Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Natural Man

We have been told:
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. (King Benjamin’s discourse: Book of Mormon | Mosiah 3:19: .)

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 121:39)

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)

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (New Testament | 1 Corinthians 2:14)
In addition, déjà vu confirms that the natural man adores power, wealth, and fame—those classic, three temptations that shadow every man (and woman) in varying degrees. Thus, the natural man is in constant marathon-mode, racing the shadows. He is obsessed. He wants no distraction; no interference. He wants the thrill of passing; of besting himself and others. He cares not for the bleeding and broken. It’s a race of competition, efficiency, surpassing, “meriting” the prize. He scorns those less obsessed; those who stop to aid the exhausted. They are losers, as surely as those they foolishly succor. The natural man comes to expect that others, less gifted, should sacrifice for his visions and brilliance. He deserves. They serve.

In King Benjamin’s parallels, the natural man is not submissive, not meek, not humble, not patient, not full of love, not willing to submit [to the ways of God] … Loser traits, one and all, in the business world of yesterday and today.

So, if the natural man is so contrary to the order of God, what about a collective of such men and women? Does the collective ameliorate the “natural man” tendencies or does it concentrate them—as in a tornado?

Why is it that being surrounded by collectives of “natural men” of business, we blissfully follow the pied-pipers of laissez-faire (do your own thing, be a law unto yourself 1)? Why do we swallow hook, line, and sinker, the “rights” of the natural man; the omniscience of markets; the “dictates” of supply and demand; the propaganda of maximized profit and “blessed” prosperity; the disparaging of governments and unions—the only entities powerful enough to counter the corruptions2 of the natural man and his “private” capital collectives? Why do we bow to the so-called inevitability/determinism of (one-world) globalization?

These are all the ways of Babylon. She seizes upon things that call for balance and forces them to extremes. She caters to, praises, and propagandizes the natural man. Her ambition is to co-opt and corrupt the incentives of business and channel them to her own ends. Her spokespeople endlessly trumpet the “virtues” of privatization, efficiency, and deregulation (her most prized business tool); and ceaselessly denounce the evils of taxation, regulation, criticism, and the common good. She hoodwinks democracy in the name of freedom, agency, prosperity, “merit,” and individualism.

Why have we become so adept at severing conscience from commerce? Espousing moral and religious values in our lives and churches, but in our work and business following/favoring (though we deny it with passion) the ways of the natural man?

Suckered by Babylon, yet incensed beyond measure that anyone would suggest it.

1. In other words, follow the dictates, rules, necessities, etc. of competition and the marketplace.
2. Yes, these too have become corrupted by the entreaties and temptations of Babylon, but without them there is not even a glimmer of “balance of power.”

Saturday, May 15, 2010

To bless & prosper?

This morning, I finished Joel ben Izzy’s The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness and was again reminded1 of the contradictions and contraries that “plague” this life.2 Stories that continually affirm what we try to forget—that life is full of Job-like contradictions that challenge our notion of a just and loving God, of meaning and purpose, of success, of the blessed life. Stories that “make no sense,” yet could bring us to a more perfect sense of what it means “to bless and prosper,” if only we would LISTEN!

Stories of:
▪ Storytellers deprived of their voices*
▪ Great musicians imprisoned in silence*
▪ Artists / filmmakers blinded by circumstance*
▪ Superman bound to a wheeled, breath-giving chair*
▪ Gifted souls afflicted with manias and depressions*
▪ Perfect souls reduced to wretchedness*
▪ Rich men in hell; beggars in heaven3
▪ An Omnipotent God crucified, and
▪ Dreamers everywhere who dwell in sackcloth and the ashes of their dreams and labors while the Heavens wait for them to be still long enough to hear.
Why is it that we continue to define “blessed and prospered” from the dictionary of Babylon when the stories (from antiquity to the present) beat a constant drum of contradiction?
Why do we persistently forget the corrosiveness and divisiveness of worldly wealth? 4
Why do we keep judging by appearances instead of the eternity of things?5
How long does it take for us to understand that “What seems like a blessing may be a curse; what seems like a curse may be a blessing”?6

2. … 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 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, emphasis added.)
"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 of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (New Testament Hebrews 12:2-3, emphasis added).
* Including: Joel ben Izzy; Beethoven; Hugues de Montalembert; Christopher Reeve; Patty Duke; Biblical Job; etc
3. New Testament Luke 16:20-26
4. Book of Mormon & prosperity cycles; New Testament Matthew 19:24
5. "But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart"(Old Testament 1 Samuel 16:7).
6. Story: The Lost Horse (see Izzy’s book, p. 11-12. See also