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Holy Ghost

The equivalents made in Moses 6: 61 are very interesting.  The definition of the Holy Ghost includes these various equivalent descriptions of the Holy Ghost:
1.  The record of heaven.

2.  The peacable things of immortal glory.

3.  the truth of all things.

4.  That which quickeneth all things.

5.  That which maketh alive all things.

6.  That which knoweth all things.

7.  That which hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment.

These seven equivalents are the Holy Ghost.  It is this which “dwelleth in you.”  (D&C 130: 22.)  Seven being the number of perfection.  The Holy Ghost being the Third Member of the Godhead.  And, of course, we hope to join them in exaltation.

Finally, Christ promised the Holy Ghost would “teach you all things” and “bring all things to our remembrance.”  (John 14: 26.)  

Christ truly said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”  (Luke 17: 21.)  That is, of course, so long as you have taken the step of “receiving the Holy Ghost.”  You were admonished to do that by someone with authority at your baptism.  The power of doing so (as President Packer pointed out in General Conference last Saturday) is entirely left to you.

Creation Accounts

All ancient accounts of the creation of life here came through a presentation intended either as an initiation or an ordinance.  The various accounts we have are also from such settings.  Genesis is the ritual account given through Moses.  The words “God said” should better be rendered “the Gods shall say” (meaning that this is telling the players what to do).  Similarly, the Abraham account saying that one “like unto the Son” or “like unto God” is describing the player’s role.  It is a dramatic presentation.
There is no need to read into any of the various texts something which isn’t there.  Hence the earlier post dealing with the creation accounts and how Eve was left out of the original statement of the commandment regarding the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The account sets it out with the commandment coming before Eve’s creation in all but the current Endowment presentation.  Our version has been changed from time to time to accomplish various efficiencies as we have adopted filming, and other innovations to make the Endowment fit within new formats and time constraints.

Outgrowing the church

I was told by someone that they “had outgrown the church, didn’t get anything out of meetings, and therefore did not attend anymore.”
 
I responded:  “As to your ‘growth,’ that may or may not be true.  However, even if it is true, then the church needs you all the more for what you have to offer.  Continuing service inside the church will always take a person to still greater peace and light.”
 
What I did not say is that whenever one assumes their own spiritual or intellectual superiority to others, they have lost light and become a fool.  Spiritual development here distinguishes the best from the worst by so little that God regards us all as equal.  What this world views as intellectual achievement is more often than not a hindrance to finding and following God.

D & C 132, conclusion

Section 132, concluded:
 
Which brings us to the question of why Section 132 would be given in the first place.  I don’t think it is enough to say “Joseph asked the question” as the full reason for it being revealed.  Joseph could have received the revelation without the requirement to live it.  We could have an understanding that this was a correct principle, but that we had no obligation to comply with it (just as we do now).  However, we were at one time given it and, commanded to live it.  So the questions is “why?”   Here’s my take:
 
We are witnessing the end of the times of the Gentiles.  There is a worldwide collapse of the Gentile populations.  (Gentiles being the white, European populations.)  Although we have scattered Israelite blood in us, the LDS Church was founded by those who are “identified with the Gentiles” (D&C 109: 60). But their (our) time has run its course.
 
The God of this land (North America) is Jesus Christ.  When people reject Him, they lose their claim on the land and are swept away.  (See 2 Ne. 1: 7-10.)
 
We have now, by the popular vote of the Gentiles who possess this land, chosen a leader who proclaimed on April 6th, 2009 (the Lord’s birth date) that “we are no longer a Christian nation.
 
Birth rates among Gentiles have collapsed.  The European social democracies require a large working class to support the retiring older class.  The older retiring class did not have a birth rate that would supply the needed taxpayers, and therefore they are importing a younger working class throughout Europe.  The younger working class is drawn from third-world people who have much higher birth rates.  Those people are primarily Muslim.  As a result there are many European nations whose demographic picture leads to the inevitable change from Gentile/Christian nations to Muslim nations within the next twenty to fifty years.  The Danish peoples will be among the first.  France has a majority of their school-age children now who are Muslim.  All of them are threatened by a religion that rejects Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Redeemer of mankind.  They are, in a word, anti-Christ.
 
In the US the birth rate is is only a replacement rate.  But social programs require growth.  That population growth is the only way to amortize the governmental spending.  Increased government spending requires in turn a surge in population to support by taxation the necessary payments.  This is being accomplished by the deliberate failure to police the immigration of foreign populations.  It is a fiscal plan, not a demographic, social, religious or political plan.  The government will not be able to pay for itself if large working-class people aren’t found and brought into the US.  Fortunately, most of those who are coming to the US are already Christian, and only a small fraction are Muslim.  However, the Gentiles who are identified with the white population are declining, and being displaced by those who are identified with Book of Mormon remnant populations (although perhaps not THE remnant destined to build Zion–that’s a whole different subject).
 
The church’s birth rate has also declined rapidly.  At present it is only a small fraction above the larger US rate.  There result is the same loss of Gentile momentum in the building of the church.  The Gentile population of the church is collapsing just as it is throughout the world.
 
What the revelation in Section 132 offered to the Gentiles was an opportunity, while the Gentile’s day was still in full bloom, to create a much larger population from which to build Zion.  I’ve seen some estimates that, had we lived the principle of plural wives from when it was restored until today the resulting population of Latter-day Saints would have been in excess of 150 million.  The Latter-day Saint population would essentially have political control of the United States.  That didn’t happen, and now the time of the Gentiles has passed.  We can’t make up for lost time now.  Nor are we exhibiting any desire to do so, as our declining birthrates demonstrate.  Indeed, large families have vanished as a subject for General Conference.  The Brethren seem to have forgotten the message once preached to “not artificially limit the size of your families.”  That message was spoken in General Conference as recently as President Kimball’s time.  Their examples are also important and telling.  (Taking only the most recently called of the Twelve:  Elder Bednar has three children, President Uchtdorf two.  President Eyring has six.  Elder Anderson has four, Elder Christopherson has five children.  Now we don’t always know the reasons why people have the number or children they do, so I do not read too much into this.  However, there was a time when the reason all did not have six or more children would get attention, and an explanation would be offered.  Now we don’t even notice and it is simply not an issue.  We presume that larger families are optional and completely unrelated to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.)
 
Well, as with all things in the Gospel, we are handed opportunities.  What we do with them is up to us.  However, these opportunities are gifts from the Lord.  We are now a tiny fragment of what we might have been at this point in history.  We are vulnerable as a people in a way that we could have avoided with living the principles in Section 132.  The results are going to play out in conformity with the rather pessimistic view of the Gentile’s failed stewardship foretold by Nephi, Mormon, Moroni and modern revelation.
 
There’s always a back up plan.  That plan will rely upon a “remnant” to take things over and return to what was once offered to the Gentiles.  And to the extent that a few Gentiles will follow the covenant, they are invited along and included as covenant people.  But by and large they will be left behind.
 
Now Section 132 was an opportunity, not a burden.  We never got enthusiastically behind the opportunity and the earlier posts explain why.  I think the reasons for the failure are perfectly understandable.  I think it was reasonable.  But it is a fact that we failed with the opportunity.  Worldwide we have a little less than 4 million active Latter-day Saints and an estimated total population of approximately 14 million.  Those results are not what might have been.  The Gentile Saints are vulnerable in a way they would have avoided had they taken the opportunity and done more with it.
 
But of course, that is true in a much larger sense, as well.  The promise of an “innumerable posterity” presumes that the one receiving the promise realizes that it is a great blessing, and not a curse or burden.
 
OK, those are my thoughts.  It’s taken a bit to lay out.  And I probably should add that there are those who would disagree with much of what I have said.  However, I’ve given enough thought and study to the matter to have reached these conclusions, and I offer them to you for whatever you want to make of them.

D & C 132, part 5

Section 132, continued.

Words have unique meanings when used in scripture.  The Lord has given us great insight into word usages in D&C Section 19: 4-12.  He uses words as proper nouns which then change meanings.

Part of the question raised concerns the word “destroy” as used in Section 132.  I have described the meaning of destroy or destruction in footnote 225 on page 161 of Nephi’s Isaiah.  It does not mean annihilate.  It means to divest of government or control.  In the context of Section 132 to be “destroyed” does not mean to be killed, or obliterated, but rather it means to lose your order, your government or covenant.  The form of government that will endure into eternity is the family.  Without a family connection, you remain separate and single, without exaltation.  Therefore to be “destroyed” is to be severed from the family unit, or marriage relationship which the section of the D&C is establishing.

It is also necessary to understand that the role of the woman in the establishment of an eternal family unit is critical. It is central. Some of what is involved in understanding the relationship between the man/woman and covenant making is just not appropriate to be set out in public. Therefore I won’t do it. To the extent it is appropriate, I have given a basis for someone who wants to understand in several things I have written.  The closing chapters on sealing authority/power in Beloved Enos is part of what should be understood.  The tenth parable in Ten Parables is also critical to understanding what and why an eternal relationship would be preserved.  The chapter on Sacred Ordinances in Come, Let Us Adore Him gives some further information.  I’d commend you to that information.
I also found this in Hugh Nibley’s latest book, which helps with understanding, also.  Particularly in light of the information contained in the tenth parable referred to above:
“Sarah, like Isis, is the ageless mother and perennial bride; with the birth of Isaac she becomes young again–‘Is any thing too hard for the Lord?’ (Gen. 18: 14).  The woman who stands behind Osiris on the throne is Isis, sustaining him in his office with uplifted hand; it is Isis, ‘fused’ with Hathor as the ‘king-maker,’ as Jan Assmann puts it.” One Eternal Round – The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, p. 156.
“Neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord,” wrote Paul.  (1 Cor. 11: 11.)  You cannot have an eternal marriage without both.  In the relationship, the woman’s role in creating a king is central, for it is the woman who will establish him on his throne.  In turn, it is the man who will then establish her on her throne.  Her act precedes his, and his act confirms and blesses the new government or family unit as his first act as king.  For king without consort is doomed to end. Together they are infinite, because in them the seed continues. They may still be mortal as the events take place, but because they continue and produce seed, they are as infinite as the gods.
The role or importance of the woman in the eternal family unit is not diminished in any respect by the confusion and sorting out being done in the later verses of Section 132. The information there is attempting to restore order to the chaos that had developed through the half-hearted attempts to comply with the new order without actually engaging in a fully public, acknowledged marital relationship involving a man and multiple wives.
As to the reference to serial marriage of “virgins” in the later verses, this was a return to the original intent.  When you marry a virgin, you are getting someone who does not already have a spouse.  Using innovations, like sealing a second “wife” to a man when she was already married to another, was never the intent.  These verses about marrying virgins returns to the foundation of a first marriage for the woman.  She was to be involved with a direct, actual marriage, not to be in some half-hearted compromise relationship where the relationship was not truly and fully a marriage for her.  She was to acquire a husband and mate.  She would have all the rights and the husband would owe all the obligations, as if he were married to her alone.  She was “his” and therefore he was obligated to her for support, maintenance and duties as a husband.  There could be no sharing.  There could be no half-way measures.  This was to be his wife in very deed.
Now I’ve taken perhaps too long to answer the question, and it may in turn raise other questions, but I’ve tried to bring some clarity to this rather confused and messy circumstance.  It was the confusion of the early practice that brought about the need for multiple updates and clarifications which all got amalgamated into the single Section 132.  Part of the revelation comes from the attempts to work around the earliest portions of the revelation, received between 1829 and 1831.  The clarifications don’t make as much sense when separated from the conduct that resulted in the clarifications.
There is a reason we don’t have much from the church about this section.  Right now the whole thing has become an embarrassment.  We (the LDS Church) have become the chief antagonists of the polygamists in the west.  We want to clearly draw a line between “us” and “them.”  The church learned its lesson by hard experience.  Now the lesson learned is going to be constantly reapplied to show all the world that we have abandoned the practice.  We do that by constantly denouncing the polygamists.  As part of that campaign we can’t really go back and give Section 132 a wholesome treatment.  That would seem to contradict what we now preach and practice.  Such are the results of history.

D & C 132, part 4

More on Section 132:

This brings us to some details that need to be understood.  The clarifications in verses 41-44 were a result of the “mechanics” of how the practice was implemented.  The various efforts to “fulfill the law” while still keeping up Elizabethan appearances included performing a “sealing” for time and eternity to one man, while the woman was married for time to another man.  This relieved the eternal husband/companion of any duty to have conjugal relations with, or provide financial support for the woman while here. It allowed her to live a “normal” married life with her husband, while still committed eternally to another.  A sort of nod in the direction of the plural wife revelation, without any real commitment to actually practice it here.  There were other forms of compromise attempted, as well.

The defining of what was and what was not “adultery” was necessary in light of the troubles on the ground, so to speak.  Confusion began to multiply as these compromise efforts were attempted by people who really didn’t want to get this thing going in the way David and Solomon had done. 
Also, verse 51 grew out of a specific incident in which Joseph and Emma were arguing.  She protested his secret addition of more wives (beyond those she had approved) and was complaining to him about it.  In response to the arguments, Joseph offered to have her marry William Marks (the Nauvoo Stake President) as well.  This is what is referred to by the oblique reference: “that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her.”  This, again, was an event in the 1843 time frame. It could not possibly have been part of what was happening in either 1829 or 1831 when the first part of the revelation was received. Showing once again this was an amalgamation of several revelations, and not a single transcript.
Not everyone in Nauvoo knew what was going on.  Nor was everyone who practiced this principle discrete enough to escape notice. Enter John C. Bennett, who had abandoned his wife and children and come to Nauvoo pretending to be something more than he was.  He got added to the First Presidency and elected mayor of Nauvoo.  He learned of the commandment, and then began to let his libido go in Nauvoo.  He produced a system of seducing other men’s wives under the practice of “spiritual wifery” which he would later blame upon Joseph Smith.  Indeed, John Bennett’s account of Joseph’s exploits seem more autobiographical of Mr. Bennett, with Joseph given credit for Bennett’s wrongdoings.
As I said before, this was not a culture into which this commandment fit neatly.  It was awkward.  They just didn’t know how to do it, nor what would work or not work.  Even so basic a matter as the definition of “adultery” became hard to sort out.  The half-way measures Joseph tried to implement in order to avoid the outright practice were not working. They were producing such confusion that these verses were needed to sort the mess out.
Trying the souls of those who were involved, indeed!  Proving whether you have faith to sacrifice everything for God, indeed!  This was terrible, difficult stuff.  Not the license for a libido that critics were trying and still try to make it seem.  Even Bushman has mentioned how few offspring Joseph Smith produced as a result of the plural wife system.  It seems that the only offspring Joseph ever fathered were through Emma.  (Of course we have the tale of Eliza Snow’s miscarriage, but that child did not live.  So far as has been documented, all Joseph’s living descendants came through Emma, despite DNA testing of other living descendants from putative children.)

Look, we should have compassion and empathy for these people.  They didn’t want it any more than a normal, mature and moral person living today would want this.  They were draftees, not volunteers.  It was quite hard for them and even harder on them.

Anyway, I still am not to the answer to the question, just laying the groundwork to understand the answer first.  I’ll write some more on this as I have time.

D & C 132, part 3

Further on Section 132:
 
Joseph taught that we can’t expect to achieve the same glory as the ancients if we do not make a similar sacrifice as they did.  It’s all in Lecture 6 of the Lectures on Faith.  I’ve quoted that stuff in several books and won’t repeat it here.  If you don’t have a copy you should get one.  And read it.
 
Anyway, it is quite important to note the necessity of sacrifice to produce the kind of faith which saves.  Joseph’s explanation required us to sacrifice all things to be able to lay hold on saving faith.  Without the knowledge that we would give up everything, even our own lives if necessary, we cannot receive eternal life.  We have to trade this life for the next.  No trade, no exaltation.
 
So when a man or woman reaches the point where she/he can be tested, the Lord will supply a test to them to prove (to themselves) that they will sacrifice all things.  [The Lord already knows, but we don’t.  And it is OUR faith which is required to be tested.]
 
For most women, they make this kind of sacrifice when they marry.  They literally “give up their lives” and become a wife.  Even to the point  they surrender their prior name and become known by a new name and begin a new life.  The sacrifice for them is completed in childbirth, where they risk their life and then shed their blood to bring a new person into the world.  For women, therefore, this estate provides a ready-made opportunity for the development of this faith.  For men that is much different.  That is why we produce so few men worthy of preservation into the next life in an exalted state.
 
Joseph Smith succeeded in receiving his calling and election.  His promise of eternal life appears within Section 132.  That is no accident.  If the revelation is a series of communications, beginning in either 1829 or 1831, and continue through nearly the time of the recording in 1843, all of which are on the same subject, then they are all interrelated.
 
Joseph’s sealing authority is confirmed in verse 46 and his calling and election is confirmed in verse 49.  This would have been after Joseph had received the beginning of Section 132 and had actually begun to live it.  Meaning that Joseph was doing what he was commanded to do, and that in so doing he was sacrificing everything.  Even his own life was being sacrificed.  He was developing the faith necessary to know he would surrender everything to God by this principle.  Later, when he would go to Carthage and die, it was not as difficult for him to do because he had earlier lived a principle which proved to him that he would obey God at all costs.  Death under such circumstances was not a test, merely a confirmation of what Joseph already knew.
 
Plural marriage was so difficult for Joseph that it was THE means by which he advanced in faith to the point he knew he would surrender all things to God.  It was the key to his exaltation.  Not because plural wives are needed, but because of the difficult sacrifice this practice imposed upon him.
 
Now if that were true for Joseph, then we should not think the practice of plural marriage, with all its difficulty and sacrifice, something desirable to undertake. Nor should we be fooled into thinking that Joseph wanted or welcomed it. The revelation belies this notion.
 
Therefore I take it as a given that plural marriage was introduced as a test.  Not as a reward or as a holiday for Joseph Smith and his close associates.  It was a difficult, trying ordeal. 
 
Now there’s more to be said, so I’ll add another post at some point on this as well.

D & C 132, part 2

There was a question about Section 132 received after this post.  The previous post on D&C 132 did not address the underlying subject of the section.  I only discussed the text divisions and timing of the document’s creation.  The question I received asks about the substance of the revelation, and in particular, the status of women in plural marriage. 

 
I have a few observations which color my views of this subject.  This will take a few posts, but below is my first set of observations:
 
When plural marriage was first introduced publicly in the 1850s, the brethren were rather candid about the history of monogamy.  They explained that the societal and governmental institution of monogamy was intended to exploit women.  By depriving women of husbands, it resulted in an excess number of women who could be prostituted.  Men could then have one wife, for whom they bore the burden of support and shared parenting responsibilities, while other women could be used without any burden of support or shared parenting duties.  The brethren also explained that one of the reasons Rome was originally opposed to Christianity was because it was a cult that threatened to spread the practice of plural marriage throughout the Empire.  Their comments are in the Journal of Discourses and you can read these explanations there if you are interested.
 
So as the practice of plural marriage was introduced publicly, it was accompanied by an attack on monogamy; claiming that women were exploited and disadvantaged by the practice of monogamy.  This inverts the argument against plural marriage.  The claims against it were based in large measure upon the notion that it exploited women and made them subservient.  So the argument turns on its ear the “exploits women” card.
 
When introduced, the practice of plural marriage ran counter to nearly two thousand years of cultural practice.  It was decidedly counter to the Elizabethan mores of the age.  It was shocking to the Latter-day Saints who learned of the practice.  Not only was it foreign in concept, but the Saints had absolutely no basis for implementing it successfully.  They had no history, no example, no trial-and-error wisdom.  There were no previous examples that they could select behaviors from that would help solve obvious issues arising from the practice.  So they began the whole trial-and-error sorting out.  
 
Unfortunately. the practice was introduced in 1853 (publicly) and died in 1890 (publicly).  It began secretly in 1831 and died secretly in 1904.  Whether you take the public bracket of time or the secret bracket, that isn’t enough time for the process to have resulted in handed-down wisdom gained by living that kind of lifestyle.
 
Those who are outside the Latter-day Saint community (fundamentalists, etc.), and have continued to practice of plural marriage do not really provide a basis for inter-generational wisdom.  They live a “bunker-like mentality” – always under siege and never allowed the social and cultural opportunity to practice this form of marriage freely and openly.  The results of these efforts are tainted by the hostility, rejection and prosecution by the population at large towards those who try to live this kind of marital relationship.
 
How the view of women changes under this practice is something that we are not in a position to evaluate accurately. We have a cultural bias, an historic bias and religious bias that colors our view. We do not have a reasonable framework from which to make a neutral evaluation of the subject.  The only contemporary societies that have plural marriage in any significant numbers are so socially ill, so backward and violent that a liberal, democratic and open society cannot take any wisdom from them to judge this matter. We are left to look backward into biblical times for clues about the practice.  Unfortunately, even there we do not get much guidance or many examples of happy outcomes.  Hagar, a princess from Egypt, was at odds with Sarah and ultimately so incompatible that one had to leave.  Jacob’s wives were competitive and jealous. The account we have seems to make Jacob responsible for exploiting these ill-feelings.  David’s relationships were unsteady.  Solomon was ultimately led into idolatry by his foreign, political marriages.  The biblical record does not seem to give any hope of a happy outcome (or at least not much hope).  So when trying to evaluate it, there is little happy news or basis for celebrating it as a triumph of matrimony.
 
Then there is the underlying exploitation of young women. These women are married and pregnant so early in life that they are essentially obligated to remain in the marriage.  I think that is a reflection of the unhappiness that is anticipated by such unions.  The younger bride syndrome seems to be a tacit admission that unless you put the women into this kind of difficult bind (choosing between their children or fleeing), then women won’t remain in the marriage.  This is an interesting admission seen in both the Muslim communities and in the Fundamentalist communities. It betrays a similar state of unease about women’s desire to remain in such relationships.
 
All in all the practice does not seem to offer (in this life) much advantage to either husband or wife.  Nor does it seem to produce happiness here.  You can read the book In Sacred Loneliness as an account of our own history with the difficulties of the practice.
 
Now that doesn’t address the “doctrinal” question asked.  I’ll post again on that issue.  However, when you consider the revelation, this is the first point that should be on the table. It is a terrible sacrifice. No society appears to have had much success in implementing it. The “practical” verses the “ideal” is something that tells us important information.
 
Humanity has not been able to create a widespread social experiment using this form of marriage, notwithstanding its basis in doctrine. At least not one that has been well documented, with wisdom to guide the way. There are of course societies where the economic order consists of a widespread slave class supporting a socially dominant, wealthy class.  In these societies, escape from hunger and enslavement requires a plural marriage arrangement.  In these circumstances, plural marriage is greeted as a form of liberation.  I do not consider those worthy examples.  We don’t want or expect to build Zion on the backs of a slave class.

“Schizophrenic?”

I was asked why there are sometimes “criticisms” of the church on my blog and in the books I have written.  Someone would like to know whether or not the views I advance weren’t “schizophrenic” by both criticizing and defending the church, and what my true belief about the church was.  I responded:
 
I have had many people with whom I have “ministered” as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Ward Mission Leader and High Councilor who have become disaffected with the church.  I’ve worked to help them come back.  What I write reflects this history with these struggling Latter-day Saints.  There are many people who have left the church (or have given up on the church) who have read what I write and come back to activity again.  
 
There are those who are in the process of realizing that the church has flaws who now want to quit.  There are people who have begun to encounter problems who just don’t know how to process them.  It doesn’t do any good if I pretend there aren’t problems.  Many of these saints have a crisis underway because they have been pretending, and now they find they cannot cope with the tension any longer.  
 
One of posts at the beginning of this blog describes what my attitude is. I recognize weaknesses, have no intention of avoiding them, and am not an apologist in the traditional sense.  But I believe in the church, accept its authority, and think its role is necessary and even critical to the work of the Lord.
 
Acknowledging the flaws is admitting the obvious.  But getting those who are discouraged, losing their faith, or have left the church to reconsider that decision is another thing.  They cannot be reached spiritually without some acknowledgment of the problems in the church.  They aren’t going to be deceived by offering a clever polemical argument. 
 
Once the varnish comes off the institution of the church, for many, faith dies. But that is not necessary.  Nor is it inevitable.  It is possible to see the frailties of men and still also see the hand of God.
 
I’ve had many conversations with what would be regarded as leading Mormon educators, writers, and authorities who have essentially lost their faith and continue to hold on to being a “Latter-day Saint” because of the culture or employment or family.  I’m trying to help them and any others in a similar spot.  I’m trying to say that the church may be flawed, but despite that, it is worthy, worthwhile, necessary and good.  I have had some success.  
 
I’ve had a number of men and women tell me that I’ve helped rescue them from their faithlessness.  What I have written has helped them balance their attitudes.  People who have had their names removed voluntarily, or who have been excommunicated, or who have drifted into inactivity have been persuaded by what I’ve written to see what they have lost by that disassociation from the Church.
 
It may be that someone who has “rose colored glasses” will find some of what I write difficult to take in, particularly if they haven’t encountered any particular criticism about the church before.  I regret when that happens.  However, all of us are going to need to confront the growing array of arguments against the church and its leadership as time goes on.  Some of the church’s most effective critics are former members.  Indeed, with the internet, the arguments against the church are multiplying, as are the number of critics. I try not to gloss over the flaws or ignore their existence or to pretend that there aren’t legitimate questions being asked about what has or is happening within the institution of the church. I’m saying that we can and should have faith anyway. The church matters and its mission has always been possible to accomplish.
 
I also want those who sense we’ve retreated from the original scope of doctrine and practice to realize the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains on the earth.  It is as accessible to anyone living today as it was while Joseph was here.  The failure of others does not impose any limitation upon the individual who sincerely seeks, asks and follows. We are not dependent upon others or even the institution itself to receive that fullness.  Although the ordinances offered by the church remain the foundation upon which the fullness must be built.