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Checking for the Countersign

Another little bit from my wife's GGGG Grandfather's journal. This one is fun:
A short distance from our camp stood a large tree. Here I was stationed with orders to let no one pass except he give the countersign. About 9 o'clock I heard two men approaching from toward camp. I knew by their voices it was our Prophet and his brother Hyrum. When they came in hearing distance, I hailed them, inquiring who they were. The answer was, "Friends." I bade them advance and give the countersign which they did over the muzzle of my rifle in true military style.

About two hours after this, I heard footsteps coming down the road. When in suitable distance, standing with my thumb on the cock of my rifle, muzzle of my rifle up, I called out, "Who comes there." All was silent; I stood there peering into the darkened road, expecting every instant to see the flare of some rifle. The sound began to move toward me. Then in a tone of authority, I ordered, "Halt!" Then I saw it was a cow. I stepped out of the road and let her pass without giving the countersign, thus giving the cow more leniency than I did the Prophet of God.

Danite Rites?

On the first Monday in August [1838] an election [at Gallatin] was held. It was the lawful right of the Mormons to vote, but the Missourians swore the Mormons should not vote, saying they had no more right to vote than a "nigger." This was trying to free born American citizens.

The ballot box was guarded but the brethren thought to claim our rights and maintain them, so they voted, walked up and offered their votes; a fight ensued and six or seven brethren cleared out all those who opposed them. Thus was the starting of the shedding of blood in the Mormon war of 1838.

About this time I was invited to unite with a society called the Danite society. It was gotten up for our personal defense, also for the protection of our families, property and religion. Signs and passwords were given by which members could know the other wherever they met, night or day. All members must mend difficulties if he had any with a member of the society, before he could be received.

This is the earliest dated reference I have seen to signs and passwords being in use in Mormonism, and predates the first Nauvoo Endowments by four years. This account comes from a Journal by my wife's Great Great Great Great Grandfather, Lumon Andros Shurtliff.


Michael Servetus

Some History from the Protestant Era:
"Whoever shall maintain that wrong is done to heretics and blasphemers in punishing them makes himself an accomplice in their crime and guilty as they are. There is no question here of man's authority; it is God who speaks, and clear it is what law he will have kept in the church, even to the end of the world. Wherefore does he demand of us a so extreme severity, if not to show us that due honor is not paid him, so long as we set not his service above every human consideration, so that we spare not kin, nor blood of any, and forget all humanity when the matter is to combat for His glory."
-John Calvin
On 24 October 1553, Michael Servetus was sentenced to death by burning for denying the Trinity and infant baptism. When Calvin requested that Servetus be executed by decapitation rather than fire, Farel, in a letter of September, chided him for undue leniency, and the Geneva Council refused his request.

On 27 October 1553 Servetus was burned at the stake just outside Geneva.

How true the saying is: They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me: they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.

Blessed be the memory of Michael Servetus and all the other good and faithful men who died at the hands of such a wicked generation.


Mortal Ministry of the Savior ...

After perusing The Mortal Ministry of the Savior as Understood by the Book of Mormon Prophets by Richard D. Draper at the suggestion of a reader here (going by the name of 'alma'), I feel impressed to say something about it.

Apologies to Richard Draper, but I don't think I've ever read a piece of work which denied or contradicted so many principles of the restored gospel in one fell swoop as this. Eternal Progression and any understanding of mans destiny seems to have been thrown out the window by Draper, who seems to have unclear goals in his essay. The absurd claim that Jesus "was neither man nor human but ever God" and that "He was different from all his mortal kin in that he was never man, and he was never human." introduces an ontological gap that elevates Jesus either above God himself, or casts him as some sort of a mule. I can't quite figure out which it is.

In attempting to harmonize what Draper seemed to consider obscure or easily misunderstood passages in the Book of Mormon, he appears to have spun an entirely new theology distant from anything present in Mormonism past or present, whether "orthodox" or not. This never becomes more clear than in his concluding paragraph:

The Book of Mormon witnesses that we worship a God who can be touched with both our strivings and failures, for he was indeed tried, tempted, and in this way filled with mercy and compassion. Though he was neither man nor human but ever God, he knew mortality and loved mortals, perfectly understanding them because of his experience.

Father in Heaven seems to have been forgotten in this scenario, and we have something left very similar to what one might find in a Protestant sermon. In contrast to this, I worship and serve God - meaning Heavenly Father. Anything short of this seems to be asking for trouble. Draper might try reading some of the amazingly clear passages in the Book of Mormon, instead of spinning theology from only the most obscure passages.

Do you agree? Disagree? Did you read the article in a different way than I did?

Thanksgiving update

I've read through Ether 3... Actually I had completed this far a while ago, and had forgot to post the update here.

I am amazed at the striking differences between Ether and the rest of the Book of Mormon. I think there may be room here to show evidence of either a Caananite or other Pre-Hebrew understanding of deity, but with some doses of Christian language thrown in as well.


Another reading update.

I've now read through Alma 13.

One comment: I must say that Abinadi's speech in Mosiah 15:1-5 is very odd, and seems to have very little or nothing to do with Mormon theology, unless the words are all redefined such that "Well, he said that but by using that phrase he really meant this." It sounds a bit like a description of modalism, though not sequential modalism. It is fascinating to me that modalism would have even been a concept at all in the B.C. years, let alone prevalent enough to have infiltrated the teachings given to believers of that time.


Reading update.

I've now read thru Mosiah 1.



Hello. If you've been reading my blog up until now, I apologize for it being down. If you were looking for something specific, you can email me and I'll send you the old information, or you can look it up somewhere else (like


1 Nephi 17 - 22

I continued reading through the end of 1 Nephi.

I've been thinking about inspired work and foundations suitable for a testimony. The thought has occurred to me that books and other works can be inspired without being true. For example: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

They can touch you and teach true principles and yet be fiction. I wonder about how The Book of Mormon can be considered distinct from this.

While studying, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps Joseph had the visions, the visitations, everything as he said and but was unable to translate the curious characters on the Golden Plates, desparately looking to his trusty seer stone to try to gain contact again with those heavenly forces that had started him on his mission. Knowing a little about the Nephite culture from his visitation by Moroni (or was it Nephi? - this has been a historical question as well since the story was told both ways), he attempted to produce the translation, but didn't even refer to the plates during the process -- all the while praying for revelation to guide him as it had done in the beginning. What if the Golden Plates never were translated, but an original inspired book was brought forth instead? This would account for Joseph's readiness to revise it and correct doctrine in it in subsequent years, and his tendency to disregard many of its clear teachings (on the monotheism, the trinity and polygamy for example) in later work. Had he known it was lacking he would be eager to correct its shortcomings, otherwise it seems he would have let it stand. I read somewhere a sentiment that suggested that Oliver Cowdery believed in the Golden Plates but had also indicated that they were never translated, nor ever intended to be. Please understand, this is all a "What if?" consideration.

If this were true, it would not invalidate Joseph Smith's mission. The keystone of our religion is a Masonic term the full meaning of which evades the understanding of the modern reader of the Book.

So, I have a lot of questions.


Trademark on "Mormon" ???

Although the Church thinks it has a trademark on the word Mormon, according to the "Rights and Use Information" posted on their own website and several other of their sites, it in fact does not, as a search of the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals that it was abandoned on May 2, 2006, after only being attempted from Sept 5, 2002.

Seems like an unfeasable thing to have a trademark on, since it is such a common term describing the whole religious movement, several branches, and is the name of an ancient Prophet.

1 Nephi 7 - 16

I have continued reading in the Book of Mormon. For personal reasons I am now only sharing a SMALL part of my feelings and, for the time being, keeping the rest of my feelings on these chapters to myself, lest they should be mocked and turned against me.

1 Nephi 10:4 is an interesting prophecy.
1 Nephi 11:11 is one of the most clear visions of the Spirit of the Lord - seen in the form of a man.
1 Nephi 11:36 has some interesting connotations after 9-11. Good thing this isn't an Islamic holy book.
1 Nephi 14:7 - Wow, what an extent of agency is given.

1 Nephi 15:8-11 - Good technique to obtain proper interpretation of prophecies and scriptures.

1 Nephi 15:23-24 What an amazing promise. This is entirely contrary to the instructions my local leaders have given me, but I forgive them for their overlooking these important principles.

I notice that in the first fifteen chapters of the Book of Mormon, it has testified specifically of the importance of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, Isaiah, The Gospels and Epistles in the New Testament, and the Book of Revelation.

1 Nephi 16:2b-3 .... wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center. And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.

I've now read 36 pages, and there are 495 pages left to go.


Speaking of Copyright Violations...

Saint Mina C.O.C. - Holmdel, N.J.

Holy Cow! Compare to

They did a good job removing Jesus ( ??? ) and the Welcome Message from the header.


The First Book of Nephi, Chapter 1 - 6

I'm trying to do this with real intent, so I have to figure out what that intent is. I am being told that I am in doctrinal error, that I have been led down a path by the adversary that is not of God, and that I need to be led back into the truth. I therefore see part of my intent is to obtain correct principles from the Book of Mormon. In addition to obtaining principles from the text, I also need to figure out what God is trying to tell me with it on a personal level.

I'm going to type as I go along, so I'll have useful thoughts scattered throughout summary information. This will help me later to see what I've done in my reading and to keep track of location without getting too preoccupied with verse numbers.

The first thing I see right from the beginning is that Nephi is an ordinary guy. He has good parents, and has been taught by his father, he's also been through afflicition. He's decided to make a record of his proceedings. He doesn't at this point seem to be aware of his calling as a Prophet. But like Modern prophets, his Journals seem to have been grafted into the pseudo-canon of his time, once he did receive the calling.

Nephi says he's had a great knowledge of the Goodness and the Mysteries of God. I can relate to this in a big way, except that since my parents were not taught in the ways of God, I gained my experience of these things by way of good examples and many fortunate circumstances into which I have been placed throughout life, by the grace of God. My parents are "goodly" people, even if they didn't possess this knowledge to pass down to me.

I wonder about Nephi's specific meaning when he says "I know that the record which I make is true," and he makes it according to his knowledge... I wonder if this should be taken to means that it is a truthful account of the knowledge he has. Of course, it is certainly true on other levels as well.

Prophets preached repentance to the people, with warning that the great city Jerusalem would be destroyed. I'm an individual, not a city, so I need to be penitent myself, but I wonder about the city.

Lehi prayed with all his heart to the Lord. I don't know who the Lord is, but I am sure if he prayed with all his heart, that his prayer got to the right place.

Verses 6-7 show a pillar of fire and sights and sounds... I don't know if they are from God. The book doesn't say they are... but a subsequent struggle had by Lehi. If it was Of God, then I've felt those types of struggles too. Sometimes the Spirit can tell you something that is life changing. On the other hand, this could be Lehi's equivalent of a "bands of darkness" experience like Joseph Smith encountered in his First Vision. After casting himself on his bed, he was carried away in vision. So he's having a prophetic dream here.

The vision is of One being and twelve others following him. They are bright, and I suppose this is a vision of Christ and his Apostles (of some era or place) Either the first apostle, or Christ (not sure which) gave Lehi a book to read.

Lehi read the book and was filled with the Spirit. He read about the falling of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity. (I just saw a neat portrayal of the babylonian invasion and captivity a couple weeks ago in the Royal Arch Degree, so this is sort of visual for me.)

Lehi shouts praises to Lord God Almighty.

Nephi says he's going to abridge the record and not write everything that his father did.

In verse 19 we find out that Lehi found prophecies of Messiah, who was to come. The Jews cast him out and were angry with him. It is noted that this is a pattern for prophets ("even as with the prophet of old"). To me, this is a reminder not to reject those who prophesy in my day, or any prior day; to not repeat the mistakes of these early peoples.

Chapter 2

The Lord commanded Lehi to depart out of his homeland into the wilderness. He took nothing with him except "his family, and provisions, and tents." I can't help but wonder when a similar departing out is appropriate for people like myself. If God instructs one in a vision, I suppose.

In verse 7 Lehi builds an Altar of stones. This is always a meaningful event to me, as a Mormon as well as in the sense of old Masonic tradition (It being in similitude of the act that Father Adam Himself - whom I consider to be the First Stone-Mason, once performed.) I've built an altar, too. He made an offering and gave thanks. I try to do this on a regular basis, in a symbolic sense.

Lehi speaks a bit concerning Laman and Lemuel, and they murmer against their father. They repeated the mistake of the Jews at Jerusalem again (and so soon after) ...

Nephi (v16) has great desires to know the mysteries of God, and he prays to the Lord and is visited, his heart is softened and he does not rebel like his brothers did.

My desire is the same.

Nephi in v17 speaks to Sam and tells him what the Lord had manifested by the Spirit, and Sam believed. This is neat, because Nephi (an ordinary guy) shares the light he has received with Sam, who I presume gains a testimony of it and embraces it. Thus, Nephi engages both in receiving edification from his father and the prophets, as well as in edification of his brethren. Two things that I can relate to because I enjoy doing them.

He preached to Laman and Lemuel as well, but they didn't listen. The Lord (whoever that is) continues to speak to Nephi and direct him. This is good.

Although I don't (or haven't as yet, at least) have visions and hear voices of God, I do feel that I get blessed with knowledge and insight at some times to guide me. When I am obedient to these things, the Spirit proceeds to bless me with more of it. To me this obedience pattern is important. If you start to disobey things, pretty soon the Spirit will be withdrawn from you and stop giving insights (or it might be you that withdraws from the Spirit).

Nephi is given some information about his fore-ordained future.

Chapter 3

Now Lehi tells Nephi that he has been told to return to Jerusalem. Now Nephi does the hard thing. He essentially commits murder under the Lord's (whoever that is?) direction. This passage originally gave me no trouble. It still doesn't. I can relate to it. I have often been prompted to do the "hard thing" that others may perceive as wrong, but when you know for sure it is of God and you do it, you are blessed for it. But I have a friend who was eagerly baptized (prematurely) by some LDS missionaries and ended up dropping away from the Church mainly because of this one passage. It's not her fault, the missionaries pushed her and set a baptism date before she even assented to it -- they printed a program up ahead of time to persuade her into continuing. She joined because she thought they were well intentioned young men and she had a testimony of the principle of Baptism. She didn't have a testimony of this particular Church. Oops.

In connection with the authenticity of this book, my testimony is increased by the presence of this story. It is something that human beings would quickly edit out if they were trying to make a book of faith promoting experiences. I think it would get edited out in today's world, certainly. I hope people besides me have taken pause at this passage and deeply considered its moral implications, because breezing right past it would be a big warning sign to me about the person who was able to do so.

After this, Nephi proceeds to steal - seeming to break a second commandment in this task. I'm actually starting to wonder about this whole endeavor. I wonder if there was a more peaceful way it could've been handled. Nephi has crossed over some lines from which a human being can never return, taking the blood of another human is a serious thing, whether it is necessary or not.

Zoram makes an oath to stay with Nephi and company from that point on.

Chapter 5

Nephi has obtained the Torah (five books of Moses). To me this is a testament of the value of those five books. What an effort and what terrible means had to be taken in order to get those books. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers.

There was also a genealogy, showing that Lehi was a descendant of Joseph, who was sold into egypt.

Lehi proceeds to speak of the importance of the Torah... They are said to be "of great worth unto us."

Chapter 6

Nephi skips the genealogy. Probably wise for space but also unfortunate in a way, it would have been nice to see. Nephi here speaks HIS intent...

"that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved."

Wow, I wonder who these three Gods are? Just kidding. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has been a big area of my study, so it is interesting to see Nephi put such a precendence on this - of course he was a Jew, so that makes sense.

In verse 6, Nephi prohibits those who come after him from including anything like the Book of Numbers on his plates ;-)

Chapter 7

They go and get the Ishmaelites so that they can have plenty of women for a sustainable society.

Verse 14 feels like my situation.

"For behold, the Spirit of the Lord ceaseth soon to strive with them; for behold, they have rejected the prophets, and Jeremiah they have cast into prison. And they have sought to take away the life of my father, insomuch that they have driven him out of the land."

Well, they returned to the tent. I see Lehi's vision is about to come up, but its time for me to head off to sleep. We're taking a hike tomorrow at the Middle Sister (Central Oregon Cascades). It's a long hike and we're way out of shape, so I fear we might die tomorrow, plus we're taking off at an ungodly hour in the early morning.

In conclusion on a spiritual side though, I don't know what to trust any more. I know the men at the council tonight were very wrong about their accusation that "the promptings of the adversary" are what was guiding me. They don't know my heart. They don't know what I've been through. I've been doing what God has intended for me to be doing. This is about the sixth time someone has told me I follow some "other Spirit." But it's the same Spirit that converted me to the Church. And it makes me saddened that these people (and not just these, but those who have told me this before, numerous times) are so mixed in their understanding of me. I must have a very elusive persona to get a grasp on. I think politics and culture are often confused with Spirit. I believe they feel the Spirit, and I know I've shared in that Spirit with them and others. They have even acknowledged places where I have been spiritual, yet they insult the Spirit that I feel. I haven't felt any other Spirit or any other God. God has been God and the Spirit has been the Spirit since day one. And if they ever expect me to come back into full fellowship in their ward, they will need to accept me for who I am, and acknowledge that they were wrong in this accusation, because I certainly have never felt any other Holy Spirit besides the one they claim is the adversary. I hope they are reading their own suggestions and their own words (practicing what they preach) when they talk about pride and humility.

I am at least humble enough to read the book they ask me, and to start when they ask me to. I asked them to read the testimony of Jesus given in the Gospel of Matthew and they declined. Although pride tempted me, I overcame it. I could have easily said "If you are trying to get the Spirit of the Lord into me by having me read the Book of Mormon, then there's no need to do that, because I've already invited it in." (Which is essentially what I was told about Matthew.) However, they did not reject reading it, they just procrastinated it to a later time. I hope they are blessed as they read the words of the Savior in that book.

Well, here I end on page 14, 517 pages left to go.

Psalm 110 and Disciplinary Result

The chapter heading for Psalm 110 in the LDS edition of the Bible reads: "A Messianic Psalm of David—Christ shall sit on the Lord’s right hand—He shall be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."

Read verses 1 and 4 (or the whole thing) here. Who is LORD? Who is Lord?

Half way through writing this, I left the house. I'm back now, so there's a total change of topic here:

I just got back from my disciplinary council. I'm on formal probation. I'm going to be reading the Book of Mormon as an assignment, hard copy, and blog about what I read, within the scope of these three questions.

1- Am I reading with real intent?
2- Likening it unto myself, not anyone else, but myself, what does it mean to me?
3- Why did the Lord inspire these prophets to write these things and have them delivered to me in this time?

I'll be reporting back here throughout the next 531 pages of my reading. (Plus chapter 12 from the Brigham Young manual somewhere in the midst of it.)


Beware of Pride

I read "Beware of Pride" by President Benson a couple days ago, prior to my last meeting with the Bishop. It is a good talk. I know I can work on some areas in it. I think every member of the Church, including leaders, could learn a lot and become better Saints by applying the principles therein.

One point which President Benson emphasized is not allowing the fear of men to drive your actions, but instead, only the fear of God. Pride is here turned upside-down from the typical assumption of someone who "has everything" and views themself as on top of the world looking down. This type of pride being addressed is for those who are on the bottom, looking up.

I do not have fear of men as far as religion goes. I do have some sense of practicality, however. This may utterly confound some people as to my actions. I believe God knows the heart and mind of each of His people, and that He judges us based on those things. For this reason, Personal Integrity is of the utmost importance to me. If one receives knowledge (gnosis), and understands and feels it to be from the Holy Ghost, one is obligated to react to that knowledge with complete integrity. To turn away from that is to DENY the Holy Ghost, which is the only unforgivable sin. Jesus even went so far as to teach that people can deny him, and be forgiven, yet to deny the Holy Ghost can never be forgiven. This is what drives men of integrity like Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ himself, to become martyrs for the faith. Joseph Smith put it elegantly when he wrote the poetic lines:
I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen?
For I had seen a vision; I knew it,
and I knew that God knew it,
and I could not deny it,
neither dared I do it;
at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.
(Joseph Smith History 1:25b)

I know the terrible feelings that can exist within by failing to maintain internal consistency of truth in one's self. It is about the closest thing to Hell that I can imagine. To live in good standing in The Church is a worthy and laudable pursuit, as well as to be in good standing with one's own family is, but to do so at the sacrifice of this internal consistency or what is called personal integrity, is absolutely worthless and damaging. It is to live a lie, or to have purchased truth with a lie, to find that you are afterwards unworthy to wield it. Jesus taught, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:39)

He goes on to teach,
40. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
41. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

I've come to understand "in the name of" to mean "because he is called" (The NIV, I believe, is worded in a manner such as this), and this seems to be very close to the scenario presented to me on one matter which has weighed heavily upon me in the past, and does again now - the identity of Jehovah. I read it, "He that receiveth (accepts) the words of a prophet only because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward ..." Well, I don't want to lose my reward.

How many "hollow people" walk in the churches and even in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have the image of a Saint and are accepted as one by their Brethren and Sisters but because of inconsistency in their soul and conscience live a hidden life of torment. Sadly, I think there are a few more than there should be. Peer pressure encourages people towards this hollow life, but only the individual can ultimately allow it to come upon themself.

We must not be afraid to admit our weaknesses to our Brethren, and to receive their aid, as genuine Brethren. I know they are willing to offer it.

I have good feelings in my heart if I do what is right. I will do what is right tomorrow evening; I dare not deny the Holy Ghost, and I will let the lots of the Earthly Kingdom of God fall where they may, it matters not either way. I must remain a good tree if I expect to continue to bear good fruit, and my leaders have indicated to me that I have born some good fruit, and that gives me hope for the situation, myself, and everyone involved. If I become a bad tree in order to stay in the Earthly Kingdom, I'll only get pruned out at the Day of Judgment, but if I'm a good tree, it doesn't matter where I am, I can continue to produce good fruit. I sincerely hope it may be within the Church, because although I believe that God judges fairly, I yet have fear that I may be unable to be sealed to my wife, and go through the rest of my life wondering if I will get to be with her after this life is over. I shall need to have stronger faith in this matter.

Disciplinary Council

There is a disciplinary council scheduled for me tomorrow evening. My bishop asked me to keep confidential some things (I'm a little vague on identifying precisely what, probably specifics of how things proceed until such time as they might become a faith promoting experience.) but I wanted to let everyone reading know that is why there are some changes in the blog here and the type of subjects I'm posting about.

The charge brought against me has been "behavior that is consistent with apostasy and is unbecoming a member of the Church and Melchizedek Priesthood Holder," and it has been a result, as far as I can tell, entirely derived from this very blog (and various other postings around the web.) The lesson? If you don't want to have a disciplinary council, don't write the things I've written. Let this be a learning experience.

I will try to share here as much of the upcoming events as possible without violating any confidence that has been made in me, because, upon much thought I believe these things should not be kept in the dark — I certainly did not realize how serious and drastic these things would crop up to be (or that they would crop up at all), and others could inadvertantly step into the same circumstances.

In my experience, the formal notice of a council always includes a quote from the Church Handbook of Instructions indicating that the purpose of Church Discipline is to "save the souls of the transgressors by helping them repent." That statement would seem to reflect the idea that anyone being put subject to Church Discipline has somehow trangressed the law.

I have not to my knowledge transgressed. So I looked up the word Transgression on wikipedia, and found this:
In Latter-day Saint theology, transgression is an action that breaks a law, with or without the perpetrator's understanding. A transgression is not necessarily a sin. (See full article.)

So I guess I don't need to be able to understand what I've done to be wrong, and it doesn't even need to be a sin, in order to be considered a transgression. After reading this, I realize I already knew it, as Adam's transgression was done in a state of innocence, without knowledge of good and evil. (Although, interestingly, He knew the commandment not to eat of the tree.)

A Dream

Last night, Susie had a dream that we were at Church, in the hall or right inside the door of the chapel. We were talking to the Bishop and he shook our hands and then he broke the tips of his fingers off into the sacrament tray that he was holding in his other hand. (His fingers were fluffy like bread on the inside.) She woke up slightly shocked and told me about it.


David O McKay

"Ours is the responsibility ... to proclaim the truth that each individual is ... entitled to freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly; that he has the right to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. ... organizations or churches which deprive the individual of these inherent rights are not in harmony with God's will nor with his revealed word."
--David O. McKay

Under President McKay, the Church approximately tripled the number of members and stakes (1.1 million to 2.8 million members, and 184 to 500 stakes)

President McKay spoke against communism due to its atheist underpinnings and the denial of freedom of choice inherent in such a system.

Here are a couple more important quotes from David O. McKay:

"If you will give your class a thought, even one new thought during your recitation period you will find that they will go away satisfied. But it is your obligation to be prepared to give that new thought" (1953)

"True education seeks ... to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also honest men, combined with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love ... men and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence, and self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life" (1953)

President McKay was also instrumental in making the Temple rituals available to people in foreign languages, and in expanding and clarifying some portions of the Temple endowment.

According to Daniel W. Bachman, "David O. McKay, we learn, first explained the symbolism associated with the temple clothing by faithful Latter-day Saints."

Being a Freemason myself, I am familiar with several explanations of this symbolism, and for the benefit of those reading, I'd like to share the typical Masonic wording similar to what President McKay adopted, this being available openly on many Masonic websites (i.e. not considered part of the secret work):

The Square reminds us symbolically to square our actions, and the Compasses teach us to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds toward all mankind.

The moral lessons associated with these emblems are deep and important, and what a blessing and demonstration of Divine Providence that the Latter-day Saints after going so many years without the majority of their men knowing the definition finally received a suitable one and removed some of the obscurity of these historic items.


“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”
--Orson F. Whitney

From the perspective of the wayward children, this appears to be a very curious teaching.


I don't know if it is legally enforceable (although I suspect it may be), but I do know that it is morally enforceable, and it has been on every page on this blog:
This site is not affiliated with or endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Articles posted on this web site may be freely transmitted and distributed for personal study however they are under copyright of their respective authors and any text or information obtained from them may not under any circumstances be used for official purposes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints including but not limited to disciplinary proceedings against or investigation of any person. This restriction is to protect the rights of free thought and expression of the authors as well as those who may leave comments on this work.

If you as a commentor, or as a friend of someone who has posted or commented on this blog find yourself being presented with material from this blog as evidence against you, please gently remind the person presenting it that they are using the material in an inappropriate way.

Suggestions for people thinking of violating this request: You could summarize or rewrite the material into your own words, and use that summary in lieu of verbatim material from the site. Also, remember that "fair use" law (I think so, at least) allows quotations of short amounts of material for the purpose of critical review or promotion of the material only (such as in a search engine index.)


Pendulum Dowsing

I just read an interesting article on pendulum dowsing. Check it out.

If anyone chooses to engage in dowsing I would recommend some ground rules:
  1. Never ask a question about a person's future by using this technique. At the worst case, the answer will subtly influence the actions and perceptions of those who have observed it, and it may become a "self-fulfilling prophecy." Although the answer may be true if a natural course of action ensues, a failed result created because knowledge alters the natural course could be misinterpreted as the dowsing technique being in error (blame transferred to the tool instead of to the dowser's own conscious or subconscious actions.)
  2. Constantly think or speak the question itself, not the answer you want to the question. You want the question at the forefront of your mind, rather than "Yes" or "No."
  3. Always remember that this is a reflection of your own subconcious, and secondarily allows possible expression of your connection to Deity or the elements. As such, you are likely projecting the answers yourself as you believe them deep inside. It is a technique of exploration of your inner knowledge.
Dowsing has been traditionally used for uncovering Yes and No answers, or finding locations of objects by the direction of the swing. Simple triangulation may be used to find a specific direction: If the pendulum swings left to right, and you wish to determine which direction it is, step forward a few paces. If the pendulum then swings far left to near right, you know the original direction was right, if it swings near left to far right, you know the original direction was left. This may be worth a shot next time you misplace your car keys, for example. Since you placed them somewhere, your subconscious mind probably knows exactly where they are.


The Burned-Over District

Have you ever heard of the Burned-Over District of New York? Are you aware of "The Second Great Awakening" of which Mormonism was a major part (and one of the only surviving remnants to this date) ? This bit of American history, geography and culture has been fascinating me lately. There is a fairly good description on this site:

The Burned-Over District

And, an article on wikipedia about it and another on The Second Great Awakening.

What spiritual giants came from this time and place! Amazing.


Topical Guide Confusion

Open up a copy of the LDS standard works, or use the online version. Look up in the Topical Guide, these two sections:

God the Father--Jehovah

Jesus Christ--Jehovah

Notice anything odd? It seems like the contents of these sections are intentionally reversed from what would be expected. Every reference under the "God the Father--Jehovah" section is a reference to Jesus Christ, and every reference under "Jesus Christ--Jehovah" is actually a reference to Heavenly Father. What's up with this reversal? Or does someone out there grasp this division between these verses in a way that I'm missing?

Judeo-Christian Tetragrammaton

Sometimes it is useful to pull our heads out of the sand of our own culture and see what everyone else has to say. Here are two encyclopedia articles, one on the Tetragrammaton, and one on the divine name Yahweh/Jehovah. Yes, they're both on the same topic, with slightly different focus.



So Abraham never dealt with Heavenly Father?

See "One that slipped through correlation" over at By Common Consent.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who has been studying the Godhead in depth. I think its interesting how most people are so naturally predisposed to recognize Old Testament Jehovah as Heavenly Father that it takes extremely careful scrutiny to realize it is inconsistent with the DIA doctrine.

I was particularly intrigued by Mark Butler (II)'s comment, #33, where he stated:
Perhaps the more interesting question is not the identification of Jehovah as the Son in the Old Testament, but the theological or doctrinal motivation for such identification. Jehovah as Heavenly Father sure seems to make a lot more sense. Why the apparent urge to turn Heavenly Father into an absentee landlord?

Here, Mark raises a very important question. What is the actual motivation behind the bizarre doctrinal shift? I have been speaking with several people lately and have been surprised to find that nearly everyone I know always assumed Jehovah was the Father, and when presented with the doctrine to the contrary either in Seminary or Sunday School have considered it to be an aberration, a quirk, something that sounds wrong and must be a mistake. Even people who by no means even attempt to be theologians naturally react this way. So what is the motivating force behind this unnatural and radically untraditional re-interpretation of scripture?

Request for Material on Eden

I'm going to be putting together a book for publication soon. The subject will be the relics of the Garden of Eden in legend and scripture. It will be a compilation studying everything that has been purported to have been passed down from the Garden of Eden, or our first parents, Adam and Eve, including the symbolic meaning and importance of such relics.

If anyone knows any items of interest that you would like to see included in the book, please comment here or otherwise contact me and let me know.


Mormanity: Let No Corrupt Communication Proceed Out of Your Keyboard

Jeff Lindsay had some interesting things to say over at his apologetic blog "Mormanity."

Mormanity: Let No Corrupt Communication Proceed Out of Your Keyboard

I don't typically link to apologists like this, but every once in a while they do hit something right on the head.



I spoke with the bishop tonight. We had a good conversation and I feel that progress was made. I am feeling quite a bit better after that.

I want to apologize to any readers here who have taken what I've had to say too seriously. I tend to over-assert my position, to try to give my posts an edge, or a shock factor. While this is a useful blogging technique in some arenas, it doesn't seem to rest well with a lot of Latter-day Saints.

Authoritative Statements on Trusting Church Leaders

President Joseph F. Smith said, "We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never." (Journal of Discources (JD) 16:248)

Apostle Charles W. Penrose, who would later serve as counselor to President Smith, declared: "President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when 'Thus saith the Lord', comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill." (Millennial Star 54:191)

"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 to do 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; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God... would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves." (Millennial Star, vol.14 #38, pp. 593-95)

Brigham Young said:

"What a pity it would be, if we were led 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 the 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)

"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)

"I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied...Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, 'If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,' this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord." (JD 3:45)

"...Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences 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 as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold sceptres 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. Will this apply to any of you? Your own hearts can answer." (JD 1:312)

"President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel [see, for example, verses 9-10: 'If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing...the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him.']...said the Lord had declared by the Prophet [Ezekiel], that the people should each one 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 [1842] 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, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves..." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pp. 237-38)

George Q. Cannon, Counselor to three Church Presidents, expressed it thus: "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; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone;" (Millennial Star 53:658-59, quoted in Gospel Truth, 1:319)


I have distinct feelings that I have been counseled in a manner incompatible with these many quotes. Either I am seriously misunderstanding my brethren, or they are themselves in the very error here spoken of.


I feel hurt and frustrated. I thought the Church believed in promoting Families and bringing them closer together, and no matter WHAT the issue I can't understand Family being used as a wedge or "carrot" to try to encourage change in a person. Susie and I love the gospel. We are faithful and honest and we are happy with our lives. We hope some day to raise up children who are cultivated in the type of home we feel they should be provided with. We desire with all of our hearts and souls to be able to serve together in The House of the Lord. I want Susie to have the opportunity to receive her Temple Endowment. I want to be there for her. I want her parents to be there when she goes through as well. I want it to be to her a place where the comfort of family exists. After she receives her own Endowment, I want to serve with her so that we can enjoy that part of the core of our religion which it has to offer, so that we can relate to one another better, and so that we can be equally yoked.

Articles of Faith 1:11 says,
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.

Well, Susie and I desire the privilege of worshipping God in the Holy Temple, together, as a family. How? By our participation. Where? The Temple. What? God.

Because of what I have read I know that excommunication is sadly an increased possibility for anyone who engages in writing or publishing of any type in our Church. Many good people have been excommunicated for bad reasons. Many bad people have remained in the Church who were never excommunicated when they should have been. The problem when the Church excommunicates a faithful believer is that the believer is left distressed, often without very good Family support due to peer pressure to not affiliate with the individual (on spiritual matters especially). Furthermore, such excommunications serve no purpose except to degrade and damage the good name of the Church. They are an affront to the Lord because when they occur they show unrighteous dominion, and more people are spiritually hurt by even reading about these (I know I have felt hurt by it) than anyone could ever be saved by being put through the process. Additionally, those who have a Testimony of the Restored Gospel will not be put to silence because of the process of Excommunication. Taking for example D. Michael Quinn, he became more vocal and less censored in his publishing as a result of his excommunication. This seems to have been the case with some other people I'm aware of, as well.

If it ever came down to excommunication, I feel that I would stand according to the examples of the past, both in the Church: Jesus Christ, and Joseph and Hyrum Smith, or in Masonry: Hiram Abiff and Jaques DeMolay: To rather die than to lose my integrity. "Rare integrity, fortitude most grand." Joseph Smith was eloquent in his expressing this belief:
However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.

Any true Latter-day Saint would rather give himself up to death than deny the things of the Spirit. This personal integrity policy is grounded firmly in scriptures: In fact, denial of the Holy Ghost is the unpardonable sin. The only thing that can never be forgiven in this life or the next. This is the type of condemnation that Joseph feared. Not man, but the condemnation of God.

I am sad and at the same time tired of seeing good and true men struck down from the Church when they could become instruments in the hands of God. If we strike out all of our best men, anyone who has any natural talents, God given gifts, that make them such a person as would considered relatively formidable in the formative era of our Church, how should we ever expect to grow greater, and perform and become all the things that have been prophesied?


Sorry, I'm just so frustrated. People need to wake up and stop shooting themselves in the foot. The Church is true, more true than most anyone could even know.

This is wasting my time... I really need to be working on other things. I was perfectly happy in the spirit, having a good family life and I don't know why people feel obliged to try to screw it up for me. I suppose persecution is given to us to make us grow.

I have never been able to feel a genuine Brotherhood left in the Church and that's part of the problem. We need to take the time to get to know each other, to really know each other. To compare, in my Lodge I feel genuine brotherly love. I would trust any of those guys with my life. I don't feel that I need to defend myself from them, but that I would trust them with my very life if it was on the line. The Church may have lost the concept of being "on the level" in our quorums and seems to be so cliquish now that it makes me feel sick to my stomach.


Prophets Can Make Mistakes

I've been studying the idea of infallibility because of my recent circumstances, and turned to the Bible to see what it has to say.

Interestingly, Moses, one of the first and greatest prophets and Aaron, the High Priest did not believe what God revealed to them and they had consequences for their disobedience (Numbers 20:12)
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

Ancient Israel's prophets were condemned, which shows that the prophetic office itself is not protected from error, even serious error:
But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

And Psalm 78 (read it) speaking in parable talks about our forebearers, the ancient Ephraimites and their repeated and persistent rebellion against God.

It is true, we have some special promises about our day, but those promises do not guarantee any type of infallibility, in fact the prophet Mormon admits his ability to have made mistakes in recording the scripture he wrote down:
And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

Daniel H. Wells whom I believe was one of the Presidents of the Seventy (I may be mistaken in his exact office here) admitted that leaders could make mistakes and that we are not to pin our faith on another man's sleeves, EVEN the President of the Church:
It is our interest to keep aboard the ship Zion, and to continue our efforts to bring ourselves into subjection to the law of the Lord, that we may be the honored instruments in his hands of aiding to build up his kingdom on the earth. We can only do this by being faithful to the counsels of the servants of the Lord who are inspired to teach and lead us. He has placed them in his Church and kingdom to guide and direct us. We have not chosen these men—He has chosen them. They may be our selection too, it is very true, but the Lord has chosen them and he is responsible. But we need not pin our faith to any man's sleeve. No, we can go to the Bible, to the revelations of Jesus given in our day; and listen to the whisperings of the Spirit in our own hearts for the testimony of this being the work of God. The Lord will reveal to any faithful individual all that is necessary to convince him that this work is true. None need depend for that testimony upon others; all can have it for themselves, and that will be like a well of water within them, springing up to everlasting life, revealing to them the things of God, and all that is needful to make them wise unto salvation. They need not depend upon my testimony, or upon that of President Young or President Smith, nor upon anybody but God. He will direct the course of all who try to serve him with full purpose of heart. He will show them whether we are placed here properly, or whether any mistake was made concerning the calling of Joseph Smith. The testimony of the Lord will tell whether we teach things of ourselves or of the Lord; that testimony will tell its possessors whether the servants of God who stand here tell the truth about this work or not. They need be dependent upon none but themselves and the Lord for this knowledge, for the Lord is willing to give liberally to all, and he upbraids not. All the world may learn to know the Lord our Father, who is in heaven, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent, if they will but take the course the Lord has marked out.

Charles W. Penrose taught:
Our testimony does not depend upon Joseph Smith; it does not depend upon Brigham Young; it does not depend upon John Taylor, or upon the council of the Twelve Apostles, which is now the presiding quorum in the Church. I pin my faith to no man's sleeve; I am a believer in the Scripture which says, "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." I obeyed this Gospel because I believed it was true, through reading the Scriptures, which I was taught from my early childhood to believe in. When the sound of the Gospel reached my ears I believed; and having bowed in obedience to the ordinances, I received a testimony for myself of its truthfulness, and that testimony has never departed from me. I know by the power and gift of the Holy Ghost that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I know by the same Spirit that God Almighty has sent his angels in these the last days to Joseph Smith and others, for the purpose of commencing this work of the restitution of all things. I know that work has begun to be ushered in. I know that the power of God is being manifested on the earth, that the same power which rested upon the former-day Saints, rests down upon the Latter-day Saints. I know that the former-day ordinances have been restored, and the spirit and the power thereof. I know it for myself, because I have experienced it and realized it. I know there is a way to approach the Eternal Father and learn of him. I know that those who seek aright in the way appointed, find an answer to their prayers, and that the promise made by the Savior is true: "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." And in bearing my testimony to the truth of these things, I say what most of this congregation know, and what the great majority of the people throughout this Territory could testify to, as well as thousands more who are scattered upon the race of the earth, who are longing to gather to these mountain vales. We have not come here for the mere purpose of enriching ourselves in gold and silver, in flocks and herds, or houses and lands, things which perish in their handling, but to become rich in the imperishable things of eternity, which we can obtain here in the way appointed of God, and about which the world know nothing. People wonder why it is that the leaders of this people are still upheld by the unanimous voice and vote of the Latter-day Saints, and why it is that we have faith in them and cling to them, in spite of all that is said against them. They do not understand the secret spring that moves this work. The power that unites and guides us does not rest in any man or any set of men, neither in this wonderful organization, but in this eternal, unerring Spirit which God has shed forth in our hearts through obedience to the Gospel, by which we can approach Him and learn of Him for ourselves.

Brigham Young Taught:
Some may say, "Brethren, you who lead the Church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am." I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, "If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are," this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

Every man and woman in this kingdom ought to be satisfied with what we do, but they never should be satisfied without asking the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether what we do is right. When you are inspired by the Holy Ghost you can understandingly say, that you are satisfied; and that is the only power that should cause you to exclaim that you are satisfied, for without that you do not know whether you should be satisfied or not. You may say that you are satisfied and believe that all is right, and your confidence may be almost unbounded in the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ, but if you asked God, in the name of Jesus, and received knowledge for yourself, through the Holy Spirit, would it not strengthen your faith? It would. A little faith will perform little works; that is good logic. Jesus says, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Even our current Priesthood and Relief Society manuals have a note inside the front that says to email or write suggestions for improvements to be incorporated in the future.

I must trust in God. Any man who would teach to have blind faith in the teachings of a human or any council of humans, no matter how good their track record has been, is extremely dangerous, and scripture and the words of prophets testify of this. I have not even given the best possible quotes here, just the first few I came across.

A long and interesting passage delivered by Brigham Young, Oct 6, 1855:

In all High Councils, in Bishops' Courts, and in all other departments for transacting our business, the Church and kingdom of God, with the Lord Almighty at the head, will cause every man to exhibit the feelings of his heart, for you recollect it is written that in the last days the Lord will reveal the secrets of the hearts of the children of men.

Does not the Gospel do that? It does; it causes men and women to reveal that which would have slept in their dispositions until they dropped into their graves. The plan by which the Lord leads this people makes them reveal their thoughts and intents, and brings out every trait of disposition lurking in their organizations. Is this right? It is. How are you going to correct a man's faults, by hiding them and never speaking of them, by covering up every fault you see in your brother, or by saying, "O, do not say a word about his faults, we know that he lies, but it will not do to say a word about it, for it would be awful to reveal such a fact to the people?" That is the policy of the world and of the devil, but is it the way that the Lord will do with the people in the latter-days? It is not.

This is a matter that seems to be but little understood by some of the Latter-day Saints, it may be understood by a portion of them, but others do not understand it. Every fault that a person has will be made manifest, that it may be corrected by the Gospel of salvation, by the laws of the Holy Priesthood.

Suppose that a man lies, and you dare not tell of it; "Very well," says the man, "I am secure, I can lie as much as I please." He is inclined to lie, and if we dare not chastise him about it he takes shelter under that pavilion, cloaks himself with the charity of his brethren, and continues to lie. By and bye he will steal a little, and perhaps one or two of his brethren know about it, but they say, "We must cover up this fault with the cloak of charity." He continues to lie and to steal, and we continue to hide his faults; where will it lead that person to? Where will he end his career? Nowhere but in hell.

What shall we do with such men? Shall we reveal their faults? Yes, whenever we deem it right and proper. I know it is hard to receive chastisement, for no chastisement is joyous, but grievous at the time it is given; but if a person will receive chastisement and pray for the Holy Spirit to rest upon him, that he may have the Spirit of truth in his heart, and cleave to that which is pleasing to the Lord, the Lord will give him grace to bear the chastisement, and he will submit to and receive it, knowing that it is for his good. He will endure it patiently, and, by and bye, he will get over it, and see that he has been chastised for his faults, and will banish the evil, and the chastisement will yield to him the peaceable fruits of righteousness, because he exercises himself profitably therein.

In this way chastisement is a benefit to any person. Grant that I have a fault, and wish it concealed, would I not be likely to hide it? And if the Lord would not reveal it I might cling to it, if I had not the spirit of revelation to discern my fault and its consequences. Without the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, I am just as liable to lie and abide in false principles, false notions, and unrighteous actions as true ones. It is so with you.

If your faults are not made known to you, how can you refrain from them and overcome them? You cannot. But if your faults are made manifest, you have the privilege of forsaking them and cleaving unto that which is good. The design of the Gospel is to reveal the secrets of the hearts of the children of men.

When men intimate to me, whether in public or in private, that their faults must not be spoken of, I do not know how worldly-minded men feel in similar cases, but like Elijah, when he mocked the priests of Baal, I feel to laugh and make derision of such men.

Do you suppose that I will thus far bow down to any man in this Territory, or on the earth? Do you suppose that I will suffer myself to be so muzzled that I cannot reveal the faults of the people when wisdom dictates me to do it?

I fear not the wicked half so much as I would a mosquito in my bedroom at night, for he would keep me from sleeping, but for the unrighteous, those who will act the villain and conduct themselves worse than the devil, to insinuate that I have not the privilege of speaking of their faults makes me feel like laughing at their folly. I will speak of men's faults when and where I please, and what are you going to do about it?

Do you know that that very principle caused the death of all the Prophets, from the days of Adam until now? Let a Prophet arise upon the earth, and never reveal the evils of men, and do you suppose that the wicked would desire to kill him? No, for he would cease to be a Prophet of the Lord, and they would invite him to their feasts, and hail him as a friend and brother. Why? Because it would be impossible for him to be anything but one of them. It is impossible for a Prophet of Christ to live in an adulterous generation without speaking of the wickedness of the people, without revealing their faults and their failings, and there is nothing short of death that will stay him from it, for a Prophet of God will do as he pleases.

I have been preached to, pleaded with, and written to, to be careful how I speak about men's faults, more so than ever Joseph Smith was in his life time; every week or two I receive a letter of instruction, warning me to be careful of this or that man's character. Did you ever have the Spirit of the Lord, so that you have felt full of joy, and like jumping up and shouting hallelujah? I feel in that way when such epistles come to me; I feel like saying, "I ask no odds of you, nor of all your clan this side of hell."

I have wise brethren around me who will sometimes say, "Don't speak so and so, be very careful, now do be cautions;" and I have been written to from the east; I have package after package of letters, yes, a wheel-barrow load of them, saying, "O, brother Brigham, I would beseech and pray and plead with you, if I only dare, to be careful how you speak. Would not this or that course be better than for you to get up in the stand, and tell the Gentiles what they are? Would it not be better to keep this to yourself?"

Do you know how I feel when I get such communications? I will tell you, I feel just like rubbing their noses with them. If I am not to have the privilege of speaking of Saint and sinner when I please, tie up my mouth and let me go to the grave, for my work would be done.

It was for this that they killed Joseph and Hyrum, it is for this that they wish to kill me and my brethren; we know their iniquity, and we will tell of it when the Spirit dictates, or talk about this, that, or the other person and conduct at the proper time.

There are people in our midst who grunt at this course, and at the same time have evils that I think are hardly worth notice, for I do not think that such persons will be good for anything even should they happen to get into the kingdom of heaven, though I suppose they are good in their place if we can find out where it is, but as yet I am ignorant of it; I presume that the Lord knows where it is, but I do not. I wish to say to the Elders of Israel, to all people, I shall tell you of your iniquity and talk about you just as I please, and when you feel like killing me for so doing, as some of the people did who called themselves brethren in the days of Joseph Smith, look out for yourselves, for false brethren were the cause of Joseph's death, and I am not a very righteous man. I have told the Latter-day Saints from the beginning that I do not profess much righteousness, but I profess to know the will of God concerning you, and I have boldness enough to tell it to you, fearless of your wrath, and I expect that it is on this account that the Lord has called me to occupy the place I do; I feel as independent as an angel.

Some of you have been brought before the High Council, charged with this fault and with that, and you say it is too much for you, that you cannot bear it. But you have got to bear it, and if you will not, make up your minds to go to hell at once and have done with it. If you wish to be Saints you must have your evils taken away and your iniquities exposed, this must be done if you remain in the kingdom of God. If you do wrong, and it is made manifest before the High Council, don't grunt about it, nor whine about your loving, precious character, but consider that you have none; that is the best way to get along with it. Myriads have scandalized me since I have been in this Church, and I have been asked, "Brother Brigham, are you going to bear this? Do you not know that such and such persons are scandalizing your character?" Said I, "I do not know that I have any character, I have never stopped to inquire whether I have one or not." It is for me to pursue a course that will build up the kingdom of God on the earth, and you may take my character to be what you please, I care not what you do with it, so you but keep your hands off from me.

If you are brought before the High Council, or before a Bishop's court, and it is proven before either of those tribunals that you are covetous, don't fly in a passion and become so excited that you are ready to burst. I may see fit to expose some men who have not paid their tithing; now if you are going to get nervous about it and are afraid of bursting, let me know, and we will slip and egg shell over you and your precious characters. What precious characters some of you had in Wales, in England, in Scotland, and perhaps in Ireland.

Do not be scared if it is proven against some, before the Bishop's court, that you did steal the poles from your neighbor's garden fence. If you did, it would be far better for you to get right up and own it, for you have in reality lost your character before God, angels, and men, and then refrain from such evils and try to establish a good character. It would be better for you to do that, than to become angry when your faults are made manifest. If it is proven before the High Council that you did steal a beef creature, don't get angry, but rise up and acknowledge that you did steal it.

If it is proven that you have been to some person's wood pile and stolen wood, don't be frightened, for if you will steal, it must be made manifest. Some one may say, "Why I did not think Saints were guilty of such deeds!" Nor I either. Such crimes are committed by people who gather with the Saints, to try them, to afflict and annoy them, and drive them to their duty. Do you not suppose that it is necessary to have devils mixed up with us, to make Saints of us? We are as yet obliged to have devils in our community, we could not build up the kingdom without them. Many of you know that you cannot get your endowment without the devil's being present; indeed we cannot make rapid progress without the devils. I know that it frightens the righteous sectarian world to think that we have so many devils with us, so many poor, miserable curses. Bless your souls, we could not prosper in the kingdom of God without them. We must have those amongst us who will steal our fence poles, who will go and steal hay from their neighbor's hay stack, or go into his corn field to steal corn, and leave the fence down; nearly every ax that is dropped in the kanyon must be picked up by them, and the scores of lost watches, gold rings, breast pins, &c., must get into their hands, though they will not wear them in your sight. It is essentially necessary to have such characters here.

After we had given the brethren such a scouring two or three months ago, about returning lost property when found, one or two men brought in two or three rusty nails of no value, which they had picked up; this was tantamount to saying to brother Sprague, "If we had found your purse, or if we had found Brigham's purse, we would see you in hell before we would return it." We wish to impress upon you the necessity of your bringing the ax you find, the hay fork, or any other lost property which you find, to the person who is appointed to take charge of such property, that the owners may again possess it. But if you should pick up a piece of rotten wood, and bring it to brother Brigham, or Dr. Sprague, with a show of honesty, and in derision of the counsel you have received, it would be like saying, "If we could find or steal your purses, you should never see them again. We are poor, miserable devils, and mean to live here by stealing from the Saints, and you cannot help yourselves."

Live here then, you poor, miserable curses, until the time of retribution, when your heads will have to be severed from your bodies. Just let the Lord Almighty say, "Lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and the time of thieves is short in this community. What do you suppose they would say in old Massachusetts, should they hear that the Latter-day Saints had received a revelation or commandment to lay "judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet?" What would they say in old Connecticut? They would raise a universal howl of, "How wicked those Mormons are; they are killing the evil doers who are among them; why I hear that they kill the wicked away up yonder in Utah." They do no kill anybody down there, do they?

As for the inhabitants of the earth, who know anything about the "Mormons," having power to utter worse epithets against us than they do, they have to get more knowledge in order to do it; and as for those enemies who have been in our midst, feeling any worse than they do, they have first to know more; they are as full of bad feeling now as they can hold without bursting. What do I care for the wrath of man? No more than I do for the chickens that run in my dooryard. I am here to teach the ways of the Lord, and lead men to life everlasting, but if they have not a mind to go there, I wish them to keep out of my path.

I want the Elders of Israel to understand that if they are exposed in their stealing, lying, deceiving, wickedness, and covetousness, which is idolatry, they must not fly in a passion about it, for we calculate to expose you, from time to time, as we please, when we can get time to notice you.

During this Conference, I do not want to think where the "Mormons" have been, and how they have been treated, but I want to think of matters that will make my heart light, like the roe on the mountains—to reflect that the Lord Almighty has given me my firth on the land where He raised up a Prophet, and revealed the everlasting Gospel through him, and that I had the privilege of hearing it—of knowing and understanding it—of embracing and enjoying it. I feel like shouting hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained, and to whom He gave keys and power to build up the kingdom of God on earth and sustain it. These keys are committed to this people, and we have power to continue the work that Joseph commenced, until everything is prepared for the coming of the Son of Man. This is the business of the Latter-day Saints, and it is all the business we have on hand. When we come to worldly affairs, as they are called, they can be done in stormy weather, if we attend to the kingdom of God in fair weather.

May God bless you. Amen.


Everyone reading this please pray for me and pray for my leaders so that they can see the impossible situation they are placing me in and that it is not a situation I have tried to place myself in. Pray to help them to realize that the things they are asking me about are not matters of faith, sin or righteousness, but matters of personal opinion and that their own words are equally applicable to the past leaders of the Church as they are to my own views. Pray for me to have humility and be able to love these men anyway with genuine brotherly love in spite of any differences we may have.

A friend pointed out to me today that their calling is to be a common Judge in Israel, and that they are neither called nor trained to be theologians or interpreters of scripture. If I can answer the Temple Interview questions with a sincere heart and in all honesty, then I have nothing to fear. God will protect me and everything will work out alright. As the Times and Seasons said in its headmast: Truth will prevail.


A Convert Trapped

I was a convert to the Church in 1999. I believe in it wholeheartedly. But I feel trapped right now. The missionaries never taught me the strange doctrine upon which (among a couple other things) my temple worthiness is now being held in the balance. Why would the missionaries teach about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost but not teach me that they believe Jehovah is Jesus? They taught me and I agreed with the things they taught, and because I agreed and gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the principles they taught I was baptized. Now, I am being asked to accept that Jehovah is Jesus Christ. If there was no contradictory evidence I would have no problem with it, but there is a TON of contradictory evidence. I didn't make this stuff up. It isn't MY fault, THEY did it, the leaders of the Church who have written for years and years, and they are acting like its my own fault for believing their own writings. I am not pulling something out of my hat, I'm taking a standard Christian assumption that probably everyone has at some point or another. I don't understand. Any Jew, and any Christian who is not a strict trinitarian would agree with me. The missionaries did not teach me this deviation, I picked it up later when I started asking questions, it was the answer I got from my teachers and friends. But at that point, I was already a member, so I went along with it for a while, but as I read the scriptures and the writings of the prophets they do not all agree, there is a diversity in this teaching, and I don't want it to rest upon MY shoulders to have to state that I know an answer to it especially an answer that is as clearly wrong to me as saying that the sun isn't shining at noon.

I need to pray to God for comfort and to allow me to fully forgive not these men, but any who came before them and helped to make it so confusing for us today. They talk about me doing things that might lead one soul astray as though it is a wicked thing, while the official writings
are just as confusing and just as prone to leading people any direction on this matter. I kind of feel unappreciated because of it, I follow the patterns, I study scriptures like they ask me to, I pray, and then the answers I get they tell me not to have. I didn't put the answers there either. I guess I can't say that God did either, because they don't want me to write anything that "I know" they only want me to say that I'm thinking about or studying things, while at the same time everyone says "I know this, I know that" when bearing their testimonies. If I said "I'm thinking about the Book of Mormon being true, and I'm studying whether or not Joseph Smith was a prophet." that would not be a testimony. I believe God answers prayers, and I believe I have been trapped by for some reason, and I don't think God would trap one of his children in such a situation.

ALL converts should be taught that the official position of the Church is that Jehovah is Christ before being baptized, so they are not faced with this impossible choice unwillingly. I fear the consequences no matter what I say. There is no right answer. This is the most confusing thing I've ever faced, and after wasting hundreds of hours on the subject over the past seven years, finally coming to a comforting and relievingly simple answer, I am now asked to go back into the confusing zone and to just pray about it. But my prayers were already answered, and if I pray more how do I know what to trust? How do I know what to think? What should I do?

If every convert were treated this way, the Church would be very small. I feel very small because of it. I also feel that these men although trying to be loving are also trying to avoid the situation because they are scared of it. I wish they would teach me instead of holding back my temple recommend in order to "threaten" (lovingly) me to change my belief. That is not how the missionaries taught me, they did not say you're going to hell if you don't believe this doctrine. They said here are the doctrines, try it out, pray about it, find out if it is true. If you find it out, be baptized. I thought threatening tactics of hellfire and damnation are gone with the various sects and denominations of protestant Christianity.

I have to go.

Altars to Sin

Scriptures are echoing in my head, including Hosea 8:11-12, which is making more and more sense every day:
Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin.
I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.

What is seen by men as "strange things" are indeed great things of the law of God. I try diligently and with real intent to be obedient to the commandments of God as they are made known to me by the Holy Scriptures, the Spirit, and the Prophets. Apparently I do not know what to believe, nor how to find out, because there is no way to trust the Spirit if it has lied to me in the past. I do not believe it has, I cannot deny what I've felt. But, I don't know what else to think. How can anyone know the truth?

Is the Church your rock?

In the past, I have made what was perhaps a natural assumption that the Church was my rock: my sure foundation which could never slip away, but things like the meeting I posted about previously are a valuable reminder to me of the scripture:

2 Samuel 22:2-3:
¶ And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

I love God. I am happy that nothing in the world can ever take away my ability to communicate with Him who sitteth as the Judge Supreme.

The Inquisition Has Begun

The Bloggernacle Inquisition that I mentioned back in July has begun - with me. All three members of my bishopric came over to my house tonight and spoke with me about concerns they have regarding my blog and other websites. I am not ashamed of what I have said here to date. This site represents my spiritual journey, not a static theological stance, and I am not in hiding. Let me reiterate a disclaimer similar to what I think I've said before: My views may change over time as I gain different spiritual insights and experiences, and nothing I say here should ever be taken as truth by anyone without them first backing it up with authoritative evidence from a reliable source and receiving a spiritual witness of it. Our discussion was long, and I will sum up briefly: They take issue with a few points on my blog, including my conclusions about Jehovah, and consider my inquiries regarding the theology represented in The Living Christ to be incompatible with sustaining the prophet.

However, I will not lie to escape out of a situation, and I feel compelled to answer with what is true according to my heart and conscience. The three points raised were mostly on Theology, Sustaining Leaders, and Apostate Affiliations:

First point:

Do you believe in God, the Eternal Father, in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?

Yes, I believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. This requirement makes no claims or attempts to assign names to them. And yes, I have a firm testimony of the restored gospel.

Second point:

Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?

Absolutely and unequivocally he is, similar in authority to Moses, Abraham, or St. Peter, for example.

Do you sustain the other General Authorities and the local authorities of the Church?

I do, and I welcomed them into my home to discuss these matters with me. Where I differ in interpretation of these last two statements is that I see the prophets as fallible mortal men who are inspired by God to do great things, and I am hesitant to agree that every letter or word spoken from the mouth of a prophet is utter and absolute truth. The latter position seems to be what has been asked of me, but how can one take such a view in light of the history of this Church and the various doctrines and views that have been held in favor at various times? If I were to accept infallibility, I would be required to say that the Church apostatized with Joseph Smith, because I believe Joseph to have by sheer sake of human nature made mistakes (although I am not sure if I could point out any particular). Infallibility is a bad doctrine, and can not be applied to modern prophets without great hypocrisy in not applying equal treatment to all of their predecessors in office. It seems that infallibility is not the precise understanding that these brethren are trying to move me towards, but I'm not sure what it is they want of me in this regard. I will pray about the subject.

The third point is the question regarding apostate affiliations, I believe it goes:

Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?

No. My post about The September Six was cited as suspicious of sympathizing with an individual whose teachings and practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church. I have never spoken with Michael Quinn personally, (although I wouldn't mind having a chat with him at some future date,) so I think the term "affiliate" is entirely out of the question. I feel sorrow for Mike and the hard position he was in in his life. The only precepts of Michael Quinn that I agree with would be those that are positive spiritual insights and uplifting ideas regarding the Church, I do not put any type of a blanket endorsement on what Michaell Quinn has taught. There is nothing wrong in agreeing on certain or even several points with a supposed "apostate" individual, as Brigham Young taught that even Satan can teach the truth, and that we should pray for the wisdom that we may discern and receive that truth and reject the error. Certainly I would not back up any teachings or opinions of such an individual that would be attacking the Church in any way.

These men have declared that they come to me in love, and I sense that in a large portion they are genuine and sincere in this love. They shared with me that they actually enjoyed many of my posts and even learned some things from them, and that they have read "the good and the bad" and not focused solely on what was perceived to be the "bad" about my blogging. I know they together spent hours studying the things I have said, and have probably read some of my articles that no one else has ever even bothered to read. I am grateful for the care they are taking in my situation.

However, this is the second time now that I have been faced with accusations about my beliefs, and I don't know how much longer I can hold up.

Readers (however few you be): I apologize that I may not feel free to fully express myself from here on out. My personal feelings and thoughts of which I have been frank and open with you up until today are now being judged and scrutinized, and this is enough to strip anyone's ability to speak freely no matter how hard they try not to let it affect them.

I will continue to share the details of my discussions with the Bishop and his counselors as things proceed forward, and I hope it may be of some help to others who may find themselves in similar circumstances. To the Bishop and his counselors, whom I expect will ultimately read this as well: I hope it may help you relate to the feelings I have, to have ones ideas be placed under scrutiny.