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Restoration and Apostasy

There really is no static position in nature.  The full moon of two nights ago is now replaced by the waning gibbous immediately as the light begins to be lost.  Nor does the half-moon last longer than a single night, followed by the waning crescent. When the moon’s light is altogether stricken, the new moon phase begins with the waxing crescent which is, at first, only a sliver. But it follows nightly through the waxing crescent, to the half moon, to the waxing gibbous, to the full moon.  Always in motion.  Always either growing or receding in light.

So also with the sun.  From solstice to equinox, to solstice to equinox, it grows, then dims.  Never static.  It is impossible to freeze the light.  It will grow or it will fade.

All things in nature testify of the truth.  This includes things in the “heavens” or sky above, as well as things on, in and under the earth. (Moses 6: 63.)

It is not possible for an individual, nor a collection of individuals, to remain static.  They are either involved with restoring truth or in apostasy from it; never merely “preserving” it.  Those who claim to merely preserve the truth given them are concealing the fact of their apostasy.  They are soothing their conscience.  Caretakers simply cannot exist.

All great truths are simple, and they are testified of in nature as well as in scripture.

The Battle

The battle we are all called upon to fight is not external.  Some people spend their time stirring people up to alarm them about carnal security.  They are trying to sell something.  There are fortunes being made by proponents of fear.  But the audience for such things are only being distracted from a much greater, more immediate battle.  Until the internal condition of the individual has been conquered and brought into alignment with heaven, there is no amount of political, social, economic or military security which will matter in the long run.

I think it more advisable to seek for and listen to the Lord, and secondarily those teachers who will convert you to the Lord; rather than any other advice or movement advocated by those promoting causes.  Teachers ought to point to Him.  Not to themselves.  No one but the Lord is coming to rescue you; and no group will be able to overcome error apart from Him.  Ultimately the battle we each face is the Lord’s.  We must cooperate with Him for Him to be able to win it.  When He does, however, the victory is ours for we are the ones who He redeems.

The path back to the Lord’s presence is an individual one.  It is not likely to be accomplished while in an audience.  There is no “support group” needed.  It is you.  What goes on inside you.  What you love most.  He will one day associate with a group in a city; but that group will be comprised of individuals who have previously met Him.

It surprises me how little discernment there is among those claiming to seek truth.  Many of them will take in ideas from foolish, vain and proud sources with as much enthusiasm as from a true one.  How is it that people cannot tell the difference between them?  Does not a true message sound much different from a false one?  Is merely associating some lesser virtue with a cause enough to have it distract?  What is more plain than the admonishment to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?

Updates on Writing

We’re close to getting the blog-book done.  Should go to the printer this week.  Then it’s up to them to get the process completed.  It now has a title: Removing the Condemnation.  It’s about 540 pages in length; without a word index.  The blog will remain up and you can use it as a word index.

All but one of the titles are now available on Kindle.  The last one (Eighteen Verses) should be up this week, as well.

I’m a few chapters into the new book.  It will be out this year, but I have no clue when.

I’m getting tired of the cold weather.  But it does allow me time to write, since there’s no temptation to spend much time outside.  Even skiing in this cold is less fun.

Religion in Rome

The following is taken from Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician, by Anthony Everitt:

“Religion was not so much a set of personal beliefs as precisely laid-down ways of living in harmony with the expectations of the gods. In fact, by the end of the Republic educated men believed less in the literal truth of the apparatus of religous doctrine than in a vaguer notion of the validity of tradition.”  (p. 55.)

How controlling are traditions.

They blind us to any view other than the one we’ve inherited and keep us from examining what, exactly, the source of the tradition was or what it was originally intended to accomplish.

Sacrifice of Isaac

There were ancient Jewish traditions which held that Abraham actually killed Isaac on the mount and the Lord brought Isaac back to life.  The reference in Hebrews 11: 17-19 seems to be based upon this earlier tradition; in contrast to the Genesis account (Gen. 22: 9-13.)

If Abraham actually slew Isaac, and Isaac was raised from the dead, the trial of Abraham and the test of Isaac is more analogous to Christ’s sacrifice than we imagine.

Hugh Nibley writes about these earlier traditions in Abraham in Egypt, pp. 329-344, 372-375.

We imagine the difficulties of the ancients to be less than they were.  Their faith was established through trial, sacrifice, obedience and consecration.  Not to the will of man or men, but to the will of God.  When men attempt to displace obedience to God into submission to the will of men, then it is not merely an error, it is idolatry. It is an abomination.

More often than not, obedience to God causes conflict with your fellow man.  It did not get these ancient Saints applause, position, praise or notice.

Books on Kindle

While all the books will become available on Kindle shortly, two of them are now available.  Both Ten Parables and Beloved Enos are now up.  I’m hoping that the rest will be there within the next ten days, but the process is somewhat complicated.

Kingdom of Heaven

Luke recorded a confrontation between the Lord and the Pharisees in which they demanded He tell them of the coming of the kingdom of heaven.  These foolish men thought the kingdom of heaven which might be acquired and controlled by men.  They wanted something over which men could rule.

The account reads: “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.  And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.   And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.   For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.”  (Luke 17: 20-24.)

When the kingdom of God reappears on the earth, men like the Pharisees will not be able to observe it.  It will not come in a way observable to those outside.  Instead, the kingdom will be “within” those who are included.  For them, the “observation” comes from the Lord making Himself known to them.  (See Numbers 12: 6.)  But such experiences are not public.  So for the Pharisees, it will be “without observation.”

For His disciples, however, He went on to explain the time would come when they would want another day with Him, but that time will have passed.  They may wish it, but the time to draw near Him is while He is available; not after His departure.  When He has departed, then it will not be possible to find Him among those who say He is here! Or, He is there!

Though He may make Himself known on the same conditions to any who prepare themselves to receive Him, when He appears again it will be as lightening which lights heaven itself from one end to the other.  It will be entirely unmistakable.

The Pharisees were interested in the subject because they envied the kingdom of heaven.  They wanted to own it.  They wanted to control it.  If they could locate it, and usurp it, then they would have power over others who sought it.

Christ’s answer completely frustrates man’s capacity to control the kingdom of heaven.  It is not a franchise, giving Pharisees any authority or right.  It is not even capable of being “observed” by those who are blind to its appearance.  But it is nevertheless real.  It is “within” some few who qualify.

Solstice

Tuesday marks the darkest day of the year, with the longest night.  During that night the moon will be eclipsed, most prominately in the North American continent.

Traditionally that night marks the moment when darkness has its greatest reign, to be then conqured by the returning light.  The following day beginning the return of light and the defeat of darkness.

This moment in nature marks a profound moment for those who believe nature has something to say.  It is an invitation to us to allow the light to begin to grow within us; to begin our own journey back into the light and to leave behind the darkness.

I think I’ll accept the invitation again this year, and mark the moment by renewed effort.  The particular alignment required for us to pass through the eye of a needle and enter the Lord’s presence is indeed possible.  For anyone.  On the same conditions.  It is a balance worth the time required to train ourselves.

Nature testifies endlessly of the Lord.  It also invites us endlessly to turn back to Him.  This continuing patience and enduring invitiation shown in nature is a reminder of how loving and patient, how persistent and committed the Lord is to our salvation.  Salvation is predicated upon the same, universal standard for all who would return to Him.  In that respect it is as exact and unchanging as the cycles of nature.  Despite its exacting requirements, it is endlessly inviting and continually encouraging us to accept that standard and to live it.  Not just to say, but to do.

I intend to do something, then, to show Him I want to return to the Light.

Provo Tabernacle

The destruction of the Provo Tabernacle by the fire last night makes me mourn.  I heard President Kimball speak there.  We had some of our student Stake Conferences there.  Later I attended the funeral of Rex Lee, the Dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School while I attended.  I also attended Hugh Nibley’s funeral there.  It was hallowed ground because of those memories. 

I assume it was arson, because of so many recent fires in LDS owned buildings.  Seems a foolish gesture, even if you hate the Church.  Nothing important is ever accomplished by destroying the creative labors of others.  If someone hates the Church, perhaps they ought to go build up their own.  There is no equivalency made by tearing down.  A person may be able to burn a building, but it does not make them any more important or great.  A man may have shot John Lennon, but that did not alter the killer’s importance.  It merely made his insignificance more public.

There are two great forces at work.  One is entropy.  Everything is getting colder, darker, and dissolving.  This force is unrelenting, and can be found everywhere in the physical world.  Opposing it, however, is something which is creative, renewing, and equally unrelenting.  I believe this force which renews life, introduces new energy and forms new systems to be God’s work.  It is, in a word, love.  Or, in the vernacular of the scriptures, it is charity.

When the labors of hundreds have been assembled to create a place of worship, a thing of beauty and a refuge for Saints, that act of charity will endure beyond any subsequent act of vandalism.  It cannot be lessened; though it may be broken or burned.  The testimony of sacrifice establishes an enduring legacy.

I hope the Tabernacle will be rebuilt.  I hope also the memory of the original will not fade from those who went there for such events as Brother Nibley’s funeral, Dean Lee’s funeral, and President Kimball’s address.