Friday, January 31, 2014

First, Last, In-between, Or ... ?

(A Mormon Faux-Conundrum??)

Q: How many times have individuals or teams been working in “splendid isolation” only to discover that  their great scientific breakthrough has been preempted by another individual or team working also in “splendid isolation”?

A: Often enough that it has a Wikipedia entry!
“The concept of multiple discovery is the hypothesis that most scientific discoveries and inventions are made independently and more or less simultaneously by multiple scientists and inventors.”1 (Bold emphasis added.)
The hypothesis is strongly supported. Here is an extracted sample:2
▪ Calculus – Isaac Newton, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Pierre de Fermat and others;
▪ Sunspots – Thomas Harriot (England, 1610), Johannes and David Fabricius (Frisia, 1611), Galileo Galilei (Italy, 1612), Christoph Scheiner (Germany, 1612);
▪ Leyden Jar – Ewald Georg von Kleist (1745) and Pieter van Musschenbroek (1745-46);
▪ Oxygen – Carl Wilhelm Scheele (Uppsala, 1773), Joseph Priestley (Wiltshire, 1774). Antoine Lavoisier (1777) and others;
▪ Theory of the evolution of species, independently advanced by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace (19th century);
▪ Cadmium – Friedrich Strohmeyer, K.S.L Hermann (both in 1817);
▪ Electrical telegraph – Charles Wheatstone (England), 1837, Samuel F.B. Morse (United States), 1837;
▪ Helium – Pierre Jansen, Norman Lockyer (both in 1868);
▪ Two proofs of the prime number theorem by Jacques Hadamard and Charles de la Vallée-Poussin in the same year (1896);
▪ Sound film – Joseph Tykociński-Tykociner (1922), Lee De Forest (1923);
▪ Jet engine by Hans von Ohain (1939), Secondo Campini (1940) and Frank Whittle(1941);
▪ Higgs boson into a full relativistic model in 1964 independently and almost simultaneously by three groups of physicists: by Englert / Brout; Higgs; and Guralnik / Hagen / Kibble;
▪ Endorphins ~ in Scotland and the US in 1975.
SO, if multiple, independent discovery is frequently true for science, WHY do we seem so adverse to the possibility of multiple, independent inspiration / revelation in religion? I ask because of the contest about who first discovered /developed / received the “restored gospel” sequence3 in the 1820s-early 1830s. Was it Walter Scott, Barton Stone, Alexander Campbell, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sydney Rigdon, or some unknown other persons, lost to history? 4

Why the attempts to order or reorder dates so one’s verifiable or preferred creator comes first? Why the anxiety to cover up seeming plagiarism of ideas and concepts; or the enthusiasm to levy such charges? Why the need to disparage other “contestants” for prime position? Why “revise and expand” suppositions in order to defend tradition and orthodoxy? Why insist on a precise, documented order that may misrepresent a revealed order?

Despite our dispositions and predispositions, is it  possible to accept the documented historical “proofs” AND the confusions / contradictions / inexplicables? Is it possible to concede that God is often inscrutable and unconcerned about presenting linear, pristine provenance for momentous events? Is it possible to admit that God isn't constrained by our expectations of precision, proofs, or exclusivity?

Surely, God’s spirit can brood upon the flowing waters of desire and sincerity and pour down knowledge into diverse, imperfect vessels, wherever they may be, even in near neighborhoods! Can’t He follow the trails of agency and stewardship; and apply the principle of added-upon or not, as each case may prove?

So, why all the allegations of plagiarism? If an angel repeats “the very same things” on at least four occasions5 might other heavenly manifestations / inspirations contain elements of repetition? Does the economy of Heaven favor déjà vu?

What if Oliver Cowdery’s “Articles of the Church of Christ”6 is an inspired reception of truths—truths also revealed to others? Is God not permitted to repeat Himself? to speak to more than one at a time? to give testimony into the mouths of two or three witnesses?

What did God say?
To Oliver, April 1829: Behold thou hast a gift, and blessed art thou because of thy gift. Remember it is sacred and cometh from above— And if thou wilt inquire, thou shalt know mysteries which are great and marvelous; therefore thou shalt exercise thy gift, that thou mayest find out mysteries, that thou mayest bring many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, convince them of the error of their ways. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 6:10-11)

To Alma: 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. (Book of Mormon Alma 29:8; circa 76 B.C.)

To Joel: And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Old Testament Joel 2:28-29; see also Numbers 11:29; New Testament Acts 2:17; Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 14:25-6; Doctrine & Covenants 1:20, 34)
So, can we mortals drop exclusivity? Can we stop cobbling together sparse facts to create “true” scenarios that favor our view of how something really happened (or should have happened)? How  can we ever think to discover the invisible workings of God by pure study of and reliance on (or manipulation of)  the visible?

Can we let God be non-exclusive?!7 Can we exercise a modicum of trust in one of the most important scriptures ever pronounced for the enlightenment of every saint, sinner, scribe, and scholar?
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)
Can we remember that faith is, in part, "the evidence of things not seen"?

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1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_discovery
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_multiple_discoveries
3. As in the Article of Faith # 4 sequence: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost.
4. See Daymon M Smith, A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon: Vol. 1, setting, a foundation of stones to stumble over, where he discusses the distortions from entwining tradition and history; where he critiques several scholars, including: Bushman, Givens, Faulring, Welch, et al.; and where he, too, sometimes seems to take a position, that may itself distort.
5. Pearl of Great Price, “Joseph Smith History;” and “Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” frontispiece of the Book of Mormon
6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Articles_of_the_Church_of_Christ
7. “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments; And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets— ... But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world; ... And again, verily I say unto you, O inhabitants of the earth: I the Lord am willing to make these things known unto all flesh;” (Doctrine and Covenants Section 1:17-18, 20, 34; bold emphasis added.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

God’s Lament

(Bold emphasis added in scripture quotes)

Here is a small compilation from the olden days (circa 700 BCE to 1800s CE):
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. ... Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. (Old Testament Isaiah 1:2, 23)

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)

I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; (Old Testament Isaiah 65:2)

They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers. (Old Testament Jeremiah 44:10)

... they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked: (Old Testament Amos 2:4)

... ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock: (Old Testament Amos 6:12)

For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (New Testament Romans 10:2-3)

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. (New Testament Philippians 2:21)

[Y]ea, 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)

And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save it be a few; and they err in many instances because of priestcrafts, all having corrupt minds. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 33:4)

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)
Does any of this sound déjà vu, even from Moses’ day?
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)
Does God lament anymore? or have we got it all under control? or are our gods too subtle for recognition? or too necessary to the “good” life? or so entwined in our culture, we can’t see for not looking?

And if we're not hearing God's Lament from our bishop's, pastors, elders, preachers,  et al. could it be because we won't? Could Isaiah's words apply today?
Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (Old Testament Isaiah 30:8-11)
Is it time for a review of Spencer W. Kimball's, "The False God's We Worship"?
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1976/06/the-false-gods-we-worship?lang=eng
Is it time to listen to latter-day witnesses, as in Chris Hedges, former foreign correspondent, and hundreds of others?
Curtis White in The Middle Mind argues that most Americans are aware of the brutality and injustice used to maintain the excesses of their consumer society and empire. He suspects they do not care. They don't want to see what is done in their name. ["The rows of flag-draped coffins," "the horribly maimed bodies and faces of veterans," "the hundreds of thousands who have been killed in Iraq," and elsewhere over 230 years of history.1] It is too upsetting. They don't want to read about the nation's growing legions of underemployed and poor, or the child laborers in sweat shops who make our clothing and our shoes. Government and media censorship ... are appreciated. Most prefer to be entertained. (Chris Hedges, I Don't Believe in Atheists, p. 85-86, © 2008)
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Note to all believers in God, everywhere: If we think these laments apply only to our wayward neighbors, perhaps we should find one of those ubiquitous mirrors from the prior post. And that includes this writer. I write these things out of self-reflection and to witness of what I, too often, experience and see in myself and others of all faiths and persuasions.

1. http://www.dejavu-times.blogspot.ca/2008/06/memo-to-cindy-mccain-et-al.html

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Glass-lookers: One and All ?


Mirror, Mirror
on the wall
In 1826, Joseph Smith was purportedly brought to trial1 for glass-looking. The flurry of derision seems unending, so it is rather fortunate that glass-looking is no longer a misdemeanor. Fortunate because most of us spend large portions of our day, glass-looking as in: iphone, smartphone, ipad, Nexus, desktop, laptop, Kindle, Kobo, TV, DVD-player, or a thousand other branded devices that crowd our real estate—not to mention those ubiquitous mirrors. Glass-looking indeed!

Twenty year-old Joseph Smith was accused of looking for treasure with his “magical” stone. What are we modern glass-lookers, seeking with our electronic “magic”?2 Some personal treasure?—like knowledge, information, connection, communication, riches, fame, fantasy, popularity, market flux, gambling, gaming, titillation, best price, a relationship, another like, a viral backdoor, a sucker, a stolen identity, a Second Life, a third wife, ... ? (The list of “treasures” is endless.)

As many researchers have noted, magic and folklore permeated Joseph’s environment, as did skeptics who feared misuse—to deceive and defraud. Hhmm! Glass-looking to deceive and defraud? What a novel idea! Or just déjà vu?

But who can judge the intent of a glass-looker with certainty? And who cannot use selective information to support presuppositions?3

In 100 years, (nay, even today with our ever-watching / -listening NSA), what “accusations” might be dug up about any one of us from the archaeology of data-mining?
Why did X google “child sacrifice”? To research her (never-published) book about the ancient god Moloch or for some Friday-the-13th forest ritual?

Why did Y Ask “explosive”? To build an IED or to find synonyms to use when pitching his new and sensational play about Mitch McConnell?

Why did Z bing “Bill O'Reilly deceased”? To find a missing great-uncle in the family tree or with criminal intent?
Yes, data-mining has more data to expose truth than old newspapers and affidavits, but consider the selective, deceptive, distorted, fabricated, misinterpreted, “honest-to-gosh-true” accounts that litter our beloved WWW. Could there have been any similar “honest-to-gosh-true” accounts that littered 19th-century America? For many, their first thoughts are that everything condemning Joseph Smith is really true. Historical witness is: probably not. Too much of what we decide seems to depend on “hard priors,”3 independent of truth.

So, let us remember: No one is immune to the “false witness” of circumstantial, mistaken, or malicious evidence. All one has to do is listen to the varying accounts of an upsetting local event to know that much of what comes pouring forth as “true facts” is flat-out wrong.

So, as we continue our glass-looking ventures, remember the long and the short:
▪ bias and misinformation in history are ubiquitous;
▪ much of what we think we know, we don’t;
▪ much of what we think we see, we don’t;
▪ much of what there is to see, we miss;
▪ reconstruction of history is often misconstruction;
▪ no one but God knows the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
So, Help Us God!

Please.

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1. The compromised “evidence” seems more likely to document a pretrial procedure, but whether trial or pretrial, most who speak out with such assurance of “facts” speak from hearsay and would be much distressed to find their own lives judged by antagonists on such sparse and ambivalent evidence.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_life_of_Joseph_Smith
http://byulaw.blogspot.ca/2005/09/joseph-smiths-arrest-records-found.html
http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith/Legal_issues/Trials/1826_glasslooking_trial
http://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1g64rh/was_joseph_smith_a_convicted_conman/
2. Only a small minority understands how these devises work—through the mystery of 0s & 1s, not to mention (yes, again) the physics of the electricity that powers / sustains it all. Considering God has created the Cosmos, is it not conceivable that He might have a technology superior, more natural, and more self-sustaining than the “magic” created by man? And that such technology would have the potential for use and misuse by mankind, even as man’s technology? And that God alone will be the judge of misuse!
3. “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.” (Bold emphasis added.) 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 or discernment.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tampering: A Small (Déjà Vu) Case Study ?


In Hugh Nibley’s, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4, he laments the “exacting editor” who, in some perceived wisdom, removed an “insignificant” word from Book of Mormon, Ether 2:20—a word that proves not so insignificant to a proper understanding.1

So, how do we stop these (chronic) “exacting editors” who give no notice of their edits from edition to edition of sacred scripture? And WHY have we not learned about the dangers of tampering with “plain and precious” words from the example in Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 13:28-34 and from Article of Faith #8?2

This question of tampering arose one day while I was reading:
And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem,[3] a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations. (Book of Mormon Alma 37:23)
Gazelem?! Why did I suddenly attach that word to Joseph Smith? and how many times had I read that verse and never connected it—till that day—to the olden days (pre-1981) Doctrine and Covenants? There, in sections 78 and 104 (if one can find an old D&C), the similar word Gazelam is used (but now removed). Thus, how many new (and old) members don't have a clue about code names because they have been totally excised? How many don't have a clue that one of the Prophet’s code names was Gazelam?

Are these code names of no import? Can we safely assume they have no meaning, considering how mysterious and subtle God can be? Were they just snatched out of thin air or were they inspired4—with some meaning yet to be understood? Why couldn't the original code names remain—just in case they had greater purpose—while inserting the real names in square brackets?

And who is to say that the excised Shinehah (code name for Kirtland) has no historical or prophetic meaning, considering its uses elsewhere?5

In recent years, there has been considerable discussion over the use of a so-called “peep-stone” in preference to the Urim and Thummin, during the Prophet Joseph’s translation of the Book of Mormon. Considering Alma 37:23 and its reference to “a stone”—not stones or Urim and Thummin—maybe the code name Gazelam is a clue to something we don’t yet understand about the translation process.

So, the question is: Have we had an important prophetic fulfillment regarding Joseph Smith stripped from our awareness by “exacting editors” who decided that Doctrine and Covenants’ code words were nothing more than subterfuge, fluff, or paranoia?

Why can’t we admit what was and is; confess that we don’t always understand or like what surfaces; and be open to the possibility that our best interpretation of past records and events might be flawed?

But please, whatever the case or reason, can we stop editing scripture? If we are trying to squeeze it into some latter-day expectation or norm, that's not a good sign.

Note: Yes, this critique is based on faith that Joseph Smith was a prophet; that the Book of Mormon is his genuine translation of an ancient record; and that prophetic words are best left alone by subsequent generations. If subsequent generations wish to make amendments to revelations, please let them do it by recording separate, independent revelation,6 not by quietly editing old ones. In this writer’s view: to quietly edit another's revelation—no matter how innocuous the edit may seem—is to compromise the integrity of the original revelation as well as the integrity of the (presumptuous?) editor. (In the near words of Groucho Marx, “These are my [views]; if you don’t like them, I have others.”)

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1. (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 Re 270.) Ether 2:20: "And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top [thereof], and also in the bottom [thereof]; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole [it doesn't say open the window] and receive air." That's a very different thing from opening windows. It talks about opening windows, and this is something else. There's a hole in the top. What is this, an air compressor? "Thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood."
Notice "the hole thereof"; there's the hole of the air and the hole of the water, "that ye may not perish in the flood." An exacting editor, by removing the very significant thereofs [has changed the meaning]. When you suffer for air, you unstop the hole thereof and receive air. That means air hole, you see. But he removed the [word] thereof, and he said, "When thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air." He doesn't mention thereof, meaning air hole. He made it to appear that when Jared wanted air, he had to open the top window of the boat to admit fresh air. That's the very time he had to keep it closed. When they didn't have air inside, they had to keep it closed because the waves are dashing outside. That was not what the original of the Book of Mormon said. For one thing, the ships had no windows communicating with the outside. "Ye cannot have windows," it said. Each ship had an air-tight door, we're told, and that was all. Air was received not by opening and closing doors and windows. Only when they were quiet and riding on the surface could they open the window and replenish the air. But he says by unplugging air holes "thou shalt unstop the hole [thereof] and receive air," this being done only when the ship was not on the surface. "When thou shalt suffer for air"-that is, when the ships were not able to open the hatches and replenish their air. Well, this can only refer to a reserve supply of air, and indeed the brother of Jared recognizes that the people cannot possibly survive on the air contained within the ship at normal pressure. Ether 2:19 : "We shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish."
So the Lord recommended a device for compressing air with a hole in the top thereof and also in the bottom thereof-not referring to the ship but to the air chamber with the peculiar language "unstop an air hole." When the crew found it impossible to remain on the surface, [verse 20], "And if it be so that the water come in upon thee," they were to plug up the air chamber. "Ye shall stop the hole [thereof], that ye may not perish in the flood"-to keep the air after you've replenished it. (Bold emphasis added. Square brackets are in the original transcripted book.)
2. Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 13:24-29 ~ And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God. Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God. And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.
Pearl of Great Price Articles of Faith 1:8 ~ 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.
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gazelem  ~ Although wiki suggests Gazelem might mean the name of the stone, a cursory review of scripture shows “my servant X” used hundreds of times in reference to a person and never in reference to an object.
4. Orson Hyde’s comments about the "inspired" code names published in The Seer, 2 no. 3 (March 1854):228 found at http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/NCMP1820-1846/id/18143 . Thanks to Karl Ricks Anderson, I came across this reference in his book, The Savior in Kirtland: Personal Accounts of Divine Manifestations at p. 3, fn. 3, (© 2012) on January 23, 2014 and added this footnote here the following day.
5. Doctrine and Covenants Section 117:8 ~ Is there not room enough on the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and on the plains of Olaha Shinehah, or the land where Adam dwelt, that you should covet that which is but the drop, and neglect the more weighty matters?
Pearl of Great Price Abraham 3:13 ~ And he said unto me: This is Shinehah, which is the sun. And he said unto me: Kokob, which is star. And he said unto me: Olea, which is the moon. And he said unto me: Kokaubeam, which signifies stars, or all the great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven.
6. (as the Prophet Joseph did with his inspired translation of the Bible).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Then & Now ?


(Thoughts sparked upon encountering the elitism of several “Saints.”)

Once upon a time, “IF” was an important, critical word. There are 2,670 uses of it in the Standard Works. To get a flavor of its purpose, in those olden days, one cannot do much better than to read Old Testament Deuteronomy, chapter 28, (with a side-helping below  at *).

But as usual, God’s chosen1 people keep getting confused. They keep embracing the ways of the world and thinking:
▪ that chosen means chosen for prosperity, abundance, and favour, whatever the degree of obedience;
▪ that “success” is an irrefutable sign of God’s approval;
▪ that money is the fruit of God’s favour;
▪ that God’s people can cheerfully face the future with faith and hope,2 even when disparaging all the non-“saints” and blaming others for all the evil, despicable things of the world;
▪ that Membership with a modicum of outward performance will be sufficient for exaltation.
Why is it, with all the witness of the past, we seem to think God’s condemning finger is aimed at the “wicked” gentiles and heathens when that Finger has perpetually been pointed squarely (déjà vu upon déjà vu) at those who have been chosen to carry out and to witness of His works (works of justice, goodness, truth, love, and beauty), and who fail miserably to do so?

What IF Moses, Isaiah, Enos, Mormon, Moroni (and all the others) have a message for us in the here and now?
The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways. (Old Testament Deuteronomy 28:9)

Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world? Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not? Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads? Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer. (Book of Mormon Mormon 8:35-41)

For even yet the kingdom is yours, and shall be forever, if you fall not from your steadfastness. Even so. Amen. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 82:24)
What IF God’s saints3 include all who witness of His love, whether their affiliation is Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, or of a hundred other faiths? What IF His saints are all those who live for His glory (not for some coveted prosperity); or all those who follow the promptings of His spirit even against the dictates of culture, family, friends, churches, etc.?

What IF Rameumptom (Book of Mormon Alma 31:12-25) is a latter déjà vu?
http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm/ref/collection/dialogue/id/23236
("What’s a Rameumpto[m], Daddy?" by Robert Nelson, Jr. (Dialogue, Winter 1989, Letters.)
What IF elitism is the twin of hypocrisy?

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* A Small Side-helping of Warnings to "Saints":
   (All bold emphasis below has been added.)
Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous?  I say unto you, Nay. (Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 17:34)

AND now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be.  For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed. For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 30:1-2)

And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things—stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them. (Book of Mormon Enos 1:23)

For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 3:4)

And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 14:7)

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; (Doctrine and Covenants Section 19:16-17)

A revelation I give unto you concerning my will; and if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion. ... Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come. And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 25:2, 15-16)

And they who are of the High Priesthood, whose names are not found written in the book of the law, or that are found to have apostatized, or to have been cut off from the church, as well as the lesser priesthood, or the members, in that day shall not find an inheritance among the saints of the Most High; (Doctrine and Covenants Section 85:11)

But behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of them are chosen. They who are not chosen have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon–day. ... If you keep not my commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with you, therefore you shall walk in darkness. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 95:5-6, 12)

Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now. But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself. And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer. ... But the strength of mine house have not hearkened unto my words. But inasmuch as there are those who have hearkened unto my words, I have prepared a blessing and an endowment for them, if they continue faithful. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 105:2-6, 17-18)

For behold, the Lord saw that his people began to work in darkness, yea, work secret murders and abominations; therefore the Lord said, if they did not repent they should be destroyed from off the face of the earth. (Book of Mormon Alma 37:22)

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1. The category of the chosen seems to expand as God adds more groups, over the passage of time, hoping that some remnant, somewhere, is going to actually figure out what chosen means and then DO the works of the chosen.
2. Whatever happened to charity? As to faith, I suspect it doesn't mean faith in our own goodness, favour, chosenness, high-ranking, or entitlement to prosperity.
3. With the proviso that God's saints obey His voice in whatever He requires as they progress, line upon line, precept upon precept; and will fulfill all the laws and ordinances that are eventually required of them to inherit God's promises and kingdom. Doctrine and Covenants Section 93:1 ~ VERILY, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;

 
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