Answers to Last Week’s Questions

There are some more questions asked this week that I’ll try to answer. The series on “I Am a Mormon” will be 7 parts, but aren’t finished. I’m reading comments from the blog and thought I’d respond to some of them:

On blog traffic: Approximately 750,000 total visits to the blog.

The traffic comes predominately from the following in the order of the top ten countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Russia, Finland, Spain, Thailand, Ukraine. The traffic is worldwide, including Brazil, Belarus, Japan, even Mongolia.

In response to my request, I received an email from a woman who explained that her husband was very troubled by reading Passing the Heavenly Gift. Though they had not left the church, they had become suddenly discontent. In response to her I want to express my thanks for responding. She was not just the first, but is the only one who has spoken up saying anything like this to me. In response to her inquiry about my feelings toward the church:

The church remains important, even central to progressing toward God. In The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil, I remark that “the truth will scratch your eyes out, and then scratch them in again.” That is a reference to how seeing the weaknesses and failures of all those around you can be quite discouraging, but it is necessary. It is when we see clearly how limited and failure-prone mankind is that we turn in desperation to the Lord and call on Him for mercy. We must be uncomfortable before we seek the only source of comfort. The Lord is the answer. The church is not the answer. It is pointing, or should point to Him. The church is only a means. The Lord is the journey’s end. The church is the wonderful home where we get to render service to one another. It is where the Lord has asked we serve. The service is for Him, as an act of devotion to Him, and to comply with what He has asked. It is not for our own recognition or advancement. It is because we want to come to know Him. In the quiet service for others, when our minds finally come to rest on the only one who can save us, we can find that peace where the Lord comes to us and speaks words of comfort. He is real. He exists, and He comforts those who come to Him offering a broken heart and contrite spirit, and to none other.
If the book has scratched your eyes out, then let the truth scratch them in again. Do not go away blinded.  Let the truth that lies beyond the despair now come to you as well.

The question about poverty and giving raises the intractable question of how to deal with the poor. Our system is broken. The answer to the problem ultimately lies in changing the entire system, but that requires people to be of one mind, and one heart, and to have Christ as their center. We are far from that. The best economic solution is a theological one. We can’t have “utopia” separate from Zion. We can’t have Zion while we are filled with envy, jealousy and lack conversion to Christ. We can’t be converted to Christ and lose our envy and jealousy until we are brought to awaken to our awful situation. We can’t be awakened until we are willing to recognize we are no different than the “Lord’s people” who have failed every time He has chosen a people (other than in past Zions). We can’t come to that recognition until we take much more seriously the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. We are not prepared to do so until we are buffetted a bit more by the winds of failure and humiliation to bring down our pride. So in a very real sense it will be poverty and struggle which holds the best hope of starting us down the process that will unite us and then end poverty. So we’re not going to solve poverty until the Lord first gives us the necessary experience to acquire broken hearts and contrite spirits.
On why I continually say “I’m nothing and nobody” there are doctrinal reasons. Those who are religious, and follow a converted disciple of Christ, are still damned if they substitute a man in the place that belongs only to Christ. Sincere, but deluded people who claim they are disciples of Paul, Apollos, Peter, Moses, Isaiah, even Thomas Monson, but who do not receive a testimony of Christ, are damned. They suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. (D&C 76: 99-106.) They are consigned to hell, and are resurrected as Telestial beings. This is because they followed a man. It is a grave mistake and salvation is lost when that mistake is made. Those who invite people to follow them, and deliberately seek devotees are anti-Christ and bringing souls to destruction. These religious Pied Pipers will incur the greater damnation. If someone is going to make that mistake by claiming they are following me, they will not do so without being told by me unequivocally and with some frequency that they are mistaken. I am nothing, and I have not ever attempted to become an anti-Christ. I point to Christ, for He alone can rescue you from the pains of hell and eternal torment. Those who put themselves up for adoration and worship are mistaken, are practicing priestcraft, are anti-Christ, and in the employ of the enemy to our souls.

In response to the question regarding good books about history, there is another book I quite liked. The new LDS Church Historian, Elder Steve Snow, recently recommended the employees of the Church History Department read the book David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, by G. Prince and R. Wright. I’ve quoted from that book and have also cited it in bibliographies. I agree it is worth reading by anyone interested in church history. David O. McKay’s daily activities were kept in a record written by his secretary, Sister Clare Middlemiss, from 1935 until his death in 1970. She was the aunt of Robert Wright, who obtained access. Ultimately, the journals were donated to the University of Utah and are presently housed in the J. Willard Marriott Library, where the public can have access to them. The Modern Mormonism book is the first history written that is taken from these extensive journals. The journals are no doubt going to become a source for many other works of history. This volume was well done and introduces a host of behind-the-scenes views of the events during President McKay’s presidency.