Posts Tagged ‘Idolatry’


When you see this man, think of Packer (or any other member of the First Presidency or Qof12).

2-Bit Prophets

I’m working on a different research project that I’ll hopefully upload here soon, but thought this might be worth adding.  As many of you probably know, Boyd Packer spoke to a “multi-stake” conference in Utah and the regions thereabout back on September 12th.  A few of the sites I meander to on occasion had devoted large threads to discussing what he did, or did not, say.  What these sites shared, and those posting stated, were the inspiration for this.

In an email correspondence with a couple of my friends, one of them received an email from another friend which discussed this same conference and what Packer had said.

What’s amusing is that this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has surrounded Packer.  In 2001, Packer rather infamously stated (or did he?) this statement that has been denied by all parties involved:

“The youth of the Church today were generals in the war in heaven.”

This rumor was so widespread that the LDS church had to issue a formal denial through the LDS Church News on April 28, 2001, which read:

“[Boyd Packer] did not make that statement.  I do not believe that statement.  … None of the Brethren made that statement.”

In 2008, at a rather infamous talk given to the Forest Bend Ward, Packer was alleged to have said some fairly dire things about the then current economic climate.  In one such email that made the rounds among the LDS community, one sister noted:

“I can’t even begin to describe what an amazing and wonderful meeting it was today. The Spirit was so strong and the counsel so heartfelt and direct:  a personal message for us, each of us, delivered by an Apostle of the Lord, from the Lord.  A message to counsel, inspire, and strengthen us in troubled and worry-filled times.  And yet so uplifting!  Reminding us of the great promises the Lord has made to us.  It was a sacred experience and I am so grateful I was there and that I’m able to share some part of it with you.[1]

This “inspiring” talk was, once again, denied to have happened by all the pertinent parties and merely a result of our internet culture.  The “Church Public Affairs” office stated that although Packer did speak a that ward (the Forest Bend Ward), there was no official transcript of the talk.  As such, the one making the rounds in emails must have been written after the meeting and therefore “not be considered authoritative.”[2]

That talk, it seems, stated that:

“We live in troubled times.  There is a great financial crisis and we’ve seen something that hasn’t happened in the last 60 years:  the world’s financial markets are collapsing … I pronounce upon you an Apostolic blessing. Comfort our children. Little children can be afraid of things we might not think of. Comfort them and strengthen our families. Turn off the television and focus on family. Pay your tithing. The promise is there – pay your tithing and you’ll be watched over. You’ll be alright. None of us is exempt from trials. If hard times come upon you and your income dwindles, remember that tithing is equitable for everyone: 10%. If you have nothing, then it’s 10% of practically nothing. Pay your tithing, do what you’re supposed to do. You’ll be comforted.  Sure, trials will come. Because of them, faith will increase. Happiness will increase. Security will increase.”

Whether or not true, in spite of the doctrinal inconsistencies mentioned therein, it’s alleged to not have happened.  In response to such matters, the Church reported, back in May 2004, that:

“From time to time statements are circulated among members which are inaccurately attributed to the leaders of the Church. Many such statements distort current Church teachings and are often based on rumors and innuendos. They are never transmitted officially, but by word of mouth, e-mail, or other informal means.

We encourage members of the Church to never teach or pass on such statements without verifying that they are from approved Church sources, such as official statements, communications, and publications. Any notes made when General Authorities, Area Authority Seventies, or other general Church officers speak at regional and stake conferences or other meetings should not be distributed without the consent of the speaker. Personal notes are for individual use only. [emphasis added by FAIR]

True spiritual growth is based on studying the scriptures, the teachings of the Brethren, and Church publications.”

Though you won’t find that letter on the LDS Church News site which acts as a repository for First Presidency Letters[3], it’s nevertheless assumed to be true.

Then again, this past week another one of these “events” is reported to have happened.  This time Packer is alleged to have said,

“I’ve thought a lot about this conference and all of you and brother Holland and the others have talked about the pioneer days. THEY HAD THE EASY PART. From now on it’s going to be different and it’s going to be rougher. When you think of the Hole in the Rock or Rocky Ridge or any of the other places where the pioneers served, in many ways their part was easier than our part is going to be.  … The easy times are in the past. The Rocky Ridge and the other pioneer challenges like the Hole in The Rock were the easy times. Now we have the difficult times. But we’re not being left without strength and power. The priesthood is with us and the gospel is with us as we live our lives as best we can. We have a father that will guide us and he will correct us, sometimes painfully, but he’ll correct us.”[4] (emphasis was in the original emailed sent to me.  I assume it’s not original to the actual talk).

LDS bloggers have gleefully responded:

“All of the messages were very strong and very clear. Despite all that was said I feel that those who have heeded the voice of the prophets and have done all that they could to prepare will not have reason to fear.  The messages were a strong confirmation for me of the timeline that we are on. … Big big changes coming in the next 6 months to a year. General Conference will be amazing I have no doubt.”

And:

“Just heard from a friend that attended and gave very much the same report as the others who have posted. I’m glad I got another 120 lbs of flour in sealed containers last week. Time to visit the cannery again this week for more milk.”

And:

“I really appreciate all of your posts. It sounds like it was an amazing conference. I hope some of you took notes and can share further with us. It certainly does seem that now is the time to get with the program and to do whatever we need to as soon as we’re able.”

And:

“Like others here, I was impressed that Pres. Packer was giving us a warning. He actually mentioned the fact that the pioneers had it easy three different times. I won’t give the exact quote (I wrote it down) but in essence he said The pioneers had the easy part. Things will be different for us in the future. It was similar to the warning he gave a year ago in April’s priesthood session where he said We move from a generation of ease and entertainment to a generation of hard work and responsibility. We do not know how long that will last. Some here have suggested that his talk was typical stake conference fodder, but I couldn’t disagree more. It was a warning loud and clear for those with ears to hear.”

And:

“Great day in the morning! [He] has now realized that the brethren are NOT and have NOT been silent!”

And:

“…our Stake Pres mentioned in the Sat night session that a lot of the negative influences are coming from the press. He also stated that he was going to stop listening to most of the news, including Fox as he no longer felt the Spirit during many of their broadcasts. Our Stake Pres works for the Church in the Education Department and travels all over the World on various assignments from the Brethren.”

And this would be the crème de la crème of the bunch:

“Elder Bruce R. McConkie said in General Conference, I don’t remember which one, that the saints would experience greater future persecution than any they have experienced in the past. That seems to be the same prophecy that Elder Boyd K. Packer is making here. In the mouth of two or more witnesses are all things established. This is the Law of Witnesses.”

As these examples show, people were very much satisfied to hear such a strong “voice of warning,” indeed, a “prophecy.”

In response to this email, a different (good) friend of mine chimed in:

“Elder Packer seems to be hinting about upcoming trials.  That agrees with the scriptures.  His conclusion “The priesthood is with us and the gospel is with us as we live our lives as best we can does not agree with what the Savior told the Nephites about the church in our day.  This sounds like more “feel good” and “follow the Prophet” tripe.

The Lord warned us quite clearly what to expect “But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.” (3 Nephi 1:15)

The “they” and “them” here refers to the people of the latter-day Gentile church which has frittered away the Fullness of the Gospel.  These things spoken of by the Savior, and by Elder Packer, appear to be at our door.

Living our lives “as best we can”…if that means chasing the idols of Babylon as the large majority of LDS people have been doing for generations…won’t cut it.  The Lord told us that He will not protect the Gentiles (LDS people) “if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice”.  The scriptures agree with Elder Packer that things are going to get ugly very soon.  The scriptures do NOT support his assurances of forthcoming Divine protection for those within the LDS church who live “as best we can.”

“Why should we any longer jump and twitch, or even take much note, of the weak hints issuing forth from modern day leaders who have failed so significantly in their responsibility to WARN of the rapidly impending “calamity” when every two-bit internet prophet can now see what’s coming!”

Every pundit on the internet is also hinting at bad times coming.  It doesn’t take a prophet to see that the economy is continuing to crumble, despite the lying assurances issuing out of the White House.  The “hard times” foretold by the Savior will catch most people, including those in the church who don’t study the Book of Mormon, by complete surprise.”

As the author of “The Unwritten Order of Things,” I fail to see how his remarks are anything remarkable.  Because a guy (Packer) is in a position of authority that LDS members cling to with their entire belief system only appeals to those inclined to believe in a “doomsday” scenario, waiting with bated breath.  Then, flags and eyebrows are all raised and suddenly everyone pays attention to what’s going on.

If Packer (or anyone else for that matter) were to truly prophesy and call everyone to repentance, then figurative riots would happen in the streets.  But, then, calling us to repentance would more than likely condemn our participation in the City Creek Center and other Babylonian endeavors.

My thoughts?

I find it amusing how quick we jump when someone inside the church, but only when it’s a member of leadership, says how bad things are and how bad they may become in the future.  If you take the exact same words and put them in any other persons mouth the information is shoved to the side and its truthfulness questioned.  When Boyd states it, though, it’s prophecy, truth and such an “inspiring” “voice of warning.”

Talk about an amazing cult of personality we hold to.

But, only so amazing as this comment (emphasis is mine):

“Over the years, I have had a hard time understanding people who get so angry or upset at something the prophet says, and they even go against what the prophet or apostles say.

If you believe that the President of the Church is truly a prophet of God, wouldn’t you want to know what he says? There are times when I don’t know exactly what is the truth, or which way to look at a situation, but when the prophet, or apostles speak, that clarifies it for me. I want to know what the Lord wants or desires. If there is something I have trouble accepting or understanding, I pray about it in order to understand and/or accept, but I don’t go against it, or the prophet, or the church. I stand back until that understanding comes.

If you believe that the prophet really is a prophet of God, then we should follow him, and I do know that Pres. Monson is a prophet of God & Boyd K. Packer is an apostle.

How many times in the scriptures have we read that a prophet was writting what had been revealed to him, when the Lord forbids him to write more. I know that the general authorities know more than we do. How many times have they been told not to reveal more to the general church members? I have no idea, but I know that they know more than I do.”

Cue sarcasm:

As we gather round the TV and Internet for general conference, we should remember that “general authorities know more than we do” and that if we follow the prophets blindly, yay, stupidly (because they do know more than us) we will be blessed.  The Lord honors those who follow the “arm of the flesh” in faithfulness.  Hooray for blind obedience.

Perhaps Nephi might have something applicable to this situation:

And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have atrusted.  My God hath been my asupport; he hath led me through mine bafflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.  He hath filled me with his alove, even unto the bconsuming of my flesh. He hath confounded mine aenemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.  Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me aknowledge by bvisions in the night-time.  And by day have I waxed bold in mighty aprayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.   And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been acarried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.”[5]

But see, Nephi was wrong here.  He only thinks his support was his God.  In actuality, had he been alive when there were 15 prophets and apostles prophesying every time their mouths opened, he too would have put is support and trust in them.  Heck, I can’t believe anyone believes any differently.  How can you not follow lockstep when you have men who (a) know more than you, or I do and (b) are speaking scripture every time they open their mouths?

It’s sheer insanity to believe any differently.  The pathway is marked clear.  If you have any question, simply read declaration #1.  They can’t be led astray.  They can’t do wrong.  They are infallible.  They are our pope.  They define, interpret, give, state, utter, profess and state scripture whenever they speak.  They are scripture.  They are walking books of knowledge.  The Book of Packer – The Written and Unwritten Order of Things.  The Book of Monson – To The Rescue.  The Book of Nelson – The Story of  A Disciple of Armand Hammer.  And on and on.  Come on people, the scriptures state what, “when you awaken to the sense of your awful situation.”  You need to awaken and realize that your only salvation is in following the Brethren.  Anything else is diced tomatoes.  Anything else is chopped liver.  Anything else is insanity.

Repent, ye vile sinners for thinking that you should have a personal relationship with Christ or God when you have men to whom your allegiance belongs.  Smart men.  men way smarter and way more inspired than you ever could be.  Thus Saith Tom, return to your golden calves (or gray haired old men) and hear their counsel.  Follow their ways.  Build multi-billion dollar investments and be satiated with your spoils.  Thus ended Tom’s saith-ings.

End sarcasm.


[1] http://community.babycenter.com/post/a1883615/forest_bend_ward-president_packer.  Retrieved 09/27/2010.

[2] http://www.fairblog.org/2008/10/20/talk-by-president-boyd-k-packer-goes-viral/.  Retrieved 09/27/2010.

[3] See:  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/letters/

[4] Packer, Boyd.  09/12/2010.  Utah Multi-Stake Conference.  Allegedly.

[5] See:  2 Ne. 4:19-25.


Never accept the proposition that just because a solution satisfies a problem, that it must be the only solution.

~Raymond E. Feist

Mormons and the 4th of July

I am writing this in advance of the 4th of July, as a portrait of where I am today in my belief system.  Where I am today in what I believe and know is clearly not where I was one or two years ago and, hopefully, will not be where I am in a year or three.  I truly hope that I will continue to grow, learn and avoid being one of those who profess “All is well,” or someone who merely suggests that we should just have more faith and stop analyzing so much.  I hope you are on a similar journey of learning, growing and experiencing the Universe, in whatever way it presents itself to you.

The 4th of July, as it is known today, is our general celebration of “independence,” however loosely that term may be defined.  Like many holidays, it’s used as an excuse to get an extra day off from work, to celebrate our “freedom” with barbecues, fireworks, picnics, parades and other frilly activities.  My goal in writing this is not really to analyze the history of the holiday, nor to treat the discussion as a research into its historical background.  Rather, my goal in writing this is to discuss how I feel with the modern celebration we’ve come to know and, for most of us, love.  More specifically, this is mostly going to be about the celebration of the 4th of July amongst Mormons.  Such is the angle from which I am approaching this subject.

Past 4th of July’s

Last year at this time I was living in Layton, Utah, in the shadow of Hill Air Force Base, a humungous swath of land, largesse and military force.  According to Utah’s Department of Workforce Services, Hill Air Force Base is the 6th largest employer in all of Utah, employing upwards of 15,000 people at any given time and only behind the State of Utah, Wal-Mart, Intermountain Health Care and both the University of Utah and BYU.[1]

Nearly one year ago (almost to the day) I attended the annual 4th of July celebration at the Ed Kenly Ampitheater, where the local orchestra played music to the firework festivities.  Each year, so far as I can tell, a prominent local citizen is brought forward to be the guest conductor for at least one of the arrangements.  Last year at this time it was Major General Andrew E. Busch who was introduced as the guest conductor.  Major General Busch had just been promoted to the commander (or whatever the chief leadership position is at each base) of Hill Air Force Base and was being celebrated at this function.  And so he stood, bowed and graciously accepted the overwhelming applause that those in attendance gave to/for him, it was evident that this man, and what he represented as a Commander in the military, was being celebrated for providing us all with the freedom we profess to have.  A few years earlier I would have been among those gleefully thankful for the wars promoted and directed all around us, wars which I had felt were responsible for providing me with freedom to do as I pleased.

At this time last year I did not and could not join in the celebration.  Instead, there I stood merely observing the crowd and the individuals making up that crowd.  That’s the stance I usually take these days, no matter the situation – merely observing what is going on around me.  You see, I don’t really fit in with today’s society, neither amongst the church nor amongst the general populace, or so I think.  Perhaps I do, but then perhaps I don’t want to.  I don’t think I really know.  It’s just a feeling I get – one of being a fish out of water.

Taken for Granted

My view of the 4th of July changed a few years ago as I began to put a few question marks on those things to which I had previously taken for granted.  The thing about taking something for granted is that it’s rarely known that it’s being taken for granted…typically it’s only realized in hindsight.  Bertrand Russell once summed this up nicely:

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”

And so it was with me.  I began to put a few question marks on a few things I had always believed and slowly my worldview began to change.   One of these things was the use of war as a policy decision and the use of war to justify freedom for myself, but not necessarily for those where wars were being fought.  And perhaps it’s only fitting that, as I write this, news reports are coming in on how Iran is currently surrounded by US troops in no fewer than 10 countries and pointing out the near inevitability of escalation in that part of the world later this year.  Perhaps, as some suggest, that conflict will escalate into a global thermonuclear war.  Perhaps it won’t.  Odds are, though, that if (perhaps when) that happens, the false priests of the media will be those spinning the biggest yarns while their loyal listeners will be parroting those lines to their friends across the world.  War will once again be used as a policy decision, and Americans far and wide will support the war, don bumperstickers and continue the rhetoric that urges more fighting, more war, more violence.   For a country that professes to follow a constitution that Mormons profess to be “inspired,” I find it increasingly ironic how much and how frequently we, as Mormons, profess gratitude to some God for protecting our freedoms throughout the world.

LDS members, by and large, will support and honor such decisions.  As Spencer Kimball noted many years ago, war seems to be one of our favored idols.  Though I don’t necessarily agree with everything Kimball noted in his discourse, The False Gods We Worship, this following bit I do agree with:

I am reminded of an article I read some years ago about a group of men who had gone to the jungles to capture monkeys. They tried a number of different things to catch the monkeys, including nets. But finding that the nets could injure such small creatures, they finally came upon an ingenious solution. They built a large number of small boxes, and in the top of each, they bored a hole just large enough for a monkey to get his hand into. They then set these boxes out under the trees and in each one they put a nut that the monkeys were particularly fond of.

When the men left, the monkeys began to come down from the trees and examine the boxes. Finding that there were nuts to be had, they reached into the boxes to get them. But when a monkey would try to withdraw his hand with the nut, he could not get his hand out of the box because his little fist, with the nut inside, was now too large.

At about this time, the men would come out of the underbrush and converge on the monkeys. And here is the curious thing: When the monkeys saw the men coming, they would shriek and scramble about with the thought of escaping; but as easy as it would have been, they would not let go of the nut so that they could withdraw their hands from the boxes and thus escape. The men captured them easily.

And so it often seems to be with people, having such a firm grasp on things of the world—that which is telestial—that no amount of urging and no degree of emergency can persuade them to let go in favor of that which is celestial. Satan gets them in his grip easily. If we insist on spending all our time and resources building up for ourselves a worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit.

In spite of our delight in regarding ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had—in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people—a condition most repugnant to the Lord.

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we align ourselves against the enemy instead of aligning ourselves with the kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44–45.)

We forget that if we are righteous, the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us—and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7)—or he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53.) We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be. King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha’s life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, “Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, “And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:17.)

Enoch, too, was a man of great faith who would not be distracted from his duties by the enemy: “And so great was the faith of Enoch, that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions were heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch.” (Moses 7:13.)

What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him? Our assignment is positive: to forsake the things of the world as goals in themselves; to desist from idolatry and press forward in faith; to carry the gospel to our enemies, that they might no longer be our enemies.

We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the “arm of flesh,” for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, “I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.” (D&C 64:24.)

Hugh Nibley, in briefly responding to this discourse in his Leaders & Managers article, replied with the following:

Most of you are here today only because you believe that this charade will help you get ahead in the world. But in the last few years things have got out of hand. The economy, once the most important thing in our materialistic lives, has become the only thing. We have been swept up in a total dedication to the economy which, like the massive mudslides of our Wasatch Front, is rapidly engulfing and suffocating everything. If President Kimball is “frightened and appalled” by what he sees, I can do no better than to conclude with his words: “We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the ‘arm of flesh,’ for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, ‘I will not spare any that remain in Babylon’ (D&C 64:24).”10 And Babylon is where we are.  In a forgotten time, before the Spirit was exchanged for the office and inspired leadership for ambitious management, these robes were designed to represent withdrawal from the things of this world—as the temple robes still do. That we may become more fully aware of the real significance of both is my prayer.

On one side, war is continued because of the financial ramifications it has for certain circles of influence, and on the other side many of us, especially Mormons, support war because we hold on to war as our only pillar of support in a society that, we feel, requires it.  When 9/11 happened, instead of decrying the obliteration of individual freedoms, we clamored for increased unity and support for a President thrust into an unimaginable role.  That increased support, it seems, served little purpose other than to embolden certain circles of influence to further destroy individual freedoms.  Freedom, it seems, is a thing greatly misunderstood.

Full Disclosure

In an effort at full disclosure I should probably admit a couple of things:

(1)    I almost joined the military.  More than once.  It was never so close as to ever enter some recruiter’s office, but as recently as this past year it was a path I was semi-seriously considering.  I even spoke with a recruiter or two over the phone to ask some preliminary questions.  The first time was shortly after my Great Deception (i.e. 9/11).  The second time was this past year, following a year of unemployment and nary a job offer on the horizon.  The Great Deception was avoided because I felt like I couldn’t really join the “cause” as I then called it because I had a young child and didn’t want to leave my wife and child alone.  The second time (this past year) I couldn’t go through with it because I’m leery of the future and didn’t want to get caught somewhere I didn’t want to be, to say nothing of other untenable positions I’d be forced to support in one way or another if I joined.

(2)  While I’m adamantly opposed to war – and may very well find myself walking out of church this coming Sunday if the warmongering continues – I empathize with the individuals involved in that part of our world and have no beef with them on an individual level.

(3)  My favorite hymn used to be the Battle Hymn of the RepublicUsed to be.  I even went so far as to play it at my mission farewell in the middle of January.  Then, while in the MTC serving my 10-week penance for being called on a foreign mission, I made some attempt to translate it into French.  It was probably an awful attempt, though I know of no tangible proof of what I translated other than some vague imagination.  I still love the music, but can’t stomach the message behind the words or the events which inspired its creation (I’m referring to the Civil War, not slavery.  The Civil War was the single greatest reason for the creation of our current federal government, in my opinion, and the single greatest reason for abolishing states’ rights).  It was sung this past Sunday during Priesthood opening exercises and I couldn’t manage more than a half-hearted, pathetic attempt at singing.  In fact, that’s how I treat most songs about America are treated.

So, What’s My Beef?

Valid question, that.  Looking at the 4th of July, I see the same nationalism that presented the Great Deception in my own life.  Following the events of 9/11 I remember writing my brother, then on his mission in Brasil, lamenting how these “gadiantons” had somehow bypassed our security measures and attacked our motherland.  I remember exactly where I was that day, the emotions I felt and the images on the screen.  It was one of those days that left something of an imprint both on and in my system.  Those beliefs remained in my system for several years.  Several years too many.

I had been like those who both wrote and adamantly supported the Battle Hymn of the Republic, convinced that a certain path was right, even when it wasn’t.  What on earth am I talking about?  Well, Lincoln and the Civil War were both about far more than the abolition of slavery.  Among other things, Lincoln suspended the Constitution and habeas corpus, used the military to invade the southern states without the consent or approval of Congress, imprisoned thousands of Northern citizens without trial, shut down opposition newspapers, censored all telegraph communications, nationalized the railroad industry, confiscated firearms, interfered with elections using federal troops and deported outspoken critics…among other things.  It sounds eerily similar to the deteriorating process we’ve been witnesses to for the past 20 years, or more, and yet somehow we continue to support the same system decade after decade.  Yes, it was during this time that our country went from “these united States” to “these United States.”  And it was done under the guise and belief that what they were doing was God’s will.[2] The author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic wrote the song as a warning of God’s judgment – the Civil War being God’s judgment.  Apparently written in response to a dream/vision, the Hymn would become both Lincoln’s “best loved marching song” and the marching song of the Union troops.

Just as it was a deception to destroy states’ rights at the feet of a soon-to-be giant federalism, it was an even greater deception in my life (if only because it was so much more personal this time) to believe that a war was a justified reaction to what happened that fateful day in 2001.  I managed to justify civilians, soldiers and others being killed, maimed, bombed, plagued, castrated, pummeled, humiliated, and relegated to a life in shambles, all in the name of conquest.  Conquest by any other means is still conquest.

Then, as time slowly passed from 2001 to 2007-ish, a question mark began to be placed on a long held belief.  Not by me, mind you, but by someone, or something.  I didn’t set out to challenge the status quo on 9/11 or my belief that wars such as the “war on terrorism” were divinely justified, but rather was led to some information that challenged the status quo as I began to study alternative topics.  One thing led to another and I began to realize that I had been played.  I had seen the Great Deception and that Deception had played me like a fiddle for a number of years.  Played so long that I’m still surprised the strings didn’t break earlier.  I had supported and voted for a president after president as they all, regardless of party affiliation, dismantled both my rights and my privacy; I had supported ideologies which told me that there were people I could legitimately hate and I had embraced a perspective that created a self-righteousness in my own heart (i.e. since I’m better than some poor Afghani or Iraqi who’s been buffaloed by some crazy fanatic, I deserve to live and they deserve to die).  I was better than them and that meant that I could both hate them and persecute them by my words and by my beliefs.  And, just as described in D&C 121, I did so without fully knowing just how wrong and misguided I was.  Only in hindsight could I see what I had become.

Now, in hindsight, I can’t really understand how I could be someone who supposedly valued his own right to pursue his own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness and yet could not afford the same privileges to other individuals around the world, regardless of nationality. God is no respecter of persons, so why should I be? Any loss of or damage to life should be avoided and opposed, and not simply excused when it supposedly becomes necessary to “save American lives”.

And yet, here I sit, knowing that come this Sunday (the 4th of July, ironically enough), I’ll be all too privileged to sit inside church, listening to testimonies given on how grateful we should be for our freedom, for our troops defending said freedoms the world over.  And, on the back end, I’ll sit here fully knowing that these same people would likely run me out of town if they knew just what I believed on this, and other issues.

As I right that, I’m faced with another dilemma.  My daughter’s favorite story in the Book of Mormon is of one Teancum.  A rather inconsequential fellow, only mentioned in a smattering of chapters in the book of Alma, easily lost amongst the 500+ other pages of that divine tragedy.  He, like many today, was a soldier of some sort.  Friends with Lehi and Moroni, and described as no less than a “true friend of liberty.”[3] The record we have on him seems to suggest that he didn’t like fighting anymore than myself, and yet there he was right in the middle of the fight.  His way of ending the fighting was to steal away into the opposition’s camp long after it was dark and kill the leader.  One time, it worked marvelously.  So marvelously, in fact, that he tried it a second time.  Same plan, same method.  Sneak away by himself, find a way into the opposition’s camp, find the king’s tent, throw the sharpest object he could find or bring with him at his heart and hope for the best.  Somehow he thought this single death would end the fighting, that the remaining fighters would be forced to surrender.  His goal was liberty, his method to get liberty and end the fighting was by killing the enemy, or at least the leader of the enemy party.  Somehow, amid all this, he was still regarded as a true friend of liberty.

So, was Teancum wrong to do what he did?  Was his support for the war, and his actions justified, because the war he was fighting wasn’t the result of the corporate interests which largely rule our world today?  Am I wrong to distance myself from it all and settle into the role of a mere observer?

Whatever the answers to those questions, I may just walk out of Fast & Testimony meeting the minute the testimonies start spilling out in gratefulness for the wars, anger and fighting that litter our world.  If not, well, idol worship is the next best thing.

People still retain the errors of their childhood, their nation, and their age, long after they have accepted the truths needed to refute them.

~Condorcet, Progress of the Human Mind, 1794


[1] http://jobs.utah.gov/opencms/wi/statewide/majoremp.pdf

[2] http://www.cuttingedge.org/news/n1188.cfm

[3] See Alma 62:37.


O Lord, I have atrusted in thee, and I will btrust in thee forever. I will not put my ctrust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his dtrust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

– 2 Nephi 4:34

It was an interesting day today.  I was, like usual, late to church.  There are times I feel like a fish out of water, not fully understanding the movie that is playing before my eyes.  This was never more certain than during Elder’s Quorum.

A Dream Foretold

The night prior (last night) I had a dream where I was in some church meeting and some brother was commenting on how he didn’t believe what the Church was teaching in a number of areas – be it correlation, the role of prophets in the modern church, tithing, etc.  The teacher was a brother from the ward I had been attending in Utah, though I’m uncertain of his role in the dream other than as an instructor.  I never spoke much to him while in Utah – he was a doctor and only present occasionally, I was the father of a young boy not yet in nursery and thereby prone to walking the halls instead of in meetings.

No one really said anything to dissuade the original commenter from what he was “struggling” with, at least that I remember from the dream.  Toward the end of the dream I remember feeling the pressure or squeeze on this brother and stated something along the following lines:  “We should be free to worship as we choose.”  The premise of my comment was to let this brother believe as he wants, and not suffocate him for going outside the mainstream beliefs and, dare I say, idolatry.

Prophets

Then, I step into Elder’s Quorum just in time to hear the announcement of the days lesson:  Prophets of God.  Joy of joys, what was I doing there and what was I about to get into?  I was doing pretty good, in spite of the corrections from the Elder’s Quorum president to a couple of the comments other Elder’s had made.  For instance, in response to a statement from the teacher on how a prophet must be both righteous and a man of God, one brother brought up the examples of Paul (from the New Testament) and Alma the Elder (from the Book of Mormon) and how these men were anything but righteous prior to their calls from God.  In response to this comment, mysteriously (in my opinion), the Elder’s Quorum president redirected the conversation by stating, “Just to be clear, we’re talking about the prophet and president of the church, not just a prophet.”  The comment didn’t make much sense, to me, given the direction of the lesson, but nevertheless served to redirect and refocus the lesson on the hierarchy of the LDS church (and certainly what others have called, and for good reason, idolatry) as opposed to the gift of prophecy.

I seemed to be alright with this, content to keep my thoughts to myself.  That is until the teacher shared one of the favorite quotes from LDS history:

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place.”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff [2004], 199.

Removed from My Place

Perhaps, upon hearing my comment, the Lord should have removed me from my place.  Perhaps the teacher and Elder’s Quorum president would have hoped to remove me from my place…but there I remained to spread some false doctrine among the mainstream church.

My comment was basically my analysis of the only meaning one can really take from this statement:  that (a) the Lord doesn’t strike down and kill all those who attempt to lead the children of men astray and (b) what the Lord would remove, if the statement were true, is the prophet’s authority and priesthood.  If the contact with heaven is ever severed through unrighteous dominion, no matter the degree, then our authority and priesthood is removed.  That’s the only way I can interpret that statement and am at a point where I simply cannot adhere to the beliefs promulgated by the mainstream (i.e. the prophets and apostles cannot lead us astray, etc).

Such was my comment.  There I sat, silent, for the rest of the lesson.  Then, right about closing time, another elder made a comment which I feel was probably meant to rebuke me for my “lack of faith” or something along those lines.  The comment can be summed up as this:  the prophet is called of God.  If the prophet is called of God, then all the apostles are called of God, then all the Generic Authorities are called of God, then all the area authorities, stake presidents, bishops, young men’s presidents, elder’s quorums teachers and every single decision is of God. End of story.  Curtain call.

There the meeting ended, and there I walked out feeling as though I was living a surreal life.  I proceeded to go to the store, buy a large Mountain Dew, violate one of the 613 laws and wonder where I was in my life and asking myself:  where does this highway lead?  Same as it ever was, it seems.  No doubt the next lesson on Scriptures will likely be just as fun, at least if it focuses (like most of the meetings I attend usually do) on modern scripture.

So, with that, I mulled my life, my beliefs and wondered what it is that draws people to believe in the ultimate infallibility of leaders, even if they don’t admit such infallibility.  Really, what does it matter any more?

The Mind and Will of the Lord

The ending comment of this class put me squarely back in the dream I had the night before, only no one was telling people to lay off and let me believe what I want.  Though, perhaps the dream had more to do with preparing me for the days journey and laying the groundwork for me to feel ‘OK’ with what others believe, and what I believe.  So as I gulped down the large Mountain Dew and thought back to a wise Native American I know.  He’s currently participating in some sun dancing down near the Four Corners area and his article was one of many that helped clarify my life’s pathway and this article really gets to the heart of the discussion forced upon me today in Elder’s Quorum.  The following are his words, though I wholeheartedly agree with what he lays out.  To him goes all the credit.  His website can be found here, where more articles of a like nature can be read:

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The Mind and Will of the Lord

When you see any document, any address, any letter, any instruction that is issued by the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, it should be recognized for what it surely is — the mind and the will of the Lord to his people in this day. (L. Aldin Porter, October 1994 General Conference)

“The mind and will of the Lord,” that for which all the righteous children of our Father in Heaven seek. But is it so easy to find as to follow men that have been sustained by other men, as prophets, seers and revelators?

Just before the above quote, L. Aldin Porter commented:

The Lord God of Israel will direct them, and they will not lead us astray. (November 1994 Ensign, pg. 65)

He asked the question: “What is our response when the living prophets declare the mind and will of the Lord?” After which he quoted President Joseph Fielding Smith as saying:

There is one thing in which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord. (November 1994 Ensign, pg. 63, Conference Report, April 1972, pg. 99)

President Hunter added to this line of thinking:

The answer lies in following the direction received from those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, and others of the General Authorities. Let us study their words, spoken under the Spirit of inspiration, and refer to them often. The Lord has revealed his will to the Saints in this conference. (November 1994 Ensign, pg. 87)

Even the Salt Lake Tribune proclaimed in headline and subtitle as the message to Church members:

Be Faithful — Be Followers / We Will Guide You to God, LDS Leaders Tell Members (October 3, 1994, Salt Lake Tribune, pg. A1)

Where was it that this concept that these men speak for the “mind and will of God” and could not lead us astray? It was probably first stated by Wilford Woodruff, not surprisingly, just after the Manifesto was issued which went contrary to previous revelation and admonition by those who by the witness of God had been proven true prophets. His words still exist to this day in the Doctrine and Covenants as comments following what is called “Official Proclamation — 1.” It states:

The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so he will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (D&C pg. 292, Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah)

In this statement Wilford Woodruff would have us believe that not only the “President of the Church” but “any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray” would be “remove[d]… out of [his] place.” In this statement there are some obvious inconsistencies.

First — the Lord will not allow one to lead others astray, but – if he does attempt, the Lord will remove him. Thus the attempt must be unsuccessful followed by his immediate removal. Somewhere along here we have short-circuited the process of free agency and assured that men will never fall to such circumstances.

Second — any other man attempting to lead astray will be removed and thus eliminate from us all temptation, because after all, we will see the immediate effect of sin and be swayed from its commission. Another part of Satan’s plan in opposition to free agency. Can we find the evidence in today’s world that all who attempt to lead astray will be removed before their attempts are successful?
It is clear that Wilford Woodruff obviously went contrary to previous revelation as well as statements by previously ordained prophets, as well as his own words, when signing the Manifesto. Paul in his letter to the Galatians wrote:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1: 8-9)

To this scripture the Prophet Joseph Smith must have been thinking when he said:

…and if any man preach any other gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed… (Historical Record 7:548)

If any man writes to you or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an imposter. (Times & Seasons, Apr. 1, 1844)

So as Wilford Woodruff had gone contrary to previous revelation so he had begun the error that the leaders cannot lead the people astray. This was further admonished by Heber J. Grant:

Brethren, keep your eye on the president of this Church. If he tells you to do anything and it is wrong and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. But you don’t need to worry; the Lord will never let His mouthpiece lead this people astray. (Harold B. Lee quoting Heber J. Grant in address at BYU, April 19, 1961; requoted in Ensign, October 1972, Pg. 7)

Latter, in one of those “documents” issued by the General Authorities it was stated in part:

…He [Lucifer] wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to “do their own thinking.”… When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan — it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy…. (June 1945 Ward Teaching Lesson, Improvement Era 48:354)

When an official from the First Unitarian Church saw the above, he fired off a letter to President George Albert Smith who had just become the new president of the Church in November that same year. Quoting earlier Church brethren he pointed out as to why this was not the doctrine in times past of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that he was very concerned as to the spiritual well being of Church members from such a statement, especially as some had come to him expressing their concern. To be corrected by an official of another church with quotes of earlier Church brethren was enough to cause the President George Albert Smith to go against his predecessor and admit in reply that it was not Church doctrine then or now and that it would be corrected. He said:

…that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to his Maker for his individual acts…. (George Albert Smith Letter to Dr. J. Raymond Cope, Dec. 7, 1945)

He cited Joseph Smith’s statement:

If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for the truth will cut its own way. (History of the Church, 5:498)

A later president, Joseph Fielding Smith stated:

No man ever went astray by following the counsel of the authorities of the Church. No man who ever followed the teachings or took advice or counsel from the one who stands as the representative of the Lord ever went astray…it behooves us, as Latter-day Saints to put our trust in the presiding authorities of the Church. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:243)

However, Joseph Fielding Smith stated in a later volume of the same series:

My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them….We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:203)

If we were to just search the scriptures we might find examples to the contrary of the above philosophy that our leaders cannot lead us astray. A very poignant illustration against this doctrine is found in the 1st Book of Kings, Chapter 3, describing the story of the man of God, described by some as the junior or “younger” prophet and the old prophet described by some as the senior or “older” prophet or “file leader.” The older prophet said:

…Come home with me, and eat bread. (verse 15)

The younger prophet replied:

For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest. (verse 17)

The older prophet or “file leader” said:

…I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he mat eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.  (verse 18)

After the young prophet returned with him and ate and drank, the old prophet chastised him for disobeying the word of the Lord that he, himself had received. As true to the Lord’s word, the young prophet was killed by a lion upon leaving the very place the Lord had commanded him not to go, because of his disobedience and trusting in the arm of flesh in the form of his “file leader.” Interestingly enough the “file leader” is not reported to have been “removed” and his attempt to lead astray was evidently successful.
The thought that we should ever unreservedly trust in the arm of flesh and not take it upon ourselves to personally ask of our Heavenly Father, in whom we have a right to receive the truth of all things, should be reprehensible to every child of light.

Apostle George Q. Cannon stated:

Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle or a president, if you do, they will fail you at some time or place… (Millennial Star 53:674)

Apostle Moses Thatcher said it this way:

So long therefore as the people rely upon their leaders they are not manifesting that degree of faith, they are not in a position to think and reflect for themselves as they should. (JD 26:328)

Brigham Young had several statements in this regard:

How easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction, unless you actually know the mind and will of the Spirit yourselves. (JD 4:368)

How often has it been taught that if you depend entirely upon the voice, judgement, and sagacity of those appointed to lead you, and neglect to enjoy the Spirit for yourselves, how easily you may be led into error, and finally cast off to the left hand? (JD 8:59)

I have often said to the Latter-day Saints — “Live so that you will know whether I teach you truth or not.” Suppose you are careless and unconcerned, and give way to the spirit of the world, and I am led likewise, to preach the things of this world and to accept things that are not of God, how easy it would be for me to lead you astray! But I say to you, live so that you will know for yourselves whether I tell the truth or not. That is the way we want all the Saints to live. Will you do it? Yes I hope you will, every one of you. (JD 18:248)

What a pity it would be if we were lead by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually. (JD 9:150)

That the present doctrine is certainly contrary to that taught above, I will let the reader decide. However, when this writer was taught the discussions some twenty plus years ago, it was brought forth in these teachings that of all the similarities with the Catholic church regarding a claim to divine authority, the one big difference was that where the Catholic church claimed infallibility for its leader, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made no such claim, but that its President and Prophet, just as Joseph Smith before them, claimed to be but a fallible man, subject to all the like weaknesses of the flesh. Being raised in a heavily Catholic community it impressed me as truth and was one of the main turning points in my conversion and subsequent baptism into the Church. Latter as National Executive Director of the American Party, I had opportunity to talk with a young man, who with his family had to flee Nicaragua and the Sandanistas. He told me that in the discussions he received from the Mormon missionaries he was told that the great similarity between his Catholic church and that of the Mormons was that they too believed in the infallibility of their leader. A grave change from previous teachings.

What ready acceptance the doctrine of infallibility has. So much easier it is to accept the concept that we should put the responsibility for our salvation upon the shoulders of another thus divesting ourselves of accountability for our own actions. A philosophy existent since the very beginning as Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, the serpent blamed Lucifer, and Lucifer blamed it on what all those others had done on other worlds. Satan’s pre-mortal plan was to short-circuit free agency and save everyone. This doctrine of following the brethren blindly assures all adherents of salvation and “blessings” with the opportunity of placing the sins of any wrong doings by thus following, upon the leaders with the promise that “we will lead you to God.”

Any true prophet of God would teach that which Brigham Young taught above, that for the people to not blindly follow, but seek the Lords will in all matters would both further add the power of God to the leaders and strengthen the people in their own salvation. To teach otherwise would obviously do just the opposite and make for only unrighteous dominion in the form of tyrants and blind slaves, all destined for Satan’s kingdom, not the Lord’s.

To say that we will be blessed for following unrighteous teachings and that the leader takes full responsibility is the fallacy of that leader taking upon himself our sins. We all know that only One has been upon this earth to do that, even our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. That the leader will suffer the consequences of leading astray is without doubt, but any that follow blindly when they obviously had it within their power to find out the “mind and will of the Lord” themselves through personal revelation will also suffer for their own unrighteous acts. We thus read in the Second Article of Faith:

“We believe that men will be punished for their own sins…”

It is clear! We cannot possibly expect exaltation unless we, in this mortal probation, can come to stand on our own two feet and receive ourselves the Spirit of Truth, whereby we may make the right and eternal choices required of us. Brigham Young gave an eloquent explanation of this very important principle:

I am the only person that can possibly save myself… There are those among this people who are influenced, controlled, and biased in their thoughts, actions and feelings by some other individual or family, on whom they place their dependence for spiritual and temporal instruction, and for salvation in the end. These persons do not depend upon themselves for salvation, but upon another of their poor, weak, fellow mortals. “I do not depend upon any inherent goodness of my own,’ say they, ‘to introduce me into the kingdom of glory, but I depend upon you, brother Brigham, upon you, brother Heber, or upon you, brother James; I believe your judgement is superior to mine, and consequently I let you judge for me; I will submit myself wholly to you, and place in you all my confidence for life and salvation; where you will go I will go, and where you tarry there I will stay; expecting that you will introduce me through the gates into the heavenly Jerusalem.”

I wish to notice this. We read in the Bible, that there is one glory of the stars. In the Doctrine and Covenants, these glories are called telestial, terrestrial, and celestial, which is the highest. These are worlds, different departments, or mansions, in our Father’s house. Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influence of the of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding and pinning their faith upon another’s sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them. They never can become Gods, nor be crowned with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold scepters of glory, majesty, and power in the celestial kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind besides should take the opposite course. (JD 1:312)

As emphasized above, those who put their dependence in control of another’s judgment, even, as Brigham Young said, himself as President, or his counselors, placing in them all confidence for life and salvation, suspending their own understanding to be led entirely by another person, because they cannot rule themselves, but must be dictated to in every trifle, will not receive celestial glory. Yet this is precisely what we are told to do by today’s leaders. In other words, even though the very purpose of the Church in an individual’s life should be to prepare him for celestial glory, since even non-Church members can achieve the others, we are being instructed to do that above and not seek exaltation and eternal lives. While “those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind beside should take the opposite course,” including their leaders, are labeled as apostates, malcontents and sinners, because they refuse to accept the doctrine of blind obedience, infallibility, and faithfully following their “file leaders.” Have we finally reached the day of Isaiah’s prophetic warning when he said:

Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

Is not striving for celestial glory and exaltation good, light and sweet? Brigham Young referred to this section of the Doctrine and Covenants in the above discourse in regard to the otherwise good people that would fall short of exaltation.

These are those who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men. These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fullness. These are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not the fulness of the Father. … These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God. (D&C 76:75-79)

Being valiant and thinking, and most importantly praying for ourselves is of the utmost consequence. A record of the Prophet’s remarks tells us of his thinking in this regards:

President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel – said the Lord had declared by the Prophet that the people should each stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church – that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls – applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall – that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds… (T.P.J.S., pg. 237-238)

The Prophet makes it clear, as Brigham did after, that we must stand on our own two feet or else we will lose the light necessary to choose good over evil. To think or believe for ourselves was one of those things pointed out in the Articles of Faith to be our right, and as it follows with all rights, responsibility:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. (11th Article of Faith)

It is obvious, however, that as we are admonished to follow the brethren and sustain them, and believe that they cannot lead us astray, that, contrary to the 11th Article of Faith, that we should not think or worship according to the dictates of our own conscience. This is truly antithetic to what Joseph taught in this Article of Faith as well as another instance in which a elder by the name of Pelatiah Brown was brought before the High Council for believing and even teaching incorrect doctrine:

Elder Pelatiah Brown, one of the wisest old heads we have among us, and whom I now see before me, has been preaching concerning the beast which was full of eyes before and behind; and for this he was hauled up for trial before the High Council.  I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine. (History of the Church, Vol. 5, Ch. 17, pg. 340)

To have the liberty of thinking and believing as he pleases, that is truly what was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Even the right to believe that the leaders are not infallible. Nowhere even is there any evidence that the Prophet required anyone to sustain him, or they would be cast out from the Church. There were many, even his closest associates, that did not always sustain him, without fear of punishment. But in today’s Church, by word and by action, that philosophy is not held. By ego or pride, it is held as a sin worthy of losing one’s membership if he/she cannot sustain the leaders in every action. Standing for himself, inspired with the true independence of heaven, determined to do right, though all mankind, including Church leaders, should take the opposite course, brings no surer way of retribution. Indeed true sins, of lying, adultery, even murder (abortion) will bring little more than a slap on the wrist if not praise, while the evil sin of independence will not be countenanced under any circumstances.

The real question seems to be if the Lord has Himself ever deemed it impossible for the established leaders to fall or lead others astray? From Cain, who had authority to offer sacrifices, but sought to change the ordinance, all the way through the history of Israel, to Aaron who permitted the molting of the golden calf, thus denying Israel of the higher law. To Saul, David and Solomon, who all were not taken from their positions of authority before they themselves could sin or lead others astray with them. To the recognized religious leaders of Israel and the church once established by the Lord, in the days of Jeremiah and Lehi, who changed the law and the ordinances and rejected the words of warning by these two strange prophets that refused to follow their “file leaders.” Yet we know that they were the “righteous” leaders for did not Laman and Lemuel say of those leaders:

…we know that the people who were in Jerusalem were a righteous people for they kept the statutes and judgements of the Lord and all his commandments…(1 Nephi 17:22)

And later, these men of the same authority, cast the Saviour out of the synagogues, persecuted and finally crucified Him, all without being removed out of their place. While across the ocean the wicked King Noah and his priests, the legitimate heads of a church once established by the Lord, burned the rebel Abinadi and then persecuted Alma, for their speaking out about “the lord’s anointed” and their teachings.

We see the falling of the Apostle Judas Iscariot, chosen by the Lord himself. Later the Church of Jesus Christ, established by the Saviour during His earthly ministry apostatized and become the Catholic church with the very same doctrine emphasized by the Church leaders today:

Catholics believe the Pope, be he saint or sinner, is preserved by God from leading the church into doctrinal error. This is referred to as his infallibility. (Religions of America, Catholic Confession of Belief, pg. 43)

At least they have not extended this quality beyond the confines of a single person. To the above examples, we have those in our own dispensation. The likes of Frederick G. Williams, William Law, John C. Bennett, Sidney Rigdon, all sat at the side of Joseph Smith as counselors and advisers, even members of the First Presidency at one time or another, and all ultimately fell and led others astray.

Even a majority of the Quorum of the Twelve have in history fallen. The Prophet Joseph tells us:

Of the Twelve Apostles chosen in Kirtland and ordained under the hands of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and myself, there have been but two what have lifted their heal against me – namely Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. (D.H.C. 5: 412)

And even those very same two counselors, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, also proved themselves fallen in time. This happened often, even though Joseph Smith has admittedly been in better communication with the Lord than any since. It was said of him by his body guard and close personal friend, Benjamin F, Johnson:

And no man, seemingly, could make greater mistakes in associates than did the Prophet Joseph; and this, with many other things of which he was accused, his enemies held as evidence that he was a fallen prophet. (Benjamin F. Johnson Letter to First Presidency)

Even with all his seeming mistakes as a Prophet of God, Joseph was not hesitant to publish his fallibility to the world. In harsh words did the Lord reprove him when he disobeyed and lost the 116 pages:

Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall. (D&C 3:9)

In another revelation the Lord warned:

I have sent forth the fullness of my gospel by the hand of my servant, Joseph; and in weakness I blessed him;
I have given unto him the keys of the mystery of those things which were from the foundation of the world, and things which shall come from this time until the time of my coming, if he abide in me, and if not, another will I plant in his stead.
Wherefore, watch over him that his faith fail not, and it shall be given by the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, that knoweth all things. (D&C 35: 17-19)

Knowing that it was possible for Joseph or any others to fall, He provided for his replacement if necessary:

There is not any person belonging to the church who is exempt from this council of the church.  And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood; And their decision upon his head shall be an end of the controversy concerning him. (D&C 107: 81-83)

Even Joseph Smith could fall and be replaced, yet these “brethren” today say that they cannot fall or lead us astray, however they claim their authority through a line that originates in this dispensation from a fallible Joseph Smith. Since when can the creature exceed the creator? They say not to concern ourselves with the doctrines of the early brethren, but accept the changes they have made, yet they claim their right to lead comes from these early brethren. In the case of Brigham Young through whom they claim succession, they say that some of the doctrines he taught were mistaken, yet they themselves can make no mistakes. They say that their words are unchangeable while they change the words of the Lord’s true Prophets before them.

Could it be that their teachings of infallibility are a diversion from the right to exercise the “common council” mentioned above to bring them back into line with the Lord’s will? Few members are aware of the Lord’s provision of a “common council” to make all, even the general authorities, accountable. Would truly honest men teach us that which is contrary to what the founding brethren taught regarding fallibility and have us believe that we should follow blindly without question? These questions and others we must leave to the reader to decide for his or her self.

Yet we must look at the times in which we live and most importantly, the warnings of the scriptures regarding our time. For we see in the times of Joseph Smith there was an element of the adversary in the Church. That element saw to it that Joseph was killed. Brigham Young saw that element move to the valley with the Saints and warned of it. It is obvious that this element has grown in strength in direct proportion to the urging by some to follow blindly that we might not perceive the danger. Yet those who read the scriptures with eyes to see and ears to hear, will know the danger signs. Moroni said:

And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God; For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that men should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man. And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking [ed. note: Jaredites], and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.

Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain — and the work, yea, even the work of destruction if ye suffer these things to be.

Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.

Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power over the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved. (Ether 8: 18-19, 21-26)

For what other reason are we told to follow blindly than that things may be carried forth in secret? Does not the church’s policy regarding abortion in some cases, promote the shedding of innocent blood? Does not the counsel to sustain the government regardless of its disregard for natural rights support the combination that seeks to enslave us all? Ezra Taft Benson quoted J. Reuben Clark in his warning regarding not just this nation but also the Church:

…he stated that if the conspiracy “comes here it will … come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours” (CR April 1972, July 1972 Ensign)

Moroni was given to see this day. He spoke to us, the Gentiles, and said that this secret combination would come among us to destroy as it did the Jews, the Nephites, the Jaredites, etc. If there is nothing else we should learn from the scriptures by their experience, it is that the adversary sets up his secret combination to destroy throughout. It has worked every time before. Can we not expect that at the very pinnacle of the great war that started before this earth was, he will do, once again, that which has worked previous without failure? Is it possible that this conspiracy can even come into the Church? Has it happened before? Do secret combinations remain secret where the people do not follow blindly? Are such changes easily seen?

Here we should recall the warning of the late Dean Inge:

“History seems to show that the powers of evil have won their greatest triumphs by capturing the organizations which were formed to defeat them, and that the devil has thus changed the contents of the bottles, he never alter the labels. The fort may have been captured by the enemy, but it still flies the flag of its defenders.” (Admiral Ben Moreel, Talk given Nov. 22, 1963 at BYU, as quoted in Prophet Principles and National Survival, by Jerreld L. Newquist, pg. 339)

The servants of God have seen to our time:

Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people to err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.  Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.  Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God. (Micah 3: 5-7)

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.  They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.  For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.

I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.  Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.  I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying I have dreamed, I have dreamed.  How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit if their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.

The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.  Is not my word like as fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?  Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.  Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.  Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 23: 16-32)

So much for those that falsely claim the “will of the Lord” as a means to cause us to err in following blindly a group of mean who say that they cannot lead astray. Samuel Richards, the European Mission President in 1852 said:

…willing obedience to the laws of God, administered by the Priesthood is indispensable to salvation; but we would further add, that a proper conservative to this power exists for the benefit of all, and none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the Priesthood. We have heard men who hold the Priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme… (Millennial Star 14: 594)

Is this not the very design of a secret combination, to enslave us? We have been told clearly by the Saviour in scripture to be vigilant in observation of those set to lead and to part ourselves from them if they falter:

And again, if thy foot offend thee, cut it off; for he that is thy standard, by whom thou walkest, if he become a transgressor, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee, to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched. Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or trusting another. Seek unto my Father, and it shall be done in that very moment what ye shall ask, if ye ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive. And if thine eye which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out. It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than two eyes to be cast into hell fire. For it is better that thyself should be saved, than to be cast into hell with thy brother, where their worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched. (JST Mark 9: 42-48)

To “stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or trusting another.” This is what Brigham Young referred to as standing on our own two feet not upon the coat-tails of another. It is essential that we develop a personal relationship with our Father in Heaven so that when the winds and rains of confusion descend upon us we will not wash away but shall still be standing. Heber C. Kimball saw this day, as reported by Apostle J. Golden Kimball, his son:

Then is the time to look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall.  For I say unto you there is a test, a Test, a TEST coming.  This Church has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with glory.  The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess a personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got this testimony, you must live right and call upon the Lord, and cease not until you obtain it.  Remember these sayings: The time will come when no man or woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within themselves. (CR, October 4, 1930, pg. 59)

This is truly “the will of the Lord.”


“And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome aherbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with aprudence and bthanksgiving.”
Doctrine & Covenants 89:10-11

It’s 3:27am where I am, as I sit down to write this.  I haven’t yet fallen asleep, and have my doubts that I will.  You see, I’m sitting here thinking about Marijuana.  Not because I have some bizarre infatuation with what some affectionately call the “holy herb,” but rather because I’m beginning to wonder if it is indeed an/the “holy herb.”  For those of you who’ve been here before – and I acknowledge that my writing is much more for my benefit than for others – you’ll recognize that I write from the viewpoint of someone stuck in a strange world.  I practice the modern idolatry of belonging to a church.  Not just any church, mind you, but one mired in a mirage like “cult of personality”.  I say mirage like if only because on the inside that cult of personality cannot be seen for what it is.  Only upon waking up from our idolatry does any of this begin to make any sense.

Layers Upon Layers

It is as if the Lord is smiling down on us, amused at our ignorance.  Even when we think we’re on to something, it’s likely only another layer to a deeply philosophical paradigm which we scarcely begin to understand.  We’re too busy crying from the burning of our eyes as those layers get peeled back, and so we plod along in our ignorance until the Lord allows us to peel another layer back.  And so on.  And so on.  Little by little, clarity comes.

It is within that strange bemusing context that I write this, not really sure how it will turn out and fully acknowledging, at the outset, that this may be one terrible crash landing when it’s all said and done.

Ozzy Osbourne

My introduction with marijuana came sometime around my 17th or 18th year on this planet, or at least that’s the one time I remember it.  I grew up in a middle sized Midwestern town, not unlike most of them I’d surmise, where the height of excitement on a Friday or Saturday night was either hitting up the local main drag and cruising for girls, or hanging out at the bowling alley.  By the time I was a junior and senior in high school, the majority of my friends were drinking and smoking on a regular basis or at least on the weekends, and pretty heavily at that.

All the while, I stayed mostly aloof from their retreats to either the bottle or the smokestack, but was nevertheless cognizant of their weekend endeavors.  Though I never partook either one of those things during my high school years (or since for that matter), I was around it pretty regularly.  Regularly enough to acquaint myself with the smells of these intoxicating substances.

Those things, with my group of friends, were natural lead ins, I would guess, into this marijuana business.  Though I don’t specifically remember them experimenting with the holy herb, I’m fairly certain they did.  For that matter, most people in my high school probably did.  Later, during the summer between my junior and senior years, I thought it would be cool (don’t ask me why) to go to an Ozzy Osbourne concert, with Filter also there.  It was an outdoor concert where, I was certain, I could have a good time.  I’m largely blessed with a high degree of naiveté, never realizing the situations I find myself in until way after the fact.  Such was the case with Ozzy and Filter.  The first question that comes to mind is, “What in the heck was a teenager doing at an event attended mostly be middle-aged men and women, long since sober, revisiting their teenage years at the Ozzy concert?”  And that wouldn’t be the last question of that ilk, were one to psychoanalyze the situation to its profound, or not so, depths.  To each question, I would fail to have an adequate response.  Such is the nature of my naivete, or so I call it.

Those were some of my better days, I must admit – head banging to a mostly indecipherably man in his 90s, or what seemed like it in concert, was the supposed epitome of excitement.   My friend, who went with me, and I were likely the odd couple of the crowd – two mormon teenagers head banging to Ozzy, as we sported sleeveless t-shirts, in a crowd comprised almost entirely of men and women old enough to be our parents, if not worse.  And, to make matters worse, we paid to be there.

It was there, in the midst of all these middle aged men and women, that I had my first memory with the holy herb – at least the first one I can seem to recall clearly enough to describe here.  I must state that I didn’t smoke any, nor did my friend, but I distinctly remember that smell wafting up from a row or two in front of us.  To all who’ve either tried it, or have known someone who has tried it, or been around it, the smell is unique to the entire world and impossible to miss diagnose, or so I think.  I may be wrong on this front, given the paucity of my understanding on the subject.  This experience alone would lead me to believe I’d smelt it somewhere else previously, by my other gift (besides my naïveté), would be my ability to forget nearly everything that has happened in my life, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I have trouble remembering the first time I came across the holy herb.  Nevertheless, it was there amidst those who would counsel me on the dangers of such pastimes in any other situation, that I first remember smelling that sweet odor.

Maybe, in retrospect, the second hand smoke of the holy herb is what made the Ozzy concert more tolerable to both myself and everyone else in attendance, because I’m not sure how I made it through those shrill screams back then, but alas such is the joy of youth (and middle age for that matter).

What a Pervert!

From that time until now, a span of nearly 15 years or so, I can’t say I remember having that scent cross my olfactory senses but maybe one or two more times, if that.  It is simply something you don’t come across unless you run in certain groups, and I can’t say I run in those groups.  Like my previous encounter, I haven’t been found attending various outdoor concerts, or any concert for that matter in almost 10 years, so it may simply be that I’m limiting the circles of influence unwittingly.  Whatever the cause, it simply isn’t a smell that one encounters too frequently.

Then, a decision made over a few minutes of reflection once again thrust that sweet smelling herb into my mind.  A couple of weeks back I found myself getting ready to head out a long road trip.  Ever the one in need of intriguing books to keep me awake in the middle of the night as I drive across the wide open expanses of America, I turned to the local library to find a good audiobook or two.  Quite by chance, I picked a rather inauspicious book entitled, Botany of Desire, authored by Michael Pollan.  I’ve held some interest in gardening since my time in Vermont a few years back and noting that the book was about plants, a mild interest seemed to percolate within me.  Turning over the cover to the audiobook I found myself reading of the same interests – namely, plants, gardening and their effect in our world.  So, with some reluctance, I headed for the checkout.  I’m not entirely sure of the reluctance I felt in taking that copy to the checkout register, but there was some reluctance inside of me to even hold it in my hands.  Some may say it was the “good” spirit telling me to put it back, while others might suggest that it was the “bad” spirit trying to dissuade me from finding truth in the most unlikely of locations.  Only then did I realize a second reluctance – that of checking out a book with “desire” in the title.  A title which brought me a small degree of embarrassment as I approached the register.  Not entirely sure of the reasons, other than the dubious title, I sheepishly headed for the door all the while thinking that the young lady who had just looked at the title of the book in checking it out was probably thinking, “What a pervert!”

Perhaps not, but such were the games my mind was playing on me that day.  Not only was I questioning the selection of the book in the first place – not sure if it were going to be something I’d really find interesting listening at 3am in the middle of Nebraska – but I was also questioning the title and what others would think of me in having such a title in my hands.  Yes, I fight that idolatrous beast day in and day out, always conscious of others thoughts no matter how idolatrous those thoughts are.  Having the word of “desire” in any title brings up some rather interesting thoughts for a man, especially parading the book around in a library and making the conscious decision to check it out, but that’s a story for another day and another time.

Some 3,000 miles, and one full month, later, the book still sat unopened in my center console.  By this time, I had finished listening to no less than 6 audiobooks.   Only upon several reminders from my wife to return the book because it was long since overdue did I throw it in my CD player as I headed to Iowa to pick up an old military trailer.  I figured it was now or never, and mostly my reluctance to listen to it was suggesting never was the better option.

So, with no small amount of reluctance, I popped the first CD into my player, and the journey began.

The Good Stuff

I was more than reticent to actually listen to the book.  By the time the book was finished, it was more than 2 weeks overdue.  In reality, I only relented (to listen to it, that is) because I felt guilty about having it so long and not taking the time to listen to it.  So, on this short side trip to Iowa, I blithely slip into my seat and began the journey that may forever alter my existence here on earth.  Never one for hyperbole (ironic, isn’t it), this statement may indeed be true.

The book began with a long and interesting story on John Chapman, perhaps better known as Johnny Appleseed.  Then, this story was followed by an equally compelling story on the Tulip stock market which brought the Dutch economy to its knees in the 1700s (to say nothing of the nuances in all the Tulip varieties which were altogether over my head).  I learned that Johnny Appleseed wasn’t planting trees to give the local kids a good source of Christianity and apples with a healthy dose of Vitamin C.  No, he was planting trees to help establish solid orchards in the expanding frontier of the United States whereby the local purveyors of hard cider and apple jack might have an adequate supply stock.  So began the book.  Good, to be sure, but not the kind of stuff that keeps a man awake through the night.  By the time I had arrived at my destination in Iowa I had just come to the end of the discussion on Tulips and mankind’s desire for beauty (hence the cultivation of the tulip and entire economies devoted to futures contracts of a flower).

Then, finally, on my way back from Iowa the 3rd (of 4) chapter began to play through my speakers.  I wasn’t totally prepared for this chapter, though I knew the book was to speak on it.  That, I suppose, is also due to my forgetful nature.   This time, however, the discussion was neither on apples and Johnny Appleseed, nor on Tulips, but rather on intoxication.  Not intoxication in the form of inebriating beverages, but rather our human search for substances which alter the consciousness which rules our world, intoxication in the form of the great holy herb, or cannabis sativa.

The Gospel Gestapo

Being raised in a Mormon household, with an active, faithful Mormon lineage stretching back several generations, my thoughts are more than influenced through a paradigm heavily tilted to the side of Mormanity.  This is no different than any other person, in reality, as we’re all influenced through various paradigms our parents instill in us.  Like some sort of invisible surgery, our perceptions, realities and thought processes are almost invariably influenced by those entrusted to parent us.

Mostly, this comes out good, as is my case.  Though, in spite of the goodness, there is nevertheless a distinctly dogmatic paradigm through which Mormonism operates these days.  This is due to many factors, but mostly due to the desire to control and correlate the membership.  Any organization of any size instills a certain degree of correlation and control on its membership, and should be expected.  Such is the case today inside Mormonism.  More and more, members are encouraged to believe one set of principles, one set of ideas and one set of thoughts.  This creates the culture of conformity many see inside Mormonism, but also one of unanimity.

It is this box from which I am laboring to extricate myself these days.  Not that the box is inherently bad, but rather I find that the more I read and experience, the more I see a dogmatic box which serves as a limit and control on anyone inside of it.  All one has to do to see this control is walk into any Latter-day Saint meeting and suggest that we should trust our personal revelation, even when (especially when) it contradicts the hierarchy of leaders.  Members cling with increasing vigor to the “church” at the expense of everything else.  This appears to have been the result of the correlation of doctrine within the church, a misguided (if I may) approach to develop unity within the church.  Instead of striving to develop a unity of purpose, we see a striving to develop a unity of doctrine.

Back in the day there is ample evidence to suggest that the early saints were far less concerned about doctrinal differences then we are today.  The next time you bring up a doctrinal difference in your next church meeting, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see a mini-fight break up to quell the perceived rebellion.  Instead of championing the discussion and divergent ideas, the current status quo within the church champions uniformity of thought and belief.  Some view this as good.  Me?  Not so much.  This idea has only recently come to me, though it’s been something I’ve been trying to define in my own life.  I’ve been trying to recognize my role, today, with my varying thought processes when juxtaposed with the official party line.  Like the Greeks of old are fond of saying, the truth lies in the middle somewhere.  On the one end, we have the doctrinal police and the Gospel Gestapo.  On the other, we should have far more people actively reconciling their thoughts and beliefs with the divine.  Though truth is universal, it is also uniquely individual.

Wholesome Herbs

This all serves as a mere prelude – placed out of sequence – to my discussion on the Holy Herb.  The vast majority of Americans, I would surmise, serve as the Dogmatic Police with regards to the Holy Herb.  Inside the church, the Gospel Gestapo play a similar, albeit more authoritarian role.  In the world of religion, authoritarians often use the threat of salvation and damnation to corral rebels and squash dissent.  Such is the scene currently in play before our eyes.

Were I to mention, tomorrow in church, that I think we should all be partaking some Holy Herb on a regular basis, there’s no doubt I’d be reported to “higher” authorities, a misnomer if there ever were one, but that’s neither here nor there, at least not yet.  Nevertheless, that seems to be the view found in Pollan’s write-up on Cannibis, and who is to say he isn’t right.  I certainly was left a little dumbfounded listening to him discuss the natural history of the cannibis sativa plant, and mankind’s search for altered consciousness, but in a very good way.

The scriptures abound with references to God’s creations and suggest that man has dominion over them all, to do as he sees fit.  That’s not a recommendation to waste and pillage, but rather to use with prudence (see D&C 59:20).   The numerous creation accounts all reference the purposes for the myriad creations (see Genesis 1, Moses 2, Abraham 4, etc), but more specifically – especially as it relates to this write-up – the use of herbs.

Adam is told to eat “the herb of the field;” Moses is told to “eat every herb of the land;” Adam is told the “green herb have I given you for all things;” Job speaks longingly of herbs; the Psalms reference herbs as being “for the service of man;”  Isaiah speaks of herbs numerous times, even stating how bones “shall flourish like an herb;” the Book of Hebrews even suggests that the earth brings forth “herbs meet for them by whom [the earth] is dressed;” D&C 59 references how herbs are for our use; the Book of Moses states how “every herb” was created by the Lord, in the context of spiritual and natural creations; and, D&C 89 reminds us that “all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature and use of man … .”  These are some of the many references to “herbs” in scripture, and only give a glimpse of the possible meaning behind their numerous recommendations.

Indeed, the founding father’s, who the LDS church views as pious and saintly and virtually beyond reproach, were well acquainted with the “holy herb.”  Some of them had hemp plantations with thousands of acres of hemp.  Though I have found no hard evidence that they enjoyed the recreational uses of the “holy herb”, there are subtle indications that they were acquainted with its other uses (other then for cloth, rope, sails, paper, etc.).  In one instance, George Washington, as Harvey Wasserman wrote, “[Washington] regrets being late to separate his male hemp plants from his females. For a master farmer like George, there would be little reason to do this except to make the females ripe for smoking.”  The instance of the founding fathers is only to suggest that our modern interpretation of something being a “drug,” and it’s resulting effects on our spirituality, may be entirely misplaced and extremely misguided.

In fact, of note, is the idea that Wilford Woodruff once performed the temple work for the founding fathers and signers of the Declaration of Independence as these men “waited on [him] for two days and two nights.”  Some will be quick to point out that these ordinances have nothing to do with marijuana or this discussion – and they’d be right – but that’s not the point I’m getting at.  What I am suggesting is that our interpretation of good/bad may be entirely erroneous.  I’m persuaded, mostly, that many of the founding fathers – Washington, Jefferson, etc., – must have known of the recreational uses of the holy herb, being farmers and gardeners.  The advantages of the hemp/marijuana seed have been known through antiquity, going back thousands of years.  And yet, today, we believe (largely) that we’d be fit for hell (or worse) if we use the holy herb or partake of it, and it all largely has to do with public and governmental perception.   I really do doubt that there is any eternal punishment affixed to what plants we use/don’t use in our diets, especially after what I found in researching this issue a little further.  Mormons today believe that such an act as ingesting (in any form) such a drug is inherently wrong and evil, but only because it’s been classified as something by the government and society.  What’s interesting, in contrast, is that Mormons (up until the late 1800s) couldn’t have cared less about public perception or the way the government classified this or that.  Now, instead, we’ve been relegated to a group of people content on focus groups, questionnaires and polling to tell which way the wind is blowing.  Now, instead, we’ve become nothing short of “yes men” to those authorities.

Moving on with respect to this topic, and in context of this write-up, one simply must question whether something like the “Holy Herb” is an herb at all and not some noxious weed or thistle meant to torment man.  That is a most useful and pertinent question.

Definitions Defined

Some of you may be familiar, but most likely not, with the work being done over at The Chronicle Project where they are trying to get back to the heart of the Hebrew language as contained in the scriptures.  Hebrew, in their view, is a self-correcting system which we’ve managed to screw up over the years.  In our screwing up of the Hebrew language, we’ve lost – either on purpose or not – the original meaning of the scriptures.  It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that there are those who would “transfigure the word of God” to meet their belief systems.  Of note, Mormons are as guilty of “transfiguring” the word of God as they/we claim others are.  For an admirable article and write-up on this, go here.  After all, it surely must be easier to change a few words or definitions then it would be to change the way you live your life and what you believe.  Scriptures are funny that way, it seems.

In their “reworking” of the original verse of Genesis where the grasses and herbs are discussed, the original words appear to be, “Proceed new growth, the Earth.  New growth, young shoots, that to seed… .”  This would mean, in other words, that the original Hebrew was rendered, “grasses, and a number of other words, the word is a description of all fresh growth or herbage found in a pasture or wild field … .”  According to Strong’s Concordance, their take on the Hebrew derivation of “herb” is just that, “herb, herbage, grass, green plants.”  The word “wholesome” only occurs two times in both the Old and New Testaments, combined.  Each definition, according to Strong’s, suggests that which is “health, healing, cure.”

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary – a useful tool in trying to understand the wording used primarily around the time of the Restoration of the LDS church – describes “herb” as, “a plant or vegetable with a soft or succulent stalk or stem, which dies to the root every year, and is thus distinguished from a tree and a shrub, which have ligneous or hard woody stems.”  This same dictionary defines “wholesome” as, “tending to promote health; favoring health; salubrious; as wholesome air or diet; a wholesome climate.”

Taking some literary freedom – it is my write-up after all – I would assimilate those words as meaning:  “a plant or vegetable (which dies to the root every year) which promotes health.”  Wow.  That was complicated.  Therefore, according to D&C 89:10, “all wholesome herbs” are ordained of God for the “constitution, nature and use of man…”  Or, in other words, “all plants or vegetables which promote health are ordained of God for the constitution, nature and use of man.”

Benefits

From a scriptural standpoint, the Holy Herb only need be found “wholesome” to be ordained of God.  Simple enough, right?  Wrong.  At least in today’s bizarre world where bad is good and good is bad.  We’d rather ordain pesticide riddled crops or sugar laced drinks as “wholesome” than we would an herb which has attracted the ire of the drug war.  Rather than launch into a diatribe on the drug war we see bandied about in schools and publications across the nation, I think it best to focus on whether or not the “holy herb” can be deemed wholesome the way used back in 1828 and elsewhere.  And, for all intents and purposes, the answer appears to be a resounding yes.

Though I had to meander through the equivalent situation as checking out a book with “desire” in the title in order to find the benefits of the Holy Herb, I nevertheless found many.  Why, as I digress, should I feel ashamed to research a topic – in this case, the benefits of marijuana – in the comfort of my home, away from the peering eyes of anyone else?  It’s not as if I have to check a book out, or buy something in the store, and yet, for some reason, there’s a sense of uneasiness about merely researching a topic.  Odd as it may be, I think the answer is also found in my reluctance to pick the book off the shelf at the local library to begin with – that of deciding whether or not I was ready (or wanted) to see truth in an area of life I wasn’t thinking of.

In thus researching this topic, I have found more than a few benefits.  Below are merely a few of those suggested benefits:

  1. “When the system is hyper-aroused, as in today’s lifestyle, marijuana calms. The significance of this fact cannot be ignored. It explains the increased creativity reported as a part of the marijuana experience, because when both sides of brain processes are heightened, both types of brain activity are greater. The left brain notices more, while the right brain receives more. This is the unification of logic and intuition. The term “expansion of consciousness” is explained physiologically as a “shifting of brain emphasis from one-sidedness to balance” (Sugarmena and Tarter, 1978), which fits precisely with the feeling called “high.” (p. 35)
  2. “When we ingest marijuana, the heart swells through capillary enhancement and is fueled more by more fully oxygenated blood, while, at the same time, its contractions and expansions are greater, allowing for stronger pumping action to the rest of the body (p. 37)
  3. “The marijuana experience itself does not miraculously cure. Instead, it allows the body a respite from the tensions of imbalance, while exposing the mental confusion of the mind. The marijuana experience of balance becomes a learned and, over time, somewhat permanent response as the essential human tendency to homeostasis is reawakened and the natural healing process restored.” (p. 49)
  4. “In a Costa Rican study, it was found that chronic marijuana smokers who also smoked cigarettes were less likely to develop cancer than cigarette smokers who didn’t use marijuana. Since marijuana (smoking, as well as ingestion by other methods) dilates the alveoli, toxins are more easily eliminated with cannabis use regardless of its method of application. … As an aid for all psychosomatic disease, marijuana can benefit the participant, generally because of its health-restoring effects… The fear of marijuana… stems from its limitless potential for treating illness, in that both the pharmaceutical industry and the medical monopoly would lose billions of dollars if marijuana became the non-drug of choice.” (p. 61)
  5. “With the expansiveness that occurs with marijuana, the subject may begin to notice infinite possibilities to raise the quality of his/her life that would otherwise have remained hidden from normal, defensive consciousness. And feelings of health and happiness naturally lead to hope, which of itself can be curative.” (p. 49)
  6. “Marijuana can act as the loosening agent, so that whatever has been banned from consciousness may come cascading forth. To uncover our deceptions without our usual rationalizations can be unpleasant, an experience that has turned many psychologically fragile individuals away from marijuana despite its therapeutic catharsis.” (p. 50)
  7. “To ascend the ladder of consciousness, human beings need as much help as they can get. Levels of consciousness above concerns of personal survival and power are neither necessary for human life, nor visible from ordinary states. Because these higher degrees of awareness threaten the power structure, all paths to them are often outlawed. If we are not taught by some older, wiser person that deep and timeless perceptions really exist (or unless we ourselves fortuitously catch a glimpse of these subjective realities), we remain ignorant of their existence and are easily molded into the lower social goals of materialism, competition, and power. This less enlightened state is expressed by a constant gnawing dissatisfaction. It is the dimension of perennial desire. With each fulfillment of a goal /need / want, another void erupts. In Buddhism, it is the realm of nightmarish, insatiable hunger, which cannot be resolved unless or until the being attains to a less self-centered level. Deep within each of us, an essential need for a higher meaning of life waits to be awakened. Because of its ability to unlock this yearning and allow us a glimpse of the deeper reality, marijuana is feared by the establishment and loved by the user. (p. 66)”
  8. “Marijuana, by its effect on the Automatic Nervous System, enhances both sides of the brain. Through increased Sympathetic action, left brain perception is heightened, while, at the same time, right brain reception is enhanced. This is a physiological fact. More blood, and cleaner blood, is sent to the brain, as in the “fight or flight” reaction. And because of Parasympathetic dilation of capillaries, which signifies relaxation, the blood supply to the entire brain is increased. More blood means more oxygen and consequently clearer and broader thinking. Since marijuana works on both sides of the brain, the most noticeable effect, in our fast-paced mind set, is one of slowing down, which blends the thrusting competitive attitude with the contrasting viewpoint of nurturance to arrive at a more cooperative balance. This experience is, however, not innate to marijuana, but to the mental set of the subject. When we are mellow, tired, and relaxed, marijuana is energizing and affords alertness, determination, and even strength. This variation in the physiological effects has caused great confusion from an either/or framework. And the balancing nature of marijuana (both/and) has not been understood. It both stimulates and relaxes, simultaneously, which equates to an unpredictable variation in effect that is solely dependent on the state of its subject. When the system is sluggish, as with natives in warm climates (Africa, India, South America), marijuana has been used extensively and for centuries to energize it…” (Chopra and Chopra, p. 3)
  9. Marijuana is psychoactive because it stimulates certain brain receptors, but it does not produce toxins that kill them (like alcohol) … . There is no evidence that marijuana use causes brain damage. Studies performed on actual human populations will confirm these results, even for chronic marijuana users (up to 18 joints per day) after many years of use.  In fact, following the publication of two 1977 JAMA studies, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially announced its support for the decriminalization of marijuana.  … Marijuana has the effect of slightly increasing alpha-wave activity in your brain. Alpha waves are … associated with meditative and relaxed states, which are … often associated with human creativity.”
  10. “The term “drug” connotes the concentration of substance to its most powerful form, but marijuana is unprocessed, dried vegetation from a strong smelling annual herb called cannabis.  It maintains its natural complex chemistry of both active and inactive compounds rather than concentration of a single compound. …  The main problem with drugs is their danger, since all drugs are defined as poisonous, depending upon dose, which means overdose can cause death.  … Marijuana has no known level of toxicity.  The amount needed to produce a lethal reaction has been estimated at from eating five pounds at one time, to smoking 40,000 joints in one day, far beyond any physical possibility.  … It does not kill people in overdose or produce other symptoms of obvious toxicity.” (Joan Bello, The Benefits of Marijuana.  Pages 21-22.)

Carl Sagan, of all people, described some of the benefits in an essay he wrote under the presumed name of “Mr. X.”  Only after his death did Dr. Lester Grinspoon publish the piece and reveal the identity of the previously unknown author.  His account is as follows:

I can remember the night that I suddenly realized what it was like to be crazy, or nights when my feelings and perceptions were of a religious nature. I had a very accurate sense that these feelings and perceptions, written down casually, would not stand the usual critical scrutiny that is my stock in trade as a scientist. If I find in the morning a message from myself the night before informing me that there is a world around us which we barely sense, or that we can become one with the universe, or even that certain politicians are desperately frightened men, I may tend to disbelieve; but when I’m high I know about this disbelief. And so I have a tape in which I exhort myself to take such remarks seriously. I say ‘Listen closely, you sonofabitch of the morning! This stuff is real!’ I try to show that my mind is working clearly; I recall the name of a high school acquaintance I have not thought of in thirty years; I describe the color, typography, and format of a book in another room and these memories do pass critical scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that there are genuine and valid levels of perception available with cannabis … which are, through the defects of our society and our educational system, unavailable to us without such drugs. Such a remark applies not only to self-awareness and to intellectual pursuits, but also to perceptions of real people, a vastly enhanced sensitivity to facial expression, intonations, and choice of words which sometimes yields a rapport so close it’s as if two people are reading each other’s minds.

Like others, Sagan discusses that such highs are available through other means (Pollan suggests that such highs are also available through fasting and meditation, and elsewhere), but because of the “defects” of our society and educational system they become inactivated and much more difficult to attain through these other means.  In his book, Pollan discusses how the “natural history” of such mind altering plants to be the “gateway” to a higher consciousness and that many of the historical giants we view as “spiritual leaders” were not discussing mere imagination and visions, but rather the results of “highs.”  Whether this is true or not is left for the reader to decide and peruse in their own studies, but certainly the topic is compelling.

Perhaps, with the word of wisdom, the Lord was providing a simple method whereby we could elevate our consciousness in spite of the poor diet of the modern society and the defects in intellect which find root in our educational systems we are so quick to throw our kids into at the tender age of 4 or 5.  Perhaps, instead of being a drug from which we should run, it was meant to be a “wholesome herb” to which we should turn.

Though I may have lost some of you in all that talk, I feel it necessary to discuss these benefits.  What I see from the above information is the epitome of a “wholesome herb.”  There are, from what I could gather, a pile of other benefits.  Somehow – which is way beyond the scope of this article – we’ve come out with a misguided understanding of an herb which grows annually and which has numerous restorative and health-promoting qualities, the essence of what a “wholesome herb” is.

Dangers

I’d be mistaken not to discuss potential dangers when discussing such a topic, though I must confess that the “evidence” of alleged dangers was far from convincing.  Some sources suggest that marijuana is the “root of many mental disorders,” such as panic attacks, delusions, depersonalization, paranoia, etc., while others suggest it is a “gateway drug,” and responsible for “loss of motivation, increased heart rate and diminished inhibitions.”

If you know me, I’m generally disposed to believe alternative websites much more than “establishment” information channels.  So with that in mind, I went searching some of these alternative sites to see if they had anything good, or bad, to say about the Holy Herb.  Mercola.com was mostly against marijuana, at least in its smoked form, while Natural News had a number of favorable articles on the subject.

Of those articles favorable to the subject, NN made this keen insight:  “Transcending political controversy and stigma surrounding the subject, the second largest physician group in the country [American College of Physicians] has endorsed the use, reclassification, and further study of medicinal marijuana…”  Also in this article, it discusses one of the common “dangers” of the herb by stating:

To date, the most serious argument for potential damage done by cannabis is harm to the lungs caused by smoking. The paper notes that this problem has already been overcome by a technology known as vaporization, in which the active constituents are efficiently released into the lungs without burning the plant.

Another myth dispelled by the paper is that marijuana acts as a ‘gateway drug,’ leading to the use of more harmful substances. “Marijuana has not been proven to be the cause or even the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse. Opiates are highly addictive, yet medically effective … There is no evidence to suggest that medical use of opiates has increased perception that their illicit use is safe or acceptable,” the group [American College of Physicians] states.

The paper also cites significant evidence that cannabis relieves the nausea, vomiting and wasting that accompany cancer, AIDS and other diseases, while lessening the pain associated with multiple sclerosis and many other conditions.

The paper, as written by the American College of Physicians, can be found by clicking here.  Elsewhere in various pieces of literature, the supposed anxiety, paranoia and other effects of plants have been noted to be the result moreso of the set and setting related to the drug (i.e. the time, place and culture in which the marijuana is consumed; some have noted that the set and setting is more important than anything else.  For example, if one were to partake of marijuana in a context of fear of the authorities (i.e. getting caught), then the user is much more likely to experience anxiety and paranoia).  This is admirably discussed in Pollan’s book (see page 151-152 for a more in depth discussion).  This is no different than any spiritual encounter, if one could call a “high” a spiritual experience.  Set and setting are as important as anything else.

How Did [we] Get Here?


One of my absolute favorite songs happens to have had its birth in the 1980s.  Not one for 1980s music, mind you, this one song is the exception to that rule.  That song, entitled, Once in a Lifetime and performed by the Talking Heads (who were probably high on something during many of their recordings), contains some lyrics which epitomize not only this issue, but life in general.  Here are those lyrics:

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack,

You may find yourself in another part of the world,

You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile,

You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife,

You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

You may ask yourself, what is that beautiful house?

You may ask yourself, where does that highway lead?

You may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong?

You may say to yourself, my God, what have I done?

Those words come to me as I write this.  “My God, what have [we] done?”  The more I peel back the layers of this onion called life, the more I realize how deep the rabbit hole goes.  Yes, I just used two metaphors in the same sentence, and the meaning they provide is a propos.  Though I shouldn’t be surprised with what I find as God allows layers of the onion to be peeled back, the level of deception our world has reached is likely beyond compare.

I could choose (and probably should) to pontificate on the reasons why the rabbit hole is so deep and why there is deception at every turn of the road, but I think no reason is more clear than a simple scripture which is found in no other place than D&C 89.  That scripture reads, “In consequence of aevils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of bconspiring men in the last days, I have cwarned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation— …”

Some of you reading this may think I’m crazy for suggesting that the drug war on marijuana is thanks to conspiring men.  If so, so be it.  Here I have laid out what I believe to be a mere tip of an iceberg discussing the benefits of a “wholesome herb,” and yet arrests for marijuana – for the mere possession – represent the vast majority of drug related offenses.  According to some sources, between 30% and 40% of the nationwide prison population comprises people arrested for “victimless” crimes, such as possession of marijuana.  Regardless of the end result, one must wonder why this particular herb is the source of so much ire from the bureaucrats who have staked their careers on its criminalization.

Doctrinal Police


So, how would this information play out amongst the Gospel Gestapo?  Most likely, it’d be like mud wrestling a 500# alligator, or trying to outrun a hungry lion when you’re as slow as a sloth.  In an age where doctrinal differences are tantamount to apostasy, odds are the outlier will be rejected, and in record time.  Especially in this instance.  While we could debate the purpose or goals of correlation, the end result is a quashing of divergent ideas.  In today’s context, one can profess their belief that the “holy herb” qualifies as a “wholesome herb” and, as such, is ordained by God, but it could have interesting consequences.

Some authors have addressed this topic (not the “holy herb,” but rather the doctrinal police) in the conversation of movements versus institutions, or peoplehood versus religion, and quite convincingly I might add.  Interestingly, the internet has a divergent set of opinions on the issue, at least as it relates to medical marijuana within the Mormon community.  Many simply fall back on the “legality” or “illegality” issue – stating that if it’s illegal, then we follow what the government says.  While others fall back and merely rely on what the “brethren” say about the topic (thereby relying solely on the office as a means for the authority of the statement, and not the truthfulness of the statement itself), or what this or that Ensign article stated, and some used logic to prove/disprove the idea.  I’m more easily swayed by the latter types, as that seems to fit D&C 121’s call for “persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned…” as a way to work out differences, and not by “power” or “influence” (appealing to what the “Brethren” have stated), and as such would recommend you seek those sources out if interested in a further discussion.

As an interesting aside, James E. Talmage (of Jesus the Christ fame) once took Cannibis Sativa over a several week period as a way to test its effects on the human system (for scientific purposes).  Here is what he stated in his journal:

March 22. This being Saturday, was the day I selected to study practically the effects of Haschisch. This evening, after work and all was over, I took at 3 doses each an hour after the preceeding, 5 grains solid extract Cannabis Indica. At this writing—midnight—5 hours since last dose, I have experienced no effect whatever. The effect is said to be widely different in different people.

March 23. Sunday. Spent quietly. Have had no result to be noted of my physiological experiment yesterday ….

April 5 … Took in all 15 grains. No effects.

April 6. Sunday … Continued my experiment by taking 20 grains Cannabis Indica and the effect was felt in a not very agreeable way.

Try completing that experiment within the walls of your own home (interestingly, Talmage’s experiment would have included general conference weeked – April 5th and 6th) and you’ll be run out of town by everyone not named Batman Bin Suparman.  That’s simply the name of the game.  Regardless of what you believe, or the true interpretation of D&C 89 on the issue of the “holy herb,” it simply doesn’t matter.

Conclusion

All of this is merely a way of stating that (a) we should be enjoying the “wholesome herbs” God has given us and (b) Cannibis Sativa is a “wholesome herb.”

Now, whether or not I actually ever partake of any is another story entirely, but the knowledge is there and I shall see where it leads.  It sort of reminds me of the “mild drink” discussion and alcohol.  It’s too bad I loathe the taste of the stuff, otherwise I’d be glad to comply with the recommendations set forth on “mild drinks” in D&C 89.  For those interested in that aspect of D&C 89, you should read this wonderful entry on Pure Mormonism’s blog, entitled, Too Bad I Don’t Like Beer.  It does a far better job discussing the issue then I ever could hope to do.

To all who’ve read this far, congratulations.  I apologize for the layout of this post, but do encourage all reading to seek out two additional sources on the topic, as they have more information, detail and thought provoking material than I could ever hope to write here:

(1)    Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire

(2)    Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes:  The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannibis and the Conspiracy Against Marijuana

Perhaps a future article will delve into the conspiracy noted by Herer, as related to the “conspiring men” discussed previously from D&C 89.

Lastly, please do not take my word as anything from which you base your decision on this issue.  Make the decision consciously, but make it between yourself and your God.  Leave me out of the equation as all I do is muddy the view.