The Publicity Dilemma

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Mormonism is heading in a new direction.

In times past, Church leaders fought very hard to limit or stamp out completely any anti-Mormon pamphleteers near Temple Square.  Today they are donating millions of dollars to a new theater that will play The Book of Mormon musical, a production that mocks and scorns our faith.  It’s the worst kind of anti-Mormon material, laced with humor and all kinds of sacrilegious innuendo.  But, for reasons unknown to many faithful Saints, the Church has effectively now endorsed its existence in Salt Lake City.

What else will the new Eccles Theater play?  Kinky Boots, Dirty Dancing, and who knows, maybe eventually some adult cabaret, all brought to you “in part” by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Some will argue that the Church is making the best of what they call the the Publicity Dilemma?  Which for those of you who are familiar with media terms, it’s like the no news is bad news principle where some think that just being in the news is good.  And so rather than complain about bad publicity, why not seize the opportunity?  Following this line of thinking, perhaps we should put ads for the Word of Wisdom at bars and on beer bottles in Salt Lake City in addition to Book of Mormon ads in the Book of Mormon musical’s billfold.

Of course the Church, some will say, is just doing its part to show the world that Salt Lake City is sophisticated and open-minded in every way.  This effort seemed to really take shape during the Salt Lake Olympics, led of course by Mitt Romney, with a lot of say from the Church, where every effort was made to not come off as too churchy or religious.

Such an approach, some will argue, is evidence that the Church is trying very hard to attract high dollar converts.  Great skiing, a party atmosphere, $3M condos above the $5B City Creek Mall, a sleek and posh downtown, and cutting edge LGBT laws, all will bring to Salt Lake City and to the Church, affluent, intelligent, sensitive converts, who rather than being future Church welfare recipients, will be high dollar tithing donors.

In somewhat recent news, the Church allowed Mitt Romney to hurl insults and allegations at then presidential candidate Donald Trump.  Among other things, he called him a phony, a fraud, and a crook.  He even criticized his red hats.  All at the Hinckley Institute in the Church’s own backyard.  Yet there was no repudiation of his un-Christian remarks.  No threat to his membership for embarrassing the Church.  And worst of all, no apologies from Romney himself for his traitorous conduct.

Then the Church decided to vicariously support (through Romney – their political point man) Evan McMullin to be the General Election spoiler.  I can’t tell you how many Mormon friends of mine tweeted or Facebooked how “grateful they were to finally have a candidate they could vote for that did not offend their consciences.”  None of those people apparently cared that a vote for Evan, the 40 year-old-bachelor-spy who had never changed a diaper let alone balanced a serious budget, was a vote for Hillary Clinton.  Perhaps Mitt could help spoil the election with this clean and articulate nobody and come in on a white horse to be the ever so amazing alternative when Trump or Hillary did not secure the nomination.  Such poor judgment from those who claim discernment and inspiration.

Now, Mr. Trump shows incredible “grace” as he entertains the Traitor-in-Chief Mitt Romney as his Secretary of State.  As many watch Romney they are slow to disconnect him from his Church.  Here he comes off as self-motivated, fake, petty, shallow, and back stabbing.  Of course all Mormons are not like this, but anyone who has lived in Utah long enough knows there are far too many like Mitt here.  The very flawed Trump has a lot more integrity than Mitt in my book.

Of course the Church was also quick to change its tune and to congratulate Mr. Trump when he won the election.  And as for Romney, he is now like an interviewee for the new stake president position — all coifed and primped to make his best appearance.  How sad.  If Romney had an ounce of integrity, he would turn down an opportunity to serve with a man he so recently loathed so much.  I personally think Trump is playing Romney to show to what lengths he will grovel.  Sad that Romney’s zeal for the position does not allow him to see he is being made fun of.  But as they say, no news is bad news, and hence the dilemma.

The Church’s latest publicity efforts have been with refugees.  Who isn’t sympathetic after all to displaced Syrian and Middle Eastern families who are now homeless?  Anyone with a heart wants to help these people.  But the Church wants to be front and center in showing the world how Christian we are, despite the risks of Jihadists that may slip through the cracks.  I wonder if the Church would change its tune if it was BYU that just had a refugee drive his car into a crowd of students on its campus, stabbing 10 or so people before being shot dead by police.  It’s all about the Thanksgiving photo op with Mohamed and Fatima and their children in Salt Lake City.  After all, Elder Uchdorf was a refugee.  Maybe this too will help expand our base and improve our brand.

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The Church has clearly changed its stance on immigration in general.  Too many Hispanic illegals in Church office in the US apparently helped soften the Church’s stance on the rule of law.

I’ve been very clear that I do not like this new direction.  The promotion of smut and blasphemy in Salt Lake City, the Church building projects that promote fine twined linen and lust.  The hubris of Mitt (and the Church) of thinking for a second that their efforts would lead to undermining Trump.  Even Rock Watterman predicted Trump would win the election.   A strange irony since the Church excommunicated him for simply having a blog.  Rock, by the Church’s definition can’t have the Holy Ghost.  But Rock was right.  All while Cruz, Romney, Kasich, Lee and all the never Trumpers (i.e. nearly the entire government establishment) and the Church swore he could not and would not win.  The continued pandering to groups that hate the Church.  The ceaseless idolatry of its leaders, while kicking out those who challenge them.  The list goes on.

Perhaps, just perhaps, members will wake up and actually “sustain” these leaders before its too late.  They have been left too long to their own devices.  And now we witness the rapid decline that comes from their poor choices.  Decided by surveys and argument without the Holy Ghost as their guide.

If we really cared we would speak up.  We are too much like the Government Establishment.  The Church is losing touch with its base.  The sad difference is that many of the Church’s base have been lulled into blind obedience and into allowing all the thinking to be done at the top.

The Church restored through Joseph would have never allowed such unchecked control.  Remember, Joseph submitted himself to the Nauvoo High Council, not just to be nice, but because it was Church law that the local stake presidencies and high councils were equal in authority to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.  That little stake president and his tiny counselors and high council had the same power and authority as Thomas Monson and his leadership have today.

Could you imagine the ruckus today if a Stake President decided to hold a court on President Monson?  And yet that was how the Lord set up the Church through Joseph and even Joseph who was being charged with the ugly crime of adultery, humbly respected their authority.

According to Webster the word sustain means:

  1. to give support or relief to

  2. to supply with sustenance :  nourish, keep up, prolong.

In my view, Joseph sustained the Nauvoo Stake and the Nauvoo Stake sustained Joseph.  What we do today is not sustaining.  It does not nourish and make healthy.  What we do today is robotic blind obedience.  Idolatry.  The result?  The Book of Mormon musical in Salt Lake City.  The Church pushing illegal immigration (instead of honoring and obeying and sustaining the law) and LGBT laws.  Open and avowed homosexual Boy Scout leaders.  Evan McMullin.  Mitt Romney.  And Utah being called the scam capital of the World.  Among many other things we have become known for as Mormons.

As LDS we focus so much on the vain, the outward appearance — the Mitt Romney look.  And as Romney is now displaying, he is an empty suit with a lot of smooth things to say that today ring hallow.  This is our brand, all in the name of the publicity dilemma.

Political Irony

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Ironic as it may be, Bill Clinton introduced Huma Abedin to Anthony Weiner in 2007.  Huma first met the Clintons when she began working for Hillary in 1996 as a young intern.  Bill actually officiated at their marriage in 2010.

Like Bill, Anthony has a penchant for young women.  His lust and lack of fidelity to his wife cost him his Congressional seat in 2011 and made him a public disgrace, with an unfortunate name.  Of course nowadays that just means you run for office again, and so run again he did in 2013, this time for Mayor of New York.  But yet again a Weiner sex scandal ended his ambitions.

Like Hillary, Huma seemed rather unfazed by her husband’s sexual issues until only recently when his actions seemed to threaten Hillary’s campaign.  Huma then quickly filed for divorce.

Interestingly, Huma is a Muslim and Weiner is Jewish.

I used to work in Washington DC and spent some time on the Hill.  The rumor even back then was that Hillary was a lesbian and that’s why she didn’t care about Bill’s affairs, as long as he did not get caught.  They are said to have an open relationship and Hillary and Huma are believed by some to be lesbian lovers.

Who knows, but either way it’s sad that our politicians so often are so subnormal when it comes to healthy family relations.  And yet our kids are made to think that such infidelity and strange value systems are okay.  (I’m including all politicians in this statement).

Now, after yet another Weiner sex scandal, this time with an underage girl, the Feds have stumbled upon 650,000 emails on his and his wife’s computer, some of which or many of which, may have something to do with Hillary Clinton.

The lighthearted side of me can’t help but find it funny that a guy named Weiner may finally prove to be the downfall for the Clintons.  The name will serve as a great mnemonic device for kids studying US history for generations to come.

Let’s see if Americans and Utahns especially can now overcome their “consciences” by voting for the lesser of two evils, and the only candidate on the ballot that can keep the Clinton Crime Family from retaking office.

If Utah is the reason for Hillary’s victory, then the “Elders of Israel” will not only have NOT saved the Constitution “hanging by a thread” but will rather be the CAUSE for a Constitutional crisis.

For me, every election is about choosing the lesser of evils.  Not about choosing a prophet-in-chief.  Trump is of course no saint, but neither was Romney, or any other candidate to run for the office.

Some of us would rather soothe our consciences than make a decision between two less than ideal choices.  That’s understandable, but I think it’s short sighted.  One of them will win.  And if nothing else, one of them will choose Supreme Court Justices.

We live in this world and often must play with the cards we are given.  Even Mormon who vowed he would not lead his wicked people into battle repented of his oath and did what we must often all do — make the best of what we have until we have something better.

Hopefully the fight over the lesser of evils will not divide us as a people.  I respect those who may disagree with me and recognize that my logic may not be perfect.  But for me, one candidate on the ballot winning means more time for us to prepare.

The Worth of Souls

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Do you ever think about the worth of souls?  I mean the true worth of each person on earth, good or bad.  Member or non-member.  Church leader or apostate.  Everyone on earth is a person with feelings, hopes, desires, passions, and beliefs.  Every soul in this world experiences good and evil, virtue and vice, light and darkness, health and sickness, pleasure and pain.  And yet, Christ loved us each so very much and so unconditionally that He gave His own life as a ransom for us all.

Despite the differences we may have at times, I feel a profound love generally for my fellowman.  I especially feel a love and closeness to my own family.  Words simply cannot express the sacredness of those feelings.  I hope for yet greater love and understanding and light in my life.

I wish I had more faith.  I say this because I have a lot of fear still in my life.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  I live at times in fear of the future and what it may bring.  Of losing someone that I love.  Or worse, the fear of my own child or someone I love dearly, suffering, being brutally tortured, or dying in a horrific manner, and/or dying prematurely.

Do you ever look into the eyes of a child you love and just pray to God that they won’t ever be called to serve in a senseless war for example, on the front lines, to be lost on a cold beach, on a hot sandy desert, or in a fox hole or prison cell?  Alone and afraid and in awful pain?

Maybe I should never think of such things.  But such thoughts are a reminder of the faith that I still lack and the need and the dependence we each have upon our Lord.

When I read Nephi’s account that “I considered that mine afflictions were great above all, because of the destruction of my people, for I had beheld their fall” — I am often overcome with sadness.  Can you imagine Nephi seeing his family members, feeling a family connection, seeing his own grandchildren who look like him and his wife and siblings, and watching them being stabbed, smitten, cimitered, crushed, decapitated, vivisected, raped, beaten, eaten, burned, drowned, and brutalized in every way imaginable!

Or in the case of Enoch whose heart broke after the Lord “told Enoch all the doings of the children of men; wherefore Enoch knew, and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.”

Clearly this perspective must have deeply affected Nephi and Enoch and all others shown such things.  Perhaps even more so to think that these souls who endure human suffering might also endure an endless torment was what caused them to connect to God and get the power from heaven needed to make a difference.

Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

I seek faith.  I seek that anchor to my soul and that trust in the Lord that “their bounds are set” and that He is in charge!  What would it be like to live without fear!  To have such faith to face fire, the lions’ den, even death in its most horrific manner, with confidence, love, light, and courage!  Oh what glad tidings indeed if one can be redeemed and receive the Gifts of God, even Faith, Hope, and Charity!

Even then though, and perhaps more so, those who do acquire these gifts, still weep for mankind as do John the Beloved and the Three Nephites.  But I suppose and have hope that such groanings of the Spirit are swallowed up by the inexpressible joy spoken of in scripture.

God is good.  He is mighty.  He is kind.  He is in charge.  Despite my concerns about the direction of the Church, I feel in my heart to love its members without conditions.  Their souls too are precious.  They have feelings and righteous desires just as I do.  I pray for them and hope they too can find faith to live without fear.

Our connection to heaven and a promise from God that we are saved, is our only hope in this dark and dreary world.  May we all be so blessed is my humble prayer.

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.  And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.  And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!  Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.  And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!  And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

A Few Thoughts On Conference and Prophets

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I was able to watch or read most of Conference this past week.  I listened carefully hoping to be inspired by messages delivered by those we call prophets, seers, and revelators.

I thought some of the talks were okay.  It seemed as though there was an added emphasis on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith which for me is always a good thing.

Below are a few observations of things from Conference that did not overly inspire me.

  • Elder Ballard’s reference yet again to the Same Ol’ Ship Zion.  (He just seems to really cling to themes, i.e. Counseling With Your Counsels, Raising the Bar, and now Same Ol’ Ship.)
  • Elder Ballard promised “In the name of the Lord, that the God would never abandon His Church.”  Some may argue that this was a “powerful and bold witness” from a prophet, who needs to do nothing but speak the scripture that comes to him.  But some of us are left wondering then why the Savior would quote Isaiah and other prophets in making such proclamations.  Or why the D&C would say that if the Nauvoo Temple was not completed the Lord would reject us as a church, if in fact such a thing was impossible.  Brigham Young also made some pretty bold statements (most of which I don’t agree with btw) about the Lord rejecting the church and the priesthood for things we have now allowed, i.e. ending polygamy and giving priesthood to all worthy males.  Where are we promised that this church or any church can never fall?  In the Book of Mormon?  Just the opposite.  In the D&C?  Nope.  Maybe His Kingdom, which has never been of this world will never fall.  But not a church, even the very one Jesus restored.  Otherwise God would cease to be God for He would take away the agency of man.
  • I dislike it when the brethren endlessly quote each other.  Although I noticed that no one quoted the living prophet when discussing the Book of Mormon.  Instead a couple of different GA’s quoted Ezra Taft Benson, a dead prophet, likely because the living prophet has said very little of the Book of Mormon in his tenure.  But why does Elder Ashton need to quote Elder Christofferson for the most mundane of ideas?  For example: “this ‘power of godliness’ comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost.”  Why not quote Moroni?  Or the Savior?  It feels so unnecessary, idolatrous, and patronizing.  Jesus quoting Isaiah regarding the fulfillment of ancient prophecy shows much more humility and is very different than men quoting their colleagues higher in rank than themselves.
  • I did not like the part from Sister Reeve’s talk where she referenced a sister missionary from her and her husband’s mission who thought she could “circumvent the repentance process” and try her hardest to serve a valiant mission and then confess her sins a few days before leaving the mission field.  She said her confession “lacked Godly sorrow.”  First of all, why would the mission president’s wife know anything about a missionary’s confession given to her priesthood leader?  Is that information NOT meant to be kept confidential?  Secondly, how do you think this poor sister feels hearing this talk?  Is that how you help someone who is struggling?  Kick to the face.  How many missionaries just never confess their sins?  Especially since Elder Ballard raised the bar?  I can promise you that many missionaries lie to get out, lie to stay in and lie when they get married in the temple.  What if this sweet sister had confessed her sins to the Lord?  I assume she pleaded day and night with Him!  Dedicating her service to Him!  And what does she get when she confesses?  A mission president who breaks her confidence and blabbers her “lack of Godly sorrow” to his gossiping wife.  What if God actually does forgive sin without the need to confess to some dishonest priesthood holder and his wife?  I vote that the church edit her talk and fire the guy from the Correlation Department who was responsible for approving it.
  • Elder Christoffersen suggesting that God’s love is not unconditional.  What kind of message does that send?
  • Elder Holland’s talk calling out the home teachers who left when they saw the family was “busy.”  Why lead with a bad example of someone else, who is hopefully listening to your talk?  Isn’t that a little ruthless and unkind?  I prefer hearing someone tell of their own failure to prove their point.  While I was moved by his second story of the man who lost his child tragically, I did not love that Elder Holland made his talk about home teaching.  Why not just talk about loving our neighbor, period.  Did the Savior turn his parable of the Good Samaritan into a talk about home teaching or some other church program?  No, his talk, funny enough, was about how the non-member (the loathsome Samaritan) stopped when the two leaders from the Church (Priest = bishop, Levite = temple worker) did not.  They were apparently running late for home teaching or to their temple shift.  Maybe the real message from our Savior is to have compassion on ALL of God’s children and to make time to do what we can to help people especially in distress, WHO WE ARE NOT ASSIGNED TO, who we happen upon along our way.

I just have to add that the format and tradition of Conference is not one that I like.  Talks read from teleprompters practiced and rehearsed countless times, delivered by those whose hairs and clothing and makeup are all in perfect order.  The format seems to make people nervous.  One poor brother looked like he might die, seemingly paralyzed by complete stage fright.

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And yet, these men and women travel the world giving speeches and hopefully interesting messages to members everywhere.  But in Conference, I believe because of the rigid format they are required to follow, many of them freeze up and become boringly robotic.

I suppose the inspiration behind reading talks from a teleprompter, approved by Church curriculum is to make sure no one deviates from Church doctrine or says anything controversial that has to be changed and apologized for after the fact.  Of course some will also argue that General Authority talks are scripture and must be read as to not deviate from the revelation they have received and recorded.

Either way, I find the format stifling.  At least in the olden days when someone like Apostle Matthew Cowley would speak, no one was sure what interesting ideas might be shared.  He’s the one who was told as a new General Authority to never prepare a talk.  His talks often included firsthand accounts of incredible miracles he witnessed over his lifetime, especially with the Maori people in the many years he served in the South Pacific.

This idea of not writing and reading a talk seems to better conform to the commandment from the Savior to His disciples:

Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.  (D&C 84:85)

But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.  (Mark 13:11)

Joseph Smith as far as I know, did not prepare 20 minute long talks that he read word for word.  Joseph, like most prophets in scripture, spoke for hours at a time, with some notes I assume, but with an emphasis on the words given from the Holy Ghost in the very hour.  When Joseph spoke, even if at a funeral, he was expounding doctrine, and saying interesting and insightful things that challenged and inspired the saints, without any teleprompter or script.  I can’t imagine those talks were boring.  They certainly aren’t as I read and study them 190 years later.

Is anyone else not bored with the format of today’s Conferences?  I challenge you to be honest, at least with yourself.  I’m concerned we have created a culture of such fear of men that we are not honest with how we truly feel.  Don’t get me wrong, the messages are “nice” enough at times, but I ask in all sincerity, where is the power?  Where is the prophecy?  Where is the excitement?  We are living in the Last Days!  Where is the urgency to repent?  To prepare?  To be sanctified?  To be endowed with Priesthood power so as to survive the Burning that will come?

Do we as Latter-day Saints take the Savior’s charge to judge the fruits of those who call themselves prophets?  Honestly, do we?  Or are we too lulled and complacent to do so?  Too fearful that doing so puts us on the highroad of apostasy?

Below are some very interesting excerpts from Hugh Nibley from his The World and the Prophets.  As you read, I invite you to ask yourself if today’s LDS prophets pass the test of what a prophet will teach and if they are generally received by the world and the church as were true prophets of old.


In the dealings of men with each other, any assumption of infallibility or even superiority is sheer arrogance; we mortals are highly fallible.  For that very reason, Peter insists, it is all-important to prove that a prophet is a true prophet and not one of the swarming impostors.  We must, he says, “before all things try the faith of the prophet by every possible test.”  A prophet is no ordinary person; he makes no ordinary claim; and he does not ask people to believe him, but to test him.  God is no authoritarian: He asks no one to believe; but invites the world as the prophets do, “Prove me herewith.”

When the Lord was upon his earthly mission, he greatly angered and upset men by forcing them to decide whether he was a true prophet or not.  Early in his mission he was met by certain devils who begged him to leave them alone: “They cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?  Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?”  The devils could not ignore him; his mere presence was a “torment” to them.  And it was the same with men, for when the people of a nearby town heard what had happened, “behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts” (Matthew 8:29).  Apparently his presence made men uncomfortable as it did the devils, for while the Lord was in their midst, they could not be neutral regarding him.  Only after he had left the earth could Christians have an “open mind” regarding Christ’s mission.  Of such people he said through his prophet John, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).  The Lord insists that we make up our minds one way or another regarding his calling.

Before considering the test of a true prophet, we must make clear the fact that a prophet is a witness, not a reformer.  Criticism of the world is always implicit in a prophet’s message of repentance, but he is not sent for the purpose of criticizing the world.  Men know the world is wicked, and the wickedest ones often know it best.  To denounce human folly has been the avocation of teachers and philosophers in every age, and their reward, surprisingly enough, has not been death but usually a rather handsome fee.  The age of Christ, like the nineteenth century, was a remarkably tolerant one as far as ideas were concerned.  On the one hand we find quacks, impostors, and miracle mongers flourishing throughout the Roman empire; and on the other, traveling philosophers and high-powered professors indulging in the most unsparing and outspoken criticism of all established institutions, sacred and profane, while the world applauded.  It was not the Sermon on the Mount that drove men to crucify the Lord.  It was not for their moral tirades that the prophets of old and the Apostles were stoned.  In the age of Apollonius and Dio Chrysostom people liked nothing better than to sit in fashionable congregations while being scolded by picturesque crackpots.  No Christian writer ever made such devastating attacks on prevailing manners as the pagan satirists did; no Christian apologist ever debunked heathen religion as effectively as Cicero did—with perfect safety….

What, then, did Christ and the Apostles do and say that drove men into paroxysms of rage?  They performed tangible miracles such as could not be denied, and they reported what they had seen and heard.  That was all.  It was as witnesses endowed with power from on high that they earned the hatred of the world, of which John speaks so much: “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness” (John 3:11).

…To come down to modern times, why were people so furiously angry with Joseph Smith?  It was not for being a reformer or rebuking a naughty world.  In his day, the most popular preacher was the one who could denounce the manners of the times most fiercely and paint the most lurid picture of the wrath to come.  Nobody led militant campaigns against even the most rabid preachers of hell-fire or swore to drink their blood.  We have said that the world in which Jesus lived was full of quacks and and impostors who carried on unmolested.  So in the time of Joseph Smith, the country was full of strange separatist cults as the Mormons were falsely accused of, but no one thought it virtuous to burn their settlements or shoot them on sight.  In what did the modern prophets’ deadly offense consist?  In the summer of 1833 a much-publicized mass meeting was held in Missouri to protest the admission of Mormon immigrants into Jackson County, and this was the official objection: “The committee express fears that … they will soon have all the offices in the county in their hands; and that the lives and property of other citizens would be insecure, under the administration of men who are so ignorant and superstitious as to believe that they have been the subjects of miraculous and supernatural cures; hold converse with God and his angels, and possess and exercise the gifts of divination and unknown tongues.”

… Before we even consider the question of whether Joseph Smith was a true prophet or not, the uniqueness of his position deserves respectful attention.  Because, true or false, he was the first man since the days of the Apostles to claim the things that real prophets claim.  The modern prophets who excited the laughter and contempt of the world exactly as the ancient prophets shocked and amused the friends of Justin were the first men since ancient times to talk of what they had seen and heard in the presence of God and angels.  What could they expect but a prophet’s reward?


And so I ask you, as nice as Conference may have been, did any of those we call prophets speak with power and authority?  Did they speak of their visions or revelations from Angels or from God?  Did they speak in tongues or share their own prophesies?  Did they reach out to the throngs of people who stand when they enter and stand and wait when they depart, to heal the sick and afflicted?

I don’t ask these questions to be gratuitously critical.  I ask these questions because we are commanded by the Lord to prove and test those who call themselves prophets and who speak in His name.

I think it’s fair to say that today’s messages are much less hell-fire and damnation as perhaps they once were, as that has become perhaps politically incorrect or seen by the world as uneducated and unrefined.  Today’s messages are nice sermons which gently call for reform while encouraging virtues.  One could argue that the Savior did likewise on the Mount.

But, the Savior did not stop there, nor does any true prophet in the recorded history of the world.  They bare solemn and unmistakable witness of seeing Him and knowing Him, testifying to the world that He and His Angels have physically ministered to them.

And they performed open miracles for many if not all to see.  We will be judged on how we judge and discern these things.

Do We Still Believe Anything Joseph Taught?

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The Second Comforter

The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.

When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.

Note the 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 verses: [Quoted.]

Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions–Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.

Calling and Election

Now, there is some grand secret here, and keys to unlock the subject. Notwithstanding the apostle exhorts them to add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, etc., yet he exhorts them to make their calling and election sure. And though they had heard an audible voice from heaven bearing testimony that Jesus was the Son of God [Mt 17:5], yet he says we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place. Now, wherein could they have a more sure word of prophecy than to hear the voice of God saying, This is my beloved Son?

Now for the secret and grand key. Though they might hear the voice of God and know that Jesus was the Son of God, this would be no evidence that their calling and election was made sure, that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then, having this promised sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation. Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

Salvation through Knowledge

It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. President Smith then read the 2nd Epistle of Peter, 1st chapter, 16th to last verses, and dwelt upon the 19th verse with some remarks.

Add to you faith knowledge, etc. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  (TPJS)

Why are we so quick to assume that we are saved or will be saved merely because we have joined the Church, participated in ordinances, and are enduring to the end through home teaching, church service and temple work?

Why does the Church now openly condemn those who prefer Joseph’s admonitions over today’s Church leaders’?

Why would the Lord allow all the prophets of scripture including Joseph Smith to openly testify they have seen Angels and the Lord, only to then instruct all of Joseph’s successors to never testify of the same?

Is it possible today’s Church leaders have never entertained Angels or been in the Lord’s presence?  If they have not, what would this change?  If they have not, why would they lead people to believe they are special witnesses?  And have a “sure knowledge”?  Why would we still call them Prophets, Seers, and Revelators?

Is it possible that Joseph’s words below apply to our Church today?:

Compare this principle once with Christendom (the LDS Church)? at the present day, and where are they, with all their boasted religion, piety and sacredness while at the same time they are crying out against prophets, apostles, angels, revelations, prophesying and visions, etc. Why, they are just ripening for the damnation of hell. They will be damned, for they reject the most glorious principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and treat with disdain and trample under foot the key that unlocks the heavens and puts in our possession the glories of the celestial world. Yes, I say, such will be damned, with all their professed godliness. Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it. (TPJS)

Are we “crying out against prophets, apostles, angels, revelations, prophesying and visions, etc.”?  Is that what today’s leaders are doing when they warn us that making calling and election a focal point is a “tactic of the adversary?”  (Dallin Oaks)  Are they crying against Joseph Smith and his revelations?

Why do we assume that God is not just IF only a few are saved?

And it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he said unto his disciples: Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein, until the night cometh, wherein no man can work (3 Nephi 27:33).

Is it because we assume that God cannot damn most of His children and still be just, merciful, and loving?  Do we ignore the scriptures at our own peril?  Do we not understand eternity and eternal progression?

One of my dear friend’s keeps reminding me, “Joseph taught a fundamentally different gospel than the one we teach today.”  I think he’s right.

What Is Truth?

I recently watched the Passion of the Christ with my wife and older kids.  My wife and I had watched it before.  Anyone holding off on watching it because of its rating may want to reconsider.  It’s a very powerful movie, that for me, shows the toughness, love, determination, grit, and passion of our Lord that is so often not captured or expressed in media.

I wish we spoke more of this magnificent Man and of His sacrifice.  He is worthy of our worship and adulation.  Too vain are our meetings, too trite are the things we discuss and contemplate.  Endless genealogies and endless fables and all manner of false doctrine.  When possible, we should focus every talk, every lesson, every meeting, and every discussion upon Him and upon obtaining faith in Him.  I fall short of this ideal and pray for God’s mercy and help.

In the above clip (which I highly recommend you click on) is the following exchange between Pontius Pilate and his wife Claudia that although embellished, I think captures her likely perceptiveness to truth.  She was the one who had a dream that revealed Jesus’ innocence shortly before his trial (Matthew 27:19).

Pontius Pilate: What is truth, Claudia? Do you hear it, recognize it when it is spoken?
Claudia Procles: Yes, I do. Don’t you?
Pontius Pilate: How? Can you tell me?
Claudia Procles: If you will not hear the truth, no one can tell you.
Pontius Pilate: Truth… do you want to know what my truth is, Claudia? I’ve been putting down rebellions in this rotten outpost for eleven years. If I don’t condemn this man I know Caiphas will start a rebellion. If I do condemn him, then his followers may. Either way, there will be bloodshed. Caeser has warned me, Claudia. Warned me twice. He swore that the next time the blood would be mine. That is my truth!

I feel for Pilate and so many others whose “truth” is steeped in tradition or social and political pressure.  All of us can relate to that, can we not?  I cannot say that I would be any different than Pilate or than Thomas or Dieter, if I were in their seats.  They deserve our prayers and our compassion.  I admit that at times I’m frustrated or saddened by what I see and experience in the Church.  But, my anger is not directed towards them individually.  I know a couple of these men on a first name basis.  They have “their truth,” as we all do and have a lot of pressure to keep the peace in their outpost.

Amidst so much worldly pressure and so many distractions, how can we hear and know Truth?  And how can people share it (assuming they even have it) when the receiver’s mind and heart are often so incapable of recognizing it?

Young Joseph sought the truth.  He had become discouraged and possibly angered by the “lo here’s and lo there’s” of his day.  So many differing and contradicting voices even within his own family.  I’m sure he felt the pressure to join a Church, to be baptized, to comply with his societal norms.  There were several different religions being practiced in Joseph’s own family!  Somehow Joseph knew how to hear Truth, and among the various sects, he wasn’t getting the full Truth he sought.

I cannot tell you, whether my truth is truer than yours.  Or if you or I are able to hear truth or not.  But I can tell you what I believe is the process whereby we discern truth.  And I can tell you by what process I feel my heart is being changed.

I believe that God sends angels to certain men, women, and children (Alma 12:28,29).  They minister to them and prepare them for a great work (Moroni 7:22).  These chosen messengers have proven to be firm minded in every form of Godliness (Moroni 7:30).  They become trusted by God and become His friends (James 2:23).  They enter His presence and thus obtain a message from Heaven (D&C 84:23).  Their message from heaven shared by the power of the Holy Ghost with us non-servants, has the power to change our very hearts (2 Nephi 33:1).

The true messenger, even when it was the disguised Savior on the road to Emmaus, is always to be a question of faith.  And the burning of our hearts and its subsequent change of disposition away from evil is the only way we can know whether his message is from God or not.

I now see the Church and the gospel in a new light.  I have come to see things differently than I once had.  This new viewpoint has awakened me and startled me.  There have been times where I have been angry along the way.  Like many of you, my very identity has been entangled in a powerful and deeply rooted tradition.  To untangle it all and to consider so many new possibilities and truths is indeed a painful and humbling process akin to passing through a dark birth canal or the eye of a needle.

So to you my fellow truth seekers LDS, exLDS, nonLDS, and everyone somewhere in between, may we rejoice in our love of Christ and unite in our love of finding Truth.  May we each pray in humility to be led to the Truth, that we may be freed by Him of our darkness and sin.  I pray you will forgive me of my weaknesses.  I seek mercy for me and for all.  May God bless the men who lead this Church that they too may receive mercy and light.  That they may not be cast off for their false traditions, but that they and we may all learn to hear Truth.  May we remember as we challenge each others views and ideas that we are on the same team — we are all children of God, souls in need of light and love and truth.

For now, this is my truth.  God bless.

Profits, Sewers, and Elevators

elevators

Words matter.  When today’s 15 Apostles of the Church use words to describe themselves such as “true messengers, special witnesses, sure witnesses, certain witnesses, prophets, seers, revelators, and apostles” it becomes our sacred duty to determine if they are being misleading or telling the truth.  Especially given that we pay for undisclosed salaries and benefits packages and give them 1/10th of all we possess.  The duty to discern their words falls upon us members.

They call themselves prophets, seers, and revelators.  But whether they prophesy, see, or reveal remains to be seen.  In fact, the opposite appears to be true.

Did Brigham prophesy correctly when he said the Church would no longer be true if it abandoned polygamy or gave priesthood to the blacks?

Did Thomas receive a true revelation to not baptize children whose parents have made lifestyle choices we disagree with?

Did Gary receive a revelation to allow for gay leaders in Boy Scouts?

Did Spencer receive a revelation to give blacks the priesthood or was the Church worried it would lose its non-profit status with the IRS?

Where are the additional sections of the Doctrine and Covenants formalizing all the revelations they receive?  Where are the prophesies of these men we adulate?  Which of them possesses stones through which they see?  Why will none of them declare as do prophets of old that they have seen Him even on the right hand of God?  Why do they continue to speak in parables using vain and ambiguous language because some things are simply “too sacred” to share?

We have allowed time and tradition to warp and distort the true meaning of words.

I am curious by show of hands (comments) which of you who consider yourselves to be True Blue Mormons, believe that these men see God.  Or at least Angels.  I have heard the Brethren say that they are sure witnesses of Christ and that they know Him as well as the ancient Apostles.  What do you think these words mean?  Elder Anderson said at a funeral this last week that his witness was “certain.”  What does he mean by this?

Can we at least agree that some of these men lead us to believe, by their words, that they have seen Him?  That they converse with Him face to face?  And that it would be a grave and tragic issue, if in fact they have not?

I think there is no greater question that can be asked of these men than, “Have you or have you not seen the Lord?”  If you have not, then shame on you for leading us to believe that you have!  If you have, then where are your revelations?  Your expounding of scripture?  Your bold testimonies that carry to the hearts of the children of men?  Why do you take surveys when you have the keys to revelation?  Why are you using our sacred funds to build malls and cities rather than help the poor?

If we have 15 prophets among us, why have we not created Zion?  Where are the signs that follow after you?  Where are the tongues, the Angels, the miracles, the prophesies, the additional scriptures, or even the doctrinal dissertations?

I do not look forward to the teleprompter talks this next week, written by paid speech writers and assistants who worship them.  Parables of pickles and talks about following the Brethren even when they are wrong and of the Old Ship Zion.  Same old Ship, different day.  To me it has all become noise.  Words no longer have meaning.  And messages from these men do not have the power to change hearts.  They only seek to control and to keep others from entering in.

I invite you to contrast their words to the words of scripture.  If ye lack wisdom, ask God, not men.  Follow Christ, not the Brethren.  He is a real Man.  Sadly “they” are all effeminate impostors.  Might as well be Profits, Sewers, and Elevators, for they have corrupted the Holy Church of God, and their titles no longer mean anything.

God bless you as you seek Him, not them.

AB

Hanging By A Thread

Romney does it again

Well, I’m quite surprised to report that LDS Living has scooped every major news outlet in the country in having predicted months ago that Mitt Romney would eventually enter the 2016 presidential race.  All credit surely will be traced back to some obscure Relief Society Teacher, somewhere – or maybe to Mitt’s bishop.  All kidding aside, in case you’ve not heard, the latest news in this year’s election saga is that GOP billionaires and millionaires have recently met and raised $100M to stop Donald Trump and to stage a coup to make sure an establishment candidate wins the Republican nomination, no matter the cost.  They’ve told Marco Rubio that if he loses Florida, he’s OUT and Mitt Romney is coming IN to save the Republican Party.

This would indeed be historic!  I’m left wondering if Romney and the Church believe this is the “Save the Constitution moment.”  Part Deux of the Mormon Moment.  I’m inclined to think they believe that it is.  Don’t get me wrong, I too agree that our Constitution hangs by a thread and that our freedoms have been undermined by both parties as well as by corrupt lawyers and judges who have laid the foundation for our destruction.  But I think Mitt Romney entering this race against an unprecedented populist tide would be a potential disaster for the Church.

What Mitt and possibly the Church do not understand is that a large percentage of the American people are completely disillusioned with ALL POLITICIANS!  I.e. the Establishment.  They are tired of people like Orrin Hatch going to Washington young and full of promise and principles, only to become soul-less 80-year-old politicians who never retire and who have long forgotten their base.  Our trust in them has waned and/or is gone.  We have learned by sad experience that when a man gets a little power and authority as he supposes, he becomes a part of the establishment in Washington and is given a leadership position on some Congressional Committee… or something like that.

If Mitt enters the race, I think several things are likely to happen.  Americans are likely to further reject the Establishment and will bitterly oppose and resent Mitt the Mormon who thinks himself above the fray.  An unsullied savior to rescue us poor naves from ourselves, will be the perception.  He will force out Rubio and Cruz (maybe) and the others, all except for Trump.  Trump supporters will become more zealous in their anti-establishment push for a Trump-like figure to win.  Mitt will be seen as a self-righteous spoiler who is fighting against the voice of the people which is far less inspired by Trump, the person, than by Trump “the idea.”  This energetic mob-like force is more interested in throwing out the establishment bums, like Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, John McCain, and 535 or so others, give or take a few.

Mitt would also not have a chance of winning, in my opinion.  If 5 million voters stayed home when he ran the last time, 10 million more would stay home this time.  Romney could end up actually ruining the Republicans’ chance to regain the White House and he would be hated by 50% or more of America.  The same 50% the Church likes to target in their proselyting efforts. The name Romney will become a verb like “Borked” and the Church will wish he wasn’t their poster boy.  Oh and by the way, if you think Trump will pull any punches against Romney and his faith as he is attacked by Romney (happening as we speak), and that Romney will do better than 15 other opponents have done, then you underestimate Trump and the “mad as hell” supporters backing him.

The other likely outcome of Mitt entering the race is that Trump could decide to run as an independent which is more likely to end in a Ross Perot – Bob Dole outcome than in a victory for Trump or Romney.  Again, Romney and the Establishment will be more hated than ever before and in my view, the Constitution will hang by a thread more so than ever, with the Mormon Elders having done more damage than good.  Once again proving the Church’s political ineptitude (see Prop8, LGBT, immigration, Boy Scouts, etc).

In many ways the LDS Church Establishment and the current Political Establishment have the same problem.  They’ve lost the confidence of many of their constituents.  This has happened as a result of NOT listening to their base with whom they have lost touch and whose support they’ve taken for granted.  This is a big mistake and may prove to be devastating for both institutions.  Despite obvious institutional differences, neither can long survive without the vote of confidence from the people they are called or elected to serve.

For Republicans, they elected people they believed would overturn Obama Care, de-fund the CFPB and Planned Parenthood, and who would fight harder against abortion and same sex marriage.

For Church members, we have sustained Church leaders most believed would pull out of Boy Scouts if they allowed gay leaders; oppose LGBT legislation rather than enact it; oppose illegal immigration; protect, not punish children of same sex couples, etc…  The list goes on and on and on.

In short, this is the era of insurgency and the Church would do well to get back to its foundational roots.  Where votes mattered and where people were not thrown out for merely disagreeing with their leaders.  People of faith and people around the country are tired of being taken for granted.

This is not the year for a Mormon or for the Church to play politics.  Perhaps there should never be another year for them to do so.  Never that is, until men and women can again be trusted by God to do His will and to seek inspiration rather than adulation.  Such a trust only comes one way and from One Source.

In times past, both Church and State have enjoyed a bully pulpit and favorable rules that have allowed them to more easily control the people and the process.  They controlled the media and they controlled the historical narrative.  Today, with greater access to truth and information than ever before, people are waking up.  And they’re upset.  They want to throw away the so-called rules.  They want to send a message that they will not be overlooked – that WE have the power to destroy the craft by de-funding them and by voting them out of office even if it means leaving them to their own devices and voting with our feet.

Let me just add that this is not meant to become a political discussion of which candidate would be best or worst for our country.  Some of us may have our preferences.  I think most of us can simply agree that this is a year in which choosing the lesser of evils will never be such a difficult task AND that our political system becomes more fragile each and every day.  May we unite in the Doctrine of Christ and not be divided by the passion of this moment.

God bless and thank you by the way for your love and prayers.

Mormon Spotlight

MEMES_07A_inscription

Meme borrowed from Bare Record

There’s been a lot of Bloggernacle discussion of late about the Church’s “accidental” news re-release, that touts itself as “the gold standard” when it comes to how the Church handles sexual and child abuse cases.  Apparently the Church had already published this article in 2010 and then republished it again last week as a current news release.  The Church claims there was a “glitch” in their system and that it did not intend to re-publish the article.

Some are suspicious, however, that this release was no accident at all and that the Church has some news agenda it’s trying to push or a news story it wants to get ahead of.  Utah has the highest rate of child sex abuse in the nation after all, as one blogger reminded us this weekIn my experience with how the Church PR machine operates, I can almost guarantee the Church is feeling vulnerable on this issue and wants to paint a different picture to the world than the awful reality.

On one occasion years ago I spoke with a Church PR representative by phone at Church Headquarters.  I was working on a research paper and was very surprised when this brother stated that the Church often intentionally leaks news stories in order to provide context for a message it wants to get out.  The leak is made to seem to be a mistake.  The Church then conveniently responds to the leaked story with its canned message and/or simply relishes that it got its story out when it wanted to.  I don’t know if this is a common practice throughout the PR industry, but as a young grad student not living in Utah and not from Utah, my initial reaction was how dishonest this seemed and I was surprised that the Church would employ such underhanded tactics.  I thought my church would be straight-forward and without guile.

Perhaps the Church’s most recent leak or re-release, as it’s been called, was in hopes to get ahead of this very troubling story that just came out about emeritus GA, Elder Lynn A. Mickelsen.  The video below is about 14 minutes long and if nothing else it demonstrates the influence the Church has on Utah lawyers, judges, law enforcement and LDS clergy.  The story is unnervingly credible.  I highly recommend you take the time to watch it.

As a bishop, I saw firsthand how the Church actually handles child and sexual abuse.  I was required to call the LDS Hotline on several occasions.  In one such instance I was transferred directly to Kirton & McConkie, the law firm that represents the Church.  The advice I received was actually outstanding — aligning with doctrine and scripture.  I was shocked, however, when the counsel that I was given was not followed by the Church.  It quickly became obvious to me in this instance that the Church was only looking to avoid embarrassment and cared nothing about helping victims or reforming perpetrators.

These types of experiences have helped me trust less in the arm of the flesh and have caused me to turn towards God and His Son for comfort.  May good people everywhere stand as witnesses of Their Names, especially in defense of those too weak and tender to defend themselves.

Zion Postponed

city_of_zion_platThis last year has been a very difficult and yet enlightening one for me personally.  Most of you don’t know me and so I will spare you from much of the personal information.  But suffice it to say, this has been a year where I have learned much.  Like many in the world, I have seen sickness, death and destruction all around me.  I have looked into the skies at the signs that prophets foresaw millennia ago.  I have witnessed miracles and have seen love grow in some of my most important relationships.  I have experienced forgiveness in damaged or destroyed relationships and feel as though I’ve received added light.  And yet, I am reminded of what a fool I am.  So quick to anger, vanity, fear, retaliation, judgment, greed, and laziness.  The more I study and ponder, the more I recognize my awful state before God as well as the awful state of our church.

When I first began to allow myself to consider that the church might not be what I had always defended it to be, my world began to fall apart.  I was a bishop at the time.  To some I was the poster child of Mormonism.  Son of converts, valiant in my youth, from a large active family, son of a father who had many important church callings, of a mother known for her kindness and zeal; an eagle scout, returned missionary, temple married, BYU educated, a leader in the church at a young age.  I served in my first bishopric in my early twenties.  My second bishopric in my late twenties.  On the high council in my mid twenties.  I was interviewed as a potential stake president in my early forties and was told by the outgoing stake president that they almost selected me.

I share none of this to gloat or to brag.  I merely share it to demonstrate that when it came to commitment to the church, I was all in.  I loved the church with all my energy and served it and defended it for my entire life.

But, as I have noted here in this blog, there have been times along the way where my faith in the church has been challenged.  In times past, I most often erred on the side of defending the church and the brethren.  For much of my life, I had assumed the gospel and the church were mostly the same thing.   That began to change however, as I was met with further contradictions.  Separating the two became a required spiritual survival technique for me.

The last stand for me with the church was that I had held onto the Brethren being True Witnesses of Jesus Christ.  I believed they stood where I hoped to one day stand — even in His presence.  I believed in this doctrine since first gaining my testimony as a very young man.  In reality it was my testimony.   I read of Calling and Election Made Sure and I knew that this was man’s very purpose and I believed with all my heart that these particular men, the leaders of the church, HAD achieved this end!  After all, they had always reassured me that they “knew” Him and were special witnesses of Him.  Call me naive, but I believed them until only a few years ago.

Now, lest you think me apostate, let me remind my readers that I believe in God the Father, in His Son Jesus, in His servant Joseph and in the Restoration and in the Book of Mormon.  I am not a whacko.  I’m not a wannabe polygamist.  I consider myself a very normal “LDS” person.  BUT I do not and can no longer believe that the leaders of this church are anywhere near the equivalency of Joseph Smith.  To say so is to mock God!  Additionally, my spiritual journey has led me to believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in a state of apostasy and has been since the early days of the Church when its members refused to accept the fulness of the Gospel.  This is further evidenced by the fact that LDS prophets today do not prophesy!  They do not see!  They do not reveal!  Ironically, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men.  They worship Handbooks and consult the learned and rely upon their attorneys.  Their lips draw nigh unto Him, but their hearts are so far from Him!  They preach the precepts of men and lead souls to Hell, yea even the very elect.  Because they do not KNOW Him!  They cannot have the testimony of Jesus nor have they received the Gospel.  If they had, there would be an abundance of signs that follow after them.  They would be healing the sick, they would be obsessed with expounding Scripture especially Isaiah, they would be focused on the poor and in building up Zion.  When’s the last time you even heard an LDS prophet speak of building Zion?  Thus we are of Paul and of Thomas and of Gordon and even of Jesus, but we do not have His testimony before the Father and thus we are damned!

I read this week in the Joseph Smith Papers that in June 1834, Joseph announced that the Lord had revealed to him that the redemption of Zion was being postponed “for a little season” (page 44, JS Papers, Volume 1, Journals also see D&C 105).  The reason for this postponement, despite that Joseph had just rallied an armed expedition of righteous and zealous volunteers to “restore and redeem Zion” was because the church refused to live by the laws of the Celestial Kingdom AND because the “leading elders of the church were not yet endowed with power from on high.”

I ask you my friends, are we any closer to the establishment of Zion today?  Have our leaders now truly been endowed from on High?  More so than the original 12?  Have they been in His presence?  Can we trust them as true messengers?  Are we living by the law of the Celestial Kingdom?   Joseph once taught, “Without a Zion and a place of deliverance, we must fall, because the time is near when the sun will be darkened, the moon turn to blood, the stars fall from heaven and the earth reel to and fro.”  Have we fallen?  Will we fall?  Are the signs and prophesies being fulfilled while Zion is yet postponed?

Do you trust these men with your salvation?  I do not!  Do you trust them to save your children?  I DO NOT!  Do they teach the words of eternal life?  Or are they just nice, good men, trying to do the best they can with what they’ve been given?  How are you receiving their teachings!?  Very well?  If so, then you will be damned for they teach the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

We must needs repent and be born again before it is everlastingly too late.  We must awaken and learn to discern between true and false messengers or we will die when Christ comes AND shall never be a part of Zion.  If we remain lulled and contented by these current teachings we will never recognize true messengers when and if they ever come to us.

I no longer see things as I did as a child.  I now judge of their works and am no longer fooled.  I have been in their secrets councils.  I witness that they would rather cover up the truth than expose their own hypocrisy!  They make exceptions and play favorites.  The rules do not apply to their own!  I witness that they know not God and stand not in His presence.  I add my witness that only the broken hearted and the contrite in spirit will be filled with light and be saved in Zion.  I believe that a servant has come among us who has the words of eternal life, if we will be but humble enough to read, to learn, and to hear.