Allen Dulles was slow to grasp the malevolence of Hitler's regime. Dulles met face-to-face with Hitler in the Fuhrer's Berlin office in March 1933. He was ostensibly on a fact-finding mission to Europe for President Roosevelt, but Dulles was particularly interested in determining what Hitler's rise meant for his law firm's corporate clients in Germany and the United States. As Dulles subsequently informed his brother Foster, he did not find Hitler particularly alarming. And he was 'rather impressed' with Joseph Goebbels, remarking on the Nazi Propaganda chief's "sincerity and frankness.'" 
By the late 1930s Allen Dulles came to dismiss Nazi leaders as "Those mad people in control in Germany," but he continued to do business with the Nazi financial and industrial network.'" -David Talbot, The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Establishment, Part I, Section 1.

Due largely to his business connections in Germany, after the war Allen Dulles snagged a plum government assignment to help with mop-up operations in that defeated nation. The irony is that the Dulles brothers had more in common with Germany than with their own country. Foster Dulles in particular was suspected of collaborating with the enemy. Lucky for both of them, Allen Dulles was uniquely placed to destroy any incriminating evidence so that no investigation could get traction against the Dulles brothers.  As Stephen Edward Browne informs us, 

"Shredding of Nazi documents was a favorite tactic of Allen Dulles and his associates who stayed behind to run the occupation of postwar Germany.  Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg said that if Franklin Roosevelt had survived the war the Dulles brothers would have faced prosecution for war crimes.  He also said that both Dulles brothers were guilty of treason, but FDR died and no one else had the will to challenge them. Allen Dulles was a cold man who had little or no empathy for others.  Firms like Farben, Krupp, and Siemens got labor from the concentration camps.  Himmler cut himself and the SS in by charging the companies for the labor.  Dulles knew of the ongoing genocide in the death camps in Germany during WWII but did nothing to alert the U. S. Government. He went along with the official U.S. State Department policy of looking the other way.  After the war, the WWII wartime alliance with Russia was dead and Russia and communism was the new enemy.  Many of the Nuremburg defendants were released early due to quiet intervention by Allen Dulles, who worked with Nazis like spymaster Renhard Gehlen to help in the cold war against the Russians.  Once he became director, Allen Dulles turned the CIA from an intelligence gathering organization into an action machine that overthrew foreign governments." -Stephen Edward Browne, The Deep State Rides Again: How the Washington Establishment Continues to Try to Overturn the Will of the Voters. 
So, not only were the Dulles brothers not persecuted for war crimes, Allen Dulles managed to quietly sneak more than 1,600 former Nazi spies, scientists, engineers, and who-knows-whats into the United States and got them citizenship papers under the top secret Operation Paperclip, so that now these former Nazis could be hired to work for the CIA. Many of these newly minted U.S. citizens had been extremely devoted to Nazism, and some had been high ranking Nazi party leaders. Do you think these guys left their totalitarian ideology at the door when they went to work for the United States government? Of course they didn't. They continued to believe that the role of government is to control the people.  Like Dulles, they saw the CIA as a means of bringing the world under America's control through clandestine means, so those who arrived with a Third Reich mentality didn't have to make many adjustments to their worldview.  Never mind that before the war America was a constitutional republic. The CIA would work toward transforming America into an empire to be feared. As documented in Christopher Simpson's stunningly revelatory book Blowback: The First Full Account of America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Disastrous Effect on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy, this clandestine operation has proven to be destructive in ways that most Americans are still not aware of.   

Perhaps Allen Dulles' greatest success was the top secret Operation Mockingbird, wherein the CIA began a program to infiltrate all the major newspapers, TV, and radio outlets in America. They took control of the journalism schools with the result that now, several generations of journalism graduates later, the takeover of the mainstream media is complete. This was shocking news when it was first revealed by the Church Committee in 1976, but virtually no one has any doubts about it today. Operation Mockingbird still remains in play. Even as far back as the 1950s, 

"outlays for global propaganda climbed to a full third of the CIA's covert operations budget. Some 3,000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts. The cost of disinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated $265 million a year by 1978, a budget larger than the combined expenditures of Reuters, UPI and the AP news syndicates. -Alex Constantine, Mockingbird: The Subversion of the Free Press by the CIA. 

Now Get Ready For The Punchline:  

Both Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen Dulles, Director of the CIA were not wacky Left-wing Marxist members of the Democratic party like the CIA is filled with today. They were both registered Republicans. 

Does that mean those guys were conservatives? Hell no! Not by a long shot. They were no more traditional conservatives than were George Bush and Dick Cheney. And there wasn't anything liberal about either of them, either.  They were just straight up right-wing power hungry globalists wanting to reshape the world in their own image. And it's because of those guys that Republicans remain branded right-wingers to this day.

The simple reality is that Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commanding General of America's Armed Forces during World War II happened to be a Republican, and Eisenhower was elected president about the time the Dulles Brothers' political stars were on the rise. Party membership was malleable in those days; one needn't take a hard ideological position one way or the other in order to claim membership as a Republican or a Democrat. It was more a question of how and where you were raised. It's quite likely the Dulles brothers came from a long family line of Republicans, so when they attained voting age they naturally gravitated to the Republican party too. That didn't make them conservatives. It just made them opportunists.

Many East Coast Elites aligned themselves with the Republicans. You know the type: Harvard and Yale hoity-toity high society my-ancestors-came-over-on-the-Mayflower characters (think Thurston Howell the Third). Seven or Eight decades ago these establishment types landed on the Republican side, if only because that was the party a lot of these big money upper-crusties were brought up in. It all had more to do with family tradition than with rock-hard moral principles.

Conversely (and this is also just a general rule), fifty to eighty years ago Democrat voters tended to hail from the working class. This is why it's useless to categorize anyone from back then as Republican/Conservative or Democrat/Liberal. John F. Kennedy was by all accounts an upper-class Eastern blueblood, yet he was a Democrat. And when he ran for the Senate he ran as a conservative Democrat. Something like that is so foreign to modern political discourse that most folks today wouldn't be able to wrap their heads around it.

And as I pointed out in a previous post, the most conservative member of the Senate from 1975 to 1985 was Lawrence P. McDonald, a lifelong Democrat. Just compare his voting record to any Republican senator at the time. You'll see that this Democrat was a hardcore conservative.

Up until 1980, the overwhelming majority of rural southerners voted Democrat for no other reason than that was the way their mama, papa, granny, and grandpappy had always voted as far back as they could remember. Party affiliation was like a religion to a lot of American families. If you were a Baptist you always attended the Baptist church and if you were a democrat you always voted for democrats. Every single time.  For generations of Americans this tradition was sacrosanct.

Then suddenly, following the inflationary disasters brought on by the reckless spending under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, a massive wave of southerners switched from voting Democrat to voting  Republican, which helped sweep conservative Republican Ronald Reagan into the White House. This was a massive shift from members of a culture that had always blindly voted on straight party lines. But with their very livelihoods threatened, they had finally been shaken from their slumber into realizing that not all politicians had their best interests at heart. 

Meanwhile, it meant nothing at all for a Bond villain like Allen Dulles to identify as a Republican. He was neither a traditional conservative nor a classical liberal. He was just a hard-edged right-winger, every bit as dedicated to grasping for power as are the democratic politicians trying desperately to hold onto their positions today. The way Dulles got outed as a right-winger is this: liberal Democrats back in the 50s and 60s, (who were already beginning to drift away from the classical liberalism of the founders, but still astute enough to recognize skullduggery when they saw it) exposed the unconstitutional duplicity that Foster and Allen Dulles were engaging in. On the other hand, Republican voters by and large didn't notice because voters often are not in the habit of keeping a sharp eye on those they vote for; it's just human nature to trust your side to always be in the right.

But when the Democrats realized the intelligence agencies had gone rogue, and that they seemed to be emulating the right-wing regimes of the Nazis and Fascists, they sounded the alarm and declared that the Republicans running the national security state were acting a lot like those right-wing Nazis we Americans had just got finished defeating.

In time, calling a Republican a right-winger simply became a handy form of shorthand, an easy way to describe Republicans in general. And since the party of Republicans was the party most conservatives identified with, all conservatives began to be labeled right-wingers by their Democratic opponents. What I find surprising is the number of conservatives who readily embrace that label today.  If you are a conservative and you refer to yourself as being a right-winger, I would encourage you to stop that nonsense right this very instant.  And don't let anybody saddle you with that appellation against your will. Them there is fightin' words, Missy.

And further, don't let party membership be the thing that defines you politically. What should define you politically is whether you favor oppression or whether you favor liberty; whether you wish to have the right to rule yourself or have powerful people in high places ruling over you.  

By any measure, John F. Kennedy would never be elected president today on the Democratic ticket; he would be considered way too conservative. The right-wing, deep state Democratic party of today would destroy him before he ever got to the primaries. And don't forget: it was Kennedy who vowed to shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces because he could see they were were hijacking our Republic.

 Here's Stephen Edward Browne once again:

"Long before John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election to become president, the Dulles brothers, for the two terms of the Eisenhower administration, had formulated and implemented the foreign policy of the United States. They decided what needed to be done, they persuaded Eisenhower to approve whatever operation it was, and they then implemented that policy.  Sometimes Eisenhower gave the approval willingly and at other times they had to work on him for a while, but in the end, he almost always went along.  John Foster Dulles was Secretary of State and Allen Dulles was the Director of the CIA. By the time Kennedy arrived in the White House Allen Dulles was used to formulating and implementing the foreign policy of the United States. 
"Here we can see the beginning of what we now refer to as the Deep State.  These men were unelected bureaucrats with too much power who thought they knew better than the duly elected leaders and were arrogant enough to defy the will of those leaders.  Here are the denizens of the Deep State attempting to implement their policy in defiance of trivial aspects of life like the constitution and the will of the people or their elected leaders. (The Deep State Rides Again, ibid pg 106-107) 
Right-wingers in office, regardless of what you have been told, have never had anything remotely in common with conservatism.  Rather, they consist of the more powerful and entrenched politicians from both parties.  But more insidiously, right-wingers are most recognizable as members of Washington's permanent bureaucracy, those who have never been voted into office by the people and therefore cannot be voted out. Right-wingers are quite literally the entrenched Deep State.

"Having the government bureaucracy try to take over power from the existing leadership is not a new concept.  This has been going on since the beginning of civilization.  The Deep State in the U.S. consists of the crooked politicians, the FBI, the Justice Department, the intelligence community, the mainstream media, and a few others.  With a few relatively minor differences, the current crop of bad actors from these same institutions are still at it.  Now the U.S. intelligence community has grown to include over a dozen major intelligence agencies in addition to the CIA.  And the Deep State is still trying to overturn the will of the voters.  They still, a few generations later, have no intention of allowing democracy to work. They don't believe in our representative republic or our Constitution." (-Browne, The Deep State, ibid.) 

Before George Washington retired from government service (and it really was considered a "service" back then) his most important warning to posterity was that we should not meddle in the affairs of other nations. That was the wise counsel of our Lord when he told us His people were not to go up against any nation unless He Himself commanded us to. The dangers of meddling with others was also the forgotten message in the Book of Mormon. We are to let others run their own affairs. We are to remain neutral. 

Yet Allen Dulles lived by a completely different motto. He declared that "neutrality has increasingly become is an immoral and shortsighted conception."

The Dulles brothers introduced policies into our government that continue unquestioned to this day.  It's impossible to know how many millions have suffered and died because of the policies the Dulles brothers introduced to the world. They, and everyone who continues to believe as they did, are the immoral ones of this world. 

So Where Do We Go From Here?
Allen Dulles is long gone, as are the Nazis he recruited to help run the national security state. But long before any of them retired, others just like them were recruited to take their places, until today, with very few exceptions, a virtual army of politicians and bureaucrats with Nazi mindsets and Fascist points of view continue to replicate in government. Don't let them fool you; yesterday's fascists have become the socialists and communists of today.  There never was a dime's worth of difference between the nazis and the communists; they were all totalitarians.  The far right and the far left were vying for control and now it looks like the far right and the far left have settled in and taken off the mask.

Today the right-wingers have all moved over to the Democratic party. The Deep State has become solidly Democratic and they own the politicians who are the face of that party.  But this modern brand of "liberalism" is  just the phony disguise they wear to try to convince us all they are the party of compassion.  These swamp dwellers apparently thought that by cheating their way through the last election they would remain in power indefinitely, so they made the grave mistake of no longer hiding their intention to rule us completely. When they rant and rave of about "democracy" being in danger, what they are really saying is they're afraid their autocracy is in danger of being overturned. 

Today it is the Democrats in office who barely hide their lust for power. Nearly every ostensible "right-wing" bureaucrat now boasts that they are democrats, that they are liberals, that they care only about the downtrodden and forgotten.  Don't you believe them. They have taken total control of the government -at least they think they have. That's why the battle often seems so difficult; so long as the right-wing Nazi Fascists in government have control of the avenues of information and near control of both parties, they will continue to have the upper hand. They will continue to try to get the voters way down here below Mount Olympus, both liberals and conservatives, to fight among ourselves so we don't wake up and realize that evil people in high places have taken control of our government and want to rule over us on their terms.  

But all that may be changing. I'm optimistic that we may be on the verge of something resembling a national repentance. A massive populist uprising seems to be taking hold; where the people are coming to realize that the entire left/right political paradigm has been a scam to keep us fighting each other when we should be fighting the political machine. This populist awakening is occurring not just in America, but all over the world.  Other nations have already flipped the switch by voting out those who would rule them through force. Can we accomplish something similar? Will we be able to peacefully turn this thing around and gently send these Deep State buzzards back into the bowels of hell where they belong?

There's an election coming up. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.                                                            

Related Post: What This Country Needs Is A Lot More Liberals


UPDATE Tuesday November 1st, 2022:

A bombshell report released yesterday by   The Intercept has provided proof for what we have suspected all along: When it came to censorship, Twitter and Facebook have been taking their marching orders from the Deep State, particularly the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, with the FBI often used as their enforcement arm. The receipts were inadvertently left behind at Twitter when its top executives were fired. Read this important piece of investigative journalism here.


In case you were wondering: If the Americans who fought the revolutionary war were the radicals, who were the conservatives? Well, those were the Tories, the ones who opposed the revolution and wanted America to remain under the rule of King George. These conservatives didn't call themselves Tories, of course, as that was considered a slur. They saw themselves as Loyalists, because they were loyal to the king. And they saw the revolutionary war not as a war for independence, but a civil war between the themselves and the radicals. The loyalists were the original American "conservatives."

It's been estimated that 15-25% percent of the people living in America in those days held these conservative views and they hated the radical liberals who fought against their king. But since they were outnumbered by the radicals, most of them learned to keep their opinions to themselves. After the war most of them moved up to Canada around the area now known as Ontario, where they could remain under the benevolent protection of their precious King.

It should be noted that the key characteristic of a conservative in those days was that conservatives were opposed to change -pretty much any change. Conservatives wanted things to stay the way they had always been, and since the colonial conservatives had always been governed by a king, they wanted to continue to be governed by a king. Scottish philosopher David Hume (who died in 1776 so he missed out on all the excitement) was probably the most prominent name in the nascent Conservative movement, but he was not highly thought of by many liberals at the time. (So what else is new? liberals and conservatives seem to have been at odds since the beginning, even though yesterday's liberals are today's conservatives!) John Stuart Mill, also a philosopher but a classical liberal as well, said of Hume, 
“regard for truth formed no part of his character.”

Ain't that the way it's always been? Liberals and conservatives wasting energy maligning each other instead of uniting to fight against the powers that be, whether those powers be intolerant kings or intolerant politicians.

Notes & Asides & Additional Links                                                     If you found this essay of interest you'll want to be sure and check out Book of Mormon Perspectives, beginning with the author's first essay, Gadiantons and the State  After that I recommend you keep going, as this author will take you deep, deep down the rabbit hole. The author is extremely prolific, so much so that I can't keep up. The most recent post I've read over there is titled Demons in Alien's Clothing and it is compelling! Everything on that platform will provide you food for thought for more than a week.

I bought my copy of Dr. Billington's Fire in the Minds of Men back in 1982, long before the internet. It was quite fascinating, but it's a massive tome that took me quite a while to get through. Now I see that some guy has hosted a presentation in at least three parts of an hour or so each, so if you're the kind of person who prefers audio to text, you might want to take a look at it. I haven't watch it yet myself, but he seems to be reading large chunks (or maybe all) of the book and giving his analysis as he goes. Here's where you'll find Part One. 

Or, if you're short on time, here's the four minute review.

There's a plethora of recently published books on the Deep State, so if the topic intrigues you (and I hope it does) just do a search of the words "Deep State" and take your pick. I own the one referenced above as well as one by Peter Dale Scott, one of the last of the breed of great journalists.  Both are well documented and heavily footnoted. Oh yeah I also own one volume of the three volume set by Jeremy Stone but I haven't read it yet so I can't tell you what I think. Check it out for yourself by downloading a Kindle sample. 

Some months ago I presented a concise discussion on the Bavarian Illuminati in a post I titled Let's Talk About Conspiracies!

I couldn't link to the comment at Facebook's Mormon Stories Podcast Group from the guy I who called me a right-winger because I have been banned by that platform and I can't get back in to look for it.  Would you like to see the piece that got me banned? Here it is.

I have written several screeds against the recent wars the Deep State has led this country into, but I don't really have a favorite. (I wish everybody would read every one of them.) The first post I ever wrote on this blog was called Toby Keith and the Destruction of the Nephites, but another one I think may be chock full of information the two-parter titled When Mormons Take The Lord's Name in Vain. 

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment if you're so inclined. The number of comments have dried up in recent months and I'm not sure why. I guess everyone's too busy watching Youtube videos to comment on blogs anymore.  At least that's what I've been doing with a lot of my time.