A couple trying to lose weight decided they would be more motivated if they began to weigh themselves together. As they did, the husband complained that all the increases were the fault of his wife. He took credit for all their losses. Over time she became very thin, and he quite corpulent. But they did lose a little in the process.
For those who read the newly linked talks, the transcripts will differ slightly from the talks. In the talks I spoke spontaneously using lists of scripture as my only text. The remarks were free flowing and unrehearsed. Then they were transcribed verbatim.
I took the verbatim transcription and edited it to reflect better sentence structure and subject-verb agreement. I took some compound sentence fragments and reshaped them into actual sentences. NOT perfect, but somewhat better. Then I added parenthetical references to show where an unexpressed scriptural cite could be found because that was what was in my head when the remark was made. It gives context to the reader.
I also corrected some misstatements, such as “Articles of Faith” when I meant “Lectures on Faith.” Since I knew what I meant, the transcription corrects that. Also there was a “Levite” which was meant to be “Judah.”
I also noted that one thought I began wasn’t finished. So in the transcript I finished the thought.
When these get gathered together and published as a book, it will be edited further. At that time, it will be edited with readability in mind and a good deal more grammar and sentence structure will be imposed on the text. Also, there are numerous footnotes that will be added when I make them into a book.
None of the talks are written or will be written in advance. They will just be given – then transcribed. The only talk I’ve written in advance was the paper presented at Sunstone last year. They required it. Otherwise, I speak spontaneously.
On the right column of this page there is a new section where you can link to the talks/papers I’ve given. The transcript of the Boise talk is available there now, as well.
I was asked how I justify “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed” –a question I’ve already answered here, here, and here, among other places.
It would be better to read what I write than to presume something about me. If you’re interested enough to criticize, then why aren’t you interested enough to read what I’ve written so your criticism can be grounded in more than your imagination?
Sometime after Joseph’s death, there was one covenant the church changed. Instead of consecrating everything for the building up of Zion, the covenant was reworked to consecrate everything to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the establishment of Zion. That reworking of the covenant means that if the church doesn’t do it, then someone who honors the covenant with the church cannot. Or, alternatively, it means that when the church neglects to build Zion, then the church has broken the covenant and that relieves the other party of their obligation to consecrate to the church. I took the first view. I would not depart from that covenant, even though I’ve had more than one conversation with the Lord about it. Now I find the church has broken the covenant, relieved me of any further need to involve them in the matter, and allowed me to pursue this as a matter of faith. The irony of that is they broke the covenant on the day I was traveling to Boise to begin a year-long series of talks about Zion. I see the hand of God in that.
As soon as the Boise talk is transcribed I will post it/link to it here. I imagine that will be within the next two to three weeks.
Because of recent events I want to make ten points:
First, I disabled comments and then I stopped blogging as a sign of good faith to the stake president.
Second, I was and am able to a pass temple recommend interview. I can answer all the questions in the right way. I don’t pretend to “preside” over anyone. Even within my family, everyone is merely encouraged to believe and act consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But they must have their own testimony and are free to disbelieve or think freely. I hope my example persuades. Outside my family I have absolutely NO ambition to lead anyone, control anyone, or even be discussed (much less praised) by anyone. The presiding authorities are the only ones who are sustained by common consent and they are welcome to it. I don’t envy them, don’t want their positions, and don’t hope to be one of them.
Third, I have been expelled for writing a book. The book was not a “sin.” Therefore, what separated me from the church is not some shameful moral lapse, but writing history. It represents a good faith attempt to reconcile events with scripture. It was undertaken as an expression of faith, not rebellion. I feel no shame at having written it, and sincerely believe it to be a truthful account of how we wound up in our present condition. I do not believe I need to “repent” to be right with God. Throughout this whole ordeal, I have always been right with God.
Fourth, I am not trying to reform, revise or affect the church or management of the church. I don’t much care about that. What I’m interested in is exploring and finding truth. That requires openness and candor. I am not interested in threatening anyone or anything. If others feel threatened by that then I regret their reaction, but that is all it is: their reaction. Soon they will get over it and perhaps take some time to reflect on what I’m saying and maybe come to another view. If not, then perhaps they can support their view more persuasively and we can agree on things again.
Fifth, I am not and have never been a critic of the church. My focus is on history and doctrine. The church is irrelevant to the inquiry.
Sixth, I spent time with my stake president on Saturday, at his home. Delivered a copy of the Boise talk, which he said he would listen to. Last evening my wife and I talked with my bishop. Today I was with one of the stake counselors, then with another bishopric member. I have said to all of them that I would be willing to talk with anyone in my ward or stake who is troubled and help them get over any ill feelings. I have none. If someone locally is upset then they can talk with me and I will gladly help them realize they still belong in church. That’s where I’ll be – just not this Sunday, because I don’t attend Stake Conference anyway. But next Sacrament Meeting I’ll be there. All of these local leaders said they would refer upset folks to my blog so they can read about what they (local leaders) aren’t supposed to give details about. They thought the blog would be helpful.
Seventh, I’m an odd sort of “apostate” who entertains no ill will against the church. I’m not sure that what I’ve done can reasonably be called “apostasy.” In matters of doctrine, we are not supposed to have “faith” in anyone or anything other than Christ. I readily admit I don’t have, never have had, and have not advocated faith in the church. But I don’t think that matters. What matters is faith in Christ. Take a look at Christ’s doctrine at the end of 3 Ne. 11: 32-40. You’ll notice that “whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock.” I testify of Christ and seek to establish His doctrine. My book says nothing to contradict His doctrine. So when I’m accused of violating “the doctrine of the church” I have to say: So? That doesn’t matter anyway, or if it does it “cometh of evil.”
Eighth, you forfeit priesthood when you sin. You forfeit it when you exercise control or compulsion or dominion over others in unrighteousness. You forfeit it when you use it to gratify your pride or to serve your vain ambition, a proposition which is facilitated by having some office or standing which allows you to assert that “by virtue of the priesthood” you are entitled to be followed. You forfeit priesthood when you depart from His doctrine and seek to establish your own priestcraft, but do not seek to establish Zion. But you do not forfeit priesthood when you talk about Christ, testify of His doctrine, and follow the Spirit despite those who may abuse you. Nor do you forfeit priesthood when you look charitably on the mistakes of others. Nor do you do so when you have no office, nor any standing in a priestly office which is used to demand others follow you. When you testify of Christ and tell others to follow Him, there can be no force, order, panel, critic or organization that can affect your priesthood. Indeed, if they wrongly attempt to do so, then “amen to the priesthood or the authority” of those making the attempt.
Ninth, there have been changes in heaven and on earth recently. I’ve done all I have done in obedience to our Lord. Things will unfold and everybody will have a more fulsome understanding of things. Be patient. Be believing. Do not despair as God’s work unfolds.
Tenth, you don’t know me by reading what I write. I very much try to keep myself out of these discussions. I truly believe I am irrelevant, therefore I make an effort to remain outside the material. What little I disclose is to give context. At the beginning I wanted to remain anonymous or use a pseudonym. The problem with that is the message must be identifiable with someone who can be evaluated, known to exist, and can be tried. It was unavoidable. I must be known. For that reason alone I have let myself be identified. I wish it were otherwise. Privacy would be preferable.
My wife and I dropped by to visit with President Hunt at his home today. Neither he nor I like the present circumstances. We had a pleasant discussion.
He clarified to me that the comment, “What makes you think the church wants that kind of people?” was not intended by him to mean they weren’t welcome. Rather it was meant that their attitude, if it arose from Passing the Heavenly Gift, was an attitude that wasn’t necessarily helpful. I told him I would make that clarification.
We discussed many interesting things, and parted as we were before – friends and fellow sojourners in this troubling world.
I notice there’s a lot of blog activity for the moment. That doesn’t fool me. I’m the “flavor of the month” to folks and that will soon pass. But while I have your attention let me say this to whoever is stopping by because you think this is a temporary amusement, outrage, vindication or car wreck:
I really do believe in the religion I’ve accepted. I live it faithfully and joyfully. There’s a lot of stupidity parading as enlightenment in the congregations of the “Saints” and I’ve never rebelled against that. People have always been allowed to believe as they want, and to preach things I don’t believe or accept without any opposition from me. I have been a “low maintainence” Mormon and I’m not looking for a fight.
The conduct of the church reminds me that “the wicked flee when no man pursues.” (Prov. 28: 28.) I’m not after them and never have been. There are a lot of problems with our history that can’t be explained with the “traditional narrative.” I’ve looked into this fearlessly, and honestly tried to reconcile the many corners we have turned since the death of Joseph. The book that got me into trouble was written to help those who are similarly befuddled by what we had as opposed to what we have. The book has actually helped people. It wasn’t advertised. I recommended it to a tiny handful of people.
In the narrative I propose, the framework is taken from scripture and prophecy. It is reassuring. We aren’t in a mess solely because we were irresponsible, but are here because God foresaw it, planned for it, told us it was going to happen, and now wants us to wake up to it. There’s still time. And that time is precious and ought to be spent doing something other than arguing over the “flavor of the month.”
The church excommunicated me, but now it’s time to move on. I suspect, however, they will fire up the machinery to deal further with me. Before all that kicks in, let me assure you that whatever goes on I am content, even happy with life and with my 40 years in Mormonism. I will be pressing forward in faith, believing that you matter, I matter and our love for one another matters.
I don’t matter. But God does, prophecy does, your soul does and God’s potential involvement with you matters a lot. That is something you can engage in without any need to ever look at another flavor of the month.
So be of good cheer. And don’t believe all you are going to read about me. If you want to really know what I think, read what I say. Better still spend your time learning how to relate to God and how He actually does relate to you. Even those who are bitter about your Mormon experience and now distrust God Himself. The fact is that much of what has broken your heart did not originate with Him. It was always an abuse inflicted by men.
So hang in there. Christ is cheerful. You be cheerful too.
Elder Russel M. Nelson presides over the Strengthening the Members Committee. His wife has created a great deal of controversy with a children’s book she has written. Some active LDS psychologists have denounced the book as “child abuse” and used very unkind terms against both the book and her.
I wanted to express my sympathy for Elder Nelson and his wife. I know what it is like to have written a book with the intent to help others, only then to become the object of public criticism. I hope there is no church action taken against her.