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Clarification

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.

Flavor of the Month

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.

My Sympathy

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.

Yesterday

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of my baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I marked my gratitude by giving a talk in Boise, Idaho. On my way to the meeting, at 10:30 yesterday morning, President Hunt called to tell me I’d been excommunicated. He emailed me on Monday and asked if we would like to come to the stake center that night (with the children) to hear and discuss the outcome. I replied as follows:

“President Hunt,

For clarification, we weren’t of the conviction that the children should be at the disciplinary counsel to hear the “outcome.” We had already discussed that at length in our family beforehand. We all were prepared for any outcome. What we are absolutely certain of was that they should be allowed to see the process as it took place.

In our discussions with them we talked of the Spirit that attends a disciplinary council. We discussed the format and the procedure. We reviewed the scriptures and what they say about disciplinary councils. We were certain this would offer them an opportunity to hear from people who disagree with their father and hear how other people interpret the scriptures and how they relate to the history of the church. We were looking forward to the opportunity for them to see the scriptures used by me and then by the members of the high council testify of gospel truths. The Spirit witnessed to Stephanie this would be a faith promoting meeting for them to attend. The outcome was a non-issue.

In any event, again we would like to thank you for your service. We know this has been difficult and bear no resentment for you or anyone involved.  I am saddened, even ashamed that there wasn’t an open process which allowed my children to have this important opportunity.  I’ve prized the underlying principles of the gospel which involve persuasion, knowledge, meekness and avoid control, compulsion and dominion.  I wanted my children to witness this glorious process in which men of good faith and belief come together to work through an important disagreement.  I had wanted them to behold the Spirit leading to unity. Inasmuch as the kids are scattered, (Kylee went back to school this morning at 4 a.m., Benjamin and Kalisa live hours away and can’t return because of work commitments), we see no need to meet to discuss the outcome. Please send the letter announcing my excommunication so we can end this tragic ordeal.

I meant what I testified to last night.  – Denver”

The paperwork will arrive sometime later. It was certainly symmetrical to have the news given exactly on the 40th anniversary of the occasion. Almost like a sign, really.


I saw another sign yesterday. A dove was waiting for me on the lawn at work. She didn’t stir as I walked by her. But she did take note of me (and I of her).

Boise was a wonderful experience. Beautiful day. Great occasion. Joyful day, and gave me an opportunity to talk about the faith I very much believe in and will continue to practice.

The next talk will be in Idaho Falls. There are stake presidents there “warning” people in the church to not listen to me. They are preaching fear.

Christ instructed us not to fear. (D&C 68: 6.) Fear is the motivation of hell itself. (Moses 1: 20.)  If you are fearful, then don’t attend the talks. 

I rejoice in liberty, because freedom to believe in Christ is liberty itself. (2 Cor. 3: 17.)

I am grateful to the LDS Church for providing to me the instructions, ordinances and scriptures. I believe the faith which was restored through Joseph. That hasn’t, indeed can’t, be taken away from me.

Don’t Know

I know a decision was made. They must deliver a letter. I have not yet received it.

During our hour long discussion, the stake president admitted to my children he got a call during one of his meetings with me from one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy. He was instructed to “stand down” while the Seventy and one of the Twelve read Passing the Heavenly Gift. Then he (the stake president) did nothing further until he was told to proceed. I asserted that if he believed I was really “apostate” he would never have stood down. For that reason it was him merely following commands from higher up, and not a local matter.

Before last night’s meeting I told the stake president I was bringing my children. He knew that and said nothing beforehand to suggest they would be excluded. We were very surprised he refused to allow them to enter. I was excluded from the High Council room unless the children stayed behind.  I asked to be allowed to just make a statement to the council while my children listened, he refused to permit that.

My wife reviewed the Church Handbook of Instructions. She explained to President Hunt that the book is silent, and does not bar children from attending. He admitted that was true but it was his decision to forbid them. My wife said it was my court and I ought to be allowed to have them with me. He replied it wasn’t my court, but the church’s.

Roy: Yes I lived down the street and remember you and your brothers. But you didn’t leave an email address.

Boise tomorrow, 6:30.

Last Night’s Family Home Evening – Don’t call me.

We have Family Home Evening on Sundays. I try to teach a meaningful lesson each week. Last night the lesson was on Church Disciplinary Councils. After a discussion at home, I went with my family to the stake building to participate in an actual council.

The notice from the stake mentions “the spiritual demise of [me] and [my] family.” My wife prayed about this and was of the strongest of convictions that the family needed to be at the council. I agreed with her. Therefore, my children were all there to silently observe. The stake leaders were afforded the opportunity to reclaim my children as they dealt with the charge that  publishing a book constitutes “apostasy” requiring discipline.

We spent an hour in the hallway, outside the High Council room, discussing the stake president’s refusal to allow my children to attend. My wife was welcome, my children were not. My wife explained that she had made it a subject of prayer, and in answer to prayer wanted them to be there. The stake president refused. He said it would be “a circus” to permit it. My children, all in Sunday dress, each explained they were only there to observe and there would be nothing disruptive from them.

I explained my fear that if anything happened behind closed doors, my children could always entertain doubts about the content of the council and charges raised. I told the stake presidency (the councilors came out and joined us in the hallway) that there are always rumors and those who will insist that a council was “really” about something else; immorality, dishonesty, or some serious moral transgression. The stake president clarified it was only about a book. I said I was worthy of a Temple Recommend, and he agreed. It was only about a book.

We talked for an hour in the hallway and ended with me bearing my testimony to the children, pointing to President Hunt and telling them (my children) that I sustained him, pointing to my Bishop and telling them I sustained him.

The door to the High Council room was open. I assume they overheard the discussion. It was a little after 8:00 when we left.

I think it was a good Home Evening. When we returned home we had a lively discussion about the scriptures and revelation. It ended with a peanut butter pie.

Contentment

I’ve been reflecting on Mormonism. That joyful, confident, speculative religion given to mankind between 1820 to 1829, with all the potential vitality of a new movement. Unafraid, uncaptured by an institution, filled with the possibility of changing the world. A time before the adversary saw that inasmuch as you can buy anything in this world with money, you could also buy Mormonism with money.

That’s the trick. Turn the religion into a “thing.” Because “things” can be bought and sold. They are merchandise. Mormonism wasn’t to be a thing. It was to be intangible, a spiritual revival, otherworldly.

But those sorts of incohate notions cannot long survive without a sponsoring entity; an organized host to carry it onward. And so what was an idea at first, took second-place behind an emerging organization with a hierarchy, controls and assignments. That “thing” was subject to control, could be sued, threatened, and captured by the monetary needs of the thing itself.

When I joined Mormonism it was essentially confined to a single, triumphant “thing.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owned it, brought it to me, packaged it for presentation through missionaries, and delivered it with flannel-board discussions and film strip displays. It was homely and crude. But that didn’t matter. It was the substance, the doctrine, the answers it offered that captured my heart.

I’ve loved every minute of Mormonism. From the initial conversion to the latest constrictions, it has been a wonderful journey for which I have nothing but gratitude.

I’ve kept that sense of wonder, of excitement, of endless possibilities for this restored faith. As the correlated church has advanced its stranglehold on the minds of my fellow Latter-day Saints, I’ve grown progressively quiet in meetings and lessons, allowing my own explorations to proceed outside the bounds of the organized meetings. What I’ve found continues to keep me in awe. I love this faith as much today as I did when I joined.

I’ve written about it. But I do not think I’ve ever discussed (apart from those who actually insist on talking to me) anything I’ve written with any member of my ward or stake. I remain silent inside the organizational sub-department where I live. I think there are many people in my ward who are not aware I’ve written a single book. I doubt many people know I have a blog.

What I love about the faith is not a “thing” and therefore cannot be taken from me. I fully expect to lose my card (temple recommend) tomorrow. That thing can be taken. And my membership number can be lost, too. And I won’t be able to talk in church. I stopped attending Sunday School some years back because they would call on me and ask me to discuss something even when I preferred to remain silent. When asked a specific question by the teacher, I had an internal debate about how to respond: Do you give a full answer to a topic warranting the rest of class time and then some, or give some misleading, incomplete dangling remark for which I am accountable before God. Better to withdraw. So I did.  In High Priests Group it is much easier. There the atmosphere is either a wade through mind-numbing trivia, or pretty good material. Selective and pointed comments are allowed, and hardened opinions are unchanged. A safe environment in which to remain silent or to express occasional insight.

Tomorrow will not end my love of this restored faith, though it may cost me some “things” that the organized entity claiming to own the faith thinks it can remove. I’m reconciled to that potential loss. But I’m also reconciled to these few truths underlying my faith:
-God spoke to me BEFORE I joined the LDS church. If He hadn’t, I wouldn’t have joined.
-God has continued to speak to me since.
-Administrative allocation of membership numbers, status and privileges inside an organization don’t matter much to God. I know that because I’ve been the least of the Latter-day Saints and He has taken note of me.
-God will continue to have fellowship with me.
-The religion I believe has existed from eternity and will continue into eternity. Therefore, a temporary, corporate organization that is owned by a sole individual, which IS The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints won’t survive beyond the veil. There you leave behind your money. You can’t buy or sell in that better place. Since I’ve been there already, the turbulence here is of little moment to me.
-Souls matter. Yours, mine the living and the dead. God is more compassionate that we are. No matter how serious we take our organizations, our things, the souls of mankind are infinitely more valuable than commerce between ourselves.
-I have an assignment given to me I intend to discharge. It is because I love God and therefore love His children. It will cost me a great deal to accomplish that. Not only ire of the organization, but the money I will spend to accomplish the task.
-I am converted. Not to things, but to God. Whatever stuff is taken away, that will remain.

Be of good cheer. All of you. Whether you hate me, think me an apostate, authentic, a lunatic, pretender, inspired, misled, devout, or merely inconvenient, I’d recommend you try to find joy in this life. Think deeply. Ponder carefully. Search into meanings. Look up at night and search for the constellations and planets. Note their movements. Try to watch the occasional sunrise. God’s fingerprints are all over this creation. Envy the birds, feel pity for the insects, taste and smell and listen and rejoice. You are alive. And for so long as you live, the possibilities remain endless. You possess choice, which in itself is godly.

A Latter-day Saint today, perhaps a Cast-away Saint tomorrow. But always a Mormon.

I remain content with my faith.

Additional Information on Upcoming Talks

Those who are recording the upcoming talks have invested in new recording equipment to be able to produce the CD’s. They are also bearing their own costs to attend and record. I receive nothing from their efforts and have instructed that anything that would be earned should be donated to the LDS missionary effort. Those recording the talks allow preorders through their site,

www.publishinghope.infohttp://www.publishinghope.info/.

Tuesday in Boise I’d like to remind those who will attend: 1. Please bring and plan to use your scriptures during the talk. 2. It is a Tuesday evening, and therefore informal dress is expected.

I understand the distinction between attraction and lust, and acknowledge the criticism I’ve received by failing to allow for it.

Compliance (So Far As Possible)

The problem with Passing the Heavenly Gift has not been its accuracy. The issue raised in the notice I received from the stake president does not say the book is false, contains errors or makes mistakes in history. Rather, it “contains content which must be withdrawn.” That is not an indictment of the book’s accuracy. It is considered subversive by those who want to control history to perpetuate a view of events that do not follow the pattern described by the Book of Mormon prophets, Joseph Smith’s prophecies, and Christ’s description of the conduct of the latter-day gentiles to whom the Book of Mormon would be given.

The first demand is that I cease publication; a task that would involve violation of agreements between me and others. To compensate me for that potential liability and permit me to violate the agreement, I was offered money to cease publication. Offering money to help me violate agreements is not a satisfactory course of conduct. Therefore, I declined; but not before asking those with whom I have contracts if I could be let out of the publishing agreement.

The second demand is that I tell blog readers that the book “contains content that needs to be withdrawn.” I will say this: The church believes very much the content of the book needs to be withdrawn. They think this because the book brings to light the babylonian methods church leadership uses to make rapid and dramatic changes. We are not now the same church restored by Joseph Smith. Passing the Heavenly Gift shows how that happened. There are social, political and legal forces pulling on the church which the leadership intends to accommodate. They’ve already made a step in that direction with the renewed support for the Boy Scouts of America.

The church introduced a web page on same sex attraction. Two of the twelve contributed to the page. One of them asserted that same sex attraction is not a sin, but only acting on the impulse would be. This is an interesting accommodation which contradicts the Lord’s statement that “whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery in his heart.” Or, adds to it: “but if you burn in lust for the same sex that isn’t adultery in your heart.”

The church advocated, and obtained from the Salt Lake City Council, an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in housing and employment. This ordinance was considered a great breakthrough by the gay community in Utah. The Utah Legislature has been influenced by the church to consider a statewide ban on discrimination against homosexuals in housing and employment.

In saying this I’m only focusing on the trends within the church. Nothing else. The trend is toward open acceptance of socially progressive mormonism. This is the product of social, political and legal pressure.

This accounts for the difference between the reaction of the church to socially progressive Mormons (who are tolerated) and me. Those who advocate for the place the church has already decided to go are not a threat to their plans. What I write can create a good deal of difficultly in arriving there.

The issue is therefore how the church is to accomplish these changes in its doctrine and teaching. To get from one position to another without destroying the believers is a challenge that can only be accomplished by having a foundation which includes the absolute confidence that the church leadership cannot be led astray. Church leadership inerrancy is necessary.

The church needs not only to “teach for doctrine the commandments of men,” the church must be able to teach AS doctrine the commandments of men. Meaning that the church must have those aboard who will do, believe and accept whatever the leaders tell the members. Unquestionably. Unhesitatingly.

When I pointed out to the stake president in one meeting that there are dozens, even hundreds of readers whose faith was restored and whose activity in the church was renewed or resumed from reading Passing the Heavenly Gift the stake president had no response. After he received further “training,” he asked me “what makes you think the church wants that kind of member?” I understood that to mean that once someone has read the book and come to realize what changes and how changes have come to our church, they are disinclined to continue sleepwalking along with the herd. They understand that all is not well, and view with some healthy skepticism many losses we’ve suffered in the restoration since Joseph’s death. Such people will be difficult to bring along with the current social, political and legal trends if they base their view on scripture and history, as I advocate.

Therefore, to make what concessions I can, I will state for all you blog readers: Passing the Heavenly Gift contains content that will make your appreciation and acceptance of the efforts of the institution now and in the future to bend its teachings to conform to social, political and legal trends much more difficult to achieve. You will be happier if you don’t read the book. You will be more inclined to sleepwalk along with what is progressively distant from the original restoration. You will not detect that these changes mark the downfall predicted in the prophecies of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants. While I cannot withdraw the content, you should not read it if it will upset your worldview.

Which then leads to the final demand: I never intended to speak or promote Passing the Heavenly Gift. The stake president knows that. I don’t promote books. Don’t do book signings, have never advertised any book I’ve written and don’t make appearances to push sales. Never have and never will. The upcoming tour has nothing to do with that, or any other book. Well, it has to do with the scriptures and promoting them. But since the church publishes them and Deseret Book profits from their sales, I’m actually promoting Deseret Book, owned by Deseret Management Corporation, owned by The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which consists of one person, the senior member of the twelve. Therefore, I am promoting the interests of the church president. But not my own.

The letter demands I do three things: Breach a contract (I won’t do). Tell you that the “content needs to be withdrawn.” Not promote the book in the upcoming tour. To the extent that I can, I’m complying.

I’m not sure if that meets the requirement for “repentance” in this current predicament, but that’s what I can do. If the church wants to make me another offer, then let the stake president know and I’m sure he’ll pass it along. Given how little time remains I thought I’d skip the middleman and put this up here because you guys downtown read this blog (as we can tell from the blogmeter).

Finally, I want to be clear I am not addressing homosexuality in this post. I am merely using the subject to make an illustration. I need to add that the advocates of socially progressive Mormonism have been far more tolerate of my views than the church has. They (social progressives) are willing to be tolerant precisely because they’ve had their own view so marginalized in the past. For their kindness toward me I am appreciative. Disagreement does not require warfare, and sometimes makes for very healthy and interesting conversation between those holding different views. We all need to push beyond rhetoric into the substance of the disagreements. Once we do that we can find the ability to love one another even as we disagree.