Saturday, January 31, 2015

Letter to a friend

Dear Bill,

Perhaps it is the right time to "reintroduce" you to something I believe to be true. I would say I "know", but I have not yet cried unto the Lord with sufficient faith to be received by Him in the flesh, to have my sins remitted and be ushered back into His presence. I understand that some of those who have believed these things have had this experience...and thus they truly know now for themselves. I merely believe...but apparently I don't believe enough to act on it. I yet maintain some unbelief. I hope to rid myself of that faithlessness soon.

Even so, I invite you to open up the scriptures and read this text ("What is a Prophet?", by Robert Sonntag, 10.30.2014) with an open heart and mind. Be advised: the LDS Church (or Mormon Church) is not "true" in the sense that I have said it was true in the past. It is in a state of apostasy -- as is the host of modern Christendom. You can discern and measure that apostasy easily enough, after reading this article, by answering this one question: have any of us come back into the literal presence of God? 

This article plainly manifests and correctly describes (in my opinion) the state of those who haven't.

I am "in the same boat" as you. Do not interpret my sharing this article with you as "throwing down a rope". We stand side by side. I am merely holding up a ladder...which we both must climb if we are ever going to get out of this pit. I believe with all my soul that these things are true. I am convinced of it. It is the clearest distillation of all I have learned and perceived throughout my life. I was only kept from perceiving it for so long because the church that delivered these truths to me was, itself, in a state of apostasy and the leaders thereof, for the most part, could not understand, embrace or practice the very principles -- they could not wield the very "instruments" -- they held in their grasp. Mormons have had this ladder all along! They've just never been taught or shown how to climb it. 

thought I was a member of the Lord's "true church". I now believe that I have merely been milling about the place, lingering outside, sometimes hearing the music sung from within, sometimes bumping into one or two who have truly "seen and heard" for themselves and who have given a truthful report of their experience, while I myself have not yet seen or heard in full. (On one or two occasions I have been ushered inside, but I think I slept through most of it!) I have not yet fully "awakened" nor have I been "formally" introduced to the Man of Heaven as I want to be. Perhaps you would like to meet Him, too, and be forgiven of your sins (as this document purports to be necessary in order to be truly "saved").

I don't just want your advice or opinion on this subject. I want your company. I am making the ascent. I invite you to join me.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

American Sniper

“American Sniper” is a well-received movie about a 30-year-old American Navy Seal recruit who ventures to Iraq to “kill the enemy” to keep America “safe”. You have to love the goodness and sincerity of Chris Kyle (portrayed by Bradley Cooper, a “perfect match” for the part). In typical fashion, Bill Maher recently scandalized Kyle as a “psychopath patriot”. While I wouldn’t go that far, I understand Maher's point.

Most “patriotic” Americans (like Kyle) see their country as good, virtuous, God-fearing, righteous and free while those “savages over there” are evil, ignorant, demonic and depraved, often worshipping in a cult of death.

No doubt the Iraqi “warriors” – called “terrorists” by U.S. – use tactics that are evil. (In the movie, one enemy combatant, called “The Butcher”, uses a power drill, first, to drill through the leg of a young boy and, then, through his skull, to punish the boy’s father for “collaborating” with “the enemy” (U.S.) -- thus, inspiring fear and compliance among the Iraqi citizenry.

We shouldn't be there. It’s not our country. It’s not our culture. It’s not our concern. If individual Americans want to volunteer to help “liberate” others overseas, let them go, carrying with them what they will, be it bibles, bullets, or baby formula. All the more power to them! But killing Iraqis is not in America’s vital interests. It’s not even in her moral interests. The Iraqis did not attack U.S. first. We invaded them. Why can't Americans see that we are the aggressors here? We are the “godless infidels” killing their women and children in our lust to dominate, subjugate and “liberate” these people “making the world ‘safe’ for democracy” – but, actually, making it more “secure” for a future one-world-government run and orchestrated by a select few. The sum of "innocent" civilian casualties directly resulting from our military forays into the Muslim Middle and Near East now numbers in the hundreds of thousands. This is a crime against humanity. We have blood on our hands.

Those people “over there” may be illiterate “savages”, living in squalor and ignorance. But they are, many of them, devoutly religious. And we mock their religion when we think to impose our hedonist culture upon them – largely a culture of carnality, wickedness and faithlessness.

Captain Moroni rallied his people “in memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” Are Muslims “over there” doing anything less? We Americans are intentionally invading their lands, blowing up their wedding parties, firing upon their caravans, and killing their friends and family. How could they not hate us? If they were not our enemies before we arrived, how could they not be our enemies now? If you will indulge me one small change:

“And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Islam.” (Alma 48:10.)

Unlike “warriors for Allah” and “jihadists”, however, Captain Moroni…

“…was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery; Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people. Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.” (Alma 48:11-13.)

These are significant differences. Christ teaches those who take upon themselves His name to love and bless their enemies, not curse or subjugate them. Mohammad taught his followers to convert their enemies or kill them. Christ desires to set all men free. Mohammad demanded (at the point of a sword) that all men submit (i.e., practice “islam”) to Allah…and to him.

Neither modern Christianity (so called) or modern Islam (so practiced) reflects God’s will for His children, but merely demonstrates our present capacity to receive from God. Rather than come unto Him, we embrace religion. Rather than live for heaven, we fight and kill and die for this hell on earth.

In American Sniper, “The Butcher” killed those of his own people who collaborated with “the enemy” (U.S.) or who refused to take up arms with him. Likewise, Captain Moroni…

“…commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty.
 18 And it came to pass that the armies did march forth against them; and they did pull down their pride and their nobility, insomuch that as they did lift their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni they were hewn down and leveled to the earth.
 19 And it came to pass that there were four thousand of those dissenters who were hewn down by the sword; and those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period.
 20 And the remainder of those dissenters, rather than be smitten down to the earth by the sword, yielded to the standard of liberty, and were compelled to hoist the title of liberty upon their towers, and in their cities, and to take up arms in defence of their country. (Alma 51:17-20.)

Note that Captain Moroni only slew those who “did lift their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni”. Muslim terrorists kill those who will not lift up their swords (or guns) and join them in their murderous campaigns to impose an “Islamic State”, based on religious “shariah” law. These Muslims are, by nature, Gadianton robbers, exercising – not freedom and peace to practice their religion unmolested, but -- control and dominion and coercion upon the souls of the children of men.

The appeal of Islam -- seductive as it is in its solicitation to submit the “natural” man to the will of “Allah”, or God – is tarnished and destroyed inasmuch as men of corrupt minds and morals usurp that religion for their own carnal, demonic purposes. Likewise, the appeal of “Americanism” is tarnished and destroyed when the original virtues that liberated and empowered this nation are abandoned for hedonism and rejection of that God who makes men free (Galatians 5:1). These two “religions” – Islam and “Americanism” – are on a collision course. Neither one enjoys God’s favor, merely His pity and present tolerance.

But for how long?

Inasmuch as America is militarily venturing forth into over 130 countries, waging wars of aggression and instigating violence against other peoples (largely of darker skin), the Lord has withdrawn (or is withdrawing) His Spirit from among them. They are being given over to what they want: idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, and hedonism.

The Lord will not uphold such. The lessons of the Book of Mormon do not bode well for America’s future or her fate.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Follow the hashtag

The Mormon Church's latest PR campaign for youth is called "#embark", as in "embark in the service of God".

When I was a youth, Adidas and Nike were huge and jogging was the rage. (Think Forrest Gump!) The leaders of our stake's Mutual Improvement Association selected the "theme" for that particular year. At camp we wore yellow shirts emblazoned with "Run that ye may obtain." -- 1 Cor. 9:24". Those words left a memorable impression on me. Decades later I still ask myself: "Am I running that I may obtain?"

As my family studied the words of King Benjamin this morning -- resolving to help each other repent, keep God's commandments and forgive -- my children asked if they could not go to church today. They wanted to have sacrament meeting at home and strive to keep the sabbath day holy as a family.

"I used to love going to Church," one of them said. "But now that I know they're lying to me, it actually hurts to go. I can't stand it!"

What was I going to do? Make them go? I wouldn't. (But I did my best to persuade them to go.)

I told my wife what they said. "What lies?" she asked.

"I don't know," I said. But I went to find out.

"What lies are they telling you in Church?" I asked. I didn't think my daughter was sophisticated enough to give me a credible answer, but I got an unexpected ear full!

"They say we have to end each prayer and testimony saying 'in the name of Jesus Christ, amen'. That's not true!"

"Well, the scriptures do say 'see that ye do all the name of Jesus Christ'," I reminded her.

"Yeah, but we don't have to say those exact words. Sis. _____ says we do!"

Clearly my daughter was oversimplifying things. Maybe misunderstanding. Still, I knew the phrase was grating to hear when I heard it used casually and carelessly many times at church. It has become a "vain repetition", the turning of a spiritual truth (Mormon 9:29) into a violation of the third commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." (Deuteronomy 5:11.)

"It's a tradition, not a commandment," I said. "It's not in the scriptures. No prophet said we had to say it. People just started doing it and it caught on. What else you got?" I challenged her.

"They say the prophet is the only one who can receive revelation; that the gospel is whatever he says it is; that he can change anything at any time. He can even change the scriptures and that's 'okay'...because he's the prophet."

Perhaps that, too, was an another oversimplification. But was it really that far from the truth? Is there anything (legal) the prophet can declare that "believers" will not fall for? Or fall in line with? Even changing the scriptures? Or the temple ceremony? Or the ordinances? Or the doctrine?

And if you don't "follow the prophet" -- or any other "leader" in the Mormon Church -- what happens to you then?

My children know very well what happens then.

"That is the last bastion of Mormonism, is it not? Follow the prophet and all that? He can never lead you astray," I said.

My daughter detected my sarcasm.

"And what's up with 'hashtag embark'?!" she said, rolling her eyes.

"Hashtag what? What's a hashtag?" I was showing my age.

"A hashtag is that # symbol," she said. "The Church employs lots of people to use '#embark' on all their social media, saying great things about it...hoping it will become popular and people will start 'following' it."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"Oh, dad, isn't it obvious?"

"You mean it's a big PR campaign?"

"Yes! They even made a movie about it! We watched it at church. It shows people going off to Africa and serving people so you feel guilty if you don't."

I looked up "#embark" and watched the video after we spoke. I didn't see anybody going off to Africa or serving the poor. Instead I saw actors -- mostly youth, volunteers probably, but actors nonetheless -- pretending to serve others. Kids pretended to hide behind bushes while delivering baby supplies to a "new mother" who pretended to weep (on cue) at her good fortune, while they pretended to film themselves running away. Other kids pretended to film themselves making breakfast for mom or grandma, who pretended to be overjoyed. And kids raked leaves. And taught other kids how to skateboard. All while having fun. Some even sailed off into the California sunset! (Those were the rich Mormons, I imagine.)

Not to mention the atypical, future sister missionary.

It was all clearly choreographed and staged.

Was it meant to inspire? Do we do service now while videoing ourselves to be seen of men?

It was all very synthetic and make-believe. Contrived. Imagined. Pretended. Produced. Marketed.

It is a PR campaign.

And it isn't real. It's fake and phony and packaged. Very slick. Very professional. But to what end?

Literally, to be seen of men.

I saw another video along with the first. This one was about people in Africa, building a well. (Maybe that's the video my daughter referred to.) They described the well as a "miracle". (Really? A miracle? People have been digging wells for thousands of years. How "miraculous" can a hole in the ground be?)

Does the Mormon Church help poor people dig lots of wells nowadays? How much of the Church's vast resources are devoted to that purpose? I imagine it's an embarrassingly small fraction. But what they do spend makes for great PR, doesn't it? Appearances, after all, are everything in this age of mass media. (I see they're still wearing the bright yellow shirts, too!)

Last night a spirit of enmity filled my soul as I reflected (again) on the fact that another sabbath has come upon us as a family and our worship together is frustrated, torn asunder by those wicked men who lack either the character, compassion, courtesy, or conviction to visit our home and try to reclaim this soul they consider to be lost. My wife and children dutifully attend their meetings without me. And those "leaders" apparently think that's "acceptable" -- to divide me from my family, for honest reasons they will neither dare to name nor defend.

The Lord, through a real prophet, spoke thusly:

"[Reprove] betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then [show] forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death." (DC 121:43-44.)

It requires every ounce of sympathy and compassion in my soul not to despise and condemn these men. I am embarrassed for them. I ought to have pity on them. What will they say in the day of reckoning and retribution?

"Yea, Lord, we kicked him out of Your Church for Christ's sake! And for the good of Your people."

"For my sake? Heavens, why?"

"Because he would not do what we said."

"What did you tell him to do?"

"We told him to follow us! He said he should follow You! We told him that following us was the same thing as following You!"

"Why would you tell him that?"

"Because You gave us Your power -- Your priesthood, just like it says in 2 Nephi 28:5. He said we didn't have the fullness of Your priesthood."

"Why did he believe that?"

"Because You said in DC 124:28 (in 1841): "For there is not a place found on earth that [the Most High] may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood."

"Why didn't you believe him then? What did you tell him?"

What will they say?

They have denied the scriptures, explained away their failure to receive the fullness of the priesthood, and now persecute those who call them on it. They have written me off completely. They have no intention of ever leaving the ninety and nine to minister to me or my family again. They have never once stepped foot in my home for a visit -- not in the ten months since my excommunication nor in the three years before that!

I admit, I no longer want them to. (I wanted them to. I wanted them to at least try. But they wouldn't even do that! That tells me more about them than I want to know.)

It's very sad.

Some in the church are making an effort to insure that my kids continue to feel connected and loved. My daughters are having lots of fun with one generous sister who has taken them to the movies, out for ice cream and to lunch. Soon they will be going to Disneyland. She has showered them with affection and support. Her selflessness has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

But I would prefer for a Church leader (preferably one of those who excommunicated me) to appear and give me an explanation as to why my belief in the truthfulness of DC 124:28 is grounds for excommunication. Why is living the gospel while exposing facts about Church history now cause for being cast out? How could they take my money (and time and service) for decades -- and build themselves spiffy chapels, temples and malls, while paying their own salaries -- and then justify jettisoning me because my "attitude" or inquiries became problematic for them? Whose church is this, anyway?

Clearly, it was never mine. And it is certainly not the Lord's. He doesn't work that way.

Maybe I'm just mad because I now realize we can't go on like this. I can't be the leader of my own home and family while sending my children to be "institutionalized" by an organization that teaches them that their father and husband is a heretic, a kook or a fraud. The LDS Church dishonors me. Why should I trust them with my family?

I did not want this "divorce". But they have forced it upon me.

It's very sad. I loved the LDS Church with all my heart.


This morning I consented to attend another church with my neighbor. My oldest son came along. I told him what to expect. He didn't believe me. Neither did my neighbor.

It looked and sounded like a rock concert. Very dark. People were jumping and clapping and singing. This "church" had a band with drums, an electric guitar, beautiful women singing on stage, two enormous projection screens, strobe lights, mood music, and holy smoke! I tried to discern the Holy Spirit amidst all that, but couldn't. Neither could my son.

After 38 minutes of singing (just one song!), 10 minutes of standing while the minister cajoled the crowd into contributing generous "tithes and offerings" to support their six pastors, paid music ministers, and auxiliary staff, plus an hour of being yelled at while the pastor proclaimed that all disease -- including cancer and every form of illness --had been cast out of that place in the name of Jesus, I was glad to get home.

Mormons are certainly more circumspect in their use of mood lighting, music, and miracles. Plus they eschew holy smoke.

I still don't like to smoke.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Life or death

I call attention to this post by Adrian Larsen.

Unfortunately, for our collective and individual failure to come unto Christ, we are now at a crossroads and a turning point.

Who among us will hear and take heed this time? Who will awake and arise?

What are we required to do to be saved?

I have believed Log's report: we must cry unto the Lord. When I have done so, the Lord, in His mercy, has heard my prayers and answered me. Why would I not cry unto Him again? Or fail to do so now? What is holding me back? As Log would say "What do you have going on that is more important?"

I am encouraged by Denver's words promising that the Lord is extending, yet again, another opportunity to "come unto Him". So much of my "religion", even still, is mere ritual, procedure, tradition or just "saying prayers". This is death. God dictates (allows) "religion" for those who will not come unto Him.

Those who reject the "religion" offered, but would rather wait upon the Lord, shall see and hear and know and do many things which, to the natural man, remain mysteries and, to the wise man, seem foolish.

But life eternal is found in no other way but by knowing the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent.

Anything less leads to the deaths.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Blessed are the meek

A man claiming to have come unto Christ succinctly summarized what was required: discover what Jesus wants you to do and do that until He tells you to do something else.

What "training" enables one to develop that level of sensitivity and compliance? Being a slave? Being a prince?

Moses was both.

He who communed with God and became a great tool in His hand to lead others was described as the meekest man on earth

I am a father of seven. I have no aspirations to lead a multitude, but would be content to merely righteously influence my brood...and all others with whom I come in contact.

We seldom think of being meek as a quality of great leaders or great leadership. (A google search of "qualities or traits of good leadership" reveals that "being meek" seldom, if ever, makes the list!) But, unlike today, meekness was a valued trait among ancient kings. Being meek connoted having wisdom, patience and strength needed to weather adverse circumstances. In the scriptural context, those who are described as meek are recognized as being submissive to God.
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
It wasn't Moses who argued with Aaron and Miriam about questioning Moses' actions or challenging his "authority". (As it happened, for practicing plural marriage, even marrying an Ethiopian! See Numbers 12:1-16.) Moses was meek. He was slow of speech and all the people hated him. He was not your "typical" leader.

But that's because Moses wasn't the leader. God was. Moses was simply someone God could lead.

Apparently Moses learned how to be (or was naturally) gentle, quiet, easily imposed on and submissive. Synonyms for meek include yielding, obedient, compliant, tame, biddable, tractable, acquiescent, humble, deferential, timid, unprotesting, unresisting, like a lamb to the slaughter; mild, docile, lamblike, shy, diffident, unassuming, self-effacing. (These traits are often cited as qualities of good followers, seldom good leaders.)  

One would never use such words to describe me. I am nothing like Moses. 

And that's a problem.

By contrast, most Mormon leaders I know are meek. (Even the current crop, by and large, are deferential and submissive to those in charge.) This, however, may also be a problem. In the LDS faith, following God has been supplanted by following men. (Read this short review of Passing The Heavenly Gift to see how and when that happened and what the repercussions were.) 

What the LDS Church or its members do now is largely of no consequence to me (except as it pertains to my wife and children). However, I am still obligated to come unto Christ. And being meek is surely a first step:
27 And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;
28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;
29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest. (Alma 13:27-29.) 
We become meek as we eschew sin, pride, and vain ambition, using only persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness and meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge, never "unrighteous dominion" or coercion to influence others. Whenever we deign to "exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness", we drive away the Spirit and experience forfeiture or cessation of priesthood. (DC 121:37-46). In short, we damn ourselves.

A man who bullies, berates or belittles others is not acting as a priest of God. Unless he is "humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering", he is not pleasing to God, but offends His Holy Spirit.

To come unto Christ, we must begin by being meek.