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Mosiah 18: 8-10

I was asked why the language of Mosiah 18: 8-10 related to membership in the church, and not to others outside the church.  Here’s my response.
 
These verses are talking about entering into a covenant and becoming “the fold of God.”  (Verse 8.)  This fold will be “called his people.”  (Id.)  The fold, who have this covenant, and who are called His people, are to be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.”  (Id.)  The whole passage is relating to the interrelationship between those who are of the covenant, the fold, and who are God’s people as a result of this covenant.  These are the duties owed internally to the fold.
 
It continues to explain that these people should be “willing to mourn with those that mourn.”  (Verse 9.)  The word “those” should be read in the context of the covenant, the fold, the people and the obligation arising from within the group.
 
These verses are church/fold/covenant people related, and govern the obligations which those who come into that fold owe to each other.  It arises out of the covenant of baptism.  (Verse 10.)
 
The obligation owed within the church membership to one another on the one hand does not eliminate other obligations owed to your fellow man.  Indeed, it is one of the chief obligations owed to all humanity to cry repentance and bring others into the fold.  Christ also extended the obligation to care for others without regard to their status, including in His parable of the good Samaritan.  So to say there is one duty owed within the church is not to say there are not other obligations owed to others outside the church.

The battle is the Lord’s

I had an interesting conversation yesterday.  It provoked this comment.
 
When Julius ended the Republic by crossing the Rubicon with the 13th Legion from Gaul, he established a dictatorship that would change into the Empire thereafter.  The Republic was dead.  The Empire lived on.
 
Julius’ great nephew is regarded as the first fully recognized Emperor of the Roman Empire.  He ruled until his death in 14 AD as dictator for life.
 
Rome dominated the world, subduing other peoples who were considered inferior to Romans.  They believed it was Rome’s right to rule the world.  Roman control was benefiting others. This was the Pax Romana, or peace of Rome.  It came at the point of a spear.  Such is the peace offered by the leaders of this world.
 
Among the lands under Roman control was the Judean province in which Jesus Christ was born.  The place of His birth was directly affected by Augustus’ taxing.  (Luke 2: 1-6.)   He was a Jewish subject to the vassal king of the Herodian family. His life was lived between two Roman controlled provinces.
 
Jesus was asked if it was lawful to give tribute to Rome.  He responded by asking for a coin, noting Caesar’s image on it, and remarking “give unto Caesar the things that are Casear’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”  (Matt. 22: 17-22.)

Jesus never challenged Roman authority.  He submitted to it.  When the time comes for the establishment of Zion, it will not be necessary for us to deviate from Christ’s example.  Those who are in the promised latter-day Zion will be protected by the “the terror of the Lord.”  The residents will be those who “will not take up arms against their neighbor.”  (D&C 45: 66-71.)  There is no need to overthrow the world.  It will overthrow itself.  The Lord will not permit the wicked to destroy the righteous. (1 Ne. 22: 16.)  It is the wicked who destroy the wicked.  (Mormon 4: 5.)

 
We live in a world today in which Pax Americana has established controlled violence the world over.  The fear of destruction holds forces at bay which would gladly destroy one another if permitted.  The key to replacing the current world order with another one, as many insurgencies the world over recognize, is the destruction of Pax Americana by destroying American hegemony.  A lot of people are working on that, both inside and outside the United States.
 
Latter-day Zion will not need to take up the sword to defend themselves.  The Lord will be their shield and protection.  Since the wicked are responsible for killing the wicked, you join them when you decide to take up arms.  You also exclude yourself from those who are to come to Zion – for that group will be composed only of those who refuse to take up arms against their neighbor.  (D&C 45: 68, above.)
 
Read again how Zion was protected in the days of Enoch.  (Moses 7: 13-17.)  It wasn’t an army or arms which protected them.  It was the Lord who dwelt among them.
 
Our challenge as a people is to live so the Lord can dwell among us.  He will “take up His abode” with us as the Second Comforter, if we are prepared to receive Him.  This is why I have written what I have written.  Zion will be a byproduct of a prepared people.  It never has been and never will be the result of a violent, armed, and politically motivated insurrection by people who want to isolate themselves from the world.  Such people will only be a part of those who take up arms, and acting as part of the wicked, join in the destruction of the wicked, including themselves.
 
This does not mean that some righteous will not be required to die.  The Lord’s ability to protect us will require His hand move in “justice and mercy” to fulfill His promises.  Those who die will die unto the Lord.  Those who live will live unto the Lord.  But the battle is the Lord’s.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain had a greater influence on my childhood development than any other writer.  Here are a few of his quotes:

 
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
 
“Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul.”
 
“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction.  Fiction has to make sense.”
 
Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain gave Americans their sense of humor.  Whether you’ve ever read anything written by them or not, they form the underlying basis for our American humor.  Deep inside all their wit lies the truth.

A parable

A parable – for which I borrow Hindu and Buddhist notions to make it possible to tell.
There was a certain man who feared not God nor regarded his fellow man; who was filled with ungoverned lust and anger.  He married, fathered a child, and abused his son daily, for he was without compassion.  In the course of his abuse, he injured his son frequently.  When the child was a young boy, in a fit of anger, the man killed his son.  He was arrested, convicted of the murder, and executed.
Time is known only to man, but not to God, for all things past, present and future are before Him at all times in one eternal “now.”  God, who is merciful and whose purpose is to improve His children, to bring about their immortality and lead them into eternal life, needed this man to understand within his heart how his acts affect others.  For the man regarded not his fellow man and could not feel compassion for his wicked deeds.  With God all things are possible, and therefore the man was sent back again to mortality for further instruction.
When he returned, the man was born as the son of a certain man who feared not God nor regarded his fellow man.  His father was filled with ungoverned lust and anger.  His father abused him daily and in the course of abuse he was frequently injured.  One day the father killed him.
When men die they return to God, who gave them life, and so the child, who had once been a wicked man, returned again to God.  The Lord asked him upon his return: “Do you now understand?”
The man replied, “Yes.  I have been both.  I have been the victim and I have been the perpetrator.  I have been the father and I have been the son.  I have released my uncontrolled anger and I have been the victim of it.  I remember abusing and I also remember being abused.  I see now that when I was ungovernable and unkind it was only myself who I abused.  What I have given has returned to me and I have caused my own suffering.”
The Lord said, “It is well. Now let these experiences work in you, for without the opportunity to use them to live aright, you are not yet ready.”
Having been the wicked father and the abused son, the man returned again to the same time and place to now be a neighbor of the wicked man and the abused son.  How, then, ought the neighbor act so as to show he had truly learned?
What we do to another, we only do to ourselves. We will all find in the end that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. We are our fathers, and we are our sons, and we ought to be One with each other.

My calculations

I was asked about the numbers in activity used in an earlier post. (Sorry no link, the moderator can’t remember which one) That calculation was one I made based on the statistics we were given by the Mission President on our area.
By way of background, I did a two year stint as the Ward Mission Leader, followed by five years on the High Council over missionary work in my stake. During the last two years on the High Council we would meet quarterly with the mission presidency.  During those meetings we would be updated on the numbers throughout the mission and the church.  The numbers worked out to approximately 37% activity rate church-wide.  HOWEVER, the definition of “active” included anyone who attended a single sacrament meeting during a quarter.  This had the effect of inflating the number by all those who attended during Easter and Christmas (because they all became instantly “active” during two quarters of the year).  They also were affected by the count of sacrament meeting attendees who came for missionary farewells and missionary homecomings.  
I did a count of my own to try and come up with a “distortion” number to attempt to calculate who was really carrying the load as an average.  I couldn’t get a consistent result using my own ward to allow for Easter/Christmas and missionary farewell/homecoming additions.  But it appeared to me the distortion was somewhere between as little as 5% and as much as 10%.  I took a mid-point between the two and made my overall estimate of 4,000,000 out of the total church membership as those who are really serving regularly, attending regularly, and who are not merely “active” by virtue of quarterly appearances in a sacrament meeting.  I hope that serves your purposes.

Record Keeping

Joseph touches on a principle in his letter on September 6, 1842 that is quite important.  It relates to keeping record and the day of judgment.
 
After quoting Revelation 20: 12, Joseph explains there are two kinds of records kept.  One is on earth, recording what men have done here.  The other is kept in heaven.  The one agreeing with the other.  (D&C 128: 7.)  He goes on to explain how these two records are related.
 
What is recorded on earth is recorded in heaven.  What is not recorded in earth “shall not be recorded in heaven.”  (D&C 128: 8.)
 
This principle was extended by President Spencer W. Kimball in a talk he gave in October, 1975 while President of the Church.  His comments included this: “Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.”  (Originally printed in October, 1975 New Era; reprinted in New Era, Feb 2003, at page 32.)
 
Why would angels quote from your personal journal?  It would be based on the same principle given by Joseph Smith in Section 128.  Recording here those sacred events which happen in your life is necessary for the same events to be recorded in heaven.  The personal records of disciples of Christ have become scripture, but they began as a personal journal.  Nephi’s record was his journal. Alma’s, Abraham’s, Enoch’s and many others were also. Section 128 is a letter.  Most of the New Testament consists of letters.  These were written to or for family members or friends.
 
Do not underestimate the significance of what you record on earth in your own records.  If you record sacred events, written under the influence of the Holy Ghost, angels may not only quote from it (as Pres. Kimball suggested), but they may regard it as scripture itself. 

The individual and truth

There are two propositions I believe have the potential for defining our lives here in mortality.
First, the importance of the individual.
I really do believe in the importance, centrality and power of the individual.  What happens everywhere in the world begins with interpersonal relationships and the individual.  More can be done, and is done to change the course of history by the actions of individuals than anything else.

There’s that old saying that when God wants to change the world, He sends a baby.  Whether that baby is Buddha, or Gandhi, or Abraham Lincoln, or Henry Ford, or Thomas Beckett, or Jesus, the world changes when babies enter mortality.  All lives matter.  No one matters more than another in my view. The accumulation of lives well lived is the stuff of history.  How many unnamed artisans were required to build the Parthenon? 

Our day is the great day of the individual.  Now your thoughts can be sent by electronic means anywhere in the world.  Your audience can include every living person who has a connection to the internet.  I think there is a purpose there.

You matter.  All of us do.  Good ideas can now spread on eagle’s wings, so to speak.  A spark kindled today can light the whole world.

Second, the primacy of good.

I believe truth will triumph.  To be here on the earth required an initial “screening,” which was conducted before the people who are born here were permitted to come.  All those who live here came from a shared God and Father of us all.  Therefore, we have something in common.
Truth is recognizable.  It must be fought to be suppressed.  Although some will wage that fight and succeed in blighting their sense of the truth and light, the overwhelming majority will not.  The “light of Christ” given to all mankind as a commonly shared inheritance persists here.
The result is that truth will win.  In free exchanges of ideas, it will be truth that will ultimately triumph.  I believe the truth will win even if it is only spoken as a whisper in a hurricane of opposition.  It will win.
It is unnecessary for truth to come from authorized sources.  It is irrelevant for it to be opposed by authorized sources.  It will always triumph.  Crush it, burn it, send it into the wilderness and crucify those who believe it – it will triumph. 

THE Remnant

The subject of THE “remnant” is too great to undertake in a post here.  I’ve attended meetings lasting two days in which the subject was the sole matter being discussed.  I’ve had discussions, read a manuscript, exchanged emails and spent years on this subject with people who know more about the details than do I.  Therefore my conclusion is that it exceeds the parameters of this venue.
 

Identification of the “remnant” was critical to Joseph Smith.  Although we’ve discarded the issue, it was of central concern to the early Brethren.  So much so that the “remnant” was what drove the movement westward near the “borders of the Lamanites”   The first missionaries were sent to the “Lamanites” as part of the Restoration’s concern with the promised “remnant” of the Book of Mormon people.  (See D&C 32: 2.)  The Saints were required to move west to be near these people as part of locating Zion.  (D&C 54: 8.)
The Book of Mormon is filled with promises addressed to the “remnant” of those people.  Modern revelation promises they will blossom as a rose.  (D&C 49: 24.)
The first Temple built in the west after the exodus was in St. George to be near the suspected “remnant” to be reclaimed.  The first company in that Temple’s first session included a Chief from the Hopi tribe.  Brother Nibley was partial to the Hopi as the “remnant” or at least a part of the “remnant” and he wrote a good deal about them.
This is an important subject.  Worthy of study.  But it is too great a subject for treatment in a limited venue like this.  To do it justice would require this forum to become devoted to that subject for many days.  By the time it was finished, I doubt anyone would still be reading.  So I’ll just reaffirm the subject is important, and there are many passages in the Book of Mormon dealing with the “remnant” of the Book of Mormon people.  Promises extended to them have not yet been fulfilled.  But all those promises will be fulfilled.  As they are, the role of those people will change from what we see it today into something much more central to the Church.

Missionary in Kenya

There’s a family I home teach whose son is on a mission in Kenya.  They ride a motorcycle to teach outlying areas.  Three at a time on the bike through the rain and on muddy roads.  They are in a city of 75,000 and not a road is paved in the entire city.  Sort of like Sandy, Utah right now. Comparable size and dirt roads everywhere while they do their “stimulus” spending on roadways. 

They baptized four new converts last week.  My young elder (he’s mine because I still home teach him over the internet) did two of the baptisms.  It was quite a milestone in his young life.

 
The pictures are quite interesting.  Here’s this 6 foot white, smiling kid standing with a crowd of shorter, very dark faces all with the look of joy and kinship on their countenances.  He’s sort of a spectacle to the people there.  Not only his height, but his light skin and blonde hair.  Kids ask if they can touch him (and he lets them). 
 
What an adventure this young man is on.  What fun it is to share it by reading his emails sent back home.  It reminds me of just how small the world is after all.  I guess Disney got that right….