Monday, February 27, 2012

Mirror, Mirror?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In the house of my friends[1]

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

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

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

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

Are we serial offenders and seriously offended at the accusation?

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

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

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

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