Monday, October 13, 2014

Possession (Part 2)

Red scare politics =/= prophecy.

As I stated in the last post, the Book of Mormon tells us much about the concept of possession.

Lehi, before his death, explains clearly how possession works in 2 Nephi 2:

28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;
 29 And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

There is evil in the flesh. We call it the natural man. The will of the natural man, according to Lehi, prefers eternal death over eternal life. Hence, the natural man's goal is to betray you. If you read the rest of this chapter in Nephi, you will realize that this is all part and parcel to the notion of there being opposition in all things.

Think about it, and be honest. If there is a Holy Ghost that partners with the Light of Christ that is within you, then there is an opposite also.

Verse 29 states that it is the natural man that betrays us into the captivity of the devil. So what we have is something internal that partners with something external to make you a slave. This is what always results from sin. To think of something bad is one thing. That's just the natural man letting you know what he wants, and to be tempted is really still just between you and the natural man.

To execute the sin is what involves the outsider. Which is why sin always enslaves. Not only is the will of the natural man gratified when you sin, but the enemy of your soul is given power that he never would have had if you had not sinned. Room is made for your enemy to sit at your table and to direct decisions concerning you. The sin itself then becomes a symbol of their partnership concerning your soul. Which is where Nephi's words come into play 24 chapters later:
22. ...and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.
Most people, when you ask them about possession, think of examples from popular culture like The Exorcist. But possession, according to the Book of Mormon, is much more gradual and deliberate than what happens so quickly to characters in movies. It is also much more common than we are led to believe by the world and by our religious culture.

Flaxen cords first, then strong cords. One step at a time, carefully down. Nephi spoke extensively about this problem in the latter days. Examine chapter 28:
20 For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
 21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
Tell me, what current group of people think that they are "Zion"? Do you think that Nephi is talking about the Catholics or Baptists in this verse? Do you think that he means the Jews?

If Mormon saw our day, and knew we would be the audience of the Book of Mormon, then the presence of verse 21 should wake you up in the night if you think all is well in the Mormon Corridor. If you somehow think that everything is fine, and that the Brethren should be followed, then of what use is this scripture to you?

Henry Eyring: "Wherever I go in the Church, whoever the prophet is at the time, members will ask, “When you get back to Church headquarters, will you please tell the prophet how much we love him?” That is far more than hero worship or the feelings we sometimes have of admiring heroic figures. It is a gift from God."

Get real, Henry. If verse 21 above is true, then what you are talking about is hero worship, period. You are ignoring the model from Alma Chapter 1 where all are equal, and teachers and priests are not esteemed above hearers and learners (verse 26). What you are stating instead is that an inordinate, special love for the President of the Church is a gift from God. I reject your worldly philosophy because I follow Christ, who is no respecter of persons.

Even the scripture that you cite (D&C 121: 45-46) does not suggest the principle you are putting forth:

45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith...

A prophet, as an individual, is not worthy of special attention and veneration. We sing Praise to the Man in church (a hymn that contains a blatant reference to Brigham Young's notion of blood atonement) because there is far too much truth that the people who came out of Nauvoo never understood.

One of those truths is that no one is worthy of special praise except for Christ. There are prophets that are very helpful in their example, but not a single one of them deserves a church. Nor do they need an entourage of bodyguards, sycophants, and button men.

Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants tells us clearly that there will be "...some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch..." (verse 100-101) but that none of these respecters will enter the Celestial Kingdom.

Are you going to preach of revelation, Elder Eyring? Then preach of what verse 101 speaks of:

101 But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.
These are the things that are to be had through honest-to-God revelation. A "testimony of Christ" isn't mere belief in Him. It is to know that He testifies to the Father that you are worthy of the kingdom. "Receiving the prophets" isn't about standing when they enter the room. It is about receiving the word of God that they bear. And "receiving an everlasting covenant" isn't merely about participating in an ordinance. It is about Christ making a personal offer to you by revelation, a la 2 Nephi 32:6, for which the temple rite is merely a temporal invitation.

The hero worship you are preaching serves the ego. Hence, it is an enslaving sin that invites a demon into the temple body of those that will follow your words. The Lord decries this sin as idol worship in scripture, and Jacob makes it plain in 2 Nephi 9 that this is something that we do not want to happen to us:

37 Yea, wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.
38 And, in fine, wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins.
Verse 38 sounds familiar with regards to possession, doesn't it? It brings Amulek's words in Alma 34 to mind:

33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
 34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
 35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
 36 And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb.
Get this concept straight, Hank. I love you dude, but you are participating in shrouding the world under the veil of darkness when you preach that loving the President of the Church simply for the office that he holds is "a gift from God". 

It is imperative to know the difference between worshiping Christ and worshiping men. Why? Because the scripture above indicates that possession does not end when you die. You must repent here and now in mortality, or your spiritual enslavement continues as an inverted form of sealing.

Read verse 35 again, and take it for what it says. Sin = possession, which then eventually = a sealing by the father of lies. Leading the people to rationalize idol worship of anyone who is not Christ will not do them any favors when all must go before the judgment bar of God.

Russell Nelson: "The Church today has been organized by the Lord Himself. He has put in place a remarkable system of governance that provides redundancy and backup. That system provides for prophetic leadership even when the inevitable illnesses and incapacities may come with advancing age. Counterbalances and safeguards abound so that no one can ever lead the Church astray."
This quote is filled with shenanigans that are incongruent with the notion of direct prophetic revelation. A system of governance? Redundancy and backup? Counterbalances and safeguards?

You seem to trust an apparatus as if it were the Lord. But you've got it backwards. You have forgotten about the Liahona, and how it worked. Examine 1 Nephi 16:

12 And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work.
13 Wherefore, they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest, and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days; and they began to be frightened exceedingly lest they should be drowned in the sea; nevertheless they did not loose me.
Disobedience causes the Lord's tools to become useless. The binding and silencing of true prophets causes your ship to be driven back and your journey to be put in peril. An apparatus of God will cease to work if it is wielded unrighteously, and if you do not repent, trusting its "guides" thereafter will only steer you into doom.

Alma expounded on this concept of tool use to his son Helaman in Alma 37:

38 And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it.
39 And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.
40 And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.
41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;

You'd better be sure, Russ. You are telling people to trust in an apparatus that only works within the bounds of righteousness. If Brigham was wrong to change the Endowment ceremony as he did following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum, then this tool has likely been malfunctioning since they were put in the ground. If revelation was neither sought nor received when the saints voted to follow the Twelve over Sidney Rigdon during the succession crisis, then the descendants that came out of Nauvoo have profaned their offering just as Cain did, and thus our current performances are not consecrated unto the welfare of our souls at all.

The Mormons of Nauvoo recorded no visitation from Christ as part of the dedication of the incomplete temple constructed there. That simply does not follow what was promised in Section 124. Hence, this apparatus has been malfunctioning ever since, and will continue to do so until we confess the truth, admit we were wrong, and repent en mass to preserve Joseph's restoration.

What LDS history tells me, and what your words tell me, Russ, is that you are pretending. I really wish you wouldn't. To infer that all of these shenanigans that dot LDS history are the work of Jesus Christ, and that he would remove a man's agency to lead the church astray simply because he lives long enough to rise in seniority above the other presidential hopefuls is just the perpetration of a destructive cultural myth. And when others, my loved ones and yours, rely on a myth like this that has no basis in scripture, you are in truth appealing to our collective LDS ego by stating that the tool is to be trusted. You are asking us to enter into carnal security by stating that you cannot be led astray simply because of the office that you hold.

The apostles in scripture were led astray. They were also rebuked by Christ for allowing themselves to be possessed by evil spirits. Examine Luke 9:

52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

It should be as clear to you as it is to me that when you seek to destroy the lives of other people, simply because you perceive that they are insulting your authority, that you are allowing the natural man within you to cater to spirits that are the enemies of Jesus Christ.

The church is just a tool for delivering the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ is the one that is true, and the church is only "true" if it follows Him. To participate in a tradition of claiming that "the church is true" when it is merely the pen that writes the love letter is to perpetuate yet another destructive myth. It is to fall in love with the pen instead of the Bridegroom. They are not the same thing.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Possession (Part 1)

From Moses 7:
 26 And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.


How do I tell you the truth? How do I speak the words when we can barely even converse about the Gospel of Jesus Christ without you getting a blank look on your face, or taking offense at my lack of reverence for dudes in suits who are not the Savior?

I know for a fact that you are going to be offended. You have already been offended, and sent me away once. You have already acted as if I have urinated on the graves of your loved ones, and corrupted your children. It seems that your anger will only increase from here, because you seem to be possessed. You keep the peace only when I keep my mouth shut. If I open it, you complain. You accuse me of throwing you under the bus. It is as if you have no capacity for critique.

I'm sure you think the same of me. You think I am possessed by some devil. Possession is an important concept to discuss. It's covered extensively in the Book of Mormon, but talked about rarely in church. I think it's fair to say that it is a touchy topic.

You tell me that you are concerned with apostasy. It seems that you don't really care if what I have to say is true, you are more concerned about what some man in some position above you thinks about what I say. You follow these men whom you call prophets, and when they speak or act you simply assume that they do so in the name of Christ. And that's what worries me. "Follow the Prophet" is a primary song, but it's not contained in the scriptures anywhere.

I believe the scriptures. You carry the scriptures to church with you every week, you have them lovingly marked, and you gift them to your children on special occasions. But when I point out what they actually say, you look at me like I have clown makeup on. You ignore the words and the reason, and you look at me with the saddest eyes.

The truth is ugly, but not because I am speaking it. It is ugly because you don't actually believe what those texts say. I would to God that you did. But you reject what they say even as you clutch them to your breast. You take them out of context, you wrest their meaning, and you delete portions of them when they disagree with your culturally accepted understanding of what they are supposed to say about God and faith.

Before I ever asked one question about the scriptures, you removed the Lectures on Faith from the Doctrine & Covenants. You betrayed my understanding of faith before I was ever able to exercise it. You edited Joseph's scriptures, and then bore testimony to me of his prophesy. You did this and acted as if I would never find out. You went along with this betrayal, and acted as if everything was in order and waiting for Zion.

That version of the D&C was presented in General Conference and accepted as doctrine in 1835. Unanimously accepted as scripture by the body of Christ. Then, in 1921, a committee of dudes who had never prophesied or given revelations in their entire lives removed them from the D&C without any godly pronouncement whatsoever.

You accept what they did as prophetic. Just like you accept all the changes to our temple rites despite what Isaiah 24 says. And you think I am an "anti-Mormon" for even bringing it up. Here is an excerpt of Joseph's Lectures that apparently weren't important enough for you to preserve or share with me:
It is vain for persons to fancy themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith with God and favor with him, so as to obtain eternal life, unless they, in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain a knowledge that they are accepted of him. (From Lecture 6)
How do I tell you politely that you have lied to me? How do I make it "nice"?

You have called me a "son" and a "brother". It would be unspeakable for me to respond to such an honor by withholding vital truth from you once I discover it, but this is exactly what you want me to do. You want me to shut up about the Church. You want to believe what you have been taught your entire life, and you are horrified that I have become a voice of dissent. You want me to betray the Light of Christ within me and surrender my judgment to what 2 Nephi refers to as "the arm of flesh".

I can't do it. You claim Joseph is a prophet, and you are in agreement with the removal of a portion of his scriptures. You are complicit with the changes made to his ordinances. Every time you raise your hand to sustain the guys that followed him, you make yourself a party to that decision. Conference after Conference, year after year. How do I make it clear to you that you are passing this same lie to your young children, with whom you will also not share these pariah scriptures?

After all of these agreements you have made, you now view me as the traitor.

In truth, what you actually believe in is an interpretation of these edited scriptures, fed to you your entire life by dutiful churchmen. These men have their own private "scripture" called the Handbook of Instructions. Hugh Nibley had this to say of churchmen:

“Unlike prophets, churchmen are the product of institutions.  In the safety and permanence of institutions they put their trust.  They resolutely oppose the prophets whom they accuse of disturbing their repose and rocking the boat” (Nibley, The World and the Prophets, p. 175)

And those churchmen were also fed a narrative by their parents, and so on, all the way back to a group of people that were driven out of Nauvoo. Driven out into the winter night despite what God decreed in D&C 124:

 45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.

The descendants of Nauvoo. You believe their side of the story because you must. Because you are financially invested. You will never entertain the notion that 100 million temple ordinances may have been performed in vain, because it is too heavy of a burden. You can't fathom a God that would allow that kind of agency, and your refusal is a reflection of the type of God you assume that He is: A control freak.

Isn't it strange that Christ would take a stand for our agency in the Council in Heaven, only to restrict it here in his church? Doesn't it strike you as bizarre that Michael and all the holy angels would go to war for our autonomy, only to have us operate under the fear of speaking our minds about something as fickle as church policy here in mortality?

I think that your god is a control freak. But I do not think that he is the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I know you believe him to be, but that's where possession comes into the equation. You prefer a strongman to lead you because you don't really believe what the scriptures say about personal revelation. You prefer the carnal security of an institution because you don't want to bother with the miracles and revelations promised to you by Christ in Moroni 7.

I can point out the Lectures on Faith, but you will simply shrug your shoulders. I can point out the unmet conditions for receiving the fullness of the Gospel detailed in Section 124, but you don't care. You've already made up your mind about the church, and about me. I can point out what the scriptures actually say about the effect of the Holy Ghost, but you're going to continue to talk about "warm feelings" and lead your children down into destruction with you. You're going to react as someone would when they are protecting a wound.

I was invited to a family baptism, and simultaneously informed that I was univited to the confirmation circle because of "the way that I feel about the Church". I was neither surprised, nor offended by this family decision. When I attended, my family were very friendly and welcoming. Perhaps overwhelmingly so. I responded in kind. I thanked them for having me. But I can't help but wonder why most Mormons think that Jesus insists that they wrap vindictive acts such as this with pleasant smiles and polite words.

The reality is that they believe that my priesthood is void because I have been openly critical of the institution on social media. But that's not what the scriptures describe as the kind of behavior that causes God to void priesthood. Section 121 identifies unrighteous dominion as the thing that causes the Spirit to be grieved and the heavens to withdraw. The truth, on the other hand, is never evil. Being honest is to stand with Christ.

As far as I am concerned, I have simply been honest about the scriptures and about church history. So my priesthood remains intact. My fear is for them, who are acting preemptively without any revelation from God (nothing spoken to me) or from the institution. My fear is that they will find themselves on the wrong side of Christ's words in Matt 7:
 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
 23 And then will I profess unto them, ye never knew me: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Mormons think this scripture is about Protestants and Evangelical Christians. The larger question becomes: Why do so many Mormons assume that polite condemnation is the correct course to take towards those that do not share their conclusions about this religion? It's as if Christ's idea of leaving the 99 to go after the one has been erased from the scriptures also.

Instead of going after the one, far too many Mormons prefer to huddle with the 99 and send passive aggressive messages to the one. Often these messages are sent via family ordinances.

I've never received any revelation that Thomas Monson is a prophet. It took me a couple of years to come to grips with that fact. Then I had to come to grips with the fact that follows: It's okay to not have a testimony of TSM being a prophet as long as I never voice it. But the second I do, there is no longer any room for me in the confirmation circle of those that remain faithful to Monson. The second I admit the truth, I am in danger of being labeled an "apostate" and then summarily ostracized by people who are supposedly agents of Christ's Atonement.

Such a state of affairs is simply not Christ's program. Christ would be absolutely fine with me not having such a testimony, and he would welcome me and bear my situation with what Section 121 describes as long suffering and love unfeigned. He would offer me profound answers to my questions, and he would speak the truth with no fear of harming anyone's illusions.

Christ would never exclude me from an ordinance for being honest. To assert otherwise is just pretend, no matter what earthly organization backs up your twisted rationale. But all truth be told, 8-year-olds should not be baptized into the church anyway. According to Section 68, that is a law that pertains to Zion only, and this church is not Zion. Not even on its best day can this institution pretend to something that purports to welcome back the City of Enoch:
63 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;
 64 And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest. (Moses 7)
I have a cousin who has exchanged e-mails with me at length. She simply ignores the scriptures and history that I share and falls back on the same tired "every fiber of my being" sayings that she inherited from the same religious culture that raised us both. Her focus is on the danger of "being found an apostate". I'm sorry, but that is such a position of fear. To operate with that mindset is essentially the same thing as Stockholm syndrome, where the abuser is loved and defended by the victim.

I will not defend the LDS institution. If Christ is at its helm, then it should be able to stand on its own merits. It should be able to withstand all scrutiny, and be completely unafraid of criticism from without or within.

I will not pretend that Christ was at the helm when the people in Nauvoo chose the Twelve over Sidney Rigdon by vote, or when Brigham Young put blood oaths into the temple endowment, or when he practiced a form of plural marriage that differed from Joseph's. I will not lay Wilford Woodruff's capitulation to the US Government at Jesus' feet, nor will I do so with Spencer Kimball's.

I will not pretend that Gordon Hinkley, who lied about his involvement with Mark Hoffmann after purchasing his forgeries, was a prophet of God. You either know the history, or you are keeping your head in the sand. I will not pretend that it is okay for Elders Packer and Nelson to push local Stake Presidents to excommunicate heretics when the Doctrine and Covenants clearly states that the Twelve have no say in local matters.

I will not pretend that God directs his institution to build luxury shopping malls. And I will not pretend that the coming changes to Church policy will have anything to do with our Lord Jesus Christ. I will not add my hand, or my voice to your complicity with lies.

So I am okay with being disinvited from my religious culture one increment at a time. First by my family, and then by the institution shortly after once my new bishop finds out about this blog. I have made peace with this fact, and I am declaring myself publicly. It is a matter of belief in the very texts I was given when I was brought into this church 29 years ago.

I am not in trouble with any of you for unbelief, I am in trouble because I believe it too much. I am in danger because I want Zion, and because I love the doctrines of Joseph Smith.

D&C 10 describes the Church thus:

 67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
 68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

My admitting the truth is part of my repentance. I will serve Christ and no one else. What this means is that verse 67 is much more difficult than what I have been taught by my religious culture. It is also more simple than all of the institutional red tape and personality conflicts that muck up the institution. Corporate policy is not His church. Fealty to men in the upper seats of the Conference Center is not being in His church. Utilizing the Church Handbook of Instructions is not part of His church.

Repenting and coming to Christ is what makes me a part of His church. All that other stuff is just cultural shenanigans and unrighteous dominion. All of it is the result of embarrassment and shame from the stewards of this institution not receiving any actual revelation since Joseph's death. They maintain power and influence by virtue of their priesthood, both of which Section 121 calls a no-no. Which is precisely why I am not allowed to speak my mind about their invisible clothes.

If I am excommunicated from an organization and ostracized from a culture that has forgotten what the war in heaven was fought over, then what do I have to complain about? I will no longer participate in the shunning, shaming, and control that characterizes verse 68. I will not fight against Christ.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Vision of the Travail of Christ

The following is an excerpt of a book written by Denver Snuffer. The name of the book is Come Let Us Adore Him.

-

I knew a man in Christ about four years ago, who, being overshadowed by the Spirit on the 26th of February, 2005, had the Lord appear to him again. And the Lord spoke to him face to face, in plain humility, as one man speaks to another, calling him by name. As they spoke the Lord put forth His hand and touched the eyes of the man and said, “Look!”

The man had opened before him a view of the Lord kneeling in prayer. It was in a dark place. The air was heavy and overcast with sorrow. The man beheld the
Lord praying in Gethsemene on the night of His betrayal and before His crucifixion.

All the Lord had previously done in His mortal ministry by healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, restoring hearing to the deaf, curing the leper and ministering relief to others as He taught was but a prelude to what the Lord was now to do on this dark, oppressive night.

As the Lord knelt in prayer, His vicarious suffering began. He was overcome by pain and anguish. He felt within Him, not just the pains of sin, but also the illnesses men suffer as a result of the Fall, and their foolish and evil choices. The suffering was long and the challenge difficult.

The Lord suffered the afflictions. He was healed from the sickness. He overcame the pains, and patiently bore the infirmities until, finally, He returned to peace of mind, and strength of body. It took an act of will and hope for Him to overcome the affliction which had been poured upon Him. He overcame the separation caused by these afflictions and reconciled with His Father. He was at peace with all mankind.

He thought His sufferings were over, but to His astonishment another wave overcame Him. This one was much greater than the first. The Lord, who had been kneeling, fell forward onto His hands at the impact of the pain that was part of a greater, second wave.

This second wave was so much greater than the first that it seemed to entirely overcome the Lord. The Lord was now stricken with physical injuries, as well as spiritual affliction. As He suffered anew, His flesh was torn which He healed using the power of the charity within Him. The Lord had such life within Him, such power and virtue within Him, that although He suffered in His flesh, these injuries healed and His flesh restored. His suffering was both body and spirit, and there was anguish of thought, feeling and soul.

The Lord overcame this second wave of suffering, and again found peace of mind and strength of body; and His heart filled with love despite what He had suffered. Indeed, it was charity or love that allowed Him to overcome. He was at peace with His Father, and with all mankind, but it required another, still greater act
of will and charity than the first for Him to do so.

Again, the Lord thought His suffering was over. He stayed on His hands and knees for a moment to collect Himself when another wave of torment burst upon Him. This wave struck Him with such force He fell forward upon His face. He was afflicted by this greater wave. He was then healed only to then be afflicted again as the waves of torment overflowed. Wave after wave poured out upon Him, with only moments between them. The Lord’s suffering progressed from a lesser to a greater portion of affliction; for as one would be overcome by Him, the next, greater affliction would then be poured out. Each wave of suffering was only preparation for the next, greater wave.

The pains of mortality, disease, injury and infirmity, together with the sufferings of sin, transgressions, guilt of mind, and unease of soul, the horrors of recognition of the evils men had inflicted upon others were all poured out upon Him; with confusion and perplexity multiplied upon Him.

He longed for it to be over, and thought it would end long before it finally ended. With each wave He thought it would be the last but then another came upon Him, and then yet another.

The one beholding this scene was pained by what he saw, and begged for the vision of the Lord’s suffering to end. He could not bear to see his Lord suffering in this manner. The petition was denied and the vision did not end, for the Lord required him to witness it.

The man saw that the Lord pleaded again with the Father that “this cup may pass” from Him. But the Lord was determined to suffer the Father’s will, and not His own. Therefore, a final wave came upon Him with such violence as to cut Him at every pore. It seemed for a moment that He was torn apart, and that blood came out of every pore. The Lord writhed in pain upon the ground as this great final torment was poured upon Him.

All virtue was taken from Him. All the great life force in Him was stricken and afflicted. All the light turned to darkness. He was humbled, drained and left with nothing. It is not possible for a man to bear such pains and live, but with nothing more than will, hope in His Father, and charity toward all men, He emerged from the final wave of torment, knowing He had suffered all this for His Father and His brethren. By His hope and great charity, trusting in the Father, the Lord returned from this dark abyss and found grace again, His heart being filled with love toward the Father and all men.

These great burdens were born by the Lord not only on behalf of mankind, but also as a necessary prelude to His death upon a Roman cross. Had He not been so physically weakened by these sufferings, and drained of power from within, the scourging and crucifixion He suffered at the hands of men could not have taken His life.

It was many hours after this vision closed before the one who witnessed this suffering could compose himself again. He wept because of the vision shown him, and he wondered at the Lord’s great suffering for mankind.

The witness reflected for many days upon this scene of the Lord’s great suffering. He read many times the account of the Lord’s agony given to Joseph Smith, which reads: “Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be
sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” (D&C 19: 15–19.)

He pondered and asked: Why were there waves oftorment? Why did they increase in difficulty? How were they organized as they seemed to fit a pattern?

After long inquiring into the things which he had seen, the Lord, who is patient and merciful and willing to instruct those who call upon Him, again appeared to the man on the 20th of December, 2007. He made known unto him that the waves of torment suffered by the Lord came in pairs which mirrored each other. The first of each wave poured upon the Lord those feelings, regrets, recriminations and pains felt by those who injured their fellow man. Then followed a second wave, which mirrored the first, but imposed the pains suffered by the victims of the acts committed by those in the first wave. Instead of the pains of those who inflict hurt or harm, it was now the anger, bitterness and resentments felt by those who suffered these wrongs.

From each wave of suffering, whether as the one afflicting or as the victim of those wrongs, the Lord would overcome the evil feelings associated with these wrongs, and find His heart again filled with peace. This was why, in the vision of the suffering of the Lord it was in the second waves that there appeared oftentimes to be injuries to His body.

The greater difficulty in these paired waves of torment was always overcoming the suffering of the victim. With these waves, the Lord learned to overcome the victims’ resentments, to forgive, and to heal both body and spirit. This was more difficult than overcoming the struggles arising from the one who committed the evil. This is because the one doing evil knows he has done wrong, and feels a natural regret when he sees himself aright. The victim, however, always feels it is their right to hold resentment, to judge their persecutor, and to withhold peace and love for their fellow men. The Lord was required to overcome both so that He could succor both.

In the pairing of the waves, the first torment was of the mind and spirit, and the second was torment of mind, spirit and body.

The Lord experienced all the horror and regret wicked men feel for their crimes when they finally see the truth. He experienced the suffering of their victims whose righteous anger and natural resentment and disappointment must also be shed, and forgiveness given, in order for them to find peace. He overcame them all. He descended below them all. He comprehends it all. And He knows how to bring peace to them all. He knows how to love others whether they are the one who has given offense or the one who is a victim of the offense.

In the final wave, the most brutal, most evil, most heinous sins men inflict upon one another were felt by Him as a victim of the worst men can do. He knew how it felt to wrongly suffer death. He knew what it was like to be a mother holding a child in her arms as they are both killed by those who delight in their suffering. He
knew how it was for ambitious men to rid themselves of a rival by conspiracy and murder. He knew what it was to have virtue robbed from the innocent. He knew betrayal, treachery, and abuse in all its worst degrading horror. There was no cruelty, no offense, no evil that mankind has suffered or will suffer that was not put upon Him.

He knew what it is like for men to satisfy their ambition by clothing their hypocrisy in religious garb. He also felt what it was like to be the victim of religious oppression by those who pretend to practice virtue while oppressing others. He knew the hearts of those who would kill Him. Before confronting their condemnation of Him in the flesh, He suffered their torment of mind when they recognized He was the Lord, and then found peace for what they would do by rejecting Him. In this extremity there was madness itself as He mirrored the evil which would destroy Him, and learned how to come to peace with the Father after killing the Son of God, and to love all those involved without restraint and without pretense even before they did these terrible deeds. His suffering, therefore, encompassed all that has happened, all that did happen, and all that would happen in the future.

As a result of what the Lord suffered, there is no condition - physical, spiritual or mental - that He does not fully understand. He knows how to teach, comfort, succor and direct any who come to Him seeking forgiveness and peace. This is why the prophet wrote: “by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isa. 53: 11.) And again: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Id. v. 4–5.) He obtained this knowledge by the things he suffered. He suffered that we might avoid sin by being obedient to His commandments. None of us need harm another, if we will follow Him. He knows fully the consequences of sin. He teaches His followers how to avoid sin.

The prophet Alma taught and understood our Lord’s sufferings as he wrote:

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him heir infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7: 11–12.)

He can bring peace to any soul. He can help those who will come to Him love their fellow man. He alone is the Perfect Teacher because He alone has the knowledge each of us lack to return to being whole and at peace with the God and Father of us all after our transgression of His will. He is wise to what is required for each man’s salvation.

As the Lord made these terrible things known to the man he cried out: “Hosanna to the Lamb of God! He has trodden the winepress alone! Glory, honor and mercy be upon the Chosen One forever and ever! I will submit unto anything you see fit to require of me! I will bend my knee in obedience to you! Let thy will, not mine be done! For worthy is the Lamb!” Then, thinking upon how trifling his difficulties and disappointments had been in comparison with the suffering he saw imposed upon his Lord, the man added: “Surely goodness and mercy have been mine all the days of my life!”

And the Lord responded: “And you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Then the man wept.

-

This man was excommunicated in September of 2013.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Not Clutch









Again, the Church posits a definition of "apostasy" that is erroneous:

https://www.lds.org/bc/content/ldsorg/prophets-and-apostles/recent-messages/june-first-presidency-statement.pdf?lang=eng

Language, and the meaning of words, is important. If the institution wants to excommunicate heretics, then they should be honest and simply state that they are doing so because of heresy.

Kate Kelly is not an apostate. If you think she is, then you are just pretending with those who feel that their authority extends to the changing of the meaning of important words.

The truth is important if you claim to follow Christ. Truth is part of the armor of God. It is also associated with the word of God. Do you care about the truth? Or is it more important for you to be in control?

Sounds like slavery. Sounds like the plan of the adversary, who wanted all of us to be machines without thought.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

David O. McKay

A friend of mine posted a story about David O. Mckay on facebook this morning, and I wanted to say that I like David O. McKay a lot. I wish I could have heard him speak when he was alive.

In 1965, When 15-20,000 Nigerians had converted to the BOM on their own and were begging the church to send missionaries to baptize them, McKay actually floated the idea in a meeting of the fifteen of ordaining their men to the Aaronic Priesthood so that they could baptize converts and preside over their own meetings. This would have predated the lift of the ban by 13 years.

This was at the time of a lot of political unrest in Africa. Harold B. Lee opposed the idea on the grounds of that political unrest, opposed sending missionaries, and he was backed up by Mark E. Petersen, Ezra Taft Benson, and Gordon B. Hinkley. Over the course of several meetings, McKay pressed the issue of the importance of not abandoning the Nigerian converts and finding some way to establish a branch of the Church in their country, and he met resistance from members of the Twelve and from members of his own presidency. The only member of the Twelve that was supportive of the idea was Hugh B. Brown.

Eventually, the Biafran war broke out in 1967, and McKay had to put plans to enter Nigeria on hold indefinitely. All of this history can be read in Gregory Prince's biography of McKay.

Men like McKay, who was not a perfect man but a very tolerant and deliberate leader, make me extremely fond of the Church. He was -><- this close to lifting the Priesthood ban more than a decade before Kimball finally did. But the Church is also rife with men like Harold B. Lee, who opposed ordination for blacks, opposed proselyting to black Africans, swore to his family that no black student would ever walk across BYU campus while he was president of the church, and took the Relief Society out of the hands of its female presidency and placed it under the direction of a male committee led by a member of the Twelve in 1969.

Such things suggest to me that I should be very careful with where I place my faith. It is my opinion that faith should be placed upon Christ alone, and not in imperfect, temporary institutions. The scriptures declare this also. The Church is only "true" when it happens to align with the Gospel, and this is simply not always the case.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The LDS Inquisition



I do not agree with everything that Kate Kelly and John Dehlin stand for, but I think ousting them as if they were apostates is unjustified.

Kelly believes in the institution and wants to remain a member. She is asking a question that is uncomfortable to most Mormons, but it is a question that has not yet been adequately answered by the Brethren since Joseph's death. It deserves a definitive answer.

The podcasts and forums that comprise Dehlin's Mormon Stories are discussions based around LDS history, policy, and truth claims. Dehlin is also openly supportive of homosexuals within the church, as well as those who have a beef with various policies. The entire point of his website and efforts is that people can remain members of the church even if they don't agree with every policy and doctrine. I happen to agree with this attitude.

It takes some people time to figure out their belonging in a religious culture, doesn't it? And often there are disagreements, arguments, and protests along the way. The key to unlocking all of it is to follow Christ's example of love and truth speaking. The truth belongs to him, and it is never evil. The truth can often be ugly and uncomfortable, but it never destroys faith in God. In temporary institutions, perhaps, but the truth never cleaves anything that is eternal. It merely frees you to start fresh on your journey to that which is eternal.

Most of the Millennials that I encounter know some information regarding Joseph Smith's polygamy, but none of those people got that information from the LDS Church. They know about several of the skeletons in our religious closet. Many of them either sought out that material or were blindsided by it as a common consequence of participating in social media.

History is comprised of uncomfortable material, and it is tough to wade through the agendas of historians. But the history that the institution dispenses is a sanitized version that leaves most rank and file members vulnerable to the fiery darts of the adversary.

The fact that Dehlin gives airtime to these discussions does not make him an apostate. He certainly has his own theories and an agenda, and I don't agree with many of his conclusions. But agreeing with him is not why I listened to several of his podcasts, nor is it the reason that I read histories. The reason that I read histories is so that I can take advantage of other people's research, and then arrive at my own conclusions.

The fact that the church elects not to be a forthright participant in its own history displays a lot of fear. The recent essays that LDS.org has posted are not vigorous at all, but rather amount to PR damage control blurbs. It's all very late in the Google Age, and seems more desperate than prophetic. Which means that the institution is operating on the same fear that caused them to excommunicate Avraham Giliadi, Maxine Hanks, Paul Toscano, et al, in the '90s. This spate of excommunications is evidence of that same fear of the Twelve actually answering the criticisms of unsatisfied members of the church. They do not want to discuss women and authority, some of the uglier moments of Church history, and they don't want to deal with people airing their controversial views on the internet.

I side with the apostle Paul on these matters. Examine Ephesians 6:

 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Without the truth, you are improperly armored. The fact that the institution has not armed its people with the truth about all of these things makes them participants in leaving us vulnerable to attack.

I have weathered many fiery darts because of my faith, but I was fortunate to place most of that faith into the scriptures and the words of Jesus Christ. If all of my faith had been placed in the institution, I would have been gone like many others. But the unraveling of the LDS Church, happening before our eyes, doesn't phase me at all. Because I understand that the Church is merely an invitation to the real thing, the legit church spoken of in Sections 76, 78, 88, 93, and 107.

Examine the requirements for belonging to that church in Section 76:

50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—
 51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
 52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
 53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
 54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
 55 They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
 56 They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;
 57 And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.
 58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—
 59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
 60 And they shall overcome all things.
 61 Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet.
 62 These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.
 63 These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.
 64 These are they who shall have part in the first resurrection.
 65 These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.
 66 These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.
 67 These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.
 68 These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all.
 69 These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.
 70 These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.

The LDS Church doesn't qualify for the above if it is too afraid to weather a bunch of civil protesters and podcasters. Having the sort of truth that qualifies for the blessings described in Section 76 means that you have no reason to fear anyone. You have inherited everything, and Christ has subdued all of your enemies. It means that the Brethren should simply let Kelly and the OW women into the Priesthood Session. What in the world is there to be afraid of when you are dealing with a group of LDS women dressed in their church clothes?

Yes, it sends a message to allow women into the space that is normally reserved for men. The message is: "We have nothing to hide, and nothing to fear". Instead, the Brethren have opted for excommunication to effectually silence these voices.

At worst, Kelly and Dehlin are heretics. But heresy is not apostasy. If you do not know the difference between these two terms, I invite you to do yourself and the rest of humanity a favor and examine this very important distinction. The most recent LDS definition of apostasy, posted below, does not match the historic definition of the word:

"Apostasy, being rare, has to be carefully defined. We have three definitions of apostasy: one is open, public and repeated opposition to the Church or its leaders. Open, public, repeated opposition to the Church or its leaders — I’ll come back to that in a moment. A second one is to teach as doctrine something that is not Church doctrine after one has been advised by appropriate authority that that’s false doctrine. In other words, just teaching false doctrine is not apostasy, but [it is] teaching persistently after you’ve been warned. For example, if one were to teach that the Lord requires you to practice plural marriage in this day, it would be apostasy. And the third point would be to affiliate and belong to apostate sects, such as those that preach or practice polygamy." -Dallin H. Oaks, from a recent PBS documentary 
I'm sorry, but all of those definitions are closer to heresy than apostasy. From the OED:
apostasy, n.
1 a. Abandonment or renunciation of one's religious faith or moral allegiance.
1 b. The action of quitting a religious order or renouncing vows without legal dispensation.
2. By extension: The abandonment of principles or party generally.
As you can see, there is little need to excommunicate apostates at all. They more often leave on their own, as per the Anglicans and Protestants who abandoned Catholicism. Oaks, being a lawyer, should know better.

What we actually are seeing here is an organization treating heretics as if they were apostates. If you want the armor of God, and if you want the truth to be "girt about your loins", then such abuse of word meaning doesn't fly. It is akin to changing the meaning of the word "marriage", and the consequences similar. You cannot fool God with institutional power.

The Pharisees were apostates. King Noah and his priests were apostates. The Zoramites who used the rameumptom were apostates. The Great Apostasy, as defined by the LDS Church, was executed by large religious movements such as Catholicism, Protesantism, all the way up to the religious revivalism of Joseph Smith's day. It would seem that apostasy is more often the realm of an entire religion than it is of individuals.

The anti-christs of scripture preached that Christ was a myth, and that revelation was an impossibility. They preached that men fared in life by the "management of the creature". Kelly and Dehlin do not resemble these individuals at all. They are not apostates or anti-christs by any stretch of the imagination.

I do not agree with many of the conclusions reached by Kelly and Dehlin. Anyone who has read my blog knows that I am against the insult of ordaining women to male priesthood outside of Calling and Election that is detailed in my last few blog posts. But I would not have these individuals removed from the church any more than I would want myself removed. If anything, Kelly and Dehlin should be embraced by their local leaders, and their questions should be addressed openly and freely. The conclusions that they have come to do not need to be embraced to do this. It is only fear that dictates that they be excommunicated.

The institution has recently made multiple claims that decisions regarding excommunications originate on the local level, and that they are not coordinated with members of the higher quorums. If you believe this to be true, then you should read these two recent accounts:

http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-facts.html

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2014/06/who-is-changing-doctrine.html

We will not inherit the blessings of the Church of the Firstborn by being complicit with these corporate shenanigans. The more we hide from the truth, the more we alienate God. The longer we pretend, the more vulnerable we will become.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Priestess and Queen (part 3)

photographed in the RLDS temple in Independence, MO
 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Let me be clear on what I think about women and authority:

Women should be involved in any church leadership role, and any level of administration, that they show a propensity and capacity for. I do not agree that a woman's place is in the home. A woman's place is anywhere that she can put her feet on the ground and walk the walk.

When you look at the institution and see sexist inequality, you are seeing things clearly. But it is imperative that your response to that quandary be godly and not political. Godly power is always a matter of revelation, and it is always a matter of the Tree of Life. To conflate revelation and politics is erroneous, and the results disastrous. You simply cannot obtain godly power through political means.

I do not fear women in leadership positions. I respect them and I expect vision, success, skill, weakness, and failure from them in the execution of their leadership just as I expect these things from men. From a woman who claims to follow Christ, I expect her to be poor in spirit as Jesus describes those who inherit His kingdom, just as I expect from men. If they do not conduct themselves thus, then I know them by their fruits.

How often we forget the kingdom of heaven in the midst of our perpetual power grab here in mortality. The kingdom is power, and thrones, and dominions, but who actually wants those things from God? Who actually thinks about those things at church? We are satisfied with ordinances, with lines of authority, and with possession of the scriptures. So were the Scribes and Pharisees of Christ's time, and look how he responded to them:

24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel; who make yourselves appear unto men that ye would not commit the least sin, and yet ye yourselves, transgress the whole law.
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Clean on the outside. Dead and rotten on the inside. This is a profound critique by the Savior. Could it possibly apply to the Latter-Day-Saints? Control, anger, force, and polemics suggest a leader (woman or man) that will attempt to rule by fear. Compassion, belonging, freedom, and tolerance suggest a person that is striving to follow Jesus.

Joseph Smith gave the women of his time an organization that was all their own. If you will take the time to read the original minutes book from when the Relief Society first started in Nauvoo, you will discover an organization that gave women freedom and belonging within this organization. You will also discover a RS that is far different from the current auxiliary; one that described a group of women that Joseph Smith intended would walk with God as Enoch did.

This auxiliary was taken from their granddaughters fifty years ago when the Correlation department rewrote the organization of the mainstream institution. The decision making and leadership of the organization was handed over to the Twelve and their male committees. Harold B. Lee pushed hard for David O. McKay's signature on Correlation when the guy was so old that he barely knew his left foot from his right foot anymore. Call that sort of corporate bull work "revelation" if you must, but I will not pretend with you.

I have spent years loving the institution and I wish this alteration of Joseph's original vision for women wasn't so, but it is. You can read about it in the book David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism by Gregory Prince. But that power grab by Lee was merely symptomatic of a larger issue that has plagued the church for 170 years since Joseph's death. Failure to give more leadership opportunities to capable women at all levels of leadership and administration is the result of a widespread lack of vision and understanding of precisely what administration is and what priesthood power is supposed to do.

If you can fathom the notion of a man washing the feet of his inferiors before he is marched off to his death, and then look over at an "elder" fiddling with his smart phone during the sacrament, then you can envision just how far our execution of the Melchizedek Priesthood has fallen since Joseph died. Much more time has been spent lauding our own heritage and boasting of our possession of divine rights and authorized ordinances than allowing ourselves to be brought beneath the dust and grime of our brothers' feet. Instead of inheriting authentic humility, we learned to toe the line and submit to honorable men of the earth who have prophesied, seen, and revealed relatively little since the Smiths were shot dead in Carthage jail.

But despite the foibles of imperfect leaders, Christ's words about who inherits his kingdom haven't changed. To be poor in spirit is to be humble and submissive. It is the god-like response that Christ took with those who condemned and murdered him... the response that allows others to hang themselves here in mortality if they insist on doing so.

Women belong on disciplinary councils, they belong in bishoprics, and they belong in stake and regional-level leadership. They belong among the ranks of actual prophets, seers, and revelators if they indeed have those gifts from God and are to be called into those positions by revelation. But the fact that those things haven't happened already should be enough to awaken you to the fact that we are not on the path to Zion.

The MoFem answer to this problem is ordination by the men behind Oz' curtain. That is the "veil" that they choose to engage. But ordination doesn't make sense. If they need no ordination to enter temples and work within them, then why pretend that they suddenly need ordination to call the shots in meetings, or to counsel someone in need of repentance?

This is the danger that Oak's talk last month portends; that the organization will attempt to do something that is God's right alone. God gives power through his voice, as He did with Melchizedek in the JST of Genesis 14:

26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
 27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
 28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
 29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.

You'll notice the suggestion in verse 28 of an order that comes by mother. The Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God is not that order, and it's not just handed to men with an earthly ordination, either. This calling comes directly from God, and specifically by his voice. Which means that refining the lie so that it is more egalitarian does not fix the problem, it compounds and magnifies it.

Do you want real power, or institutional power? I ask because when Nephi was given the sealing power in Helaman 10, it didn't exactly resemble what we see today in the institution:

 4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
 5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
 6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.
 7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.
 8 And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done.
 9 And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done.
 10 And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.

Is this sealing power you want? Or do you want to be on the centerfold of the Ensign? If you are going to claim that what we see today in the institution resembles the description above from the Book of Mormon, then I think you are caught up in a cultural fantasy. If you are going to solve the problem of women and authority by merely allowing women in the church to participate in the same illusion, and then call it a "revelation", then I think you don't really care about the scriptures, Christ, or Zion at all. You remain stuck at the first tree of the garden of Eden, consumed with the accumulation of knowledge of good and evil as it pertains to your fall in this Telestial world.

The other tree is an unspeakable mystery to you that you don't want to think about. I talked about Calling and Election in my last post, about meeting Christ face to face, and the crowd goes silent. Not a peep from the MoFems who otherwise beg for dialogue from the obviously flawed institution and want to rewrite the temple ceremony for the umpteenth time, and not a whisper from the "true blue, through and through"s who are as unfamiliar with the Doctrine of Christ described in 2 Ne 32 as they are with the Book of Enoch discovered in Ethiopia.

Joseph Smith talked about Calling and Election in a letter he wrote to the church while in Liberty Jail in 1839:

"This principle ought to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor know ye the Lord for all shall know him from the least to the greatest, How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power & the other comforter spoken of which will be manifest by Revelation." 

That's right. "Even the least saint" should be taught about this principle. Every new convert, every wayward sinner, every little snot-nosed kid with bubble gum on their shoe. They are to be taught about the Second Comforter.

But who is going to believe Joseph Smith in 2014? Why pay attention to his words when you can gossip about his polygamy? Who needs that guy when we have "modern prophets"?

When it really comes down to acquiring the actual power of God, the legit, authentic, angelic visitation/fire from on high, it would appear that nobody cares. Enoch is at the center of this discussion, at the center of anything related to Zion, yet he is an anathema to most of the people on both sides of this issue.

My family, whom I have discussed the Gospel with for years, can no longer stomach talking with me about the scriptures. I'm still welcome for dinner, so long as I stick to talking about NBA basketball or the weather, but Jesus and the Baptism of Fire & the Holy Ghost are now off limits. No more talk of miracles and revelations and prophecies that don't allow for the institution to be well on the path to Zion. It reminds me of Mormon Ch 9:

 9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?
 10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.
 11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.
***
 15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.
 16 Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?
 17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?
 18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.
 19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
 20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
 21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.

Or Moroni 7:

 35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
 36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
 37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
 38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.

 Am I still invited to dinner? I doubt any of them will read this far. But regardless of what they choose to do, or what the institution chooses to do with me, I will not abandon Christ and his words just so that I will be welcome with those who profess to be saints, yet cannot stand talking about Christ's most beautiful doctrines. I stand by Him and his beautiful homage to motherhood (the Atonement). I have not received my calling and election, but I have been blessed in recent years with an understanding of the scriptures that surpasses anything I could ever have hoped for. I believe Him and seek to follow Him only, regardless of the cost.