Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waking up

Denver Snuffer’s latest talk on plural marriage was given in response to urgent needs. There has been much discussion of late about the subject and many are now emerging from cultures and backgrounds steeped in the tradition and practice (or turning thereto). Like me, they may not know which way to go or what to believe.

I, for one, welcome Denver’s perspectives. But I still have questions. I have been troubled of late resolving in my own mind how Joseph Smith could have been a polygamist, an apparent liar, a shameless adulterer and still be the God-approved prophet of the Restoration. I have friends who, perhaps, would embrace the latter-day gospel but for this seemingly insurmountable contradiction and “stumbling block”. 

Confronted by numerous testimonies of those who apparently know better (than I do!), I have felt compelled to embrace even a “fallen” prophet, perhaps one whom God used and, by His grace, perfected to fulfill His purposes. However, Denver’s talk presents another narrative — one I am happier to embrace: that Joseph Smith was, in fact, in person and comportment, exactly whom he said he was. He told the truth and lived the gospel, including the law of chastity and carnal monogamy in this life, while offering “celestial marriage” and spiritual “sealings” to himself and others for worlds to come.

Given my very limited grasp of history, I would like to hear more from Denver about the evidence surrounding Joseph Smith’s associations with both Fanny Alger and Sarah Ann Whitney, to name a few. Resolving these apparent contradictions would go a long way toward helping me better appraise the man who communed with Jehovah. His name is, indeed, being spoken of for good and evil among all people.

I am now persuaded that the “restoration” of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith ostensibly failed within a few years of (what would become) the Mormon Church’s establishment. By 1832 the collective church had fallen under condemnation for ignoring and rejecting the teachings of the Book of Mormon and former commandments. That condemnation was never lifted. By the early 1840s the fullness of the priesthood was taken from the Church. Finally, with violence at Carthage Jail, the prophet of the restoration and his chosen successor were removed from the earth. With their passing, the restoration of the gospel was effectively aborted. The fledgling community of wayward saints who remained were divided and scattered. The most “successful” were driven from society and from safety into a wilderness where they wandered, suffered and died, practicing their “religion” or what they were willing to receive, because they rejected what they might have received.

A “remnant” are now “awakened” to their plight and struggle to “arise” to retrace their steps back to the beginning, that they might preserve the original faith and doctrines of the restoration begun with Joseph Smith and, perhaps, reclaim the promises and potential that were once offered to the latter-day saints.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men

In this rough-draft preface to his latest book inviting all to "remember" the restoration of the gospel initiated with Joseph Smith, Denver Snuffer claims the LDS Church now "de-emphasizes" scripture.

To support that claim, he cites this article from the Salt Lake Tribune announcing that LDS colleges, seminaries and institutes of religion will now largely abandon the study of the standard works sequentially and individually (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants/Pearl of Great Price) to focus instead on major "themes" identified and defined primarily by LDS Church Headquarters, namely:
  • The Savior's many roles
  • Select Book of Mormon teachings and doctrines (as opposed to the whole Book of Mormon)
  • "Key" revelations, doctrine, people and events in Church history, and
  • The eternal family and plan of salvation

This "de-contextualization" and reduction of Church history and doctrine to a few "editorialized highlights" -- detached from the scriptures and other historical records from which true doctrine and history may be deduced -- enables Church leaders to more effectively teach only those doctrines and facts they agree with and promote while dismissing and ignoring "problematic" scriptures or history which conflict with current LDS memes.

You can see this for yourself in "Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young", a book largely devoid of scripture, first published in 1997. No mention is made therein of that prophet's doctrinal teachings regarding polygamy, blood atonement, Adam as God the Father, or blacks being inferior to whites. In fact, one would infer from studying that curriculum alone that Brigham Young was a monogamist! Following that prophet, if the "fullness" of his teachings were, in fact, known and practiced today, would undoubtedly conflict with what current LDS leaders now teach as "unchanging gospel principles". In fact, changing gospel principles -- and even Church history! -- is what LDS leaders have become adept at doing. Hence, currently accepted gospel truths are now sanitized, homogenized, correlated and separated from their sources to make it easier to forget what has been taught and "reinterpret" what has transpired. 

In other words, to preach another gospel.

Recent converts of the LDS Church may be excused for never knowing that LDS leaders succeeding Joseph Smith once required members to practice "essential" polygamy; threatened to kill those who defied or opposed them or who failed to "live up to" their covenants; vehemently supported racial discrimination; adamantly opposed miscegenation; and all but damned to hell both latent and practicing homosexuals.

Because all that has changed now.

Are there any remaining who -- like me with my children, at the current Mormon prophet's behest -- lead the charge by walking the precincts and neighborhoods of this community (in California) to appeal to neighbors to support the proposition denying "marriage equality" to homosexuals?

What a difference seven years can make!

The LDS Church now openly supports legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and practice -- provided that said discrimination may still be practiced by religious organizations (like the LDS Church) -- thus opening the door to "civil" gay unions!

D. Todd Christofferson -- the LDS apostle whose brother is a practicing homosexual, the same LDS apostle whom I publicly questioned but nonetheless supported on the very day I was excommunicated (largely because of what I wrote about him!), this master-of-double-speak -- all but confessed that the LDS Church is susceptible to public opinion and "evolving" moral standards and practices.

As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune: "Christofferson further acknowledged that LDS leaders have evolved in their thinking about homosexuality, while maintaining that marriage should be between a man and a woman" (emphasis added). Quoting Christofferson: "This is not a doctrinal evolution or change, as far as the church is concerned. It's how things are approached."


What got my goat...what really got me fired up enough to write today...was the following Christofferson statement. As first reported on January 29 and again today under the headline "Mormons free to back gay marriage on social media", Christofferson was asked if "Mormons who support same-sex marriage privately among family and friends or publicly by posting entries on Facebook, marching in pride parades or belonging to gay-friendly organizations such as Affirmation or Mormons Building Bridges" (emphasis added) could "do so without the threat of losing their church membership or temple privileges?" His reply:

"We have individual members in the church with a variety of different opinions, beliefs and positions on these issues and other issues...In our view, it doesn't really become a problem unless someone is out attacking the church and its leaders — if that's a deliberate and persistent effort and trying to get others to follow them, trying to draw others away, trying to pull people, if you will, out of the church or away from its teachings and doctrines." 
That's very different, he said, than someone who backs a group such as Affirmation
Oh, really? What could be more "advocating" or "trying to get others to follow them" than marching in a gay-pride parade?! Or posting your support for homosexual marriage on Facebook?! Or belonging to a pro-gay organization?! You can do all that and still be a member of the LDS Church in good standing? And still hold a temple recommend? In defiance of the Church's -- and, ostensibly, the Lord's -- stand on marriage??

Forgive me if I'm confused.

I won't revisit my personal experience confronting the shifting standards and stances of Mormonism on this blog.

But as LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks was quoted as saying in this same article: "These issues with individuals are not 'resolved at church headquarters, but require the prayerful consideration of a [local] bishop."


I have nothing but sympathy for those fraught with homosexual desire. But changing attitudes and "evolving" perceptions among the Brethren are not limited to homosexuality alone. They encompass the gamut of LDS history and doctrine. What LDS leaders now teach slides farther and farther from the truths revealed from God to Joseph Smith.

When members of the LDS Church begin to discover these truths and "step out of line" by revealing them to others, they will be actively persecuted and punished at the local level by unsympathetic Mormon authorities. The LDS hierarchy I have met apparently rely upon a compliant cadre of willfully blind, brainwashed, or under-informed bishops and quisling stake presidents from whom they, perhaps, tacitly threaten to withhold or revoke the second anointing, thus holding eternal life itself in the balance, as a carrot to be denied, if they fail to comply with "training" from Salt Lake or fail to "follow the Brethren" in whatever the hell they teach as the gospel doctrine du jour. 

Either that, or lower LDS leaders simply hand over their agency to "higher ups" or, alternatively, receive the same "revelation" from that same god who compels them to act, turning doctrine, history and the teachings of prior prophets on their heads.

What Christofferson now states about how the LDS Church deals with those who disagree with LDS Church Headquarters (except in matters of homosexuality, apparently) is laughably disingenuous. The Salt Lake Tribune quoted him as saying:
"Our approach in all of this, as [Mormon founder] Joseph Smith said, is persuasion. You can't use the priesthood and the authority of the church to dictate. You can't compel, you can't coerce. It has to be persuasion, gentleness and love unfeigned, as the words in the scripture."
Holding a gun to one's head can be very persuasive, even if done gently and with love.

Though it's clearly spelled out in scripture, I don't recall anyone in Mormondom teaching this principle prior to Denver Snuffer. In fact, the established protocol has always been (and still remains) precisely the opposite: "Do as you're directed by your file leaders".

The men who excommunicated me, as far as I can tell, did exactly as they were told to do, as directed by their "superiors". There was practically no discussion of the facts or issues involved beyond "Will you [abandon or denounce what you believe and know to be true] and do whatever we tell you to do, or else?"

Those who continue to follow these men after discovering for themselves that they obscure, transform and obliterate the truth deserve to go to hell.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


My wife read -- and rejected -- my last post and made me take it down. To those who received it -- or read it, for the few minutes it was up -- I apologize. My efforts to praise her accomplishments and, simultaneously, be humorous were apparently misguided. My apologies.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Web Traffic

Graph of Blogger page views

As of today, the five "most viewed" posts on this blog are Exhaling, Exiled into Egypt, Mormon Sex, Adieu, and Beware of false prophets, in that order.

Exhaling (Jun. 19, 2014), with over 3000 "views", inspired the first "peak" of interest among readers of this blog, generating 11,138 "hits" that month. Before that (and my excommunication from the LDS Church two months prior), total "views" of any single post on this blog barely reached tens. (Not "tens of thousands", just tens!)

Confused regarding my status with God, the LDS Church, and what blogging had done for me (and to me), I wrote Adieu (July 23, 2014) and ceased writing for several months. (Note the sharp drop in web traffic!) I didn't want to become a "distraction" for others. However, I observed as I stopped writing that I also stopped receiving. Despite posting no new entries, readers kept stopping by! So I took up blogging again, not wishing to pass up this new opportunity to share community and camaraderie with those I "met" online. (You are my only "church" now, after all.)

With my literary libido restored and taking a peek at Mormon Sex (October 2, 2014), web traffic shot up to new heights and my blog reached its second-highest total of 13,211 views in a given month.

The LDS Church subsequently banished me from all of its properties worldwide, so I published Exiled into Egypt (November 30, 2014). In response this blog received 15,947 "hits", the highest ever. (There's a trend and an explanation to be found here somewhere!)

I posted Beware of false prophets (April 9, 2014) on the morning of the day I was excommunicated. My (former) stake president referred to it specifically as "evidence" justifying my expulsion. (He read from a printed, highlighted copy in his possession. Perhaps in reading it, you will find the offending, "apostate" material I couldn't find.)

Each of these essays was written and posted in 2014, but they by no means represent all of my favorites from that year. I particularly enjoyed writing A pasta, see? (May 2, 2014) and Apples and Oranges (November 6, 2014). Dumb ways to "die" (May 15, 2014) was quite revealing. I would think that, under the circumstances, my "eulogy" to Elder Paul H. Dunn (June 5, 2014) was unexpected. Trusting in the arm of flesh (June 8, 2014) conveyed vital understanding, as did Telestial Church (October 20, 2014). More rope for the hanging (December 7, 2014) and Love Letters (December 11, 2014) provided needed context for understanding my particular situation. These posts are among my favorites.

While I appreciate visitors here, I especially welcome those who leave comments. My focus, obviously, has turned almost exclusively to spiritual things now. The first five posts above reflect that general trend. However, economic, educational, political, domestic and other concerns captured my attention in years past. While the Savior did not concern Himself with such things in His day -- He having a greater mission to perform -- we would be foolish to ignore those influences and forces now threatening to capture and captivate our souls.

I've listed below many of my favorite posts from years past. I invite you, dear reader, to peruse these links and comment as you feel inclined. 

[Note: Many of the links in the posts below are "broken" or have "expired". You will have to do your own research!]


Our Economic Train Wreck (December 3, 2008)
Socialism's Fatal Flaw (October 4, 2009)
I'm indebted to... (October 8, 2010)
The Greatest Heist (June 10, 2011)
Wealth Inequality (March 6, 2013)


Why Johnny's teacher can't read (June 21, 2009)
School Monopolies are the Problem (February 15, 2010)
Just Say "No!" to school (May 5, 2010)
Homeschooling (December 24, 2010)
The Student Loan Scam (January 22, 2011)
People are dying for an education (May 23, 2011)
If school hurts, why do it? (January 6, 2012)
The Foe I Face (January 23, 2013)
If only schools were sports teams... (March 9, 2013)


Is It Warm In Here...Or Just Me? (March 23, 2009)


Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters (March 6, 2009)
All The Conveniences of Home (August 4, 2009)
The Gates of Hell (July 22, 2013)


No Thanks (April 17, 2010)
Give this man a hand! (June 1, 2011)
Imagine if China were US (December 29, 2011)

Government / Politics / Social Issues

Shooting a R.I.N.O. (June 27, 2009)
The Joke(r)'s On U.S. (August 13, 2009)
They're not coming. They're here. (March 24, 2010)
A Fence Is Defense (April 20, 2010)
Solutions (April 24, 2010)
A republic, ma'am, if you can keep it (May 23, 2010)
Immigration Is Muy Bueno! (December 20, 2010)
A Confederacy of Fools (March 5, 2011)
You have the right to remain unarmed... (May 17, 2011)

It's "Okay" to Say You're "Gay"! (April 11, 2012)

If I Wanted America To Fail (April 24, 2012)
Gag me! (March 16, 2013)
Sadly, a voice of reason (July 23, 2013)


What Religion You Should Follow (October 27, 2009)
Our Savior's Love (June 17, 2013)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Prophets change their minds

Today my 3-year-old came home from church singing “Follow the prophet!”

“Actually”, I told him, “we should sing ‘Follow the Savior…He is the Way!”

“No”, he said, “it’s ‘follow the prophet’.”


The first Sunday of every month, a member of the bishopric teaches the Primary lesson in my family’s ward. Today’s lesson was (what a surprise!) “Follow the prophet”. The first counselor taught the lesson. I’m told he said the following to these little kids:

“Can a prophet ever change his mind?”

“No!” they replied.

“Well, actually, yes he can! A long time ago the prophet encouraged women to have as many children as possible and men to have more than one wife. We call that polygamy. A few years later another prophet told us we shouldn’t do that anymore.”

Of course, if I had talked about making babies and having more than one wife with these 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds — instead of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost — I would have been yanked out of there and threatened with excommunication in a heartbeat! Oh, wait, come to think of it....

Maybe the first counselor will be joining me on Sunday mornings. 

Wouldn’t that be nice.


Good morning, and blessed sabbath day to you.

I want to share with you a communication I received from someone I very highly respect. This man recently served faithfully as an LDS bishop, retains his membership and activity in the Church, and continues to attend with his family. For reasons he explains below, he wishes to remain anonymous (for now). He consented to let me share his words with you. My response follows.
Hi Will,

Thanks for checking in on me! I am doing well. Yes, my wife and I are still together and happily treading this life together actually. In fact, that is one of the prime directives the Lord has given me and one of the primary purposes of this life for me - to be with and make her as happy as I can. Anything that detracts from that and Zion in my family first would be prohibited, unless by strict command directly from Him, which He has not given.

For me and for us, at least for the foreseeable future, that means we are and will continue to be active members of the Church. That could change if the Church changes beyond certain boundaries, like gay marriage. But for now, and in general, we both feel like it is very doable to just be Christian, as Christ-like as we can be, growing and learning, non-idolatrous Mormon/LDS members. It’s really as good a faith community as any, with all its faults and sins. In my opinion, it’s really hard to rate or judge an entire culture, group, or institution. It’s like saying “America’s great” or “America sucks” - when it really comes down to individual Americans. I’m American and intend to be the best kind I can be. I’m a Mormon and intend to be the best kind I can be.

I’ve read a ton of DS’s stuff, including all 10 of his talks twice, and my wife and I both attended the 10th talk together. I’ll be honest - I have felt the power and fire of the Holy Ghost several times in my life - more so in the last couple of years than ever really. And I did not feel it at DS’s 10th talk, nor did my wife - I was prepared to receive it and accept it, too (she really came with a little more skepticism and for my sake, but she has such a guileless soul). Afterwards, we fasted and prayed sincerely and intently about it and his relayed invitation to be rebaptized and the Lord has not confirmed nor asked us to proceed with that. So we continue to serve and try to do his will where we are. I’ve had many spiritual experiences over the last year and a half, many with the power of the Holy Ghost, and many in vision/dream/in-the-spirit. None of them have instructed me to do anything other than what I am doing right now. The Lord has revealed many things to me in that time, but the most important thing has been to have faith directly in Him, and to love and care for my wife and family. I see a lot more clearly now, the veneer of the organization and all its imperfect actors and history has come off and all are naked as it were, warts and all. But I see no point, nor have I been called in any official way, as of yet, to decry these things. I have been prompted to speak up for the truth found in the doctrine of Christ and the Gospel and Commandments of Christ, like the Sermon on the Mount, over false traditions, but not in a way that is critical of any person or the leaders, more just our culture and bad habits. I try only to speak up if I am moved upon by the power of the Holy Ghost, period. That is the medium of communication that I am growing to trust more than any other, the power of the Holy Ghost - by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. That’s true. It also happens to be one of the tests to which we must be found to be true and faithful to grow into greater light and truth.

I don’t know where this is going, except up. Part of me has thought, just trying to put my own answers in context with everything, that perhaps Denver is not exactly what so many perceive him to be, a prophet and apostle, etc., though he may see himself as such, but more of a test. I see too many people who have replaced TSM & hierarchy with DS and his words. They quote him as authoritatively as we used to quote the LDS Apostles. I also see much pride in the community who thus “follows” him, while denying they follow and idolize him - pride that they are so much more enlightened and awakened than those poor, dumb sheeple/LDS. That is a disturbing phenomenon, since it is so counterproductive. It’s not all or nothing but it’s there, much like in the Church.

How are you and your family? What are your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about all these things? I guess I could read your blog to find out, but I just started a new job and it’s eating up a lot of my time so I’ve really backed off online. I hope things are well with you and yours.

Your Friend,
I responded:
I awoke this morning around 3:30 and yours was the first thing I read! Thank you for sharing with me (and taking time to compose) that beautiful email. I am confident you are on the right track.

Why didn't we feel the Holy Ghost bear record to us during Denver's 10th talk? (Certainly the other nine were inspiring!) What gives? What do we make of it?

Is a child "born" when it is conceived? or when it is delivered? Perhaps Denver is privy to the conception of things, but events are unfolding in such a way that -- for most of us -- life goes on as normal. I remember when my wife and I were expecting our first child. Ah, the peace! We even went out to dinner and a movie the night before she delivered. I think that was the last time we did so for several years! Things happen gradually...and then they happen suddenly!

I am reassured that you yet have some confidence, security and sustenance in the LDS Church. I myself never would have left it (I keep telling myself!) if they had not cast me out, unless, like you said, they did something abominable. Like you, for me, too, the sheen is worn off, that "new care smell" is gone and the petal has fallen off the rose. I see the Church now with new eyes...and a new challenge: to get the higher priesthood for myself, from God, directly, and to live His laws.

To be frank, the latter is just as difficult as the former! I am amazed at how difficult it is to do the Lord's bidding, obeying Matt. 5-7, etc.

First we struggle with the "big" things ("thou shalt not commit adultery" etc.). Then we tackle even bigger things ("give to whomever asks of thee", "withhold not thy cloak also", "go the second mile", "judge not", "love thine enemy", etc.). I can't even love my wife the way I ought, much less my enemy! How right you are about focusing on family first.

Your penultimate paragraph about Snuffer, lifting him up as another idol to replace Monson (or whomever is in "Book of Mormon"ish is that?! Always wanting to establish -- and re-establish -- a king!), the pride and scorn of the "enlightened" looking down upon the "sheeple"'s all so true. I haven't joined any of the discussion groups (until just this morning) because I've been amazed, quite frankly, and ever so put off by all the "stuff" going on out there and being spoken of. So far afield! "Energy work", astrology, "interpreting signs" and so forth. So many "prophet wannabes".

Well, we all want (or ought to want) to be prophets: to rightfully speak on behalf of and be in the Lord's service. For some of us, that will be done in the LDS Church (as you are doing). For others, it will have to be done without (for better or for worse, as I am doing).

My wife and children still attend, though the glint and gleam of Church membership has passed for them, as well, and I doubt that my three youngest will ever be baptized LDS. (I just can't bring myself to do, or rather, to allow it. Those in charge can play their games, but I cannot let them transfer their priesthood hocus pocus to my kids.)

Ah, and there's the rub. What "priesthood" does the Church legitimately have? Not much, apparently. (Including the stake patriarch? I don't know.) And the kind it does have -- which is Aaronic, I think -- permits and authorizes baptism. But, unfortunately, the Church today converts, baptizes and confirms the newest "converts" unto the Church and the Brethren, not unto the Lord. Is it possible to be Mormon and Christian? Absolutely! But that's not a given, not just by being baptized, at least. And the whole focus -- nowadays, regardless of what they say -- is "follow the prophet" and "follow us", not "follow the Lord".

I am perplexed as to what to do with my family. I may spend "eight years" in the wilderness, figuring it all out. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll never figure it out. Maybe the Lord, in the end, will bid us all to sail elsewhere.

But not for now.

Your friend, too.