Posts Tagged ‘Nephi’


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.

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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:

=====

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.”


Awakening from Our Cocoon – Part II

This is the 2nd portion of the Awakening from Our Cocoon article I wrote a little while back.  In that article I discussed some possible interpretations that I’d give Isaiah, chapter 58.  Mostly, I felt that Isaiah 58 was talking about our emerging from a cocoon of shallow worship, self-serving thoughts, actions and an otherwise hollow existence.

Much could be written about our individual and collective shallowness as a church and as church members, given to platitudes and clichés about how special, chosen and peculiar we are, when all we are really trying to be is “mainstream.”  Much could be written about how ritualized our worship has become, how meaningless our fasts, prayers and service truly are.  We do things for the praise of men, highlighting how much we give (both at an individual and collective level) to the fast offering fund, to humanitarian assistance worldwide (both at an individual and collective level), how “our” church is the first on the ground when disaster strikes, and how “we will always strive to be the first on the scene of disasters.”[1] In other words, “All Is Well.”  The Deseret News even opened their Sunday paper, following this past Saturday’s general conference, with an all-too-humble headline that read and described the previous day’s talks as a mere “Tapestry of Wisdom: LDS officials offer Mormon Faithful Instruction and Encouragement.”  Really?  Apparently the addictions to sweetness are, and will always be, very, very tasty.

This article is neither to discuss this shallowness or our half-hearted attempts at self-salvation, as we misread and misunderstand Nephi’s words on grace.  Either you see the shallowness for what it is, or you see it for what it isn’t.  It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day if you can or cannot see it.  It is, after all, a very individual journey.

The Monarchs

With that in mind, as the title of this series of articles suggest, there is something I’d like to discuss in regards to cocoons.  My interest in cocoons is likely ephemeral, fleeting at best.  It began a couple of weeks back as I read a couple of interesting articles on Monarch butterflies and their migration patterns.  Many of these articles noted, and are still noting, some of the changes currently affecting the Monarch butterflies.  Extreme winter conditions are wreaking havoc on their migration to/from Mexico to other parts in North America (all the way up to Canada).  It is not my attempt to discuss the devastation they are currently experiencing, as apparently suffering is no respecter of creatures either, and mostly because I have no information I can offer towards that end.  If you have the patience, and can stomach my ineptness at synthesizing information, I think there is something we can learn from these butterflies.

Questions

In starting this discussion, I found enlightenment in reading a discussion on two central, and simple, questions:  (1) how long does a monarch live?, and (2) Why do monarchs migrate?  The answer to the first is much shorter than I thought.  The Monarchs typically live anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks.  The total lifecycle is between 6 to 8 weeks (from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly).  The details of the second question are much more interesting, at least to me.  Below we find a brief pattern we can relate to our spiritual predicament, in relation to the lifecycle of Monarch butterflies:

(1)    February/March:  hibernating Monarchs (in Mexico and southern California) reawaken, become active, find a mate, and begin their flight northward and lay their eggs.  Eventually they die.  These monarchs are what I call the “seeding” or “foundational” generation.  They have lived, in totality, 4 to 5 months through the long winter.  They awaken from the long winter and are the catalysts for a “new” society of Monarchs.  They give their all for the new generation.

(2)    March/April:  the 1st generation, the eggs of the “foundational” Monarchs, are born and continue the migration northward, away from the home of the “foundational” generation.  They migrate as far as they can, lay eggs, then die.

(3)    May/June:  the 2nd generation is born.  They continue the journey northward, getting as far as they can until they, too, lay eggs and die.  They continue the migration further northward.

(4)    July/August:  the 3rd generation is born.  They continue the journey northward, getting as far as they can until they, too, lay eggs and die.  Further still away from where the “foundational” generation started, and all other generations.

(5)    September/October:  the 4th generation is born.  Here is where the difference occurs.  This generation does not die in the same way the previous generations have – along the way of their migration northward.  They turn the migration pattern around and head south, for reasons wholly related to the changing seasons.  They live, in totality, for 6 to 8 months, migrating southward and returning to the place where the “foundational” generation commenced the journey, or near thereto.  They then hibernate through the winter and begin awakening and mating in March/April of the next spring, where they then lay their eggs.  Withered and tattered from their migration and hibernation, they finally die.  Theirs was the work of a restoration, only to have the migration pattern return the following spring.  [2]

Application

How does this apply to us, today?  Well, the application is likely going to be individual to everyone.  I will choose one such application, as I see it apply to us, in this the 4th generation.  How, you may ask, are we the 4th generation?  One article on Ancestry.com suggests generations can be measured in approximately 33 years for males, and 29 years for females.[3] This doesn’t really work for my 4th generational model, but let’s run with it. J  Using a slightly different model, if we run with strict generational lines (i.e. me, my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather) then you may see what I’m working towards

Paternal Line:

Me:  born in 1978

My father:  born in 1949

My grandfather:  born in 1917

My great-grandfather:  born in 1893

My great-great-grandfather:  born in 1864

Maternal Line:

Me:  born in 1978

My father:  born in 1949

My grandfather:  born in 1909

My great-grandfather:  born in 1873

My great-great-grandfather:  born in 1849

I struggle with the definition of a “generation,” but it would seem that this generational line method yields some favorable results.  What I mostly see, though, is that I, personally, am slightly removed from the fourth generation.  If we go all the way back to the restoration, in 1830, then I’m likely the 5th generation by the above lines.  If we go back to 1844, then I’m a lot closer to this integral 4th generation.  Not that I think there’s anything special in that, other than to note the wording the scriptures use to describe the 3rd and 4th generations – a lynchpin of sorts is how I would look at it.

The term “fourth generation” in the scriptures is often used in a negative sense, as in the fourth generation being when apostasy is running full speed ahead with no hope of turning it around absent divine intervention (and a new restoration).  The term “fourth generation” is mentioned twenty-one times throughout the scriptures.  Without exception, it is used either in connection with a warning or a blessing and is usually phrased in terms as follows:  “if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy arighteousness; and also thy children and thy children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.”[4] After the third and fourth generations’ pass, either the blessings or cursings end, but most definitely the cup is full of something.

These scriptures, coupled with the lessons of the Monarch butterfly, have led me to come up with a different view of the 4th Generation.  Most often, at least it has been my experience, the 4th generation is typically linked linguistically with negative connotations.  This view is largely supported by various scriptural examples, such as 4th Nephi’s account of a time and people where a peace and a Zion-like society reigned into the 4th generation.  The 4th generation was the turning point…some held on to the good, while some sought for an upper hand and re-introduced wickedness into the world.

Turning back to the scriptures, twenty one verses speak of the “third” and “fourth” generations.  Of these twenty one verses, seven speak positively of the fourth generation (i.e., blessings flowing to the 4th generation because of a righteous foundation) whereas fourteen verses speak negatively (i.e., cursings carrying forth through the fourth generation).  Even with these examples, very little of what is spoken of has to do with the 4th generation itself, but rather the 4th generation being the product of something.  The 4th generation, it would seem, is stuck knee deep in a position where change is either difficult, or nearly impossible – picture turning around a cruise ship with a row boat.  Those wanting to change the course they see the cruise ship on are merely kicking against unnecessary pricks.

Though the course may indeed need divine intervention in order to save it from imminent disaster, I wonder what of the row boats sitting in the sea?  Are they destined for the same imminent disaster?  Or, like the 4th generation of butterflies – the “remnant” generation – are they destined for a restoration of sorts?

Conclusion

What we have before us, then, is a real-life example of one a 4th generation taking the positive road, seeking to inject goodness back into the decay that highlights its past.  Looking back on 3+ generations of degenerate behavior, the 4th generation seeks to go back to its roots, to sacrifice everything it can to restore the foundational teachings of the foundational generation.  The question remains, are we, as a people, ready to do that?  Are we going to be the 4th generation which restores lost truths, or are we going to be the 4th generation which propels the degenerate behavior we witness in looking back over our brief history?

True, we may indeed be mere pilots of individual lifeboats in an ocean full of cruise ships heading for the same waterfall, but with lifeboats comes a small remnant which can change the course of history.  Even with all that being said, the very lifeboats seeking out a different destination, far away from the waterfall, even they are in need of divine intervention.  For, without divine intervention, are we not all cruise ships destined for a waterfall?

Will we, as Isaiah implores, rid ourselves of shallow worship, shallow service, shallow self-serving attitudes, or will we end the daily, ritual hypocrisy which currently defines us?  Will we “draw [out] our souls to the hungry,” those who need the light of a restorative generation?  Or, will we draw inward and continue the degenerate behavior?

As always…the application is individual.  Make it consciously.


[1] Monson, Thomas.  April 2010, LDS General Conference.  Opening Address.  04/03/2010.

[2] MonarchButterflyUSA.com.  http://www.monarchbutterflyusa.com/Cycle.htm.  Retrieved 04/06/2010.

[3] Devine, Don.  “How Long is a Generation?”  http://www.ancestry.com/learn/library/article.aspx?article=11152.  Retrieved 04/06/2010.

[4] See D&C 98:28,29,30,37, 46; among many others.


Draw Out Thy Soul to the Hungry

The last couple of weeks have been an interesting roller coaster, though it could probably be said that each and every week is a roller coaster here on the mother ship that is our Earth.  I am knee deep in starting up a business – which I’ll briefly touch on at some point in the future as it relates to the times and seasons we’re now approaching – and have been spending a fair amount of time noodling different ideas, iterations and options.  Sometimes I get to the point where I don’t really know what to address here on this blog.

This [blog] truly has been something which was created and started as a way to journal my life and thoughts for this year 2010, not knowing if I would/will go on with it after that point.  I have come to appreciate many blogs out there on the ephemeral internet we so much rely on in today’s society but they all, in one way or another, leave a noticeable void.  It has taken me a while to understand why and, even though I do not fully understand this void and what it means to me personally, I hope that mine leaves a void in your life as well.  Why this is so will be explained later on, but suffice it to say that everything you encounter in life, everything you experience, everything you do, should be seen as a mere stop along the road of life.  Nothing short of Christ and Zion should ever be seen as a destination.  Though it is true that there are plateaus along the way, the rest stops we see on virtually every interstate highway should be just that in our life…mere resting stops.  We all need them.  But we must all leave them, too.  They are never meant to be our end all or anything more than a night’s stay in some hotel room in the middle of this journey.  Therefore, no matter what you find here, rest assured that it will never save.  It will never exalt.

There is a reason why I lay this out.  That reason is a bit difficult to explain, but I will try.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve met some wonderful – new to me – people who are helping me along my journey to Christ.  They do not know that they are helping me, as I’ve never been one to express my gratitude in such evangelical terms.  I am the worse for it, but I do offer silent gratitude when in secret, which I hope eventually reaches that person, in some karmic way.

That being said, one of the greatest things I currently struggle with is the source of the truth I seek for.  As my blog states, and as some of you may have wondered, the “truthmarche” portion of this blog is so entitled as to call upon the French word for “marche” (I’m having a hard time with accents on this keyboard, so that should read “marsh-ay”).  A marche, for anyone familiar with other cultures, is a daily or weekly event much like a farmer’s market, though much larger and more popular.  Vendors come from all around, set up their booths, and customers come and pick through and over the things they want to find.  Truthmarch means, to me, a chance I have – personally – to come to the source of truth, find them, pick them up or out from the crap that surrounds it, and use it or apply it to my life.

This is a struggle at times because, as many of you may have noted, truth is all too often veiled in human understanding, relative meanings, or, worse, purposefully hidden from the world.  How this relates to some of those people I’ve recently met is that often, at this stage in life, how I find truth is predicated on a couple of things.  Most of the truth I find only comes after I ask for it…but rarely (not yet, at least) does it come in the form of direct content from Christ, the Father or any other divine being.  Usually, it’s through those that read this blog, friends I speak with, websites (blogs) I visit, books I read and so on.

I admittedly struggle with the reception of truth in this manner.  My struggle largely lies with trying to understand at what point am I relying on faith for the truth, and at what point am I relying on the books?  Is there a difference?  If I ask God for truth and God, in His ultimate wisdom, wants to give me the truth of such-and-such a thing, then how will He give it?  Will He give it to me in the form of revelation?  Will it happen in the form of something I stumble across – be it a book, website, blog, etc?  How do I differentiate between something that is from faith, and something that is from seek[ing] diligently?

The reason for these questions has only, once again, come to the forefront of my mind because of something one of these recent acquaintances stated.  Their statement was based on having God fill voids, fill our minds, fill our hearts, teach us, inspire us, etc., and refraining from seeking validation from others, other groups, other websites, other people.  So, in thinking on this person’s response, the questions I previously posed once again came to mind.

Where and how does God inspire and teach us?  This is no vain question…I really want to know.  I really want to know how to learn by faith.  What does it mean to learn by faith?  How does God fill my own voids as I seek to replace the cracked foundations of my childhood with stones hewn by Christ himself?

When I think of voids being filled, Nephi’s story is the one which typically comes to mind.  His father, in the opening chapters of 1 Nephi, relates a dream or vision he had on the subject of God’s love.  Nephi heard his father’s story, then turned to validation from God.  Laman and Lemuel heard the same story, but turned to Nephi for validation…and hardened their hearts.  This then leads to Nephi receiving instructions on how to build a ship…a boat built after the manner of the Lord (verse 8).

Though this is all well and good, what did Nephi do during the “many days” they were in the land of Bountiful?  Did those “many days” have anything to do with his ability to hear the voice of the Lord?  Even this line of thinking, in my view, is faulty.  These questions – and similar questions – are all built off the foundation of one person, one person acting for him or herself with disregard to others.  Is it fair to go down a route where we consider only what Nephi was doing for Nephi and in the best interests of Nephi?

I have a friend who was hit by a train.  Literally.  In the midst of that experience he passed away and died.  Some of the things he remembers from his visit to the other side was how he saw his young family – his wife and kids – and the suffering they would experience with him dying.  He remembers, then, being given the choice to remain there in the afterlife, where it was blissful behind compare, or coming back to earth.  He remembers seeing the agony – and feeling the agony – of his family at the almost-loss of their father and husband.  He chose to return to earth, knowing what he was giving up, because he couldn’t imagine putting his family through that, even though it would have been great for him to remain in the afterlife.  He chose to return to earth in order to help others…

How does this relate to this post?  My question is such that I often focus on what is best for me, making sure that I’m not trying to stoke my ego and do things for my own benefit, or, conversely, not do things because I perceive the doing of said things will stoke my ego.

In listening to a book recommended to me by one of these recent acquaintances, I learned something new.  In the closing chapters of A New Earth, he discusses enthusiasm and how it relates to our work and what we do.  He stated how we are not to go to work to seek to be rich, to seek to be popular, to be a famous actor or actress, to be a famous writer or other aspirations.  Rather, we set out to do work that inspires others.  Be it a waitress, garbage man, executive or whatever your passion in life, we do it to inspire others.  To bring them into a state of mindfulness where the present has real meaning.

That, to me, applies to this situation.  Regardless of everything I’ve touched on and written above, do we do things for selfish reasons – because it will or will not stoke my ego – or do we do things to inspire others?

Tolle states it as follows:

Enjoyment of what you are doing, combined with a goal or vision that you work toward, becomes enthusiasm. Even though you have a goal, what you are doing in the present moment needs to remain the focal point of your attention; otherwise, you fall out of alignment with universal purpose.

Make sure your vision or goal is not an inflated image of yourself and therefore a concealed form of ego, such as wanting to become a movie star, a famous writer, or a wealthy entrepreneur. Also make sure your goal is not focused on having this or that, such as a mansion by the sea, your own company, or ten million dollars in the bank. An enlarged image of yourself or a vision of yourself having this or that are all static goals and therefore don’t empower you. Instead, make sure your goals are dynamic, that is to say, point toward an activity that you are engaged in and through which you are connected to other human beings as well as to the whole.

Instead of seeing yourself as a famous actor or writer and so on, see yourself inspiring countless people with your work and enriching their lives. Feel how that activity enriches or deepens not only your life but that of countless others. Feel yourself being an opening through which energy flows from the unmanifested Source of all life through you for the benefit of all.

In closing, I think there are a couple of scriptures which, paired together, get to the point I’ve struggled to arrive at.  Wherever we’re at, whatever we’re doing, there are people who need inspiration, who need the light of Christ in their lives.  If we are to establish Zion, seeking after Zion in our solitary manner, then we’ll never get there.  Zion will only come as we create a unity of faith, as we uplift others and touch their hearts.

Philippians 1:27:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ … that ye astand fast in one spirit, with bone cmind dstriving together for the faith of the gospel;

D&C 108:7

…  astrengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.

And, lastly Isaiah 58:10-11:

10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the ahungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light brise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

11 And the Lord shall aguide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in bdrought, and cmake fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a dspring of water, whose waters fail not.

12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

I think this last one is especially beautiful.  It will play an integral role in my next post as well.  How often have I approached situations wondering only what I can get out of them, how the conversations effect me personally (both from how it will stoke my ego or give me some knowledge I needed), how often have I failed “draw out [my] soul” to the spiritually hungry because I was afraid to say something, because I didn’t want to join the conversation, because I was shy or too proud. How often have I been a coward, afraid of teaching by the Spirit and thereby chasing the Spirit away, drawing in my soul from those that were hungry or afflicted?

Returning to the picture I used with this post.  I took this picture in the middle of Death Valley just last weekend, a couple of miles west of Stovepipe Wells.  Several things about Death Valley impressed me.  The landscape was phenomenal.  From towering mountains, to a small oasis (Scotty’s Castle), to sand dunes, dry lake beds, canyons and such.  Amazing diversity.  What also was impressed upon my mind was the dryness of the area.  Water, it would seem, was nowhere to be found.  The recommendations to travel with plenty of water is very apropos.  But, in relation to this post, this flower stuck out to me.  Here is a small, seemingly insignificant flower flourishing in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.  Is it, too, like many of us, in need of someone to draw out their soul to it, to feed and water it with the Living Bread and Living Water, or at the very least point out where those living essentials can be found?  Only you know the answer to that question, as it’s intensely individual in it’s application.

May God grant us all the ability and Spirit to seek and establish Zion by drawing out our soul for those hungry and afflicted souls where we can, of whom I am one.