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.