|The path of the Light of Christ (right) and the path of the Natural Man (left).|
Brands & Codes
Every person follows a code, and every code serves a brand. This is the essence of worship, and everyone worships one or more brands.
Your money perpetuates the life of each brand you use, and your use of their products equates to participation in branding on one level or another. Each brand has an associated code that is observed by others as you utilize the product.
You could cover up the brand emblem on your car or computer if you wanted to. But instead you let it be seen, and you let people associate your persona with those brands. If Joseph Smith is correct in identifying faith as the "principle of action in all intelligent beings", then it follows that we put our faith in brands, and our actions are merely proof.
Examine LoF 1:
11 Were this class to go back and reflect upon the history of their lives, from the period of their first recollection, and ask themselves, what principle excited them to action, or what gave them energy and activity, in all their lawful avocations, callings and pursuits, what would be the answer? Would it not be that it was the assurance which we had of the existence of things which we had not seen, as yet?—Was it not the hope which you had, in consequence of your belief in the existence of unseen things, which stimulated you to action and exertion, in order to obtain them? Are you not dependent on your faith, or belief, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom and intelligence? Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence, unless you did believe that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown if you had not believed that you would reap? Would you have ever planted if you had not believed that you would gather? Would you have ever asked unless you had believed that you would receive? Would you have ever sought unless you had believed that you would have found? Or would you have ever knocked unless you had believed that it would have been opened unto you? In a word, is there any thing that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions, of every kind, dependent on your faith? Or may we not ask, what have you, or what do you possess, which you have not obtained by reason of your faith? Your food, your raiment, your lodgings, are they not all by reason of your faith? Reflect, and ask yourselves, if these things are not so. Turn your thoughts on your own minds, and see if faith is not the moving cause of all action in yourselves; and if the moving cause in you, is it not in all other intelligent beings?
Corporate brands are not the only ones out there. They are just the easiest to identify with idolatrous relationships. But any human stereotype (conservative/liberal, feminist, religious, cowboy, tomboy, thug, blonde, nerd, Etc.) can be set up as a brand that is worshiped by following all the stereotypical rules for qualifying as a (fill in the blank). Those rules constitute the codes that I am talking about, and everyone of them is abusive, and enslaving to a degree because these stereotypical brands they serve always tend to define your humanity in ways that are limiting and often robotic. Everyone of them cause us to lie about who and what we really are (the offspring of godly parents/temples of the Holy Spirit), and thus all of them are damning.
Once someone buys into a brand, they find themselves entered into a select community. Car owners, sports fans, Windows vs. Mac users, punk rockers, and suit-wearing professionals have all bought into those clubs. Each community has some kind of physical or online presence, hierarchies, and a priestly class of agents that spend lots of time leading others in worshiping brands.
Star Trek conventions prove my point. So do biker gangs and groups of shoppers. But the point is not that any of these things are outright evil. The issue is always where your relationship with God falls among these other priorities.
An LDS example of this relationship is the BYU honor code. This code is not concerned with anything other than promoting the school's brand. BYU students are already under covenant to God and the LDS Church, but each one is compelled to sign their names in agreement to obey an additional (and somewhat redundant) law intended to protect and promote the university. Thus, it can be said that the intent of the code is to make students into agents of the BYU brand.
Some BYU students are very dedicated to the code, even to the point of extremism. These students may or may not conflate the BYU brand with the LDS Church, but either way, their staunch letter-of-the-law observance of the code makes them robotic agents of a brand that many consider synonymous with the religion. Many worship the brand to such an extreme that they must abandon relationships with others to continue on that path. Such are the types of sacrifices some are willing to pay to uphold brand worship.
BYU fans that never went to the school do not get the benefits of the university's educational curriculum or reputation, but they take part in the victories of the school's sports teams in the same vicarious experience as any fan of any sports team. The code is different for fans in that it requires them to defend (or critique) its part in the school's athletic program as part of their experience of rooting for the brand.
What the relationship boils down to is this: If you work for the corporation, then your promotion of the brand pays your wages. If you don't work for the corporation, then your promotion of the brand feeds your ego. The gratifying sensation that either of these agents get from living the code or reveling in the quality and/or reputation of a brand is always about the ego, which the scriptures identify as "the natural man". The more you turn yourself over to the natural man, the more you commit idol worship.
As I explained in Part 2 of this series, the natural man always partners with the spirit of the Devil to enslave you. It is detailed in 2 Nephi 2. Hence, it is crucial to "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit" and "put off the natural man" and "become a saint through the atonement of Christ" (Mosiah 3:19).
Seduced by Death
No matter how successful a brand is, it remains a dead symbol unless it is vouched for by an exalted God. If you have an idea of yourself as any sort of agent for the dead ideals, stereotypes, brands, or powers of this world, an honest reading of the scriptures will make it clear that your choice to give yourself to idols is a dead work.
The life of the communities, the hierarchies, and the products of every brand you know is temporary and doomed to eventually end because of the world of which they are a part: the Telestial world. These brands share this world's fate. So when you look at that Porche shield, that bitten Macintosh apple, or the mermaid in the Starbucks logo, it is important to understand that these symbols represent mortal agreements that will not last into the Eternities.
Therefore, to be seduced into loving a brand more than you love Christ is to be seduced by eternal death itself. You can see this death seduction all over the media, all over our most popular entertainment, and especially as part and parcel to the branding executed by the corporations that dominate high fashion.
The fact that our country remains in an almost perpetual state of war in pursuit of national interests, and the fact that we continue to have violent outbreaks and mass slayings in our public schools shows that we actually value violence and death in this country far more than we are willing to admit. Our identity as Americans is so tied up with death, war, scandal, and vengeance that we barely even comprehend the seeds we are sowing. We do not recognize the harvest that we must reap for partnering with death, which has seduced us into the carnal security of trusting government agencies and corporate freedom.
Every false agreement is partnered with death, both mortal and eternal. Every lie that succeeds spreads death, evil, disease, and famine upon our fellow human beings. The truth is that they are the sons and daughters of God just as much as we are. We, being the most powerful nation on earth, should be providing for them and protecting them. Instead, we invade when our interests are at stake. And we abandon them when their daughters are stolen from them.
No brand will enter Zion except for one, and it is the one brand that is not dead. It is described in the scriptures:
2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and I heard him cry with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. -Rev. 7
3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. -Rev. 9
1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. -Rev. 14
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. -Rev. 22
17 For behold, the Lord God hath sent forth the angel crying through the midst of heaven, saying: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight, for the hour of his coming is nigh—Hopefully you are beginning to understand the difference between idol worship and worshiping Christ, and why there is no serving two masters. To participate in the living brand described in these scriptures, the path of the Light of Christ must be followed. It leads directly into the Abrahamic covenant, and it requires following Christ directly:
18 When the Lamb shall stand upon Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having his Father’s name written on their foreheads. -D&C 133
12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. -Hel. 5
When you read scriptures such as 3 Nephi 25:6 that talk about Elijah "turning the hearts of the children to their fathers", it is not talking about genealogy. It is talking about the covenant entered into by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are the fathers that we must be connected to so that we may partake in the salvation of the Bridegroom. Other fathers in this group include Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, Noah, the Brother of Jared, Lehi, Nephi, Alma, Mormon, and Moroni.
The Light of Christ within you will always partner with the Holy Ghost that is outside of you. Feeding this relationship leads not only to a relationship with a living Christ, but also to the covenant possessed by the above prophets. That is the covenant that lets you lay hold upon Eternal Life.
As far as God and the angels are concerned, all other brands are dead already. Christ and his kingdom are the reality, and this mortality is just a temporary sham that must eventually end. Which is interesting when you realize that the natural man, being an enemy to God, is only stimulated and fed by temporary relationships. The natural man accepts death as a natural end of all contracts and agreements, and seeks "the management of the creature" (Alma 30:17) until death comes.
Christ does not see death the same way the natural man does. Examine John 8:
51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.John 11:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?and Mark 9:
1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.If this concept seems beyond you, then who is it that you worship? Who is it that you are one with through your sacraments and your temple rites? Both the Light of Christ and the Natural Man are within you, but which one is in control if you fully expect to die?
Death, despite what you have been told by thousands of people, is not part of Christ's plan at all. So any partnership with death (war, murder, theft, Etc), any mixture that includes acceptable deaths (preemptive war, casualties, innocent victims for the sake of personal or national security) are a clear capitulation to the Natural Man and a putting off of the Light of Christ.
Translation of the body, it would seem, is available to anyone who puts off the natural man and keeps Jesus' saying. So it's not a question of "who is special". It's a question of who is actually willing to take Jesus' words literally and seriously.
The difficult and uncomfortable truth, that few will admit, is that most of the people that you know and love do not believe Jesus' words about death at all. Instead, they work and act as if they must manage the creature (as Korihor preached in Alma 30) until their inevitable demise. Most of the "Christians" that you know fully expect to die, do not believe that they will meet Christ in this life, and are thus partnered with an enemy that He has already overcome.
Religion and Branding
It is the desire of religious people to believe that they worship God instead of a temporal brand. But the more one studies the relationships that people have with dead brands, the more clear it becomes that religions contain these same types of relationships.
First and foremost is the fact that all religions are divided up into competing brands, and they all have distinct codes. You follow one code to be a Catholic, and another to be a Sikh. But all religious people gather up under the brand or their heritage or conversion, and there is an orthodox set of rules that guide each along their paths.
But anyone who has experienced strict orthodox logic in religious cultures can tell you how dehumanizing these codes can be in different situations. Fiddler on the Roof is constructed around the code Tevye follows and the clashes it causes between he and his daughters as they come of age to marry.
Any Mormon could also tell you where the "letter of the law" brushed up against the "spirit of the law" in their experience of Mormonism. In truth, Christ has nothing to do with dress codes or only having FHE on Monday nights. He does not command in all things, but he does command us to love others as he loves us.
So what you end up with in any religious culture is those who are orthodox followers mixed with heretical followers, and both groups think that they are coming as close as possible to "loving as He loved" with their differing approaches to the prevailing religious code. But invariably, no religion is a perfect fit for every life. We all find ourselves abandoning the code to one degree or another, and then we go through a guilt complex as we sort it out.
In truth, we cannot serve two masters. Examine Luke 16:
13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
If God has nothing to do with the corporatism of white shirts and ties, yet sacrament blessers and passers are required by some bishops to wear them, then something doesn't fit. To be held by a tradition that God never instituted is brand possession. And if you are getting angry reading this, then you are simply revealing yourself to be in thrall to the Natural Man who loves carnal security.
Any sense of fear or desperation reveals us as possessed. Fear shows just how tied people are to covenants, traditions, and brands that are temporal and removed from Christ.
If you were tied to Christ, you would fear nothing. You would look to the heart instead of to the lapel. If you were truly his, you would walk this earth far differently than you do. You would not be concerned at all with conformity or uniformity.
Complicating this issue with religions and their brands is the insistence in the scriptures that there are only two churches:
10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. -1 Nephi 14:10and 1 Nephi 22:
22 And the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded. But it is the kingdom of the devil, which shall be built up among the children of men, which kingdom is established among them which are in the flesh—It is imperative that you get this difference right. If tradition, relations, fear, assumption, or pride are guiding your decisions, then the Natural Man has sold you out to minor demons. You are operating on fears relating to angering your family, your friends, and/or your local religious leader. Christ has no part in fear or ignorance, and he does not partner with the natural man. They are all enemies to Him.
23 For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.
Christ's code of conduct is difficult, yet very simple to understand. Repentance follows faith, then baptism by one "having authority" (3 Nephi 11:25), not "having been commissioned". Then the Holy Ghost comes upon you according to God's will... whether hands are laid upon you or not.
If you don't believe me, then read the accounts of the the Gift of the Holy Ghost given to Adam (Moses 6:66), Joseph Smith (JSH 1:73), King Benjamin's people (Mosiah 5:2), the 300 Lamanites who wanted to kill Nephi & Lehi (Helaman 5), John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) and Jesus himself (Mark 1:10). The Gift of the Holy Ghost is an ordinance exercised by a member of the godhead, not by any mortal man. Hence, confirmation is merely an invitation to receive the real thing.
Then where does the Holy Ghost lead you? It leads you to the very place suggested in both the temple endowment and in scripture:
4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.Anyone who professes to preach the Doctrine of Christ, yet omits this last part about meeting Christ in the flesh, is either ignorant (damned according to D&C 131:6), or purposefully withholding the truth from you (damned according to 2 Nephi 28). Either way, they are enslaved to the concerns and precepts of men, and the result of obeying their teachings is to receive an incomplete version of Christ's true doctrine. And thus you partake in their demonic enslavement and death.
5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
6 Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do. -2 Nephi 32
How well does your life work on half-truths or incomplete information? Do you want all of the facts regarding this most important of relationships, or just some of them?
Go do a search for 2 Nephi 32:6 on the LDS website. Then go look up that verse in the online Journal of Discourses. There are half a dozen General Authorities who have mentioned this verse in passing, but no one has expanded on it since Joseph Smith was put in the ground in 1844.
I'm sorry, but you do not lift the condemnation concerning the covenant of the Book of Mormon mentioned in Section 84 by ignoring the book's most important verse. So stop pretending.
A relationship with God is a living thing because both parties are alive. That verse indicates that Jesus will show you that he is alive, in person. Such a relationship never feeds the ego because it always results in humility, truth, and light between you and God. It puts no one on a pedestal except for Christ.
Reciprocity with God, within a covenant relationship, demands all of the facts of the past, present, and the future be placed on the table. That is the distinction between idolatry and Christ worship; the former is a one way relationship between you and a dead brand while the latter is a reciprocal relationship between you and a living God.
If we want that relationship to be real, then we will follow the steps contained in the Doctrine of Christ, and we will prepare to have him meet with us. Anything else is just vanity, and eternal death.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. -Romans 6