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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.

We Don’t Need A New Church

We don’t need another church. We don’t need and shouldn’t want another hierarchy. The very idea is repulsing. Zion won’t be a project managed by a control group.

Zion is to have “one heart” and “one mind.” It is the idea itself that creates it.

If you create an organization, it can be compromised. It can be regulated. It can be overtaken by ambitious and cunning men; or by stupid, well-meaning, but misguided men. Organizations are a threat to Zion. Zion is an idea. Only an idea. It cannot be overtaken or controlled.

Conformance to the laws of man will ensnare you. Threats of litigation, loss of tax benefits or coercive power will work against you. You cannot sue an idea. You cannot tax an idea.

Zion will be free from the control of this world because, despite all man can do, threaten, oppose it, when it assumes the existence of merely an idea even dictators cannot touch it, cannot defeat it, cannot overcome it.

Zion will gather people around an idea. There will be no leader and no one greater than another.

How then are the people of Zion able to be of “one heart” and “one mind?” It will be because they agree on an idea which brings them together, and then they act in conformity with that idea.

Zion may have its ordinances and covenants, but they are between the individual who believes and God who ordains it.

Organizations fiddle with the notion of Zion and believe they have some “power” or “control” or “dominion” that allows them to compel others to be uniform (D&C 121: 37). They use “compulsory means” to achieve this end. But this is not and can never be Zion (D&C 121: 46).

Be patient. Over the next year the idea of Zion will become more clear than it has since the restoration ended. There are only two opposing forces at work. One creates, the other destroys. One causes life, the other controls and ends life. Birth and death. Restoration and apostasy. Growth and decay. We are either in one phase or the other. There are no moments when things are motionless .

Zion, as an idea whose time will only come when her ideas are understood, must be plainly taught again. The time wherein this is possible has arrived. Our time here comes and goes, generation after generation, and the Lord can regard it all as “one generation” because He reckons from a different time frame than we do.

And so the idea needs to begin unfranchised, uncontrolled, unfettered by the laws of man, and unpolluted by the ambitions of men. It is an idea which will make, without fear and compulsory means, all mankind equal.

This next year I will be trying to discuss as much of this idea as can be tolerated. It is up to you what you decide to make of it. It is ironic that the trigger for the church discipline and the condition for avoiding discipline involves this very speaking tour on this very subject. It is a small thing to be cast aside when the only thing that matters now is – can we accept the idea and then live to be of one heart and one mind. I have no ambition to lead. No desire to control or preside. But I have an obligation to teach, which I am willing to do.

Current Events

There have been quite a few emails and comments about the notice I put up on the blog regarding a disciplinary council. Let me respond to some of the questions by clarifying a few things.

There are laws ordained before the foundation of the world. The church must act in accordance with one law, and I must act in accordance with another for the purposes of the Lord to be fulfilled. Don’t think you can foresee what the Lord has already ordained. It will follow His pattern, and there will be consequences. Be of good cheer. I am.

Second, I put the notice up so no one is misled about my status. I do not want anyone to think one thing of me when the truth is contrariwise. If someone would be disinclined to attend one of the talks had they known what the church was up to, I do not want them to attend thinking all is well between me and the powers in control of the church. There were two choices. Be criticized for hiding it because I’m not being forthright with people. Be criticized for putting it up because I’m divulging a private matter. I chose to err on the side of disclosure. Either way it is inevitable — those who want to criticize will do so.

Third, my former Stake President defended me against complaints from the Strengthening the Members Committee. His last Sunday as Stake President eighteen months ago he called me in and we talked for several hours about the events that began years before his release. He had defended me continually during his presidency, but he explained there was going to be a new Pharaoh in Egypt who would not know Joseph (so to speak) and he couldn’t vouch for what was coming. The new Stake President has investigated, delayed, discussed this with me, pushed back against downtown, been called in for “training,” and received input from the top leadership in the church. He told me a great deal at the start about what was going on behind the scenes, which matched what the former Stake President had been telling me during his tenure. Those details are unimportant, and I have no intention of making them public. Right now, I don’t think President Hunt thinks he has any other choice. He probably doesn’t. That is fine. I bear no ill will toward him or any other member of my stake. No one gets ahead in the institution by disregarding instruction from above. Actually, I do the same. However, for me, “above” has little to do with 47 East South Temple and the institution is not where I expect any future. I try to help the church regardless of its opinion of me. I simply have no axe to grind no matter the outcome on September 8th.

Fourth, I have no intention of complaining, or becoming an opponent to anyone. I will leave that to the Lord, and would recommend you do that also. There is so much that needs to happen in these last days that our time must be spent anxiously engaged in things that matter. There’s just no time to waste on trivial matters. Hopefully, the upcoming talks will allow you to see what the Lord would like done, and provide a framework and understanding for you to do something about it. Let’s look forward and up, not backward and down. There is sufficient evil to overcome every day. Let’s not waste time bickering or complaining.

Fifth, I wrote Passing the Heavenly Gift as a reconstruction of the events of this dispensation. The framework was primarily the description in the Book of Mormon of the latter-day Gentile behavior. This includes specifically, the prophecies of Christ in Third Nephi. I also used Joseph Smith’s prophecies in the Doctrine and Covenants, his sermons and history. Taking this scriptural framework, (not as an historian but as a believer in the prophetic insight about us) I then tracked through our history. I used a lot of primary sources, including journals and diaries of church leaders. What I found was that the events in our history could be viewed as an exact match for the prophetic warnings given us in scripture (Book of Mormon/D&C). The result was not history, but truth. If the book is true (and I am persuaded it is the most correct account of our dispensation written so far) then we need to awaken to our present peril and repent. If it is not true then we have nothing to worry about. The church is entirely intact, has the fullness, and all is entirely well in Zion. It would be very exciting if Passing the Heavenly Gift is wrong. The trouble is that I don’t believe it’s wrong. We have very serious issues confronting us, and a great deal of work to complete before we attain unto what the Lord expects of us. Joseph Smith was betrayed and killed as a result of steps taken by church members. True enough it was a mob of Carthage Greys who shot him. But he would not have been in a position to be shot if it had not been for the betrayal by church members. When we (meaning church members) caused or contributed to his death, we offended heaven in a way that required three and four generations to pass before we receive another opportunity from the Lord. With the recent passing of Eldred G. Smith, we have a milestone representing the end of those required generational passings. Now is the first time it is possible for the Lord to recommence the restoration. But it won’t commence again without us knowing what we lack. Conceit and arrogance will never redeem us from our fallen state. But contrition and repentance might. Passing the Heavenly Gift is intended to inspire those who are downfallen in their faith, and to help those who are prepared to hear it, that we (all of us, including me) are in a fallen state from which we must awake and arise.

Sixth, we can always repent.

Seventh, I have no concerns of my standing before the Lord. My situation allows me to do only one thing. I can try and persuade. I can compel no one. Therefore, I use the only tool allowed for someone who holds the Priesthood. I try to use knowledge and persuasion to bring others to understanding. The effort to control, exercise dominion and compulsion to force others to surrender to some pretended authority does not involve me as a perpetrator, because I preside over no one. I can’t abuse authority over anyone, because I haven’t any. If there is any coercion, compulsion, dominion or control involved it is not by me. No one need have any concerns for my standing before the Lord. I will be fine.

Eighth, the content of the talks was set long before the letter from the church threatening discipline. They won’t change. These talks do not involve either Passing the Heavenly Gift, nor any discussion about church discipline. There’s too much to be covered to take on new topics.

Finally, all of this is nothing so far as I am concerned. What matters is this dispensation and how great things remain to be accomplished. God has a work to complete. We are living now and must cooperate with His will to bring about His purposes. Forget about me. Look to the Lord, His scriptures, and this moment you have here in mortality. Learn more about the prophecies. Stop hoping someone “presiding” somewhere is going to lift you to heaven. No one can do that. There is only One who matters and “He employeth no servant” at His gate. (2 Ne. 9: 41.) When you focus on me, or some man as a leader, you are an idolater. (D&C 76: 98-105.) Put an end to your idolatry and look to Christ. Read James 1: 5-6 and Moroni 10: 5. That is where you should invest your time. Not in trivia involving me or some other man. The time is upon us. The heavens are open. Not for someone other than you. Not for some “special” leader. They are open for YOU. Stop looking around – look up. That is where you fill find not only a testimony of God, but God’s handiwork on display. (D&C 88: 42-47.) 

Correction on Boise Venue Size

I made a mistake on the size of the Boise venue. It will hold 400, not 200. I’ve updated that post and make a note of that here.

I did not want anyone to attend any of the talks, including the first in Boise, without making them aware they were listening to someone who has church discipline pending (or accomplished). Therefore, I posted the letter to make sure no one was misled about my status.

No one needs to defend me. I am concerned that expressions of support will do no good, and may result in the church taking notice of those who step forward. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. No matter your own sentiments, it would be best to just let this run its course without involving anyone other than me.

Attendance

For the Boise venue I discussed with some of the local residents an estimate of how many would attend. The estimates ran from 65 to 150. As a result the venue chosen was for 400, anticipating there would be plenty, even some empty seating. I’ve now been told there may be a number of non-local attendees, which may exceed the seating.

All seating is first-come, first-seated. If it turns out there are not enough seats, the recording is going to be available in near real-time. The people doing the recording plan to have the first hour (75 minutes) put on CD’s at the location and made available at about 90 minutes into the talk. The concluding portion will similarly be released about 15 minutes after it concludes. Therefore, assuming the equipment works as hoped, recordings will be available before the talk ends. I’m not involved in any of that, but this is what is planned by those who are doing the work of providing the recordings.

This is the plan for releasing recordings at all locations, but I hope there will always be enough seating for anyone who takes the time to attend.

Don’t call me. (Yes, that means you too!)

Comments and Emails

I get comments and emails when they are submitted. Whether or not I respond, I always read them (Will and Donald).