Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ways to Cope

(that sometimes work for me)

Dear Friend: Sometimes these things below have helped me navigate the minefields (mind-fields) of fear, doubt, and negative experience; or as you call them “micro bombs” that devastate so many attempts at finding/maintaining peace.
1. Remembering Moses and the Exodus. They made their big move and suddenly they had a Red Sea in front and 10,000-or-so armed and angry Egyptians closing in behind. And that was only their first experience of massive doubt about their big move. There seemed no solution to their dilemma—BUT there was. (Something they never could have envisioned.) It seems to me that “micro-bombs” in the lives of most who make major changes in their lives are a given—one of the opposition factors (2 Ne. 2:11, 15-16). You can find them everywhere in life and scripture. Remembering helps me realize I am not alone in facing doubts, fears, or inexplicable negatives because the god of this world (the adversary: 2 Cor. 4:4) seems to take great pleasure in mining every path to purpose and enlightenment.

2. BALANCING a doubt, fear, or negative thought with another thought, like:
a. Gratitude (and expressing it emphatically in my mind) for even the simplest things: a glimpse of beauty, finding my keys, an idea that saved me time or frustration, every swallow that mother takes without choking, a space of time to research or write, etc.
b. Referencing scripture as the Savior did when He was assailed with IF’s in the wilderness (Matt. 4:3-5). These have especially helped me: D&C 58:1-5; 98:1-3.
c. Holding to the iron rod of prior inspiration and witness: “Did I not speak peace to your mind [perhaps more than once] concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:23)
Life seems a perpetual (re)learning curve.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Economics of Jesus

If Jesus were invited to speak at the next World Economic Forum, what would He say? And how long would it take us Christians to switch from C-SPAN to American Idol?

If we go by precedent,[1] Jesus has a tendency to repeat Himself, so in all likelihood we would hear:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:34).
… When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:12-14).
… If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor,[2] and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me (Matthew 19:21; Luke 18:22).
… Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-24; Luke 18:25).
… all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31).
Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth (Luke 12:15).
… take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth (Luke 21:34-35).
… Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).
Woe unto you, … for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess (Matthew 23:25).
… the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful (Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14).
… Beware of [those], which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: … (Mark 12:38-40; Luke 11:43, 20:46-47).
… if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away (Matthew 5:40-42; Luke 6:29-30).
[to His ministers] … Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? … Therefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? ... But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-31).
Would He recount the story of the beggar Lazarus (in the bosom of Abraham) and the rich man (in hell) to help us rethink our present economic philosophies, expectations, and prejudices? (Luke 16:19-31)
Would He ask us to leave our worldly incomes to become itinerant fishers of men (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17)?
Might He tell us that in His economic system, cooperation, sacrifice, and moderation are vastly superior to competition, self-interest, and excess, and that: “… if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;” (Doctrine and Covenants 78:6)?
Might He ask us to take off our blinders and honestly tell Him what we see in our very own house(s)?
Might He explain that He didn’t really mean “money” when He spoke the parable of the talents (Matthew 25; also Luke 19:12-26)?

As it is, the contradictions between His sayings and the reality of our lives in this world seem beyond reconciliation. So we seem to have turned to the ways of the opposition. Everywhere homes are increasing in size and grandeur. Countertops o’erflowing with proprietary chargers and their devices. Garages and/or storage units filled to overflowing. Bathrooms and closets the size of former great-rooms. Electronic recyclers surfeited with perfectly functional, but no-longer-stylish items. Credit & debt amassed to leverage hopes and dreams, and to salve impatience. Fashion, fame, and prestige bought and sold at the price of soul. Our drive to showcase our prosperity and prove His blessing and approval of us seems boundless. Even in the celebrations of His birth, spectacle and excess overwhelm us.

We preach self-sufficiency and He, God-sufficiency. We preach the work-ethic (i.e., labor for money) while He and His disciples ate freely from the corn fields they traversed (Matthew 12:1; Luke 6:1), and paid their tribute with a coin prophetically found in the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:27).

How do we reconcile these contraries of what our God advocates and how we conduct our economic lives? Have we become so immersed in the ways of Babylon that we don’t even recognize her enticing sins and our peril? Have we any idea how excruciating it is going to be to opt-out of her market-place (Revelations 13:16-17; 1 Nephi 13:7-8)? Or how agonizing it might be for us—avid consumers—to watch our “beloved” Babylon collapse and burn (Revelations 18)? Do we have even a déjà vu sense of how God’s many and various chosen ones fall short of their callings time after time—the Jaredites, the children of Israel, the house of Judah, the Nephites, and undoubtedly us, if we go on consuming as if there will always be a tomorrow of excess? As if all the woe-filled prophecies apply to someone else, somewhere else?

What if the déjà vu of Jaredites, Israelites, Nephites, etc. did not end with the Restoration? What if we are not such a peculiar people?[3] What if we are not that much different from the scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers of His day—so tied to our traditions, beliefs, and expectations that seeing, we will not see; and hearing, we will not hear?!

What did President Spencer W. Kimball say to us in June 1976?[4]
[1] Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11-26 for starters
[2] Notice, He did not say, “Give it to me.”
[3] Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9
[4] “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, June 1976

Monday, November 30, 2009

Empty Houses

by SMSmith

Curried green
And seen if seen
In the haste
Of a summer’s morn.

Not seen
In winter days
In the overcastted late
Of dream-spent spenders
In the night
Of artificial light.

From body-tired
To mindless ease
From consuming, routined
Hours to please
Powers and privilege.

Weekend escapes
Vacation leaves
Past miles unseen
From abodes unseen
Double-locked and alarmed.

Embellished walls
Wide, mortgaged halls
Vaulted silence.


In the endless search
For enough
Of more.

© 1987 by SMSmith. Some Rights Reserved. See Creative Commons License at bottom of this page.

Friday, October 9, 2009

To those afflicted with riches*

(*and to the rest of us who, too often, wish we were.)

Despite the “neon” warning that:
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,[1]
most of us, in our fondest dreams, wish we were “smitten with riches and that we should never recover”—in likeness of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

The strange thing is—if we go by scripture—there is probably no greater risk to man’s eternal prospects than to have riches. The failure rate is nigh 100%! And we should wish such a test upon our self?!

Strange too, when we consider the story of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man.[2] At their sequential deaths, the beggar finds himself carried into the bosom of Abraham and the rich man finds himself raising pleas from hell. Where are the justice, merit, and conservative thinking in that scenario? From a trans-world perspective, it would almost seem safer to be a beggar than a rich man! Is that a contradiction or what, to our current capitalistic, individualistic, blessed-driven paradigm?!

What is it about riches that so afflicts mankind with failure? Is it the sense of merit? Of entitlement? Of ownership? Of self-sufficiency? Of freedom and power? Of basking in glory and honor taken unto oneself?

What does God say about these attitudes? Who deserves the credit/blame for riches and poverty?[3] By whose gifts and graces does man draw breath, move, think, plan, and endure from day to day?
▪ The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. (Old Testament 1 Samuel 2:7)
▪ Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. (Old Testament 1 Chronicles 29:12)
▪ 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? … 22 … your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; (Book of Mormon Mosiah 4:16, 22; see also Book of Mormon Jacob 2:13; New Testament 1 Timothy 6:17; Doctrine and Covenants Section 38:39)
The word of God—particularly The Book of Mormon—details how, time after time, when the people were blessed (or perhaps it was afflicted) with prosperity, they turned to pride and to despising the poor—repeating cycles of falling away from faith, hope, and charity. Riches, it seems, comes coupled with a susceptibility to deception.
▪ And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they. (Bk of Mormon Jacob 2:13; see also Bk of Mormon Alma 45:24)
▪ Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (New Testament Revelation 3:17-18)
▪ He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (New Testament Matthew 13:22; see also Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14)
▪ But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (New Testament 1 Timothy 6:9-10)
▪ Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world. (Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 6:15)
▪ Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: (New Testament 1 Timothy 6:5)
God warns that there is only one safe way to pursue riches:
Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you. 18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. 19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. (Bk of Mormon Jacob 2:17-19)
God also warns, in starkest language, of the consequences of failing the purpose of riches:
▪ Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved! (Doctrine and Covenants Section 56:16)
▪ But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 9:30)
▪ … and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 9:42)
▪ 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— 18 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. (Book of Mormon Mosiah 4:17-18)
▪ GO to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. 4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. (New Testament James 5:1-4)
And last but not least, God also warns the poor (with application also to the rich and to those of us who fall inbetween):
Wo unto you poor [and rich and inbetween] men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men's goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands! 18 But blessed are the poor [and rich and inbetween] who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 56:16-18)
Nonetheless (and alas!), even with all the warnings and déjà vu of life and scripture, most of us desire to be rich, believing we would surely prove the exception to the eye-of-a-needle forecast. If only God would just trust us enough to prove it!!
[1] New Testament Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:24-25
[2] Luke 16:19-31
[3] A note of explanation to the meritocrats: Yes, of course, most people play some part in the condition of their riches or poverty, but that is NEVER the whole story. God always has both the upper-hand and the higher view.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

To the sick and the afflicted

(which includes most of us, in some way or other)

Do we attract our sicknesses? Do we unconsciously choose our afflictions?

I have begun to hear intonations of such even in gospel discussion—how everything bad (as well as good) that happens to us, we have brought on ourselves—the bad, being a sort of shadow side of the Law of Attraction. But to me this sounds oddly déjà vu: as in “cause (i.e., thought and/or action) equals effect (i.e., consequence)”—a tidy formula of blame and responsibility. In times past (and even now, for some) the alleged cause was personal sin that brought God’s punishment.
AND as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? (New Testament John 9:1-2)
Today, we don’t openly question, “Who did sin?” Rather, our philosophies intone, “Your pain, suffering, poverty, illness, trauma, etc. is a manifestation of personal choice/thought/action (conscious or unconscious) that brought those things into your life. (Déjà vu, the friends of Biblical Job?!)

But I suggest we run this idea of meritocracy (of the bad and of the good) through the full gospel prism. Jesus’ reply to the above query was
… Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (New Testament John 9:3)
And what is the work of God?
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Pearl of Great Price Moses 1:39)
And how does He intend to do it?

…We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; 25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Pearl of Great Price Abraham 3:24-25, emphasis added);

... I will try you and prove you herewith. ... for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy (Doctrine and Covenants Section 98:12, 14, emphasis added).

And how does He prove us? Through tests and trials. Tests and trials that He determines as best suited to our personal needs.
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 (Bk of Mormon Mosiah 3:19, emphasis added).
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (New Testament Hebrews 12:5-11)
By descending into this world of testing, trial, and tribulation, we are subject to things we never desired, thought, expected, or deserved.* Warnings abound in scripture of the ubiquity of tribulation:
▪ These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (N.T. John 16:33, emphasis added).
▪ Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (New Testament Acts 14:22)
▪ For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. (New Testament 1 Thessalonians 3:4)
▪ And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (New Testament Revelation 7:13-14)
There are warnings too, that not all promises will arrive during mortality:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (New Testament Hebrews 11:13)
So, to the sick and the afflicted, perhaps:

1. We should not judge ourselves or others as necessarily meriting these so-called cursings, failings, sorrows, traumas, etc., or as bringing them upon ourselves. As I have written before, we shall be tested in the three necessities of faith, hope, and charity; and many of those tests will break our hearts:
Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:7; see also Doctrine and Covenants Section 59:8; Section 97:8)
2. We should consider the company we hope to keep and all their trials and tribulations. Consider Adam & Eve, Noah & Naamah, Moses & Zipporah, Abraham, Sarah, & Hagar, Job & wife, Mary & Joseph, Jesus the Christ, Apostles Peter & Paul, Roger & Mary Barnard Williams, Joseph & Emma Hale Smith, and Mother Teresa, to name a few, plus countless other good and great people throughout history. How do we reconcile their desires to love and serve God with ALL the trials they endured if the notion of meritocracy governs all?

3. We might ask this question: “What are the works of God that He would have manifest in my life as I endure provings, trials, and tribulations?”

*Now a final note of caution. This criticism of meritocracy does not deny the law of the harvest, or that justice must have its due, or that our thoughts and actions reap consequences. God has warned us that they will and do—and that in His final judgment, there are irrevocable laws and consequences (tempered only when repentance or incapacity triggers mercy). Often we know when we have deserved disagreeable consequence. By the same token, we also know when justice seems turned upside down. Rather, this criticism of “meritocracy” is aimed at the pre-judgments we make about seeming blessings and cursings before the final judgment; and at our tendency to ignore what God and His witnesses have said about this life and the process by which man is refined and perfected. Man’s trials may not always be “merited” (as in being a direct consequence of thought or behavior), but they are often necessary for the exercise of moral agency, for growth and perfection.

Once again, we are faced with allowing divergent views—sufferings through consequence and sufferings through appointment. In my view, the monocle of meritocracy distorts the nature of tribulation and places blame in cases where there should be only understanding, compassion, comfort, and generosity.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why I doubt the Law of Attraction*

(*as it pertains to mortal men and women. Thus, according to its circular proofs, I have negated my possibilities of attraction; which, unfortunately for me, tends to prove their point.)

The Law of Attraction (LoA) espouses that

people’s thoughts (both conscious and unconscious) dictate the reality of their lives, whether or not they’re aware of it. Essentially “if you really want something and truly believe it’s possible, you’ll get it,” but putting a lot of attention and thought onto something you don’t want means you’ll probably get that too. [Ref.]

Or as others claim:
You attract what you are. So you ask the universe, “How may I serve?”; you live a life of constancy reflecting that value; and the universe will respond back, “How may I serve you?” (See Wayne Dyer, Excuses Begone!, et al.)
So why do I doubt the LoA as it applies to this mortal sphere?
1. Jesus: “Not my will, but thine, be done” (New Testament Matt. 26:39, 42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42), appears to exemplify that what we want is less important than what God wants for us—signifying that the submission of man to God is the key, not vice versa.
2. The tests, trials, and martyrdom of many of God’s prophets, apostles, saints, and sages as they endured traumas and events that they neither wanted, expected, nor deserved. Take the Son of God, Himself—a perfect being, a great “I AM” [name all the virtues]—and what did He get back? Crucifixion![1]
3.We live in a world of opposites and opposition in order that the eternal purposes of God may be brought to pass.[2] Many will be asked to endure contradictions[3] that will feel unbearable.
4. The more universal LoA being that the adversary is more attracted to persons who are striving to do and be good than to persons who are not. (Read Biblical Job. Hint: We don’t always get what we desire or what we give out because the adversary’s gameplan is to continually run interference.)
5. The Attractions are, for the most part, “mortal” things that moth and rust doth corrupt (Matt. 6:19). In other words, the prime LoA focus seems to emphasize the desires of the natural man whose predisposition tends toward power, wealth, and fame (the rewards of Babylon?!)—the same rewards offered to Christ, and rejected by Him (New Testament Matthew 4 & Luke 4).
6. King Benjamin’s sermon: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Book of Mormon Mosiah 3:19, emphasis added).
7. If we attracted everything we thought (feared, desired, wished for, worried about, obsessed over, or deserved) most of us would be somewhere other than where we are. If anything, God is kept busy 24/7 preventing the LoA from ruining or misdirecting lives because the natural man is continually attracted to the appearance of things instead of the heart of the matter, which is life eternal.
8. God says “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you,” and where the promise is not qualified with the words “that is expedient for you” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:64), it can probably be assumed from life-experience and trust that God will do what is both better and best for His children inspite of their wants, desires, and agendas (unless they insist[4]). God tutors and tests, both by giving and by withholding, in both prosperity and poverty, in both health and sickness, and so forth.
9. The LoA may be the law (or form thereof, like the power of the Word) that God employs in order to create worlds and universes—i.e., the power to manifest in physical form the things He has desired, imagined, and spiritually created with His intelligence.
10. Mortal man, in this telestial world, has not the knowledge, wisdom, foresight, compassion, control, patience, humility, long-suffering, kindness, etc., etc., that is required to direct the powers inherent in the LoA. Man, who hasn’t even gotten in the door of faith, hope, and charity, believes, like a 5-year old, that he can be trusted with (a cushion &) the keys to the Hummer. (Any déjà vu here of one who wanted power and privilege without enduring the path?)
11. There are elements of truth in the LoA. Our thoughts do influence and help direct our lives, and we do attract some events and consequences, but the philosophies of the LoA remind me of W.E. Henley’s poem, “Invictus” as opposed to Orson F. Whitney’s reply, “The Soul’s Captain” (ref:
When God says, “Doubt not but be believing” (Book of Mormon Mormon 9:27), I take it to mean “Doubt— not Me, My truths, My promises, My power, My knowledge, My Justice & Mercy, etc., but prove all else and hold fast to that which is good. (New Testament 1 Thessalonians 5:21).

In my view, the LoA does not hold up to the full spectrum of life, but is a blend of the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture; and such mingling of truth and half-truths has enormous potential to harm and mislead.
[1] The world gave Him crucifixion; His Father gave Him the power of resurrection, and that is the point. Many times the world (universe) gives the opposite of what is expected/deserved/believed, but in the final judgment, all will be worked out according to justice and mercy. In other words, that which we gave out will come back to us in the end. But when we pre-judge what is deserved and merited—what is supposed to come back to us from the universe while we are in this life, we set ourselves up for blame and pain that is often not helpful nor fully truthful.
[2] Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:11-15: For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first–born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. … I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon. And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, … it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
[3] See DéjàVu~TimesII post of Monday, Sept. 21, 2009: The Agony of Contradictions
[4] And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation.(Doctrine and Covenants Section 88:65)

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Agony of Contradictions*

(*Things that appear to be incompatabile)

So much of our pain seems to arise out of the contradictions of our lives. We expect God to manifest in a certain way, and then He does a Biblical “Job” on us and we, like suffering Job, cry out, “I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction” (Job 10:15).

But surviving contradiction seems mandatory to salvation. Promises made, then delayed;[1] commandments given, then exempted by a superseding command;[2] faithful souls suffering at the hands of enemies, traumas, or an inexplicably silent God;[3] faithful people in all corners of the world suffering their various trials of contradiction.

The epitome of one who suffered contradiction was the Son of God himself.
… the Son, … ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh, and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer; or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions [emphasis added] than any man can be. But, notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin, … (Lectures on Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 5:2.)

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction [emphasis added] of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds (New Testament Hebrews 12:2-3).
I believe that the contradictions of our lives are designed to test us in the three necessities: faith, hope, and charity (Moroni 10:21). Will we choose faith in the midst of fearful circumstances, hope in the midst of seeming hopelessness, and charity in the midst of persecutions, oppressions, and injustice? In other words, we will be given opportunities to choose and to develop faith, hope, and charity in the midst of pain, suffering, and contradiction. It is truly a world of opposites; the only kind of world where meaningful choice is possible; where
… men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:27).
Contradiction in the realm of spiritual things is not something we seem to acknowledge very much, but as it is central to our experiences in this world, wouldn’t our trials and sufferings be more bearable (endurable) if we recognized the centrality of contradiction and the indispensable role it plays in forcing us to confront the necessities of faith, hope, and charity?

[1] read Hebrews 11; also includes promises in Patriarchal Blessings.
[2] Abraham to sacrifice his son; Nephi to slay an unconscious Laban, etc.
[3] Alma’s flight from wicked king Noah, only to be enslaved by his former “priestly” colleagues in alliance with the enemy Lamanites (Book of Mormon); faithful Job, faithful Daniel, faithful Paul, faithful martyrs by the hundreds, faithful Mother Teresa (Come Be My Light), and countless others.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Better Way: The United Order

As I see it, economic theories seem strung out between the coercions of socialism and the corruptions of capitalism (though there are elements of both in both systems). And as an LDS people, we seem more concerned with the coercions than the corruptions. We also seem confused by our own economic utopia of the United Order. Here are some commentaries and a visual analogy, that I believe help clarify how individualism and voluntary “socialism” can co-exist, a synthesis of two apparent opposites.

1. The Law and the Administrative Agency

The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 122
The vehicle for implementing the law of consecration is the united order. The basic principle underlying the united order is that everything we have belongs to the Lord; and, therefore, the Lord may call upon us for any and all of our property, because it belongs to Him. The united order was entered by "a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken" (D&C 42:30). Under the united order, idleness has no place, and greed, selfishness, and covetousness are condemned. The united order may therefore operate only with a righteous people. ("A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion," in 1977 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah: BYU, 1978], p. 74.) (Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 122.)

William O. Nelson, “To Prepare a People,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 19
The law of consecration is a law of the celestial kingdom, requiring that all members of the Church shall consecrate their property (including time, talents, and material wealth) to the Church for the building of the kingdom of God and the establishment of Zion. The legal administrative agency for carrying out the law is the united order. This organization receives consecrated properties, gives stewardships to donors, and regulates the use of surplus commodities. The law of consecration is the commandment; the united order is the revealed economic system.

2. Not to be confused with other “united orders”

William O. Nelson, “To Prepare a People,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 20
4.The united order should not be confused with various “united orders” that were practiced in Utah. President J. Reuben Clark observed, “In practice the brethren in Missouri got away, in their attempts to set up the United Order, from the principles set out in the revelations. This is also true of the organizations set up … in Utah after the Saints came to the valleys.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 55)

3. Not communal or communistic in nature

(Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 2: 178.)
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.: 3-5
One very common misapprehension may be corrected here regarding the United Order. The Church never was, and under existing commandments never will be, a communal society, under the directions thus far given by the Lord. The United Order was not communal nor communistic. It was completely and intensely individualistic, with a consecration of unneeded surpluses for the support of the Church and the poor.

(Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 122.)
It has been erroneously concluded by some that the united order is both communal and communistic in theory and practice because the revelations speak of equality. Equality under the united order is not economic and social leveling as advocated by some to day. Equality, as described by the Lord, is "equal[ity] according to [a man's] family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs" (D&C 51:3).
Is the united order a communal system? Emphatically not. It never has been and never will be. It is "intensely individualistic." Does the united order eliminate private ownership of property? No. "The fundamental principle of this system [is] the private ownership of property" (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., CR October 1942, p. 57). ("A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion," in 1977 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah: BYU, 1978], p. 74.)

4. Basic Principles

(Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 2: 20.)
John A. Widtsoe: 30-37
Out of the answers to [Joseph Smith's] prayers on the subject [of help for the poor] was revealed an ideal economic system, commonly known as the "United Order." It rejected the weaknesses of the many similar attempts and introduced new, almost revolutionary methods of operation.
Its objective was to provide every man who is willing to work with the necessities and the comforts of life, thus abolishing poverty from the earth. It was to be a cooperative plan but directly opposed to modern communism, since it recognized man as a free agent, respected the rights of private property, and preserved and encouraged individual initiative. The United Order thus established rests upon four basic principles.
First, the earth is the Lord's. Men are only stewards of their possessions. All that man has should be used therefore in accordance with the Lord's expressed will.
Second, all men are children of God—of a divine family. Therefore, the Lord requires that they must help one another as needs arise, provided that he who will not work shall have no claim upon his brother.
Third, every man must be respected as a free agent. He may enter the order at his pleasure. Once in the order, he must be allowed to use, fully, and as he pleases, any properties placed in his hands. He may leave the order at his pleasure.
Fourth, the government of the order is vested in a central agency, sustained by the members of the order, presided over by the bishop, his counselors, and such helpers as may be needed. This central agency would have power to adjust the disputes normally arising among strongly individualized human beings.
The operation of the order under these four heads is extremely simple. Those who join the order would place all their possessions, irrevocably, in a common treasury—the rich man, his wealth; the poor man, his penny. Then each member would receive a sufficient portion, called "an inheritance," from the common treasury, to enable him to continue in his trade, business, or profession as he may desire. The farmer would receive land and implements; the tradesman, tools and materials; the merchant, the necessary capital; the professional man, instruments, books, etc. Members who work for others would receive proportionate interests in the enterprises they serve. No one would be without property—all would have an inheritance.
A person's inheritance would be his personal property, to operate permanently and for his benefit and that of his family. Should he withdraw from the order, his inheritance would go with him, but he would have no claim upon that which he had placed in the common treasury. [Sec. 51:3-6.] At the end of the year, or a set period, the member who had earned more than his business and family needs required would place the surplus in the common treasury. Thus, for example, large fortunes would be administered by the order as a whole rather than by one individual. The member who, despite intelligent diligence, had lost from his operations would have his loss made up by the general treasury for another start, or he might with his consent be placed in some activity better fitting his gifts.
In short, the general treasury would set up every man in his preferred field and would care for and help those unable to profit from their inheritance. The general treasury, holding the surpluses of the members, would also finance the erection of public buildings and make possible all community enterprises decided upon by the order. [Sec. 104:60-77.]
Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 364-5.
(The Prophet Joseph's letter to Edward Partridge.)
Items of Instruction Concerning the Consecration of Property.

Brother Edward Partridge, Sir:—I proceed to answer your questions, concerning the consecration of property:—First, it is not right to condescend to very great particulars in taking inventories. The fact is this, a man is bound by the law of the Church, to consecrate to the Bishop, before he can be considered a legal heir to the kingdom of Zion; and this, too, without constraint; and unless he does this, he cannot be acknowledged before the Lord on the Church Book therefore, to condescend to particulars, I will tell you that every man must be his own judge how much he should receive and how much he should suffer to remain in the hands of the Bishop. I speak of those who consecrate more than they need for the support of themselves and their families.
The matter of consecration must be done by the mutual consent [emphasis added by SMS] of both parties; for to give the Bishop power to say how much every man shall have, and he be obliged to comply with the Bishop's judgment, is giving to the Bishop more power than a king has; and upon the other hand, to let every man say how much he needs, and the Bishop be obliged to comply with his judgment, is to throw Zion into confusion, and make a slave of the Bishop. The fact is, there must be a balance or equilibrium of power, between the Bishop and the people, and thus harmony and good will may be preserved among you.
Therefore, those persons consecrating property to the Bishop in Zion, and then receiving an inheritance back, must reasonably show to the Bishop that they need as much as they claim. But in case the two parties cannot come to a mutual agreement, the Bishop is to have nothing to do about receiving such consecrations; and the case must be laid before a council of twelve High Priests, the Bishop not being one of the council, but he is to lay the case before them.
Other valuable references:
D&C 42; D&C 51; D&C 104
History of the Church 1:146-7
“Living the Principles of the Law of Consecration” by Pres. Marion G. Romney, Ensign, Feb. 1979, 3
“To Prepare a People” by William O. Nelson, Ensign, Jan. 1979, 18-23

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trauma Happens*

It happens to good people. It happens to not-so-good people. And when it does, it seems our human nature to cry, “Why me?” “Why this?” “Why now?” Or as a good niece of mine recently wrote, “I need some extra help in trying to remember that God doesn’t hate me.”

The short answer to the good and the not-so-good, alike, is that God loves His children. Yet doubts take wing in the wake of trauma, especially for those who are trying to do and to be good—doubts that must be as old as Adam and Eve. What must they have felt to lose two sons in a single day—the younger to murder by the elder, and that eldest, to a life of wandering and exile?

So why, in the witness of the ages—in the trauma stories and déjà vu of millions of souls—do traumatic events seem so irreconcilable to our expectations of life and God? And why is the second trauma—the ensuing, protracted mental and spiritual anguish—so consuming? Why must the mind relive, regurgitate, rehash, and endlessly re-envision all that could/should have been, if only …; All that might not have been, except for …?

Is it because we refuse the witness of the ages? The witness that trauma happens—somewhere, in every moment, in every social and economic class—even to good people. Maybe, especially to good people. Read Biblical Job, but be wary of his friends! God’s criticism of them (Job 42:7) seems but to reiterate the chasm between His ways and ours; His thoughts and ours (Isaiah 55:9).

Those of us who kick and bang at God’s door (this writer being a prime specimen) seem merely to exacerbate our trials and tribulations, because we insist on fashioning God in an image of our own expectation—an expectation where a loving God gives good things and protects from bad things (good and bad being from our point of view). Where trauma, suffering, and injustice cannot be good things. Where an all powerful, omniscient God would prevent trauma and tragedy, especially to His God-fearing children.

So back to the witness of life: It is that trauma happens. It has happened. It will continue to happen—even to good people. Even to God’s beloved prophets. Christ, Himself, said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

So perhaps it is not the initial trauma that is the most traumatic. Perhaps it is the torturous disconnect between the God we want/expect/demand/ envision and the God we get. The God we get has witnessed in story upon story, event upon event that, in this world, trauma happens—to the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the rich, the poor. We don’t want to hear this. We don’t want to experience this. We don’t want the uncertainty of sacrificing the “good” life for His good will and finding His will not so good for our mortal expectations.

We don’t want the mind-numbing God-confusion that tortured Biblical Job (Job 10:15). We don’t want to give up the God we espouse for the God who manifests; for the God who is too often silent, or perhaps worse, who answers at last, as He did Job, with a list of mind-boggling questions (Job 38-41). And for those who espouse The Law of Attraction, one needs to ask: Why all these traumatic events in the lives of apostles and prophets, saints and sages, teachers and truth-seekers?[1]

Perhaps, it all comes down to this: A test of trust—whether WE can be trusted to choose God, truth, light, peace, justice, mercy, integrity, forgiveness, benevolence, virtue, faith, hope, charity, repentance, and so forth, out of pure intelligence, awareness, commitment, or endurance, when all around us there seems every reason—every justification, every passion and pressure—not to. And where, in this world of opposites, every deception abounds.

If we can be so trusted in the worst of times, maybe then, the light will dawn and we will come to know the full measure of our creation.

[1] The First Law of Attraction: The devil is more obessesed with persons who are striving to do and be good than with persons who are not. \\ SMS~Ref: Adam & Eve; Biblical Job; Jesus in the Wilderness; CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, etc., etc., etc.

*(1st posted Jan. 14, 2009 on

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What are we praying for?

(Repeated directives from scripture)
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27 - 28; 3 Nephi 12:44 - 45 )

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9 - 13; 3 Ne. 13:10)

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)

Therefore blessed are ye if ye shall keep my commandments, which the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you. 15 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him. 16 And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church, among my people who do repent and are baptized in my name. Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you. 17 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto his Disciples, he turned again unto the multitude and said unto them: 18 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. (3 Nephi 18:14 - 18)

Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed. 22 And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not; 23 But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name. (3 Nephi 18:21 - 23)

Thy Will Be Done
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42; Moses 4:2)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (James 1:5 - 6)

And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. 9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul. (2 Nephi 32:8 - 9)

But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long- suffering; (Alma 13:28)

Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation. (Alma 31:10)

Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. 37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 37:36 - 37)

Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you; 18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save. 19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him. 20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks. 21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid–day, and evening. 22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies. 23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness. 24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them. 25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase. 26 But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness. 27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you. 28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. 29 Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men. (Alma 34:17 - 29)

Latter-day revelations thru the Prophet Joseph Smith
Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work. (D&C 10:5)

Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; (D&C 20:33)

If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal. (D&C 42:61)

Pray always that you enter not into temptation, that you may abide the day of his coming, whether in life or in death. Even so. Amen. (D&C 61:39)

Calling on the name of the Lord for the Comforter, which shall teach them all things that are expedient for them— 11 Praying always that they faint not; and inasmuch as they do this, I will be with them even unto the end. (D&C 75:10 - 11)

Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come. Behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen. (D&C 88:126)

What I say unto one I say unto all; pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place. (D&C 93:49)

Pray ye, therefore, that their ears may be opened unto your cries, that I may be merciful unto them, that these things may not come upon them. (D&C 101:92)

What I say unto one I say unto all; pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place. (D&C 93:49)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Suppositions from a Sunday Afternoon

(Thoughts sparked by reports of some who seem to lose a sense of self when experiencing deep meditation.)
if undifferentiated oneness is the original state of all things, living and non-living;
if life is a three-act developmental opportunity with pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal stages;[1]
if greater degrees of differentiation and wholeness come by progressively abiding the law (greater light) of higher states and stages;
if the light of lower states and stages is included in higher ones (transcend & include);[2]
if a higher state/stage is obtained only after sustained inner and outer submission to its revealed laws (greater light);
—◊ maybe those meditative practices that "offline" the frontal cortex[3] are really regressions into pre-mortal oneness and not practices of transcendence;
—◊ maybe the sustained practice of emptying oneself into pre-mortal oneness is so stressful on the mortal state that it can lead to mental and physical disintegration;
—◊ maybe the light of higher stages (realms or dimensions) comes only as a gift from that higher place, revealing itself in its own time and way to those who seek, ask, and demonstrate a capacity to receive—and is generally unresponsive to demand, insincerity, misdirected practice, or chemical experimentation;
—◊ maybe transcendence is best served by pondering specific questions and by seeking to abide, through transrational submission, the light and differentiated oneness[4] (unity) that seem descriptive of advancement and enlightenment.
[1] Does this three-act progression require an "invitation" (intercession) from more advanced beings: e.g., parents to birth one from pre-mortal to mortal; and a resurrected Christ to raise one from death to immortality?
[2] Could sleep be the "included" pre-mortal dimension which is mostly veiled to mortals in order, perhaps, to dispense equitable justice following a probationary mortal experience to ascertain the degree of light each will choose to abide?
[3] See Time magazine (Cdn edition) August 4, 2003, p. 43: "Inside the Meditating Brain: Frontal Lobe: This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions, and self-conscious awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex tends to go offline."
[4] New Testament, KJV: John 10:16, 30; 17:11, 21-23; Acts 4:32; Romans 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:11-27; 2 Cor. 13:11; Eph. 2:14-22; 1 John 5:7-8; Matthew 19:5 (a transcendence of opposites?). And does Christ's atonement / at-one-ment—an utterly transrational submission (KJV, Matt. 26:39, 42, 44; Mark 14:36, 39; Luke 12:42, 44, John 4:34)—open the way for those who seek greater post-mortal advancement by their willingness to abide the greater light?

(First written in January 2007 and posted to another forum on January 7, 2007)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Houses and History Divided

As time stood poised, some 2000 years ago, to pivot from BC to AD, Rome stood astride the known western world—and in a small village a male Child was born. For many centuries, time[1] would not recognize Him, but when it did all that went before would be divided by His birth from all that came after. He lived in a land awash in the corruptions of political powers and of religious elites. He was not seduced by their claims: Pharisees on one hand, Sadducees on another, and others in-between. The misuse of power, wealth, and fame were all tests of His life to which He did not succumb—the same tests of our lives. He claimed to be the way, the truth, and the light—a new way, a new truth, a new light. Yet …

Two thousand years later we seem still to be living with Sadducees and Pharisees—parties of division everywhere, each claiming superior truth—more excellent values. In the West, our divisive parties have become more visibly political, vying for our loyalties: Liberals v. Conservatives; Democrats v. Republicans; libertarians v. socialists, etc., etc. But what if they are all corrupt in their own way—misusing power, wealth, fame, and influence? Is our time really so different from His?

Do we really think that in all the history that has been, in all the warnings of scriptures and prophets, in all the déjà vu of life, that we can side with parties of contention and be on the right side? Even when certain parties claim greater affinity to God? What was it Isaiah said: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”[2]

Did Jesus not say: "By their fruits, ye shall know them"?[3] Maybe it is time we stopped being enamored by words and started looking at the fruits of our loyalties.

[1] Occidental time
[2] Matt. 15:8
[3] Matt. 7:20