Wednesday, December 21, 2011

So Soon Removed … (?)

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (New Testament Galatians 1:6)
Have we become advocates of another gospel of:
▪ following the profits?
▪ win at all costs?
▪ self-sufficiency?
▪ self-interest?
▪ appearances?
▪ pride?
▪ excess?
▪ glory-seeking?
▪ being a law unto self?
▪ meritorious entitlements?
▪ scorning the poor and needy?
▪ forgetfulness and ingratitude?
▪ compartmentalized morals and politics?
I listen to self-proclaimed “Christians,” to defenders of capitalist “democracy,” to “free-market” devotees, and much of what I hear is the song of Babylon. The pursuit of gain. Déjà vu Cain & company—millennium one.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In Defense of Peter


Saint Peter
6th-century encaustic icon
from Saint Catherine's Monastery
Mount Sinai
Public Domain Wikimedia Commons
Every so often the topic of the Apostle Peter’s denials surfaces for discussion, and each time, I have felt we were missing something vital in the accepted interpretation of those accounts. Then in the early 1990s, I read a talk[1] by Pres. Spencer W. Kimball that opened the door, just a crack, for re-analysis. I decided to put my thoughts into a one-act play, “Witness for Peter” and did so in 1995. (It has remained, with minor tweaks, in various incarnations of electronic storage since that time.) Several years after writing it, I discovered a talk[2] by Bruce C. Hafen, then president of Ricks College, wherein the crack for re-analysis widened. Then in 2005, I encountered a discussion[3] at TimesandSeasons.org wherein a Greek word was presented as a trump against such re-analysis. In defense of Peter, I left a comment as follows:
11/4/2005 at 8:04 pm
Belated caution re post #17
  Proposition: As no original manuscripts remain to prove the compositional language(s) of the Gospels; as there is no consensus amongst scholars or historians about the use of Greek in those originals; as most of the relied-upon, copied texts for the KJV are distant from the original authors by several hundred years; as interpretive choices in translation work, even by well-meaning translators, can, and often do, change meaning and intent (not to mention, “corrective” or “correlative” interpolations made by copyists and translators); therefore, it is questionable whether we know the precise words spoken by the Lord and whether the words have been accurately transmitted (e.g., compare the synoptic gospels with John’s). And more to the point, we cannot know with certainty how the Lord meant His words—probably spoken in Aramaic—to be understood.
  Perhaps, in fairness to Peter, the safest course is not to take a dogmatic position either way, but to ask, as Spencer W. Kimball, “Are we sure of his motive in that recorded denial?” And then, to not be afraid of uncertainty about the matter (see, Bruce C. Hafen, “On Dealing with Uncertainty,” BYU Devotional, 9 January 1979, Ensign, Aug. 1979, 63-4 where he also addresses the Peter question).
Two days ago, (Nov. 29, 2011) I discovered a thoughtful, scholarly analysis[4] by Andrew Skinner, that is worth the consideration of every soul who wonders about Peter—an analysis that seems to ably answer the “Greek trump.”

Not only does the command interpretation appear possible, but does it not fit within the pattern of “Abrahamic” tests that God seems to require of all who follow in the footsteps of His Son? A pattern that requires a complete submission of will[5], of nature, of passion, and sometimes, of possessions (Mark 10:17-22)? If Christ had to suffer great contradiction[6], and Abraham, Job, Mary & Joseph, Joseph & Emma, and nigh every scriptural prophet, and many saints and sages in the triumph over self, why not Peter?

For some this is an intensely emotional issue. For them it deeply offends the scriptural account. Yet, is it not strange that the Apostle John, who was present at the trials and witness to the events first-hand, does not include any remark about Peter's sudden recollection of his Lord's words when the cock crew?

Also, in this analysis, the inconsistencies in Peter's character do not arise. As well, Peter seems to have had no reservation about rushing to the empty tomb or of meeting his risen Master three days after his awful denial; nor did the Church seem to hold Simon Peter in less esteem for what would surely have been seen as a monumental failing. So shouldn't we be willing to hear all the evidence before making as reasoned a  judgment as possible in the circumstances?

Of course, we cannot know the full truth of that night, but does it not seem credible that this was a night of supreme testing for Peter, which, as we see with Abraham and others, came as a nigh unbearable contradiction (and denial) of his bold character and convictions—to submit his will, against every inclination, to God’s will?

Even if it turns out that Simon Peter failed this test[7], the account still testifies to the great cleansing power of repentance and to the efficacy of the realized atonement.

----------------------/
[1] Given in 1971 and now found at http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/GenlAuthorities/PeterMyBrother.pdf
[2] Given in 1979 and now found at http://lds.org/ensign/1979/08/on-dealing-with-uncertainty?lang=eng
[3] http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2005/02/peter/
[4] http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/211FOLDER/Peters%20Denial.pdf
[5] http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/search/label/WILL
[6] http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/2009/09/agony-of-contradictions.html
[7] I am aware of Pres. Hinckley’s talk on Peter, but find other thoughts and analyses far more persuasive.

See also: http://troygparker.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/peters-denial-prediction-or-command/

I hope in the near future to publish my one-act, one-person play, Witness for Peter, at Scribd.com.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Plague of False Witness

(or How Technology Can Be Misused)

In 1971, Richard L. Evans said:
Among the many human faults and failings there is one that seems peculiarly persistent, and that is, gossiping—whispering; spreading rumors that travel like a windswept fire from ear to ear and sometimes destroy, without conscience, the good name of a man, the reputation of an institution, or even the pride and confidence of a country. To speak abusive words in public, to put libelous statements in print, and to bear false witness in court are offenses that can be traced to their source. But to let words loose on a whisper that sweeps from ear to ear and from lip to lip, and that suggests more than it says, is in some ways among the worst forms of bearing false witness. And because of our receptiveness to gossip and our eagerness to be the first to tell something, we perhaps involve ourselves in the spread of what is false and unfounded oftener than we would wish to admit. (emphasis added, "The Spoken Word," Ensign, Sept. 1971, 43)
Now, forty years later, technology has presented us with the means to spread falsehood to a thousand itching "eyes" via emails, forwards, blogs, and tweets, and from thence to a thousand itching ears.

How ready we seem to pass on information that has been passed to us, without the least effort at seeking to verify its truth or real application. And whether the news is "good" or bad does it make any difference, if it is false?

Perhaps we do not offend in the weightier matter of deliberately lying, but when we pass on a falsehood that has its origin in deliberate untruth, do we not become an accomplice to the act?

In this world of competitive markets and politics, why do we so often act as though we can implicitly trust what we see and hear from one side without fact-checking? Without running the claims of profit-seekers (of every stripe) through the prisms of skepticism and thoughtful questioning until the truth can be established?

We are all susceptible to varying degrees of false witness because of preconceptions, allegiances and biases, but with 21st Century ready access to verifiable data, why do we remain so vulnerable to propaganda? So ready to believe it? To pass it on? So ready to discount or ignore the disconnect between words and evidence? How relevant the words of Elder Evans for our technological age!

Friday, November 25, 2011

No Mistake?


From Wikimedia Commons
*Fotograf: Walter J. Pilsak, Waldsassen
 *Copyright Status:
 GNU Freie Dokumentationslizenz
On occasion I have had Christian visitors who sought to question my belief in the Bible. Sometimes I have tried to defend myself and sometimes I have listened. Let me give a virtual composite of what some Mormons experience.

"Now how can you say I am damned?" I asked my zealous visitor.

"Because, right here in Mark," she said, leafing through her well-used copy of the Bible, "it says that the unbeliever is damned. Right here, Mark 16:16, ... `he that believeth not shall be damned.'"

"Could I see that?" I asked and she showed me.

"But you didn't ask me that," I said. "I believe the Christian gospel—I truly do."

"The gospel is the Bible and you're damned for you don't believe it. You said you didn't."

"No, I didn't say that. I said, I didn't believe it was infallible."

"That is blasphemy," she said. She sounded deeply shocked.

"Do you mean to tell me that there is not one error in translation? That every word is gospel truth? That there are no inconsistencies?"

Her companion took up the answer. "This is God's book. He does not make mistakes. He does not allow mistakes."

"Pardon me," I said, "could we talk about the allow part. I thought He let us choose. From my point I see quite a few mistakes."

"You know what I mean," the companion said and her voice was cajoling. "This book does not have one untruth. And if you would let God soften your heart you could be saved."

"Then maybe you are the very people I need," I said, "for there is a lot I don't understand. Like could I ask you some questions?"

"We only have a few minutes," the zealous one said.

"You think my heart is hard?" I asked.

"Satan deceives many," she said and her voice was firm.

"But I am a truth seeker," I said. "Honest, I am."

"You must give yourself over to God," she said more gently, seeing a glimmer of hope. "Before it is too late. You must cast out of your life the one who hardens men's hearts."

"I do read the Bible," I said. "And I think my Bible is OK. It's the King James translation, so I think it should be all right?"

"Yes, that is a good Bible," they both said and nodded in unison.

"Well, from what you said—about hardened hearts?—I have to ask—it's this Pharaoh business that confuses me."

"This Pharaoh business?" the companion said and they glanced sideways at one another.

"Why would the LORD harden the heart of Pharaoh? That's what I wonder."

"Pharaoh was a wicked man. He is responsible for himself," the zealous one said. Her voice was even firmer and I watched her fingers tighten on the dark worn wood of her cane.

"So why does it say that the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh?" I asked.

"It doesn't say that," she said in a voice to end the discussion and she taped the knotted cane on the thick sole of her shoe.

I showed her the place. She mouthed the words of Exodus 9:12* and then she said in the same voice as before. "It means just what I said."

"Oh!" I said, as she tapped on the thick sole of her shoe. I was going to show her the other "hard" places, but decided to let the Pharaoh pass.

"There's also another question," I said and began turning to find Paul's accounts of his famous encounter on the road to Damascus.

"You see what you want to see," she said, "and we are not interested in your traps." She turned to her companion. "I'm ready," she said, rising upon the thick and thin soles of her adjusted stride. And then to me in a studied, pleasant voice, she said, "I'm sorry, but we have to go. And I hope that one day before it is too late that you will choose to hear the voice of God."

"But that's what I wanted to ask," I said. "Did they or didn't they? I just want to know."

"Who?" the companion said.

"We're going," the zealous one said.

"Paul's companions," I said. "Did they or didn't they?"

"Did they or didn't they what?" the companion said.

"We can't stay," the other said.

"Hear the voice," I said. "Did they or didn't they hear it?"

"Do you know?" the companion asked hesitantly turning to her colleague.

"Paul heard and that's what's important," the zealous one said and shut the screen door upon their departure and I heard the companion say again as they turned down the walk, "Do you know?"

And her colleague said, "My, I dislike this cold weather. Spring will be so nice."

I closed the heavy door against the brisk air and went to stand before the sofa which my two visitors had just vacated.

"You see," I said, holding my KJV Bible up before their absent faces. "One place it says they did (Acts 9:7) and another it says they didn't (Acts 22:9). Which is right?** Or does it make any difference? I just wanted to say that I think some things are allowed."

I heard again the tapping of the cane on the thick sole.

"Human things have happened to this book, too," I said. "It does not have to be perfect to be useful and good. That is all I wanted to say."

-------------------/
"Article of Faith 8: We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. (Joseph Smith, "The Wentworth Letter," March 1, 1842; see History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 535-541)

* Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of Exodus 9:12: "And Pharaoh hardened his heart, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD has spoken unto Moses." Other JST corrections at Exodus 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17.

** JST of Acts 9:7: "And they who were journeying with him saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him who spake to him."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

WILL we ever get it? (Part 1)

(CAPS, color, bold, etc. are my emphasis throughout)

“Come, follow me,” the Savior said.[1]
I am Jesus Christ; I came by the WILL of the Father, and I do his WILL. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 19:24)

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own WILL, but the WILL of the Father which hath sent me. (New Testament John 5:30)

… These words are not of man nor of men, but of me, even Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, by the WILL of the Father. … (Doctrine and Covenants Section 31:13)

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the WILL of him that sent me, and to finish his work.[2] (New Testament John 4:34)

Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the WILL of the Son being swallowed up in the WILL of the Father. (Book of Mormon Mosiah 15:7)

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be WILLING, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my WILL, but thine, be done. (New Testament Luke 22:41-42)

…, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the WILL of the Father in all things from the beginning. (Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 11:11)
-----------------/
[1] From the LDS Hymn book (1985), # 116 Come Follow Me (Text: John Nicholson, 1839-1909; Music: Samuel McBurney, b. 1847)
[2] What is that work? “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Pearl of Great Price Moses 1:39)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WILL we ever get it? (Part 2)

(CAPS, color, bold, etc. are my emphasis throughout)

Then let us in his footsteps tread, …[1]
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy WILL be done in earth, as it is in heaven. … (New Testament Matthew 6:9-10)

And he [Jesus] answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the WILL of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. (New Testament Mark 3:33-35)

Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again. And whoso is not WILLING to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 103:27-28)

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye WILL, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear[3] much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (New Testament John 15:7-8; notice the pre-conditions and the many other scriptural clarifications. )

Behold this is my WILL; ask and ye shall receive [my WILL?]; but men do not always do my WILL. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 103:31)

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the WILL of God, ye might receive the promise. (New Testament Hebrews 10:36)

And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you WILL in the name of Jesus and it shall be done. But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; (Doctrine and Covenants Section 50:29-30)

Blessed art thou, Nephi, … [thou] hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my WILL, and to keep my commandments. And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my WILL. (Book of Mormon Helaman 10:4-5)

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, WILL of God. (New Testament Romans 12:2)

And if ye seek the riches which it is the WILL of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, FOR ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 38:39)

Yea, I know that God WILL give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God WILL give me, if I ask not amiss; … (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 4:35)

For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my WILL—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 76:10)

“…, the submission of one’s WILL is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual WILLS be swallowed up in God’s WILL, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 24)

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the WILL of God abideth for ever. (New Testament 1 John 2:17)
--------------------------/
[1] From the LDS Hymn book (1985), # 116 Come Follow Me (Text: John Nicholson, 1839-1909; Music: Samuel McBurney, b. 1847

[3] Notice it says, “bear much fruit”; not “be given much fruit.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

WILL we ever get it? (Part 3)

(CAPS, color, bold, etc. are my emphasis throughout)

“While trav’ling thru this vale of tears?”[1]
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, WILLING to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Book of Mormon Mosiah 3:19)

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 9:28-29)

Wherefore, my beloved brethren [and sisters], reconcile yourselves to the WILL of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 10:24)
And what is the will of the devil and the flesh? What does this Lucifer ask Adam and Eve in the LDS temple drama?[4] He asks “What is it you want?” Is that not the very question the “Prosperity Gospel” asks? The very focus of the Law of Attraction? What is it YOU want? What is YOUR WILL? YOUR wish, YOUR dream, YOUR fondest desire? Wasn’t that the substance of the Three Temptations? “I can GIVE YOU anything you could possibly need or desire. … Look to me because I’m the one with the material goods. I’ll come through for you. You can have anything in this world.” A fixation on “GIVE ME”?[5.a&b]

Yet all the while, the adversary’s goal is to captivate the shortsighted soul. Remember Jabez Stone and Daniel Webster? Remember Faust? For in the strange paradox of life, those who give their WILL to God shall be added upon[6] (trusted with increasing powers?) while those who pursue their own worldly WILL (without repentence), will lose because they cannot be trusted even with what they have.
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (New Testament Matthew 10:39)

And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 60:3)
What a subtle twist we have fallen into—preached now from too many pulpits—that God is there to do OUR WILL. Just ask Him. Get in the right frame—the right wave-length of attraction—the right flow of the universe. Then the riches of the world will flood into your life. And if they don’t, it’s your fault; you haven’t gotten in sync, yet. But don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. Buy our books and DVDs. Attend our courses and lectures. Talk to God. Talk to yourself. Talk to us. (Just don’t run this “my will” through the prism of scripture though! Don’t read too deeply about the apostles and prophets or the Son of God! Their lives don’t exactly reflect OUR more attractive reality. It’s a great mystery! That’s why we don’t mention it!)

Even if we claim, our chief motive is to give back to God, or “our neighbor”, or the universe, is it really so? Or are we an enriched version of the church at Ephesus, becoming so distracted by our second love (of riches?), we forget there was even a first love before riches?[7] Thinking our sacrifices in service, our donations to deserving causes, our tithing of temporal blessings constitute full measure (and running o’er) of all that is required? OR are we already déjà vu Nephites?[8]

WILL we ever get it that we are on a proving ground?[9] That we are not wise enough, faithful, charitable, disciplined, enlightened, just, nor visionary enough to know what is best in the eternal WILL and plan of things[10]?

WILL we ever get it that our daily plea must be:
… thy word must be fulfilled. Help thy servants to say, with thy grace assisting them: Thy WILL be done, O Lord, and not ours (Doctrine and Covenants Section 109:44)?[11]
----------------------/

[1] From the LDS Hymn book (1985), # 116 Come Follow Me (Text: John Nicholson, 1839-1909; Music Samuel McBurney, b. 1847)

[2] What is that work? “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Pearl of Great Price Moses 1:39)

[3] Notice it says, “bear much fruit”; not “be given much fruit.”

[4] While teaching some of these concepts on discipleship to a Relief Society group, this insight was brought to my attention by a perceptive class member.

[5.a] AND I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore GIVE ME thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy WILL be done, and the glory be thine forever. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should GIVE unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Pearl of Great Price Moses 4:1-4)

[5.b] Of course, God gives us things also, but His goal in giving gifts (and trials) is for our growth, not our obsessions. The gifts He prefers to give—even directs that we ask for—are spiritual gifts, as in 1 Corinthians 12 and Doctrine and Covenants 46 (v. 8 “… and that ye may not be deceived SEEK YE EARNESTLY the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;”). Proverbs makes it clear: “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired ARE NOT TO BE COMPARED TO IT. … Riches and honour are with me; yea, DURABLE RICHES and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.” (Old Testament Proverbs 8:10-11, 18-19)

[6] And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. (Pearl of Great Price Abraham 3:26)

[7] “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (New Testament Revelation 2:4-5)

See also: “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you. But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Book of Mormon Jacob 2:17-19)

[8] And if ye seek the riches which it is the WILL of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 38:39)

[9] And we will prove them herewith, to see if they WILL do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; (Pearl of Great Price Abraham 3:25) And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the WILL of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:21)

[10] But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:24)

[11] Author’s concession: Of course, some may be rich and living in perfect harmony with God’s WILL, but the margin is so slim, it should keep one awake at night, reviewing one’s day. God and his prophets don’t get much more superlative than “wo, wo, wo” as in Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 28. And from my opinionated opinion, this includes the Church of the Laissez-faire ( http://dejavu-times.blogspot.com/2011/03/econ-009-church-of-laissez-faire.html )

NOTE: a very insightful article on a 3-fold test for discerning the will of God in one's life can be found in the last three paragraphs of the article "32. Jacob's Departure From Haran: Genesis 31" at http://pbministries.org/books/pink/Gleanings_Genesis/genesis_32.htm

Friday, October 14, 2011

How long?

(Reader’s caution: Perhaps this writer has read Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Malachi, & the Book of Mormon too many times! Now juxtaposed against the latest pundits!)

How long till seeing we see, hearing we hear, and reading we understand? Reviewing the dismal records of past “chosen” peoples,[1] shouldn’t we, in this latter-day, exercise extreme caution in attaching ourselves to philosophies and precepts of the world, especially economic ones. Ask yourself: What is Babylon (the archenemy of Zion) if not our present corrupted capitalism? READ HER DESCRIPTIONS.[2] She is NOT the failed scarcities of socialism and communism that many conservatives decry with such passion and naiveté. Yes, naiveté, because the decoy is so transparent when one identifies the ways and means and agendas of Babylon. Many “conservatives” beat the drums of fear about “European socialism,” while touting the “rights” and wonders of global markets (wrapped in free-flowing camouflage). But at core, we have a global plutocracy that maligns and manipulates governments, scorns rules and regulations,[3] claims special status as BIG employers, pollutes, cooks books and tax shelters, lies, steals, abuses, wounds, enslaves, etc., etc., etc.

The hook-line-and-sinker avowals of faith in conservatism, capitalism, and (so-called) free-markets fall so readily from the lips of so many Mormons (and other Christians), it is stunning. Almost as stunning as that “believers” should think Fox News employees and similarly-scripted pundits (all beneficiaries of Babylon?) are prophets of truth and defenders of freedom.

Babylon loves such prophets. They distract—gesticulating at the flat tires of socialism while Babylon pick-pockets in broad daylight. These “prophets” malign protestors who gather at B.’s banks and temples (of commerce). These “prophets” deride those who seek to assert their “bill of rights” vis-à-vis the faux-persons of corporate dominance and power/wealth concentration. These “prophets” peddle their fake brands of fairness, balance, freedom, merit, constitutionalism, corporatism, and righteousness.

How long will we play the fool AND the harlot as investors and debtors in Babylon—praying that someday soon the doors of promise will open to admit us into the higher ranks of “following the profits”?

How long will we look to such false prophets (and profits)? How long will we be suckered by Babylon’s propaganda? How long till we start to use our heads and think beyond the dogma of big business and finance? How long till we befriend the Constitution so that it belongs to all mankind[4] instead of to wealthy, powerful faux-persons[5]? How long till we remember the divine directive:
Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name; (Doctrine and Covenants Section 101:97, emphasis added)?
See also: http://dejavu-times.blogspot.com/2011/01/are-we-serfing-yet.html

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[1] Jaredites, House of Israel (remember there were 12 brothers so Judah wasn't alone in receiving/deserving chastisement!). Remember also those broken-off branches: Mulekites and Nephites/Lamanites. “Chosen” is used in the sense of chosen: 1) to deliver messages to the world of faith, hope, charity, and truth; 2) to be an example of those virtues to others; and 3) to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all places. "Chosen-ness is not just a claim of religious peoples. Remember the sense of  “manifest destiny” of such empires as the Roman, the British, etc.
[2] e.g., New Testament Revelation 17 & 18; compare with Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 13:4-9, 25-34; 14:10-13.
[3] (except those they lobby for, for their own welfare)
[4] "And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me. Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn." (Doctrine and Covenants Section 98:5-9)
[5] http://dejavu-times.blogspot.com/2011/02/econ-005-person.html

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Which Church?*

(Questions for the latter-day believer)

*[I acknowledge and thank Anne Graham Lotz for sparking my reflections herein with her book: The Vision of His Glory, first published in 1996 with the subtitle, Finding Hope through the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Page references for quotes are from the 2009 edition.]

Chapter two of the book of Revelation begins with a critique of seven churches in seven city-towns inhabited by Christians. Have you ever asked yourself which church describes YOU? Is that what God (and John) hoped we would ponder (and self-assess) as tHey prepared to reveal the catastrophic prophecies of the latter days? So let us ask:

Church of Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7): Am I one of God’s faithful servants, shunning evil, exercising patience, enduring much, and discerning true leaders from false ones—YET giving so much time and energy to service-works that I have little left for God? Is that what God meant in accusing the Ephesians of leaving their first love? Was it a direct reference to Jesus’ words?
… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:35-39).
How much time, thought, energy, passion do I give to inner work—reading the Word, pondering, meditating, praying, listening, hearing, communing, worshipping? Or in the words of Anne Graham Lotz: Am I “deluded by the importance of service”?[1] (p. 44)

Church in Smyrna (Rev. 2: 8-11): Am I one of God’s faithful, oppressed by tribulation and poverty—feeling more dead than alive (perhaps even desiring death to life)? Do I feel alienated from (perhaps envious of) those who seem more chosen, blessed, rewarded? Have I begun to doubt myself, my purpose, my mission—and maybe even God? Do I feel inconsequential in the great scheme of things? Have I begun to fear that I cannot endure—that I cannot overcome? Am I tempted to give up? Have I forgotten that “blessed” in the eyes of God means to “buy of [God] gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest by clothed … (Rev. 3:18)? Am I tired of well-doing without worldly reward? Am I deluded by thoughts that God’s reward for a righteous life should be a richer, easier one and that without such a life my endurance and testimony are not enough?

Church in Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17): Am I surrounded on all sides by the world and its philosophies and though I have kept the faith, do I find myself blending the Word of God with many of those philosophies—dulling the sharpness of God’s two edged sword? Trying to accommodate His mysteries to the dogmas of scientific theories? Trying to fit in? Hoping not to be too peculiar? Worrying about offending my neighbor with my beliefs and practices? Hiding God’s light under a bushel? Do I, like Balaam, find myself devising ways to circumvent or rationalize God’s words?[2] Or as Anne puts it: Am I “deluded by the importance of society’s intellectual and religious sophistication”? (p. 50)

Church in Thyatira (Rev. 2: 18-29) Do I say and do all the expected things, while at the same time entertaining alternatives? Do I think about justifications (sometimes spiritual) for doing things that are questionable (or things that tempt or glorify me)? Do I listen to leaders (or devoted followers) who excuse my sins because of my gifts, charisma, provocations, etc.? (On the other hand, do I excuse “Jezebels” because of their eloquence, motivations, etc.?) Do I consider that my failings and sins are not that important? That repentance is not so hard or that God will “beat” me with only a few stripes and then all will be well? Am I deluded, thinking that the mercy of God can rob His justice?

Church at Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6): Am I a hypocrite? Do I say one thing and do (or feel) another? Do I present a spiritual face to foster/maintain my own glory and reputation? Do I criticize others for the very sins that I commit in secret? Do I claim that worldly success witnesses God’s favor and my good standing in His eyes? Do I look down upon those who are not as blessed as I; even to consider them unworthy of God’s (or my) help/association? In the words of Anne: Am I “deluded by the importance of status symbols of wealth and power and success and spiritual maturity”? (p. 54)

Church in Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13): Am I one who waits patiently on the Lord (as He tutors me in the trials of faith, hope, and charity)? One who keeps the Word of God (because I know it)? One who does not deny His name (because I confess Him and seek His forgiveness for my sins and failings), even when I feel without strength? Do I know He opens doors for me that none can shut; and shuts doors that none can open? Do I know that He is, was, and will forever be holy and true? Do I trust that in the great cataclysms to come (Rev. 4-22), He can be trusted to keep His every promise, whether I live or die?[3] Am I one who has no delusions about the wisdom, power, and majesty of God? Do I know He is my strength, my hope, my salvation?

Church of the Laodiceans (Rev. 3:14-22): Am I lukewarm in my commitments—lackadaisical in manifesting my love for God and my fellow beings? Am I more committed to my own schedule and agenda than God’s voice and purposes? Am I rich, increased in goods, having need of nothing (except perhaps more of the excess that I already have)? Do I take pride in being self-sufficient? Am I convinced that I am doing everything right? That whatever service I give is more than sufficient? Do I watch for personal advantage more than for signs of the times? As Anne concludes: Am I “deluded by the importance of [my]self” ? (p. 54)

Six of the seven churches were rebuked, chastened, and warned (Rev. 3:19). All seven were given promises.[3] What will it take for me to find myself in the company of those who overcome?[3]

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[1] And what does God say about the consequences of that imbalance? See Rev. 2:5: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
[2] Numbers 22-24; 31:16; Pet. 2:15; Jude 1:11. Also see Louis Ginzberg’s The Legends of the Jews, vol. 3:381 and The Book of Jasher, p. 92, v.6 which details Balaam’s advice on how to set the children of Israel up for destruction (the reversal of God’s blessings) through enticing them into idolatry and fornication.
[3] > He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
> He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Revelation 2:11)
> He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17)
>And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 2:26-29)
>He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:5-6)
>Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:12-13)
>To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:21-22)

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Question of Perspective (and Priors)?

[Ponderings on the 21st Century rehabilitation (?) of Paul H. Dunn]

Recently I encountered a presentation by Greg Prince[1] in which he seemed to discount the “embellishments” of Paul H. Dunn[2] (1924-1998) because
1) the pressures of performance were so great;
2) most everyone was/is doing it;
3) it was done in the spirit of metaphor & parable; and
4) the “embellishments” involved only two stories.
BUT

1) Are not the pressures of performance part of the test of integrity—and amongst the Three Temptations? If one feels the need to fabricate/embellish (without disclosure)—WHY? To create/maintain reputation? For the satisfaction/renown of changing lives/perspectives? For the sake of “lifting the people” (58:00) with inspiring insights? But WHY fabricate when there are many verifiable, awe-inspiring stories from the lives of others? WHY did Paul Dunn need to be the hero of his inspirational fabrications? Does this have any déjà vu likeness to casting oneself from a pinnacle in order to witness how God did miraculously intervene in one’s life?[3] We are all subject to temptation and Paul Dunn is not alone in succumbing (in whatever degree) to the ubiquitous temptation of “puffing résumé.” Nor is he alone in having defenders who countenance questionable acts because they were purportedly based on good intentions/causes/desires, or even “excusable” provocation. It is the recycled tale of thousands.

2) Will “Most everyone does it!” or “So-’n-So has done worse!” ever appease the demands of justice?[4] Or must we invoke the quality of mercy by openly repenting and confessing: “I am truly sorry. I should have known and done better. Please forgive me. I was weak and foolish and prideful. I forgot my calling was to glorify Thee, not me. I am committed to repenting, to taking responsibility, to being accountable, to rebuilding trust.” Was that not the substance, in part, of Bro. Dunn’s, “An open letter to members of the Church,” published October 26, 1991 in the Church News.[5] So why does the man who asserts “I knew [Paul Dunn] a lot better than anyone else in [this] room” (1:02:20) choose to discount the fabrications because of his friend’s remarkable gifts, long-time service, and good intentions (59:00)—particularly when Paul Dunn himself, in his own confession, chose not to excuse himself, but to ask for forgiveness?

3) And when did metaphor (like leaven, seed, bread, water, etc.) become equivalent to heroic stories of self-aggrandizement? Where are the analogous scriptural parables that center on the heroic parable-teller? They don’t exist. The Savior’s parables were simple stories concerning objects, nature, and unnamed persons[6]—as in tares, mustard seed, hidden treasure, pearl of great price, householder, lost sheep, unmerciful servant, good Samaritan, unjust steward, laborers in a vineyard, talents, two sons, ten virgins, sheep/goats, sower, etc. One has to process the symbolism—dig for meaning and application via mind and spirit. Can Paul Dunn’s fabrications really be called parable when the story idea was transparent and when a primary effect of his presentations (intended or not?) was to create goose-bumps of WOW what a remarkable, worthy, witty, gifted, blessed servant of God (some of which was probably true)?[7]

4) And if there were only two stories (war and baseball) as Prince adamantly asserts (1:01:15), what are the mathematics of mendacity when these alleged, two stories were told numerous times in numerous places? If one lie is told 70 times—is it one lie or seventy? And is it accurate to lump several incredible stories into two categories—war and baseball—and then insist there were really only two stories?

Here are a few more questions to ponder for the scientist in Bro. Prince, et al.:

a) Can kindred spirits[8] and dear friends be objective about one another’s weaknesses and failings? Are friends not as capable of misjudging in positive ways as strangers are in negative ones? Motivated reasoning weighs heavy as science and experience confirm. “If you have a strongly held belief with an emotional component, the brain defends information that reinforces those ‘priors’ and is skeptical of information that challenges them. … People who hold these hard priors filter information to support their perceptions.”[9] We all do it, and without awareness of a “priors” bias, are we not all more prone to biased judgment—whether pro or con?

b) Surely it is vital to our safety and welfare to judge trustworthiness in others, especially regarding our spiritual stewards. What does it convey if false, personal stories, presented as true, can be excused because they were intended for good ends? Where do the fabrications begin and end?[10] Who can tell? Who can remember?

c) Speaking gifts and skills can be impressive, but if self-focused fabrications are resorted to for effect are such fabrications worth it when damage to credibility spreads well beyond the fabricator? And should we forget/ignore that Dunn’s fabrications were discerned by many long before his exposure and confession, negating his intended effect for those persons?

Paul Dunn’s redemption is in God’s hands, though for us, his life (and confession) may be an important lesson on how difficult it is to navigate the Three Temptations; and how grateful we (and he) can be for forgiveness and the gift of mercy.

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[1] Audio posted May 20, 2011: http://mormonstories.org/?p=1627 . (Numbers in brackets hereafter indicate the approximate time location on the audio button). Most of the Paul Dunn references are found between 32:23 and 41:48; and 55:27 to 1:02:43. Greg Prince’s main defense of Paul Dunn is found between 55:27 and 1:02:43.
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_H._Dunn
[3] New Testament Matthew 4:6
[4] “… for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” Book of Mormon Alma 45:16; see also D&C 1:31. Do fabrications about God’s manifestations in one’s life, amount to the “bearing of false witness,” a proscription of The Ten Commandments? What would our response be to a ward member who made up stories in bearing testimony about God’s goodness to him/her?
[5] See the words of his confession at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_H._Dunn .
[6] Except for a beggar named Lazarus at Luke 16:19-31
[7] “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, …” (New Testament John 7:18). "For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." (New Testament 2 Corinthians 10:18) A question only God (and maybe Paul Dunn) can fully answer is whose glory and commendation was being sought in creating the fabrications? From the record, does it not seem some of both?
[8] “We were on the same wave length” (8:53); “These three men [David O. McKay, Leonard Arrington, Paul H. Dunn] were some of my heroes growing up” (10:23). Dunns and Princes developed a wonderful friendship (40:15).
[9] From the work of political scientist Hank Jenkins-Smith of the University of Oklahoma as quoted, in Newsweek, October 13, 2010, pp. 29-30 by science writer Sharon Begley about voter tendencies—observations that seem applicable to almost everything that requires choice.
[10] Is the Cat story (35:30) not also a case of fabrication? to write a letter of (pretended) sympathy which he allegedly sent and a second one detailing “what he wanted to say” but which he could share only “with the ladies” of the Relief Society and Young Women’s program. Though he and others, including Prince, found his preferred draft highly humorous, that is not the only perspective. Another view is that his “amusing” reply manifest an incongruous degree of hypocrisy and sarcasm. Perhaps, if Paul Dunn had taken himself and others a little more seriously, he would not have left the tarnished legacy he did. There is a balance in all things and he seems to have lost it for a time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Don’t Worry! Be Happy! (???)

~
Being happy, cheerful, positive (as we are often counseled) is all well and good—to a point. And what is that point? Perhaps to the point of awareness of the tragedies, misery, pain, and grief that fills the lives of so many of our fellow human beings (and other creations). Awareness too, that much of the sorrow need not be—if we really loved our neighbor and lived the Golden Rule. Of course, there is much happiness and joy (which we should celebrate), but does it not seem significant that a chief description of our divine mentor is “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” [1] How many of our scriptural prophets might also be described with the same appellation.

There surely is a balance somewhere,[2] yet the following story might give us pause in these latter days as we get caught up in the personal pursuit of happiness (too often defined as prosperity).
4 And the LORD said unto him [the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side], Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. 5 ¶ And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: 6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. 7 And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. 8 ¶ And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? 9 Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not. 10 And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. 11 And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me. (Old Testament Ezekiel 9:4–11; emphasis added)
Perhaps we need a little more sighing and crying; awareness thereof in others (in both rich and poor); and commitment to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”[3]

Consider the déjà vu from circa 83 BC:
12 Yea, he [Alma] saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted. Now this was a great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ's sake, who should come according to the spirit of prophecy; (Book of Mormon Alma 4:12-13)
How do we individually measure up to New Testament Romans 12? And do we find any companionship in these latter days with "the men that sigh and that cry" from Ezekiel 9:4?

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[1] Old Testament Isaiah 53:3; Book of Mormon Mosiah 14:3
[2] The Lord himself counsels: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (New Testament John 16:33). A seeming contrary perhaps—that in the midst of tribulation, we can find peace and good cheer—the working out of opposites and opposition?
[3] Doctrine and Covenants Section 81:5

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What if ...

~
▪ history repeats itself?

▪ at the Second Coming (as at the First), HE does not meet expectations?

▪ we imagine He’s going to be enamored by our pomp and circumstance?

▪ we, like sheep, have gone astray in pursuit of the Three Temptations?

▪ the “chosen” repeatedly mistake/forget what they were chosen for?

▪ we are no different than the house of Israel, the Nephites, the Jaredites, the house of Judah, etc., etc.?

▪ the Right (and increasingly, the Left) are just PR and pitch(wo)men for Babylon?

▪ seeing, we keep refusing to see; and hearing, we keep refusing to hear?

▪ ALL OF US, (including Frank, Grover, JamesO, Karl, Newt, Ralph, Rupert, et al., et al., et al.) were to daily read and apply: Romans 12:17,21; 1 Peter 3:9; 1 Thess. 5:15; and maybe, most explicitly, Doctrine & Covenants 10:25-6, 28?*

▪ history repeats itself?

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* For your convenience, here is Doctrine & Covenants Section 10:25-26,28.
25 Yea, he [the adversary] saith unto them: Deceive and lie in wait to catch, that ye may destroy; behold, this is no harm. And thus he flattereth them, and telleth them that it is no sin to lie that they may catch a man in a lie, that they may destroy him. 26 And thus he flattereth them, ...; and thus he causeth them to catch themselves in their own snare.
... 28 Verily, verily, I [the Lord] say unto you, wo be unto him that lieth to deceive because he supposeth that another lieth to deceive, for such are not exempt from the justice of God.
For the New Testament quotes: I leave those to your curiosity.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pressure Points

(To the man with the trembling voice; et al)

WHAT IF:
▫ you were invited into a quorum?
▫ you were a soul of sensitivity and insight?
▫ your first press-court felt contrary to your nature; scripted by expectation and briefing?
▫ you became enmeshed in conformism and unrelenting contradiction?
▫ you felt compelled against conscience and agency?
▫ you were elevated to staunch your questions?
▫ obligatory loyalty sapped your soul?
▫ perks seemed unseemly?
▫ you could not speak of what you saw, felt, heard?
▫ you yearned to escape but had no precedent, no courage, no adequate “sin,” no place to go?
Has the agony surpassed the ecstasy?
How long the days, nights, years of weeping and wandering?
Can the inner man became more precious than the outer?
What might one finally do with the dissonance to save oneself, et al.?

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See also: http://dejavu-times.blogspot.com/2009/07/to-loyalists-everywhere.html

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Déjà Vu of the Ages?

~As I see it~
Witnessing the increasingly extreme disparity between rich and poor and the pervasive tyranny of money in these latter days, one is reminded how omnipresent the “natural man”1 remains—unable, in millennia of “spiritual” evolution, to control his instincts of oppression, excess, and celebrity—the sad tale of every age. An even sadder tale is how susceptible we so-called “believers” are to the persuasions of mammon—to selling our souls for a mess of pottage. Just look at our malls and mansions. Our storage- and tax-shelters. Our celebrities and seekers. Our investments and speculations. Our distractions and laissez-faire dogmas. (Dogmas that counter almost every essential tenet of every faith.)

WHY are we so enamored by the rich and famous? WHY so desirous to become (or be friends of) the rich and famous? If we believe in God’s word, why do we seem so focused on “deserved”2 prosperity and so discounting of admonitions to meekness, justice, and moderation? So willfully blind to forewarnings?

Here again, are two from two millennia ago;
And again I [Jesus] say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (New Testament | Matthew 19:24)

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; … (New Testament | James 5:2-6)
Too many of us seem to have fallen into a “mine”-field (“It’s all mine and I deserve it;” or “It’s all theirs and they deserve it.”) that will inevitably maim us unless we awaken from the grip and rapture of Babylon and all her pretensions.

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1. For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Book of Mormon | Mosiah 3:19)
2. What is so “deserved” or earned about usury and dividends? Might this fit within “Moral Hazard”? Just asking!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Some strange thing?

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (New Testament Matthew 1:21)
If this is what salvation means, why do so many “saints”1 feel that one of God’s priorities should be to save them from traumas and heartache? And that it is “some strange thing” that good people2 should suffer; or that fervent, worthy petitions should go unanswered; or that misfortune is not always divine punishment?

How often do we lose our way because we misread the meaning of salvation; because we hear of and expect promises and blessings that do not materialize for us; because we forget Job and the myriad other stories of servants,3 saints, sages, and a perfect Savior,4 who left this existence without having received the promises5; because we fail to remember that life is about enlightenment and transformation which does not come in the status quo:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (New Testament 1 Peter 4:12)

What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? (Old Testament Job 7:17-18)

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, … (Old Testament Jeremiah 17:10)

And I … will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: (Old Testament Zechariah 13:9)

Behold, … I will try the faith of my people. (Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 26:11)

… God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. (Old Testament 2 Chronicles 32:31)

For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith. … Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:12, 14)

And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. (Pearl of Great Price Abraham 3:25-26)

Is it worth it? All this enduring? All this confusion? All this heartache and disappointment? I can only say: If there were any better way, I think God would have surely thought of it. (Though sometimes, in the haze of it all, I forget—and so, I write to remember.)

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1. i.e., those (of every faith) who strive to do and be good and who acknowledge and repent when they fail.
2. and those who seeketh so to [be] (Doctrine and Covenants 46:9)
3. “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” (New Testament James 5:10)
4. “And he [the Son of God] shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” (Book of Mormon Alma 7:11)
5. “These [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, etc.] all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (New Testament Hebrews 11:13, see also 39)
 
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