Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Skimmed Milk?

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: (Isaiah 28:9-10)

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)[1]
In these statements, prophets of old speak of progressing from milk to meat. In these latter days, are we progressing? Sometimes, I wonder if we’re not regressing—preferring skimmed milk in order to rationalize more enthralling things. Does God not warn us in Jeremiah that He will even allow false prophets and priests if that is what we love to have[2]—in déjà vu of other times and peoples?

But what is the meat and where is it to be found?
Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. (New Testament John 4:34)
President David O. Mackay said:
I think we pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion. In our worship there are two elements: One is spiritual communion arising from our own meditation; the other, instruction from others, particularly from those who have authority to guide and instruct us. Of the two, the more profitable introspectively is meditation. Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as "a form of private devotion or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme [or truth]. … Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord. Jesus set the example for us.[3]
The example? He sought solitude; He sought it in nature; He allowed for extensive periods of time.[4] Others too[5], when given to pondering, mediation, and contemplation have seen beyond the veil into the meat and mysteries of God. Are not the mysteries clearly sanctioned by the counsel of Jesus himself and many others?[6] Or have we been instructed in more recent times to be afraid of the mysteries? Or have we become too preoccupied? Or is it just easier to endure repetitive translations of “milk” rather than the meditation and meat of transformation.

In our consuming labors for money, security, fame, power, possessions, homes, amenities, entertainments, etc.[7]—and even in our commitments to family, community, and church service—where is the time and solitude for contemplation, pondering, mediation?[8] Where is the emphasis? When was the last time we heard a sermon or lesson devoted to this “most secret, most sacred door”? And where are the peaceful, quiet, undisturbed places for extended solitude?[9]

Isha Schwaller de Lubicz, in The Opening of the Way, sums up our modern world (and our propensity for skimmed milk):

Nerves trained to excitement feel an unhealthy craving for it, and when the life of brain and senses has been accustomed to be fed continually from without by an unending flow of secondhand thoughts and images, of catchy tunes and twitching rhythms, it calls for these things because they render individual effort superfluous, and shake to pieces any notion of values. That is our modern world, dancing the infernal roundelay of haste, ever more deeply involved in the quest for variety and novelty.
A mind trained to these frantic gymnastics will clearly show two characteristics: It will be insatiable, always preferring quantity to quality, and it will suffer from the need for speed. …
But the worst effect of all these new impulses has been the nervous imbalance which cannot tolerate silence or inactivity—these two pillars of meditation, without which one can have no true intuition or spiritual experience [emphasis mine].[10]
If the arm of flesh cannot be trusted,[11] and if milk is not the be-all-and-end-all, then our progression and security reside in 1) cultivating individual recognition of and obedience to the spirit of God; and 2) personally seeking the meat and mysteries of God, ever keeping in mind:
... there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 20:32-34)
[1] See also: New Testament 1 Corinthians 3:1-3: AND I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
[2] Old Testament Jeremiah 5:31 - The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?; Jeremiah 6:13 - For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.; Jeremiah 2:8 The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.; See also Isaiah 30:10; Jeremiah 23:16 and many other references against trusting blindly in the arm of flesh, even prophetic flesh, for the counsel is: Doctrine and Covenants Section 46:7-8 But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils. Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
[3] David O. McKay, Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967, 22-23.
[4] For example: Matthew 4; Matthew 14:23. And yes, he might have sought it in the temple, too, had the House of God not been corrupted. However, it cannot be known, in His day, if the requisite solitude and privacy would have been available to one who was not in the hierarchy.
[5] See the search results for the following words (and their derivations): ponder, meditation, contemplation in a scripture concordance or computer search.
[6] The words (mystery and mysteries) are worth reviewing in their 75 scriptural references!
[7] Is the perfect contrast between laboring for Zion and laboring for Babylon to be seen in the environs of the Daper Utah temple?
[8] Some may find sufficient privacy and solitude for meditation in LDS temples, but the experience of others is to feel too conspicuous, too intruded upon, too constrained in their emotional needs, and too misjudged, as was Hannah, mother of Samuel (see 1 Samuel 1:12-16).
[9] Do we imagine that fifteen minutes, once a week, during the sacrament service—if we can manage even that—is enough? And how do we properly divide our attention while in temple sessions between our personal mediations and our proxy work? Isn’t that a large measure of Babylon‘s ploy—to distract and divide our attention from the thing to which we should be paying most attention?
[10] Isha Schwaller de Lubicz in The Opening of the Way: A Practical Guide to the Wisdom of Ancient Egypt © 1979. (Translation 1981, Inner Traditions International Ltd. New York, NY., pp. 1-2)
[11] Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 4:34 - O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.; Doctrine and Covenants Section 1:19-20 - The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;