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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.


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. 

Dolores Umbridge

In the Harry Potter series, I like how Dolores Umbridge turns questioning her actions into questioning the Ministry of Magic.  And by extension questioning the Minister of Magic.  What a power-hungry wench she was.  She parlayed herself and her every move or decision by extension into the acts of the very pinnacle of their social authority.  It is a sort of pathology you only see in very unhealthy social groups who are ruled by fear and intimidation.  I thought it was brilliant of J.K. Rowling to envision such a character.

Perfect love casts out all fear.  (Moroni 8: 16.)

Peter gave instruction about how the church ought to operate.  It was never through fear or intimidation; but through gentle example: “I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5: 1-4.)
What a marvel the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in all its details.  When it appears on the earth, it appears in weakness, does not force itself upon the world, and persuades others to the truth.  When it is lost, then religion turns into the means to control and exercise compulsion.  It becomes all that Catholicism was.  Though, in truth, once the Protestant Reformation gathered power it greatly improved Catholicism by reducing its capacity to rule and reign with compulsion and intimidation.  By disposition men tend to abuse power whenever they think they hold it.  (D&C 121: 39-40.)  Just like men, institutions are best when humbled, and worst when they reign with pride and power.
How delightful it is when fiction, like the Potter series, captures a character which puts a timeless conflict into a modern yarn.

Your Life in Context

I’ve been reading modern church history, recently from primary sources including diaries as part of my work on a new book.  I’ve been struck by how difficult it is for people to put their own lives into context as they live them.  The history inside of which they live dominates their thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and interpretations.  It is almost impossible for people to disconnect from their surroundings and view history as they live it.

We rarely have it occur to us that we are part of a current, a flow of people, events and even thought in all the moments of our lives.  But we can act independent of that flow by making a choice.

I am astonished by the arrogance of office, position and wealth.  When any person is put into a position in which their circumstances grant them advantages over their fellow man, it is hard to retain empathy for how well intended but terribly misinformed actions always affect others.  Such things certainly do not make any person a bad man, but always reduces them from what they might have become.

It was essential to Christ’s life that He be born in obscurity, associated with the least of His society, be deprived of wealth and official power.  He could not have accomplished His mission were He in a position to preside.  He needed to be persecuted to fully awaken to the injustices men impose on others.  Even so little a matter as tempting Him by interrogations designed to trip Him up made Him greater than He would have been had people deferred to His standing.  He was challenged, not coddled.  He grew from grace to grace until He was called the Son of God, because of the things which He suffered.

Almost without exception when a soul awakens to the historic context in which they live they immediately find themselves at odds with the surrounding culture.  In this also the Lord was The Great Example.

On Thanksgiving I find myself appreciating our Lord and His difficult life all the more.


The update entry posted yesterday refers to “the talk.” This talk is the same talk referenced here and here. The title of the talk is “The First Three Words of the Endowment.” It is also referred to as the King Follett discussion. They are one in the same. Many readers have already received this talk. 

If you are a new reader or are being introduced to this talk for the first time, and you would like a copy of it, you need to leave your email address in the comment section. I can still get the comments, but I will not put any of them up. Your email will be private. 

There is NO other way to receive a copy of this.  If you would like it leave a comment on the blog.

Thanks — CM


Here are a couple of updates:

First, I still receive requests for copies of the talk.  I get those and will respond.  We (Steph and I) like to wait till there’s five or more and respond to them as a group.  But we do respond and you will get copies of the talk. 

Second, I just finished speaking with the publisher and printer and we have set in motion getting all of the books available on Kindle.  That process takes a few weeks before it is actually available.  However, it has been set in motion and all the titles will be available on Kindle as soon as the process is completed.

The blog will become available as a book soon, as well.  At present the footnoting of scripture references is occupying the effort.  Once that is completed we will submit it for printing, as well and it will become available on thereafter.

I have finished what I needed to cover

I have finished what I needed to cover.
This blog will become a book. As it gets into final form I may add a few things from 3rd Nephi that haven’t been covered here. When it’s out, I’ll let you know.
There is another book completely unrelated to this blog I need to begin to work on. I need the time I have spent on this to turn to that instead.

When I’ve finished the next book I’ll make it a point to include news of that here. I’m going to leave this up, and will add to it from time to time. In the event I have something to say, I will post here. Check back occasionally.

Here’s an important closing thought – its seems Youkilis, Pedroia and Ellsbury are all recovering nicely. The Red Sox have resigned Ortiz, and will be a force to reckon with again next year (barring injuries). I have to say, however, that the AL East was altogether a playoff disappointment. I get why the BoSox were out of it, but the Rays and Yankees were a complete disappointment. I was hoping the Rangers would win, but I’m good with SF Giants.

3 Nephi 18: 31-32

3 Nephi 18: 31-32:

“Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood. But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.”
Even if you know someone has violated the commandment, has partaken unworthily after you have forbidden them to do so, even then you are “not to cast him out from among you.” Instead the Lord puts on His disciples the burden of making intercession for him, praying “unto the Father, in [Christ’s] name” for such a man. For the Lord reminds us that, “if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in [His] name” then the man’s repentance will take care of his failure.
Notice the burden on His disciples. What does it mean to “minister unto him” who has transgressed? What does it mean to “pray for him unto the Father” when you know he has eaten and drank “damnation unto his soul?” Why would the Lord have His followers first forbid, then, when the forbidding fails, to follow it up with patience and prayer for the offender? Is this another extension of the teachings the Lord gave in the sermon previously? Does this again testify to you of how serious the Lord is about how kind and patient we are with others?
How long are you to bear with the offender, hoping for his repentance? When do you decide that he is determined to “repent not?” What does it mean, after you have determined the man will not repent that “he shall not be numbered among my people?” What does that suggest about further fellowship with that man? Why would that be coupled with “that he may not destroy my people?”  What would such an unrepentant man need to do before you could decide he was attempting to “destroy my people?” How would you decide that?
Now, even if you think you have a basis for deciding all this against the man, “nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship.” Did you see that? We are not to forbid even the man who is intent upon destroying the Lord’s people from our places of worship. What selfless behavior is this? Enduring persecution! It is as if the Lord expects His followers to bless those who curse them, to do good to them who despitefully use them.
Why such patience? Because “ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.” If there is a chance for repentance, the Lord wants us to bear with, succor and uplift the non-repentant soul who drinks damnation. How often we would do otherwise. Christ instructs us to be more like Him in all we do. It is only by this patience, kindness, gentleness and meekness that He has been able to save my soul. Can a grateful person do anything less for another? Can we expect to forebear any less with the unrepentant than the Lord has with us?
How godlike the Master is in all His teachings. How much higher are His ways than are ours.
The Lord affirms that He knows His sheep. Not only knows them, but “they are numbered” to Him. He cares for each of them.
If we can add another to His fold by our own patient ministrations, then we ought to readily do so. If we do, then He will give us the credit for what we have done: “ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.” Did you catch that? He gives us the credit for the success! We merely follow what He instructs us to do, and if there is any benefit realized He gives us the credit for doing so. Our Savior is more than a good example. He is perfect in all His doings. It is little wonder that in the end every knee will bow before Him. Gratitude will bring some to their knees. Shame will bring the rest. No one will expect to stand or sit in His presence. For in Him we find a soul of such greatness that kneeling alone can give vent to the feelings He inspires.