Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And Hear the Angels Sing


A Plea from 1849

Edmund H. Sears (1810-1876), a Unitarian minister, wrote a 5-stanza poem titled, "Peace on Earth." It became the popular carol, "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear." In his poem, he expressed a longing for the day when peace and goodwill would envelop the world. He wrote:
Verse 3
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing!

Verse 4
And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

A Call to Action ~ Christmas 2012 (and every year thereafter)
1) Perhaps flash-choirs could gather at the home of every House and Senate person in every state/province/district of their Union this Christmas Eve and peacefully sing one or two carols, ending with these two unfamiliar verses of  "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear." (Sing these two verses with some distinctive emphasis to make clear to our "men [and women] of stife" that it is time to "hush the noise" and "hear the angels sing.")

2) Incorporate more fully into Christmas-giving the ideas of Matthew 25:35-6, 40:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. ... Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
For ideas, you can read the story, "Loving the Savior: Our Christmas Key" by Esther Jane Ward.*

An Every-Morning Devotional
Merry Christmas 1980 [Happy New Year 2013]
by Howard Thurmas

When the song of the angel is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins;

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart …

(Howard Thurmas, from a Quaker calendar)
(New Era, Dec. 1980, 51)**
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* "Loving the Savior: Our Christmas Key" by Esther Jane Ward, Ensign/December 1980, p. 49 (Item # 4 in the section titled "Sharing"}at http://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/12/sharing/loving-the-savior-our-christmas-key?lang=eng&query=%22esther+jane+ward%22
** http://www.lds.org/new-era/1980/12/merry-christmas-1980?lang=eng&query=%22merry+christmas+%22

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Transrational

(No, no! Not transNational—TransRational!)

To a young child, (yea, even to many a teenager), the rules, limitations, suggestions, and corrections of a parent often seem irrational, unreasonable, and malevolently designed to crush the enjoyment of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Well, guess what? Doesn’t life witness that what is irrational to the child is really transrational his/her juvenile perspective; that there is a state of higher awareness—a more encompassing view to consider? A similitude of:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Old Testament Isaiah 55:8-9)
So perhaps the déjà vu litanies of the rationally-bound man through the ages1 are just irrational tantrums upon the hierarchy of man’s evolving identity and destiny. Of course,“rational” beings have many reasonable things to say and insightful observations upon many topics, but when they construct opaque ceilings, one wonders: What are the distortions when “Up” is excised from the quadrants of inquiry?

What would life be like if:
1. We inquired and observed full circle instead of excising our own offensive quadrant?
2. We allowed all to worship (or not), how, where, or what they might, without trying to expunge them?
3. We were free to speak our minds, but rational and transrational enough to agree to disagree agreeably?

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (New Testament 1 Corinthians 13:12)
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1. Modern manifestations of (self-confessed) rational imprisonment being Rand (msRIP), Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens (mhRIP), Stenger, et al.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

“Same Old Story” (another SOS!)


In recent days, a commenter (#48, 53) at the TIMES AND SEASONS website1 wrote how he had heard Ayn Rand quoted and recommended in priesthood meeting. And why not?! Despite her fervent atheism, didn’t she propagate profound truths? Just ask Paul Ryan.2 Or Ron Paul. Or Rand(al) Paul. Or Alan Greenspan. Or scores of evangelicals. Or unnumbered current and former BYU students.
Ayn Rand for years was the most popular author by far here in the [BYU] bookstore. They would sell more of her books than any other [author's], and her books have such titles as The Virtue of Selfishness.3

It has been the same [old] story all along, only suddenly we have reached a new level. For the first time selfishness goes by its own name: "The virtue of selfishness" is the testament of Ayn Rand, the guru of Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, and James Watt, long the favorite reading of BYU students. "No other civilization has permitted the calculus of self-interest so to dominate its culture," writes R. L. Heilbroner; "it has transmogrified greed and philistinism into social virtues, and subordinated all values to commercial values." This is exactly what Thomas More said: "What has heretofore passed as unjust, . . . they have turned upside down, and in fact proclaimed it publicly and by law to be nothing less than justice itself." Mr. Ivan Boesky, in a college convocation, commended "healthy greed" as a virtue to be cultivated by the young.4
This was my response (#57) at the Times and Seasons:
(Re: # 48, 53) The love affair with Ayn Rand that “informs” the political economy of too many Mormons (and other Christians) is simply a déjà vu seduction—the latter-day version of God’s perpetual complaint against His chosen[5] people (as detailed in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nephi, etc.). A condensed version of Rand’s philosophy can be found at Alma 30: 17. For the looong version read John Galt’s radio address from Atlas Shrugged. Or if you have [one has] the time and endurance, read the book and monitor the skill of seduction. Then do your own comparative; (mine is at http://www.dejavu-times.blogspot.ca/2012/11/comparatively-speaking.html ). Considering the enduring influence of Rand, maybe more of us need to be informed enough to protest the co-mingling of Rand and God, which I suspect is anathema to both.

A digital PDF version of Galt’s speech can be found at pp. 767-814 http://www.mises.ch/library/Rand_AtlasShrugged.pdf
So you see, it’s the “Same Old Story” (SOS!). Seeing [snippets of Ayn] we see not; hearing [sound bites of Ayn] we hear not how utterly flawed her premises are. She was always advising others to check their premises. Her own premises, having emerged in her mind at the age of 2½ years,6 were beyond further scrutiny (or observation).

The altruism she despised, that had been preached for thousands of years, was, for her, the root of evil. If she had believed in God, she might have checked her premises against both His word AND “objective reality” (which we can all do). In scripture, she would have found the lament that evil arises, not by the failure of altruism, but the failure to live its precepts; by the insistence on doing and having things our own way; and through neglect of the two great commandments.7 But no, Ayn’s supposed solution was to espouse the same old selfishness (SOS! again) that has plagued the natural man8 since before Day One.

So yes, let us get informed about Ayn and her [faux-]Objectivism and refuse to sustain the unsustainable. Some of her criticisms of government have legitimacy, but her solutions have NONE. If we don’t understand that, her proffered solutions will only exacerbate the dire problems of selfishness that she falsely attributed to altruism.

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1. http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2012/11/still-outside/
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmW19uoyuO8&feature=endscreen&NR=1 . (There are other avowals of Rand influence, but Ryan backed off those in 2012 because of adverse publicity.)
3. Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon--Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988--1990 [Provo: Foundation for Ancient Religion, 310.
4. Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 466-467.
5. “Chosen,” not in the sense of unearned favors, but chosen to be witnesses and examples to the world that there is more to life and eternity than power, fame, and stuff.
6. Ayn Rand interview with Tom Snyder (1 of 3) from 8:09 – 8:38 seconds at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4doTzCs9lEc
7. New Testament Matthew 22:36-40: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, 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. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
8. Book of Mormon Mosiah 3:19: 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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Handbook to Hell?

And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels; And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell. And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet— (Doctrine and Covenants Section 29:36-39; bold emphasis added)
Have you ever wondered what “the pitch” was that turned a third part of the hosts of heaven toward the opposition? Was it a mix of truth and lies? Did it contain more truth than lies? Was that the great persuasion—the truths so pervasive and apparent that the lies became lost in translation? Or was the truth so mocked, exaggerated, contorted and disparaged that good appeared evil and evil good? Perhaps it was a mix of both approaches.

If you want to experience a disturbing déjà vu of those pre-mortal times when the adversary pitched his case, you might consider John Galt’s lengthy radio address1 (begins p. 767) from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

The alarming (though perhaps expected and déjà vu) thing is how persuasive2 the pitch still remains in this world—our second estate.3

How persuaded are you?

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1. A digital PDF version of this speech can be found at pp. 767-814 http://www.mises.ch/library/Rand_AtlasShrugged.pdf . Galt’s devotee Francisco d’Anconia also gave a speech on money at pp. 313-316 (PDF) that could perhaps be considered a mortal addendum to the pre-mortal pitch. [The 35th Anniversary hard copy Plume Book version (© 1992) has 1168 pages; the PDF has 891.]

2. “In 1991, a survey conducted for the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club asked club members what the most influential book in the respondent’s life was. Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible.” [from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand under “Popular Interest” subheading.)

3. (Pearl of Great Price | Abraham 3:26-28) 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. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him [bold emphasis added].

(New Testament Jude 1:6) And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Some Choice!!!


Yesterday, a die-hard, grass-roots conservative said to me, “If I had to choose between government corruption and corporate corruption, I would choose the corporate.” He does not seem aware that much of the current government corruption is “purchased” by huge corporations in order to enhance and protect their own (not just national, but) global profits and devastations. He has bought into the Libertarian idea that government regulation is the root of (unfortunate) free-market and social evils. He, like most of his ideological mates, is utterly naïve about the true nemesis of a Zion society.

Babylon is happy to point her engorged finger at government. She is delighted to deflect attention from her abuses. She is thrilled to shift blame. She spends millions attempting to silence voices of warning. And more millions to produce enough pop, porn, paraphernalia, and propaganda to keep people sufficiently sick, addicted, debt-ridden, and deceived that the voices go unheard. Voices like:
The Future of Food 1
Inside Job 2
You, Me & the SPP 3
The World According to Monsanto 4
Toxic Sludge is Good for You! 5
Sweet Remedy: Adulterated Food Supply 6
Corporate Crime and Violence 7
This is but a miniscule sample of the voices crying in the latter-day wilderness. Perhaps we could take an hour or two a day for ONE week and listen. Would it make a difference? Would we finally clue in that the (déjà vu) “natural man”8 operating in the artificial form of a faux-person has become an insatiable, collectivized, rampaging beast?

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1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Future_of_Food ; http://www.thefutureoffood.com/
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_Job_(film) ; http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/inside-job/
3. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/trading-democracy-for-corporate-rule/ http://watchdocumentary.com/watch/you-me-and-the-spp-trading-democracy-for-corporate-rule-video_06d2f63f7.html ;
4. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-world-according-to-monsanto/
5. http://www.prwatch.org/tsigfy.html ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaMh8KGfkTM
6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUubCJz2d8U or http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/sweet-remedy/
7. by Russell Mokhiber. Read his 1988 book entitled, Corporate Crime and Violence: Big Business Power and the Abuse of the Public Trust. Things have not improved. http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1987/04/editorial.html
8. (Old Testament Ecclesiastes 9:3) … the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, … ; (Old Testament Jeremiah 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? ; (New Testament Romans 8:7) … the carnal mind is enmity against God: …. ; (Book of Mormon Mosiah 3:19) 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.

Monday, September 17, 2012

“If it were possible …”


There seems to be a certain complacency amongst some of my fellow Christians that in the last days, “the very elect” will not be deceived because it will be impossible to deceive them. They count on the Lord’s words:
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (New Testament Matthew 24:24)
Some seem to think “the very elect” are immune to deception because they know the truth; they have the gift of discernment; they are in tune to the things of God. Others take comfort in the backup alternative that “very elect,” trusted leaders will never be deceived. Thus, they think, the rank-and-file should not be unduly concerned. If they themselves are not “elect” enough, their leaders are. Therefore, the safe and sure course is to “Follow the Leader.”

But what if the signs and wonders are so GREAT that EVERYONE would be deceived—even the very elect—were it not for direct, personal revelation from God exposing the deceptions? In other words, full-scale deception will not be possible ONLY because God will intervene.

We might think this creates but two categories: 1) deceived followers of false Christs and false prophets; and 2) “the very elect” who are not deceived (and who reject the false Christs and false prophets) because they are able and willing to receive personal revelation. But what if there is a third group constituting an unsuspected peril for the rank-and-file Christian? What if there are some “very elect” who, with their eyes opened to the deceptions, choose, for whatever reason, to side with the false Christs and false prophets? Or seek to become one?

Is that why we have been counseled innumerable times not to trust in the arm of flesh? Why we are tutored, often in painful ways, to learn how to recognize and listen to the voice of the spirit? Is that what the gift of the Holy Ghost is largely about?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Offspring (or something less)?


“Just thinking.” “Let my people think.” These are watchwords of an organization of powerful and thoughtful Christians (RZIM) who are striving to make a positive difference in the world. But, like almost every soul who has ever lived, have they attached themselves to assumptions that are stalling further enlightenment? How often do we all carry forward the mindsets of our families, cultures, religious beliefs, secular understandings, etc. to the point of being unable to think or even reason beyond them? Can we not take a lesson from the Apostle Peter and his vision of the clean and the unclean?[1] Shouldn’t we be open to the entire scriptural texts as well as enlightenments of the spirit? Do we not sometimes need to rethink our assumptions—test our presumed knowledge?

I ask these questions because of recent publicity and comment relating to Mormon teachings about the identity and destiny of man. So much criticism have been levied without apparent awareness of text and history supporting the Mormon view that man is the offspring of God; that his mortal identity and destiny have revealing parallels to his eternal identity and destiny.

I intended, when time allowed, to research and write an apologia of the Mormon view, but today I encountered a devotional address that says it all far better than I could have done. Here then, for the inquiring mind, is the reason why Mormons believe that identity and destiny are eternal concepts.

Devotional address given at Brigham Young University on August 14, 2012 by Tad R. Callister, entitled, “Our Identity and Our Destiny” found at

http://byutv.org/watch/796f060f-dd2a-4e47-b350-da6ec6e214e0/byu-devotional-elder-tad-r-callister-81412

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[1] New Testament Acts 10 & 11

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Suffering in Silence


Where is the tipping point between silence and open questioning?

In listening to a recent TED talk* (“Dare to Disagree”), I wondered about our churches. I wondered whether the faithful (on all levels, in all faiths) do a disservice to themselves and their congregations by silent acceptance and obedience to things/decisions/practices that distress their spirit. How many faithful have found continued affiliation so painful or dissonant that their only recourse seemed to be to withdraw? If we spoke our concerns, would we find them shared? Would it make a difference?

In the 30s A.D., were there faithful Scribes, Sadducees, Pharisees (and common folk, too) who kept silent because potential conflict was to untenable in their culture of hierarchy and submission? Was Nicodemus one of those?** Is the choice between silence and conflict one of the persistent déjà vus of this life experience? What choices are we making? Are they for the best?

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* http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_dare_to_disagree.html
** Like Joseph of Arimathaea (New Testament John 19:38; see also 12:42)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ayn-alyzing ~ (3)

(More reflections on Ayn Rand for Christian consideration)

IF the history of mankind, as recorded in Scripture, is a déjà vu litany of man’s delusions of grandeur, as in this small sampling:
(CAPITAL emphasis has been added in all quotes below.):
And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. (Old Testament Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their OWN WAY, and be filled with their own devices. (Old Testament Proverbs 1:30-31)

Woe unto them that are wise in their OWN EYES, and prudent in their OWN SIGHT! (Old Testament Isaiah 5:21)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his OWN WAY; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Old Testament Isaiah 53:6)

Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their OWN WAY, every one for his gain, from his quarter. (Old Testament Isaiah 56:11)

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine OWN WAYS, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: (Old Testament Isaiah 58:13)

Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their OWN WAY have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD. (Old Testament Ezekiel 22:31)

… the more part of them had turned out of the way of righteousness, and did trample under their feet the commandments of God, and did turn unto their OWN WAYS, and did build up unto themselves idols of their gold and their silver. (Book of Mormon Helaman 6:31)

They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his OWN WAY, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 1:16)

Behold, thus saith the Lord unto my people—you have many things to do and to repent of; for behold, your sins have come up unto me, and are not pardoned, because you seek to counsel in your OWN WAYS. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 56:14)

And the anger of God kindleth against the inhabitants of the earth; and none doeth good, for all have gone OUT OF THE WAY. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 82:6)
WHY THEN, do we not recognize that Ayn’s “new, original” philosophy is neither new nor original? All her heroes are obsessed with pursuing THEIR OWN WAY according to their own “rational” judgments. But then so are her despised anti-heroes—the ones who abuse and misuse power in pursuing distorted, corrupted visions of “social justice.”

Of course there are unending reasons to complain about mankind’s failings. And Ayn does plenty of that because in her worlds (real and fictional), reliable, competent creators and employees are so despairingly scarce. Her heroes are the exceptional, rational, incredible few that everyone else is trying to use or destroy.

Here are a few quotes from (or about) her heroes in Atlas Shrugged:
Dagny Taggart: “There was no flattered pleasure in his voice, and no modesty. This, she knew, was a tribute to her, that rarest one person could pay another: the tribute of feeling free to acknowledge one’s own greatness, knowing that it is understood” (p. 86). “I think that only if one feels immensely important can one feel truly light” (p. 150, 236).

Hank Rearden: “We haven’t any spiritual goals or qualities. All we’re after is material things. That’s all we care for. … whatever we are, it’s we who move the world and it’s we who’ll pull it through” (pp. 87-88). [To Dagny] “It’s I who produced that wealth and it’s I who am going to let it buy for me every kind of pleasure I want—including the pleasure of seeing how much I’m able to pay for—including the preposterous feat of turning you into a luxury object” (p. 371). “I work for nothing but my own profit. I earn it” (p. 480).

Francisco d’Anconia: “We are the only aristocracy left in the world—the aristocracy of money. … It’s the only real aristocracy, if people understood what it means, which they don’t” (p. 90). “The code of competence is the only system of morality that’s on a gold standard” (p. 100).

John Galt: “By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose” (p. 1014).

About herself, Ayn writes: “my life purpose is the creation of the kind of world (people and events) that I like—that is, that represents human perfection” (p. xvi).
Yes, Ayn and her heroes do expound many powerful truths about the dismal state of mortal affairs, but:
IF God is right that … “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:7-8); and

IF we are in the middle of a three-act play,[1] without memory of the 1st Act and subject to revelation[2] (by a more advanced Being/Director) on how to play the 2nd in preparation for the 3rd,
then maybe Ayn’s rational, “my way” achievement isn’t going to achieve what she and her devotees think. What if, “my way” cuts off further achievement in Act Three because gifts and mercy were rejected by the perfect man’s preference for 2nd-Act earnings and justice?

Ayn seems to reject any concept of a third act, having become fixated with achievements in Act Two. If there is a third act, maybe it transcends (but includes) rational. What if trans-rational seems irrational only because from our present view, we can’t (or prefer not to) tell the difference?

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1. 1) Pre-mortal; 2) Mortal; 3) Post-mortal.
2. Or the “mystical, irrational,” as Ayn would call it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ayn-alyzing ~ (2)

(More reflections on Ayn Rand for Christian consideration.)

On the last pages of the 35th anniversary edition (Plume Book, 1992) of Atlas Shrugged, in a section entitled “About the Author,” we read:
“My personal life,” says Ayn Rand, “is a postscript to my novels: it consists of the sentence: ‘And I mean it.’ I have always lived by the philosophy I present in my books—and it has worked for me, as it works for my characters. …” (p. 1170).
She describes her characters, heroes, (and self) thus:
It is proper for a creator to have an unlimited confidence in himself and his ability, to feel certain that he can get anything he wishes out of life, that he can accomplish anything he decides to accomplish, and that it up to him to do it. (He feels it because he is a man of reason …) … [But he must] not place his wish primarily within others and does not attempt or desire anything that is of a collective nature, anything that concerns others primarily or requires primarily the exercise of the will of others. (This would be an immoral desire or attempt, contrary to his nature as a creator.) If he attempts that, he is out of a creator’s province and in that of the collectivist and the second-hander (p. xii).
The trouble with Ayn however, (and her enthusiasts) is at least twofold. Firstly, the “over-optimism” and “over-confidence” in “man as heroic being”—i.e., in the creators, prime-movers, “ideal men” of her philosophy. About such men she wrote:
“I trust that no one will tell me that men such as I write about don’t exist. That this book has been written—and published—is my proof that they do” (p. 1171).
[Wow! What a formula! “To write and publish = proof.”]

But back to “over-confidence” and “over-optimism.”

Ayn critiques her heroine Dagny for:
Over-optimism—in that she thinks men [second-handers, i.e. non-creators] are better than they are, she doesn’t really understand them and is generous about it.
Over-confidence—in that she thinks she can do more than an individual actually can [i.e., work with second-handers on a rational basis or as their motivator] (p. xi).
The parallel between the error-afflicted Dagny and the optimistic, idealistic Ayn might be written thus (= my proof!?)
Over-optimism—in that [Ayn] thinks men [“creators”] are better than they are, she doesn’t really understand them and is generous about it.
Over-confidence—in that she thinks she can do more than an individual actually can [i.e., accomplish many things of great import without some large element of the dreaded collective—like building/running a railroad, a steel mill, an oil refinery, a factory, etc., etc.]
All of which brings us to the second “trouble”: Ayn’s apparent inability to see inverse and parallels. She seems to have no awareness of “on the other hand.” Let’s take a small portion of John Galt’s radio address. He accuses the world he has abandoned:
… You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty (p. 1010).
In our corrupted, fallen world, some of that may be, too frequently, true, but what if we take the inverse? Might Christians not say to Ayn/John:
YOU [in your Objective/Subjective? style) have sacrificed mercy to [your sense of] justice. You have sacrificed unity to independence. You have sacrificed faith to reason. You have sacrificed need to wealth. You have sacrificed self-denial to self-esteem. You have sacrificed duty to happiness.
And might we not add? When is anything so cut and dried—so either/or? Isn’t most of life a synthesis? Justice AND mercy. Independence AND unity. Reason AND faith. Wealth AND need. Self-esteem AND self-denial. Happiness AND duty.

As admitted, Ayn profiles some unfortunate truths because our world is a revolving, recycling mess. And why is that? Is it not, in large measure, because too many of us are committed to having things/ ideas/ expectations/ rewards/ compensations/ relationships, etc. on OUR terms, in OUR way, according to OUR reason and nature, without acknowledging limited vision, comprehension, maturity, etc.—not to mention, our neighbor?

Ayn’s fictional elitists are convinced the world cannot exist without their “minds”—without their way of doing things. In short, Ayn is just one more in a long line of passionate, déjà vu advocates for “having it, doing it MY way.” Except, with her (God-given!) gifts, she has created epic, sympathetic anti-heroes—which leads us to a third “trouble.”

The third “trouble” is that Ayn’s deftness in comparing the worst corruptions of religion, society, and government to the superlative imaginations of “ideal man” has led many a good Christian down the garden path, past the tree of knowledge and into that twilight where John Galt “traced in space the sign of the dollar” (p. 1168).

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For thoughts about another Ayn enthusiast who was also inverse-/parallel-challenged, see: http://www.dejavu-times.blogspot.ca/2010/03/if-how-what.html

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ayn-alyzing ~ (1)

(Reflections on Ayn Rand*)

This year 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Ayn Rand—the controversial author/philosopher. Here is a fascinating quote from Wikipedia about her influence on our contemporary world:
In 1991, a survey conducted for the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club asked club members what the most influential book in the respondent’s life was. Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible.[1]
The more fascinating thing is how many Bible readers are also Ayn Rand devotees without any apparent awareness of the incongruities. These devotees cannot be accused of halting between two opinions,[2] for they seem able to champion both simultaneously without discomfort. On the assumption that most religious folk have an evolving intellectual and practical understanding of faith, hope, and charity, here are a few more Wikipedia quotes with which to juxtapose Biblical values.
In metaphysics, Rand supported philosophical realism, and opposed anything she regarded as mysticism or supernaturalism, including all forms of religion. In epistemology, she considered all knowledge to be based on sense perception, the validity of which she considered axiomatic, and reason, which she described as “the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.” She rejected all claims of non-perceptual or a priori knowledge, including “‘instinct,’ ‘intuition,’ ‘revelation,’ or any form of ‘just knowing.’”

In ethics, Rand argued for rational egoism (rational self-interest), as the guiding moral principle. She said the individual should “exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.” She referred to egoism as “the virtue of selfishness” in her book of that title, in which she presented her solution to the is-ought problem by describing a meta-ethical theory that based morality in the needs of “man’s survival qua man”. [3]
In the brief “Introduction to the 35th Anniversary Edition”[4] of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, we read in Ayn’s own words how she considered herself to be “creating a new, original abstraction and translating it through new, original means. This, as far as I know, is only me—my kind of fiction writing. May God forgive me (Metaphor!) if this is mistaken conceit! As near as I can now see it, it isn’t.”

She saw this as demonstrating “a new moral philosophy: the morality of rational self-interest.” And “in an interview with Mike Wallace, Rand declared herself ‘the most creative thinker alive.’”[5]

The chief problem is: history does not substantiate her claims to originality. Her “new” ideas are really translations of “an old (known) abstraction (theme or thesis) … .” [6] And considering the universality of self-interest (often combined with self-focus), she and her creation, John Galt, are not the first self-anointed prime movers to feel unappreciated and persecuted. Nor the first to withdraw in strike (or sulk[7], as the case may be)—to establish a more perfect union of devotees (in ironic imitation of Ayn’s dreaded collective). She scorned old ideas recycled, especially “through the medium of old fiction means”[8]), yet her recycling of one of the oldest ideas (self-interest—even rational self-interest) and her sense of self-importance as a “prime mover” are as old as the Garden, if not older.

For readers of the Book of Mormon, Ayn is pretty much déjà vu Korihor. And Korihor, but déjà vu the lofty oaks and cedars of Isaiah and Zechariah:
And this Anti–Christ, whose name was Korihor, … began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach, saying: O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come. Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers. … Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ. Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so. And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that … every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime. …And Korihor said …: Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage. (Book of Mormon Alma 30:12-18, 23-24; underlined emphasis added.)
For Korihor, rules, regulations, and religious beliefs were bondage. Freedom was the liberty to do, see, pursue, and manage things in a personal, rational way—to be a law unto himself. For Ayn and her “Objectivism” (i.e., subjectivism in sheep’s clothing!?), it is “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”[9]

But for Christian believers particularly, shouldn’t the question be: How does this recycled philosophy jive with the tenets of the Gospel? And a second question: Is not the pursuit of rational self-interest (blind and deaf to “the great commandment[s] in the law”[10]), the recurring (déjà vu) offense that God and His prophets so repeatedly castigate?
They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 1:16)
If the BIG test[11] in this phase of existence is between
□ GOD’S will (higher ways and thoughts)[12]
AND
□ MY will (lower ways and thoughts)
which selection does Ayn commend? And how does reason, intelligence, and growth ever expand in those imprisoned in Flatland[13] because they can’t (won’t?) see or fathom “cubic”?

Considering that Ayn’s “biographer Jennifer Burns referred to her as “the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right”[14] perhaps the right needs to do a lot more honest and forthright Ayn-alyzing!

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* For a previous reflection on Ayn Rand, see http://www.dejavu-times.blogspot.ca/2009/11/romance-of-ayn-rand.html

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand under “Popular Interest” subheading.
[2] “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” (Old Testament 1 Kings 18:21)
[3] Wikipedia at footnote 1 under “Philosophy” subheading.
[4] Introduction written by Leonard Peikoff (September 1991), quote at p. xv.
[5] Wikipedia at footnote 1 under “Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism” subheading.
[6] See reference in footnote 4.
[7] Possible differentiation: Strike—when those of lesser power and income withhold their work and talents from those of greater power and income (usually their employers) in order to bargain for greater equity and fairness. Sulk—when those of great creativity, egoism, and self-confidence withdraw their resources and talents (God-given gifts?) from society as a whole—and second-handers, in particular—because they feel unappreciated, unacknowledged, and offended.
[8] See reference in footnote 4.
[9] Wikipedia at footnote 1 under “Philosophy” subheading.
[10] “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, 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. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (New Testament Matthew 22:36-40)
[11] For example, see this blogger’s discourse on WILL in 3 parts found at http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2011/10/will-we-ever-get-it-part-1.html ; http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2011/10/will-we-ever-get-it-part-2.html ; and http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2011/10/will-we-ever-get-it-part-3.html
[12] “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Old Testament Isaiah 55:9)
[13] Read Edwin A. Abbott’s, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (pub. 1884).
[14] Wikipedia at footnote 1 under “Political Influence” subheading.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Fork in the Road!

If you’re headed down the wrong road and you take the right fork in it, as opposed to the left one, does it suddenly become THE right road? Somehow that seems the logic of “God-fearing,” free-market capitalists. The economic road forks a few paces in, and despite the fine rhetoric of freedom, choice, agency, prosperity, ownership, private enterprise, growth, merit, values, etc., etc., capitalism has even less conformity to Christ’s teachings (let alone, those of other faiths) than communism does. When compared with the moral teachings of spiritual leaders through all ages, both economic systems reveal themselves as fallacious ideologies with just enough smattering of truth to decoy the good and mollify the greedy. Here is a quote that should help wake us up!
Satan's masterpiece of counterfeiting is the doctrine that there are only two choices, and he will show us what they are. It is true that there are only two ways, but by pointing us the way he wants us to take and then showing us a fork in that road, he convinces us that we are making the vital choice, when actually we are choosing between branches in his road. Which one we take makes little difference to him, for both lead to destruction. This is the polarization we find in our world today. Thus we have the choice between Shiz and Coriantumr—which all Jaredites were obliged to make. We have the choice between the wicked Lamanites (and they were that) and the equally wicked (Mormon says "more wicked") Nephites. Or between the fleshpots of Egypt and the stews of Babylon, or between the land pirates and the sea pirates of World War I, or between white supremacy and black supremacy, or between Vietnam and Cambodia, or between Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers, or between China and Russia, or between Catholic and Protestant, or between fundamentalist and atheist, or between right and left—all of which are true rivals, who hate each other. A very clever move of Satan!—a subtlety that escapes us most of the time. So I ask Latter-day Saints, "What is your position frankly (…) regarding the merits of cigarettes vs. cigars, wine vs. beer, or heroin vs. LSD?" It should be apparent that you take no sides.[1]
If a weapon of war works, why not keep using it—déjà vu upon déjà vu, as noted above? Thus we see our present-day polarity: “We have the choice between the wicked [Communists] (and they [are] that) and the equally wicked ([if not] “more wicked”) [Capitalists].

If we think that competition, bottom-line obsessions, management excesses, private luxury, elitism, disparities, consumerism, materialism, lobbying, favoritism, mammon-mongering, debt/credit, etc., etc., have any place in Zion OR that our active promotion of capitalism is furthering the kingdom of God, perhaps we should think again. Perhaps we should make a more careful study of the economics of Zion vis-à-vis that of Babylon. Perhaps we should flee the excesses to which we have become accustomed before it is too late.[2]

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[1] Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, Chpt. 4, “Gifts,” edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 112-113. Bold emphasis added.)
[2] "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies." (Old Testament Jeremiah 51:6-9)

Monday, May 7, 2012

The List (& Déjà Vu) Goes On (& On)

For the poor shall never cease out of the land: ... (Old Testament Deuteronomy 15:11)
WHY would God say this through Moses? Is it because He knew there would always be, in every age and place:
▪ the rich (who would never cease to accumulate excess)
▪ leaders & bosses who would love money more than the masses
▪ Madoffs, Abramoffs, Keatings, Lays, Delays, et al., ad infinitum
capitalists and communists without conscience
▪ lords & lobbyists
▪ debtors & creditors
▪ Popes, Prophets, Priests, High Priests, Knights Templar, Orders, Fraternities, Churches, etc. seduced/decoyed/distracted/corrupted by wealth and power (Take a walk through history!) and
▪ “believers” who would favor
    ~ competition above cooperation
    ~ mammon above mercy
    ~ luxury above ”love thy neighbor”
    ~ self above sacrifice
    ~ words above actions
PLUS
▪ conspiracies & corruption
▪ cons & collusions
▪ elitism & envy
▪ fear & greed
▪ pride & prejudice
▪ propaganda & power-plays
▪ servitude & slavery
▪ oppression & obstruction of justice
▪ and the list goes on (& on).
Why do we seem to ignore the last half of Deuteronomy 15:11 when quoting the first half?
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land (Old Testament Deuteronomy 15:11).
If this all seems too negative for our PMA and LoA culture, then perhaps we should reread Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc. When we pay attention, much of what God and His old prophets have to say about “chosen” peoples is pretty depressing. Take for example some of His last words to Moses:
And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them (Old Testament | Deuteronomy 31:16).
If we think we are any better, considering the images and idols that surfeit our time, imagination, and entertainment, perhaps we should think again.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Word (or two) from Brother Brigham

(A déjà vu of his cherished valley?)

Considering the ever increasing proliferation of billboards, mega-malls, and siren-calls to embrace escalating degrees of luxury, would Brother Brigham have anything different to say than 150 years ago? Or would it be full-bore fire and brimstone—hoping the symbolic F&B would circumvent the promised F&B?
I am sorry that this people are worldly-minded; that they are in their feelings and affections glued to the world so much as they are. … They love the world, and covet their fine horses; their affections are upon them, and upon their farms, upon their property, their houses and possessions, … (Journal of Discourses, 11:216).

I also appears to me that very many of the Latter-day Saints are as far from good wholesome ideas and principles, touching their heavenly privileges, as the east is from the west. They covet the riches of this world, craving to serve themselves—to satisfy the sordid disposition within them (JD, 7:173).

It is a fearful deception which all the world labors under, and many of this people too, who profess to be not of the world, that gold is wealth (JD, 10:271).

If we lust for gold, for the riches of the world, and spare no pains to obtain and retain them, and feel "these are mine," then the spirit of anti-Christ comes upon us. This is the danger the Latter-day Saints are in, consequently it is better for us to live in the absence of what is called the riches of this world, than to possess them and with them inherit the spirit of anti-Christ and be lost (JD, 10:300).

It behoves us, brethren and sisters, to live near to God and honor our profession, rather than to become insane after gold and paper money; (JD, 10:271).

Men are educated to promulgate and sustain false theories to make money, and to create and uphold powerful sects (JD, 11:215).

What are the people doing? They are merchandizing, trafficing and trading. … when they get a dime, a dollar, ten dollars, they carry it at once to the merchant for ribbons, artificials, etc., making him immensely rich (JD, 12:155).

Ask ourselves the question. Have we not brought Babylon with us? Are we not promoting Babylon here in our midst? Are we not fostering the spirit of Babylon that is now abroad on the face of the whole earth? (JD, 17:38).

The Latter-day Saints, in their conduct and acts with regard to financial matters, are like the rest of the world. The course pursued by men of business in the world has a tendency to make a few rich, and to sink the masses of the people in poverty and degradation. Too many of the Elders of Israel take this course. No matter what comes they are for gain—for gathering around them riches; and when they get rich how are those riches used? Spent on the lusts of the flesh, wasted as a thing of nought, … (JD, 11:349).

If we have possessions, it is because the Lord has given them to us, and it is our duty to see that everything we have is devoted to the advancement of truth, virtue, and holiness, to beauty and excellence; to redeem the earth, and adorn it with beautiful habitations, and orchards, and gardens, and farms, and cities, until it shall become like the garden of Eden. All that we possess belongs to the Lord, and we are the Lord's, and we should never lust after that over which he has made us stewards, but we should use it profitably to the upbuilding of the Zion of our God, to send the Gospel to all the world, and to gather and feed the poor (JD, 11:216).
So, like fish in water, we are so immersed in Brother Brigham’s despised Babylon, we just go on filtering it all through our artificial gills and call it life-sustaining, renewing, revitalizing. What’s the latter-day watch cry? “LET'S GO SHOPPING!” Didn’t we just hear that at a recent mega-mall opening[1] within earshot of our bronzed Brother?

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Perhaps a daily dose of Approaching Zion by Hugh Nibley might help (especially chapter 2). And for those who wish to disparage the life, scholarship, and POV of Hugh Nibley because of the accusations of Martha Beck, I refer you to:
https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/136-62-68.pdf
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=17&num=1&id=570
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=17&num=2&id=587
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?reviewed_author&vol=17&num=1&id=569
http://en.fairmormon.org/Hugh_Nibley/Footnotes

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmkZ2Zy9Gok (at 19 sec.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

“Countless seeds of good and ill”

Background 2012

▪ March 20-27: Reading Steven Pressfield’s: The War of Art and Do the Work1
▪ March 25: Sang LDS hymn # 216: “We are Sowing” (“We are sowing, daily sowing Countless seeds of good and ill, …”)
▪ March 25: Taught RS sisters from Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s, October 2011 Conference address: “You Matter to Him”
▪ March 25-27: (1) Applied my mind to all the above; (2) Listened to the mind-chatter of a sower (me)

Thoughts

If “We Are Less Than We Suppose” (antidote to pride); and “Greater Than We Suppose” (antidote to cipher-syndrome); and if these are opposites, then humility is not the opposite of pride, but the way of balance between pride and cipher-syndrome.

Pride is to think that our talents, gifts, skills are ours by merit; that we have earned our money, fame, power; “that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; [that] every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime” (Book of Mormon | Alma 30:17); that every woman/man is entitled to be a law unto themselves.

Cipher-syndrome is to think we have no gifts or skills; that nothing we do is good enough; that God does not know or care who we are; that He has abandoned us; that we are so insignificant, so sinful, so flawed, so weak, so unforgiveable that the atonement can have no application in our life; that we are a nobody.

A Paradox of Man: If, as Elder Uchtdorf says: “This is a paradox of man: [in that] compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God… [and if] “The great deceiver knows that one of his most effective tools in leading the children of God astray is to appeal to the extremes of the paradox of man” (Nov. 2011 Ensign, p. 20) then wo/man is going to be a battle ground of whispers in the mind and heart2 and whispers in the ears3.

Questions

So in coalescing all the above: what were the whispers I entertained since Sunday? What are the seeds I (allowed to be) sowed since Sunday? How does the song-parable apply to my unremitting mind-chatter?

AWARENESS is a grand key. Paying attention. Being present. Seeking help.
Thou who knowest all our weakness, Leave us not to sow alone!
Bid thine angels guard the furrows, Where the precious grain is sown.
Till the fields are crown’d with glory, Filled with mellow, ripened ears,
Filled with fruit of life eternal From the seed we sowed in tears.
(Verse 4: “We Are Sowing”, LDS Hymn #216
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1. Herein HIGHLY recommended; can be found in Kindle Books or perhaps your local library. (Thanks to my sister, BYS, who directed me to these Pressfield books.)

2. And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. … (Book of Mormon Words of Mormon 1:7) Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, … (Doctrine and Covenants Section 85:6) And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul—(Book of Mormon Helaman 5:30) And it came to pass that there came a voice unto them, yea, a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper, saying: Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world. (Book of Mormon Helaman 5:46 - 47) Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God? (Doctrine and Covenants Section 6:23) Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 8:2) … I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; (Doctrine and Covenants Section 11:13; bold emphasis added)

3. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 28:22; bold emphasis added)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

More (déjà vu) Isaiah

(from 700s BC & from the Isaiah translation by Avraham Gileadi, 1988)

Do we (whatever our land or nation) recognize any of our latter-day culture, mores, law, politics, religion, economics, government, armed forces, markets, etc. in any of Isaiah’s descriptions?

Your silver has become dross,
  your wine diluted with water.
Your rulers are renegades,
  accomplices of robbers:
  with one accord they love bribes
  and run after rewards;
  they do not dispense justice to the fatherless,
  nor does the widow’s case come before them. (1:22-23)
Their land is full of silver and gold
  and there is no end to their wealth;
  their land is full of horses
  and there is no end to their chariots.
Their land is full of idols;
  they adore the works of their hands,
  things their own fingers have made. (2:7-8)
It is you who have devoured the vineyard;
  you fill your houses by depriving the needy.
  What do you mean by oppressing my people;
  humbling the faces of the poor? (3:14-15)
[There are] those who join house to house
  and link field to field till no place is left, …
[There are] those who go after liquor
  as soon as they arise in the morning,
  who linger at night parties, inflamed by wine [and drugs]! …
[There are] those drawn to sin by vain attachments,
  hitched to transgression like a trailer, …
[There are] those who suppose what is evil to be good
  and what is good, evil!
They put darkness for light
  and light for darkness;
  they make bitterness sweet and the sweet bitter.
[There are] those who are wise in their own eyes
  and clever in their own view! …
[There are] those who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
  but deny justice to the innocent! (5:8, 11, 18, 20-21, 23)
The leaders of these people have misled them,
  and those who are led are confused. (9:16)
[There are] those who enact unjust laws,
  who draft oppressive legislation—
  denying justice to the needy,
  depriving the poor of my people of their right,
  making plunder of widows,
  mere spoil of the fatherless! …
  … a godless [KJV: hypocritical] nation … (10:1-2, 6)
… whose traders are princes,
  whose merchants the world’s celebrities? (23:8)
The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants: (24:5)
These too have indulged in wine
  and are giddy with strong drink:
  priests and prophets have gone astray through liquor.
They are intoxicated with wine
  and stagger because of strong drink;
  they err as seers, they blunder in their decisions.
For all tables are filled with vomit;
  no spot is without excrement. …
… taking refuge in deception
  and hiding behind falsehoods … (28:7-8, 15)
… these people approach me with the mouth
  and pay me homage with their lips,
  while their heart remains far from me—
  their piety toward me consisting of commandments of men learned by rote— (29:13)
… drawing up plans, but not by me,
  for making alliances without my approval,
  only adding sin to sin! …
  who say to the seers, See not!
  and to those with visions,
Predict not what is right for us:
  flatter us; foresee a farce!
Get out of the way; move aside, off the path!
  Cease confronting us with the Holy One of Israel! (30:1, 10-11)
[There are] those who go down to (X) for help,
  relying on horses,
  putting their trust in immense numbers
  of chariots and vast forces of horsemen,
  but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
  nor inquire of the Lord! (31:1)
… Their heart ponders impiety:
  how to practice hypocrisy and preach
  perverse things concerning the Lord,
  leaving the hungry soul empty,
  depriving the thirsty soul of drink.
And rogues scheme by malevolent means
  and insidious devices to ruin the poor,
  and with false slogans and accusations
  to denounce the needy. (32:6-7)
You bathe with oil for the king
  and increase your perfumes;
  you send your solicitors far abroad
  and debase yourself to the depths.
Though wearied by your excessive ways,
  you have not admitted despair;
  you have found livelihood,
  and therefore have not slackened. (57:9-10)
… your lips speak guile, your tongue utters duplicity. …
They rely on empty words, deceitfully spoken;
  they conceive misdeeds, they beget wickedness. …
  they manipulate injurious dealings.
Their feet rush after evil;
  they hasten to shed innocent blood.
Their thoughts are preoccupied with mischief; …
  integrity is not within their bounds.
They have made crooked their paths;
  none who treads them knows peace. …
… perversely planning ways of extortion,
  conceiving in the mind and pondering illicit transactions. (59:3-4, 6-8, 13)

BUT, there are many promises in Isaiah, too, when, in a day of repentance, return, and reconciliation, God shall be entreated:
In that day there shall be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. Assyrians shall come to Egypt and Egyptians go to Assyria, and the Egyptians shall labor with the Assyrians. In that day Israel shall be the third party to Egypt and to Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth: The Lord of Hosts will bless them, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance (Isaiah 19:23-25).
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A point to ponder in light of Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 29:11–12 and Alma 29:8* — IF Isaiah, a prophet to and of Israel, sometimes refers to God as the Holy One of Israel, is it not possible that a prophet to and of “X” (meaning some other nation) might not, in truth, speak of the Holy One of [X]?

* Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 29:11–12 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it (bold emphasis added).
Book of Mormon Alma 29:8: For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true (bold emphasis added).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mirror, Mirror?

Mirror, Mirror on the wall,
Who’s the next in line to fall?

Nephi[1], Jacob[2], AND Jesus[3], all recommend that we read Old Testament prophets (particularly Isaiah), noting their déjà vus and likening the words unto ourselves. In the spirit of that advice, let us (Americans) read a portion of Avraham Gileadi’s translation of Isaiah 19 with “American” substitutions. (If you are of another nationality, make your own appropriate substitutions to liken these words unto yourself and your own nation.)

Also, a caution to Republican AND Democrat ideologues (et al.): There isn’t much personal awareness and healing in forever likening all “evil” unto your adversaries. Nor is this “likening” focused on the current administration. This Oracle for America (et al.) has been in the making for decades (perhaps even from the beginning).
19 An Oracle concerning [America]
   When the Lord enters [America] riding on swift clouds,
      the idols of [America] will rock at his presence
      and the [Americans’] hearts melt within them.
  2 I will stir up the [Americans] against the [Americans];
    they will fight brother against brother
  and neighbor against neighbor,
    city against city and state against state.
  3 [America’s] spirit shall be drained from within;
    I will frustrate their plans,
  and they will resort to the idols and to spiritists,
    to mediums and witchcraft.
  4 Then will I deliver the [Americans]
    into the hand of a cruel master;
  a harsh ruler will subject them,
    says my Lord, the Lord of hosts.
  5 The waters of the lakes shall ebb away
    as streambeds become desolate and dry.
  6 The rivers shall turn foul,
    and [America’s] waterways recede and dry up. …
    7 vegetation adjoining canals and estuaries,
  and all things sown along irrigation channels,
    shall shrivel and blow away and be no more.
  8 Fishermen will deplore their lot
    and anglers in canals bemoan themselves;
  those who cast nets on water
    will be in misery.
  9 Manufacturers of combed linen
    and weavers of fine fabrics will be dismayed.
  10 The textile workers will know despair,
    and all who work for wages suffer distress.
  11 The ministers of [capital] are utter fools;
    the wisest of [Presidential, congressional, and senate] advisers give absurd counsel. …
  13 The ministers of [capital] have been foolish,
    the officials of [America] deluded;
    the heads of state have led [America] astray.
  14 The Lord has permeated them
    with a spirit of confusion;
    they have misled [America] in all that she does,
  causing her to stagger like a drunkard into his vomit.
   15 And there shall be nothing the [Americans]
    can do about it,
  neither head nor tail, palm top or reed.
BUT there is hope—at least for a remnant[4] (of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people) that finally repents and accepts what this life has always been about: Maturing in faith, hope, charity, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, truth, justice, humility, courage, etc., etc., etc.[5] . Here is Isaiah’s optimism:
22 The Lord will smite [America], and by smiting heal: they [the repentant] will turn back to the Lord, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them.
Then, if we read the rest of Isaiah 19, we will see that diverse (repentant) peoples and nations who thought (and acted like) they were enemies forever will be reconciled and called by God, “my people,” “the work of my hands,” “my inheritance.”

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[1] … I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning. (Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 19:23); And now I write some of the words of Isaiah, …. Now these are the words, and ye may liken them unto you and unto all men. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 11:8)
[2] … there are many things which have been spoken by Isaiah which may be likened unto you, because ye are of the house of Israel. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 6:5)
[3] AND now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah. For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles. And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake. (Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 23:1-3)
[4] see Zechariah 13:8-9, and the sum and substance of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.
[5] The very opposite of our present hypocrisies, uncivil discourse, and innumerable, idolatries (another déjà vu!).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In the house of my friends[1]

~
IF, in reading Old Testament Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Zechariah, Malachi, etc., etc., you get the distinct déjà vu that the Twelve Tribes were serial offenders, might it not be wise to “take heed” and “liken them unto” our latter-day selves? Do we ever ask ourselves how much of our lives and ideologies reflect the Sermon on the Mount and how much reflects the Babylonian screeds of competition; accumulation; wealth/power/fame; freedom from market rules, regulations, boundaries; ends justify means; riches/excess = God’s blessing; etc., etc..

Do we believe in AND countenance the separation of church and markets? Of religion and business? Of equity and bottom-line? Of charity and merit?[2]

Why did the Savior quote (His own) Old Testament prophets in His visit to the Americas as recorded in the Book of Mormon, 3rd Nephi? Why did Moroni quote Old Testament prophets in his appearances to Joseph Smith? Are we offended by Spencer W. Kimball’s accusation in 1976 that “… we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people—a condition most repugnant to the Lord” (see “The False Gods We Worship,” http://www.lds.org/ensign/1976/06/the-false-gods-we-worship?lang=eng ).

Does not God say that latter-day judgments will begin in His own house?[3] Does that give us any pause for reflection?

Are we serial offenders and seriously offended at the accusation?

Is 33 A.D. a prescient warning for the latter-days?

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[1] Old Testament Zechariah 13:6: “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (Latter-day Christians of all stripes?) See also: D&C 45:52

[2] Book of Mormon Mosiah 4:17-19: “Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just— But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?”

[3] Doctrine and Covenants Section 112:24–26: “Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord. And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.” (emphasis added).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Occupy Wall Street*

(* i.e., the “street” that hides behind a massive WALL of false ideology, propaganda, idolatry, and fraud)

Finally—at last! global protests against the perennial hoaxes of Big-Business and the so-called “free markets of invisible, intelligent design”! Here is a page or two worth pondering by my fellow Mormons (and others) from the book, Approaching Zion.
What kind of justice is it when the nobleman, the banker (goldsmith), the money lender, in short, those who do nothing productive, glory in riches while day laborers, teamsters, blacksmiths, carpenters and field workers, whose work can not be dispensed with for a year can sweat out a miserable existence at a level below that of beasts of burden? Our animals do not work so long, are better fed and have better security than they do, for our workers are pressed down by the hopelessness of the situation and the expectation of beggary in old age. What they are paid does not cover their daily needs, and to save anything for old age is out of the question. So we find shocking waste, luxury, triviality and vanity [the lives of the rich and famous] on the one side and utter abject misery on the other.46
So as things are, we get the worst of both worlds.
… when I consider this, then every modern society seems to me to be nothing but a conspiracy of the rich, who while protesting their interest in the common good pursue their own interests and stop at no trick and deception to secure their ill-gotten possessions, to pay as little as possible for the labor that produces their wealth and so force its makers to accept the nearest thing to nothing. They contrive rules for securing and assuring these tidy profits for the rich in the name of the common good, including of course the poor, and call them laws!47
"But after they have divided among themselves in their insatiable greed all that should go to the society as a whole, they still are not happy."!48
The law can avenge but never hinder the deceptions, thievery, riots, panics, murders, assassinations, poisonings, and so on, all of which spring from one source—money. That is Thomas More writing—and it cost him his life.
It has been the same story all along, only suddenly we have reached a new level. For the first time selfishness goes by its own name: "The virtue of selfishness" is the testament of Ayn Rand, the guru of Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, and James Watt, long the favorite reading of BYU students. "No other civilization has permitted the calculus of self-interest so to dominate its culture," writes R. L. Heilbroner; "it has transmogrified greed and philistinism into social virtues, and subordinated all values to commercial values."49 This is exactly what Thomas More said: "What has heretofore passed as unjust, … they have turned upside down, and in fact proclaimed it publicly and by law to be nothing less than justice itself."50 Mr. Ivan Boesky, in college convocation, commended "healthy greed" as a virtue to be cultivated by the young.51 That's a virtue! A frenzy of privatization now insists that the only public institution with a reason for existence is the military, to defend us against societies more committed to sharing, and to root out those among us who doubt the sacredness of property. [End of quote.]
Surely, the “sacredness of property” must be reviewed in light of how much has been acquired through oppression, deceit, coercion, corruption, collusion, injustice, and unpunished criminal acts.

Let us, in light of current events and omnipresent déjà vu, take up the task of rethinking the economic theories (of Babylon) and finally admit that men and women have far more to offer the world than self-interested, profit-driven excuse. Why in rejecting the tyrannies of socialism/communism do we so readily accept the inevitable tyrannies of (corporate-driven) capitalism—as if those were the only two choices?

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Footnotes from pp. 486 of Approaching Zion
46. [Thomas More, Utopia, tr. Robert M. Adams, 2 vols. (London: Yale University Press, 1964)], 2:88-89.
47. Ibid., 2:89.
48. Ibid.
49. See Leonard Silk, "The End of the Road?" New York Times Book Review, a review of Robert L. Heilbroner, Business Civilization in Decline (New York: Nolton, 1976).
50. More, Utopia, 1:25.
51. Mariann Caprino, "Healthy Greed Was Boesky's Undoing," Salt Lake Tribune, 20 November 1986, D9.
(Hugh Nibley, [**] Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 466-7.)

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** For those who wish to disparage the life, scholarship, and POV of Hugh Nibley because of the accusations of Martha Beck, I refer you to:
https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/136-62-68.pdf
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=17&num=1&id=570
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=17&num=2&id=587
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?reviewed_author&vol=17&num=1&id=569
http://en.fairmormon.org/Hugh_Nibley/Footnotes
 
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