At What Point Does a Religion Lose Authority?

Posted: March 9, 2010 in Uncategorized
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At what point does a church lose “authority,” per se?  Authority as recognized by heaven, and not man.  Though the “message” is what carries the ultimate authority, nevertheless we’re told that the LDS Church maintains authority to administer the ordinances.  We’re told that because the ordinances are there, that it was at one point established, restored, etc., that because it was so at one point it will remain so indefinitely into the future.  This entry was partially inspired by this blog post, though I have been in no small number of discussions on this very topic.

However, for the sake of discussion, at what point do the teachings and authority become so degenerate that it’s no longer recognized in heaven.  Is that even possible?  Or, are we assured of never apostatizing?  Are we assured of “never be[ing] led astray?”  The link in that “never be[ing] led astray” is by far the best write-up I have seen on the topic and would highly recommend it to anybody looking into the idea the topic.

For example, there’s a compelling story in Mosiah between Zeniff, King Noah, Alma, and Alma the Younger.  Clearly, the story is much longer than I could relate here, but I will attempt to make it brief.  I attempted to discuss this at length once, and would encourage anyone interested to read that write-up as well.

Suffice it to say, and I’d be interested in your thoughts, Zeniff was a “prophet” (especially in today’s terms), leading the then “true” Church.  Indeed, the Lord had referred to them as “my people” when calling on Abinadi to go and preach to them.  Though he was a great, righteous leader, Zeniff yet lacked one thing, it would seem.  That one thing would appear to be discernment.  Discernment because of his dealings with the Lamanites, but most importantly with his selection of King Noah as his replacement.  Of all the people he could have called to fill his position as the presiding High Priest, he calls Noah (now King Noah), who is merely labeled as “one of his sons,” but who turns out to be one of the most wicked people in the BoM.  Noah then replaces his father’s priests with his buddies, calling his friends to the key church callings.  By doing this, he knew he’d have the support to do what he wanted to.  The church under Noah’s reign transitions from one of spiritual guidance and growth to one of physical growth; physical manifestations to blind the eyes of the members as to the veracity and prosperity of the church.  Temples were built, flat taxes/tithings were levied, and Noah and his priests lived lavishly on the proceeds.  As Denver Snuffer mentioned in one of his books, the high priests convinced Noah that all was well, that things were good because they were “prospering.” (See Mosiah 12:15.) To them, physical prosperity was a sign that they were the “authorized” spiritual body of the “true” church.  Have we seen this today, or are we immune to “natural man” tendencies of equating physical structures with spiritual prosperity?

Certainly, it’s something we should ever be mindful and watchful of.  From home teaching reports, to sacrament meeting attendance, to population counts, baptismal counts and on and on.  Denver Snuffer opined, along these same lines:

“How easy it is for those who handle tithes and property to lose sight of the Lord and His house, and come to value only the property.  Measurable things – numbers, growth charts, revenues collected, statistics on attendance, numbers of buildings built – everything which could evidence prosperity, overwhelms those who think succeeding in their stewardship depends on increasing that which can be measured.  Nephi warned that we would also succumb to this number-crunching mentality.  And as we do, we will conclude, just like the scribes and Pharisees, that all is well (see 2 Nephi 28:21).  Magnifying a calling has never been statistics-driven.” (Come, Let Us Adore Him.  Page 205.)

Continuing with the story of Noah and Alma, eventually Abinadi appears on the scene.  There he preaches and the people try to capture him (no one likes being told to repent).  He escapes and stays away for 2 years, only to return once again in disguise (imagine that, a prophet “in disguise“), but no one notices him.  By this point Alma had become convinced of what Abinadi had said, and “knew concerning the iniquity” of the people.  Alma’s conscience gets the better of him and he’s forced to flee and establishes his own church, knowing how far the “official” religion had strayed from the original teachings and the truth.

The majority of the people at this time fully believed that Noah’s leadership and organization was the “true” church, convinced of their “chosen” status.  It had the established hierarchy, history, and faithful stories from the past.  It had the structure, the high priests, the temples, buildings, and all the physical proof of the “true” church.  The people, and the leadership, had both become blinded by prosperity and temporal proof as a replacement for spiritual manifestations, though clearly angels no longer visited this “true” church.

Though the people, and the official hierarchy of the formerly “true” church maintained their belief in their chosen status, the Lord nevertheless had a different idea of whose church was His.  They were once “[his] people,” but had somewhere along the lines lost that status.  The people were following Noah’s lead, assuming the church he was leading was the Lord’s church, but the Lord sends an astounding statement in Mosiah 27:13.  At this point Alma the Younger was railing against his father’s upstart church, the renegade “apostate” religion which was an offshoot of the official, “recognized” church.  Alma the Younger was risking his own personal salvation doing his personal preachings, but likely did so because he, too, was convinced that Noah’s church was the “true” one and his father’s an “apostate.”  This verse reads:

“Nevertheless [the angel] cried again, saying: Alma, arise … for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people.”

So, very long story cut very short, Alma the Younger learns his father’s upstart religion was Christ’s church, the “church of God.”  It had the recognized, by heaven, authority.  Though we have no official declaration of when it happened, this angel confirms what we already knew in reading the account in Mosiah.  What we typically gloss over, though, is that somehow Noah’s church had lost that authority years before.  We’re not told when, how, or what the straw was that broke the back of the spiritually thirsty camel, but this account makes it official.  The renegade, offshoot, “apostate” religion was the “church of God,” while the church that everyone viewed as the “official,” recognized hierarchy was merely a shell, an impostor.

So my question is:  at what point does the authority become lost?  At what point is it removed?  At what point does another church, likely viewed as an “apostate” religion by the main body of the formerly “true” church, receive that authority to be “Christ’s”?  Though we, today, have that recognized status from decades previous when the authority was present, here we have a stark example in the scriptures of a “true” church losing its status and authority to administer.  Where there is a lack of a connection with heaven, the power to administer the ordinances thereof is missing. It was this renegade, apostate religion of Alma the Elder’s which had that power, while the official, recognized institution lacked it.

Perhaps, though, I’m wrong in the above assessments.  If that’s the case, I welcome the correction and would implore it, given the nature of the discussion.

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Comments
  1. brett says:

    i will touch on this later, but want to start the discussion about the Spirit. if we have not the Spirit, then how do we discern or teach or guide or lead. everywhere i turn, i see seemingly good leaders teach without the Spirit, and whatever it is that they are trying to teach or convey is not being recieved well.

    for me, to answer your question, it has to do with the Spirit.

  2. Justin says:

    When did the church that Joseph Smith restore become the recognized church of Christ?

    Apostasy — like restoration — comes line-upon-line, here a little and there a little.

    Was Joseph’s church true on 6 April 1830, or when the Kirtland Temple was accepted, or when the Nauvoo ordinances were given, or when polygamy was instituted — or was it true as soon as we walked out of the woods haven spoken with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

    I think of it like a spouse committing adultery. It is known that a wife doesn’t just wake up one day in the middle of a happy marriage and decide to go have intercourse with another man. It starts with little things, small changes, and the final act is more a culmination of a long period of little indiscretions.

    I don’t think our current Church has committed the final act of “adulterous intercourse.” I think we are making those small improprieties that, if left uncorrected, will lead to a full-on affair.

  3. Rooch says:

    “I don’t think our current Church has committed the final act of “adulterous intercourse.” I think we are making those small improprieties that, if left uncorrected, will lead to a full-on affair.”

    The full on affair occurred in our hearts the second we lusted after strange gods. It really doesn’t matter how the outward manifests itself.

    Why does it even matter what the “church” is doing? Why does it matter whether it is apostate or not? Does that somehow affect our ability to repent and turn to God? Or is focusing on the state of the church just another idol, something that we think if we figure out will somehow help us save ourselves.

    The “church” is not true, never was, and never can be, because only God is true. The only thing that is good is God. It is idolatrous semantics to define anything other than God as “true”.

  4. Justin says:

    Rooch,

    So you would say that Joseph Smith should have stopped at:

    “I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) — and which I should join.
    I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’
    He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven.”

    And that it was incorrect to go any further — i.e. attempted to establish a “true church”?

  5. Rooch says:

    I don’t care where Joseph should/would/could’ve stopped at. I don’t have to know or need to know. I wasn’t there, I don’t know the details, but even if I did, how does that change what I can and should do now – look to God and find life.

    Any “true church” is simply those who have repented and find God. It has no artificial borders or limitations, it is not an “official” organization, it is not a forced structure. There is no “church” without God, so why define church as anything other than God and His light, life, and truth. Why set bounds? So you can learn to lean and trust in those bounds instead of God? That is idolatry.

    I spent a while obsessing about church history because I thought it could fill me up. It didn’t. It was an idol. I learned some cool things, but mostly felt empty.

    If it fills you up and feeds you, it is good and from God. If it doesn’t, run like hell. We are to look to God to live and be healed. It is that simple.

    We need to trust God and take our eyes off of the confusing things of church or its history long enough to find Him and be with Him. I believe that all of this searching after the past is the result of an idolatrous people attempting to fill up a gap that only God can fill. There are answers to our questions, but they are not found in idolatry.

  6. Bro says:

    An organization can never be true. To say that “the LDS church is true” is an empty platitude. A church can only point us to the truth, who is God. But the church is never the truth itself, and any attempt to set up the church as Truth is idolatry. As Rooch suggested, why would we need to ever determine if a church is true or not? It’s because we think that if we can know the church is true, then we can trust and rely on the church. That is idolatry. We must always rely on God and only God. If that reliance on God results in us participating in activities of the church, then we are following God in truth. If that reliance on God results in us turning from activity in the church, then we are following God in truth.

    I believe that the church has become a great stumbling block to most of it’s membership. Members have come to rely on the church rather than God, and in that state, they practice idolatry and are deaf to the voice of God. They fear taking any action that would go against the church, even if they feel inspired in that action, because they think they know the church is true and would not lead them astray. I am in the middle of repenting of this idolatry.

    The Mormon church is nothing more than a set of policies and practices and leadership titles. Just like the law of Moses was nothing more than a set of policies and practices and leadership titles. The law of Moses was only helpful to the extent it pointed people to Jesus. Similarly, the LDS Church is only helpful to the extent that it points people to Jesus and helps them live in His love.

    God is truth, and god is love, and we experience truth by experiencing love. Knowledge (i.e., knowing a church is true, whatever that is supposed to mean), without love, is not truth and is worthless.

    Recently, much of my participation in the Mormon church had been motivated by the fear that I would miss something important (e.g., eternal life with my family) if I did not participate in church the way I thought I needed to. My fear caused me to second-guess the feelings of my heart, and I tried to participate in church activities that had become repugnant to me. My church attendance was sinful because it was done in fear, not in faith (whatsoever is not of faith is sin). My church attendance would have been sinful even if every person in church were perfect and every thing taught in church were perfect, whatever that means. Thus, no matter the state of an organization or people in the organization, my walk with God is my own and is 100% independent of that organization, even if it results in my participation in the organization at times.

  7. Justin says:

    So I think I understand your point as:

    You can use religion to serve your ego or to serve God. If you believe that only your religion is true, then you are using it to serve your ego. When used like this, religion becomes idolatry and creates a false sense of superiority as well as division and conflict with others. When in the service of God, religion represents only directional markers or a map left behind by spiritually awakened people to assist you in your journey to become awakened.

    Is this accurate?

    I’m still wondering if you think that Joseph went too far in leaving the woods and building an institutional church. Should he have just kept that information to himself and continued on his personal walk with God?

  8. Rooch says:

    “You can use religion to serve your ego or to serve God. If you believe that only your religion is true, then you are using it to serve your ego. When used like this, religion becomes idolatry and creates a false sense of superiority as well as division and conflict with others. When in the service of God, religion represents only directional markers or a map left behind by spiritually awakened people to assist you in your journey to become awakened.

    Is this accurate?”

    No, I think it would be more accurate to say that I believe its not about religion, period. Its not about “using” religion one way or the other. Its about the fact that the only pure religion is that which brings us closer to God. So its not really possible to use “religion” to serve your ego, because at the point you are doing anything to draw further from God, its not really worth calling religion, its just an idol.

    And that is exactly where the problem lies – we feel the need to make distinctions about religion as if it matters – if it does not bring you closer to God it does not matter how you label it, who started it, and whether or not its “true” as defined by some accepted or standard definition.

    The idea of religion we have known our whole lives is just a concept, a set of ideas, a range of beliefs, rules, dogma, buildings, teachings, people, etc. Those things have no power to lead men anywhere good, they are just things, idols. Thats all an idol is – just a thing that is neither good or bad, but something we use to justify our turning away from God’s love.

    Take for example the classic idols from the bible, like statues. Is the statue itself evil? No, its just wood or stone, its just a thing that sits there and does nothing. That is the insanity of idolatry, you begin to worship something that literally has no power in and of itself, expecting it to give something to you. We are acting just as insane when we turn to any of the “things” we call religion and expect them to give us something in return. They cannot give us anything because they are just as godly as wood or stone.

    Thats why I wouldn’t say that “religion” in the service of God represents directional markers to point us on our way. That statement itself seems to miss the point. God IS the religion. God may use something that looks like what we call “religion” to inspire us, but He can just as easily use something else. Religion as we know it is never more than statues of wood or stone. Once we fix our eyes on the form, we lean on the flesh, and we will miss God.

    Truly, however God speaks to us is our pure religion, no matter what it looks like, or what form it takes. That is the problem with focusing on “religion” as we know it – if God wants to speak to you outside of your own predetermined concept of religion, will you be able to listen? Will you be able to realize that the only true religion is that which brings us more love?

    Or will you end up rejecting God’s voice because it doesn’t fall within the accepted religious arrangement that is claimed to have come from Joseph Smith?

    “I’m still wondering if you think that Joseph went too far in leaving the woods and building an institutional church. Should he have just kept that information to himself and continued on his personal walk with God?”

    You keep coming back to this, but really it is beside the point. My point is precisely that it does not matter, I do not know the answer, and it does not affect my ability to feel closer to God here and now.

    The problem is that we are trying to define what is true and what isn’t so that we can justify our actions one way or the other. We simply are not justified ever, period, end of story. Doesn’t matter what Joseph did. We are not good, we don’t have to pretend or try to be good. That is an idolatrous burden. We don’t have to figure out what is true and then conform our actions to that truth. The Truth itself has power to set us free and change our behavior. If we are trying to change our behavior by ourselves based on what we “know” is true or not true, we have missed the mark, and we are practicing idolatry. God changes the heart, and thus there is no need to figure out what actions we should take or what religion we should join. Everything will grow naturally out of a loving relationship with God.

  9. Wayne says:

    Thanks for the thoughts…loved reading them.

    Having just listened to Wayne Jacobsen’s book, “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore?” (I found mine on eBay), I can see a little better how religion skews things and distracts us from our true purpose. We tend to think of church as a “brick and mortar” building that happens 1x/week (or more if we have youth or other activities) and insofar as we interpret church in that manner, then church becomes an idol. Christ is all about relationships, not programs. Church/religion, by default, devolve into programs and away from relationships.

    If we interpret church as D&C 10:67-69 describes it, then it ceases to be an idol and we no longer need religion. Jeremiah 31:31-34 also discusses this point, and I love the way it’s worded in Jeremiah.

    But, amidst all this, there’s still at least one question left in my mind…

    …what, following some of the comments above (especially those relating to our idolatry), is the purpose of a “dispensation”? Some may say it’s not important – and in one sense it isn’t – but if they aren’t important, then whey do we have them? Even removing them from the context of modern day religion, what’s the purpose of a dispensation in the Lord’s eyes? What’s the importance of church as discussed by the Lord in Joseph’s vision? If it’s not important, why would the Lord instruct Joseph to act as he did? Of, did Joseph get it all wrong? If it’s not important, why did Alma go about setting up one immediately after he left King Noah’s court? Why, also, did the Lord feel the need to validate Alma in his efforts if it wasn’t important? Or, are these examples in scriptures to show us the pitfalls?

    I see how, in one context, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t (I don’t think) because Christ only wants a relationship with me and religion often gets in the way and distorts the focus I should be having.

    But, even assuming that, if it doesn’t matter, why would the Lord even discuss it? Or, did we just screw it all up so that we could see the screwiness of it and get turned back to the Lord (just like the story in “So, You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore?”

  10. Rooch says:

    “But, even assuming that, if it doesn’t matter, why would the Lord even discuss it? Or, did we just screw it all up so that we could see the screwiness of it and get turned back to the Lord (just like the story in “So, You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore?”

    I wouldn’t say that it does or doesn’t matter. That is trying once again to formulate a truth about something so that you can stick it in a box and know how to conform your behavior to the boundary you have defined. Dispensations may very well be “important” and part of God’s plan, but in what context? If we have determined something is important, then what? Important to whom? And what defines what is important? Once you know something is “important”, what comes next?

    You see its not that “church” or dispensations aren’t important, its that we are asking the wrong questions in the first place, so it doesn’t even matter how God uses those terms because we are looking through a dark glass.

    Because trying to say that church isn’t important is just as idolatrous as trying to say that it is. The focus is still on church. We need to take our eyes of this damned idol we call church. Everything has a place under heaven, and God will work however He wants. If we wants to inspire a church, He will.

    But that again, is beside the point. What we need to ask is why are we so obsessed with figuring out how to place “church”, or Joseph Smith, or first visions, or anything of that nature. There is more value in looking at why we are asking these questions than what the answers to the questions actually are.

    If you are honest with yourself you will probably find that you are asking these questions because you feel that having the answer will fill up a void. It will scratch the itch, we think to ourselves. But it doesn’t. Its not that the answers to our questions aren’t relevant to God’s purposes, its just that they are not relevant to us because they are born out of a sickness. The sickness comes from carrying burdens we were never meant to carry.

    The sickness that is spurring the questions is so important to look at, because really its the sickness we want washed away, not the mystery behind Joseph Smith. What is it we are really searching after? What are we really asking? What do we really want to know? Do we really want the story of Joseph Smith explained to us, or do we just want some relief from the incessant doubts that plague our peace? Do we really want to know the importance of a dispensation, or do we just want to know that everything is okay, will be okay, and its all in God’s hands? Will finding the answer to your question about dispensations really fill the deeper void that the question is seeking to fill?

    We just want to feel peace, to feel okay, to feel like everything is under control, to feel like it will all work out. Thats whats really plaguing us, thats the drive behind our seeking. We just want to be able to let go and let in a little light. We just want to feel God’s love because that is the very purpose of our journey and our existence.

    We think finding the answers will fill us up. The answers cannot fill us up anymore than idols of wood and stone. It’s because we don’t need the answers. We need some relief from the heavy burdens we have carried our whole lives. We need love. Without charity, it doesn’t even matter what answers we receive, because we will still be looking through a dark glass.

    you also said
    “We tend to think of church as a “brick and mortar” building that happens 1x/week (or more if we have youth or other activities) and insofar as we interpret church in that manner, then church becomes an idol. Christ is all about relationships, not programs. Church/religion, by default, devolve into programs and away from relationships.”

    Once again, I think this is pointing in the right direction, but still misses the mark, because the truth is that if Christ wanted to, He could inspire programs that happened once a week. Its not religion that skews things or distracts us from God. Religion is not to blame. Moving away from God is to blame. Maybe that is what you are saying anyway. I think God’s love can take whatever form it wants, and the works of God are probably as naturally complex and organized as our human bodies. Its not structure or religion that is the problem, its living without God that is the problem.

    The problem with our idolatry is that when we stop worshiping one thing we worship another. We worship church, and then after we discover that we are missing God’s love in church, we start to worship not going to church. And then once we discover that we are missing God’s love outside of church, we swing back. Its not the religion that is getting in the way, its the lack of direct connection with God.

    After all this talking, I guess the main point I want to make is this – lets take a step back and look at how obsessed we are with the church, whether it is going, not going, or trying to figure out whether to go, when it was formed, if it was true, who inspired it, if it went apostate, etc. Look at how much energy and focus is put on CHURCH. Look at how much time we spend trying to understand it. THAT SHOULD TELL US SOMETHING! If nothing else it serves as an indicator, its our check engine light flashing, telling us that we are missing something crucial.

    I think God wants to heal the underlying obsession more than He wants to give us answers.

  11. Bro says:

    A while back I was struggling with whether to do my home teaching. I had asked my home teachers not to come because it was a weird experience when they came, but I still couldn’t shake the guilt about not doing home teaching. They tried assigning me as a companion to a good friend, put me in a threesome with the EQ pres, but none of it worked for me and I found myself getting a harsh rebuke in the bishop’s office. After a two hour meeting with the bishop, I felt defeated, but I still didn’t feel good about home teaching. I went out on a walk and prayed my heart out trying to figure out if God wanted me to go home teaching or not. God did not answer that question, but I felt great peace and love as I thought about letting it go, just not worrying about it at all. In that moment, I realized that I was asking the wrong question. Rather than asking whether to participate in some program, I needed to be asking God for a relationship with Him. Everything else is born out of that relationship–nothing important happens independent of that relationship.

    The feelings and intents of our hearts always bear structure and form. If our hearts are fearful and lack love, we will express those feelings in a form that represents fear and love. If our hearts are full of faith and charity, that faith and charity will find expression in a form that represents faith and charity. By their fruits ye shall know them.

    When people are filled with faith and love, they create structure that promotes more faith and love. I believe these are the structures often referred to as churches in the scriptures. But when people are filled with fear, they create structures that promote control, and I believe these structures often look the same as the faith-love structures from the outside because they try to mimic and counterfeit the holier structures. But inside they are full of dead men’s bones.

    So, I do believe that the followers of God could organize churches, perform ordinances, and understand the dispensations in which they live. But all this form will be born naturally out of love, not out of a desire to understand the form as some tool of control. I think these are particularly tough issues for us LDS people to wrap our heads around because so much of the structure we have seen is the result of a fearful need to control. Thus, we have no context for understanding the holier structures that will naturally manifest themselves as we leave babylon and form zion. I believe that Zion will be the ultimate outward expression of inward love, just as Babylon is the ultimate outward expression of inward fear.

    The more we let go of the controlling need to find answers to the nagging questions that seem to stand between us and peace, the more peace we will find. God will provide answers in His own time, but we do not need those answers to be filled with His joy and love in this moment.

  12. Carl says:

    I haven’t really had time to read and assimilate what you’ve said in its entirety, and in such a way to give a coherent response, but wanted to discuss/address one thing – the purposes for this original post and my questions (both in the post and in my comment).

    When I wrote this, I was hoping for some clarification, to “scratch an itch” as you said it. It was a mildly vexing question I had in my head at the time, and one I’ve struggled with. I have since had a change of heart on that end. It no longer vexes me in the way you speak about when you suggest that if I were really “true” to myself, it was to fill a void; however, I can honestly say that it no longer bothers me in the least as far as the implications to the answers to the questions. It’s quite the opposite, actually. In my line of questioning in my comment, it had absolutely nothing to do with this “void” of which you speak.

    My continued questioning is based on an understanding of the scriptures. I have felt led to certain passages and am exploring their meaning in the context of some of these posts, and in the context of trying to walk with Him. When you suggest that we all ask these questions to “fill a void,” I must assume that you’re referring to what you call a “sickness.” That is fine if you choose to interpret it that way – and certainly at one point not long ago that was the case with me – but as we morph into different beings (which should be happening all the time and is, whether toward light or darkness), I am, instead, choosing to search out certain topics because they are of interest to me.

    Maybe some day God will choose to use what I gain from this quest to help others, maybe He will use it to instruct me in other ways as I seek to find Him today, and His manifestations to me, today. Whatever the method or ultimate reason for such questions, I think it’s currently based on something altogether unrelated to the “void” and “sickness” of which you speak.

    I’m not saying that to cop out of what you said, as I think there’s a lot of wisdom therein, but rather to suggest that some questioning comes from God; struggles (whether personally or otherwise) are used by Him to instruct us in His way, His life, His truth. Not all questioning is rooted in our idolatrous ways, our sicknesses and our efforts to fill our voids. I choose (or, rather, want to choose) to seek for that truth, in whichever way it manifests itself to me. If it’s manifestation is found in some of the questions raised above, then I wholeheartedly welcome that. If not, then I hope to wholeheartedly welcome that as well.

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