I See… Awake!

i-see-awake-mendenhallI’m surprised. I thought I knew Doug. A private email list is not enough. Yes, word of mouth works, but someone needs to start the chain. I’ll start it if no one else will. This post is about a book. Some may think it a simple book. Others may dismiss it as just another of millions of self-published books. Doug, this is an important book and it needs attention. It needs marketing.

May I help? I know you didn’t ask for it, but as I prayed about it the Lord asked me to do all within my power to get the word out within my sphere of influence. I admit my influence is small, but there are some who will appreciate this. Adam, for example, who has a distinctive interest in this subject, will want to read it. Adam, keep the books you borrowed as a gift.

It’s not a pleasant subject for some. Never has been. Many reject it outright. Don’t believe it. Never will. That’s okay. This is not for them. This book is for those who have been warned and who understand the powers of the adversary that are becoming stronger and bolder as the time of the Lord’s return draws near. Denise will appreciate this post. Why not – she contributed much.

Part One of a Two-Part Book

Doug, may I express my love for you again. I did so on during out visit last May. It was a cold and windy afternoon in Mt. Pleasant, but you were so kind and gracious to receive me. I told you I came on behalf of the Lord, with a message to encourage you to finish this book. Apparently you didn’t need it. The book is now available and it is exactly what the Lord wanted published.

I know because I asked Him. He loves you Doug. You are a brave man. You are a blessed man. If there is anything in my power to do or say to bring blessings unto you, I invoke them upon you and your household, including your daughter Denise. I don’t mean to embarrass you Denise, but I consider your father a good friend, one who loves the Lord. You are blessed to be his daughter.

Doug Mendenhall of Publishing Hope, Mt. Pleasant Utah, has published another book. He did not announce it other than in a private email list. The book isn’t available on Amazon or even at Confetti Books. Doug is the author of Conquering Spiritual Evil, a handbook in dealing with the devil in these last days. This will appeal to few. That’s okay. My writings also appeal to so few.

Open Your Eyes and See

So consider this a semi-private endorsement of a wonderful new book, written from the heart, with the spirit of the Lord as guide. It is not a Denver Snuffer book so don’t expect the same kind of pronouncements. It is a Doug Mendenhall book. Doug knows what he is talking about. He has a mission in life that is closely tied to being the father of Denise Yale. God bless you my friend.

ConqueringSpiritualEvilI have almost finished the book. It is easy reading. It is almost like a quiet, easy-going, private dialog between two friends. I felt he was writing it just for me. I needed it. I appreciated it. I was spiritually fed by the content. Some will be offended by what they read. Some won’t have the necessary background to understand what they are reading. That’s okay. Others will be blessed.

The book is about opening your eyes – your spiritual eyes. It is about encountering the adversary, his devils and minions. Again, an uncomfortable subject, but one that needs to be brought to the forefront of our attention NOW. The battles are real. These battles are being fought in the secret chambers of our homes, our bedrooms, our closets and places where we invite God to be with us.

Healing the Spirit and the Soul

It is about healing, something I have been seeking for a lifetime. It is about faith, the kind of faith that goes way beyond what an institutional organization encourages or endorses. This faith is the kind that gets the attention of angels, who come and hear the mighty prayers of those who seek to have the thorn in the side removed, yet are powerless themselves to do more that share peace.

There is but one who can heal, yet in his wisdom, He lets us deal with these fiery darts, and other devices of the adversary through our own faith and learning. Perhaps we would not seek learning if we did not suffer so. Thanks be to a loving Savior who stands just outside the circle of our sight, yet makes Himself known as we cry unto Him in pain, sorrow and even intense suffering.

Did not He do the same? Even He was amazed at the intensity of the experience, the power of the adversary to inflict torment, torture, evil, pain, sorrow, sickness and abuse. Undeserved and unjustified, we suffer with him in like manner. Our pain is just as real, but not as intense. Or is it? God knows how much we can stand. He knows how much we can overcome and yet remain.

An Endorsement and an Invitation

I have said nothing about the book other than to mention it and to invite you to obtain and read it. You can only get it from Doug as far as I can tell. It is $25. The money is not the issue. What is at stake is your willingness to learn and to accept the reality of what goes on around us, unseen to our mortal vision, but real nonetheless. Be wise. Be educated in the ways of the opposing spirits.

Perhaps you are so far above such afflictions that this book will serve no purpose in your life. Have you been in the presence of the Lord? If so, you don’t need this. You already understand. If not, you will gain much from what you find in these pages. I offer no review, only a final plea to those whose hearts are pricked by this post. Obtain a copy. Read it. Pray about it. God bless you.

PublishingHopeTitle: Awake…I see! – Publisher: Publishing Hope, a private publishing house, 320 pages

Author: Douglas H. Mendenhall, with insightful contributions by Denise and Kitten

No ISBN. Contact Doug at publishinghope@gmail.com http://www.publishinghope.info/

Price: $25. Send checks to PO Box 282, Mt. Pleasant UT 84647 – Spiral bound

Developing Awesome Spiritual Curiosity – A Thinking Mormon’s Yearning for Zion


  • Awesome – causing or inducing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, or admiration
  • Curiosity – eager to learn or know; inquisitive.

The Mormon Internet is abuzz these days with the effective marketing of the CES Letter, with this recent one from friends over at Zelph on the Shelf, a comprehensive guide to well-worn criticisms against the LDS Church and Mormonism in general. While there are many questions and challenges that ought to be raised by the CES Letter, many people go so far as to give up on God altogether. While the remnant/restorationist community has quietly added people interested in remembering the original intent of the Restoration by the Prophet, Joseph Smith, their efforts pale compare to the massive successes in the ex-Mormon agnostic/atheist communities. This post is an attempt to answer/address those concerns in light of being respectful of their positions, but helping to show a better way, one that does not give up on seeking the Christ.

I believe one of the keys is to develop a healthy sense of awesome curiosity.

As children, during the toddler years, we didn’t care a whit about authority. When our parents told us not to touch the hot plate, we did it anyway, because we needed to experience these things for ourselves. We said “no” to everything. We tested everything. We did it with childlike wonder, not because we didn’t trust the adults, but because it didn’t matter what THEY thought. The world was so new that we had to test everything for ourselves!

The Savior taught,

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Then there is King Benjamin,

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child,submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

There are many applications to these scriptures, but the application I want to apply is the sense of awe that a child displays at learning about the world. There are no pre-conceived notions, no “Occam’s razor,” no appeal to authority, just unadulterated possibilities.

children reaching for JesusWe have too much unbelief as adults, particularly as cultural Westerners, but this cultural tendency has followed us into Mormonism as well. It also follows us out of Mormonism when we leave. We are constantly on the outlook for authority, the safe answer. We crave authority–it calls to us as a safety valve when we are brought up against something that challenges us. It seems as Gentiles that we are forever cursed with it. During the Dark Ages we looked to the Catholic Church and the Divine Right of Kings. The Reformation brought the Enlightenment, reformed church authority, the authority of reason, the authority of government, the authority of texts, and the authority of the authentic self. All of these compete in the marketplace of ideas to one degree or another. But we still crave authority, and we debate about it, and seek to convert others to our understanding of proper authority.

Somewhere between the toddler years and grade school, we learn about the benefit of authority, of learning from someone else’s mistakes so we don’t have to feel the pain of a bad experience. We don’t really much like pain, so we soon learn to trust authority on issues that won’t lead us into a path of pain. To one extent or another, we take this upon us and go with it, to one degree or another. A few eschew it, and others embrace it with aplomb.

We not only fear the pain of experience, but we fear being wrong. We want to believe that the path we are taking, whether philosophical or the actual steps we take each day, are the right steps. Some of us plan ahead for years to ensure those steps are correct. We study manuals, read authoritative texts, test results, consult the experts, and make choices based upon the propensity of our certainty. Even in choices of love, we consult the stars, pedigrees, attractiveness, and spiritual confirmation, to determine a sense of certainty about the person we choose to be with our entire life, all in hopes that the choice will be right, and cause us very little pain.

Belief vs. Knowledge

But many are also lazy in their pursuit of knowledge. We have a tendency to cut corners, to be comfortable with filters instead of getting right to the source. We develop all sorts of opinions based upon authority filters, and we do it with as little work as possible. We become credulous to some authority, and incredulous to others. At the same time, we find little time, effort, or desire to form our own experiences based on our own awesome curiosity. We become stuck weighing authority for the development of truth. This happens whether we are orthodox in our own religiosity, or whether we are orthodox to systems that are loyal to the establishment of reason. Usually I find it is because we read and think too much on one hand, and not enough on the other.

The error here is in the need to develop certainty. Mormons love to teach the value of certainty. In the statement “we know” something is true, we feel to develop the certainty of a principle, even if in the true sense of the word “know” we don’t really know, we just believe strongly. Or . . . we equate feelings of the Spirit on a topic with the concept of knowing. Alma 32 teaches us otherwise. We can only know if something has goodness it in by the process of planting a seed of truth, and then waiting for the fruit. Sometimes we like to circumvent the process and go right for the fruit. I believe that’s an error. If we settle for the feeling without the planting, we can be led astray.

Let me illustrate: How many can distinguish the feelings of peace and love with the feelings of safety and security? I will admit that they are almost the same kind of feeling. The Lord has positive things to say about peace and love being fruits of the Spirit (Note that they are NOT the Spirit). The Lord does not have good things to say about safety and security (or “all is well”). Those feelings are associated with being led astray into deception. If one goes directly to the feeling of an experience, one could be misled. However, if one goes through the implantation process of testing a truth, a pattern emerges where we:

  • Learn about a principle, as much as we can
  • Test the principle by reason and also by pondering about it in your heart
  • Feeling the Holy Ghost or absence of the Holy Ghost
    • Does it cause a “burning of the bosom”?
    • Does it cause “swelling motions?”
  • Does it cause in increase of love for God and for others?

If these things occur, we can know the seed is good, even if we don’t yet “know” the principle is true in the most complete sense of the word. That comes later. All it means is “keep going.” Note that the process is no shortcut. We don’t go straight for the feelings of “peace.” Peace may be a fruit of the Spirit, but sometimes the Spirit encourages us to do things that can cause us consternation or dread, yet we know we must do it. I doubt Abraham, for example, felt much peace taking Isaac up the mountain to be sacrificed, or that the Savior felt much peace going to the Garden of Gethsemane. Sometimes the absence of peace is required. We cannot shortcut this process, no matter how our Gentile sensibilities want us to. We must ask tons of questions of the Lord, and ponder the matter, showing a good-faith effort in our gardening sensibilities. Otherwise, we may be asking amiss.

Feelings vs.Thinkings

The problem with going straight for the peace and love train is that these things are evident everywhere, not just in Mormonism. We can feel peace and love watching a great movie, doing drugs, going to another church, listening to Christmas music, or during the State of Union address (if it’s our guy.) Just going by the emotion is dangerous. The heart “is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” – Jeremiah 17:9. The heart cannot be trusted, although inevitably, it will responds positively to righteousness. Otherwise how could man have joy in righteousness?

Man has a tendency to trust either his heart or his head. If his heart, he ignore facts that bombard his brain. He becomes separated from them, enduring “cognitive dissonance.” If, however, a man trusts his brain and not his heart, the problem often then becomes the appeals to authority. Facts, in and of themselves cannot save you. They cannot teach you truth. They can only inform. Men who believe they are trusting only in reason deceive themselves, for the mind plays tricks on us, it creates narratives that are delicious to our sense of needing certainty about things, which in the complete scheme of things, is just another deception of the heart. It is a fool thing to believe that we can elevate ourselves completely beyond our own emotions. We are humans, not robots. The entire history of philosophy has shown the folly of this error. The Age of Reason lasted about 200 years and ended up with Napoleon and Rousseau in the Romantic era. Reason is subject to facts. Facts are incomplete, and the narratives that tie facts together are highly subjective. It’s why today’s philosophers do not try to find a grand theme of truth in reason. They’ve kind of given up.

41P75Z9M0NL._SY300_The folly of certainty through appeals to authority has lead to a long and disillusioned path for Mormons. We are taught to trust in the Spirit, but we often circumvent the process and go for the emotional dessert. The Church (and the church) makes matters worse by using heart-sell tactics to deliver feelings of peace directly to us without any of the work it takes to create real peace. Seeing a meme on Facebook, listening to a choir piece, seeing a beautiful air-brushed photo of the temple, or hearing a tearful General Conference sound-bite on Mormon.org may have great intentions, but they often end up deceiving us into accepting the counterfeit peace for the real thing. When we then encounter these feelings in other arenas, we either feel deceived by the implied “corner on the market” we sometimes assume with such tactics, or we follow these feelings into other efforts that do not save.

For the thinking Mormon, this can be even more destructive, because we often begin to realize that the heart isn’t a good tool to measure truth. We become incredulous of feelings, and rely upon the more sound systems of evidence and reason. But we never seem to be able to give up our need to be certain about things. We displace the authority of the heart-sell to the authority of the head-sell, as we see with the CES Letter. We turn to the experts, to academia, to established science, to peer review, to popular thinking-oriented political philosophies, hoping that as we do so, we will be unable to be duped.

worshipscienceBut grasping onto thinking authority can be just as destructive, because it’s more subtle. While religious and business institutions are well-known for their bottom-line tactics, we seem to me more circumspect about institutions that are supposed to hearken to a different call, in medicine, academia, and in science. We expect them to be noble and righteous. Well . . . didn’t we once think that about our “one true Church?” How are the motivations of humans in noble institutions of reason any more noble than motivations of humans that operate in the spiritual business sphere? There may be more checks and balances, true, but in many ways, there are also more filters to wade through. Most true science hides beh
ind university paywalls that take some difficulty accessing (back to the efficient information problem) so we settle for Facebook memes and soundbites or science and political puff pieces that get promoted in mainstream journalism–hardly an unbiased source. What we often do when we start to move from religious belief to secular belief is really just switch authority teams.

We give up having faith in the “Church”, and we turn to having faith in humanity. Either way, we put our trust in the arm of flesh.

The Mormon Shelf

booksWhich brings us to shelves. The shelf metaphor has been a metaphor for the thinking Mormon, who gathers what she can rationally absorb into the room, and puts what she cannot absorb onto the proverbial shelf, to be dealt with another day. I find the shelf metaphor imperfect. As a little child, one does not stick things on shelves, one plays with everything, with a sense of curiosity even about that which they do not understand. Sometimes those toys are the funnest to play with! I wonder if we would do better not putting sensitive stuff on shelves and instead, wade into the waters with them, embracing them in all of their ambiguity and possibilities, and stop trying to limit what outcomes will be by short-cutting the system with incredulity and appeals the heart or to “Occam’s razor,” which is just another way of saying that you feel like you must limit possibilities, that you must establish a boundary of incredulity. Maybe we should just be a little more patient, even though that’s hard for little children. Adults trying to learn to be like little children, however, patience should be easier because the need for certainty isn’t as dramatic. It’s really an attitude learned and sense of wonder about the universe. As a thinking Mormon, you can go one of two ways. You can fold your arms, gather facts, and develop a narrative that limits possibilities based on appeals to authority. Nephi warns:

28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. 2 Nephi 9:28

This appeal to authority is part of “thinking one is wise”, but in reality, they limit the ability to learn truth from other sources, spiritual sources, because it doesn’t fit within the paradigm of modern scientific consensus. However, this can happen whether the appeal is to scientific knowledge or to General Conference authority.

The other way you can is to be learned is to understand that we haven’t even scratched the surface and that we know about as much as a pinhead is to the universe, and that spirituality is virtually untouched! That should shake your certainty to the core, and hopefully make you a little more humble. Humility is a key to spiritual truth. Learn to see the wonder in what you don’t know. Learn to love awesome curiosity!

I’m not saying we need to believe everything to a level of extreme gullibility. Most cases of over-belief into gullibility happen when people give up their critical thinking skills to the authority of another, whether prophet, priest, or professor. The trick in the balance is test as much as you can with your own empirical approaches, in your own appeals for truth, and save your incredulity for authority, ANY authority, even those that preach impartiality and reason as their foundation. The empirical/personal anecdotal should be the most powerful knowledge in the universe, because it is the most meaningful, and we ought to be keeping open as many possibilities to attaining THAT knowledge as we can.

What can I do to develop awesome curiosity?

  1. Stop the appeals to authority! Whether you are orthodox Mormon or a more secular-leaning type, if you have to keep some incredulity or doubt, be incredulous of ALL authority, not just the opposing team. Doubt the prophet, politician, and professor with equal measure. Understand the limits of man, both in his mind, and in his heart. Be an equal opportunity skeptic. It gives doubting your doubts a whole new meaning.
  2. Follow leaders, not preachers – We can all find someone to preach to us, someone that will give us religion, or ideology, whether from the pulpit, or lectern, spoken in fiery rhetoric, or written with dispassionate logic. People have itching ears, and it’s even better when they can bask in glow of a cultural event where they can celebrate that preaching and listen for hours and hours. It’s far better to find someone who has plowed a road, someone you can actually learn from, and then go and try to plow your own road.
  3. Be more empirical – Don’t just believe what you read, or trust someone else’s experience, opinion, or path. Find your own! Prayer is wonderful because it can be a testing mechanism. There are rewards and benefits for doing it the right way. And there are some that have been able to transcend our own reality and peek into something different. The science of the experience does matter (is it inside or outside the self), but the experiences itself matters more, and I believe that can tell you infinitesimally more than naval gazing from the arm chair about whether it’s authentically external or suffers from confirmation bias.
  4. Don’t just believe, test belief – Instead of thinking about belief as a passive kind of Santa Claus belief, believe in a principle while expecting a reaction. An example would be to test belief in a particular attribute about God. Pray and behave as if that attribute is true. Does it make a difference in your prayers? Does it bring greater spiritual gifts? Does it increase your own love for others and for God? Does it bring you closer to God? If you don’t get expected results others have achieved, instead of assuming they are duped, re-examine first whether you have done the experiment correctly. Perhaps you need to make some adjustments.
  5. Adjust to new information – The world is always changing. They are always finding things under the great sandbox of scientific information. Does your personal belief system allow you the ability to be flexible? This doesn’t just mean being flexible to a new fact, but flexible to conflicting facts . . . or no facts at all. Does the absence of fact allow you to still move forward with possibilities? Do new facts constitute a puzzle piece or a narrative of certainty? The more certain, the less capable we are of adjusting to new information.
  6. Do whatever it takes – Does the prospect of finding God drive you? Do others experience help motivate you to find Him? Is it worth it? Do facts on the ground dispirit you from undertaking the quest? I believe that in order to do what it takes, one must have the drive to make this quest the most challenging of one’s life, to view it in terms of being the most rewarding. If all you find at the end of it all is increased bliss, it’s probably worth it to a point, but the world will drag you back down. But if the possibility of an audience with Heaven is the end goal, I would think one would stop at nothing.

I would challenge all of us to undertake this the Grand experiment!

Farewell – May God Bless you

mormon-writing-on-platesAlmost eight years I took a leap of faith, began to write short items I thought might be interesting to others, and posted them on Blogger. For years I labored, seeking to share what I thought would be helpful and enlightening. Sometimes, I know I hit the mark. Other posts were a complete waste of time. But in the end, I felt I did what the Lord asked me to do for a season.

It’s time to say goodbye. The blog expires this Thursday, but I could not let it do so without expressing my love and gratitude to those who helped me on my journey. I have come to love you, especially as I have been in some of your homes, taken the sacrament with you and prayed with you. How grateful I am to have had this season to share and feel of your love and kindness.

Some few of you have been mean and vicious – somewhat immature really. I forgive you. You did not hurt me. You were reaching out in anger, feeling threatened. I understand. I used to feel the same way. That’s how I started my blog – defending the orthodox traditions of the LDS Church. I am no longer a member and that bothered quite a few of you. I am sorry for your pain.

I still love you. The attacks came mostly from those who knew me personally, who grew up with me or served with me in the councils of the church or who worked at my side in a shared career. Others came from fools who knew nothing of which they wrote, but sought only to get attention and elicit a response. I feel sorry for such individuals who have no self-control in open dialog.

But most of you were encouraging and understanding. I thank you for your kind words, for the thousands upon thousands of comments, for the discussion, for the sharing of books, and of scriptures, of authors, references and points of view I had not considered. You are so kind. It is your sharing with me that blessed my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Bless you.

Today I meet with our new bishop. It has been over a year since I resigned from the LDS Church. I am not qualified to re-baptized LDS, nor do I think it will ever happen. But because I love my wife and desire to be one with her, I desire to do all within my power to be reconciled to the faith of her forebears. We have great differences of opinion on doctrine but I love her dearly.

BreadAndWineI do not believe a man should have to swear an oath-like promise to uphold a prophet. That flies in the face of 3rd Nephi 11:40. I also am convinced, through prayer and study, that the correct way to partake of the sacrament is with wine, for that is the way the Lord has said he will partake of the Sacrament with us when he returns. Thus, in the eyes of the LDS Church, I am not worthy.

I also believe sealings in the temple are not guaranteed. A man and woman must be sealed by the holy spirit of promise to be united forever. That means they must come into the presence of the Lord together. No promise made by any man across from an altar in a temple on this earth will substitute for hearing such a promise from the mouth of the Lord. I seek that promise in this life.

I accept tithing as a commandment from God but I am not willing to give that tithing money to the LDS Church to support the professional clergy or to build malls or to buy land in Florida. I want my money to go to the poor. Nor do I believe I must pay tithing on my gross earnings each paycheck. I have done that for over fifty years but no longer believe this is what the Lord asked.

I sang in our ward choir today, a hymn of worship honoring Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the focus on the Savior. I am also grateful anytime I am taught the doctrines revealed through Joseph Smith by those who understand them as they were originally revealed and not as they have been interpreted or watered down by the correlation process of the modern bureaucrats in the church.

preserving-the-restorationSo many people don’t even recognize it because they won’t study. I have just about finished Denver Snuffer’s latest book, Preserving the Restoration. I was there for many of the talks that were delivered. He has surely added much to clarify and kept his promise to remove himself from the narrative. I heartily recommend this book if you want to learn purity of Mormonism.

I am still convinced something catastrophic will come to pass in the last days, sometime in the next few years. I have no idea how long we have. It could be economic collapse, social chaos, of what the scriptures describe as the catastrophes found in the Book of Revelation, in the words of the Old Testament prophets and in the Book of Mormon. Yet I go forward in faith trusting God.

I want to be a part of the temple that needs to be built. I desire to contribute to the building of that temple. I want to be a part of Zion. I do not believe the LDS Church has any clue about how Zion really will come about. I am convinced the spirit of prophecy and revelation was lost at the top echelons of the LDS Church with the deaths of Hyrum and Joseph. I’m not a fan of Brigham.

My mission in life right now is to be one with my wife. I love her dearly. She has been hurt by my withdrawal from the church of her heritage. To me, it was a totally logical and spirit-guided decision, made after much thought, pondering and prayer. My decision to be baptized was meant to be a sign I accept Denver Snuffer as the Lord’s messenger in these last days, a leap of faith.

Denver still has not declared himself to be other than a teacher. I declare him to be otherwise. I cannot and will not share words delivered to me in prayer, nor am I called to be a public witness, but my witness is true. He is called of God and has done what he has done because God asked him to do so. I do not know him well, but know the Lord is pleased with what he has done.

mormon-bids-farewellI bid you farewell. I pray the Lord’s blessings upon you. I am not here to tell you your belief in the LDS Church is right or wrong. I simply did what the Lord asked me to do. I provided a forum for a season that some needed and that helped me on my journey to take the steps I know I needed to take to please the Lord. I have a long ways to go. Life is in Christ and in no one else.

I seek not to offend but know some have and will take offense. God bless you my friends. I may add to my record on the free WordPress site from time to time, but for the most part, my record stands. It helped me tremendously to share my life journey with you as I came to a much clearer understanding of LDS Mormonism and what it was that Joseph was trying to restore in his day.

Thank you for reading my posts. Thank you for the thousands upon thousands of comments. Thank you for trying to set me straight. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for the many, many private dialogs. Thank you for inviting me into your homes and to your gatherings. I am so grateful for what I have learned and pray I can live up to the knowledge God has given me.

I look forward to the tremendous changes I am certain will continue to take place in the LDS Church and in American society. The world will change dramatically within the next few years. Today, we are blessed. Perhaps it will be several years before the catastrophes spoken of by the prophets will come to pass. But they will come. It may or may not be in my remaining years.


Keeping the Sabbath, When and How

“Anyone can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy takes the rest of the week” – Alice Walker

elder-nelson-sabbathYou can’t pick up an Ensign these days without hearing much about the need to keep the Sabbath day. This is a good thing. I hope that the Church isn’t just focus-grouping this topic as a sort of “this year’s theme,” or to just amp up the attendance numbers, but see an honest need for people to remember the Lord on a weekly basis. The Church must have data that shows how much it is in disrepair among Latter-day Saints. So it got me thinking . . .

How exactly does the Lord want me to keep the Sabbath day, and keep it holy?

President Nelson’s talk in April is a good resource. I’ve read it a couple of times and I find it to be a great discourse on the subject, as far as some basic concepts:

  • Attend church to offer up sacraments, taking upon us the Name of Christ
  • Rest from your labors
  • Pay devotions to the Most High
  • Serving others–family history is an option, visiting the lonely and sick, etc.
  • Strengthen family ties
  • Preparing food with “singleness of heart”
  • Don’t do your own pleasures, but the Lord’s pleasure

When I was “active,” I enjoyed the gentle call of the Spirit to attend services. When I attended all three hours, I felt a better sense of renewal than I did when I just went to Sacrament meeting. I have not been back to an LDS service in some time, my Sabbath schedule interferes with attending my ward Sunday services, since one of my Sunday fellowships happens over the top of my ward schedule. There are times when I miss that interaction, and I’m challenged to fill my Sabbath worship other ways.

Among folks in this movement, the Sabbath day has also been a hot topic. I thought I would spend some time to break down some of the theories and ideas and hopefully present some ideas on what it means to keep the Sabbath day. I really don’t have a theory on the best way to do it, so maybe you have some better research or revelation as to tell you how to live it best.

Day of the Week

Does it matter? For some of our more Torah-oriented fellowship groups, this is a critical thing. The day is of a vital importance, and as with Jews, the Sabbath should be celebrated from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. They also include festivals and other holy days celebrated anciently. I’m not sure it matters. I think if the exactness of observance is done in a way that causes a greater remembrance of the Savior, it can be a good thing. If it becomes a rallying point, or a brand, or a system that sets certain people up as have the best understanding of “the way,” I think it creates more pride than it does anything. For me, I’m inclined to keep my Sabbath worship on Sunday out of convenience, knowing that for me, it’s not so much the day as it is the fact that I’m reserving one day (or more) out of the week to honor the Lord. Furthermore, I’ve read some interesting ideas that ancient Jews followed the lunar calendar, so what we deem as Saturday, the day of rest, was a roaming date that depended on the cycles of the moon. It would be quite a feat for someone to come up with THAT Sabbath schedule. Maybe someone should. I’m open to being taught more on this subject.

Thou Shalts and Nots

When I was a youth, my mother would note to me that we would never watch NFL football on Superbowl Sunday (we never watched it on any other day, but that’s beside the point). When Superbowl Sunday came round the first of the year, our family made it a point of pride that we would skip out on such an event. It was the hallmark of how closely we kept the Sabbath. We also stayed in our church clothes most of the day, listened only to uplifting Sunday-oriented music, and couldn’t watch TV–that is, until the sun went down, then on popped the ABC Disney Sunday Movie! There was no systematic approach to Sabbath worship in our home, it was all based on how she grew up and her cultural understanding. These days I watch the Superbowl, not because I like NFL football, but that it gives my wife’s family time to get together and deepen relationships–another critical element of Sabbath worship, strengthening family bonds. Sure, we could do other things, but I won’t quibble. I understand the nature of the get together at least in my mind.

Our scriptures say very little about what you can and can’t do on the Sabbath although some general guidelines are offered up in D&C 59. I have highlighted some things that jumped out to me as well as comments in parentheses.

And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; (I believe the house of prayer here is very simple, no need to go to a chapel)

10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;

11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;

12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord. (See my post on confession, how could we better confess to our Brethren and not just to a church leader?)

13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full. (Maybe we should be skipping the pot roast)

14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.

15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—

Much of what we get on the topic also comes from the New Testament when the Savior was constantly testing the Sabbath cultural rules that He thought were either nonsense or looked past the mark. The point is, “to keep it holy,” and not get caught up in rules and customs that must be kept.

As I began thinking about this, I’ve applauded that the Church has avoided a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts. What President Nelson states is pretty much the sum total and it comes primarily from our own modern scriptures. In the past decade, there was a big push back in the Hinckley era to get people to stop shopping on the Sabbath. I think this is a good albeit somewhat inconsistent application of the term, “shopping,” since gas purchasing, eating out, online shopping, and other types of shopping were sort of isolated from the more leisure shopping as outlined in those discourses. My wife worked at a Mormon-owned restaurant chain in Provo and in the afternoon, the suits and ties littered the place by people who needed to eat–perhaps they were staying in town–or just didn’t want to cook but wanted the fancy meal. The point is that we could understand the need for meals for visitors who were from out-of-town, but for people that just wanted to “rest” on the Sabbath, but have the big meal, it seemed like they were passing on the sin to my wife and her co-workers, who were pretty much forced to work Sundays. Perhaps this is meant by singleness of heart–keep it simple, you don’t need pot roast every week. I think what it comes down to is how much charity do we employ towards others in our day of rest? Does it cause others to have to work harder so we can enjoy our Sabbath? Do we accelerate the engines of Babylon with our Sabbath habits or calm them down? How much does charity play in our activities? Are we using the Sabbath day to do more with the encompassing commandments to “Love the Lord Thy God, and Love Thy Neighbor?” If not, perhaps we need to repent.

The Sabbath is only the beginning

I return to the statement I quoted at the beginning. “Anyone can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy takes the rest of the week.” Perhaps the best use of the Sabbath is to set ourselves up so that we can find more ways the rest of the week, to keep it holy as well. For me, movies, TV, video games, shopping, leisure, have taken a back seat to spending time reading and pondering the gospel in my free time. I don’t say this to boast. I’ve always been a gospel hobbyist and so for me, I have to use my idle time to do more than argue about church matters on Facebook. Taking time to watch an uplifting program with my wife may be a better use of my time.

What has whispered to me as I’ve written this is that all of the debate about the right day to worship is sort of a Telestial affair. In Zion, the Sabbath day will be everyday, not just one day in the week.

I leave my post with the lyrics to Take Time to be Holy by William D. Longstaff

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.”

Confession Time


My mother (bless her heart) has been posting these new “helpful” videos put out by the Church that promotes the Church’s 12-step program, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. The Church’s program is targeted toward those with drug or sex addictions, and some with eating disorders.

I like what AA has done for people. I think the 12-step program is a GOOD program, at least its principles are good, even inspired. The videos are good. I thought it was very brave for a person to get up and tell their story that way, until I noticed that the people confessing on camera also had a camera following them around showing us their sinful ways and the repercussions of their sins. Yes, they were actors. I wonder of that sends the wrong message. I get that people are ashamed, but I also wonder how powerful it would be if a real person said these things, raw, in front of a camera, then stated . . . and I’m a Mormon.

Full disclosure, I have had a mild addiction to pornography. The joke is . . . who hasn’t, at least among us men. I get a little sensitive to people (like my mother) who have no such addictions, being pre-occupied with such things, worrying about the beams in others eyes. OR . . . a Church full of men who have never made the kinds of mistakes that would embarrass the Church (the shameful “heinous” kind), having been fully vetted, now setting themselves up as a light to help heal those of us that have as if they have it all figured out. None of them have had sex or drug addictions. They were able to escape such holocausts, or hide them enough to escape the Church vetting process. Can they really help us bear that burden? I don’t think we contemplate enough the mystery of how Christ can succor our pain. Perhaps there is more to this than we think, being the only perfect being, yet feeling the weight of every sin upon His shoulders.

It made me think about sin in general and how it relates to shame, to culture, to the idea that in the LDS world, we rank sins according to their heinousness through a misapplication of Alma 39. One wonders why we don’t have 12-step programs for anger, indifference, pride, arrogance, vanity, selfishness, greed, or self-righteousness. What does it say about the state of the Church that the very things that are keeping us from Zion are the very things that we care little about in terms of repentance? What does it say about a church that keeps tallies on its members to vet them so that they won’t get into the kinds of leadership positions that would embarrass the Church, as a missionary, or for a future leadership assignment.

We all know certain priesthood leaders that take their calling this way–spending more time worrying about “protecting the flock” than saving the stray sheep, but again, only from certain “heinous” sins. Come, confess to the bishop . . . share your pain and lighten your burden with a servant of the Lord . . . , to disallow you the opportunity to serve, or deny you ordinances because the Lord needs you to suffer and scrub your heart completely clean (on only some sins) before you can have that temple recommend back, or so we can quietly annotate your record if you have crossed certain lines. Talk about ulterior motives. No Alma the Youngers allowed. Do you think that encourages MORE repentance, or less, especially among men who subconsciously rank their righteousness with how many priesthood keys they hold? I believe this to be anti-Christ and an abuse of the priesthood that God has given men. It’s no wonder signs and miracles are not seen in our day . . . too many of our priesthood holders have had it “amened” quietly by the Lord, and they have not repented in order to get it back; they feel they are justified by a secret handbook that has no power to save. They heap judgments upon their brother, many against their own promptings, but feeling they have to be obedient to the handbook. They then rush to give the widow a blessing, but there is little power in this blessing. Why have miracles ceased, says Moroni, because of unbelief (unbelief in God’s ways, belief in man’s system of obedience to handbooks or the written order of things).

37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made. Moroni 7: 37-38

Then there is this guy, confessions of a Mormon bishop . . .

I enjoyed reading his perspective. It was a good read. I wonder if he has been unwittingly placed in a position he is not supposed to be placed. I wonder if one of the problems we have in the LDS community is caused by “confession” to a bishop or stake president.

Confession in our culture, is upheld often as the most necessary part of repentance. We have this shame and guilt of sin, we are told to bear it to our “judge in Israel” and we feel lighter. I understand this is a cultural understanding and not a doctrinal one. The Church’s official position would disallow such things. Nonetheless, when we go the bishop, we often feel we are forgiven, particularly if he is sympathetic and kind, like this good man. I wonder if this is a false forgiveness–all of those who leave the bishop’s office feeling better. And . . . since we only confess “heinous” sins, one wonders if we don’t get ENOUGH repentance. We stop short of what is required of the Lord, to give away ALL our sins to know Him. I get that confession can help, so who better to confess to, than your own spouse! If we would also spend more time in our closets crying unto the Lord for forgiveness and a change of heart, instead of crawling to the bishop, perhaps we would qualify for that mighty change of heart, and lose the disposition to sin. I know in my life, as I have cried unto the Lord, and have taken the time to give away all my sins, and have received the Baptism of Fire, that I lost the disposition to sin entirely. That’s not to say that I’m not perfect, but that I am a changed being. The light is quicker to embrace, and it’s quicker to return. I know the Lord and that He is quick to forgive, so in turn, I am quicker to forgive myself and worry less about the guilt and shame, and worry more about embracing the light. It’s changing me for the better.

Let’s give bishops less sleepless nights and rely more upon the Lord!

Upcoming Remnant Tithing Conference

The Remnant Ministry asked Adrian Larsen (To The Remnant) and me (Latter-day Commentary) to share this on our blogs to get the word out. You are welcome to share this on Facebook, Google+ Twitter or your own blog as desired.


Tithing Conference – Saturday Sept 19th 2015, SLCC, Sandy Utah, 6pm to 9pm

Format for Tithing Conference:  We ask that while people are speaking / presenting for no interruptions or questions.  We have dedicated an hour after presentations as a Q & A time for individual/group conferences to form to ask questions of each other.

Sharing of Ideas and Needs: There will be a clipboard available for groups to communicate with each other “needs” and “surpluses” in a “giving tree” concept.

Call for Papers: We have had over a year of this “Tithing experiment”, as such we are asking for submissions of articles/papers and even just paragraphs from anyone who wants to contribute. Contributions can be lessons learned, progress made, mistakes, scriptural studies, group experiences, miracles and impacts witnessed, testimonies shared, thanks given or as the spirit directs.  We will place all the submissions into a pdf and make it available after the conference.  We will accept submissions after the conference as well for approximately 30 days.

We are open to other ideas still, and volunteers. Personal note from Tim: I am aware of some very successful tithing groups that have been able to provide support for single sisters with young families in need. Isn’t that what true religion is all about?

Contact: http://www.remnantministry.org/contact.html or remnantministry555@gmail.com

Link to last month’s announcement: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2015/07/08/call-for-tithing-conference/ (60+ comments)

A few thoughts from Denver for consideration and discussion from the Grand Junction lecture 4-12-14:

One of the things that happened when we failed to live the Law of Consecration was a replacement commandment requiring the payment of tithes. D&C 64:23 “Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.” (This is the statement that the cliché that tithing is “fire insurance” is drawn from because if you’re tithed you won’t be burned at his coming.) “For after today cometh the burning—this is speaking after the manner of the Lord—for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.” (D&C 64:23-25.)

I want to encourage you to pay tithing. If you are satisfied in paying that tithing to whatever church or organization you belong to, then continue doing so. The act of giving tithing as an offering to the Lord does not require you to supervise what happens with it once you give it to your churches. I think they become accountable. For you it is an act of faith. For them who receive it from you it is a matter of accountability before God.

However, some of us are forbidden from paying tithing to our church of choice. Some of us simply refuse to pay tithing because they don’t trust their church. Some refuse because they believe their church has neglected the poor. Some refuse to pay because the LDS Church refuses to be accountable and open with their donations.4 Some refuse to pay tithing because church leaders of the LDS Church treat the return on the tithing as “investment income,” and then use it to build shopping malls and buy landholdings. They treat the “investment income” as separate from tithing and use that categorization to deflect criticism of these vast commercial enterprises.

And from the Phoenix / Mesa lecture on 9-9-14:

In Grand Junction I spoke about tithing. I talked about organizing yourselves, collecting your own tithing and managing it yourselves, to assist the poor who are among you, and to do this by the voice of your own local group. Do it by common consent. Provide for those who need housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education and transportation. Do it by the voice of united agreement of you all in small groups in which all know one another. Since that time there have been several groups that have begun. Two groups are assisting single mothers with their needs. One group is assisting a family. One group has no needy among them, and they’ve accumulated for large charitable purposes, and they bought for a quadriplegic, a sophisticated electric wheelchair with the tithing money that they gathered.

I have also heard of some failing experiments, where frustration and contention have been problems. As the scriptures warn, and I discussed in Grand Junction, we must overcome “jarrings,” “contentions,” “envyings,” “strifes,” “lusts” meaning ambitions, and “covetous desires.” These  conflicts  need  to  be worked out before any gathering. All of the social ills of our day are in the churches of our day. Every denomination that came from Joseph Smith’s ministry is plagued with the same shortcomings. Before any gathering, we must be put through a refining process. We must grow; we must rise up first, before God will gather us to Zion.

There is no reason to pay for priesthood service. Serving should always require sacrifice. Do not pay for ministers. I would recommend if you choose to participate in a  tithing  group,  you  do  it in  the  same manner described in Grand Junction. Do it voluntarily among yourselves. Community is necessary. I do not know how you can bear one another’s burdens without administering your own tithes, administering your own fast offerings, doing things to help those people who are in need.

Some are giving tithing to an organization  that  is  purchasing  commercial  and  residential  real  estate, farms, and developing shopping centers, but has little left by comparison to give to the poor. Even though they give money to help the poor, billions spent in commercial ventures dwarf the amount. If you choose to participate that, that is up to you, but try and care for those among  you  who  have  needs.  Try  to participate in helping others and fellowshipping with them.

For those who are wondering, in my personal circumstances, I have made clear I would prefer to NOT pay tithing to an institution that does not publish reports of how the money is used. That, to me, is not common consent. However, I have left it up to Carol to decide how the Lord’s tithing money is used in our family. It is a commandment to pay tithing, but I also happen to believe in Rock’s ideas on the subject presented in this article: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2012/12/are-we-paying-too-much-tithing.html


Life is Unfair, But You Knew That

life-is-unfair1Why is there suffering? And why is life so unfair? Why do some have bigger burdens than others? Why do so many people live in poor war-torn countries?

One possibility is that the abused deserve their abuse—that perhaps they were an abuser in a previous life.  This kind of thinking, even if true, can enable abusers—“You totally deserve my abuse, who am I not to fulfill God’s will?”  This is the dark side of Hindusim–“we have a caste system because God wills it–we brahmins are on top because of our exceeding righteousness in the past life and you losers are living in squalor because you weren’t as righteous in the last life.”  Even modern prophets seers and/or revelators can fall victim to this kind of thinking:

“This privilege of obtaining a mortal body on this earth is seemingly so priceless that those in the spirit world, even though unfaithful or not valient, were undoubtedly permitted to take mortal bodies although under penalty of racial or physical or nationalistic limitations….”  Harold B. Lee

On the other hand, was Jesus abused because He was an abuser?  What about Abinadi, Paul, Peter, and Joseph?

There is another possible explanation why people endure horrible things in life:  Before the earth is created, God says, “I have to respect free will, and some jerk is going to be an abuser.  Who will volunteer to take this douche’s abuse?  Who will volunteer to starve in Africa? Under the volunteerism explanation, it really flips around the question of who the elect really is, and all of us might be found wanting.

[Never mind, we’re totally the elect, not those other guys who are suffering.]

Either explanation is possible, maybe some are abused as punishment and others volunteered for abuse.   We can’t judge.

I suggest a third possibility: some of the abused neither deserved it nor volunteered for it.  Life isn’t fair, and that might be part of the test–can we love and accept a God who set up a rigged game?

Look at the 9th parable in 10 parables. My interpretation of it is, basically, those that followed Lucifer in the premortal life are invited back into the kingdom. Many who were righteous were upset by this and walked out on God. The test is not what we think it is.

From the 9th_Parable:

After the days of the competition ended, a great feast was called. For the feast, the King invited not only those citizens who participated in the games, but also those who had fled the city rather than participate. Those who had remained loyal and participated in the games were troubled by this.

“Why are those who rejected your plan allowed to be among us?” they inquired.

“For a wise purpose,” said the King.

Many of those who participated resented the presence of those who had fled. Some who fled returned in anger, urging those who stayed to join them in their anger at the King. Some who did not do well were persuaded by the arguments of the returning dissidents.

The great feast turned into a great argument among the residents who stayed and those who had fled. Eventually the people divided themselves into two groups. In one, the King was beloved and his plan was held in esteem. In the other, the King was resented, or worse, hated. They found fault with the King, with his plan, and with the uproar caused among the citizens by the King’s great folly.

When the body was divided, the King addressed them all with these words, “I have been working for some time to determine who I can trust among our people and who I cannot trust. Using wise counsel I have adopted this great plan to decide the matter.

“I knew when the competition was devised it would divide the people. I knew, too, that some would flee rather than participate. I also knew if I invited back to a feast all of the citizens, both those who stayed and those who fled, that it would result in a great division. This was my purpose all along.

“We are faced with many challenges. Some are in forms which you do not understand. They will test all of us. I must know before we confront the coming challenges who I can trust to remain loyal in my kingdom. Today I know.

The game is rigged. On purpose. And not because God is incompetent. God wants to see who will not be upset if He rewards people unfairly.

11th-hour-workersMatthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

when-life-isnt-fairBut why? Why is the test about enduring unfairness rather than testing who will obey the commandments the most?

When we perceive that we are treated unfairly, we seek compensation to make up for our unfair treatment. We think it will be just if something is taken from the person who has more and given to the person who has less. Well, maybe we only think it is unjust if we are the person who has less. (When we have more, we pat ourselves on the back and assume that we totally earned it.) This motivation is at the heart of those who seek revenge for mistreatments, either real or perceived.

In the eternities, God offers us everything. He wants to share His glory and power with us. But what if that isn’t fair? Why should someone who didn’t do the same awesome righteous works as I did get the same reward? Why should a laborer who showed up at the 11th hour get the same pay as I did for working all day?

And more importantly, what can I do to stop this slacker from getting a reward he doesn’t deserve? Well, God did give me His power, right? So I can use that to make his eternal reward less than mine. Although it might be hard, since he also has God’s power, so if I break any of his stuff he can fix it. But I could probably find ways to make his eternal reward less rewarding. One way (maybe the only way) I could do him harm would be to tempt his children into doing wickedness.

At this point I have become a devil.

This might be why only the best of feelings (charity) can prevail between people if they will enter into a true order of prayer—prayer doesn’t become a true order just because the person praying repeats signs and tokens while wearing symbolic clothing. A true order of prayer means that a person has received the power to ask any blessing they want from God. People will only get this power if they have the best of feelings toward their neighbor (charity). People without the best of feelings might ask God to curse their neighbor as compensation for unfairness.

So life is unfair because God cannot save people who are upset by unfairness, or those who will not forgive their neighbor.

Here’s the 9th parable in it’s entirety:

OlympicCompetitionThere was a King who loved his people. He also loved the competition of games. He called his advisory council together and asked them how he might improve the health and vigor of his people. They considered the matter and decided upon a great plan.

The King called his city together and told them of a great competition he and his council had devised. “All the city would compete,” he announced. They would proceed in turns to go into the coliseum and compete on the field. All were welcome to watch before or after they participated, but all would have to compete. The competition would test the citizen’s loyalty, while also improving the lives of the citizens.

“I haven’t the strength to compete. I am old and past my day and cannot hope to win in competition with younger men,” said one.

The King responded, “Not all the competition will be of strength, some will be of intellect, some of patience, some of music. It will develop the skill of each individual from my kingdom and will improve every citizen.”

“I refuse,” said the one. He and those who agreed with him departed in anger.

The day arrived and the competition began. Men, women and children all entered in turns into the coliseum. Some sang, some threw spears, some lifted heavy weights, and some recited poetic works of beauty and wisdom. The people not competing at any given time would watch from the seats. They gained as much from watching as they did competing.

Many were reluctant or afraid entering the competition, but found when they competed their fears were unfounded. Some believed it would be fun to compete. However, upon entering the competition failed to do as they hoped, and regretted their poor efforts.

After the days of the competition ended, a great feast was called. For the feast, the King invited not only those citizens who participated in the games, but also those who had fled the city rather than participate. Those who had remained loyal and participated in the games were troubled by this.

“Why are those who rejected your plan allowed to be among us?” they inquired.

“For a wise purpose,” said the King.

Many of those who participated resented the presence of those who had fled. Some who fled returned in anger, urging those who stayed to join them in their anger at the King. Some who did not do well were persuaded by the arguments of the returning dissidents.

The great feast turned into a great argument among the residents who stayed and those who had fled. Eventually the people divided themselves into two groups. In one, the King was beloved and his plan was held in esteem. In the other, the King was resented, or worse, hated. They found fault with the King, with his plan, and with the uproar caused among the citizens by the King’s great folly.

When the body was divided, the King addressed them all with these words, “I have been working for some time to determine who I can trust among our people and who I cannot trust. Using wise counsel I have adopted this great plan to decide the matter.

“I knew when the competition was devised it would divide the people. I knew, too, that some would flee rather than participate. I also knew if I invited back to a feast all of the citizens, both those who stayed and those who fled, that it would result in a great division. This was my purpose all along.

“We are faced with many challenges. Some are in forms which you do not understand. They will test all of us. I must know before we confront the coming challenges who I can trust to remain loyal in my kingdom. Today I know.

“All those who have been loyal have been identified. They will remain in my kingdom. All those who have rejected my plan, or spoken against me in hatred, will be removed from my kingdom. Those who leave are free to follow their own course. However, they cannot be among my people any longer, for they have been tested and failed in their loyalty.”

It required a battle to remove those who were to be exiled. Many argued they had endured all the King had asked and only spoken ill of him when the disaffected exiles returned. They claimed it was unfair to have been put through this final test of loyalty after allowing the return of the exiles. They argued a feast that included those who refused the King’s request was unfair. It rewarded all alike; the loyal and the disloyal. They claimed their final disloyalty came only as a result of their original loyalty later proving to be of no value, since even the exiles came to the final feast.

Others complained that the King was mad. His whole course was destructive of a people who had once lived in harmony and peace. They claimed it was the King who should be thrown in exile; not the citizens who were discomforted by the King disturbing their peace.

Still others complained the King was never honest with them. Had they known this was to be the result, they would have been loyal throughout. They thought it unfair he kept his counsel to himself and thereby lulled them into disfavor.

Yet others complained the King gave them too hard a test. It was unfair. Although they had passed the test, they had family members and friends who failed and if these whom they loved had failed they would refuse for their loved ones’ sake to remain with the King.

Some even said that the original test was supposed to improve the citizen’s “health and vigor” and not their loyalty. It was unfair to claim to test for one virtue when actually testing for another.

And finally, some claimed there could be no future test coming for which this test of the citizens would prepare; that the only thing this great plan tested was the patience of the citizens. If there is some great future test coming, then the King ought, in fairness, to share that information with them rather than to hide it and make claims which cannot be proven.

lingdom-of-peaceAll the arguments were unavailing. The King expelled them all. When the kingdom was set, and none but the loyal remained, the King again called a great assembly of his people. To all those who remained the King announced, “I discovered long ago the power to make my kingdom last forever. I am now prepared to share the secrets of all I know with my people. From this day forward you will no longer be citizens in my kingdom, but you will be kings and queens, sharing with me in life which will never end.

“Before making you all kings and queens with me, I needed to have a people who would live in peace together.

Immortality without peace among us would be a great punishment and not a great prize.

“All of us who remain in this kingdom have lost friends, family members and others whom we love. However, all who remain will be able to live in peace, forever.”

The King did as he planned from the beginning. He and his counselors were able to find those who could live in peace, and for whom life would endure in peace forever.

There is not now, and never has been, a kingdom more stable, more happy, more at peace, and more enduring than this King’s. Though he ceased to reign as a king, he continued to be loved above all others. For he was the one who brought to life the happiest people of all.


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